Thursday, June 9, 2016

I Have a New Website!

I have a new home on the web where I've combined all of my websites/blogs for your convenience.

You can find my author website, including my blogs "A Thought Here and There", "The Federal Nation of Therianthropes", and "The Combined Human States" all in one spot on the web:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Springtime Beginning

Jane sighed and looked out the window to the woods surrounding the house. Spring was coming and wildflowers were beginning to bloom. As a girl she used to love this time of year, but growing up had affected much of her life. War between the species had changed many of her views, and now the tenuous peace had changed it yet again. Two years ago she had been optimistic, certain the humans and shifters had learned to live together in relative peace. Now…she didn't know what to think.
Crimes against humans were on the rise in every border city along the wall. Shifters were allegedly disappearing at an alarming rate from The Federal Nation of Therianthropes, only to be found dead in The Combined Human States. It was a frightening time for everyone and no one knew how to make it better. For her own safety, Bjorn had insisted she remain in his cabin any time he couldn’t go out with her. She had left her job working for the Human Council for Environmental Rejuvenation at his request just two months ago. Unfortunately she was regretting that decision more and more each day. Was this really what she wanted? To be locked in his home, only allowed out when he could protect her from his people and hers?
A sound at the back door pulled her from her musings and she turned from the window to watch Bjorn walk in. He was just as breathtaking as the first time she had seem him two years ago on her computer screen. A tall muscular physique, from the loose auburn ponytail down a strong torso to his thick thighs, every inch of him perfect in her eyes. He was amazingly gentle for a bear-shifter and always a gentleman. He would never keep her against her will.
They had worked well together, helping to build community centers at each major checkpoint along the wall. For a full year those centers had thrived and relations between the species had seemed almost perfect. Then the unthinkable happened. President Theron’s daughter had been kidnapped and found in the Animal Menagerie, forced to dance in one of their infamous cages. She’d been released quickly after being spotted by a human who recognized her, but the damage had been done.
Bjorn had wasted no time packing Jane up and bringing her to his home in FNT. She had no family, no close friends, no one she was concerned about leaving behind. It had sounded good at the time. But with each day her restlessness grew and she was beginning to wonder how much longer she could remain in her gilded cage. Despite everything he had done for and given her, Jane still felt trapped.

Bjorn removed his gloves and set them on the kitchen table, stealing glances at Jane from the corner of his eye. Her restlessness was nearly tangible and the animal buried within him growled. He held it back from her human ears with effort, afraid of scaring her. He’d been walking on eggshells for months. He could admit now that showing up at her house in the dead of night, insisting she pack the essentials and leave with him, might not have been the best idea. But mobs of humans had begun to form and take their fears and frustrations out on anyone they deemed a threat. Jane had never kept their relationship a secret and he feared for her safety.
She was so beautiful, with dark brown hair in a wave of loose curls to the middle of her back. At six-foot she was tall for a human woman, and her shapely hips cradled him perfectly. She had always welcomed him into her bed but the past couple of weeks she had seemed distracted. The light in her eyes was dimming and he had no idea what to do about it. Her safety came before everything, even his own. He just wished she understood and accepted that.
He washed his soil covered hands in the kitchen sink and inhaled her scent deeply as she approached. Her small hands ran over his back, up to his shoulders and back down again. He was tense with fear and uncertainty. Would today be the day she demanded to return home to CHS? 

“How is the garden?” she asked.
Her husky voice sent a shaft of desire through him. He swallowed it down and dried his hands before turning to face her.

“Good. We will have carrots and tomatoes soon.”

She smiled but it didn’t reach her eyes and without thought he cradled her face between his large palms, forcing her gaze to meet his.

“All will be better eventually, my beloved. I know it’s hard now…adjusting. But this can’t last forever.”

She sighed and closed her eyes before leaning into him. He held her close, careful not to grip her frail human body too tightly. The honeysuckle scent of her hair filled his lungs and he inhaled deeply with a smile. She had joked about using honey to perfume her body because of his bear nature. Licking the real thing off her skin was one of his favorite treats.

“I don’t think I can stay here any longer, Bjorn.”

Her whispered words may have been lost on human ears, but he heard her loud and clear. Shouting in his ear couldn’t have been any more painful than the words he’d been dreading for weeks. She was ready to leave him. He tightened his hold for only a moment before releasing her and stepping away. She remained where she stood.

“Pack your things and I will return you to CHS but not to your house. Every one of your neighbors knows what I am and of our relationship. You will be safer in a city.”

With a glance he registered the shock on her face.

“You’ll take me back?” she asked.

He nodded before heading to their bedroom. “You are not a prisoner here, beloved. I only wish for your happiness.”

Shock left Jane immobile as Bjorn disappeared into their bedroom without another word. Home. He was taking her home. So, why did panic suddenly fill her at the thought? She shook her head and followed him, deciding she was just anxious to return to all she knew and loved.
Bjorn was packing his own bag when she walked in and it disheartened her to see how little he was taking.
Of course, he can’t stay in CHS. He would be killed.
The thought froze her in her tracks and she studied him more closely. Usually strong, proud shoulders were stooped as he hunched over the open bag on their bed. His brow was wrinkled. In concentration? His strong jaw was clenched and eyes that normally tracked her across every room remained lowered. This wasn’t what he wanted but he was willing to do this for her. Always for her.
Tears stung the back of her throat as she remained in the doorways watching him. Part of her wanted to remain by his side, here in the home he had made with his own hands. He had seemed so nervous the first time she had walked through the door, as if concerned she wouldn’t like it. Truth was, she loved it. Every part of it was so like him, it made her feel cherished and safe. Just like he did.
Another part of her knew staying here day in and day out simply wasn’t an option. She had no purpose other than to be Bjorn’s woman. Though that fulfilled some of her needs, it left others withering. She feared she would one day resent him and lose the love she held so precariously in her heart. She had never even said those three small words, guarding them closely for fear they would slip away into nothingness. As if taking her lead he hadn’t either, but he always called her his beloved and treated her as the most important thing in his life. With a heavy heart Jane finally stepped fully into the room and packed her things.

