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Fiancé sings while he cooks up spicy omelets. I hum along, indulging in pineapple and raspberry leaf tea. Mama swears the combination will kickstart labor. She believes medical induction is against the Lord's will. Baby's coming one way or another. Appointment's tomorrow morning.
Stefano's phone rings. Check the screen. The agency. Hand it over. Flash him 'the look'.
"Morning, sir." He listens for about a minute then pockets the phone with a chuff.
CIA's not honoring paternity leave? Must be serious.
"My operatives infiltrated Carrera Nocturna with bad intel. Mission fell apart. Rescue's mobilizing."
"They sent trainees into a traffickers' den?"
No time to debate agency ethics. He collects credentials and sidearm. Wrap his omelet in a tortilla. Exchange food for a kiss before letting him go.
It's six hours to Mexico. Day drags. Can't rest. Practice squats. Repack the hospital bag. Do chores that Stefano would insist doing if he were here. Call Mama. She threatens to get on a plane early. Brothers talk her down. Family prays, asks God to watch over His CIA warriors. Amen.
Office calls around five o'clock. Team's heading back, but Stefano's not on the plane. Grab my purse and badge.
Invade Operations. "You left him?!"
Chatter stops. Boss bolsters himself.
"His choice, Angela. Kara-Dee Miller's been taken."
Fuck. Handsy girl with the crush. Why her?
"We told you the juniors weren't ready."
"Yeah, but— necessity." Guilty eyes meet mine. "Fiore's driving to the hub in Osorio. He's gone silent— too deep in enemy territory."
Jesus. Every second Stefano's moving farther away, but Miller's gone for good if the abductors reach the coast. Cuídate, mi amor. Late is forgivable as long as you come home.
Monitor the channels. Read reports. Body aches. Should be soaking in a bath with Stefano then a massage and sex— that's our scheme in hopes of starting natural labor. Seems stupid now.
Near midnight, perk up to loud, familiar voices. Filthy bodies converge, flooding personal space. Would be irked if not for fearful expressions. The rookies say Kara-Dee sacrificed herself so they could escape. Gutsy move. Of course, she's a protector— eldest of five kids.
Damn tired come one o'clock. Can't rest because shaken recruits hover, refusing to go home. No sign of Stefano or Kara-Dee. Worry drives me to rant. Now they know about the botched birth plan. Boys bring me tea then search out something spicy. Girls volunteer for massage duty. Oooh, yes. Like that. Thank you. Just gonna close my eyes for a minute.
Whispers. "Angela? You awake?"
"Shush. Let her sleep."
Phone alarm wakes me at seven. Sore, groggy, but gotta pee.
Step from the ladies room and into a wall of muscle. Gaze lifts to find dark, adoring eyes. Stefano! Dirty, unshaved, but alive. Enthusiastic kisses draw attention from co-workers.
Boss asks, "Off to the hospital?"
The appointment. Ugh.
"No," Stefano decides. "Going home."
Trainees walk us to the elevators. Kara-Dee stays away. Stefano's stare tells me it's time to forgive her for the past indiscretion, but I'm not ready.
Head home. Stefano runs bathwater to scrub away layers of grime. Choose to help, soaping with greedy fingers that appreciate his prime assets. Eager for closeness, I drain and refill the tub, climbing in to rest between his legs and against his chest. Soak while sharing treats and caresses.
During the massage, things get serious. Open up at his beckoning. A deft, insistent tongue glides, flits across my sensitive folds. Muscles tense. Digits curl with delight. Shudder with yearning. He fills my need, showing his devotion with strengthening strokes. Love this act of give and take, an empowering clamber for shared sensation. With a burst, we hit the summit of our coupling, flying free for a glorious moment before the gradual descent.
Wake later to aching back and lower abdomen. Pelvis pressure increases with a bathroom visit. Call to the doctor has us hospital-bound. Eighteen hours of grueling labor follow. Mia Fiore-Fuentes enters the world at five fifteen in the morning.
Work offers to retrieve Mama from the airport. Kara-Dee walks in with her, toting luggage and a gift basket. Stefano takes the items, then hands over the baby, forcing the young woman to stay.
Note 'the look' from Stefano. A setup. Jerk. Might smack him later.
Watch Kara-Dee coo at Mia. Swallow my pride. Offer her a babysitting job, which she accepts with gratitude before leaving.
Stefano acts proud. He rewards me with a song and cuddles while Mama rocks Mia to sleep.