Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight. No copyright infringement is intended. Beta'd by HollettLA.

**NOTE** This is a long one, so get a comfortable chair. Also, to keep the story going, I've slowed us down. And I KNOW you all miss Edward and Bella, but I promise to make up for that . . . Soon.

We're also close to the end here, folks!

ATTN: my new fic is now live! Link and Summary at the end!


Riders on the Storm

Chapter Forty-Nine: By the Book

Damion POV (continued)

Despite having a small headache, or a tiny hangover, knowing I was waking up next to Jordan had me smiling wide as soon as I opened my eyes.

It was early. The sun wasn't shining strong, and when I glanced at the alarm clock on the nightstand, I saw it was half past six.

"Good morning," Jordan said.

Turning over to face her, I was surprised that she sat in bed reading. "What'cha doin'?"

"Oh, you know, reading my porn," she giggled.

I grinned, taking a peek at the textbook in her hands. "'Pathologic Basis of Disease'…sounds hot." It's really not, more like helpful and informative.

"I marked some pages for you." She nibbled on the highlighter.

I bit my lip, wanting to toss that book across the room, but I didn't. "I think it's…" I wanted to say cute, sexy, smart, but my words got stuck when she unleashed her gaze on me.

"It's so quiet," she whispered. "No one's up yet."

Of course, since she's used to my family being loud, she'd think that. Also, our building isn't that quiet in the morning either.

"I…I don't think they'll be waking up anytime soon." I placed my arm over her torso and kissed her heart. "It's Saturday…" I jumped to grab the cell, to see if anyone had called, because…just for a second there, I forgot where we were and why we were here.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing." No one had called, so I placed the phone down. "What would you like to do today?"

She put the book down to get comfy in her nook, and I squeezed her to my side.

"I'm so…happy you're here." And I was, I really was.

"Me too…Aren't we supposed to…lay low or…lam it? I brought my books, so we could study."

"Lam it?" I laughed.

"I googled it," she whispered.

I grasped her chin, angling her mouth up to mine. "I'd like…a nice relaxing day on the beach." It was a silly concept that I hoped Jordan would go for. If it'd been a dog's age since I took some time off just to be, then I couldn't imagine Jordan had. She's never missed a day, and even on days off, she manages to end up at the hospital. "We'll do nothing, absolutely nothing…all day." I chuckled. "We'll eat—three real meals while we're sitting down and they're still hot. And we'll take our time to actually taste what we're eating, and we'll just...fucking relax on the beach." My eyes raked down her form, wondering what kind of bathing suit she had, never having seen her in one, and I wanted to see those cute feet in some flip-flops.

"Oh." She sounded nervous.

"You can do it." I tickled her side. "And you won't pick up a book…right?"

"All day?" She sounded like it'd be torturous.

"We'll have fun."

"We'll spend quality time together?" she asked, trying to brush my messy hair down with her fingers. Jordan does it every morning, even though I've told her it's a lost cause.

"Definitely. Plus, Peto—I mean, Gio—" I rolled my eyes "—and my sisters are cool, fun…We'll have a good time."

"Doing what, though?" she asked.

"Nothing…" I sighed. "This beach…is our oyster." Yawning, I scooted away to hover over her. "Having fun...? You know what that is, right?"

Jordan nodded. "Since I met you...yeah, I know what fun is," she giggled, holding my cheeks.

My lips met hers for a smooch that was too short, but I'll get back to them. "We'll start with…" I quirked a brow, leaning back on my calves while I brought her panties down. "We'll start by making love." I grabbed her ankle to bring it up to my shoulder. "Sound good?"

She stared at me with her chest heaving, eyes locked to mine. "Sounds…wonderful."

I nodded, ghosting my lips up to her calf, my hand rubbing along her thigh—going higher where her skin is insanely soft.

I love to knead my meaty-meats while my pussy stares and glistens at me.

Jordan was exposed, her legs open . . . and I could get lost, gawking at her all day.

But then I had another random thought, because no matter how hard I tried, we weren't actually on a carefree vacation, and I'd forgotten all about…everything when Jordan walked through that door. "Where's your cell?" I wanted to shut it off.

"Your brother has it," she answered. "I didn't ask…why he wanted it."

That struck me as odd...on her part. "And you just gave it to him without asking a million questions or protesting?" I shrugged, shocked.

She took her leg back to get up on her knees and come toward me. "Well, I didn't see your brother. And knowing what he does—" her eyes widened "I'd be too scared to not...just do what he says—"

"Whoa..." I kissed her forehead. "Sonny's...a pussy cat, a nice guy." Unless you're on his bad side, I thought. "You don't have to be scared of him."

She dismissed my words. "I was told to give it to Anthony, but that Anthony would give it to Santino . . . And despite...whatever, you…once said I could trust your brother, so I did."

"Good," I whispered. "But...my brother runs a nightclub." Honestly, I didn't want her to fear him, but then another thought came to mind, my stomach knotting up.

She giggled. "He's so tall and big—"

"Did you do what he said—did you come out here because he asked?"

"No way!" she exclaimed. "I missed you so much."

I nodded.

"You believe me, right?" She tightened her hold on me, almost frantic. "You don't know what it was like. Not knowing and then missing you like crazy—"

"I'm sorry." I pecked her lips. "I'm sorry."

"I missed you..." Jordan blew out a breath, relieved. "And knowing I was seeing you soon…I didn't care. Giving up my phone was nothing compared to how rewarding it was—getting to see you, CullDamion."

I crashed my lips to hers.

As soon as I kissed her, all bets were off.

For some reason, when she calls me Damion...

Overeager and excited, I tossed her onto her back and eased between her thighs, while Jordan frantically rid me of my boxers with her feet.

"Just…" She panted, weaving her fingers into my hair.

My lips landed anywhere they could while I agreed, knew what she was saying. And without much else, I grabbed my cock to line us up, and then I fell in.

"Fuck…I missed you."

I grunted my agreement and brought my hips back to slam into her again.

In this moment, which was much like last night, I felt whole—complete. But we only fooled around last night, and I was pretty much drunk... We didn't get to the real-deal fucking.

"Harder," she demanded.

I stilled to meet her gaze. "We're just getting started." I smiled, grasping her hands to bring them above her head. "I plan to take my time." My hips moved in a slow, steady rhythm, while I dug deeper with every thrust. Her pussy was wet, warm, and tight—everything I remembered, since it'd felt like forever, when it'd only been a couple of days. "I missed you." My muscles were taut, excitement and pleasure filling my gut, and I needed to relax, or else I'd blow my load in a minute.

"Let me touch you…"

I disagreed, tightening my hold on her hands, as my forehead rested at the crook of her neck. "Just let me fuck you."

She moaned a loud one, her legs wrapping around my waist.

And that sound…

It drove me insane, and then I started slamming into her—giving her more of what she wanted as groans and pleas of pleasure fell from her lips. She was too loud, but I didn't care.

I didn't give a fuck.

"Scream, baby...lemme hear what I do." I bit her jaw, my lips sliding down to her neck before I leaned back and let go of her hands, so I could use my own.

"Yeah, play with—" She didn't have to finish her sentence. "Fuck—" I pinched and pulled on her nipples while we were still connected; yet I didn't move.

"You like that?" I knew she did.

She whimpered, digging her ass into the mattress to thrust up. That's when the multitasking began, needing to give her an orgasm that would make her scream and shout and shake.

My mouth latched onto her nipple, while I tweaked the other between my fingers—my dick moving in and out of her slowly—as my free hand came into contact with her clit, my thumb making circles.

"Oh my God. Oh my God—" She came in seconds, tightening around me, but she swallowed her cry.

Jordan rode it out, trailing off with a sigh, and my hands came up to sneak under her shoulders—get a good grip on her before I started digging into her again.

When the headboard continually banged into the wall, I smirked, grasping it so my hand would stop the sound. And holding on helped me to go faster, harder...

"Christ…" She stared at my chest, her hands going from my sides to wrap around my neck. "So…hot," she whispered.

I bit my lip, bringing her leg to rest on my shoulder, and the vision of her…all open, on her back…a small smile playing at her mouth. "I love you."

For the first time, that sentiment didn't hold any weight, and I racked my brain for a word—anything that might mean more, but I couldn't think of any.

"I love you, too—get on your back." She slapped my chest.

I shook my head, needing to stay where I was.

"On. Your. Back." She nipped my bottom lip, pushing me away from her.

I let out a large breath, giving her what she wanted.

When I lay down, I welcomed her on top of me, but she didn't hop to it.

Instead, she scooted low to grip my cock tight, sneaking her tongue out to lick the tip.

"Put it in your mouth," I said, and she followed my order, taking me so deep...

A shudder rocked through my body as I melted back into the mattress and tried to keep Jordan's hair out of her face.

I caressed her cheek with the back of my hand, watching as she licked her arousal off of me.

It was the hottest sight, and I wished I had a video camera. Well, I wished I could turn on my phone, and use that camera.

When I felt that fire starting and almost spreading from my gut, my body stiffened as I grabbed her face to stop her.

"What's wrong?" She wore a smirk, her hand still jacking my dick hard.

"Get over here," I said, sitting up to get ahold of her waist when she slightly turned.

I needed some time with that ass.

"Turn around."

She squealed, getting on all fours with her glorious ass in the air—exposed to me.

Overeager, yet again, my hand came down with a hard thwack! "You should be punished for that bullshit."