They were packed and he had closed the house up as he normally did before a long absence. Everything was as ready as possible. Jane sat in the front passenger seat of the military vehicle Bjorn had been given shortly after agreeing to work for his Alpha. If he didn’t finish up quickly, they would be driving through the night. He didn’t really care one way or the other. He had packed for only three days. Two to get her to a safe place and one to spend saying his goodbyes. It wasn’t enough. A lifetime wasn’t nearly enough. But arguing would be futile when he knew staying here was slowly leaching the life from her.
He rounded the house one last time, checking the windows and ensuring all was as it should be for his absence. The sight of his garden gave him pause. It had been her idea to plant more vegetables. Now the sight of them would forever be tainted by memories of them working the ground side-by-side. An irrational urge to rip out the soil nearly overwhelmed him and he closed his eyes against the onslaught.
No. It is better this way. She can live a normal life among her people.
He took a deep breath and released it slowly, along with the fear, frustration and pain her leaving had embedded in his soul. Her well-being was his main concern above all else. Including his own.
As he left the garden behind the stillness in the woods around him finally registered. He froze for a heartbeat, sniffing the air, before running to the front of the house. A glance showed Jane was still safely locked in his vehicle, but two other trucks were parked behind him. He could still get out, as there was no actual driveway in the woods around his house. But as soon as the doors on the other two vehicles opened he realized there was no need.

“Alpha,” Bjorn said to the man slowly approaching him.

Sandulf gave a short nod but his face remained serious. The men who had arrived with him, all wolves like their Alpha, stayed by their vehicles but kept their gazes locked on the pair. Bjorn knew a single misstep from him would have the pack on him quicker than thought in defense of Sandulf.

“Bjorn,” Sandulf said, bringing his attention back to the man before him. “I didn’t realize you were heading out today.

That was debatable. Sandulf had a psychic link to every shifter in FNT unlike any other pack leader in the world. It was one of his many unusual strengths.

“Yes, sir. I return my mate to her home.”

One brow quirked up at that announcement and Sandulf looked over his shoulder to Bjorn’s truck. Jane’s face paled at the attention but she didn’t lower her gaze. Pride swelled in Bjorn at her courage. He knew strong shifter men who wouldn’t dare hold the Alpha’s gaze.

“You return your mate to her home?” Sandulf asked. He made a show of looking at Bjorn’s house and the surrounding woods. “Isn’t that what this is?”

Bjorn sighed and ran a hand through his hair, suddenly more tired than he’d been in a long time.

“She does not feel this is true. She is…unhappy here.”

The admission was torn out of him, much like he felt his heart would be in three days’ time. He swallowed hard, trying to banish his pain.

“She is too idle? You must give her children, Bjorn. Cubs will keep her too busy to remember CHS.”

Heat filled his face at the reminder of the only true argument he had ever had with Jane. She had refused his offer of marriage and blanched at the mention of children. He’d never brought it up again.

“She doesn’t wish to bear my cubs. She isn’t ready to be my mate.”

Sandulf looked over his shoulder again. Jane still watched them. After a few minutes of silence the Alpha finally faced Bjorn again.

“I have a solution. Bring your mate inside so we can talk.”


Bjorn stood very still as Sandulf and his men drove away, disappearing quickly beneath the trees. There were only three defined paths to Bjorn’s house and Sandulf knew them well. A soft sound alerted him to Jane’s approach. With her scent permeating everything in his home, it wasn’t always easy to know exactly where she was without seeing her.


Her unsteady voice revealed her nervousness and uncertainty. He swallowed hard before turning to face her. Once again his Alpha had stepped in to save his life. No…his soul. All it had taken was the offer of a job to keep Jane busy. A job with the express purpose of aiding shifters in maintaining what peace they held. She had needed a purpose, he knew, but knowing he wasn’t enough hurt deeply.

“Yes?” he replied.

She crossed the living room until she stood two feet away, watching him warily. He hadn’t reacted with the joy she had shown when Sandulf had made the offer. Perhaps that confused her? After all, keeping her here had always been his wish.

“Is something wrong?” she asked.

He shook his head and ran a hand through his hair, trying to think of something to say. He had already brought their bags back inside. She had unpacked her things and put them back into the spaces he had made for them two months ago. But his bag still sat by the front door as if he was considering a trip alone.

“I thought…” she began. He waited, knowing he should explain. “I thought you would be happy.”

He frowned and closed the distance, pulling her into his arms.

“I am happy to keep you here with me. Here in this home I made for both if us,” he said quietly.

She pulled back and looked into his eyes with questions in hers. “Then why don’t you seem happy?”

There was any number of things he could say. Pretty lies he could spin that might not be full lies at all. But he had always been completely honest with her about everything. After two years together, being untruthful in any way felt wrong, like an acrid taste on his tongue. He simply couldn’t do it.

“Why am I not reason enough for you, beloved? Why won’t you marry me? Have my children?”

True surprise crossed her beautiful face before her brows drew down and she bit her lip. Perhaps she was preparing to tell her own lies now.

“That’s not it at all, Bjorn. I swear. I want to be with you.”

He waited but she didn’t seem to know what else to say. After nearly a minute he simply nodded and turned away. She said nothing else as he stepped into the kitchen to prepare dinner.

Even without shifter senses, Jane knew Bjorn was in pain. It was nothing physical. Nothing she could put a bandage over. But still she knew the power to ease it was fully in her power. Could she do it? Could she finally pledge herself to this man who had already given her so much of himself? He was always honest, always faithful. She never feared he would hurt her in any way. So, what in the hell was her problem?
It had taken all of her willpower to sit through their nearly silent dinner and actually eat. He was a naturally quiet man, but tonight it was almost tangible. Like a thick, smothering smog between them, the silence stretched on until he finally stood and cleared the table. She helped him with the dishes and he thanked her, but nothing else. The idea that she may have caused irreparable damage to their relationship scared the hell out of her. How was she going to fix this? She had to fix this.
He took a shower as she prepared for bed, and by the time he left the bathroom she was already tucked in.

“I’m going to walk the perimeter of the house. I’ll return soon,” he said.

She bolted upright as he walked out of their bedroom, not quite believing he was leaving the house until she heard the front door close. He never left her alone inside after dark unless there was some kind of emergency. True fear flooded her and she fought down the ensuing panic. He just wanted to take a walk in the woods. That wasn’t unusual, just the timing. Surely it didn’t mean anything.
Three nights later, when he walked out again, she had had enough. They had barely spoken the past two days and he hadn’t even tried to make love to her. She missed his touch. She missed the man she had fallen in love with. Like a jolt realization hit her. She had no doubt he loved her. It was in every touch, every smile, every thoughtful gesture. But what about him? Did he realize he was her world?

“No,” she whispered aloud.

