I gasp in fright when I wake up to a bucket of cold water being tossed on my face, Natalia smirking triumphantly at me as she stands by the side of the bed . I wipe the water from my eyes and realize it’s 6:45 am.
“Wake up sleepy head,” She chirps, already showered and dressed in a pair of teal medical scrubs.
“You have to wake up the gremlin and get him ready for school today.” I feel like a ton of bricks are sitting on my chest, my body still exhausted from the lack of sleep.I could not complain, however, knowing I had gotten away with murder by sharing the bed with her.
With great effort, I climb out of bed, my t-shirt clinging to my wet chest.
Talia giggles hysterically as I waddle past her, a part of me happy to see her having fun, even at my expense.
I head for the bathroom first to wipe off the water and brush my teeth before I waddle down the hall until I find Kota’s room.
There’s no response when I knock on the door so I slowly turn the knob and tip toe inside.I find Kota curled up in a ball, his dinosaur pajamas messily clinging to his tiny body.I sit on his bed and push back his hair, exposing his forehead.
He sleeps so peacefully, it feels like a crime to wake is it in silence for a moment, letting him enjoy a few more moments of blissful sleep.I could not explain why, but he made me feel so safe with just his presence, like nothing could disturb us.
He stirs slightly as I stroke his hair and even curls up closer to me.
Remembering my task however, I decide it’s time to wake him.I tap his shoulder and his cheeks but the boy only groans and swats at my hand.
Looking around the room to ensure we are truly alone, I lean close to his ear.
My mouth hangs open for a second before I finally find my voice.
“K-Kota,” I hiss, feeling my heart race in fear Talia would come in and hear me speak.
I tap his cheek frantically.
“K-Kota.P-please wa-wake up…”
“Five more minutes,” he groans, squeezing his eyes tightly.
Unsure what else to do, I wiggle my fingers down his sides and he screams with laughter, kicking his legs about.He writhes against the tickles until he finally sits up.
“G-good morning, K-Kota,” I whisper so quietly, he doesn’t hear me over his own laughter.
“Hi, Zane!” he laughs, cupping my cheeks in his small hands.
He squishes my face, genuinely happy to see me and throws his head back in laughter.
“Hi, Zane!” I stare at his pretty eyes and feel my body relax.
“H-hi,” chuckle, ruffling up his hair.
“Hi!” he squeals, jumping into my lap.
I find his game amusing and carry on for another 10 hellos before I throw the pup over my shoulder and take him to the bathroom.I help him wash his face, brush his teeth for him, and even put together a simple outfit that I hope is to Talia’s liking.
He insists on combing his own hair but as I watch him struggle, he finally hands me the comb and lets me comb his hair.
Pleased with my work, I crouch down to his level and offer him a toothy grin that he reciprocates.
“w-what wo-would you like for bre- break- breakfast?” I ask him, my cheeks flushing at my severe stutter.
Kota pays no mind to my imperfect speech, instead playing with his hands and grinning happily at me with no judgment in his blue and brown eyes.
“Pancakes,” he shouts, doing a happy dance and spinning his heels.
“Pancakes, please!”. I don’t know the first thing about making pancakes but I would figure it out if it killed me.
I take Kota into the kitchen and search the cupboards until I find a box of pancake mix with instructions on the back.
Satisfied, I collect all the necessary ingredients and mix them all up in a bowl until I get a nice thin batter ready.
I heat up a double burner griddle on the stove and Kota hands me cooking spray so the pour out the batter.I leave it for a while, searching the cabinets for Kota’s plates and cups sol can pour out a glass of milk for Kota.
Suddenly, the smell of burnt batter fills my nostrils.
In a panic, I rush to the griddle and flip the pancake, revealing a charred black top.
Kota bursts into laughter at the hideous pancake and I scowl at him as I toss it in the trash.
I try again, this time flipping the pancake too early and spilling it into a shapeless mass all over the griddle.I want to give up but Kota seems to be amused by my lack of cooking skills and I decide to try one last time.
Taking a few deep breaths, I pour out the batter again, waiting patiently until the big flip.
A bead of sweat trickles down my brow as I slide the spatula under the pancake and lift up for the flip.
My heart stops for a second when the pancake flips perfectly, revealing a golden brown top.
Kota cheers and howls in delight and I can’t help but bow for him.
I serve him my perfect pancake and he eats it gingerly, giving me a thumbs up with his approval.I make a few more pancakes for Talia just in case she wishes to eat.
As Kota eats, I get to work packing his and Talia’s lunch, cutting up fruit, slicing up cheese, and making Kota a small PB&J without the crusts.
I make Talia a BLT and pray to Moon Goddess that she won’t throw it in my face.
With their sandwiches and snacks packed into small paper bags, I find a pen and notepad to write Talia a little note with her lunch.
Dude, she’s going to kill you for writing that, Grayson says as he troll my eyes and place it in her lunch anyways, knowing she would hate me no matter what I did.
Talia suddenly strolls in, looking absolutely beautiful with her hair tied up in a neat ponytail and her face made up.
I force my eyes to the ground to keep her from seeing my blush and force myself to focus on anything else to slow my racing heart.
Kota rushes to meet his mother and kiss her good morning, Talia inspecting my work.
