By: Rosa Swann
When your fated mate becomes your husband and you gain a whole lot of new family…
If I thought that planning a wedding party in two days, without tipping Aiden off about by plans, would be difficult, we now have the added difficulty of needing to taking care of Wes and his kids.
But I’m not giving up, not on either of those things. I will protect Wes and I will also give Aiden a party to remember.
Taking care of Wes’ kids isn’t the hardest task in the world, it’s Wes himself who may prove more difficult. Only, just as I’m settling in for a day of babysitting, my own younger Omega brother, Felix, is standing in the middle of the living room, demanding to know where Hailey is.
Like dealing with one stubborn Omega brother the day before I’m supposed to get married isn’t hard enough…
Today will be dedicated to two things, and two things only. The first one is filling out the paperwork for our marriage ceremony tomorrow, the second one is taking care of Wes and his kids.
And as I’m standing in the middle of Clay’s living room, looking around, I realise how wholly unprepared I am for either of those things.
Sure, I’ve got my clothes, and some of Seb’s things, but being here, being in this place… I’m so not ready to take on any responsibilities today, and I know I still have to.
Clay steps out of the bathroom, just a towel around his hips as he’s holding Seb, also wrapped in his own towel. Everything seemed to start really well, until, well, until we had a poop explosion and I had to get changed and Clay offered to take a shower with Seb.
It’s kind of sweet, seeing them standing there. But it does nothing to make me feel like the rest of our day isn’t going to explode into our faces either.
A phone beeps, and when I look around, I see it’s my own phone, blinking from somewhere in the kitchen area.
Clay smiles at me, his eyes so soft and making me feel so safe. “You go grab that, I’ll get Seb dressed.” He slips into the bedroom, closing the door behind him.
I grab my phone, unlocking it, to find a message from Wes. ‘Good morning. I hope I’m not waking you. But Zeke needs to drop by his own place to get changed, and I don’t know if I can do everything on my own just yet.’
Everything on his own? How about, he’s not doing anything today? ‘Do you need me to get you anything for breakfast or lunch? Snacks?’ I put the phone aside and grab Seb’s bag, stuffing some of his things in it, then I stop.
I need to let my boss know I can’t work today either… I hope I’ve built up some report with them, because I feel like I’ve been taking way too many days off lately. I’ll email him later…
Then I grab my work bag and put some of my own things in there, better be prepared, maybe I can get some work done during slow time.
My phone beeps again. ‘I think we have enough.’ Is it bad that I don’t trust that? Is it bad that I don’t trust his definition of ‘enough’ right now?
‘We’ll be coming your way soon.’
“Aiden?” Clay is standing in the doorway, dressed impeccably, as always, with a very happy Seb in his arms. “Anything wrong?”
I shake my head. “Wes is asking for me to drop by. But I think we may want to bring some food and such with us.”
Clay nods. “I’ll drop you two off, and then I’ll get some food for us all.” He puts Seb in his little chair. “Did you get the paperwork ready yet?”
I shake my head. “It just needs to be filled out digitally, I think. We just have to get the details of our witnesses. No actual paper involved.”
“Good.” He stops for a moment, looking at me. “You’re going to be asking one of your friends as a witness, aren’t you?”
I nod. “I planned on asking Sterling.”
“Makes sense.” He smiles a little. “Let’s hope that we can get Wes strong enough that he can actually come with us tomorrow. I want him as my witness.”
“Sounds good. I’ll make sure for him to sign the paperwork, and Sterling will drop by later anyway.” I grab two bags. “Gonna put this in the car.”
“Sure. I’m nearly done too.” Clay steps close, giving me a quick kiss. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” I feel my cheeks heat up a little from the look in his eyes. “I’ll be right back.” I quickly leave the apartment, because I know that if I don’t, I probably won’t leave at all for the next twenty or thirty minutes, and we really do need to get to Wes.
I wait as the elevator goes down and then make my way to Clay’s car, putting the bags in the back. I take a deep breath, looking up at the building. It’s modern, built in the last twenty years or so, and it’s very modest.
I may not be able to afford this, especially not with part-time work and a kid, but if I’d taken a full-time job right out of college, I’d probably have been able to afford it in a couple more months or so. You wouldn’t guess that the owner of a chain of cafes would live in a place like this.
But I get it. Knowing Clay, I get it. He doesn’t need the extras, he doesn’t need all the rooms and space and stuff.
He’s… He’s humble, and he’s got enough space in his apartment, he doesn’t seem to want to live bigger just yet. At least, he had. The other place, the big and luxurious place, that was just a project for him, something to spend his time on, something to dream about living in, someday.