How could he? Not only had she never told him, she had betrayed his love by actually wanting to leave. She was such a fool.
She rolled over in their bed to face the door just as she had every night. Waiting impatiently for him to walk in, and fearing a night when he didn’t. Plans of how to prove her love for him ran through her mind. After tonight he would never doubt again.

Bjorn walked slowly to his front door, following the path lit by the full moon filtering through the canopy. He absently rubbed at the pain in his chest but knew it was nothing physical. How long could he go on like this? How long would he keep pretending he had a mate in the woman who reluctantly shared his bed? After the meeting with Sandulf he had hoped things would change, but the truth had hit him like a ton of bricks. She was only staying because of the job. She was a loyal, caring woman who would always do whatever she could for the betterment of interspecies relations. He loved that about her, but he didn’t know if it was enough.
 In his mind’s eye the years stretch long ahead of him. Years of just the two of them in his home hidden in the woods. No children’s laughter to brighten their days. No love from her to fill his heart. Could he do it? Always her well-being came first. It was an unquestioned instinct bred into his bones. But could he truly keep her happy when he was filled with sorrow?
He stepped onto the porch and took a deep breath before opening the front door. She would already be asleep, or pretending to be. It no longer mattered to him. Each night when he slipped into bed her back was turned. He had made no move to hold or touch her.
The first thing he noticed, as he closed the door and looked around, was the fire burning in the fireplace. Had she gotten cold? He frowned at the thought. It was cool outside but not overly so, and his house was warm. He stepped over to check the fire and noticed the pallet of blankets spread out before it. There were two pillows there as well.
Is she planning on sleeping here? Or telling me I must?
Neither prospect pleased him. He might not hold her as they slept anymore, but he still wanted her in his bed…with him.
He was frowning down at the make-shift bed, hands on hips as he considered what it meant, when she walked in. He didn’t realize she was there at first, not until she touched him. He startled and turned to face her, nearly jumping again when he saw her nakedness.

“I know it’s not really cold enough for a fire, but I though it set the mood,” she said softly.

Deft fingers began unbuttoning his plaid shirt and had it halfway off before he thought to stop her. He gently grasped her wrists and held them against his chest.

“What is this?” he asked.

“I want to touch you,” she said.

He let her pull her hands free and finish. Once his plaid shirt and the t-shirt beneath were gone, she went down to her knees and unlaced his boots. He raised each foot to let her remove his boots and socks. When she unbuckled his belt and opened his jeans he nearly stopped her again. It had been four days since he’d made love to her and his body was tense with wanting. They already knew each other well. When she stripped off his jeans and briefs in one swift tug, she didn’t seem at all surprised by the erection facing her.

“I’ve missed touching you,” she said.

He closed his eyes and growled low in his throat as she pressed her moist tongue to his skin. It had been so long since she’d held him in her mouth, he knew he wouldn’t last long through the bliss.

Min kärlek, easy now. It is too good almost.”

His accent had thickened at her ministrations until he worried she wouldn’t understand him, but she smiled and ran her tongue over his shaft again.

“Let me play,” she said.

He growled again but made no move to stop her as she cupped his scrotum in one soft palm and gripped the base of his cock with the other. She did play then, using fingers and tongue. She licked and suckled until he knew he wouldn’t last another second.

“Enough, beloved.”

He eased her head away with a gentle hand and went down on his knees before her. The firelight gave her skin a soft glow, radiant and ethereal.

“You are so lovely, min kärlek. My love.”

She smiled and it lit up the room as if the sun was shining through every window. He eased her to her back and kissed her softly. Her moans filled the room as his hands roamed her body. Breasts and stomach, thighs and mons, all felt the pressure of his fingertips at play. He sat up to see her writhing beneath him and was ready to explode right then. She was more than prepared for his entry. He eased her thighs open with his hands, rubbing his palms up and down her slick skin. She moaned again and opened her arms.

“Now, Bjorn. Now, please.”

Though it took every ounce of willpower within him, he pulled back and looked over his shoulder, intending to rush to their bedroom for the one thing she seemed to have forgotten.

“No.” She grabbed him by the waist to keep him from rising.

“The herbs, my love. You’ve forgotten the herbs.”

Condoms were not something he could easily obtain when they left the city. So he had a potion he could ingest shortly before sex to ensure his seed wouldn’t create new life. It wasn’t guaranteed anymore than traditional human methods, but so far it had worked.

“No, my love,” she said. “Not this time.”

He froze and stared down at her as comprehension came slowly. First she had used the word love. Then she said they wouldn’t use the potion this time? His pulse jumped at the thought and he leaned over her, elbows on either side of her head so they were a breath apart.

“No?” he asked, feeling as if it was the most important question of his life.

“No,” she replied with a smile.

She ran a finger over his brow, down his jaw line to his lips. He kissed her fingertip and fought down the sting of tears.

“I love you, Bjorn Berendsen, and hurting you has been the biggest mistake of my life. Please…forgive me?”

Emotion welled up, choking him until he couldn’t voice a reply. He kissed her with all the love he had to give instead and she met him full force.

“I love you, I love you…” she whispered between kisses.

“I’ll never tire of hearing that,” he finally said.

He made love to her slowly, savoring every thrust, every moan and cry from her lips. Knowing she could carry his child by morning filled him with so much satisfaction it was a wonder he lasted long enough for her to climax first. She hugged him tightly between her thighs as he filled her with his seed, and whispered his love to her over and over.

“I know. I love you too,” she said.

For the first time he truly believed it and drifted to sleep with her in his arms, both dreaming of their new beginning.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


I know it's been quite a while since you've heard from me. Fear not, rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. Those of you who lost that bet should be ashamed of yourselves. Those who won will be remembered.This brief update is simply to reaffirm the rules set forth in FNT from the signing of the treaty.
  • Yes, there are now community centers at each major checkpoint along the wall. No these are not places to pick up humans for sex and/or food.
  • Engaging in sexual acts in public, whether with humans or shifters, is illegal...still.
  • Harming humans or coercing them to run from you is illegal...still.
  • The Animal Menagerie has its own set of rules which are posted on each entrance and clearly stated in English. If you don't read English, don't enter The Animal Menagerie.
That is all that comes to mind at this time but more will be added as the rules are broken. Just remember, I take each infraction seriously and personally. If you have issues with any of them, feel free to speak to me at your earliest convenience.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Teddy Bear for Christmas

This post was originally published on the Samhellions blog on December 18, 2010.

