I frowned down at my son.
The so-called goal. The endgame. My mission after successfully ticking all the boxes on my way to taking over the reins of the Fitzpatrick family.
And out of all the feelings I had felt—joy, pleasure, awe, happiness, wild anticipation, and violent protectiveness, even a little fear tossed in—I couldn’t, for the life of me, see myself passing him the burden of going through what I had to go through to make my parents proud.
It wasn’t fair to him. To me. To Hunter’s and Aisling’s children, and all the future offspring we were going to have.
Studying his face, I admired his perfection. Nature had cherry-picked our best features for him. He had huge blue eyes like his mother, my dark hair, and a prominent nose like mine. But his ears were small, like my wife’s, and he had that look—the look that could make empires fall—that only Persephone Penrose had ever managed to hone.
A look that disarmed me.
A look that told me I might not be the bad cop in the household, after all.
“Excuse me,” Persephone sing-songed from her place on the bed, waving at me. “My apologies for interrupting, but is there any way I could see my own son, too?”
I laughed, walking over to her. Astor was still screaming and throwing his little fists at me. He had surprisingly long fingernails for a newborn, but they looked thin and brittle. I lowered him to her chest, which was only partly covered by her hospital gown.
The mother and the baby stared at each other, and the world around them stopped on its axis. Astor got very quiet and very serious. Persephone sucked in a breath, and I stopped breathing, the pressure of the attack easing down.
“Hello, little angel.” She smiled down at him.
He stared at her, mesmerized.
I know the feeling, son.
I stood back and watched them.
My own little family.
A perfect thing in this imperfect world.
Knowing I might’ve passed Astor the very thing that life had cursed me with because it was hereditary.
Knowing that, in all probability, my father had it, too.
And vowing to make sure Astor would never get locked in a church confession booth with his demons.
That he, too, would one day be able to bask in the light.