Seaside Break (invite only)
Xeph got out of the SUV and moved around to the passenger side. Opening the passenger door he helped Nikhila down, kissing her softly. Moving around to the back he freed Noah from his car seat and held him easily in one arm while he moved around to the other side and loaded himself up with three canvas bags; one full of Noah things and the other two full of Xeph and Nikhila things.
He hadn't told Nikhila where they were going, only that he was taking them out to have a little family get together. It was a gorgeous sunny day, just past noon, not too hot and not too cold with enough light fluffy clouds in the sky that they had on and off again shade.
Nikhila was tall and lithe, which made her pregnancy look a little more obvious than it otherwise might at four months. Xeph just thought she was gorgeous. Any way you spun it, she was beautiful.
"I thought it'd be nice to have a little picnic," he explained.
Transferring Noah to his mommy, Xeph rearranged the bags in his arms so he could take Nikhila's arm while they walked. He didn't want to risk her tripping and falling.
When they reached a lovely spot, in sight of the ocean, on the slight hill just overlooking the beach, Xeph put the bags down, pulled a blanket from one of them, and spread it on the grass. Then he took Noah again, held him while Nikhila settled herself, and handed him back.
As his mate watched he began to unload their lunch. With a mischievous smile on his face he said, "Just put this date into your scrapbook or something."
He pulled out items from the bags that were all of Nikhila's favorites... and not a shred of meat among them.
He might be ill... but damn it, he would choke down vegetables for her to make this day special.
Sliding out of the SUV with his help and a gentle kiss she grinned shaking her head only imagining his idea of a picnic. It didn't matter it was a wonderful idea and she was going to enjoy herself. They were all going to enjoy themselves.
"I think that is an excellent idea."
Nikhila loved watching him with Noah. It was natural, and always made her smile He was so good with his son. But she happily took him back after quickly adjusting her shirt. She'd debated trying to hide her pregnancy a little, since this one was so hard on the heels of the first, but quickly decided there was very little point. Even if there was, it was too soon for her to need anything billowy regardless of if she did feel a little conspicuous some days.
Son in one arm holding Aidan's in the other she enjoyed the walk helping him look for a perfect spot. And there it was. With a little bit of passing Noah back and forth they both got settled. Nikhila was adjusting the floppy hat she'd put on Noah, he'd burn easy at his age, it took a second to notice what her mate was unpacking.
She froze, looking shocked, even as her son waved his hands around and jabbered at nothing.
"Who are you and what did you do with my Aidan?"
It all looked wonderful. Undoubtedly he'd bribed someone to cook it, which was sweet, but what was he going to eat?
Then he allowed himself a brief leer. "That, or I eat you."
Wolves would be wolves after all.
He dug through the baby bag and got out the sunblock. "Go ahead, eat," he said with a smile. He wanted Nikhila to explore the little delicacies he'd managed to get, things he knew she loved and that weren't always readily accessible to her here in the states.
He pulled Noah onto his lap and gently began to rub baby sunblock onto his pale, delicate skin. Noah was mostly covered up since it wasn't horribly warm out, in a light jumper, but Xeph wasn't going to take any chances. His firstborn had plenty of years ahead of him to work on his tan.
Xeph peered at the various dishes, all of them small, meant for one and a half adults to pick on. He spied a few pieces of naan and plucked one from the pile, dipping it in some kind of green and white sauce. He held his breath while he ate it, trying not to think about eating lawn clippings.
Maybe he could get a steak later... but no, that would be cheating. Vegetables wouldn't kill him. Besides, if he was going to nag at Noah and give him the whole "veggies will make you big and strong" line, he'd better learn to suit actions to words.
It took very little to encourage Nikhila these days, less so than usual, but that had been true about this far along with Noah too. So instead of reacting slightly demurely as she might usually have done, Nikhila eyed him speculatively for a moment before finally managing to look a bit shocked.
"Here? Now? In the middle of the day, in front of your son?"
