“Are other families like us, Mom?”
Shannyn pulled herself out of her thoughts and looked up, finding a mirror version of her eyes staring back at her from under Kayne’s shaggy mop of hair. “What?”
“I’m watching people walking around. They look scared. Aren’t they like us? Protected?”
Shannyn patted the spot beside her on the loveseat, beckoning Kayne to sit next to her. “No, they’re not like us. They’re too weak to know how to protect themselves, Kayne. Not like us, right?”
He shook his head, pride glinting in the depths of his eyes. “You’re gonna rule the mob, Mom.”
She smiled softly and pulled Kayne under her arm. “That’s right.”
Unless they cull you out for not being able to do your fucking job. Shannyn grimaced at the reminder of her pregnancy. She only had a couple more good months in her before she became too pregnant to fulfill her role in the mob.
She looked towards the door at the sound of a car outside; that would be Jason’s carpool, dropping him off. Cars were no longer personal items, merely tools used by businesses to ensure their workers arrived on time. Even Shannyn’s bosses sent a car for her.
“Why don’t you go practice your punching downstairs?” He was too young to get much from the old bag in the basement, but he was getting the form down.
He disappeared down the stairs as Jason crossed the threshold. He spared a half-smile for Shannyn; that broad grin of his had dimmed over the years. When it came to her, at least; he was still nothing but smiles for Kayne. It pleased her, actually; as she’d hoped, the puppy love he’d felt for her had faded with time. Time and knowledge about her.
“Hey, Shan. You got in late this morning…How was work?”
She shrugged her shoulders. I threatened a little old lady. So, you know, same old same old, right? “Fine. Save the city yet?”
“You mock me now,” he said, a hint of amusement in his voice, “but just you wait and see.”
She shook her head, a slight, fond smile curving her lips. His determination really was rather endearing. Too endearing. If you liked him less, it would’ve been easier to keep your legs closed. At that thought, her expression clouded.
“Jason, I have to talk to you.”
Her tone must’ve worried him because his face instantly paled a notch. “What’s wrong? Is it Kayne?”
I wonder if he’ll still care so much for Kayne once he’s got his own kid. Shannyn quashed that thought. She might not be one to think highly of people, but she knew Jason wasn’t that kind of man. “No, Kayne is fine. He’s just downstairs.”
She gestured for him to sit next to her. “We weren’t careful enough,” she said, a sour taste in her mouth. “I’m pregnant.”
Shock registered on Jason’s face, quickly followed by a hundred other emotions in rapid succession before settling exactly where she’d known it would – a smile. “You’re – Pregnant!” He laughed in a soft burst. “You really think – ?”
“I know I’m pregnant,” she snapped. “This isn’t a good thing, Jason, so wipe that fucking smile off your face.”
“Of course it’s a good thing! Just because this isn’t the ideal circumstance doesn’t mean this isn’t amazing!”
The pure joy in his voice sent a jolt of blinding fury through her. Is this how Gio would’ve looked when I told him about Kayne? “Don’t you get it, Jason? Big fat pregnant women don’t stand a chance in the mob. How the fuck am I supposed to keep us safe when I can barely step away from the toilet because I can’t stop puking?”
“There are other jobs – better jobs.”
She glared at him. “You will never understand! Once you’re in this deep, you don’t just quit, Jason. I knew when I went down this road that there was no backing out.”
“We’ll figure something out,” he said confidently. “A baby! I know you’re pissed now, but – “
“There’s going to be a baby?”
The two of them stopped and turned to see Kayne standing behind the desk. Mentally, Shannyn swore. That wasn’t how she’d wanted to tell him.
“Yes,” she said evenly. “I’m going to have a baby.”
“That means you’ll be a big brother,” Jason said.
Kayne grinned broadly and ran around to look at them excitedly. “Really? I’ll have someone to play with and everything?”
The look on his face…it was almost enough to make the next months of Hell worth it. “It’ll be a lot younger than you. You might not want to play with it when it’s old enough.”
“Then I’ll teach it stuff! This is going to be so cool!”
For the rest of the evening, all Kayne could talk about was the new baby. He had a million questions, most of which Shannyn left Jason to field. That night, it wasn’t the parasite inside her that was making her sick to her stomach – it was fear. Real, visceral fear. She didn’t know how she was going to make it through this pregnancy intact.
But I have to. I’ll fucking figure it out. It’s what I do.
That night, she and Jason headed upstairs to bed after Kayne had already found his way to his own small bed. They hadn’t spoken of their fight since Kayne had interrupted them.
“Shannyn,” he said softly, looking at her in the dim light. The moonlight spilled in through the window and shone across his bared chest. “I get it. Where you are with this.”
She padded over to the bed to sit next to him. “Oh really? Because you didn’t earlier.”
“I’ve had a little time to collect myself and think. I won’t lie; I’m happy about this. Really, really happy about it. But I get why you’re not. I’m sorry for not understanding before.” He reached over and took her hand. “Whatever we have to do to make it through this, we’ll do it. I’ll do it.”
Shannyn looked over at the kind, gentle man next to her. In that moment, she knew without a doubt that, in this one thing, they were on the same page, if not for the same reasons. Both of them would do anything necessary to survive these next months.
“Well, if it’s the two of us, we might just stand a chance,” she said softly, smiling a little at him. She leaned in and pressed her lips to his, easing into the warmth of his body as his arms came around her.
It was the quiet moments like this when their differences were laid aside that kept their fragile bond from tearing apart. It was the moments like this that had led to the little life inside of her, those gentle moments when she let herself open up to the man who cared about her despite the things she did. Maybe theirs was not the grand love she had shared with Giovanni, but those loves were once in a life time. What she and Jason had – it was enough.
Enough even to cause a flicker of warmth to rise in her chest at the thought of her little “parasite.”