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Part two of the Heated series. Paul used to spend his nights running rounds through the Olympic peninsula with his packmates, howling like the wolves they were. Now, the only howling in their lives comes from the throats of angry, angry toddlers...


1. Josh Beckett

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I never wanted kids. So how did I wind up with two so goddamn early? I could practically feel freedom slipping away as I slapped a magnetic paw print on the back of Emme's car like she'd asked. There was a big paw, a medium paw, and two little ones. Emme thought it was ‘cute.' It was half the reason I refused to drive her car.

It was beginning to mist as I turned heel to go inside, and it was a full out down pour by the time I was actually in the door. The whole house smelled like paint, the excuse this time being we finished the new baby's room three months after Kent was actually born. We painted on a whim around here anyway, though. The house was truly just one continuous home improvement project. Things were painted and swapped around so often it was like moving into a new house every few months... the price of which was constant paint fumes and the smell of cut wood.

The house was silent, and that meant one of two things had occurred. Either Emme had finally had a complete meltdown, drowned the boys in the bathtub and was currently disposing of their tiny little bodies, or it was naptime. Whatever. It could be quiet by heavenly mandate and I wouldn't care as long as it was silent. But I felt it was my divine duty as a father to at least make sure Emme hadn't murdered our sons while they slept on their cots.

She hadn't. I entered the nursery attempting not to breathe. Instead of smelling like paint, since the baby had moved into his room, it smelled a lot like shitty diapers. Stupid diaper genie wasn't worth its weight in pennies. I peered over into the crib, but found Kent absent from his bed. Huh. I looked around the room, then spotted the reason why. Emme was asleep sitting up in the rocker, a wide awake but miraculously quiet Kent in her arms. I surveyed the picture a little longer than was really necessary, more than likely because obviously she'd been feeding the little monster and certain aspects of her womanhood were still highly visible.

"I love motherhood," I whispered truthfully, smiling. It was good to me. Kent heard my voice and did that weird I'm-Your-Kid-I-Recognize-You-Anywhere thing both he and Lain do, turning his floppy little baby head in my direction and making strange little bubbly noises in the back of his throat. I shuddered, but once again felt it was my divine fatherly duty to pick him up. I couldn't just leave him there now. What if he wiggled out of her arms and BLAM face down on the floor? Nope. Couldn't let that happen.

"Careful, careful..." I lifted Kent from his mother's arms with the upmost, well, care. One hand under his bum, the other securing his head, just like mom and Emme had trained me to do when Lain was a little guy. He still was a little guy, but now he was a little one who could walk and hold his head up all on his lonesome. The bigger he got, the more I liked him. Kent on the other hand... bed babies were just downright scary. End of story.

Balancing Kent in one arm, I left the room, intent on discovering the whereabouts of my older son, and having no luck. Playroom, no. His room, no. I peeked in my room, but didn't see him. The lights were all on, though. Electricity costs too much to just leave lights on. I flicked of the ceiling light, then the bathroom; I started to turn off the closet light, but stopped when I realized all my clothes were on the floor. Dammit. I squatted and lifted my old Carhartt jacket off the top of the pile, finding one black haired little monster peeking up at me with one eye open.

"Why are all my clothes on the floor, Lain?" I asked as nicely as I could muster. This is why I didn't want kids. Lain giggled and sprang up from the pile of clothes lithely. He laughed in my face and I barely managed a nice little smile in his direction. "Fine, whatever. We'll just have your mom clean it up later anyway," I said, picking him up with my free arm and dragging him away from the scene of the crime.

I was feeling a little top heavy with both boys balanced precariously in either arm, but the opportunity was amazing. After some impressive scuttling around in the hall and through doorways without knocking anyone's head against the door frame, I sat down on the couch across from the TV, the object of my affections not claimed by my family. I tucked Lain beside me and Kent into the crook of my elbow so he could see the TV as well. I grabbed the remote and turned on ESPN, the game lighting up the screen immediately.

"Alright, boys, now pay attention," I said scooting down in my seat so my head was level with Lain's. He leaned against me softly and I put an arm around him. "These are the Boston Red Sox. Study them, know them. See that guy on the mound? Josh Beckett. Good pitcher..."

"Bay ball," Lain said showing his toothiest grin, hard to do I'd imagine since he didn't have all his teeth yet. He clapped his pudgy hands together. How adorable. Kent, on the other hand (literally), was falling asleep. Droopy eyelids were slowly shutting, his mouth tightly closed. He and Lain were almost polar opposites. Lain's mouth was always opened, and he was one high maintenance kiddo. Kent was quiet and closed lipped, a nice break from hurricane Lain. "Bay ball, bay ball, bay ball!"

Dear god, did I have a son or a clone? And when did it shut up? Mom told me all the time that Lain was ‘exactly like me at his age.' I think I feel bad for him sometimes. "Bay ball!"

"Yes, Lain," I said exasperatedly, "baseball. Hush while Beckett throws a strike. Watch it, learn it." I will admit, I'm going to be one disappointed guy if neither of them have an arm. "Bay ball!"

This is really getting old.