To my readers, for those of you who have read my first paranormal release, They
Call Me Death, you will be familiar with Bjorn Berendsen. He is a character that has
stayed with me over the past year, wanting to know when his story will be told. A
Teddy Bear for Christmas isn’t his entire tale, but it is a taste of what’s to come.
Hopefully it will whet your appetite for more.

A Teddy Bear for Christmas
Copyright 2010, Missy Jane
This is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products
of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are no construed to be
real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or
organizations is entirely incidental.
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any
manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief excerpts
or quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

A Teddy Bear for Christmas

Bjorn Berendsen probably wasn’t the smartest, strongest or most handsome man in the room, but damn! The way he filled out his designer suit had Jane’s mouth watering and her knees quivering in anticipation of his touch. Just a handshake. That’s all she was guaranteed from him in this setting but she would take what she could get. Too bad no one had thought to hang mistletoe in the conference room. She quietly snorted a laugh at that thought. Rumor had it the shifters didn’t even celebrate Christmas anymore. Their differences didn’t matter at all to her. Never in her life had she thought she could fall for a man she barely knew, but there was just something about him.

After three months of emails, phone calls and web conferences, finally meeting Bjorn face-to-face was mere minutes away. She’d seen his picture and knew all the pertinent facts her company had compiled into a neat manila folder marked with his strong name. But none of that could’ve prepared her for his masculine presence. In the flesh, Bjorn was the epitome of all she’d imagined a male bear shape-shifter to be. His deep voice rumbled and his lips quirked into the hint of a smile. Jealousy shot though her as Maxine, Jane’s boss, threw her head back and laughed. The throaty purr brought other male attention Maxine’s way and Jane cringed. Next to that blonde beauty Jane was as plain as a brown paper bag.

She looked over Bjorn’s muscular physique, from his shoulder-length auburn ponytail down a strong torso to his thick thighs. She envied the slacks that encased his perfection so intimately and couldn’t help a sigh of defeat. Maxine’s pixie-like physique was definitely better suited to such a fine male specimen than Plain Jane ever could be.She’d long ago grown used to being the least feminine woman in the room. Regardless of what he might think of her as a woman, Jane still had a job to do as lead on this project. Maxine would oversee this first face-to-face meeting and then disappear into the background. Jane would have to see Bjorn every day until it was done. She was known for her professionalism and tenacity on difficult projects. It was time to prove both. After a deep, calming breath she shoved her insecurities aside and waited to meet the man whose deep voice had haunted her dreams for months.
Bjorn noticed her the moment she’d entered the meeting room and it had taken all of his control to remain where he stood. She was exquisite, much better than their few video conferences had revealed . Dark brown hair fell in loose curls over her shoulders to the middle of her back. Her navy blue business suit accentuated her form, feminine but not at all fragile, strong enough for a shifter’s attention. He only wished she wore a skirt rather than slacks so he could admire those long legs. She was tall for a human woman, perhaps six-foot. He would barely have to bend to meet her luscious lips. His gaze dropped to her shapely hips and a primitive growl of approval formed in his chest. He fought the urge, concerned he might frighten the human woman at his side who was trying so hard to keep his attention. She didn’t hold a candle to the beauty across the room, but since she was head of the Human Council for Environmental Rejuvenation, he was forced to speak to her for the moment.

“Ms. Smyth—”

“Maxine, please. I insist you call me Maxine, or even Max as all of my closest friends call me.”

She laughed as if it was a grand joke, pulling the room’s attention her way. Bjorn forced a smile and cleared his throat. He didn’t like overly flirtatious human females. With every word out of her mouth she seemed to inch closer until he wondered if she planned to jump on top of him soon. In contrast, the brunette stood in an empty corner, head down and hands clasped in front of her. She waited patiently as a dozen conversations fluttered around the room. Bjorn wanted to grab her and carry her away from this meeting, away from this building and into the woods where he made his home. He wasn’t comfortable in a suit, especially in a high-rise surrounded by humans. However, he was here at his Alpha’s bidding and it was a miracle the humans had allowed him into their country at all. Sandulf would not be happy if Bjorn messed this up.

“Maxine, the Alpha sends his apologies at not being able to attend this auspicious event. He hopes you will forgive his absence and allow me to speak on his behalf. Speaking to me will be as if you are speaking to him and I have his full authority.”

She blushed and waved a hand in front of her face. “Oh, you’re so proper and formal. There’s really no need for an apology, Bjorn. Any member of Sandulf’s cabinet is more than welcome here.”

Bjorn bristled at her use of the Alpha’s given name more than his own. He’d spoken to her half a dozen times by phone and twice that by email, but never in person. As far as he knew she’d never met Sandulf either. It was a distinct show of disrespect to address him so familiarly, but as a human she wouldn’t know that. He
took a deep breath and glanced at the brunette to calm his emotions. She was looking at him and their gazes locked. His heart pounded in double-time as he admired the flush filling her oval face. Maxine laughed again and stepped into his line of sight, blocking the brunette and annoying him. Without thought he frowned down at her and she took a step back.

“Oh, uh…I see Jane has arrived. She’s the project manager. Have you met
her in person yet?”


“Well, let’s take care of that.”

Bjorn fought for control as he silently followed Maxine across the room. The urge to shove her and everyone else out of the way was great, but he controlled it and hoped the intense desire clawing at him wasn’t visible in his gaze. Jane looked like a deer caught in headlights once she realized they were headed her way, but her spine straightened and her chin lifted. Bjorn admired her courage after the fear he’d originally glimpsed.

“Jane, there you are. This is Mr. Berendsen from the Shifter Council, the man in charge of this little project.”

Jane’s eyebrows went up and Bjorn stifled a laugh. This project was many things, but little definitely wasn’t one of them. Over the next two years the people in this room would be working on a series of buildings at all of the major checkpoints along the wall that separated the Combined Human States from the Federal Nation of Therianthropes. They would be crossing points where both species could meet in neutral territory. They would also serve as community centers for the general public. It was a massive undertaking already two years in the making, though Bjorn had just come on board a few months back. The humans were pushing to open the first one on Christmas Eve.

Jane stepped forward and extended one elegant hand. Bjorn took it into his much larger palm and turned it, raising it to his mouth for a simple kiss. He kept it light and quick to keep Jane from possible embarrassment. Though he’d instantly known he wanted her, many human women scoffed at the idea of being with a shifter. He had to tread carefully until discovering how she felt. She gasped and blushed again, but didn’t pull her hand away. He took that as a good sign.