She peeked at me from over her shoulder. "It was…" Her face fell.

"Relax." With both hands on her ass cheeks, I ran my nose along the soft skin as I started placing kisses over where I'd spanked her. "I was kidding." My fingers crawled up the inside of her thigh until I found her clit. "Come for me again." I bit her ass, rubbing up and down her soaked pussy.

"Fuck me," she said.

I disagreed, my tongue making a clear path to her asshole to get it wet. "My hand is fucking you…" My finger entered her, and she was so snug, I let out a hiss.

She started to bounce back roughly, moaning and grasping the sheets, as my thumb placed pressure on her asshole.

Jordan looked gorgeous, sexy—my chest felt tight, and then I gave her what she wanted.

Hopping onto my knees, my cock found her fast, and I pulled her hair to get her back flush against my chest.

I held her stomach and my hand snuck down to that clit again. "One more." And then I could go apeshit, fuck her to my heart's content.

Jordan was relaxed yet frenzied as she started pinching her own nipples, moving her ass to try and get more dick.

When she came again, I didn't let her come down from that one—throwing her back onto all fours, while I placed my hands on her hips to fuck her with no abandon.

There's nothing else I love more than to watch my cock as it disappears into her pussy—nothing hotter, and the image put me into the trance-like state, getting heated and heated, until I thought I'd explode.

That's when I pulled out to jack my dick—come all over her ass—a grunt escaping me.

Jordan was out of breath when she quickly turned to face me. "It's on my ass, isn't it?"

I panted, giving her a small smirk, as I felt as though I could pass out—sleep another night's worth.

But I couldn't.

"Turn around." I used the undershirt I wore yesterday to get the jizz off her ass.

"I'm on the pill…I don't know why you don't just come inside," she giggled, and I wouldn't answer her. However, I knew that even if I'd pulled out, we were playing with fire since the pill isn't 100%. She knows that, too, and her eagerness for me to come inside of her confuses me. Maybe she wants a kid in the future, but I know she doesn't want one now.

I need to buy some condoms today...I didn't think I needed any this weekend.

"Are you hungry? Want breakfast?" I pulled my boxers back on and grabbed the nine.

"You have to carry that everywhere?"

I nodded, not saying more. "Get dressed…I should—" I tilted my head to the door, but it was still early and quiet, and I doubted anyone was awake.

Jordan threw herself back onto the bed. "In a minute…"

I chuckled, glad she was actually taking a moment. "All right."

After I used the bathroom, taking the only long-ass piss, I cleaned up and brushed my teeth before entering the living room area to find it empty.

The couch looked slept on, Maggie's blanket crumpled, the sheet still there. "Maggie?" I whispered, looking around the room. She obviously wasn't in the bathroom, and I really didn't want to peek inside Kylie's room…

But that's when I saw the sliding door open just a few inches.

"What are you doing?" I asked, making her jump.

She sat on the deck, watching the sunrise; I knew what she was doing. "I—"

"Get inside!" I jerked my head.

She grabbed her bottle of water and picked Noah up, wearing a pout, but following instructions. "You guys were so loud—woke me up."

"Oh…sorry." I shrugged.

Maggie stared down at that ultrasound photo.

"You'll more than likely see Sonny tonight," I told her.

She nodded, eyes not moving. "I just spoke to him—he was asleep at that stupid place."

"Eclipse?" I smirked, grabbing the room service menu. "You know he doesn't watch the dancers, right? Not since he met you." I hoped to ease her fears. "He works out of there, feels comfortable there, he conducts meetings and shit. It's a front nowadays; he doesn't manage anymore, and all those tits are tired to him anyway," I laughed. "He's only got eyes for you."

Maggie looked withdrawn, staring at the floor now. "Yeah, but..." She met my gaze. "What happens three months from now when I'm fat and—what if our sex life changes because I change?"

"Maggie...for my brother, the sun rises and sets with you. He can't keep his hands off you. He's going to think you beautiful and attractive no matter what size you are. You can trust him." I knew I was correct.

Wait...God forbid Sonny starts snorting coke again, he might fuck a light socket.

Kidding.

I chuckled at my thoughts but continued. "He loves you so fucking much, and you're carrying his kid. All of which will...probably make you sexier...to him." I shrugged.

Maggie grinned, rubbing her stomach.

"Even if you weighed a ton, he'd roll you in flour to find the wet spot." I laughed my ass off.

"That..." Maggie was speechless, but she recovered, giggling like a mad woman. "Oh my God. Why would you say such a thing?" She laughed even harder. "I gotta tell Kylie that...and Santino!"

I snorted, still thinking about it.

She composed herself. "He is a good man. I just...get insecure, I guess. He's so handsome, and I see the way women look at him, and he's got so much power. The women flock, and sometimes we run into women he's...screwed in the past. There's so many of them." Her eyes widened.

"They meant nothing," I said. "There's a huge difference between...fucking for a release, lusting after a person, and then...having sex with the woman you love, making love."

"He's said that, too." She nodded. "I do trust him. I never get on him about that...I just have my stupid brain that plays tricks on me, like...when he doesn't come home, or he's crazy busy. Lately, things have been great, though, even though he's busy...My clothes are getting snug," she giggled. "And...It's funny. Sonny does think I'm sexier for filling out? But in a few months, I'll be..." Her eyes widened again.

I stepped closer to lower my voice, bringing it down to a whisper. "A little weight, especially on a woman; I won't lie. I mean, you see Jordan. She's thick...and her curves drive me insane. I love the way she looks. It'd actually kill me if she tried to change, lose weight, and..." I felt uncomfortable admitting this. "You're gorgeous, Maggie. You're a ten. Just because you gain a few pounds—it won't take anything, nothing away from how attractive you are. You might even look better in Sonny's eyes."

"Thank you for saying that—it was kind and generous of you." She reached to squeeze my hand.

"No problem." I gazed down to the menu again.

"He's always steps ahead, too," she sighed. "He reserved the room next door for us, when or if he's able to come out here…" She made a farting noise with her mouth, looking back to me. "I want chocolate chip pancakes."

"Noted…" I wondered what the rest of the peanut gallery would like. Knowing Jordan, I marked down a breakfast dish with eggs, bacon, and toast. Truth be told, we're not used to eating too heavy in the a.m. "Sorry for waking you up."

Maggie pulled the blanket over herself, getting comfortable again and turning on the TV. "It's okay. No biggie...It's actually harder to sleep without my Santino."

"You're feeling okay? Got some sleep, though?"

"Yeah…I'm good." She still looked so sad.

"If Sonny says he's gonna try...He's gonna try. I'll bet you money he'll be here later. Plus, he already got youse a room? He'll be here." I just hoped things go well for him at that sit-down.

She grinned. "Yeah..."

My head whipped to the bedroom when Jordan emerged, wearing pajamas now. "Morning."

Maggie waved to her.

"Um…" Jordan pointed at me, visibly upset.

I shrugged, silently asking what her problem was.

She just gave me a tight-lipped smile and turned for the bathroom, toothbrush in hand.

I followed her, getting there in the nick of time before she closed the door. "What's the matter?"

She stared at my chest, her eyes trailing down to my feet. "You're walking around naked—"

"I'm in boxers...around my family—"

She shook her head, glancing at Maggie.

"My family," I said again. "Maggie's my sister."

"Regardless, if I walked around in my underwear—"

"I'd throw some money at you." I winked, placing my hands on her hips as I started to sway us. "Shake it, don't break it, took yo' momma nine months to make it!" I sang.

She slapped my bicep, smiling and giggling, but I knew my baby meant business.

And I did not want to argue.

And despite my jovial mood, Jordan doesn't know that I'd kill any fucker that looked at her.

"I'll go put something on." I gave her ass a slap to watch it jiggle. "Damn."

Jordan was still giggling when she disappeared into the bathroom.

Since I hadn't showered yet, I just put my jeans from yesterday back on.

/=/=/=/

Kylie POV

/=/=/=/

Like every morning when I wake up next to Gio, I wore a smile and tangled my legs with his. While I did that, I felt a bit uncomfortable, my stomach feeling off.

"Morning," he grunted.

I squeezed my thighs together. "Morning, baby…" Wary, I scooted from the bed, and that's when I saw it—I got my period. There wasn't a huge mess on the sheets, but I was instantly pissed. "Fuck!"

"What?" Gio hopped up.

Before he could see, I messed the blankets. "I got my period." Meanwhile, we had sex all night—hot, sweaty, the romantic kind of sex, since we'd had champagne, and we're here by the ocean . . .

"This is crap." I started to get dressed.

I'm on the pill, and I haven't missed a pill, and I knew when my period was coming.

But that was two days ago, when I knew I'd get my period some time on Saturday—judging by the useless pills at the end.

Then all the crap happened, and I forgot all about it.

"Ugh!" I tossed everything out of my duffle, tearing through while looking for a tampon or a pad. "This cannot be happening."

"What's wrong?" He had a tone, like he was annoyed, which made me angry.

"Just—" I put my hand up to stop him.

"Talk to me, Ky," he pleaded, grabbing my hand.

"Do you have any tampons? 'Cause if you don't, I doubt you can help me." I pushed his hands away.

"Relax…ask Maggie for one."

"She's pregnant." I scoffed.

"What can I do? You need tissues?"

I didn't answer him and left the room to go to the bathroom.