He’d probably have worked on it for even more years before finally moving in. But I know that he’s actually going to have to hire help to finish it now.
I know that he has dreams and ambitions for the place, but we also need the space, and he knows that we’re going to need it sooner rather than later.
Yeah, I’m going to have to actually get a move on, we’ve got a long day ahead of us.
Another long day…
When I open the door to my old apartment, I’m immediately greeted by Wes’ eldest kid, Oliver.
“Hey.” I pick him up, which he lets me do easily. “How did you sleep?”
Oliver grins. “That was so cool. It was my first time sleeping on an inflatable mattress.” Then he wiggles and I let him back to the floor.
Inside, I find Zeke in the kitchen, washing some dishes, and beyond that, I find Evan and Mia, Wes’ youngest kids in their chairs in the dining area and as I step into my old bedroom, I find Wes in bed and his second eldest, Josie, at his side.
Wes looks up from a book as I come into the room. He looks a lot better today, at least a lot better rested. “Morning.” He smiles a little.
“Morning. I’m apparently your help for the day.” I grin and Wes’ smile stills. At least he doesn’t look as anxious anymore, but I don’t know how much that really says.
“Great.” He hugs Josie with one arm, giving her a quick kiss on the head. “Can you go see if Zeke needs help in the kitchen?”
Josie nods, her eyes shining, then she climbs out of bed and is out of the room.
Wes’ eyes darken as she leaves the room. “Can you close the door?”
I do as he asks, and then sit down on the edge of the bed, looking at him, my heart heavy again.
“I know that you mean well, but I don’t need a sitter. I’m fine.” He pushes himself up a little, wincing. “I may need a little help, but I don’t need someone looking over me day and night. Letting Zeke stay here was unnecessary.”
Right. “I’m not babysitting you. I’m just here to help you.”
“I don’t need help.” Wes’ jaw sets in a way that I’ve come to recognise in Clay too… These brothers…
“Yes. You do.” I stand up. “You just gave birth. You now have three kids under the age of four again and you’re still recovering. I’m not here to take away your freedom or cuddle you or treat you like a child. I’m just here to make it a little easier on you.”
His aversion to being helped seems to come from fear, which is… Not a good sign. “I’m just here so you can rest and recover, while I entertain the older kids. Don’t see it as me babysitting you, see it as a short break, a few days of sharing responsibility until you’re feeling better.” I eye the door. “Now, did you have breakfast yet?”
Wes nods. “Zeke brought me breakfast this morning. He’s very…” Wes stops for a moment, his features softening. “He’s very caring. He’d make a great parent one day.”
“That, he definitely is.” I reach out to Wes, who takes my hand. “Just, let me pamper you for a bit. You were there when I needed someone, even if I didn’t know it. Let me be here for you now.”
I squeeze his hand a little, and Wes nods. “Good. Now, you sleep for a bit, I’ll get the others in line.” I wink and Wes smiles softly.
“Fine.” He rolls his eyes at me, but I know he’ll let me help him now.
I help him curl under the covers more, pulling the blanket up high. “Now, you rest. I’ll see you in a couple of hours.” I quietly leave the room, closing the door behind me again. When I step into the dining room, Zeke is looking at me from the kitchen.
“How is he?”
“Stubborn.” I sigh, then I look around Zeke. “Clay in yet?” He was supposed to follow me up the stairs, but I haven’t seen him yet.
“He dropped off Seb, but then got a phone call. I think he’s standing in the stairwell.” Zeke shrugs. “No surprise there.”
I walk into the living room and find Seb in his little chair on the couch, and when I sit down next to him, Clay steps into the apartment, frowning a little. His eyes fall on me and he relaxes some. “What’s wrong?”
Clay sighs as he comes over. “Something with building and the new cafe and stuff like that. It seems I need to go in for a meeting in a few hours. They want me to sign off on something and I’m not really getting what’s going wrong. But well…” He shrugs.
“This is the first time that I’m actually leaving this all to other people, so maybe it’s just me being too controlling previously and it now biting me in the ass.” He lets out a breath, then he looks in the direction of Wes’ room. “How is he?”
I can’t help but laugh as Zeke asked exactly the same thing, with exactly the same look in his eyes. “Stubborn, which seems to be a family trait. But he looks better now.”
I reach out, touching Clay’s jaw. “But I think you may want to talk to Zeke about what he thinks they’ll need here. And I also think that Zeke will probably want to go home for a few hours.”
Clay nods. “Yeah. Sounds like a good idea.” He leans into my touch a little. “I’ll still have to make a few calls, see if someone can cover his shift at the cafe today.”
