Kill’s mouth moved over mine. He pried my lips apart, rolling his tongue with mine teasingly, tasting me. I moaned, bracketing his cheekbones, deepening our kiss as I climbed onto his lap, the only place that had ever felt like home.
We kissed for hours. By the time our lips broke, my mouth was dry, my lips cracked, and a velvet blue shadow colored the sky.
My husband slid his nose down the bridge of mine.
“The contract still stands. My soul is yours.”
“I never wanted your soul.” I smiled into his lips, my eyes meeting his. “I tore it to shreds the minute I got it in the mail. I’ve only ever wanted your heart. Now that I have it, I have a secret to tell you.”
He arched an eyebrow.
I put my lips to his ears.
“I didn’t believe in souls, either, before.”
“Before I met you.”
A year later.
“You look like you’re about to burst.”
I wanted to strangle my sister, even if her words were delivered with genuine concern.
Objectively speaking, I did look like an orange. I was forty-one weeks pregnant with our first child. It was clear that my son, like his father, was not to be rushed. Rather, he’d decided to opt for a grand entrance while fashionably late, something my body did not appreciate.
My breasts were the size of watermelons and constantly sore, my lower back felt like nothing but pointy needles supported it, and my hormones were all over the place.
This past week, I couldn’t even bring myself to get out of bed. I had to rely on Cillian for food and entertainment. Oh, and reaching those pesky parts I could no longer scrub while taking a shower.
I leaned over my headboard with a pout, wiggling my toes even though they were nothing but a distant memory I couldn’t see anymore.
“When are the mood swings going to be over?” I pondered aloud. Sailor and Aisling were in the room, too, fawning over me. “I’m tired of bursting into tears every time I see a Super Bowl commercial and whenever a Katy Perry song comes on the radio.”
“You cry because she sucks, right?” Belle slumped on the foot of my bed, massaging my feet. “Just want to confirm your hormones are only messing with your feelings and not your taste in music.”
I snorted, giving her a playful kick. “I’m serious.”
“My mood swings never passed,” Sailor said, draped on a recliner in the corner of our master bedroom. “I remember pushing Rooney’s stroller along a jogging trail, looking at a squirrel running about, thinking how its tail would be perfect for cleaning baby bottles. In my defense, it was really fluffy.”
“No offense, bitch, but you’re not such a great example.” Belle placed my right ankle over her thigh, digging her thumbs deep into the arch of my foot. “You got knocked up again before Rooney graduated from seeing shades to recognizing voices. Does your husband know he can put it away every now and again?”
“No,” we all said in unison, laughing. Aisling scrunched her nose. She was standing at the window, watching my lush garden. The day I’d moved back into the mansion was also the day the bleeding heart had begun to wilt and eventually die. It was like it served its purpose and then retired. I always thought of it as Auntie Tilda finally taking a breath after she granted my wish.
“Gross. It’s my brother we’re talking about.” Ash shuddered. “Come to think of it, other than you, Belle, all my friends are also my sisters-in-law, and all of them got knocked up by my brothers. It’s alarming.”
“What’s alarming is this baby is still inside me.” I pointed at my huge belly.
“Lucky kid.” My husband strolled into our room, cool and collected in his designer suit. His posture alone made me drool a little. Cillian had been most accommodating when we found out my pregnancy came with an increased sexual appetite. However, in the past couple of months, having sex became such a chore, these days we were relying on oral favors and Netflix to keep us busy at night.
“Satan,” Belle saluted. My sister and my husband got along fine these days. He’d even helped her buy out her two business partners, so now she was the sole owner of Madame Mayhem.
“Lucifer,” Sailor greeted.
She, too, had no beef with her brother-in-law anymore.
“Kill.” Ash nodded.
He ignored the women in the room, sauntering in my direction to lean down and press a long, close-mouthed kiss to my forehead.
“How’re you doing, Flower Girl?”
“Tired. Sleepy.” I stretched lazily, smiling up at him.
He rubbed my stomach through the stretchy orange fabric of my pajamas.
“And the little guy?”
“Great. I think he’s going to be a soccer player. He’s been kicking up a storm all morning.”
Cillian raised his eyebrows. “Whatever floats his boat during adolescence. But once he’s out of university, he’s going to have to take his place at Royal Pipelines.”
Groaning, I grabbed the tip of my husband’s tie and tugged him to me, shutting him up with a kiss. “We’ve been through this, hubs. He is going to be whatever he wants to be. He is not you.”
We’d had a lot of discussions about what it meant for Cillian to be Cillian. The heir to Royal Pipelines. How maybe, if it weren’t for the burden of his lineage, he wouldn’t have had to find creative and destructive ways to deal with his disorder. A disorder that still—apart from myself, Andrew, and Joelle Arrowsmith—no one knew anything about.
Not even his mother, who—Kill told me once—probably blocked the memory of that Swiss lab in order to protect herself.
“Of course,” he said flatly. “He can be whatever he wants. A soccer player, a musician, a pool boy.”
I shot him a look.
“But he’ll want to be a CEO,” Kill finished, grinning.
“All righty.” Belle tapped my ankles. “I think we’re going to leave you to it before you rip off each other’s clothes and have very pregnant sex in front of us. It’s been real. Pers, Mom says she is coming this week, and that she’s staying. She has a feeling you will pop over the weekend.” She stood, motioning for my friends to follow.
“I’ll have Petar get one of the guest rooms ready,” Kill said.
“But I haven’t rubbed Persy’s tummy yet today!” Ash protested.