“You did a good job,” she says nonchalantly, wiping some syrup off his cheeks.
“We better get going though.I have to list you as a guardian at Kota’s school, otherwise they won’t let you take him.”
I take the hint and run to the room to change into a t-shirt and jeans and comb my hair.By the time I finish, Talia has already placed Kota’s dishes in the sink and stuffed the lunch in his backpack.
“Let’s go,” She sighs, grabbing her keys and holding Kota’s hand.
I see her lunch on the counter and grab it as I pass by before handing it to her.
She stares at it for a moment before reluctantly taking the lunch.
Talia looks nervously at her feet and sticks out her hand to me, refusing to meet my eyes.I gulp, wiping my clammy hand on my jeans and taking hers.
Strong sparks tingle up and down my arms and I feel her shiver against me.
Try as she might, she could not ignore our bond.
As we prepare to leave, I can’t help but notice she’s still wearing the gold While out shopping yesterday, I came across a jewelry store and saw the bracelet in the window display.
It reminded me of the one my mother used to wear when I was a kid.
I bought it without a second thought, knowing such a pretty bracelet could only belong to my Talia.
It makes my heart soar to see her wear it like an informal mark claiming her as mine.
Noticing me staring at the bracelet, Talia rolls her eyes at me.
“Kota asked me to wear it,” She mutters.
“Can we go now?”
Not wanting to agitate her anymore, I run my thumb across the back of her hand and pull her forward.
During our walk, Kota hums as he skips happily beside his mother, pausing every so often to see a bird in the trees or to point at a snail on the sidewalk.
The walk is short as the daycare building is only two blocks from the house and before long, the sound of children playing in the playground fills the warm summer air.
Kota immediately turns to kiss his mom absentmindedly on the cheek before running to the playground to join his little friends.
With Kota gone, Talia pulls her hand from my grip and leads me into the building to the administrative offices.
There, a tall, slender woman with thick spectacles greets us.
“Hello, Mrs.Henry,” Talia smiles politely.
“I’m here to register a new guardian for Dakota,” she says, pointing to me.
“His name is Zane White.” across it and begins filling out a small form.
“What is the relationship of the gentleman to the child?”
Talia’s smile widens.
“Oh, he’s the new housekeeper and nanny.” Mrs.Henry lowers her spectacles and glances at me.
“Is that right, Mr.White?”
I send a death glare at Talia who smirks back at me, pleased at having thoroughly annoyed me.
Knowing I could not possibly contradict her statement without looking like a half-witted fool, I nod slowly at Mrs.Henry.
“Alright, sign your name here.Pick-ups are at 5pm sharp.Please try to be on time,” she sighs.
“There is a small fee for every tardy.”
I sign the documents and she stamps her approval.
“You’re all set Mr.White.We’ll see you here at 5pm this afternoon,” Mrs.Henry smiles.
“Have a lovely day.”
Talia leads me down the steps and walks briskly out of the view of the school before taking my hand as per the agreement.
My heart sinks as I realize Talia did not want anyone knowing about us.
If you want to win her over, Grayson snaps, then you have to take a stand and not let her ignore you.I have an idea.
I almost groan out loud when he says that because his ideas explains my task, I feel like fainting.
Just trust me, my stupid wolf chuckles mischievously. Youif thank me later.
Talia continues to ignore me on our walk to the clinic while I mentally prepare myself for Grayson’s idea.
As we approach the clinic, Talia tries to loosen my grip on her hand but as Grayson instructs, I hold her back tightly.
She huffs angrily and when she tries again, I pull her into my chest and kiss her gently on the lips, my entire face tingling with pleasure.
Her body remains stiff with surprise and I pull away quickly not giving her a chance to scream at me.
Holy s**t! Grayson laughs as I practically sprint down the road without looking back at her.
You actually did it! You f°““g kissed her! My legs shake violently but I don’t allow myself to collapse on the floor until I round the corner out of her sight.
Her lips are so soft, I murmur to myself as I gently caress the spot where her lips met mine to savor the sweet flavor of her mouth.
I can’t help the smile that stretches across my lips as I slowly get up again and sprint back to the house, a bit too cheerful for my own good.
Talia was sure to scold me when she returns but not even the thought of her screaming at me could dampen my mood.I’d kiss her again if given the chance.
Inside the house, Agnes is hard at work making breakfast.She serves me a plate as she feels the vibrations of my footsteps and I pull her into my arms for a hug.
“Did you sleep well?” I sign, knowing she must have enjoyed sleeping in a comfortable bed all to herself.
Back at Scarlet Haven, we slept on hard wooden cots and this was the first time she had a soft clean bed to call her own.
Her eyes light up instantly.
“It was wonderful,” she beams, eyeing me suspiciously.
“So why are you so smiley?” She asks, wiggling her eyebrows.
Before I can give her the details of my stolen kiss, I hear a faint knock at the door.
I inform Agnes and try my best to reassure her that everything is alright.
Mustering up some courage, I walk to the door, opening it with caution.
Outside on the steps, a beautiful woman with fiery red hair waits with a bag over her shoulder, her warm smile contorting into a vicious snarl.
“Who in the bloody f**k are you?” she growls.