Gigantor steps aside as I walk in. “Why didn’t she tell me all about him?”
Tomás gives his brother a look that I’ve seen on my own brothers’ faces. “’Cause you can’t keep a secret—none of us tell you anything.” Then he smacks me on the back and asks, “Have you come to grovel?”
I chuckle, maybe just a bit nervously. “Yeah. How’d you know?”
“I know my sister.”
“What does he have to grovel for?” Gigantor asks.
“Doesn’t matter,” Tomás tells him. “As long as he’s here.”
Then we walk into the living room—stepping around boxes and furniture. Looks like the tornado hit here instead of Mississippi.
“Sofia felt the place needed a makeover,” Tomás explains. “She gets like that when she’s stressed. So she rallied the troops and here we are.”
In the kitchen I see another dark-haired guy wearing round John Lennon glasses—Lucas, brother number two, I’m guessing. Near the couch is an older but still solidly built man with salt-and-pepper hair.
I walk up to him and hold out my hand. “Hello, Mr. Santos, I’m Stanton Shaw. It’s an honor to meet you.” I pause, trying to think of the right words. “I think your daughter’s an amazing woman, sir.”
He pins me with his stare for a few moments. Then he grins and shakes my hand. “It’s good to meet you, Mr. Shaw.”
All heads turn to the woman coming down the stairs. She’s smaller than I’d imagined Sofia’s mother to be, with shoulder-length dark hair and lovely, familiar features. Her eyes settle on me, filled with recognition—and animosity. And I know Tomás isn’t the only member of her family Sofia poured her heart out to.
I approach her, holding out my hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Santos, I’m—”
She glances at my hand with disdain and cuts me off—in Portuguese. “Você é um homem estúpido que machucou a minha filha. Se eu tivesse meu caminho, eles nunca iria encontrar o seu corpo.”
It would seem I’m a stupid man, and if she had her way they’d never find my body.
I shake my head. “Estou aqui para fazer isso direito. Sofia significa . . . tudo para mim.” I’m here to make it right. Because Sofia means everything to me.
At least, I hope that’s what I said.
Her eyes flash with surprise.
“Sofia’s been teaching me Portuguese,” I explain with a shrug. “I’m a fast learner.”
A reluctant smile tugs at Mrs. Santos’s lips and her head tilts with begrudging approval. Then she steps aside. “She’s upstairs, in the bedroom, painting.”
I nod. “Thank you, ma’am.”
• • •
I step softly through the open doorway. Her back is to me as she stares at fresh paint on the wall. I take the opportunity to soak her in, like a plant that hasn’t seen the sun in a year. Her hair is pulled up, tiny wisps brushing the sweet-tasting skin below her ear. I take in her delicate shoulders under a red T-shirt, black yoga pants, the elegant curve of her spine that leads down to the luscious swell of her ass—also sweet tasting.
“What do you think, Mamãe?” she asks without turning, her head tilted. “I’m not sure about the yellow; it’s duller than it looked on the swatch.”
“I think it looks like dried dog piss, if you want the truth.”
She whips around, eyes wide like she’s seeing a ghost. “Stanton!” After a moment, she blinks, trying to rein in her surprise. To act casual. “When did you get home?”
But casual can kiss my ass.
“I haven’t been home. I dropped Brent off and came straight here. To you.” Now I eat up the view from the front—those lips, her amazing breasts that I want to rest my head on, the green speckles in her eyes, like precious gems.
I lift my chin toward the paint cans. “What’s that about?”
She looks between me and the cans, nervously. “Redecorating—it felt like I needed a new start.”
I move forward, needing to be closer. And I’ve held back about as much as I’m capable of. “Christ I’ve missed you, Soph. The last two days have felt like forever.”
Her gaze drops to the floor. “I’m sorry I left like I did, but I needed to—”
“No.” I stalk the rest of the way across the room. “You had your chance to talk. You rested your case—now it’s my turn.” I kick a folding chair toward her, and there’s a definite warning in my voice. “So sit down and listen up.”