“You don’t have to.” Zeke’s standing behind him, Evan in his arms. “Really. I’m good enough to do my shifts, that couch is more comfortable than it looks.”
But Clay shakes his head. “No, I’m not asking that of you. And, I’d prefer it if you could help out with Wes instead, I’m not going to ask you to do both at the same time.”
He stands up. “Do you need me to drive you home, or did you get here by car?”
“My car’s downstairs. I can drive myself.” Zeke’s about to say something more as the bell rings, the noise loud, startling both the little kids. Zeke steps over to the intercom as he tries to comfort Evan. “Yes?”
“Where’s Aiden? I need to talk to him.” The voice doesn’t introduce himself, but I recognise it easily. Felix, my younger Omega brother. Who is supposed to be away at college. “Aiden?”
Zeke looks my way, but I nod. “Let him in.”
Zeke pushes the button to open the door downstairs and then turns to the kids’ bedroom, where Oliver is standing, his eyes big, scared. Oh, crap.
I take Seb, who is still a little pouty about the noise from before, and then open the front door, waiting for Felix to come up the stairs.
As soon as he sees me, he opens his mouth, but I put my finger to my lips and he closes his mouth again, frowning.
“Come on in.” I step aside so he can come into the apartment.
He walks past me, looking around, at Clay, at Zeke, at the kids, then he looks back at me. “Where is Hailey?”
My heart falls, the one thing I don’t want to have to deal with right now. “I don’t know.”
“What do you mean, you don’t know?” His voice rises, his eyes darkening. “How can you not know where your baby sister is? How can you not know when you’re the one holding her kid in your arms? Where is she?”
From the corner of my eyes, I see Oliver flee, his eyes big with fear before he disappears back into his room. “Felix. Lower your voice.”
“Why? You’re not giving me any answers.”
“Because you’re scaring the kids.” I keep my voice level, but I hope that he at least understands the look I’m giving him. “Sit down. You can ask things, but don’t raise your voice. I’m having half a heart to just kick you out again.”
Felix sits down on the couch, the same spot as I was sitting in earlier. “Fine.”
“Okay. Now, you hold Seb for a moment, while I take care of the situation here. Yeah?” I need a little time to think.
Felix nods as I hand him Seb. “Fine.” He holds Seb carefully, looking at the little man and then looking at the others in the room, before averting his eyes.
I don’t know what got him all worked up today, but I have zero tolerance for temper tantrums, especially not from a guy who is legally allowed to drink.
I look at Zeke, holding out my arms for Evan. “You take a couple of hours, refresh, whatever. Take a few hours for yourself. But I would really appreciate it if you could drop by again later, Wes seems to like having you around.”
Zeke nods. “I will. I’ll also see about getting some things to entertain the little ones. This house doesn’t seem particularly equipped to entertain kids who are no longer babies.”
His eyes are soft, warm. “Take care of Wes. And, take care of yourself too.” He eyes Felix behind me, then he grabs his jacket and waits at the door.
“I’ll go out too. It seems you may need to talk to your brother.” Clay puts his hand on my hip. “Will you be okay?”
“I’ll be fine. At least this drama I’m used to.” I wink and Clay gives me a slow kiss.
When he lets me go, his eyes shine. “Good. You can now take care of our two Omega siblings with attitude issues.”
I let out a sigh, then I push at him. “Go. I expect you’ll be bringing something good back with you, after saying that.”
“I will.” He gives me a quick kiss again, then he and Zeke both leave the apartment.
I turn to the kids’ bedroom, carefully making my way over there. But I don’t see Oliver or Josie anywhere, then I look around again. I’m pretty sure I saw them go in here.
Then I hear soft sounds, a kid whispering and moving a little. “Oliver? Josie?” I keep my voice light as I make my way over to the closet in the back of the room. “Are you there?”
One of the doors opens and Josie rolls out, her face streaked with tears. She ambles towards me and I kneel down, taking her in my other arm.
“It’s okay. Nobody is going to yell. I promise.” I whisper in her hair, my own heart beating hard.
Then Oliver looks out of the closet too, frowning, his face set.
“It’s okay.” I hold my arm out for him, but he shakes his head.
“He’s an Alpha, he doesn’t need a hug. He can deal with it himself.” Wes’ voice is soft from the doorway. “Right?”
Oliver nods, determination on his face as he comes out of the closet. “I’m a big boy. I can handle myself.”
“Yes, you can.” Wes ruffles Oliver’s hair as the boy walks past him, then he looks at me, waiting a few moments. “I just wish he didn’t.” Wes’ voice breaks and he covers his mouth with his hand, closing his eyes, but I still saw the pained look in it.
Double, triple fuck.