“I understand you know Balto better than I do, but I think you’re totally wrong. Let’s not forget the sacrifices he’s made for you.”
“And maybe that’s what he needed to light a fire under his ass. Maybe he needed to understand he was really going to lose you unless he did something. It’s not like he was fucking around in the meantime. He was struggling to accept the final sacrifice he had to make for you.”
“He would never make that sacrifice.”
My brother stared at me.
“Being the Skull King is everything to him. That will never change.”
Case didn’t question me. “A few months ago, Balto did something I never told you about.”
“What?” I asked, finding it unlikely Balto would do something without telling me.
“He asked me about Evan. Wanted to know his name so he could track him down.”
“He originally wanted to kill him, but I told him you wouldn’t want that.”
“So he went to the bank where he works, threatened him, and then when Evan got off work, Balto dragged him to the middle of nowhere and gave him a beating so extreme he was in the hospital for a few days.”
“Oh god.” I covered my mouth, actually feeling bad for Evan. “That was completely inappropriate. What Evan did was wrong, but he didn’t deserve that.”
“Actually, what he did was worse than what you think. Balto questioned him and found out Lucian had had his eye on you for a long time. He paid Evan a hundred thousand euro to go along with his plan to make you cooperate. The whole thing was a setup, and Evan got a big paycheck out of it.”
My heart fell into my stomach.
“That was why Balto did it. And I stand by his actions.”
I looked away, hurt by Evan’s betrayal but also touched by Balto’s loyalty.
“Balto may have made mistakes, but he’s always been loyal to you. And since he has no idea that the baby is even his…then he obviously loves you for you. You should forgive him, tell him the truth, and be with him.”
“I thought you said he would never be good enough for me?”
He shrugged. “I was wrong. He’s proven himself a million times over. You know how stubborn I am, more stubborn than you—”
“And I think he deserves a second chance.”
I shifted my gaze to the table, thinking about everything my brother said. Case was a cold man who preferred solitude. He never gave anyone the time of day. But he obviously respected Balto—and respect was impossible to earn from a man like my brother.
“All I want for you is a man who will take care of you and keep you safe. He can do both of those easily.”
“I don’t need a man for that.”
“Yes, you do,” he said quickly. “Maybe you won’t admit it to me or yourself, but you want a man who can protect you. After everything you’ve been through with Lucian, no one can blame you. With Balto by your side, you never have to worry about that ever again. So, work this out with him. And you better tell him the truth. The man deserves to know.”
I canceled my date with Alessandro. Now that I knew my situation with Balto hadn’t been resolved, I didn’t want to waste any more of Alessandro’s time. He was a good man, and he deserved better.
I didn’t contact Balto because I expected him to contact me. If he wanted me, he had to fight for me. I wouldn’t chase after him. I’d already done the chasing enough times. He’d had plenty of opportunities to take advantage of my vulnerability, but he never did. Instead, he sent me away.
Ball was in his court.
I finished dinner then sat on the couch to watch TV. It was eight in the evening, so I was ready for bed. Being pregnant made me more tired than usual, and now that I was six months along, I was getting really uncomfortable. I had morning sickness every day, and I didn’t sleep through the night because the baby kicked.
I still didn’t know if I was having a boy or a girl. I could have asked the doctor during my last visit, but I didn’t want to know.
There was suddenly a loud knock on the door, the sound of a hard fist striking the wood. Just the knock alone sounded like him.
I checked his face in the peephole and felt my heart race at his presence. I’d known it was only a matter of time before he came back. At least this time he was more civil.
“Are you going to open the door?” he asked. “Or will I have to break it down?”
I turned the knob and opened the door.
In jeans and a t-shirt, he looked exactly the same as the last time I saw him. With a perfectly shaved jawline and stunning blue eyes, he was the beautiful man I dreamed about every single night. He was the man who got me wet with just a look, but he was also the same man who stole my heart.