Maggie was on the couch, in zombie-mode. Damion was on the phone, holding the room service menu, and Jordan—

"Jordan?" I asked, letting out a chuckle. "When did you get here? Do you have a tampon?"

She laughed. "It's great to see you, too."

Uncomfortable, I waited to see if she'd answer my question. "Do you?"

She nodded. "Yeah."

When she left for the other bedroom, I breathed a sigh of relief.

No sooner had Jordan disappeared, than Gio came out from the room fully dressed.

"Where are you going?" I asked.

"To the store," he told me, looking to Dame. "Lemme get your keys."

Damion laughed. "You're not going anywhere by yourself. What's so important—"

Suddenly giddy, I turned to wrap my arms around my amazing boyfriend. "You'd buy me tampons?"

He nodded. "You need them, right?"

And I knew he'd be the man I'd marry, although I think I've known that since I was a baby.

"I do…" I thought he was too sweet, which made me weepy, and I bit my quivering lip. "I do."

"Why are you crying?" he asked. "You feel sick?"

"I love you," I whispered.

"I love you, too." He chuckled.

"Whoa…" Dame waved his arms. "What's going on?" He seemed confused.

"Here you go!" Jordan tossed me the tampon.

"Thanks!" I rushed into the bathroom to take care of business.

After brushing my teeth, I felt crampy and wondered if Jordan had any Advil, too.

She is studying to be a doctor, but so is my brother, and he doesn't walk around with a pharmacy in his pockets. Jordan also seems like a responsible, adult woman, like my mother who always has a variety of medicines in her purse. Mom's bag is like a pharmacy.

"Do you have any Advil?" I asked her.

She nodded and left the chair she was sitting in again.

"Thanks!" I called after her.

She passed Damion, who walked out of their room with a shirt on now.

"We'll go to the store. I need somethin' anyway. Youse stay here," he said. "Food will be here soon…but you look and make sure it's just the food." He turned to Maggie. "You answer the door." He handed her the gun that sat on the table; meanwhile, he was barely concealing his own on his waist.

I rolled my eyes. "Why is she in charge?" He acts like we're children. "I can—"

Damion barked out a laugh. "We'll be gone ten minutes. I bet they have pads at the lobby gift shop—"

I pursed my lips. "Get me more Advil, too...please."

Dame nodded, grabbing his keys.

"I need tampons, not pads…or get pads, too." I shrugged, thinking it was just my luck to be here in paradise when I get my period.

Gio kissed my forehead. "I'd do anything for you."

I smirked. "You act like this is Camelot and you were challenged to a duel." I started cracking up.

"Dude's about to buy you pads—give him some credit," Dame said before he slobbered on Jordan.

I sighed, staring up to my man. "You're the best."

He hugged me to him tightly, letting out a groan before releasing me.

Once they left, I joined Maggie on the couch. "How are you?"

"I'm fine." She flipped through the channels, giving Jordan a fleeting glance, but then she settled her sights on her. "When you saw Santino, was he okay? Did he look nervous or—"

Jordan shrugged. "I spoke to him. I didn't see him."

"Oh…" Maggie's face fell. "I wish I knew he was okay. He says he's okay, but…"

I rubbed her back. "He's fine and you know it."

It's the worst, I thought, being in the dark like this—not knowing what's really going on, while everyone says it's fine, but you don't really know.

She nodded.

"Why isn't he here, too?" Jordan asked. "I mean…he's also your father's kid." There was loads I knew she didn't understand. "Why only send you guys away? And I thought your parents went to Hawaii?"

I waited on Maggie to answer her, because she's turned into a fantastic liar, but she didn't.

"So, how'd you get here?" I asked.

"Your cousin drove me—Anthony."

I smiled wide. "You met Ant? Isn't he awesome?"

Jordan nodded. "Seemed like a cool guy."

Knowing my cousin, and knowing Dame's been waiting for his forgiveness, I knew that was a huge step toward them mending their friendship—Anthony driving Jordan out here, doing something for Dame. But I wondered why he didn't stay, or why he wasn't on his own vacation.

"Why didn't he come in and say hi?" I thought out loud.

"I know," Jordan said. "It took us like two and a half hours to get here, and then he was driving back . . . He just pulled up outside the resort and told me a room number—said he had to head back. I offered to take the bus, but Santino said no."

"He's amazing—can be the perfect gentleman." Maggie sank farther into the couch, hugging Noah to her chest.

I laughed. "He's no more a gentleman than you are a lady."

"Gone with the Wind," she giggled.

I smiled at Noah as I poked his wet, little nose. "Did you take him out?" I asked.

"Yeah…When I woke up, I fed him, and then he went in the sand a little bit ago." She shrugged.

I sighed, throwing myself back. "Dame's got all that cash…We should make him take us shopping."

"You know that's not going to happen," Maggie said. "And we have the beach, the sun…" She groaned. "Shopping? I hate shopping."

I gasped. "What if we went baby shopping? Just to look?"

"I wanna do that with Santino…and it's too early. Anything could happen—"

"Have you had your first trimester screening yet?" Jordan asked.

"Yeah, we got those results the other day while I had my twelve week sonogram. It was negative. We're good. The baby's healthy." She smiled, staring down to her gut.

Excited, I touched her belly, too. It's solid and popping out more. "I can't wait 'til you're huge."

"In like a month we go for a second screening. I hate all the tests, but I want them all so I know . . ." Maggie trailed off.

"You're so young," Jordan said.

"I know how old I am," Maggie whispered, but I hoped Jordan didn't hear the snark. My sister-in-law hates it when people speak of her age, and I get it. Because she gets it from all angles, everyone has comments.

"I meant...you're young and you're healthy," Jordan explained. "You don't need all the tests…definitely not the amnio. If the first screening came out good, the chances of the second coming out positive are significantly lower—"

Maggie turned to smile at her. "Thanks for that. My mind just..." She tapped her forehead. "It runs away and I have worries."

"That's normal. Plus, you're hormonal . . . I'm interested in picking OB/GYN...as a specialty," Jordan said.

Maggie gasped. "Well, maybe in a few years, if we have another one...You can be my doctor."

"Sure," Jordan giggled.

"What do they screen for anyway?" I asked, looking from Jordan to Maggie.

"Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida—any chromosomal abnormalities, if you're having twins. That's often missed with the first ultrasound . . ." Jordan counted off her fingers, and then Maggie let out a whimper.

"I don't want my baby to have spina-whatever." She tried her hardest not to cry, her face turning all red.

"Let it out," I said.

Maggie let out a wail . . . and then she drew in a deep breath.

I rubbed her back. "Your baby's gonna be healthy and beautiful, and what if you have twins?" My eyes widened. "That'd be awesome, not a bad thing. You could gimme one."

Maggie giggled through her tears, and I turned to Jordan. "That wasn't your fault. It was mine. Since I opened my big mouth and asked."

Jordan didn't reply.

"We don't—Sonny warned me—I just—" I looked to Maggie. "It's my fault. I'm sorry," I told her.

"It's not a big deal. Hearing those words just breaks my heart, because I not only fear, but it makes me think of other babies who are born with those things," she said, totally fine now. "It's so sad...like those ASPCA commercials." Sonny warned me about that, too...to change the channel whenever Sarah McLachlan comes on.

I sat back, hoping the Advil would do its job when there was a knock.

"I'll get it." Maggie made to get up, and seeing her with a gun isn't something I'm used to. Sometimes Sonny makes her carry one in her purse, but Maggie makes believe it's not there.

Reaching the door, she inquired as to who was there, and then she opened it when the guy confirmed it was room service.

However, while Maggie opened the door, she pressed the gun to it—holding it there and out of the guy's line of sight—like she could shoot him and he'd never see it coming.

I thought that was so fucking cool.

When the dude rolled the cart in, Maggie stayed by the door. "Kylie…Dame left cash on the table."

Jordan handed me the money, and then I tipped the guy—keeping my eyes on Maggie's crazy ass while I also signed the bill.

Then I watched as Maggie closed the door behind him—the gun still pressed against it.

"Where'd you learn to do that?" I shouted.

She grinned, placing it down next to the TV. "I see your brother do it all the time, and I get it."

"But would you actually shoot someone?" Jordan actually looked mortified.

Maggie's expression was pensive while she thought about that. "Better to have killed than be killed."

I nodded, because she sounded—not only like Sonny—but my father as well. "If you think you're in danger, it's better to shoot first and ask questions later."

"Seriously?" Jordan asked.

Maggie and I looked at each other. "Yeah," we said in unison.

"Just . . . shoot someone?" Jordan shrugged.

"It's silenced…" Maggie whispered. "We wouldn't get caught, although I have no idea how to get rid of a body...Probably…put him in the bathtub until Dame came back?" She quirked a brow, smirking.

I cracked up because I knew she was kidding, but Jordan didn't. "I'd help you bury it," I told her.

"Here's an arm—no, it's a wing!" Maggie giggled, uncovering all the breakfast dishes. "What do you like, the leg or the wing?"

"Goodfellas!" I shouted.

Jordan didn't say anything. She just stared at us and walked to the sliding door. "I'll be outside."

"Hey…" I didn't know what to say. "Oh, you can't—shouldn't go out there until Dame comes back. Nothing'll happen to you, but Dame will get pissed."

Jordan turned to have a seat again while Maggie started setting the table. My sister-in-law's truly a momma bear that way, has to take care of everyone.

