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Chapter 38


blinked my eyes, wiping at them for good measure. He was really there, it
wasn’t just my imagination… And Gervaise followed him into the wine cellar. I
couldn’t bring myself to stand up on my own, so I was much relieved when Julien
finally found me, pulling me into the tightest hug ever.


my God, oh my God. Thank God you’re okay,” he said, his breath warm against my
neck. “I had no idea… I didn’t know where you were. Jesus Christ, I can’t
believe this.”


cried out for him, desperately grabbing on to his neck as he pulled me up to a
stand. “So glad you’re here,” I sobbed, relieved but still shaking.


pulled something out of his long coat pocket, and I heard a click, startling
me. I looked down and he was holding out a small handgun. I backed away
quickly, not wanting to be anywhere near the damn thing.


held out his hand to try and call me down. “Amira, you can’t be afraid. I need
you to take this and to protect you and the baby. I have to go back out there.
I have to make sure everyone else is okay.”


vehemently shook my head no. “No. You can’t leave me. You just got here.”


reached out with his free hand and stroked my jawline softly. “I know. But
these people are my responsibility and I need to make sure everyone is ok. I’ve
already alerted the authorities. I need you to stay here. Gervaise is coming
with me again. We need to find Marie.”


looked over at Gervaise who was standing there solemnly looking away from us. I
wondered if Julien knew about Alain.


carefully placed the gun in my hands, the weight of it making me feel like it
was dragging me down. It was so heavy compared to what I thought it would feel
like, and holding the very thing that scared the hell out of me… I felt like I
was going to lose it at any moment.


don’t leave me,” was all I could say, before the sobs wracked my body again,
Julien pulling me close against him for one final squeeze.


love you,
ma chérie
.” I could hear
the wavering his voice. He didn’t want to leave me anymore than I wanted him to
leave. But that’s just the man he was.


wrenched himself for me, wiping his eyes before taking back off with Gervaise.
I was alone again.


didn’t want to contemplate what would happen if Julien and Gervaise ran into
the two men that had managed to sneak their way into my home, but it was all I
could end up thinking about. After Alain’s death, I knew it would be only too
easy for the men to harm anyone else. If it weren’t for the baby I might’ve
already given myself up at this point, just to make sure everybody else was
safe. But I had to think about our son. I crouched back down into the same
corner as before, working on keeping my mind clear and focused.


wouldn’t want me panicking down here with no one to help me out, so I tried to
pull my act together. If someone was coming for me, then there would be hell to


stood quietly, aiming the gun toward the entry to the seller. It would be hard
to tell who was coming in, and I would wait until I could see them… I just
hoped I wouldn’t make a mistake.


much had happened in such a short amount of time that I had no time to process
any of it. All I knew was protecting my son was my only option.


was more yelling going on outside, somewhere not too far off. Another shot rang
out, this time much too close for comfort. I shuddered, the noise catching me
off guard again. I closed my eyes, saying a little prayer.




passed, and I heard nothing. Hadn’t Julien said that he had called for the authorities
when he was here? What was taking them so long?


the first time since I’d lived there, I regretted living so far from a bigger


stood up after a few more minutes passed, my leg shaking under my weight. The
baby turned over within me, jutting out one of his legs and making me wince in


“Be careful, baby boy. You’re being too rough on me.”


didn’t want to get any closer to the store, but it had been so long… I just
wanted to know what was going on.


debated with myself on whether or not to open the door. It was so hard not
knowing what was going on. If they knew where I was why weren’t they coming?
And what was holding back Julien and Gervaise? I felt more alone than ever…


bit my lip, finally deciding that I had to know one way or the other what was
going on.


climbed the steps leading up to the door, hoping that it would easily open
without me having to make much noise. I pushed my hands up over my head and
felt it push up, the metal cold in my hands. I waited until I could see a few
inches above ground in front of me and to both sides of me, where I saw nothing
but grass.


slowly inched my way out, finally stepping outside of the seller, the gun
slipping in my palm sweaty palm clammy palm. I wiped the back of my hands and
my palms against my shirt, shaking still. I didn’t like holding the gun, but I
did have to admit that I felt safer behind it.


made my way to the edge of the corner of the house, right where someone had
shot at Gervaise. I didn’t want to look around the corner but I knew I had to
in order to move. I hope I didn’t see anyone lying on the ground dead.


