Sequel to Protect Her, Love Her, Hold Her, Keep Her, From Her, With Her, Beside Her, and Near Her. Thirty years and three children later, Quil and Claire have settled down and settled in to their happy life together. But when an old enemy moves back into town and threatens a member of their family in a way no one could have predicted, how will they keep him safe?
I am SERIOUSLY running out of titles here. I'll need some suggestions when the sequel rolls around. So read the prequels. Please. Or else this will be extremely confusing.
12. Chapter 12
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“She’s not mad at you?” Leah asked as we watched Quil chase Julia around the yard.
“Not anymore,” I answered.
“Good. She had me kinda worried while you were out,” she said.
I paused for a second as Julia fell to the ground, not without taking her big brother with her, and started to cackle. Then I found the nerve to ask, “What was it like?”
Leah smirked and recounted the story in a whirl. “She yelled at me, ripped up some pictures, cussed almost as much as I do, threw your breakfast dishes against the wall, and cried some.”
I bowed my head. “Ooh.”
“Yeah. I’ve never seen her pissed before.”
“Neither have I,” I realized. That’s something. If I haven’t seen Claire do something, it was a pretty safe bet she hadn’t done it. “Claire doesn’t get mad. Usually.”
Leah shrugged. “I think it was more worried than mad. She doesn’t want to loose you.”
I smiled. “She’s made that pretty clear, yeah.”
There was a moment of silence. We watched Quil stagger to his feet and offer his sister a hand. She was dumb enough to take it, and he promptly spilled her right back down, and he grinned. Finally, Leah asked, quite abruptly, “How do you do that?”
“Make yourself… that important, to her. Is it only because of… you know, what happened? She really needs you. Just you. It’s not like the pack wouldn’t take care of her. Even if you were gone, we’d make sure nothing like that ever happened again. She knows she’s safe. But it’s you she worries for. Especially you. I mean, you heard her say it. If there’s danger, she wants me in it, not you. How?”
I laughed. “I’m not that bad, Leah.”
She glared. It had been a mistake, to laugh at one of the rare times Leah was serious and honest. “Shut up. You know what I mean.”
“Yeah. I do.”
“Well?” she demanded.
“To tell you the truth? I don’t know. I don’t know how I got so lucky. I know I lost her once, and came close to losing her half a dozen other times. I know I made a mistake so huge I can never really be forgiven for it. I know I can’t bear that. I know I’ve loved her, done everything for her, done my best to make her happy, stayed with her, adored her, done anything she asked. It wasn’t always enough, but eventually it was. It is.”
She sighed, hesitated for a moment, and then asked, looking out at my children, “You think I have a chance?”
“Leah. Really, thirty years of hating yourself and everyone around you has not done wonders for the accuracy of your self-image. I say this in a purely fraternal way, but you’re really not that bad either.”
“Don’t worry, I’ve gotten used to the crazy pack boys ogling me.”
I rolled my eyes at her. “Ew. Anyway, I think you’re getting what I should have had. He’s happy, Leah. Growing up safe, and with you here. It’s going to be incredibly natural, when the time comes for him to fall in love with you. And you’re more than capable of protecting him, until then. I am sure you have a chance.”
She smiled genuinely for once. “Thanks.”
“No, I mean it. Thanks for giving me… the chance to be around him. And, you know, saving my life and all.”
I looked out at my son. He was laughing. “I just want you to be happy. Both of you.” The sound of Claire’s car pulling in the driveway sped up, and I grinned. Then paused.
“Go greet your imprint. I’ve got the kids,” Leah said cheerfully.
I ran off, catching sight of Claire. She turned to face me and greeted me with a kiss. “Hey.”
“Hey. Welcome home.”
“Thanks. You know. For everything.”
I whispered into her hair, “Don’t mention it.”