“It is my greatest pleasure to finally see you in the flesh, Jane.”

Maxine huffed and crossed her arms but he barely noticed. Nearly all of his attention was on the beauty before him and what her reaction would be. A tentative smile graced her perfect mouth and he breathed easier. She bit her bottom lip and glanced down at where he still clasped her hand.

“Thank you, Bjorn. It’s a pleasure to meet you too.”

Hearing his name on her lips had lust spiking through him. He smiled back and stepped closer to her before releasing her hand. As he’d suspected, she barely had to tilt her head to look him in the eye. Maxine, realizing she’d been forgotten, simply turned and walked away.

“You didn’t answer my last email,” he said quietly.

Confusion lit her face for a moment before she shook her head. “I’m sorry. I was certain I’d responded to all of them before this morning’s meeting.”

He tsked and looked around to be sure they had privacy. No one seemed to be paying any attention to them as Maxine had already engaged another man in conversation.

“I’m not referring to a work email, Jane. The one I sent you last night was of a more…personal nature.”

She blushed again and he considered how lovely her pale skin appeared in that shade of pink. Her whispered reply created added intimacy between them and tightened his body to full awareness.

“But you just wanted my picture. I knew we would meet today.”

He chuckled and couldn’t resist running a finger down one of her well pressed lapels.

“All suited up for this very proper business meeting. You know that’s not what I asked for.”

Amazingly she blushed harder. “Bjorn—”

“Everyone ready? Please have a seat.”

Maxine’s voice broke through the thin veil of seduction Bjorn was weaving and irritated him, but he had a job to do. Unfortunately, the lovely Jane Ridding wasn’t his main concern. He sighed and motioned toward the conference table. She stepped past him and he settled a hand at the small of her back. She looked up at him in surprise before immediately turning her gaze back to Maxine. Bjorn didn’t give a damn. He planned to make Jane his and the sooner everyone knew that the better.
Jane sighed in relief as she left the conference room. The meeting was finally over. Seven hours, with only a thirty-minute break for lunch, and they had finally settled some major disputes between Sandulf and the human president. Now that the papers had been signed, more work could begin. Construction on the first building had begun a few months back when Bjorn stepped in for the shifters. It was scheduled to open in two weeks, on Christmas Eve, with a huge celebration. She couldn’t wait. Bjorn had hinted at staying in CHS until after the holidays, with a not so subtle request to spend his free time with her. Tingles shot up her spine at the thought.

The meeting had been sheer torture as she’d been sitting beside his overwhelming presence the entire time. At first it had been hard to concentrate when she thought about his request. A picture of her at play. She hadn’t replied because she was afraid of how he would take it. Could she handle a man like Bjorn? Today had proven she could sit through seven agonizing hours of arousal just from his masculine scent. Even without a shifter’s enhanced sense of smell, he made her mouth water.

She had left him in the conference room talking to one of the engineers. The hot promise in his gaze nearly had her running, but she’d been sure to say goodbye rather than slip out unnoticed. She paused and let out a short laugh. As if that were possible. He’d kept her well within his sights all day, going so far as to wait outside the ladies’ room for her after lunch. The only one who had seemed to notice was Maxine but Jane didn’t care. She certainly couldn’t deny that his attention was welcome.

The elevator dinged and the door slid open for her entry just as warmth covered her back. The hair on the her nape stood on end as a hot breath whispered across one ear.

“You weren’t going to just leave me, were you?”

Bjorn’s deep voice made her shiver. She paused in the act of stepping onto the elevator to turn and answer him, but he gently nudged her forward.

“Bjorn, I—”

“Come on, my beauty.”

He corralled her into the elevator with his larger body. She turned to face him as he pressed a button and the door slid closed. Then his full attention was aimed at her and Jane’s breath caught in her throat. She nervously licked her lips and his gaze focused on the slight movement. He leaned in until she was pressed against the wall. She never thought to refuse him as he covered her mouth with his. An involuntary moan escaped as his tongue slid over hers in a sensual duel. She wrapped her arms around his neck and slid the fingers of one hand into his thick hair. He grunted as his ponytail loosened but held tighter when she attempted to pull back.

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled.

He kissed her rather than respond until the elevator dinged again. She froze but he stepped out of her arms, straightened her jacket and turned to stand sedately at her side. The door slid open.

“Jane, how are you?”

She pasted on a smile to cover her nervousness and nodded at the two men from the Research and Development department.

“Ned, Bill, good to see you. This is Bjorn Berendsen. We’re working on the shifter project together.”

Both men shook Bjorn’s hands before moving to the opposite wall. The elevator was average size, but the human men were able to keep a few feet of open space between them and Bjorn. Jane hid a smile and wondered if they’d even realized they were doing it.

It took no time to reach the ground floor and exit the elevator. Bjorn immediately grasped her elbow and walked to the exit if was the most normal thing in the world. Her pulse sped up at his touch, but she continued to smile and nod at passersby as if she was in complete control. Her house was near the outskirts of the border city of Liberty, Oklahoma. With the roads still being rebuilt, she normally stayed at a hotel during the workweek rather than trying to drive back and forth every day. The streets were nicely paved downtown but once you left city limits they were still in ruins. She had once mentioned this to Bjorn but didn’t know if he

“Where are you staying tonight?” she asked.

They stopped on the sidewalk and he pulled her to him. There was a definite chill in the air but being so close to him warmed her. He ran his hands up and down her arms, over her thin sweater. She’d forgotten her jacket in her dash to leave the conference room.

“I’d like to stay with you,” he said quietly.

Her head jerked up and she looked at him in shock before looking around to be sure no one else had heard him.

“Bjorn…we barely know each other.”

He frowned and ran the backs of his fingers down her cheek. “Shifters see things differently than humans, Jane. I want you and I’m not afraid to say it. I’ve known this since the first time your image graced my computer screen. Getting to know little bits and pieces of you has only reaffirmed that knowledge. If you don’t feel the same I will leave you alone, but I suspect that you do.”

Confusion warred with her desire. She did want him and couldn’t think of a good reason not to act on it. As far as her job went, there were no set rules about this type of situation. Working with shifters was not the norm and Bjorn wasn’t employed by the human government like her. He worked directly for the Alpha of
FNT. Basically he was a diplomat.

“Bjorn, I don’t know what to say.”