"You probably think we're crazy," Maggie said to her. "I mean, sometimes being so…having your guard up can seem silly, so we goof around. It makes light of how serious it can all be sometimes." She stopped what she was doing to face Jordan. "I can't explain what you're feeling, Jordan, but…please know that I felt the same way...in the beginning. It's weird and different, worrying about invisible threats you'd never think about before…But you're safe. None of us will ever let anything happen to you. You…just have to trust Damion." My sister-in-law sounded very sincere, yet it didn't placate Jordan—her face was kind of vacant. "Um . . . Hey, did you see this?" After that explanation, Maggie showed off her sonogram picture.

"Oh, how cute...in a few months, you'll be able to know the sex." Jordan finally smiled. "Do you guys want to know?"

Maggie nodded. "Definitely."

"I would, too," Jordan sighed, handing the picture back while her smile faded.

I knew—deep down—that her mind was running away from her, and I wished it wouldn't.

In fact, I wished she and Dame were engaged or closer in some way.

Jordan was an outsider.

While I wanted her to feel welcome, she wasn't a member of the club.

And I didn't like this…feeling exposed like this.

Her possibly passing judgment on us, thinking she might leave Dame after this weekend, scared she might see too much.

I liked her a lot.

Damion has been so much better since they got together. She makes him happy, but still…

My stomach was in knots.

On any other day, I'd agree with her—that we're crazy, nutjobs with guns or something.

But I felt protective of my family and our way of life.

What if she can't accept us?

What if she decides to leave my brother?

I knew in my heart that Dame would follow her anywhere, and then she'd have taken him away from us.

I didn't like that, and that fact made me like her less…although it wouldn't be Jordan's fault if Damion left.

And while I thought of that, I also wondered what was so special about Jordan, how she got her claws into Dame. Yeah, she's pretty and stacked, but she seemed bland—personality-wise—in comparison to my brother.

Maybe she's shy…only shines for Dame when no one else is watching . . . I could see that.

Damion's also quiet and shy, but he's got that same quality that Dad does—and Sonny has it, too. All three of them demand attention whenever they enter a room, whether they make their presence known or not…It's as if they're larger than life entities?

Nevertheless, he's head-over-heels, and I'm happy for him…Dame is tamer. He's not as malicious and cold-hearted as he was for a little while there. He's changed; he's more like how he used to be—before Amelia, before he started acting out—like when he was with Julie only happier? And I knew Jordan had a lot to do with it, but while he was with Julie, he was still a very active member of our family.

He'd...be there for us, around more often.

So, she's the reason why Dame's been distancing himself from us and our way of life…

My brother has always gone against the grain and had his own things going. But now...?

Just like Jordan looks at us a certain way, I'm afraid her beliefs might be rubbing off on Dame.

"He ordered without asking what I wanted?" I looked down to what was on my plate. It had a little bit of everything on it just like the rest of them. There were four identical dishes, except for Maggie's, which looked delicious.

"I'll trade you some pancakes for some scrambled," Maggie said.

"Okay." That sounded good and we exchanged food. She coughed up a whole pancake, which was awesome, and I just gave her all of my eggs.

It feels like an all-carb day anyway.

"Should we wait for them?" Jordan asked.

"I'm not." Maggie scooped some eggs into her mouth.

"Yeah," I agreed. "It's not rude because they won't care."

Jordan didn't reply, and she didn't start eating either. "I'll wait."

Neither Maggie nor I said anything.

Both hungry, we stuffed our fat faces, and the coffee was banging!

"I'm…going to go take a shower," Jordan said.

We nodded, quiet until she disappeared into the bedroom. We exchanged wide-eyed glances, smiling like dumbasses, but neither of us said anything—not until we heard the shower going.

"What do you think?" I whispered.

"I dunno. I've always liked her, and I still do...and she'll be okay...I was." Maggie nodded, taking a bite of pancake. "She's really nice, and it's not like they live in Brooklyn. As soon as they leave...things'll be normal for them again. I dunno." She had a mouthful. "These are so good." Then she smiled wide. "Let Damion try to explain without really explaining."

"Oh, that's gotta be hard," I mused. "Maybe I could—"

"You'd make it worse," Maggie spoke the truth. "And the tension is killing me. Be nice—nicer." She stared at me.

"What tension?" I shook my head.

"You're bitchy...like your tone? Just...please?" she asked.

"I have to watch my tone?" I laughed.

"She really is a nice person, and Damion loves her, and if you make her feel uncomfortable, they might come around even less than they already do." Maggie had a point. "You know how upset your mom is...with not getting to see Dame." She had to bring up my mother, so of course I was going to agree.

"Yeah…I'll try. But she looks at us like we're crazy—like we're freaks. I don't like it. And what if something happens and she sees something?" I munched on a piece of toast.

"Nothing's going to happen...I mean, I hope not, but then you let Dame explain." She shrugged. "That's not necessarily your problem, and if anything did happen...it'd be in self-defense." She furrowed her brow, and then she started laughing. "The last time I saw Jordan...she wondered why someone as sweet as I am, as young as I am, would be with someone like Santino. She's afraid of him. Santino." She thought that was hilarious, and I did, too.

But Maggie has never looked at my brother the way others do—the way the world does. My eldest brother can be menacing, but all Maggie sees is her fuckhot, gorgeous Santino. "And that was before Santino chased Jordan and Dame to your parents' house like some maniac. God knows what she thinks now." Her eyes widened as she tucked back into her plate.

I was about to respond when I heard the door opening.

Damion and Gio—my sweet and sexy man—entered the room.

"Here." He handed me a bag, taking a seat next to me.

"Thank you." I pecked his lips.

"Where's Jordan?" Dame asked.

"Shower." I pointed.

"Oh…" He joined us, instantly taking his plate to dig in.

"Wait for Jordan," Maggie said.

Dame shrugged. "She won't—"

"She'll care." Maggie nodded. "Then she'll be angry, but not tell you what's wrong because she'll think that her being upset is stupid. But you won't know why either…I speak girl."

"She's right," I agreed with her. "She took a shower because she wouldn't eat without you."

"I'm starving." Damion made a face.

"I bet…after the workout you had." Maggie widened her eyes.

I laughed. "Were they doing it?"

"Yes." Maggie sipped her juice. "The way she was squealing, he must'a been hittin' it deep!" She nudged Dame's arm.

I cackled and gave Maggie a high five. "Awesome."

Gio gave my brother a fist pound. "That's what's up."

"Never mind what I did…" Damion laughed. "You guys are crazy...all nosy and shit." He continued to smile, looking happy and relaxed while taking a piece of toast to go play with his cell phone on the couch.

I sighed, resting my head on Gio's shoulder. "Did you ever rent the jet ski?"

"No…if you're not riding with me, I don't want to." He kissed my hair.

"Gah, I love you." I squeezed him. "We should just be beach bums today."

"Yeah…" They both agreed.

After we finished eating, Damion and Jordan sat down for breakfast, and I bet their shit was cold. Nevertheless, Gio and I got ready for the day and so did Maggie. And the fact that our lovely suite only had one bathroom was crap. It took us all much longer than it normally would.

I helped slather Maggie with sunblock while Gio put tanning oil on me.

"You guys look like apes—all in a line like that, putting shit on each other," Damion laughed. "Like, you're picking lice."

When I was finished with Maggie, I tossed him the sunblock. "There you go, Casper."

He gave me those shifty eyes before leaving the room, but his ass better put that shit on. He'll burn if he doesn't. Damion has Mom's skin, whereas the rest of us—Dad, Sonny, and me—get tan.

I've been in the sun plenty this summer. I had a tan that I hoped would last, but I'm not crazy. My oil has SPF 20, but the scent of the sunblock had me reminiscing.

It smelled similar to that pink bottle my mother used to tote around everywhere—the Water Babies SPF 75, chasing all three of us and making sure we were protected.

That scent represented sunshine and happiness in my mind.

Smelling it—just the smell of it—made me smile.

But I missed Mom something awful.

I'm sure neither of my parents expected something to happen, and I was glad they didn't overreact and rush back to New York.

The fact that they hadn't . . . well, it kind of let me know that things weren't as bad; we had nothing to be scared of.

If there was something to fear, they'd be here in a heartbeat.

That was when I decided to look at this trip like Damion had suggested.

It's just a weekend away—a weekend vacation.

And I hoped Sonny was going to come out tonight.

"You okay?" Gio grabbed my hand.

I nodded, turning to give him a small smile. "Never better." And then I saw that Maggie had put on one of Sonny's big t-shirts to hide her bod, her flip-flopped feet on the bottom. Her stomach isn't even that much bigger than normal. Maggie's maybe gained like ten pounds, not even. "Take that off."

"Why?" She put her shades on.

"You have like…a month, two months until you're big. Show off that body now." I chuckled.

She grimaced. "I never…I mean, I always…I wanna keep the shirt on." But she doesn't when we're home in our own backyards.

"Let her," Gio said. "You should wear one, too."

I was taken aback. "Excuse me?"

He furrowed his brow. "You got your tits all hanging out and shit—you're my girl, man." He was about to get upset, and Gio hardly ever loses his temper.

I looked to Maggie for some backup, but she had nothing to say.

She actually ran out of the room.

I slumped my shoulders. "You don't think I look good?" I bought this bikini last week, although I never wore it by any of our pools. God forbid my dad saw me, or something. He'd chase me around with a towel—that nut. "I'm wearing shorts." Which ruined my whole look, but I do have my period.

