Chapter 11

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I froze. I could feel two pairs of eyes staring at my back. I knew the second I looked into Sophia's eyes, it was game over.

Even though I never admitted it, I loved Niklaus. Maybe I didn't even know it back then, but every time Apirl came around, my heart would fill with dread knowing I wouldn't be seeing him at the peace gala. I found myself longing for his touch, his voice, his eyes, even just his presence. I tried to push the feelings down, lock them away in the depths of my soul, trying to find comfort that it was safer this way for Sophia.

My heart has been constantly torn apart for 6 years. I wanted to go back home, to be with my family. To feel my mother's embrace, to apologize for every tantrum I ever threw because I was paying it all back with Sophia's sassiness, to thank her for loving me and being the light in my darkness. To lead the cartel with my father as my guide, to make him proud. To provide and protect my cartel family, thank them for their loyalty and devotion. To tell Luca to run away, to live his life away from all the madness he never wanted to be apart of. Maybe if I had, he'd still be alive. But how would they react to Sophia? I just wanted her to have a family, to be loved and accepted. I just wasn't sure my father was capable of that, his heart was so full of hate for the Romano's. He'd never accept her.

I wanted to book the first flight to Italy. Niklaus would have been in charge by then and maybe just maybe he felt the same about me. We would raise Sophia together, protect her from the harsh world of the Mafia as long as we could before preparing her for the life that laid ahead. We'd be a family, the family Sophia deserved. But doubt was always there, Niklaus had never actually told me he loved me. What if his father would forbid it and put our lives in danger? What if Niklaus didn't choose us? Or what if he just took Sophia from me? I had no idea how he'd react. He was well know for being ruthless and dangerous, just because he was nice to me once a year didn't mean he wanted a life with me. And now I know I was partly right, he'd choose Sofia and be a wonderful father but he's engaged to Stephanie so where does that leave me?

I wanted to stay in my own little fantasy life with Sophia. She was all I really needed. I was content with my life just with her in it. It's the option that always beat the other two. Sophia was my priority. A life away from the danger, the mafia, the cartel. It was like I built a fort around us, no body could hurt us if we just stayed put. But it was lonely. Sofia needed more than just a mother. She needed her father, her grandparents, her uncle. She needed a family.

Due to unfortunately circumstances, I was forced to go with a different option this time. I chose Sofia's health over our safe haven.

I sigh heavily before turning to look at my baby girl's famous puppy dog eyes. They could make the coldest man in the world turn into a pile of mush at her feet.

"I'm just getting a blanket, honey. I'll be right back." I flashed a smile at her before going to retrieve a blanket from the hallway closet.

I walked back into the room and my heart stopped. Sofia was nestled into Niklaus' chest, his arm draped protectively around her small frame. I walked closer, admiring their beauty, she really was the spitting image of him. I unfold the blanket and cover their bodies, giving Sofia a lingering kiss on her forehead. She stirred a bit, her tiny hand reaching out for me. "Stay with us, mommy."

How could I ever say no to that angelic voice?

I climb on the bed, careful not to wake Niklaus. I snake my arms around Sophia, pulling her into my chest, resting my head on top of hers, inhaling her scent.

God, I've missed this girl.

I hadn't had her in my arms for 2 seconds when Niklaus reached out for her, his subconscious noticing her absence immediately. He wraped his arm around both Sofia and I. I felt my body stiffen. I looked up to see Niklaus' face completely relaxed, peaceful even. I spent what felt like hours studying his beauty, trying to memorize every detail.

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