Beat of the Heart

Page 69

I knew my dad wanted to talk to me about it-maybe even counsel me on what to do. But just like when everything was going so wrong with Jason, I hid from him. Like a total coward, I snuck out of Mama Sofia's before he could come back to my table.

In the end, I knew there was no one I could talk to about this. It was my decision, and mine alone, to make. That's what made it so fucking hard. Of course, the worst part of all was how much I loathed myself. I had become totally unrecognizable to myself, and I couldn't just blame my irrational pregnancy hormones. No, I was reaping shit I'd sown a long, long time ago. The old me wouldn't have led Dev on when I knew that I would never take him back. But there was a part of me that got some sick vindication from making him suffer.

I didn't know what was wrong with me. Deep into the core of my being, I knew I wanted to be with AJ. There was absolutely no rational reason not to give him another chance. He was the father of my daughter. I had fallen in love with him in the midst of our lust-haze. But nothing about me was rational at the moment. I kept focusing on the irrational side of things-my insecurities about AJ's career and his women, and the way I felt like I could never be good enough, or even, enough for him. Somehow I always kept coming back to my self-loathing conclusion, that he deserved someone better-although the thought of seeing him with another woman made me physically sick.

It seemed I had more time to think about it than I should have since things were slow on the floor. Somehow I had resorted to pacing around in the break room while feeling like a total nut-job.

Dee poked his head in the door. "Mimi, you have a visitor."

My heart leapt into my throat, and more than anything in the world, I hoped it was AJ. At the sight of Pesh, my former mentor and Dev's brother, standing in the doorway, the breath I'd been holding exhaled in a noisy rush of disappointment.

Pesh's beaming smile slowly receded as his gaze roamed over me. He stared at my abdomen before glancing back up at me. "Now I know why Dee called me."

His words, coupled with the emotional shit-storm of my life, caused me to burst into tears. Pesh rushed forward and pulled me into his arms. "Hey now, if I'm going to have this kind of effect on you, I'll leave."

My mirthless laugh was muffled against his chest. "No, that's not it at all. I'm kinda a mess lately."

"Well, I don't know about that, but you've certainly been busy," he mused.

I pulled away to shake my head. "I can't believe Dee called you."

"He's worried about you and the decisions you're making."

With a wince, I said, "I guess you know about Dev."

Pesh nodded. "Yes, he told me he was trying to convince you to come back to him."

"You don't sound like you think that's a good idea."

"That's because I know it's not."

My brows shot up in surprise. "What?"

Pesh exhaled a ragged sigh before resting his hands on my shoulders. "I know you and Dev were together a long time. Our family will always love you and owe you a tremendous debt for getting him back on track after those wayward years ."

"Cut to the point, Pesh."

He smiled. "Dev is my baby brother, and I love him. But I know in my heart he doesn't now or will ever deserve you, Mia."

I gasped at his admission. "Seriously?"

"He's always chased after what he couldn't have, and once he got it, he wasn't satisfied. He tried for months to get me to fix you two up, but I refused."

"You never told me that."

"At the time, I didn't think you were ready to date after what had happened with Jason. Now I think it was something greater telling me to keep you apart."

I groaned. "That would have been really nice to know three years ago. It could've saved me some heartache, you know?"

Pesh grimaced. "I realize that now. It's the reason why I'm here today. This musician…what's his name?"

"AJ," I murmured.

Pesh nodded. "This AJ wants you to be with him, doesn't he?"

"I'm going to kill Dee," I muttered through gritted teeth. At the same time I wanted to throttle him, I couldn't ask for a more faithful, loving friend than Dee.

"Don't be mad at him. He loves you-just like I do. He also knows what you've been through in the last year might be clouding your judgment." Pesh's expression grew sad. "Better than anyone, I know what grief can do to you, Mia. After Jade's death, I lived a dream-like existence for the last two years. I made decisions that weren't really me-decisions that my emotional torment caused me to do. I don't want you to make the same mistakes as I did just because you lost one of the most important people in your life."

"That's very sweet of you." I then pursed my lips at him. "Does your faulty decision making have anything to do with that pregnant chick you wanted to get with?"

Pesh laughed. "Maybe a little. But wanting to be with Emma could never be deemed as a 'faulty' decision."

"You're not still after her, are you?"

"No, I'm not. We both realized we weren't right for each other-that we were in love with other people. Now we're just really good friends-like we were truly meant to be."

"What is it with you Nadeen men and being hot for women who are pregnant with other men's babies, huh?" I teased.

He shook his head. "You and Dev aren't the same thing as Emma and me-you two had a long history together." He rubbed my cheek tenderly. "Maybe it's that pregnant women have a glow about them-a beauty that burns bright from inside, like the life growing within them. You've always been beautiful, Mia. But you're truly breathtaking today."

"Thank you, but somehow I think you might be fibbing considering I have puffy eyes and a red face from crying," I scoffed.

Pesh smiled. "None of that matters. What truly matters is the heart inside the person. And I know yours has such great love within it." He gave me a pointed look. "But it doesn't truly beat for my brother, does it?"

"No, it doesn't."

With a wink, Pesh replied, "No, it follows a different drummer, doesn't it?"

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