Laughing she sampled the naan and raita. It wasn't hot as you would get from a street vendor but she seized on the panipuri almost voraciously munching happily and justifying it as eating for two. Gracefully rising as far as her knees she pressed one to Aidan's lips.
"Here this should tied you over. But... when we get home... "
Sitting back down Nikhila shrugged off the blouse she had on over a tank top. Noah might need protecting from the sun but she could revel in it.
It was hard not to giggle at Aidan as he suffered through her vegetarian tastes.
"If you can get through this afternoon without any complaining about vegetables I won't give you any any to eat for the rest of the year. I promise."
She teased him. But she'd keep the promise. It would be hard, but she'd keep it.
His eyes wandered over the vegetarian snacks he'd brought until they landed on something that might be tolerable. Picking it up one-handed he sniffed it; it was dosa, a rice flour crepe. It smelled strongly of curry and coconut. Xeph bit into it. At least this wasn't fresh-mown grass.
He ate it quickly and then lay on his back on the blanket, placing Noah down on his bottom where he sat in that awkward "pre-crawling" position. He grinned as his son rocked himself back and forth. "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," he said. Noah kept at it with no success for quite some time.
"He's as stubborn as his mommy."
He almost expected to be pummeled in some way for that; it was likely his personality trait, not Nikhila's, that Noah was demonstrating there. Xeph was amused to see his son's eyes were not bi-colored like his own. Instead, as they developed and came into their own true color, they appeared to be a grey-green. He thought they were still developing though. Whether they would go all the way over to green or remain a Hammerthynn grey remained to be seen. Either way he appeared to have inherited his eye color from his father's side. Nikhila's were brown.
Xeph finally picked Noah up and rested him on his stomach, wrapping his arms around him and playing the Owl game, which involved slowly bringing his face close to Noah's, eyes huge and wide, and giving a long, goofy-sounding, "hooooooooot!" Before pulling his head back and repeating it. It never ceased to make the baby laugh and after a few rounds he usually managed to get Nikhila going, too.
"And just how do you plan to seduce me when there are two pups running around? Perhaps running isn't the right term..."
She said while watching Noah as he worked on crawling. He was getting closer. More important she wasn't always rushing to try and catch him. Of course according to what she'd read Noah would be really getting around by the time the new baby arrived. That was going to be fun. But they'd manage.
Nikhila gave a long suffering sigh at the stubborn quip.
"I think he might get that from both sides... which means the terrible twos and his teens will be hell."
Even as she bemoaned their future with Noah she was looking forward to it. She wanted to see if he looked like his father or grandfather, his first steps, his first day of school. Of course, they might be able to stop with the firsts right about then too. She was going to have to think about this. She didn't want him growing up too fast after all.
Still in total nibble mode Nikhila found herself nibbling on some batata vada and watching Aidan make a fool of himself. It was an all together idyllic little outing. She really couldn't ask for more. It was very easy to relax and enjoy the sunshine and laugh at the game. Nikhila was never quite sure who she was laughing at her mate or Noah who was laughing happily and rocking back and forth on his stomach very much enjoying himself.
She tossed her blouse toward father and son managing to cover Aidan's face and a good starting point for peek a boo.
He did, however, start playing peek-a-boo with Noah, who was beginning to recognize the game and, predictably, loved it.
"You ever wonder if there was some kind of mix-up in the nursery?" He asked as he peeked over the fragrant blouse. "I mean, he's our baby, right, but he sleeps like a rock. And he's ridiculously cheerful."
Well, the last part fit... but neither Xeph nor Nikhila was known for their heavy sleeping habits. Xeph did hope Noah didn't inherit that particular trait. It wasn't a lot of fun.
"I can't wait for his Gifting," Xeph said with a grin. "What do you think, Noah? You're going to grow up to be a big strong wolf. Maybe an Alpha like dad, huh?"
His musings brought her up short and she blinked a few times considering it.
"Once in a while... at first. Maybe a little..."