"You got side boob!" He pointed. "I don't want other dudes seeing that—they're my boobs!"

I smiled. "It's supposed to be like this...'Cause it's triangular and has strings." I put my chest out, showing him the beautiful, intricate design.

He put his hands up. "I don't wanna fight with you, but—"

"But what?" I knew I was pushing his buttons.

He groaned. "Just—fuckin' wear something!" Gio shouted, grabbing a t-shirt to slam it into my hands.

"What the hell's going on?" Dame poked his head in. "Let's go already."

I wasn't putting the shirt on, and I dropped the one I had in my hands onto the floor.

Gio stared at me.

"What the hell is that?" Damion pointed. He could see me now that Maggie wasn't blocking me. "Ugh." He scoffed, covering his eyes. "I'm blind!"

"Thank you," Gio said.

"No way!" I spat.

"That thing's only covering your nipples—" Damion turned from me. "I can't look at you."

I pouted, thinking they were both asses at this point. "I hate you both! Get out!"

"Wear it." Gio nodded, coming toward me. "And watch what happens to the dude who looks at you—"

"What?" I asked.

Damion barked out a laugh and left the room.

"What's that supposed to mean?" It sounded like a threat.

Gio didn't say anything, and it was his turn to leave the room.

I scoffed at his retreating form.

He never walks away from me.

"You okay?" Maggie was back.

"Thanks for all the support," I snorted when I actually felt like crying.

Gio never walks away from me.

We never fight, and over something as stupid as my bathing suit?

"Come on…it's hot," Maggie said.

"What is?" I whispered.

"The possessiveness? It also shows he cares. I heard what he said . . . Now, you can either wear this bikini, and then watch as Gio knocks some guy's lights out. Or…you can put a tank top on, do him a favor, because he did you a favor by going out and getting you tampons." She sat on the bed.

I pursed my lips, knowing she had a point.

"Santino gets the same way…especially now that everything's tight. We're married, so I kind of don't have a choice—"

"Ugh!" I shouted at the ceiling. "You do—it's your body, Maggie. Christ! Just because you got married…doesn't mean you stopped being an individual. Sometimes you have great advice, and other times…it's 'Santino this' and 'Santino that.'" I sucked in a large breath because I wasn't finished. "Think for yourself, woman! You're sending feminism back a hundred years! You shouldn't even be allowed to vote!" I felt so much better after that rant.

"Fuck you," Maggie said, and she was so calm, it made me chuckle. "I respect my husband's wishes, and I don't want to see him upset. I know how to keep Santino on his toes, but it's stupid to fight over clothes!" She nearly shouted. "Plus, I also know that my husband wouldn't stop at one punch. He's nuts, and I love him crazy…God, do I love him crazy," she sighed, holding her chest while she belched. "I have heartburn."

I rolled my eyes and went in search for a top that matched my suit—all for the guy who bought me tampons.

But nothing mattered when I got on to the beach. The sun was out and so were other people. Besides taking the sun, relaxing under it, I also stared around, wondering what all their stories were.

There were two guys nearby on one blanket, but they didn't look at us once, so I guessed they were gay—maybe on their honeymoon.

There was a family with two little kids. They kept running up to the water and then running away when they thought the waves would catch them.

There were a group of girls taking the sun—like three of them—not too far away. The redhead kept checking out my brother, but Jordan's nose has been in a book since we got here, so I doubt she noticed.

Damion was quiet, just watched the water.

And Maggie was burying Gio in the sand. I was supposed to help, but I haven't said a word since we got out here. I wanted to help so badly, maybe make a sand castle afterward…

"Need help?" I asked Maggie.

She looked bored, pushing sand because we had no little shovels. "This wasn't as much fun as I thought it'd be," she admitted, sitting on her calves before crawling back onto the sheet.

"Ugh…" I pushed the sand she got on my feet away.

Then that crap flew everywhere when Gio hopped up. "You still mad at me?" He puckered his lips to kiss my cheek.

I smiled but composed myself when he faced me. "Yeah."

"Stop." He tickled my side.

"Can you stop reading?" Damion snapped, startling me.

Jordan closed the book and put it down. "I don't find the waves as fascinating as you do."

He laughed, turning away to hold his forehead. "I thought—forget it. You can't just relax?" Damion was crooning now, massaging her hand.

Jordan grinned. "I am relaxed…I like to read," she whispered, but everyone still heard her.

"Why don't you guys…" I trailed off, thinking they could sneak back into the room for an afternoon quickie.

"We have to stay together," my brother said. "I'm sorry. Read," he told her.

"Why don't we do something?" I asked. "Actually go somewhere?"

Damion shook his head, no doubt thinking it was bad a idea.

"I could go for a nap." Maggie yawned.

"You people are boring!" I nearly shouted. "We had more fun yesterday, and we didn't even do anything."

"Probably because I wasn't here," Jordan said.

"Dude…" I was shocked. "That's so not what I meant."

"But…I thought you might be thinking that," she admitted. "It's all right—"

"I wasn't thinking that," I defended, because I wasn't. "We just…had more fun yesterday."

Maggie pinched me, which was a silent indicator that I be nice, but I wasn't being mean. Jordan said something, and I defended myself. Sue me.

My brother stared at me, his gaze cold. "It was just as boring yesterday, but the novelty of the beach was new—exciting, which is why you weren't bored. Maybe you had more fun yesterday..." Damion said.

I frowned, and that really, really hurt. "You didn't? Like, at all?" Maybe there was some truth to what Jordan said since Damion acted so different today. Yesterday, I was able to hang out with my brother. We talked and laughed and just spent time together as a group. Meanwhile, we now seem coupled off, and I had the problem with it while Maggie didn't seem to care. I don't know.

Dame shrugged, turning to squeeze Jordan's leg.

"Fuck all this…I'm going to take a nap." Maggie left the sheet.

"I'll walk you back." Dame stood up, too.

"I can take her," Gio offered.

"Nah, it's cool." Dame waved him down, and then ushered Maggie back to the room.

And Jordan did not like them walking off together, craning her neck to see them with this dumbfounded look on her face, fire in her eyes.

It made me giggle. "He'll be right back."

She quirked a brow, looking down to her book.

"You're here to relax. Put the book down. When Dame comes back…go swimming. He only wants to spend time with you." I shrugged, and maybe my claws were out just a little bit, but...Whatever.

"We all left the room," Gio said. "He's gotta go back with her to make sure it's still empty. Get it?" he asked Jordan. "It ain't like that."

"What he said." I pointed to my boyfriend. "Plus, none of us should be walking alone anywhere—no matter where." I leaned on my elbows.

"I understand," Jordan said.

"Dame's leash must be shorter than I thought." Gio started laughing. "I'm just saying," he defended. "And why's Maggie so damn tired?"

"She doesn't sleep," I said. "For whatever reason, she can't—so she says, but I've seen her snoring away many times. I dunno. It's probably some weird pregnancy thing."

"Yup." Jordan supplied. "She should get back to normal soon. Things go up and down and around in the beginning."

I nodded, gazing out to the water. "We should do something. Let's get booze."

"I can agree with that." Gio kissed my cheek.

I gasped. "Booze and cards. Uno cards!"

"Uno is fun." Jordan smiled.

"So is booze…" I trailed off. "It'll be different once Sonny gets here, and then you'll have to talk to Maggie and me." I grinned at Jordan. "You won't be able to pry Dame away from Sonny…Well, sex might work." My gaze landed on her humongous breasts. "Either way, it'll turn into boys and girls and that whole mess."

"Are you under the impression I dislike you?" Jordan asked.

"Or…find me and Maggie annoying." My tone was condescending, and there was no one around to pinch me.

Then Gio clamped a hand down on my shoulder—to massage it vigorously. I shrugged away. "Knock it off," he whispered through gritted teeth and squeezed my thigh this time.

I sighed, staring out to the water.

"Kylie…I think…I don't know." She chuckled. "I can't help but feel you don't like me." She pointed to herself.

Gio nudged me, which wasn't very subtle.

"I like you," I said, cracking a grin. "You're nice and sweet, and you're good for my brother, and we should get along." The only thing I dislike about my brother falling in love is that—for him—everything else, everyone else, falls away. Sonny's not like that. I mean, Maggie comes first, but he can chill out and be social.

"Brought us back some beers," Dame announced, handing them out while he had his own liquor bottle tucked under his arm.

I took the beer, wondering what Jordan will make of that—the Jack.

/=/=/=/=/

Sonny

/=/=/=/=/

Hating my crib while it's empty, I made quick work of showering and getting dressed.

We switched it up—weren't going to hold the sit-down at Twilight.

Instead, we're to have dinner at this dive down on Canal Street. It's near La Bella Italia, and it has some of the best Chinese food in the city.

Luke and Mike were to do everything they could to shake any possible to tails—so they don't bring more Feds into the city. Regardless, mafiosi were having meetings everywhere to distract them, and Carlisle confirmed that they'd have their hands full. Also, our meeting was a secret—supposed to be kept secret. Everyone knew I was to intervene, but not where or how.

It was to be kept under wraps.

Not that any of that mattered.

To anybody else, we'll look like three dudes having a meal.

"You almost ready?" Grandpa asked. "Your uncle's downstairs."

I nodded, pushing my hair back.

