“I know. I’ll do whatever it takes to protect the two of you. When I saw that guy over you, I wanted to murder him with my bare hands, but I knew I wouldn’t get over to him fast enough. I can’t lose you, Raine. I can’t lose you or Christie. I don’t want to.”
“You won’t.” She finally made herself look at him. “I’m not going anywhere.” There was nowhere else for her to go. This was the life she’d picked the moment Lora went with him.
“Thank you. I promise to you that I won’t fuck this up.”
They finished washing in the shower, and once they were back in his room, she grabbed a robe, and went to check on Christie. She was asleep in the spare bedroom, and right now, Raine didn’t want to think about where she was supposed to sleep, or what she was supposed to do. Her life was crazy. Leaning against the doorframe, she folded her arms, and watched as Christie slept. She held on tightly to her bear, sleeping soundly.
Raine was thankful that she wasn’t having nightmares, or worried about people coming to get her.
“She’s sleeping safely. We’ve got men in the hotel, and they’re on our side, wanting change for The Family,” Luiz said, coming to wrap his arm around her.
“I trust you,” she said, looking at the small child in the bed. “There are times she reminds me of Lora.”
“She was a little bossy.”
Raine smiled. “Even when we were kids. I’m tired. Do you have another room here?”
“No. You’re sleeping with me, and I’m not going to have you argue with me on this.”
“I’m not going to have sex with you.”
“I’ve not said sex, yet. I just want us to be together, okay? I want to hold you. Nothing wrong with that.”
She nodded. She partially closed Christie’s door and stepped away, following Luiz into his room.
They both wore robes, and even as they lay down, neither of them said anything, and she stared across at the wall, wondering what her future was going to be. She liked Luiz’s arms around her, and she finally fell into a deep sleep.
“So you have a kid,” Donnie said the following day.
“And you’ve had a whole other life?” Tonio asked.
“Yes.” Luiz looked toward the kitchen where Raine and Christie were making pancakes together. Paige and Zara were at the kitchen counter, talking.
Raine wore one of his shirts and a pair of his boxer briefs. They were the only things that were close to fitting her. He’d need to get her some clothes, and he wasn’t going to let her go back to the house in case there was someone watching to see if they went back.
“Why didn’t you say anything?” Jake asked. “We tell each other everything.”
“Do we? Tonio didn’t tell me about his relationship with Maria.”
“You fucking knew!” Tonio glared at him.
“You didn’t tell me. Look, I met Lora one night in the damn diner. I loved her. She was everything this world isn’t. My dad didn’t have a clue, or I didn’t think he knew, but he did. He knew what I’d done, and he made me pay.”
“Did you face him?” Donnie asked.
“After I got Raine and Christie to safety, I went to face him. He didn’t have a clue that I’d gotten there. I’d saved my little girl, and her auntie. He didn’t know, so I vowed he would never find out.”
“Did you ever visit her?” Jake asked.
“When I could. Since we took our parents out, I’ve been able to visit them more often. Someone followed me, and decided to finish what my father started.”
“Rafael is dead.”
“I know, but clearly someone wants to take our place, and what better way to do it than to go after us one by one?” Luiz said.
“We’re going to need to tighten security,” Donnie said.
“I’ll do that,” Jake said. “I’m the one handling the soldiers. I’ll make sure we have double security in this building by the end of the day.”
“Daddy,” Christie said.
Luiz turned to find his little girl holding a small plate. “What is it, sweetie?”
“I made you a pancake. It’s really tasty. I hope you like it.”
He took the plate from her, putting it down on the table, and lifting her up onto his knee. “Christie, I want you to meet some of my friends. Would you like that?”
“That scary-looking guy there is Donnie. There is Jake, and this weird dude here is Tonio.”
Luiz watched as his friends smiled at her, showing their softer side. “Why don’t you go and thank Raine for the pancakes? Will you do that?”
He let her down, and glanced up to see Raine smiling at him.
They were going to make it work. He was more determined than ever before about making a go of this life with them.
“She’s sweet,” Jake said.
“Her mom’s dead?”
“Yeah. I didn’t get there in time to save her, but I got to Raine, and that’s what Lora would have wanted.” He took a bite of the pancake and closed his eyes. Raine was a damn good cook.
“What’s going on between you and Raine?” Tonio asked. “Are you together in raising the child or not?”
“We’re together. I want more, but like all things, it’s going to take time. I can’t expect something to happen overnight. It doesn’t work like that.” No matter how much he wanted it to.
Waking up this morning, he’d taken his time to look at Raine. She’d been curled up with one hand underneath her face. In sleep she had been so peaceful. He’d finally gotten the chance to look at her, to see how beautiful she was. Her brown hair was long, thick, and glossy. There had been many times over the years that he’d wanted to run his fingers through the full length. He’d always held himself back, never wanting to cross that imaginary wall.
“Do you know any of Rafael’s contacts?” Jake asked.
“I do.” This came from Tonio. “We killed them all. That’s what’s so confusing about this.”
“The guy’s ID that I got. I recognized him. He worked with Rafael, and with our father. He was a soldier, a very loyal one. When the shit hit the fan when we took over, he fell through the cracks. I don’t remember every single soldier we’ve hired, and I don’t recall us keeping an entire file of everyone in our pocket either,” Luiz said. “That’s a paper trail, and they only used that if they wanted to hurt the person they were after. Bribery, blackmail, you name it.”