He leaned closer until he was only a breath away. “Say what you feel. I’ll never ask for more.”

The sound of a throat clearing close by shattered their moment and she pulled back to look past Bjorn’s shoulder. Of all the people she didn’t want to see right then, or ever again, Flint topped the list. She tensed and Bjorn reacted, spinning to face the unknown while keeping her securely behind him. Flint stepped
back when he saw the look on the larger man’s face, but he didn’t leave as she had hoped.

“Uh, Jane? How you doing?”

A low growl rumbled in Bjorn’s chest and Jane threw her arms around his waist. The last thing she wanted was for him to attack Flint out on a public street. He would be shot dead before she could even get word to his Alpha.

“Bjorn, this is Flint. Flint, Bjorn. Now, what do you want? This isn’t exactly your neck of the woods.”

Bjorn chuckled and even seemed to relax a bit at her comment. Perhaps he’d thought she was expecting Flint to show up? Nothing could be further from the truth. She had ended things over six months ago with the lying, cheating asshole. The sooner he disappeared, the better.

“Uh, I was wondering if we could talk. Just you and me.”

Jane rolled her eyes, though neither man could see it. “No, thank you.”

Flint sputtered and Bjorn turned to face her again as if that was the end of it. He cupped her face in his large palms and kissed her.

“Ready to go?” he asked.

She smiled and nodded just as Flint stepped closer.

“Hey! What the fuck, man? I’m trying to talk to my girl.”

As if that wasn’t stupid enough he went one step further and grabbed Bjorn’s shoulder. Jane gasped and tightened her grip but it was like trying to hold a mountain. He gently pushed her away and spun back to face the stupidest human male on earth. Jane heard Flint sputter again and could barely make out him moving back, but it was too late. Bjorn growled again, this time loud enough for the whole street to hear, and closed the distance with one large step.

“Your girl? You think to call the woman with me, yours?”


“Human, you are sorely mistaken.”
An hour later, Bjorn released a pent up breath as they finally stepped into the hotel room. It had been years since he’d felt such intense anger well up so quickly. If the human patrol hadn’t shown up when it did he might have seriously harmed that idiot, Flint. What kind of name was that anyway? He sighed as Jane’s delectable derriere preceded him into the lavish suite. She was angry and rightly so. He usually had better control, but being near her had shot that all to hell. Now he needed to apologize and hope he hadn’t ruined their evening.
She stopped at the wet bar and put her purse down before turning to face him. Her neutral expression gave no hint of her mood. He stopped a few feet away and slipped his hands into his pockets to keep from grabbing her.

“I’m sorry,” he said simply. One elegant eyebrow shot up and she looked honestly surprised by his apology. He decided to continue. “I didn’t mean to lose control like that with your…friend. I’m sorry if I upset you by acting like an animal.”

She frowned and closed the distance, raising her chin to stare directly into his eyes.

“First of all, Flint is not my friend. It’s been months since he was my anything and I just want to forget he even exists. Second, I didn’t see it as a loss of control and it didn’t upset me.” She slipped her arms around his neck and pressed her body into his. He held his breath. “And third, you are part animal, Bjorn. I know
and accept that and all it entails. If anger makes you growl I can live with that.”

He couldn’t help the feral grin her words evoked, but she didn’t even flinch. “That’s not all that makes me growl.”

“Oh? Are you willing to tell me what else does?”

He chuckled and turned to pull her into the bedroom. “Perhaps you can discover that for yourself before tonight is over.”

She giggled as he led her to the side of the bed. “Perhaps. You know, I’ve always wanted a life-sized teddy bear to share my bed with.”

He kicked off his shoes and placed his hands on her waist, lifting her effortlessly to the bed. She let her shoes fall to the floor to join his.

“Did you now? Well then I’ll have to be sure to share your bed often so you don’t feel the need to replace me.”

He straightened and unbuttoned his shirt. She leaned back on her elbows and watched as he quickly removed his clothes. Once he stood completely naked before her, he began to undress her at a much slower pace.

“What happened?” she asked breathlessly. “You seemed to be in a hurry to get naked.”

“I was in a hurry to get my clothing out of the way. But, you I want to unwrap slowly. I prefer to savor my treats.”

He proved his point with kisses and nips at each inch of exposed flesh. By the time he had her completely naked, she was writhing and panting beneath him. His animal instincts warred with his human conscience. He fought to go slow and not frighten or hurt her in any way.

“Bjorn…please…make love to me.”

He looked into her eyes and his heart melted. So much trust and caring reflected back his own feelings. She may not love him. They simply hadn’t had enough to time to establish that yet, but he was hopeful about their future.

“Don’t worry, precious, I plan to make love to you many times tonight and perhaps again in the morning.”
She laughed and shook her head. “Just remember I’m only human. I don’t have your stamina.”

He smiled and looked over her gloriously naked body, a light sheen of sweat making her appear to glow in the lamplight.

“Only human,” he chuckled. “I find absolutely no fault in that.”

She smiled back as he leaned in to kiss her senseless and make good on his promise.
Jane held the package carefully as she tried to decide on how to open it. Bjorn laughed and shook his head.
“If you like the paper that much, I’ll buy more.”

“Patience, Mr. Berendsen. I’m getting there.”

He just grinned and watched as she found the edge of the tape and peeled back a flap of paper. It took no time to get to her Christmas present. She laughed out loud and pulled it from the box.

“Oh, Bjorn, I love it!”

She held the black teddy bear against her chest and leaned in to kiss him. He allowed the kiss and then turned the bear so she could see the bag around its neck.

“This is so you’ll never have to sleep alone, even if I’m away. But in here is something else.”

Her smile faded but despite her trepidation she opened the velvet bag. Her relief was instant when her fingers didn’t find the familiar round shape she wasn’t quite ready for. Someday soon maybe, but not after only two weeks. Here it was Christmas Eve and she was with the man, no…the shifter of her dreams. With a slow exhale she lifted a flawless diamond bracelet from the velvet pouch.

“Oh, Bjorn! It’s absolutely beautiful.”

He kissed her before taking it from her hand to put on her wrist. “Not nearly as beautiful as you are. Maybe in a few months you’ll have a matching ensemble.” Before the butterflies could settle in her stomach, he leaned in
and kissed away her protests. “But for now, let’s just enjoy tonight.”