"You wearing a vest?" He stared at me. "If not, you should." My grandfather's been trying to psych me out all day, and he wouldn't fucking leave. Even if he was here, my house still seemed empty. "I'm serious. Your father would." Little did he know, Kevlar already covered me.

"I'll be down in a second."

He finally stopped loitering around my bedroom. Thank God.

I wasn't truly worried about a thing.

The idea is to let Luke and Mike talk—air their shit once and for all—and then come to a compromise. The only thing I worried about was Luke mentioning the stolen goods that Philly had supposedly taken—what turned their conflict into an all-out war.

If it's spoken about…If either one has the suspicion that we did it, I'd have to think fast.

One, I'd deny it.

Two, if they don't take my word, I'll find it disrespectful, and then we'd be in it.

But having those two in such close quarters, I'd take them both out.

I had people in place just in case such a complication arose.

I had people in place for just about every outcome, so I was confident everything would work out.

Before I left our bedroom, I sat down and called Maggie.

She picked up on the first ring. "Hello?"

"Hey." I smiled, just hearing her voice, but… "You sound tired."

She giggled. "I miss your knee in my back."

I laughed. "Right…but tell me…how's everything? What are you up to?"

"Nothing much," she sighed. "We're here—all in the suite, getting along," she said that as if they might not be.

"What's wrong?" I asked, amused.

"I don't know…there's just…hostility? Tension?" she asked. "But the food here is fantastic!"

"You're so cute." I chuckled. "I'm hoping I get to see you tonight."

"Me too. I'm missing you like crazy."

Suddenly, my uncle appeared in the doorway.

I put my finger up to stall him. "I have to go. I love you."

"Wait!" She rushed out. "What—"

"I'll call you back in a little bit," I said.

"Okay." I could tell she was pouting. "I love you, too."

I ended the call to quirk a brow. "What's up?"

Carlisle let out a groan, coming over to join me. "We have a problem."

I rolled my eyes. "What now?"

He shook his head. "Mike…" My uncle seemed at a loss for words. "He's not coming."

"Why?" I asked. "He said he would."

Carlisle raised a brow. "Well, all I said was that we'd conduct a meeting. He, of course, assumed he'd be meeting with your father—"

"He won't talk to me," I laughed. "I…I don't know what to make of that, and let me guess. Luke's already on his way?"

Carlisle nodded.

"So, now what?" I honestly didn't know what my next step should be. Logically, we should just…I had no clue. Reschedule? However, his not wanting to sit with me was a sign of disrespect. He fucking dissed me.

And if I let him get away with it . . .

What would that say about me?

"I can't not show up." If Luke was still set to be there, I couldn't waste his time and not go either. "But it's understandable—sort of, although stupid." I shook my head.

"Mike said he'd send his second to come and talk to youse—to which, I told him not to bother." Carlisle shrugged. "He sensed that I wasn't happy, and he's been trying to call me since." He started laughing. "He's called me over ten times. But…your next step, Sonny, it's your next step." He patted my back. "Understand?"

"Can you gimme a sec?" I asked. "I'll be right down."

"All right." He left my bedroom.

I waited until I heard him descend the stairs before I called my father. I hoped he'd pick up since I used a whole new prepaid; he won't recognize the number.

"Hello?"

"It's me," I said. "The Liberty Bell won't come to me."

"Well, you're not going to the Liberty Bell," he laughed.

I laughed, too. "What do I do?" As much as I hated to ask for help, I needed it, completely fucking torn, and I hoped he didn't see it as a sign of weakness.

"Respect—their loyalty—it's all you have. I know what I'd do, and you know—as much as I wished it weren't so, because I can't stand that fuck—where our own loyalties lie."

"Go there, talk to who's there, and we're in this?" I asked.

"But now Liberty knows where youse'll be. Change location," he said grimly.

"Figured that." I nodded.

"Look, that's a hop, skip, and a jump for us. There'd be no battlefields on our lands."

"Send a group for L to use at his disposal?" I asked.

"Lend a helping hand…" He trailed off. "Yeah, but what's your prize?" His mind is always on money, and I can't fault him for it. "See what he's offering. If not, hey, you can make an example, and I bet the next Bell will come to you," he cackled, but he wasn't giving me answers—just more choices.

But I knew what I was going to do. "Thanks."

"You're welcome." He ended the call.

Heaving a heavy sigh, I let my bedroom and ran down the stairs.

"You didn't fuck her? What's wrong with you?" Grandpa shouted at Carlisle. "Who are you? I would have. Amelia Drasso's turned into a hot piece of ass."

My uncle wouldn't even dignify him with an answer; I know I wouldn't.

"We ready?" I asked.

"I'll drive. Vito's gonna follow." Grandpa left ahead of me.

"Tell Luke to go to La Bella Italia instead," I told my uncle, and he was fast to get on his cell.

During the ride into Manhattan, my mind ran away from me. But while I had many things on the brain, one thing stuck out from the rest. I hoped I could handle this shit and hit the road—so I could meet up with my wife and siblings. While I'm the happiest I've ever been lately, the past few months have been hectic with me working all the time. I couldn't wait to just chill on the beach with my wife...not have to worry about keeping a schedule or anything.

And I meant what I told my brother. I mean, I hope I get to spend some time with him. Though, Dame could do whatever he wanted once I got out there, and I saw no harm in the rest of us staying until Tuesday.

Wise guys littered Mulberry Street like they usually do, but I only caught sight of two New Jersey soldiers. They stood outside La Bella Italia, and that's when I knew Luke had beat me there.

The restaurant itself was kind of empty, save for all my people who must have scrambled to get here. Those who were supposed to be here already were.

"Aro called—said the Feds are circling Midnight Sun, like there's about to be bust, so we gotta move quick."

"No one's doing anything," I said, knowing everyone was to just convene, not conduct any business.

"There won't be a bust. I'm just saying. Talk, have a drink, and be ghost before they realize we're here and disband—come over this way."

I nodded as I walked farther into the dining room.

Luke sat at a table set for six, his guy Giuseppe at the bar.

"How you doin'?" I shook his hand.

"Can't complain." Luke kissed my cheeks. "Where's the Skip?"

"Vacation." I smiled, having a seat, and then I snapped my fingers for a drink.

"Changing locations like that…so sudden." Luke raised a brow. "What's that about?"

"Your friend isn't coming," I said.

"Really?" That made Luke smile wide. "Why not?"

"He'd rather eat with my father. Did you know I'd be here?" I was curious.

"I did…" He sat back in his chair. "I'll be honest—and it has nothing to do with you—but I don't feel too comfortable. This place has amazing food, you know? But it's hot." He loosened his tie, and I couldn't remember the last time I saw a wise guy wear one.

"I know that," I admitted. "So, we should get down to brass tacks…Thank you," I told the waitress, quick to sip my scotch.

Luke widened his arms. "But do you see the kind of prick that douche is? To practically stand you up?"

I knew he was provoking me, and yet I maintained my smile.

"Is your pops really stepping down?" Luke whispered.

"No," I said. "He's on vacation, but I'm curious as to why you never reached out to him? To resolve this sooner?"

He shrugged. "To be honest, I felt like a dick after all that shit had gone down. Also, we've been holding our own." He was jovial, proud of himself.

Curious, I asked, "How's Amelia doing?"

That made his smile disappear, and I knew it would. "She's good."

"She tells a different story," I said. "Came here asking for help."

Luke had fire in his eyes, and I didn't know which to believe. He was either holding his own against Philly, or losing so terribly—like Amelia told my uncle—that Mike was getting closer and closer to whacking him.

From what I've heard—from a difference source, my boy Adriano—is that they're doing okay.

While they've had no major victories, they haven't had any mass casualties either. Philly's taken bigger hits as of late.

But these days, a war between families isn't necessarily about violence.

It's all about the money—who stole what from whom, and so on—but people do die.

"I'd rather not discuss my daughter. She made her choices, wanted to leave Jersey, so what she should care?" he asked.

I didn't reply because saying less is more in these situations.

"But I promise she won't contact you again."

I nodded. "You're holding your own, like you've said."

"And that fuck skipped out on us." Luke stared at me. "So, what do you wanna do?"

"Oh, I have no doubt in my mind," I laughed. "In the near future, he'll reach out to you…and problems withstanding, you're going to squash it."

"I am?" Luke asked.

I nodded. "He'll know we've met, he'll call off his hounds if you do, and you will because we want him comfortable. And when that happens, I want you to bring me his head." I kept my tone low. "You have agreements with my father, which have been nullified due to past beefs. I'd reinstate them, and if you need anything else, you know my number."

Basically, if he needs help, he can call, and we will help. This will keep us out of their conflict for the time being, but I gave him my blessing to clip Mike—we were unofficially in it now.

"Unless…Mike wants to make his absence up to me. Regardless, you and I have the same agenda, I'm guessing." I found this to be comical.

Luke smiled around the rim of his glass as he sipped his drink. "I feel you. It all sounds wonderful. My knights and bishops are getting closer and closer to the king. Unfortunately, once he knows that we've met here, he might hand in his resignation, try to talk you into joining the game, youse tag team me."

"My word's no good?" I asked, staring at him.

He showed me his palms. "Sonny—"

"Santino," I corrected him.

"Buddy—" he squeezed my hand, and I stared at his until he removed his paw "—all I'm saying is...Look...I mean, of course I trust you. It's—" he was stammering and squirming where he sat.

