It’s Christmas in Arkadia. Which could only mean one thing. Chaos! The babies are due any minute and Rian is on a rampage trying to get the Pride House ready to be featured in the Council newsletter.
Even though it’s supposed to be the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” the newly mated couples are finding it hard to get into the spirit. Tempers are running high and nerves are frayed. Fear and doubt linger throughout the town like an oppressive, dark cloud. Will the mated couples be saying Merry Christmas or good-bye to the ones they love? Can the town avoid death and tragedy?
Will Fate bless these couples twice in one year? Who will receive Gifts of Fate?
“Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful.” Rebecca sang cheerfully as she hung fresh garland and wreaths up in the diner. She loved Christmas. The snow outside reminded her of the magical day when she first came to Arkadia. So much had happened in the past year, it felt like she had lived here all her life.
The diner smelled like Ma’s beef stew, homemade bread and cinnamon from the desserts baking in the oven. She was about to get on the stepladder when she heard a low growl from her mate. She looked behind her to see Liam already standing from where he sat with his mates to come over and assist. He winked at her and took the garland from her hands. She turned to Aleks.
“You don’t have to be so growly.”
“You should know better than to be climbing around on a step ladder. You’re due any day now. You’re so big you’d probably topple off to one side.”
Rebecca gasped and looked down at her stomach. She secretly complained to Ashby and Sebastian about how big she was because she didn’t want to worry Aleks, but damn the man for calling her out on it in the diner.
“I’m not that big. I’m perfectly healthy.” She sniffed.
Liam leaned down and whispered, “You know he’s just worried. We all are. You’re just so tiny and let’s face it, your tummy is not.” He kissed the top of her head, arranged the last section of garland, and stepped down.
“I’m fine. We both are. Drill sergeant over there has been keeping track of how many steps I take from the den to the bathroom, how many ounces of water I drink and all my pre-natal vitamins.” She smiled sweetly at Aleks before sticking her tongue out at him and rubbing her tummy.
“Have you picked out a name yet?” Ashby asked, grinning. Rebecca could kiss the man. He always seemed to know exactly what she was feeling and what to do to make her feel better. Bringing up choosing a baby name would be a fun way to bring her overbearing bear down a notch or two. He had been dogging her every step for the past month and restricted her visits to the diner. Torturing him was her only form of entertainment.
“I think I have.”
“It has to be an ‘A’ name,” Aleks jumped in. She had been teasing him about naming the baby Gabriel for weeks.
“I found the perfect name. Aloisius. It’s Liam’s middle name and I think it will suit my baby right down to his little purr,” Rebecca said, taking a seat across from Ashby who had his back to Aleks. He caught her eye and winked.
“That’s a fine name,” Liam exclaimed, jumping on the bandwagon.
“Like hell! We are not naming my son Aloisius! And he does not purr, he growls!” Aleks rumbled.
“Hmmm I don’t know, it feels like a purr to me,” Rebecca said innocently.
“It’s a growl.”
“A purr could sound like a growl,” Kaden added.
“Especially from her tummy like that,” Rex chimed in with a straight face.
Rebecca looked around and realized most of the pride was in the diner.
“It’s a growl, dammit!”
“It’s okay, Aloisius, daddy loves you no matter what, even if you purr.” Rebecca made kissy noises to her stomach.
“He is not going to be Aloisius!” Aleks roared.
“You said I got to pick the first name since you picked the middle name,” Rebecca reminded him.
“That was because of a family tradition,” Aleks protested.
“Not my problem. Oh!” Rebecca rubbed her stomach and looked over to Sebastian who had also grabbed his midsection.
Liam, Kent, and Aleks both jumped up and went to their mates.
“What is it?” Aleks ran a gentle hand over Rebecca’s stomach.
“Are you okay, kitten?” Liam asked.
“That felt funny,” Sebastian said, frowning.
“I feel fine now,” Rebecca said, tilting her head back for a kiss. No matter what was going on Aleks had a way of making time stop every time their lips touched. He didn’t disappoint. He delved into her mouth and nibbled on her lips. When they broke apart she sighed happily. Aleks didn’t return to the barstool, he grabbed a chair and sat close to her, taking her hand in his.