She smiled in agreement and let him slip her arm through his. After one final kiss, he led her to the festivities. Tonight was a historic event for humans and shifters alike. Jane wanted to laugh at the irony. It very well could be a historic event for her love life as well.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Best First Day of School

Fleur watched the children streaming through the door into her classroom and couldn’t keep the smile from her face. She loved the first day of school and the excitement the young ones brought in with them as they prepared for a new year of learning. First graders were the easiest in her opinion. They were asserting their independence and no longer afraid of being away from home all day, but still eager for new experiences. This was her fifth year and she no longer felt the fear of ruining their small fragile minds.
            After a deep calming breath, she waded through the small group and began steering her new charges towards their assigned tables. It was such a different experience from seven years ago, back when she’d taught human children, before the species war and the building of the wall that kept the humans in the south and the shape shifters in the north. Back then her biggest concern was keeping the larger boys separated and ensuring they didn’t bully everyone else. Now, she had to be wary of which species sat at each table, ensuring their natural instincts wouldn’t be teased.
            Only four boys and two girls had arrived and she quickly seated them according to their animal halves. Three birds and three canines, not too bad. There would be one feline in the class, but being a girl would hopefully keep her from acting overly aggressive at this age. She was assigned as far away from the birds as possible. More kids streamed in and Fleur sat them quickly, preparing to start the day. Soon, only the little feline’s seat was empty. Her name was Kit. Fleur smiled at that and walked to her desk as the bell finally rang.
            “Good morning class, my name is Ms. Moreau. Can everyone say Good morning, Ms. Moreau?”
            She smiled encouragingly at the shining faces and clapped her hands together when they repeated her greeting. Her day was off to a good start and the children appeared to be a well behaved group. An hour later, Fleur was passing out the electronic tablets common in every classroom when she spied movement at the door. She turned and froze, unable to hide her shock as Philip Warner strode in, a weeping little girl on his shoulder. His gaze roamed the room for a moment before settling on Fleur and he stopped walking to simply stare. They stayed that way, staring at each other in surprise and wonder until a hiccup and sniffling voice broke the trance.
            “I-I don’t wanna, d-daddy. I-I don’t wanna go to school.”
            Philip placed a large hand on his daughter’s back and rubbed a soothing circle as he turned to whisper into her ear. As soon as their eye contact was broken, Fleur felt able to move again and finished passing out the tablets. She knew this was her last student, the little feline child named Kit. Never in a million years would she have guessed Kit’s father would be her long lost friend, Philip. Fleur swallowed down the lump in her throat and walked slowly toward where Philip was trying to pry Kit from his shoulder. The girl had her little legs and arms wrapped tightly around her daddy and didn’t seem inclined to let go anytime soon.
            “Good morning. My name is Ms. Moreau. You must be Kit. We’ve all been looking forward to meeting you.”
            The little girl stopped whimpering and raised her head to peek at Fleur. Brilliant emerald green eyes, just like her father’s, flashed from beneath her dark blond bangs for a moment before she once again buried her face in Philip’s neck. He smiled warmly and gave Fleur a shrug.
            “She was so excited about the first day of school yesterday. Her resistance this morning kind of came as a surprise and it took a while to get out of the house. Sorry we’re late.”
            Fleur steeled herself before turning her full attention to the man who’d been in too many of her dreams to count. Philip had been one of her best friends before the war. After all hell broke loose, he’d gone south to help his parents get to safety and Fleur hadn’t heard from him since. Relief nearly overwhelmed her at the evidence that he was alive and well. His dark brown hair was shorter than she remembered, but his tall muscular build was the same. They’d both been into sports in high school and college, one of the many things they’d had in common.
            “No problem, I understand. The first day of school can be kind of scary.”
            Philip grinned and took a step closer, leaning down a bit as he lowered his voice.
            “Goddess, Fleur, I can’t believe it’s really you. If we didn’t have an audience I’d have you in my arms right now. I’ve missed you so much.”
            His whispered entreaty was said with so much emotion, Fleur felt tears burn the back of her throat. Philip had always been like that, never afraid to say exactly how he felt. He wasn’t a coward, hiding feelings out of fear they wouldn’t be returned. Not telling Philip how much she’d loved him was the biggest mistake of Fleur’s life, and now that they’d found each other again she wished she could correct it. Unfortunately, he appeared to have a family now and Fleur would be his daughter’s teacher. She had to remain as professional as possible.
            “I’m so happy to see you too, Philip. It does my heart good to know you’re all right. What about your parents? You got to them safely?”
            He nodded as Kit once again raised her head. This time she loosened her grip enough to turn and face Fleur, her curiosity apparently winning out.
            “You know mawmaw and pawpaw?”
            Fleur smiled at the little angelic face and nodded, reaching over to wipe a single tear from her cheek.
            “Yes, I do, Kit. Your daddy and I were friends when we were in school.”
            Those magic words were all it took to loosen the death grip Kit had on Philip. As soon as he felt her let go he gently placed her on her feet and straightened her dress. Fleur wasted no time showing them to Kit’s place at her table and the little girl took her seat without further fuss. Philip smiled proudly and stepped back toward the door. Fleur longed to keep him there by whatever means necessary but knew that wasn’t possible. He waved her over before leaving.
            “Do you get to leave when school lets out?”
            Fleur bit her lip and thought it over while glancing down at his left hand. No wedding band didn’t really mean anything, but it still gave her hope.
            “I’ll have to finish up a few things but it shouldn’t take more than half an hour.”
            He grinned and it made her heart speed up. She’d missed his dimpled face so much, she felt like crying again.
            “Great. Can Kit and I wait for you, and then maybe go somewhere to catch up?”
            “Sure. That would be wonderful.”
            He opened his mouth again, but then closed it and took a step back. Fleur knew his reluctance to leave was because of Kit, but it made her breathless anyway. She could hardly wait for this day, that she’d looked forward to all summer, to come to an end.
            Philip parked his car and took a calming breath to keep from jumping out and running into the school. Fleur was in there. Beautiful, amazing, Fleur, with her light brown eyes and curly black hair. He’d been dreaming of her heart-shaped face for years, praying she’d survived the war and found safety. Leaving her behind to go to his parent had been one of the hardest things he’d ever done, but she’d had her own family to attend to when the battle lines were drawn. His only consolation was that she was far enough north from where the worst battles were taking place not to be involved in the fighting. He’d had to get through that chaos, smuggling his parents and a few others past the human military to safety.