She'd also considered the possibility that something was wrong with Noah, but both Aidan and the pediatrician had reassured her that their baby boy was perfectly fine.
"But how well did you sleep before you were Gifted?"
Before her mother's murder and before she'd run away Nikhila seemed to remember that she'd slept fairly well. And once she'd gotten to the convent and being used to being safe again she'd gone back to sleeping well. Well... they'd worry about Noah sleeping habits later, he had years before his Gifting.
"And are you calling me grouchy?"
Perhaps a little moody off and on of late but that was hormones and at least half Aidan's fault. But, she was teasing her and said it with a smile.
Or maybe he didn't have years. Her fiancee had jumped forward and was already turning the pup into a wolf. Nikhila hopped that Noah would want to be Gifted, proud of his heritage. She very much wanted to see their son able to share in the wonders of being a wolf.
"Mmmmm and when were you planning that?"
She'd been in her twenties before she'd meet Aidan and been Gifted. They'd been alone in quite literally the middle of no where and she'd been in love for the first and only time in her life. It had been magical. It would be so different for her son. He'd have his family around him and there was little question in Nikhila's mind that Aida would Gift Noah, that would be a very special thing.
Although, her stomach knotted just a bit. Packs did not have two Alphas. Was she going to have to watch her son at odd with his father?
"Planning on peacefully handing over the reigns in a few decades?"
Noah stared at the blouse wide-eyed, in baby shock, as Xeph made it talk with ridiculous noises, moving his hand like a mouth. There was a long period of a minute or two during which their son was apparently struggling with an internal dilemma... was the blouse-hand-puppet evil, or was it good?
Good won, and Noah eventually decided to let loose several shrieks of delighted baby laughter, making Xeph glad he chose an outdoor venue. Not that there were a lot of other people around but that noise would have been far worse indoors.
When Nikhila asked about the grouchiness Xeph just smiled back at her. "No. Only sometimes, and I'm willing to admit those are probably my fault."
Any decent husband learned to take blame for pretty much every bad mood of his mate's right off the bat. It was a male survival technique. Passed down genetically throughout the ages.
Xeph dismissed the lighter musing when Nikhila mildly responded to his thoughts about Gifting and such. It wasn't difficult to see which way his mate's thoughts ran. How could Xeph not have thought about his own life, his own stepfather?
"Noah's life will be different," Xeph said, just as mildly. "And yes. When the time is right, if he has the inclination, he'll be an Alpha."
There was a lot of life to happen before that point. Xeph wasn't going to pressure his son to follow in his footsteps. After all, he hadn't followed in Liam's. Or Hammer's, really. He'd gone his own way and he thought he'd come out all right for it. Noah would have his choices to make but Xeph wouldn't be the one forcing him to go one way or the other.
Unable to keep from smiling as Noah chose to be very amused by the sock puppet that was made out of her blouse Nikhila stretched out next to Aidan so she could also see Noah's face. She wasn't going to intrude on father son time but she wasn't going to do without a little physical contact either. Resting a hand on her baby bump she watched the clouds drift over head and mused.
"Maybe I'll get you socks for father's day, just so you two can play."
And some magic markers. Somehow, she suspected that Aidan wouldn't be satisfied with just socks he'd want to get creative.
Satisfied that her mate had thought about this Nikhila didn't really need more. She truly hadn't thought that it would come to violence. They were wolves though, it could still happen, but at least her mate wouldn't be trying to hold on to power at all costs. The odds of having to deal with them at odds had just gone -way- down. That was good enough for her.
Just at that point Noah decided to reach out and grab his father's nose and laugh about it. She tried very hard to suppress her own amusement as Noah had done the same thing to her on more than one occasion and he had a good grip. It could pinch. But it was still funny.
"I think I can deal with two of you... or three."
Or however many they wound up with. They might wind up with an Alpha and a Beta. Maybe one of their children would lead part of the Pack in another part of the world. Who knew, anything was possible.
