I look off into the garden, my expression closed.
“It means that for now at least, I need to stay here in Moldova. I need to keep my profile down, and to let things play out a bit. There’s no sense in putting myself at risk when so much is on the line.”
Taylor nods, her nose scrunching.
“Yeah, but what about your businesses in New York?”
“It’s fine. The bars and clubs will continue, and Anthony’s smart enough to run those. Hell, I have decent management in place so it’s pretty fuck-up proof at this point. Plus, I have a lot of cash sweetheart. We’re not going to run out anytime soon, or really, at any time whatsoever. I think the more relevant question is: do you want to stay, Taylor? Here, in Moldova with me, I mean. If you return to New York, the cops will question you, certainly, but you’ll be able to plead ignorance.”
She nods, looking down at the table.
She sips her espresso again and doesn’t say a word as my heart races in my chest. I want her to stay with me so much, but the decision has to be hers. This relationship began with a kidnapping of sorts, but I’m not willing to continue that farce. This time, Taylor’s got to make the choice of her own free will.
Meanwhile, the gorgeous brunette stares off into the distance, although I know she sees nothing. My heart thumps painfully in my chest because I love this woman, and want her at my side no matter the cost, but again, I can’t ask this kind of sacrifice from her. The burden has to be born by me, and not her.
“I know you didn’t have a choice when we made our escape from New York,” I say in a low, emotional voice. “So I understand if you want to leave, and you’re free to go whenever you like, sweetheart. I’ll put you back on my plane, or even on a commercial carrier if you prefer. But no matter what happens, I want you to know that I’ve fallen in love with you, honey, and I’ll always treasure the time we spent together.”
She turns quickly to me then, tears in her eyes.
“Will I ever see you again?”
A hard lump forms in my throat because suddenly, I know that Taylor’s leaving me. But I have to stay strong and shake my head.
“Likely not, baby girl. It’s too dangerous for you, and there’s no sense in associating with a known killer. The cops would be all over you for the rest of your life, so why poke the bear? This will be our goodbye.”
Taylor swallows audibly then, still looking out at the garden. But I see how her hands clench the arms of her chair, and how her bosom heaves, heavy with emotion.
Just when I’m about to get up and go, her head turns swiftly in my direction, those brown eyes blazing.
“No, I’m going to stay,” she says in a determined voice. “I know that you were the one who was attacked. Maybe it’s because of your past life, but we can’t pay for those crimes forever. I love you, too, Roman,” she continues in a broken voice as tears well in her eyes. “And I can’t imagine a life without you. I’m not going back to New York if you’re not going to be there with me.”
Joy bursts in my chest, and suddenly, I realize I’m crying too.
“Do you mean that?”
She nods tearfully. “I’ll go anywhere with you, Roman Genovese. You’re a good man, who’s trying to atone for his past. I won’t leave you now, even if it means never returning to the country of my birth.”
With that, I get up and kneel by her side, taking one of her small hands in my own before pressing my lips to her knuckles.
“You have no idea how happy you just made me, baby girl,” is my hoarse rasp. “I was so afraid of losing you, and yet I knew I couldn’t force you to stay. Not now. Not when things have changed between us.”
She merely raises one hand to caress my hair before smiling through tears at me.
“My home is wherever you are, Roman.” Then she sniffles again. “Besides, there’s something else I need to tell you.”
I press another heartfelt kiss to her knuckles.
“What is it, sweetheart? Is everything okay?”
She blinks, and shoots me a tremulous smile. “Yes, and better than okay, actually. You know I’ve been feeling a little queasy in the mornings, right? Well, this morning, I took a pregnancy test and …. I’m pregnant! You’re going to be a daddy again, Roman.”
Joy bursts in my chest, and I’m stock still for a moment.
“Are you serious, baby? You’re pregnant?” I rasp.