I turned the corner ever so slightly I noticed someone was facing away from me,
about fifty feet away.


the back I could see that it was a bald man, someone very tall and wearing a
clean cut dark gray suit. I immediately held my gun out.


if I had announced my presence, the man turned around and I was stunned, nearly
dropping my gun to the ground when I caught sight of him.


was the man who almost shot me. The man from the hotel…


was just at that time that I saw he was holding a thick rope in his hands,
looking as though he was ready to tie something up. That something possibly
being me.


stumbled backwards as he advanced towards me, a weird look on his face almost
as if he enjoyed stalking me. He eyed my belly, but it did not deter him.
What a bastard.


grim smile he gave me sent a chill down to my very bones, but I wasn’t going to
run away this time.


get any closer to me, I swear to God I will shoot you right there.” My words
sounded far away in my head, but I knew that I had said them out loud when the
man smirked at me.


ain’t gonna do shit. Except maybe shut your damn mouth.”


words rattled me, but I didn’t let it show. He wasn’t about to intimidate me.


said don’t get any closer. This is the last time I’m going to tell you.”


was as if something had taken over me, a feeling older than time itself. I
realized why I felt so brave… It was the baby. Wanting to protect him with my
very life. Because I was his mother.


man rolled his eyes at me, shaking his head. “Yeah, yeah. Drop the fucking gun
and maybe I’ll let your baby live. Do you know who I fucking am? I’m the new
head of the Five Families. I put a bullet in Angelo Verdicci and I’ll put a
bullet in you and your fucking Frenchman if you don’t drop that fucking gun.”


pulled the trigger hard… Hard enough that it drew my aim upward and to the
left. I shot the man in his shoulder, barely grazing him.


looked surprised as I corrected my mistake, firing a second and third time. He
fell. I rolled myself around the corner, just in case he had a chance to pull
his gun out, but there was nothing. Silence.


I could think about was how this was the part in the movies where people
double-checked to make sure the person was dead, and then ended up getting shot.
I stood there, not moving. The gun was still shaking in my hands, but I was
ready for the next guy in case he came looking for his friend.


baby flipped over within me, and I braced my hand against the brick wall as I
realized something was wrong.


felt a strong muscle cramp in my lower abdomen, making me double over in pain.
I groaned, tears welling up in my eyes as I realized it was the baby. Something
was happening. I swallowed hard against the lump against my throat, and looked
around the corner to make sure the man was dead.


far as I could tell he was, because he was keeled over, not moving, and his
body was face down. I slouched against the wall, trying to shimmy myself down
before I realized my pants were soaked. I reached down and felt between my
legs, bringing my hand back up and realizing that my water had broke.


was no way. All of this that had happened… I couldn’t…


then the black stars formed in my vision, clouding it so that I could barely
see out of my eyes. My head began to spin, and I knew that I had to hurry up
and make it back down to the cellar before I passed out in the open. I tried to
make my way back, but fell to the ground on my hands and knees. Trying to drag
myself over to the door was nearly impossible, and the last thing I saw before
I passed out was Julien’s face rushing up toward me.


Back to Table of Contents


Chapter 39


filtered through the window and hit my face at an odd angle. I blinked a few
times before the room came into focus.


coughed. my throat dry and scratchy. My eyes scanned the room to see if Julien
was still with me, but the only one I saw was Dr. Thibodeau in the corner of
the room, looking over a chart. I tried to turn my head and look the other way,
but I was so physically tired I could barely move an inch. It was hard enough
to keep my eyes open.


waited for her to see me, wishing she would just hurry up and turn around
already. I was dying of thirst as it was.


only took a split second before I realized something was missing. I looked down
and choked back a scream when I saw that the giant belly I had been used to
carrying around for my pregnancy was gone.


cried out the best I could, trying to catch her attention. Dr. Thibodeau turned
around and quickly came by my side, patting my hand reassuringly.


okay… He is fine. The baby is okay, in fact I think he’s with his father right
now. A lot has happened... Would you like me to go get Mr. Malveaux for you?”


nodded my head the best I could, trying to motion for her to bring me some
water as well. She gave me a quick nod and turned around to fill up a small
Styrofoam cup with water.


many things were running through my mind at that moment. I wanted to see my
baby and hold him tightly against me, possibly never letting go again. They
must’ve had to perform a c-section on me. My mind was reeling.


Thibodeau pulled out her cell phone, sending off a quick text.


turned back to me, a sympathetic smile on her face. “I know you probably have a
lot of questions for us. What I can tell you is that your baby boy is a sweet
little thing.”