Even if I got a kick outta that, you attract more bees with honey. I shook my head, letting go of any annoyance. "He won't…Mike has nothing I want. He never had anything I wanted, but he dissed me." I chuckled. "My objective was to come here and develop a standing truce between all three of us—putting our past qualms to bed along with your problems with Philly."

"I hear you, and thank you," he sighed. "I'm glad to be back on your father's good side, though." He winced.

"Well, I can't truly speak on my father's behalf." I couldn't let Luke lose sight of the fear he has for the Skip. "Call if you need anything, and if you're feeling creative, bring Mike to me alive."

Luke laughed, sticking his hand out to shake mine. "Great doing business with you."

"Likewise." I stood up and watched as Luke left the restaurant.

At that same moment, my uncle left the bar to join me. Carlisle and I stayed silent until we walked through the kitchen and out the back door. My grandfather was waiting for us in his whip.

"So, what happened?" Carlisle asked. "If I'd have sat down, that ass Giuseppe would have joined us—"

"I'm setting an example," I said.

"Knew you would," he mumbled. "We're in this now."

"Nope." I smiled. "Not yet. He's holding his own—he's content to keep doing so. He needs anything, he'll call. But for the luxury to do so, he's going to take care of Mike for me."

Carlisle started cracking up. "We're basically where we started. Not in this but waiting…"

"What would you have done?" I asked. "Scratch that. What do you think my father would have done?"

"Nobody disses the Skip unless they have a death wish, but your father also has a terrible temper. He'd want Mike's head, but he would have gone for it himself—causing madness, mayhem, and casualties across the board while we all stomped around the Garden State." Carlisle blew out a breath. "It's happened before...Christ. I feel I'm too old for that now. Maybe all that shit is still what keeps my brother young in a way..." he mused.

"This way—my way—Luke's working for me instead of against, only because he thinks we have his back…If you don't know what to do…do nothing." That last bit was actually something my mother's told me a time or two.

"I agree," Carlisle said.

I shrugged. "They're still gonna continue to pick each other off—one by one—in this process, though. Unless . . . Mike reaches out to Luke, knowing he's beat because he can't stand up to both of us alone. I'm banking on that. They'll come to their own truce, and then Luke'll still take him out. There are plenty of ways this can play out, but in all of them…we still come out on top. And no one will cancel because I'm not my father again."

"It's smart." Carlisle nodded. "But whacking a boss, though?" He didn't sound too happy about that. "It's unavoidable, and that fuck is still calling my phone. I gotta throw it out." He looked down to his prepaid. "Your father will be pleased. He didn't wanna get involved either…which might also be why he wanted you to handle this. Some promise he made to your mother."

"Yeah…I know I don't wanna do anything to disrupt our lives. Also, we get into this shit…" I stuck my tongue out. "It's not worth it. Either way, like I said, it's done. They're done, so we resolved matters without Mike, and he's gonna be the one to make the call," I laughed.

"It's smart," Carlisle repeated himself. "More like…a scare tactic; meanwhile, you ain't doin' shit." He cracked up.

"He'll have his eyes open—all paranoid and shit. But it's going to force his hand. He's a fool if he doesn't squash shit with Luke. And Luke's happy because he's not the one backing down…" I stopped talking when my uncle's phone rang. "It's that fuck?"

"Nah, it's your dad." He brought the phone to his ear. "What's up…? Yeah, we're heading back already . . . Your son's a genius."

I tried not to smile, hearing that, and I stared out the window.

"He played 'em both. There's going to be peace across the land…" My uncle sounded wistful. "Here." He handed me the phone.

"Yeah?" I asked.

"You pulled that outta your ass, didn't you?" Dad laughed.

I didn't reply, wouldn't admit that.

"Well, improvisation is your friend…and you made the right call, but…an example will still be made?" He sounded excited.

"Of course, but not by my hand. And when all this is over, you'll not only have Luke by the balls again, but you'll have whoever's that stands up in Philly, too." If events unfold the way they're meant to, that triple truce will be forced upon us all.

"No," he disagreed. "You will."

I was speechless, but I bounced back fast. "You don't mean that." The thought was still unbelievable.

"In the future? Sure, you will." That sounded more like it. Believe it or not, I was relieved hearing that. "You did good, kid. I'll see you soon." And he ended the call.

"I have a feeling your father's going to be the Michael Jordan of this thing—retire, come back, retire, come back—" Carlisle was in such a good mood. "I'm glad all this is settled. You wanna have a drink somewhere?"

"No," I said. "I'mma meet up with Maggie and them. Anything comes up, I'll come home."

"All right."

"Wanna come out?" I asked. "Grab Ant, and the three of us'll shoot out there?" In a good mood myself, I squeezed his shoulder. "With your family away—"

Carlisle barked out a laugh. "I have twin toddlers…adult children that still live at home, and my house is empty at the moment. I'm goin' home!"

I smiled. "Oh, you're not gonna hit up Eclipse? It's Saturday night." Usually, he'll chill there for a couple of hours just to be there, but my father's normally with him—Aro, too.

"Fuck all that…" He grumbled. "I'mma be real with you—real honest. You've been married for like ten seconds. Soon—before you know it—you'll have a bunch of kids…There's screamin', shoutin'…people in the way. You're young. You'll love it for the first…ten years. Now?" He looked to me. "I wanna go home, drink a few beers in my underwear, and maybe yank on my dick in the privacy of my own living room . . . Pop a porn into the Blu-ray. Eat some bacon without my wife making a face and commenting about my cholesterol…"

I laughed my ass off. "That…sounds so fucking sad." I was honest.

"Only thing better…" He trailed off. "I wish Alex was home. We'd watch a porn together, and I'd get to eat her."

"Yo..." I felt he'd said enough.

But he kept going. "Liking the quiet doesn't make me a bad person. I raised Hanna, Carli, Anthony, and then Li'l Eddie. I thought we were done, and while I love Ron and Blaze to death, and they complete us as a family…I essentially work two jobs between counselling your father, being on top of all family matters, and then the law firm?" He grimaced, pushing his hair back. "By the time I get home, my family's day is just winding down…but Alex gives me those I'm-about-to-go-nuts eyes, and then I'll do baths, trying to calm the twins, put them to bed while my wife is still running ragged with other things. All while also hoping she won't be too tired, gimme some pussy," he sighed again. "Then there's weekends, and there's never a quiet moment. There's always drama. And your adult cousins won't leave the nest—"

"You made it too comfortable!" Grandpa shouted. "I know I was a dick—which pushed you out my crib real quick."

Carlisle jerked a thumb to the front seat. "This motherfucker…"

I chuckled, shaking my head.

"I liked you better when you were a whore," Grandpa told him. "Edward got married; he didn't lose his balls. You…? And you?" He eyeballed me in the rear view.

"Getting married didn't change me…not business-wise," I said.

"Eh…you're right." He shrugged. "You're a lot like your pops in that respect, but you…?" He sat up straight to grill Carlisle in the mirror. "When was the last time you saw action anywhere?"

"You're such a mean old fuck. Keep drivin'," Carlisle spat. "There's enough action in my bedroom. Trust. We do make time for that." He slapped his hand to mine. "You're just bitter because you gotta pay broads to fuck your old ass."

"Oh…" I couldn't imagine speaking to my father like that; he'd kill me.

"Alex got some nice titties, though. No wonder Dame tried to get between 'em." Grandpa nodded.

I winced when Carlisle punched the back of his seat. "Take it easy." I patted his forearm, but my uncle was fuming.

"Why are you baiting me?" Carlisle shouted.

Grandpa slumped his shoulders. "Come to Eclipse with me."

"No!" my uncle snapped.

I laughed as Grandpa got into the left lane to enter the Battery Tunnel, heading to Brooklyn.

"Maybe Ant'll wanna hang with me," Grandpa spoke to himself. "Yeah, I'll get him some cooz. Maybe that'll snap him outta that phase—"

"It's not a phase, Dad," Carlisle groaned, slumping lower in the seat. "Do not call Anthony. Leave him alone."

"I'll call around—find a chick with a dick. A compromise?" Grandpa gave us a fleeting glance.

A chuckle escaped me, and Carlisle punched my bicep. "Don't humor him," he said.

Sighing, I leaned into the front seat. "You're crossing a line, Gramp. Seriously."

"Fuck you." He nudged me with his elbow.

"Fuck me?" I laughed; meanwhile, he hit a nerve. "Watch yourself, old man."

"Old man." He scoffed. "So fucking sensitive. I didn't raise you that way, and Ed didn't raise you that way…But youse two are more fun than Ant and Dame. Now, those two…?"

"Enough!" Carlisle was about to lose his shit.

"Sorry," Grandpa whispered.

"Look, you wanna come home with me? We'll have a few beers, relax—Dad, that's cool, but stop your shit." Carlisle massaged his forehead.

"All right," Grandpa agreed, and he remained silent for the rest of the ride.

/=/=/=/=/

The drive out to Montauk was long. I was able to head out a lot earlier than I thought, but the roads were empty, and the highway seemed like it'd go on forever, and I was antsy to be there already.

I sped the entire way, and I pulled into the parking lot at a quarter to ten, which was still early.

When I entered the hotel, I checked in, got my room key.

There was no way Maggie and I were sharing that suite with everyone else.

We need our privacy, but I had to go get her first.