He wiggled his bare toes and then dug them into the sand. Closing his eyes he sighed happily. This afternoon probably couldn't get any better.
Well, until a tiny little hand reached up and took a death grip hold on his nose. Xeph laughed, which only served to make his ears pop. "Just like his dad" he said in a nasal voice. "Grip of iron."
Eventually his nose was released. Some tickling helped further that goal, as well as releasing more energy in the form of bubbling laughter.
"Be careful what you wish for," he said, turning to look at Nikhila with a playful expression. "We don't have to stop at two."
Of course hers had been shed for the afternoon as well.
Maybe she could learn how to make sock monkeys, it couldn't be that hard could it? Maybe they came in a kit. Next she'd be taking up knitting and making booties. Actually, she had made a closet attempt at knitting a baby blanket, and while handling the yarn and needles hadn't been too difficult, she kept losing count in the pattern and it turned into something odd looking. Nikhila just hoped Aidan hadn't found out, she was slightly embarrassed by the attempt.
She shook her head at the fatherly pride but she couldn't blame him either.
"I hadn't planned on it. Had you?"
Nikhila asked innocently, amused with this little game.
"But maybe... just maybe... a break between this one," she rubbed her growing belly, "and the next?"
It was still something of a shock to be carrying their second child so soon after the first.
Noah finally began to fuss at him; Xeph laughed and transferred him back to Nikhila. "I can't help you there, Nish," he said. He did squirm closer to his mate, gently sitting her up against him and wrapping his arms around her, using his body to provide some privacy and using her discarded blouse, draping it over her shoulder.
He chuckled at her softly. "However many we have will be the perfect number," he said, nuzzling his nose to her ear and kissing her temple, just the faint scar at her hairline that had been left from their scuffle here months ago.
"So what you're saying is, you don't want to have sex for a year or two?"
It was said with an innocent air as he deliberately misinterpreted Nikhila's words. He couldn't help teasing her at least a little.
No baby stayed happy all the time, and it was about time to feed him. Nikhila easily took Noah and with a quick adjustment of then tank top she'd had on under her blouse and her bra they took care of his fussing and squirming. He'd probably sleep after his meal. Nikhila wasn't one to just whip herself out at the drop of a hat, but there weren't many people about, no one close and being the thoughtful man and mate he was Aidan was helping.
Nikhila still hadn't gotten over the feel of feeding their first born, it was simply wonderful even more so as she leaned into Aidan a bit.
"Maybe we can teach you how to do this part too."
While she enjoyed feeding her child Nikhila hadn't quite figured out how she'd mange two at the same time. Granted the mechanics were there, she did have two... but still.
Her hands might be full with Noah but her elbows were free and one of them quickly jabbed into her mates side. She was not at all embarrassed that she wanted him, often.
"We could try that, but if you think I'm moody while carrying your child... let's try this plan of yours and see how that goes."
Nikhila smiled flirtatiously and rolled her eyes. She still had plans for him when they got home after all.
It was his turn to gaze up at the puffy clouds overhead. He smiled and closed his eyes briefly, enjoying the feeling of holding Nikhila holding Noah. And with another little one on the way, too. He rested his hand on her gently swelling stomach as if he could sense the baby within. Not yet. All he got was a sense of need directed toward Nikhila.
Xeph grined at the elbow jabbed at him. He figured that plan wouldn't go over with Nikhila at all. "Can I help it if I think you're the most beautiful Mommy ever?"
And she was. Nikhila was gorgeous any way; he'd thought so from the moment he'd first seen her. She had become no less beautiful over the years. "Don't worry, I couldn't begin to even pretend I could keep my hands off of you for that long."
Nikhila knew that though. They never lacked chemistry, the two of them. If not for the fact that they had Noah along, he wouldn't have hesitated to love her right here, bystanders be damned.
Which would be a good thing because by twenty, werewolf or not, regeneration or not, Nikhila was pretty sure she'd be worn out. Maybe they just wouldn't have quite that many children. More than two, less than twenty. Good, they had it narrowed down.
