"Nico, why is your mom calling to tell me you’re not letting anyone see the girls?" I ask, walking into the nursery where Nico is sitting, holding Willow.
"The girls are too small to have everyone over right now," he grumbles then smiles over at Harmony, who is now awake and cooing at her daddy through the slats of the crib.
"Honey, they’re old enough to have people over to visit." I roll my eyes.
"They’re too small. Look, she fits in one hand," he says, proving his point by putting Willow in one of his hands.
"Your hands are freakishly large," I argue.
"You like my freaky hands." He smirks before looking down at Willow as he tells her, "Your momma is a dirty girl." He laughs when she smiles at him.
"Nico, don't tell our daughters that," I growl. "This is getting ridiculous." He is so overprotective of the girls and me. I'm lucky if I'm able to go to the bathroom alone.
"Baby, I'm not ready."
"They’re family." I run my hand down the back of his hair, trying to get him to relax.
"They’ve seen them," he grumbles sullenly, making me smile.
"Call your family and tell them to come for dinner."
"My mom talks too much." He looks up at me with puppy-dog eyes, making it hard to fight to do the right thing.
“Your mom wants to get to know her granddaughters. There is nothing wrong with that,” I tell him, walking over to pick up Harmony, who sees me and begins to fuss.
“I hate when they come over. They are all like, ‘Oh, just let me hold her for a couple of minutes,’ and then they don’t give them back when I tell them to,” he complains, looking completely serious.
I shake my head. I want to laugh at how ridiculous he’s being about this, but I can’t. He loves his girls; he’s hands-on with everything. I don’t ever need to ask for help. He’s always there the second one of the girls starts to fuss.
“Honey, you need to get over what happened. You can’t lock us away forever,” I tell him quietly. I hate that what happened to me is so hard on him. I haven’t even had one nightmare about it. He has woken up twice drenched in sweat. The minute he knows where he is and I’m there, he’s on me. I know it’s his way of reassuring himself that I’m okay, but I hate that he still thinks about it when I never really do.
“I can’t get over it.” He shakes his head. “I will never get over thinking you were lost to me and our girls.”
“I wasn’t, so please try for me and the girls to be reasonable about this.”
“I want you guys to myself. I only trust us with my most prized possessions.”
“As much as I love you for that, I know that, even if we were in a room full of the most dangerous criminals in the world, you could and would protect us. But, honey, the people who want to come over are not criminals. They’re your family. They love you, the girls, and me. They would never hurt us, and even if they tried, you wouldn’t let them.”
“Fine. Dinner. The minute dinner’s over, I want them gone.”
I avoid rolling my eyes in front of him and sit down in the rocker next to him, pulling my tank top down and freeing my breast for Harmony.
“Four days,” he says under his breath, making me smile.
I can’t wait until we can have sex again either. The next four days can’t come fast enough.
“Ma, I don’t care,” I tell my mom, who has been hogging Willow and Harmony since she walked into the house.
“Nico, go away. I’m their grandmother. I want to spend time with them.” She blows me off then smiles down at my girls, who are lying on the floor smiling up at their grandma.
I shake my head and look at the clock on the wall, counting down until everyone is out of my house. It’s not that I don’t love my family or want them around; I just want my own little family to myself. I hate sharing them with everyone.
“Son, come outside,” my dad says.
I look at him, then down at my girls, then back through the house to the kitchen where Sophie’s sitting, talking to November, Liz, and Lilly. I nod, looking back at my dad before following him outside.
“What’s up?” I ask, standing near the door so I can look inside through the glass window at the girls and Sophie.
“Relax, man,” Trevor says, handing me a beer. I don’t even know how to relax anymore. My body is wired lately.
“This is an intervention,” Asher says before taking a drink of his beer.
“Yeah, bro. You need to f**king chill,” Cash says, and I wonder how the hell he could seem so calm when the same sick f**ks who took my wife had wanted his.
“You guys don’t have a clue,” I tell them.
“I understand what you’re going through. The thing is, this is not healthy. You need to go back to work soon. You need to understand that the girls and Sophie will be okay at home without you.”
I know they’re right, but a permanent, cold dread settled inside me once Sophie was taken. Knowing now what the men who had taken her wanted to do to her and that I would have been left with two baby girls to take care of—looking at my girls every day and knowing I had failed them—I never want to feel that kind of fear ever again.
“We’ll all stop by and check on them while you’re at work so you can have some peace of mind,” Trevor offers.
“I don’t know.” I rub the back of my neck.
I have enough money to live comfortably for at least a couple of years, but I know Sophie’s ready to kick my ass if I don’t back off a little. It’s unbelievable to me how she acts like nothing happened, like she has no fears, while I spend every day worrying from the time I wake up until I go to sleep.
“We’re all worried. You need to talk to someone about what’s going on,” my dad says.
I look at my brothers and dad, seeing concern etched in their faces. I know Sophie’s worried, and now, seeing that everyone feels the same way, I know I need to get help.
“Okay. I’ll talk to someone,” I agree, taking a swig of my beer.
“Thank God,” Trevor groans and sits down, “I thought I may need to beat the shit out of you to get you to listen.”
“When was the last time you were able to take me?”
“I could take you,” he says, puffing out his chest.
“I’m gonna let your mouth slide this time, but only because I don’t want to embarrass you in front of Liz. I doubt she would want to sleep with you anymore if you cried like you did the last time I kicked your ass.” I smirk.