I knocked, although I know I should have called. "Yo…"

"Sonny?" Damion asked, whipping the door open. "Thank God." He tackle-hugged me, and I laughed.

"Bro, what'd you think was gonna happen?" I asked.

"I had no idea because you can't pick up a phone and call a fucker." Now he sounded pissed.

"Eh, well . . ." I entered the room, and it was a fucking disaster. Shit was just everywhere, like none of them could clean up after themselves. "What'd a bomb go off?"

"I know, right?" Dame chuckled. "The kiddos aren't the neatest . . ."

I knew it was him, too. "Where's Maggie?"

"In the room sleeping." He pointed behind himself, and that's when I saw Jordan.

"What's up?" I asked.

She waved, her cheeks flushing scarlet.

"Having fun?" I tried to engage her in conversation. She never talks to me, and Maggie says it's because Jordan fears me, which is stupid. It'd be nice—getting along with my brother again—if we could all be friends, if we could all chill together. Especially since I have the feeling she'll be my sister in the future.

Jordan nodded, her eyes falling down to her book again.

"Do you like the beach?" That was my last attempt, for this evening anyway.

Dame stared back to his girlfriend, furrowing his brow. "What's wrong?"

Jordan smiled, sitting up higher in her chair. "I'm great—the beach is wonderful."

"Very cool," I said, looking around the room. "Where's Kylie and Peto?" They were nowhere to be found.

"In the other room…doing…each other." Dame shrugged, sitting on the couch.

Curious, I tried to hear if they were fucking, and I heard nothing. But those two are too used to sneaking around.

"Apparently, all of us being separated was the only compromise…I don't know what Kylie's problem is," he whispered.

"Maggie and Kylie were fighting?" I asked.

He slowly shook his head no.

"All right. Lemme get my wife, and then we'll be outta your way—" I turned for the room, but he stopped me.

"Sit…chill a second," Dame said.

I blew out a large breath. "Uh, sure." Honestly, I was tired, and I just wanted to relax with Maggie. But Dame wanted me to hang, and he did me a huge solid this weekend . . . "Is there anything to drink?" I went to take off my jacket.

"No, go…I get it." He waved a hand. "But we're all chillin' tomorrow, right? The beach is in-fucking-sane."

"Definitely." I slapped my hand to his before I went for the bedroom.

Maggie wasn't sleeping but sitting up in bed watching TV. "Santino!" She almost fell out of the bed, got caught in the sheets.

"I'm here." I got to her before she could fall. "I told you I'd be here."

She hugged me tight. "Oh, now I can finally get some sleep."

I smiled, rubbing her back. "Where's all your stuff?"

"Oh…everything's everywhere. Most of my stuff is in the other bedroom. Kylie and I were supposed to share, but…blah." She tightened her hold. "I'm already in PJs…I'll get my stuff in the morning."

"All right." I could agree to that.

"We'll just take Noah."

I nodded, helping her out of bed. "I missed you like crazy."

"You have no idea." She squeezed me again, which made me feel amazingly happy, and I also felt lucky—to be loved the way she loves me. Sometimes, I believe I might love her more. Even so, having Maggie just for me, was still a godsend. "I think Kylie is jealous of Jordan," she whispered.

I honestly didn't care, but on the inside…I kind of hoped Kylie would make Dame miserable…as miserable as he made me. But, no, that'd never happen. Kylie's too much like my mother. She can't hold a grudge. By next week or even tomorrow night, Kylie and Jordan will probably be best friends. "He's…always been her Dame-y Bear."

Maggie rolled her eyes. "It's ridiculous. You have no idea how awkward today was. Nothing was lost to anyone, which made Dame pissy," she giggled. "I actually felt bad for Gio and Jordan, the only normal people. I'm how I am right now, and it was like Dame and Kylie were both PMS-ing."

I laughed, lifting her chin to kiss those lips. "You weren't too upset, were you?"

"I was worried and I missed you," she hummed, looking to the floor. "I might have cried just a little." She showed me her thumb and forefinger.

"Just a little...that's okay." I nibbled on her earlobe, trailing kisses down her neck.

She leaned into me. "I was bored, too...Did a lot of emo eating. I stuffed my face, and I didn't puke once. That was awesome."

"Good." I was so happy to hear that she was getting back to normal in that respect. She's able to control her nausea with eating a bunch of very small meals throughout the day. It's weird—she overeats and gets sick, and if she goes too long without eating, she gets sick. "How's the bean?" I bent low to kiss her stomach.

"Whew. You just gave me butterflies again," she giggled.

"Let's go to our room…I'll give you more than butterflies," I promised, palming her ass. "And you might not get that much sleep." Funny how I wasn't tired anymore.

Maggie was even more excited, and she grabbed my hand to start pulling me out. "We can get the dog tomorrow, too—"

She didn't mean that, so before she could get us too far, I grabbed Noah.

"We'll meet up for breakfast?" I asked Dame and then I dropped the dog. "Shit." That little fucker bit my finger. Luckily, he landed on his feet before running to my brother.

"Go!" Dame pointed him out.

"You hold onto him," Maggie said while she opened the door. "Goodnight!"

"Yo...take him." Dame held him out to us.

Maggie only had one thing on her mind.

Following her lead, I winked at my brother before I just closed the door. We truly didn't have far to go. All we had to do was turn, and we were entering our room.

As soon as we were inside, Maggie jumped into my arms, making my back hit the door, slamming it closed. "Impatient?"

"The bed," she mumbled between landing open-mouthed smooches along my neck.

Grinning from ear to ear, I walked to the bed to place Maggie down. Now taking in the decor, I thought we had a nice spot—king-sized bed, large television, a desk, and a chest of drawers. There was also a dining table with two chairs, decorated in various shades of blue and white.

"Slow down," I whispered, palming Maggie's cheeks, making her look at me.

She backed away from me to stand on the bed.

Then I watched as my beautiful wife undressed in front of me. She shimmied out of her sweats, and then lost her t-shirt before taking off her underwear.

Mesmerized, like I often am, I just watched—getting harder by the second.

"Come here," she whispered seductively, crawling toward me.

I walked closer to the bed, where her hands roamed up my chest, and then to my shoulders to push my jacket off.

It landed on the floor behind me, while Maggie started to undo my shirt buttons.

All I could focus on was my sexy as sin wife, who was naked and too close not to gather into my arms. A growl escaped my lips as my hands began to travel along her warm body. "You're beautiful," I whispered.

Her gaze flashed to mine, a coy smile playing at her lips, and her hands came up to finish their task. She'd place a kiss on me whenever she'd pop open a button, going down until her eyes landed on my nine. Slick, she pulled it from my waist to turn the safety on. "Safety first," she giggled, discarding it onto the mattress.

"I love you," I said.

"I love you..." She pushed my shirt away from me also, eyes zeroing on my chest. Then she lifted my undershirt to pepper me with those kisses that drive me insane.

My breathing picked up, while I gently hugged her head close.

She undid my belt and then my pants, letting them drop before she scooted higher on the bed. "Come get me." She turned to pull the covers and sheet back, quick to lean back against the pillows and spread her legs.

Frantic, frenzied and excited myself, I kicked my shoes off with force, doing the same with my slacks and boxers.

"Hurry, or I'll start without you." Her hand ran down her stomach, and then she started to massage her clit.

Now overeager, I leapt onto the bed, yet I was content to watch, as I rubbed up her thighs. "You gettin' it wet for me?"

She hissed, her finger traveling lower to enter. "It's always wet...for you, because of you." The sexy, sloshy noise that sounded from her pussy made her words true. Maggie was soaked as I stroked my cock and watched her finger herself. "'Cause of you." She moaned, pushing her tits out.

My wife knows exactly what to do—to drive me crazy—and my chest felt tight with need. As I eased between her thighs, I said, "Move your hand."

She complied; I fell forward, my palms resting on either side of her head as I thrust into her to groan, my eyes rolling. "Christ, baby—"

Maggie held my shoulders, her legs wrapping around my waist. "Fuck me."

My lust for her, my need for her took up every part of me—my mind, my heart, and my body—and I slammed into her over and over. Maggie squirmed, cries and whimpers of pleasure falling from those lips, and then she began to move with me.

Even if I was down, was content to go at this speed, we had to slow down. We couldn't be so rough, not as rough as we used to be.

Letting out a large breath, I leaned away to look down. "We have all night." My hips stilled.

Maggie's chest was heaving, and she still tried to thrust up into me.

"Baby..." To calm her, my hand lightly ran from her shoulder down to her stomach.

Emotion shined bright her eyes. "We have our whole lives." She swallowed.

I nodded and bent low to place my lips to hers. "Our whole lives."

Thank you for reading.

Please leave me your thoughts.


Check out my new fic "Higher" Summer of 1994: Dial-up internet. Pagers. Walkmans. AOL chat rooms. O.J in a white Bronco. And blazingly hot weather in Brooklyn where eighteen-year-old Bella Swan is filling her days making ice cream sundaes before she starts college. But one long night – full of Ecstasy, subway rides, dark dance clubs, and a boy she doesn't want to stay away from – may change everything. E/B. HEA. Drama/Romance/Humor and realism. Close to canon.

s/9254112/1/Higher

Posting Schedule: It's not a drabble but the chaps aren't crazy long. I'm going to try for posting a chapter a day until it's complete - five chapters a week. Since it's the first, and the story is complete, I hope to have it up entirely within the month. Thank you, and I hope you check it out.

Lexi