Beat of the Heart


Page 73






"Where's Cris?" AJ asked.

With a roll of his eyes, Antonio replied, "Miss Cristina took the kids up the street to the market for some sweets."

AJ's brows furrowed. "You mean Abuela didn't make a cake?"

Antonio grinned. "Of course she did. It's just Cris's kids are too Americanized from having a gringo for a father." He jerked his chin up at me. "Just like your daughter will probably turn her nose up at most of our food."

I laughed. "Well, in her defense, she has been fed the majority of Italian food the last four and a half months."

"Is she going to be back for lunch? I really wanted Mia to meet everyone."

"I think she and the gringo mentioned taking the monsters to the zoo."

I grinned at Antonio's summation of his nephews, Jase and Luke. AJ had told me the five and seven year olds were a handful. I also knew from some comments AJ had made that Cris was the most Americanized of her family. I could tell he didn't like how she distanced herself from her roots.

"Alejandro!" a voice called, cutting through the noise of who I assumed to be AJ's aunts, uncles, and cousins behind us.

We whirled around to see a petite, elderly woman, with her flowing white hair tucked back in a bun, coming toward us. She wore a multi-colored housedress. When she got to him, AJ bent down so she could bestow two kisses on his cheeks. "Mijo," she cried, before wrapping her arms around him. He rubbed her back and kissed the top of her grey head. All the while he spoke softly to her in Spanish. An aching burn rippled through my chest at the sweet sight before me as my mind went to Mama Sofia. It was times like these when I saw true maternal love at its finest, I realized just how much I dearly missed Mama Sofia. It was hard not becoming teary watching AJ with his abuela.

When Abuela pulled away, her gaze immediately honed in on me. I shifted nervously on my feet as she stared at me, sizing me up. "Abuela, ella es mi novia, Mia." He turned to me and smiled. "This is my grandmother, Isabella."

Trying to break the tension, I stepped forward. "Mucho gusto," I said, before kissing both her cheeks. I gave her a quick hug. After I pulled away, I said to AJ, "She knows she's part of the reason why we're naming the baby, Isabella, right?"

He nodded and then translated to her. With a nod of her head, she then began rattling away in Spanish to AJ. When she was finished, she moved on to speak to Abby, who began conversing fluently with her in Spanish.

"What did she say?" I whispered.

"That you're a gold-digger, and I should run away while I still can." He shook his head. "She wonders if Bella is even mine."

My eyes widened in horror while my hand came over my mouth. "Oh my God!"

AJ busted out laughing. "Jesus, Mia, would you get a grip? I told you no one in my family would ever think badly of you."

"You stronzo!" I cried, smacking his arm.

"Easy killer," he teased.

"So what did she really say?"

"That you were very beautiful, and that she could see you had a good soul and a loving heart."

I gasped. "She really said that about my soul and heart-like my anema e core?"

AJ smiled . "Yes, she did."

"I can't believe it. It's like fate."

Leaning down, AJ bestowed a tender kiss on my lips. "I would say the same thing."

The telephone rang, and Abuela went to answer it. "Come on guys, I'll show you where we're sleeping."

We followed AJ down the hallway to the bedrooms. He stopped at the first door on the right. "So you and Abby will be in here," AJ said to me, before pointing into the room with a queen sized bed.

As he sat down my suitcase, Jake, Abby, and I all exchanged an open-mouthed, wide-eyed look of shock before turning to AJ. "Wait, what?" Jake demanded.

AJ grimaced. "My abuela, she's hardcore, man. I mean, serious on the old-school catholic stuff." He jerked his thumb to the silver crucifix over the door and then motioned to the one over the bed. "So needless to say there's no sleeping together when you're not married."

"That's understandable," Abby replied, sitting down her bag.

Jake's brows shot up so far they disappeared into his hairline. "Oh hell no, my dick doesn't understand that shit at all!"

AJ stood toe to toe with Jake. "You think I like it any better than you do? Mia and I just got back together yesterday after my four months of fucking blue-balls celibacy. But when we're in my abuela's house, we respect her and her rules. Got it, Ese?"

After staring him down for a moment, Jake finally nodded. "Yeah man, I hear ya. Sorry for being an asshole."

Abby threw her arm over my shoulder. "I look forward to snuggling with you, Mia."

Knowing it would drive the guys wild to tease them, I nodded. "I really like to spoon. Hope you don't mind since it's so hot down here, I have my really skimpy pajamas."

Biting on her lip to keep from laughing, Abby nodded. "Oh totally. I'll probably just go with a tank top and panties, if that's okay with you."

"It's fine. I'm not modest at all. You can go naked if you want."

When we turned to look at the guys, drool practically oozed onto their chins. We couldn't hold back our laughter any longer. "Gotcha," we said in unison.

AJ rolled his eyes and wiped his mouth. "So not funny."

Abuela poked her head in the bedroom. "Alejandro, conmiga arriba."

"Si, Abuela."

Abby grinned at AJ before reaching over to ruffle his hair. "Look at you being all 'yes ma'am' to your grandmother."

He shook his head. "Hey, nothing pisses her off more than bad manners. Let's go upstairs. We can check out where Jake and I will be sleeping. Then we'll have lunch on the rooftop."

After we left my and Abby's room, we followed AJ down the hallway to a door leading outside. The steps up to the rooftop consisted of a circular, wrought iron staircase. When we got to the top, I gasped. The entire top of the roof was actually like a floor, and it had gold tiles with mosaics of colors swirled into them. The walls were decorated with Mexican art and porcelain. A fence ran the length of the top. The air was cooler, and you could see for miles in the distances over the roofs. "Wow, this is amazing."







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