I gave
her the best smile I could muster, trying desperately to keep my eyes open. I
needed to see both the baby and Julien with my own eyes, if only just to
reassure myself.


the door to the specialized obstetrics room opened and Julien came in holding a
small wrapped up blanket, tears leaped out of the corners of my eyes. It wasn’t
the ideal situation that I had been dreaming of, but we were all three here
together, safe and sound at least for now.


still looked haggard, his face in desperate need of a good shaving, but other
than that’s still as handsome as ever. He being down at the small bundle he was
holding carefully in his arms, pulling back a corner of the soft blanket to
reveal a lock of curly, dark hair.


ma chérie
. I’ve certainly
missed you. And I’m not the only one,” he murmured to me, as he drew nearer. “I
have someone who wants to finally meet his


may not be able to hold him just yet, Mr. Malveaux. She still rather weak from
the medicines. Miss Jackson, are you able to talk yet?”


tried clearing my throat, taking another sip of my water to help ease the
dryness. “A little,” I managed to rasp.


slid down my cheeks again, this time because I couldn’t hold my baby just yet.
I knew it would only be a matter of time, but I needed to touch him, and make
sure he was real and that I had just imagined the past nine months with him
inside of me. Everything else could wait. I needed my baby.


prove my point, I attempted to pull myself up to a sitting position, Dr.
Thibodeau quickly stepping in to help elevate the top part of the hospital bed,
so that I could try to hold my baby boy.


looked at me steadily, checking to make sure that I could handle it.


can do it, Julien. Please let me see him. I waited for so long,” I whispered,
trying not to hurt my throat.


narrowed his eyes at me, but I knew it was only because he was wanting to make
sure the baby was safe. He gently tucked a corner back into its place, before
raising his arms to transfer the baby into mine. He was so tiny, but I
remembered that I was only thirty-six weeks along when I went into labor. The
realization hit me like a ton of bricks.


he . . . okay? There weren’t any problems with him being so early, were there?”
The panic was very clear in my voice. Even though he was right there in my
arms, I felt the terrible pang of worry.


Thibodeau patted my forearm again, helping to brush a piece of Alain’s hair
back. “He’s perfectly healthy. He was a big boy for only being so far along, so
he has that in his favor. There’s nothing to worry about with him.”


held back the cry that was desperately trying to rise up my throat, when I saw
my son’s sweet face. He was just as I had imagined, only more beautiful if that
were even possible. His soft hair was wispy in some places and in thick clumps
and others, making me chuckle. His eyes were closed at the moment, and he was
sucking on his thumb, making the sweetest of noises. I could already tell that
he had Julien’s dimpled chin, and my round cheeks to go with it. It would be
fun to see what else he had inherited from both of us.


now that I knew he was okay I could let out a sigh of relief, the aching that
had been in my bones for so long finally starting to ease up.


looked up at Julien, seeing the love he had for him reflected back in his eyes
to me. I had never felt more at peace in my whole life. I had no idea what was
going on outside of the room, but at the moment it just didn’t matter. All I
had ever wanted was right here within arm’s reach. I finally had my family.


know… We still haven’t decided on a name,” Julien said, looking down at us.


“Alain… I want to call him Alain.”



later in the evening, once I had a chance to get up and move around and even
shower properly, Julien filled me in on what had happened. I braced myself in
the hospital bed, gently tracing a finger along Alain’s tiny foot.


to Julien, the men who came to the house were Toli Balducci and his cousin,
Bruce Cassamasina. They had been sent from not the Verdicci clan, but the
Balducci family, surprising everyone that had been handling my case so far.


had managed to find the place based on information from an inside source, and Julien
was adamant that they were hard at work on finding out just who this source
was. He said he thought he knew, but he had to have better evidence to make the
proper accusation, whatever the hell that meant.


Thibodeau left to go check on another patient for a little while, giving Julien
and me some space with our son Alain. I thanked her as many times as I possibly
could, so happy that we had been blessed with such a kind and caring doctor.


sighed as Julien began to rub just under my shoulder blades as I rolled forward
on the bed, hunched over one of my pillows in my lap. It felt so good to feel
his touch again, however exhausted the two of us may be.


few minutes into the impromptu massage, I could tell something was off with
Julien. He kept pausing to wipe something off his face.


wrong, sweetheart?” I asked him, slightly alarmed.


shook his head as if he were actually going to get away with not answering me.
No way.


please tell me. We’re supposed to be honest with each other, right? Or was that
you just talking out of your ass?”


He snorted, even through his anguish. “You’re right.”


I waited as patiently as I could for him to continue.


just . . . I shouldn’t have left the two of you. This is where I’m supposed to
be, and I wasn’t here for you. I planned on surprising you… I was coming home
early. I almost lost you…”


I hushed him, bringing his head down to mine. I looked him right in the eyes,
shaking my head from side to side. “There was nothing more you could do. You
were here when we needed you, and that’s what matters. There’s no point in
worrying about what might have or could have happened. We’re safe now.”


was hard to see him in so much pain like that. I wished I could have taken it
from him and held onto it myself.


is something I wanted to talk to you about. We might as well hash it out now,
while everything is still quiet,” I said.


sat back into the chair beside the bed, running his hands through his hands and
looking over Alain who was sleeping peacefully in his little bassinet.


“What’s that?”


took a deep breath. “Now that we know that these people are serious about
wanting to find me . . . what are we going to do?”


going to want to hear what Agent Wilson says about that…”

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