Mine Now Baby by Anna White

Chapter One

The Truth About Her

Chlo

I didn’t have a reason to pry anymore. Jay had been in recovery for a little while, he was no longer dazed and confused or weak and feeble. Av had been strange to say the very least. She had decided that she did in fact want to marry the big idiot that was Harry Vens, which had taken me by surprise. She had never been in a rush, but her impulses had shocked even me, and their wedding was set for the summer. Every aspect of their lives and everyone else's around me was moving at lightning speed and yet mine seemed to have stood still. I was so thrilled for Haz. I had always hoped that he would find his peace after battling with torment his entire life. I smiled as I spotted my brother and Av sitting at a candlelit table in the corner of the restaurant. I laughed because it looked so intimate. I loved them both more than I could put into words. My relationship with her had blossomed, I loved her like a sister, and I adored her almost as much as the boys did. I smiled towards the girl who was asking me questions, pulling me from my internal thought crisis.

“Can I help you?” She asked me politely for what must have been the second time at least. I simply nodded and pointed towards my brother and Av.

“I’m late, supposed to be joining my friends for an evening meal.” I pulled my eyes away from them, they were smiling and laughing, and it had been the only time in the last couple of weeks I’d seen her crack a smile for anybody other than Haz.

“Follow me,” I did as the waitress requested and followed her through the people who were gathered for late meals or early drinks. I placed my hair behind my ear and watched my brother grin at me. His warm muddy eyes sparkled.

“Time do you call this?” He teased me and I frowned as I slapped his thick head of black hair. Laughter left Av’s mouth and I leant down to peck her cheek as I took my seat next to her at the table.

“I’ve been doing your dirty work.” I reminded my brother of the accounts I’d been doing for him for next to nothing. I glared at him and watched him wince.

“Oh,” he smiled, it softened a little when he realised, I hadn’t made a late appearance on purpose, “I forgot all about that.” I rolled my eyes and poured some of Av’s wine into my glass. She was giggling a little and shrugging her shoulders.

“So, what’s the occasion?” I teased them as I sipped on my wine, Jay smirked and ran his hand through his newly acquired short beard.

“Av’s got some news.” My stomach dropped as my brother spoke, my wine nearly left my mouth at lightning speed, so I swallowed as fear pooled from deep within me. “She’s not pregnant,” Jay added. I held my chest and then slapped her shoulder softly.

“I was about to have a fucking heart attack,” I admitted out loud. I was a little too relieved that she wasn’t carrying a child and I realised that I was possibly being selfish. She was smiling though.

“You know Bandoni?” Her crystal-clear eyes met mine and I nodded softly. I tried not to think about the last time I'd seen him.

“Of course?” I added. I wasn’t quite sure I understood where the direction of this conversation was going.

“Do you remember a while ago when we went to go and see him at the office? When he had Haz and Jay?” I gulped and cringed slightly. I hadn’t forgotten that. It was just after they had moved out. She was terrified. I frowned as I remembered just how many weeks ago that had been. I shook my head as I ran through the situation in my head trying to recall what happened there that she could want to talk about.

“I remember that they let us out of that room alive.” I felt my stomach knot. I drew on the memory of Bandoni telling me to get out of his office just after Jay had been stabbed. I hadn’t spoken to him since that night until Avaya and I ended up in there. Until he had called on us. Bandoni had been peaceful that evening, he wasn’t furious as I believed he would be. I laid my hand in Av’s and she squeezed softly.

“I’m his daughter.” She gulped out the words and my mouth dropped as my heart stopped. I stared at her wide-eyed. My brain spun. It made sense now why Bandoni wanted Av.

“Excuse me?” I choked as I moved my hand from hers. There was no way my angelic Av was the daughter of an Italian Mafia mobster. I frowned deeply at her and then looked to Jay for backup. “Jay?” I called his name and watched his smile twist; his shoulders rise and fall, and I laughed. I was fucking laughing.

“She’s telling the truth,” He breathed, and I shook my head. She placed her hand on top of mine and squeezed, she was desperately clutching me, seeking comfort. I couldn’t picture it. I fought with myself to look at her. My eyes wandered over hers and it clicked. His eyes had grown familiar because they were like looking into Av’s. Crystal pools of green. Like lagoons.

“Oh, my fucking God?” I whispered as I continued to stare into them. I was lost. My own head was in turmoil. I saw more of her in him the more I thought about it. The more I looked at her. Av was full of compassion, and I always thought that was her mum Lena shining through, but I had been so wrong. It was Bandoni. The same compassion he had shown me as a young girl. I frowned to myself and then broke eye contact.

“Do you still love me?” Her words were so softly spoken, and I nodded almost instantly. I hated the vulnerability in her voice. She was scared and it reminded me of a time where I had felt similar.

“You could have told me you were the pope’s miracle child and I’d still love you.” I wrapped my arms around her firmly and breathed her in. Jay was smiling at me, and I returned it. At least now I could wrap my head around why Bandoni had sent the lads to find her in the first place, at least now things made a little more sense as to why he wanted me so involved in where Rava was at all times. I breathed a sigh of relief as I cuddled her a little tighter.