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Beside Her

Summary:
Latest installment in For Her, sequel to Protect Her, Love Her, Hold Her, Keep Her, From Her, and With Her. Whew! In this story, Quil and Claire's first child is born. They face the ordinary travails of parenting, along with some special dilemnas.


Notes:
Largely fluff. no forseeable evil conflicts of doom... but don't worry, there will be plenty in the next tale! this is the series that never ends. 100 reviews, people. or the sequel doesn't go up. or get written. and we don't want that.


4. Chapter 4

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 664   Review this Chapter

The baby was on parade. It was meet and greet, all the pack crowding into my house. We might not all run together anymore, but we would always be a pack, a single unit, the wolves and their mates.

“He’s so cute!” Embry, well, squealed. Like a little girl. It was funny. I snickered a little. “What? I’m complimenting your kid. That’s nice, dude.”

“Quil Junior says thank you.” Of course he couldn’t actually express this, so I took the liberty of putting the words in his adorable little mouth.

Leah elbowed her way to the front with familiar sharpness. “I wanna see the kid.”

Kindly, Claire handed the tiny blue-swaddled person over. Leah took him carefully in her arms and then looked down.

I knew it before she did.

And I knew it when she knew it. “Oh…”

It sounded like she was winding up to some kind of expletive. Emily covered Little Leah’s ears. But then Leah looked at my baby again and smiled. “Oh. Oh…”

“What’s going on? Quil?” Claire asked. She sounded almost panicked.

“Don’t worry, sweetheart. Unless I’m deeply mistaken, Leah just… imprinted.”

“On my baby?

She sounded way too disturbed by this. I thought she would understand. After all, she’d been only a little older than our Quil when I met her. Then again, maybe she had more reason than anyone else to be terrified of an adult loving a child in anything other than a parental way. “Claire, would I ever hurt you? Ever?”

“No. Don’t be stupid.”

“Exactly. It’s just like that. Having… having someone imprint on your child is really all a parent could hope for. He’s never going to get hurt. It won’t just be the two of us standing between him and danger. I’d rather die than let anyone hurt you, even if it was a tiny little thing. I’d do anything for you, Claire. You know that. And it’s the same way with Leah.”
“How old are you, Leah? In actual years?”

She didn’t answer. She was staring in shock and awe and unmistakable love at Quil Jr.

“Leah was born two years before me. And I was born fourteen years before you. So if you’re twenty-nine, I’m… forty-three. So Leah’s forty-five.”

“By the time Quil is the same appearance age as her, she’ll be sixty-three.”

Slightly disturbing, true. “Don’t worry about it, Claire.”

“I’m not, I guess… I guess it’s a little strange. To think I’m not… I’m not going to be the most important person in my little boy’s life, even though he’s still so little.”
“That’s not true. It was… I never tried to take your parents’ place…”

She laughed without humor. “Well, my parents don’t count, Quil. I sure as hell hope we’re better at raising kids than they were.”

“I still think you turned out pretty good.”

Seth coughed. “Um, we’re still here, you know.”

“Yeah. I know.” Then, as though I didn’t, I kissed Claire long and hard. “Listen. I’m just happy Leah’s finally not miserable. I know it’s strange. I was pretty freaked out when I imprinted on you, Claire. But then I was happier than anything else could make me.”

“And I’m happy with you.”

“Exactly. She’ll do anything in her power to make him happy. And, take it from one who knows, you have a lot more in your power once you’ve imprinted. Nothing, nothing is more important. I can’t say that about our son, Claire. You’re more important than he is. But for Leah…”

She smiled. “You have a point.”

“I’m right. I’m always right.”

Leah looked up and away from Quil with visible difficulty. She swallowed and I could hear it across the room.

“Well?” I asked, teasing.

“Wow.”

She was breathless.

We laughed until our stomachs hurt.