The latest installment in the For Her series, sequel to Protect Her, Love Her, Hold Her, Keep Her, From Her, With Her, and Beside Her. Quil and Claire have finally triumphed. Despite the obstacles littering thier way, they are at last happy. What happens when the darkest secret of their past comes back and threatens to seperate them forever?
I disclaim. Y'all should read the sequels first.
5. Chapter 5
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“Claire!” I exclaimed, “You’re finally here!” I forgot about the fact that I was in jail, about my possible impending death sentence, about the universe, the moment I saw her.
“Sorry it took me so long,” she said, her voice subdued.
“That’s all right, sweetheart. You have other commitments.”
“Besides visiting my husband who’s in jail because he committed murder… for me? You have a severely skewed view of the universe, my love.”
I just stared at her for a moment. Strange, how I’d forgotten her face so much in such a short time, though she was the only thing, the every last thing, on my mind at every moment. Yet my memory was clearly deeply imperfect. How could I have forgotten things like the arc of her wide eyebrows, or the way the very bottom of her nose flared out, or the color of her skin, halfway between peaches and cinnamon?
I would have thought something like that would be unforgettable. “Oh, Claire. I… you have no idea how I’ve missed you.”
“Actually, I think I have some,” she muttered, and I could see that the natural slight bags beneath her eyes had deepened, dark with sorrow, and that just beneath the corners of her eyes was a gleaming trail of moisture, shining on her skin.
“I’m so sorry,” I whispered.
The old smile lit up her face. “Not sorry.”
“Never sorry. How’s Quil?”
“The short guy’s doing all right. Leah, of course, is practically hysterical. Worrying about how he can function without a strong male role model. One thing she can’t do for him…”
I rolled my eyes. “Dunno, she came dang close to being a strong male when she was in the pack. I think her genes forgot she was a girl, she’s so aggressive.”
“Quil. This is the woman who’s going to marry our son someday. Please cool it.”
“She’s like my sister, Claire. It’s my duty to tease her.”
“Well, that’s not disturbing at all.”
“Less disturbing than that she’s forty-five years older than him.”
It was pleasant, to banter like this, as though we were safe at home, sitting hand in hand at the couch. Not at all like she was waiting outside the barred window of my jail cell.
Claire looked at me, then, and my heart stuttered and stopped. “I love you,” she whispered intensely. “So much. I don’t know how on Earth I’ll live without you.”
“I’ll find a way, Claire. I will.”
“Come back. For me.”
“All right,” I agreed lightheartedly. And she laughed.
“Excellent.” Then she paused, and took a deep breath. “Quil, I have to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
“More bad timing,” she said, pressing both hands to her stomach. I caught the reference to a years-ago conversation, coupled with the gesture.
She nodded slowly and reached a hand through the bars, as if to touch my face. “Don’t stay here, Quil. Come back to us. We need you.”
“I’ll always be with you, Claire. You know that,” I promised, and she smiled a little.
A buzzer rang. The cop came, and she left.
Left me alone.
Well, now I really had to get out of this jail. I couldn’t break my word, not to Claire, and I couldn’t ask Claire to raise my two children alone, and Leah was right, kids need a father, and I loved her.
I loved them.
I put my head in my hands and, because praying was ineffective, hoped as hard as I could.
This time I didn’t look for an answer.