            That’s when he’d met Kit’s mother, Kristy. She’d been all alone and he’d kept her safe, the situation creating an instant bond between strangers. He’d never truly loved her and she probably hadn’t loved him, but when she’d become pregnant he’d done his duty and married her quickly. It was a bad time for both humans and shifters. The war destroyed civilization in most places and all the amenities they’d taken for granted. Childbirth was no longer an easy process and Kristy simply wasn’t strong enough to endure in their roughened conditions. She’d slipped away moments after meeting her daughter for the first and last time.
            A lone tear escaped as Philip fought the guilt that always came with Kristy’s memory. He knew in his mind he’d done all he could for her, but his heart bled for the mother his daughter would never know. Luckily, his parents had survived and helped him raise his precious child. Without their support he would’ve been completely lost. Swallowing down the last of those thoughts he stepped from the car and headed into the school, ready to find the two most important females in his life.
            A bell rang as Philip waited by the front office with a few other anxious parents. The animal inside him bristled at being so close to those he’d consider prey when in his other form. However, he’d long ago learned to control his baser instincts and simply smiled kindly at the gazelle shifter standing beside him. Children of all shapes, sizes and species streamed out of classrooms and down the hall toward them. He stood back and relaxed against a wall until the stream turned into a trickle. Passing a few stragglers, he walked through the empty hallways to Fleur’s classroom and stepped inside. She was at her desk stacking the electronic notebooks while Kit straightened the chairs.
            “Well, how was the first day of school?”
            Kit ran to him and jumped into his arms and he hugged her tightly. Few things brought joy to his life anymore, but Kit was definitely the most important. He looked up at Fleur, who stood from her desk and picked up her purse before walking toward them.
            “Hello, Philip. Kit is a wonderful helper. We got everything done quickly so you don’t have to wait on me.”
            “Perfect.” He flashed her a grin before walking out of the class with Kit in his arms.
            They decided to have an early supper and Philip followed Fleur to a nearby diner. Kit behaved amazingly well as they caught up on the years since the war and learned all about their new lives. Philip was an engineer employed by the Alpha of their country, The Federal Nation of Therianthropes. He was one of many trying to reconstruct the roads and highways destroyed during the war. Fleur seemed fascinated by his job and he proudly told her all about it before steering the conversation back to her. Philip was thrilled to learn she’d never married and currently lived alone. The lion inside of him wanted to roar in triumph at the knowledge that she could soon be his.
            “Daddy, I want ice cream.”
            Philip smiled down at his daughter and signaled to the waitress.
            “Vanilla with chocolate syrup?” he asked.
            “Oh yes, please.”
            Fleur chuckled and Philip grinned at her. She would soon learn he loved to spoil his females. The waitress arrived and he ordered ice cream for all of them, waving away Fleur’s halfhearted protests.
            “Do you need to head home right away?”
            Fleur looked up from her dessert with a questioning gaze. She seemed to think it over for a moment before shaking her head.
            “No, why?”
            “I’m dropping Kit off at my parents for the evening. Would you like to ride with us? We can finish catching up and come back for your car later.”
            “Um, sure. That’s fine.”
            Kit giggled, but kept eating her ice cream. Philip winked at her, hoping she liked Fleur as much as it appeared after only one day. They left the diner and dropped Kit off with her grandparents. They’d been overjoyed to see Fleur, remembering her fondly and grateful she was well. Philip had to pry her away from his mother with promises of dinner together the next night.
            “I hope you don’t mind having dinner with my parents tomorrow.”
            Fleur flashed him a smile before looking out the window as he drove toward his house a few streets away. He hadn’t told her where they were going, but she went along without question. Her obvious trust warmed him to his soul and he knew he’d found the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.
            “Not at all. I’ve missed them too. I’m just so glad all of you survived…everything.”
            “I’m happier than you can imagine knowing you’re safe and well, Fleur. I’ve missed you so damn much. It’s like a piece of me has been missing.”
            He kept his eyes on the road through his confession, but from the corner of his vision saw her turn toward him. He glanced over and saw tears streaming down her face, immediately alarming his animal. He pulled into his driveway and yanked off his seat-belt, turning toward her in concern.
            “What’s wrong, sweetheart? What is it?”
            She smiled through her tears and took off her seat-belt, crawling over the console and into his lap.
            “I’ve missed you so much, Philip. As soon as things settled down I started looking for you, but never had any luck. I feared the worst.”
            He held her tightly against his chest and kissed her temple, reveling in the feel of her in his arms. His lion purred in satisfaction and he felt her answering call in his mind.
            I’m so sorry, baby. I’ve been looking for you too. I had no idea you were so close.
            Fleur sniffled and rubbed her face against his chest, a soft purr escaping her throat.
            “Kit told me about her mom. I’m so sorry, Philip.”
            He sighed and ran a hand through her hair.
            “We were friends but not much more. It wouldn’t have lasted. I’m sorry she’s gone because Kit will never know her. But my parents have helped me a lot, so she’s never wanted for anything.”
            “I’m glad. She’s an amazing little girl.”
            “Thank you. She has a big heart and can read people very well. I can tell she already likes you a lot.”
            Fleur looked up at him with hope in her eyes.
            “Yes, sweetheart. And thank the goddess for that. It’ll make it easier when I tell her you’re moving in.”
            Her jaw dropped and she sat up straighter.
            “Philip! I haven’t agreed to that.”
            He pulled her tightly against his chest again and kissed her hard on the lips. She melted against him without hesitation, calming his lion with her surrender.
            “I need you back in my life. Forever this time. Please don’t make me live without you again.”
            More tears filled Fleur’s eyes as she nodded and placed soft kisses all over his face and neck. He hugged her tightly and breathed out a sigh of relief.
            “I love you so much, Philip. I don’t think I could live without you again either.”
            “I love you too, sweetheart. We’ll work everything out, you’ll see. Kit is a wonderful little girl with a great capacity to love. She’ll welcome you in with open arms.”
            Fleur sniffled a bit as her gaze sobered.
            “I hope so. I’ve always wanted a little girl.”
            “Now you’ll have one, and soon we’ll get started on trying for a son.”
            Her eyes glazed and her breath hitched.
            “How soon, Philip?”
            He chuckled and opened his door.
            “As soon as I can get us out of this car and into the house.”
            “Oh good, I don’t want to wait.”
            “Me either, sweetheart. Me either.”
            “This has been the best first day of school ever.”
            Philip roared out a laugh as he carried her to his front door. He couldn’t help but agree, and just prayed Kit would feel the same way when she learned her new teacher would soon be her new mommy.