Vince comes in first, breezing right past Mateo to head over to my bedside. Behind him, Mia throws her arms around Mateo, and he gives her a squeeze back.
I move my eyes to Vince, so as not to turn his attention that way. He’s giving me one of his little smirks as he approaches my bed. “This was a pretty extravagant way to get out of that Scrabble re-match you owe me.”
I start to laugh, but it turns to a grimace, as apparently I can’t use those muscles right now.
“Sorry.” He grimaces sympathetically, glancing up at my IV, then back to my body, covered in blankets. “Does it hurt real bad?”
“Not right now. It did when it first happened. Like… whoa, getting shot is no joke.”
“I’m gonna try to avoid it, now that you’ve told me.”
Nodding, I tell him, “Glad I could help you out with that decision.”
Mia has broken away from Mateo now, and she’s gravitated to me, a very dramatic look of concern on her face as she comes to Vince’s side. “How are you?”
“I’m okay,” I assure her.
“Did you…?” She trails off, glancing back at Mateo, then to me, looking pointedly at my stomach in case I didn’t get to tell him yet.
“Oh.” I nod, placing a hand on my stomach. “Yes. We’re having a baby!”
Vince rears back a little, and Mia looks like she’s going to explode with a squeal she’s holding in, due to being in the hospital. “The baby’s okay?” she asks, her gaze jumping to my stomach again.
“Yep, all good.”
Her eyes have widened again, and they’re still glued to my stomach. I follow her gaze and realize she’s staring at my engagement ring.
“Oh.” I lift it up, showing it to both of them. “We’re also engaged.”
Nudging Vince in the side, she states, “You need to step up our date nights, baby.”
“You don’t want to get married and I don’t want kids,” he points out. “What am I supposed to do, get you a puppy?”
Shaking her head with a disappointed frown, she says, “They shed.”
Mateo comes to save Vince, nodding for him to step aside so they can talk. Mia steps closer to me with him out of the way and grabs my hand, admiring my ring.
“I can’t believe he proposed,” she says, shaking her head.
“I was pretty shocked myself. It appears that he’s quite fond of me.”
Mia rolls her eyes playfully. “Ya think?” She glances up at me. “It’s really pretty. Not quite what I expected him to pick out, but really nice.”
“He thought it suited me.”
She smiles. “I agree. Congratulations, I guess. In a hospital bed doesn’t seem like the place to receive double congratulations, but look at you, getting married and having a baby.”
“Amidst a gang war,” I add. “It’s all so romantic.”
“Mateo’s going to guard you like you’re made of glass now, I hope you realize that.”
“I accept it,” I tell her, nodding. “To be honest, I really didn’t like getting shot, so I’m not going to fight a few added precautions.”
“What happened?” she asks. “He didn’t really tell me anything. He was just… that poor guy.”
“I know,” I murmur, looking at where he stands across the room, leaning in to talk to Vince. Since he’s distracted, I crook my finger at Mia. She leans in, but I draw her even closer, just to be safe. “I need you to promise me something.”
“Of course,” she says, watching me.
“If something does happen to me…”
“Meg, nothing is going to happen to you. You’re going to recover, the doctor said—”
“I know,” I interrupt, glancing at the guys before turning my attention back to her. “But he isn’t wrong. It can be dangerous to be with him. And with what just happened, I don’t know how safe things are going to be going forward. As long as he’s in the position of power he’s in, as long as Mateo draws breath, he’s a target. If I’m with him, there is a chance, however slim, however much security there is… I just want to be safe.”
“Okay,” she says, though a bit uneasily now.
“If anything happens to me, I need to know someone will be there for Lily. Obviously Mateo will take care of her, and there’s Ju, but she needs someone else. A real mother figure, not just a nanny.”
“Oh, my god, Meg,” she says, grasping my hand.
“Of course,” she says, nodding. “Of course I’d be there for Lily. But that’s not going to happen.”
“I know,” I assure her. “I’m not planning on going anywhere anytime soon. I just want to be abundantly cautious. I want to know… if I couldn’t be here, the people I love would still be looked after.”
Mia nods in understanding.
I glance at the guys one more time, then back to her. I pull her even closer. “And Mateo. Don’t let him be lonely.”