Good Daddy. Nikhila turned her head to kiss him, soft and lingering. Being pregnant did make her question whether or not Aidan still found her attractive. He, however, had always reassured her and, as near as she could tell, he'd never even cheated. He'd just known.
What he said was true though, even years after coming to Nachton. Even years after they'd reunited Nikhila was hard pressed to keep her hands off her mate. How they had managed for the years they'd been apart she didn't know. But she did know they had each been perfectly faithful to the other. But she loved him for not bringing up their separation.
She placed a hand on his thigh, higher than was strictly appropriate.
"That makes two of us. And explains how we have two of them."
Maybe that was underhanded of him, but when such an odds-in-his-favor bet was placed in front of him, Xeph felt it would be foolish of him not to take it. The kiss he receive for acknowledging his mate's sex appeal was nice, but sadly he couldn't capitalize n it until they got home and he wasn't horribly eager to get there, much as he loved it. The afternoon was just too perfect.
Noah seemed to be done nursing, settling down and looking content. He was a chubby, pleasant baby. Xeph thought he and Nikhila were lucky; Noah rarely cried and had slept the night through far earlier than they'd expected. He doubted they would be so lucky in the future but for now he enjoyed this idyllic time... with the three and a half of them.
"It does explain it," he said with a grin. "I've got no shame in having two babies with birthdays inside of a year of each other."
Irish twins, was the formerly derogatory term for babies born so closely together. It hadn't been intentional on their part. Xeph and Nikhila had gotten a little carried away over Valentine's day... at least, that's when Xeph assumed they'd created Noah's sibling-to-be. They hadn't been especially careful since Noah's birth although they would be after this one. It wasn't Xeph's intent to keep his mate pregnant year round.
"I don't suppose you'd care to marry me some time soon," he asked innocently. They could stay engaged however long Nikhila wanted. "Unless you'd rather wait until our next is born. But if it were up to me, I'd rather have you as my legal wife before this family gets too much bigger."
He laughed at the idea of them having a wedding twenty years down the road, with a college-age Noah walking his own mother down the aisle. Nope. Definitely not what he wanted.
"If we keep it small, we could fly someplace nice in the next month or so. Hell, next week. Do you have a preference? Hawaii? The Bahamas?"
Nikhila only had to say and they would go. Money was no issue, and she knew it. Even if he weren't the grand-heir to the vast Stafford inheritance Xeph was well-off in his own right, given his abhorrence of sleep and his multiple jobs.
She wiped their son's mouth and set about burping him. He let forth a little belch after very little persuading and Nikhila set about putting him down for the inevitable nap. She only laughed at her mate. She wasn't ashamed but... there had been some teasing, which she truly didn't mind. It was the not being able to shift that was driving Nikhila a bit mad. Her dreams were already getting worse. It was a terrible feeling to feel your wolf crying out, wanting nothing more to run, to hunt and to not be able to respond. She'd only -just- been able to run again, to have it taken away so fast was painful. Physically and mentally. It would be worth it, but until this baby was born, it was going to hurt. At least her mate understood he often stayed with her one night a month as he had while she was carrying Noah but still... it hurt.
The question brought Nikhila up short she blinked at Aidan slightly confused.
"You have issues with your children being bastards?"
She said with a grin. She didn't know what to say or to think.
"You want to have a pregnant bride walk down the aisle to you?"
That was one thing, she didn't want to look like this was a shot gun wedding. Like he -had- to marry her. No this should be only about ... well about them. It wasn't complicated though, she wanted to marry Aidan. Very much so. The only think Nikhila wanted for a wedding as her mate and a red sari. That was all she needed. All she wanted..
Certainly she wasn't going to say no. not even if she was about to give birth.
"I have never been to Hawaii."
Nikhila said slowly, speculatively as she considered this. If they did it quickly she wouldn't be too pregnant.
"If you promise me a honeymoon in two years or so, leaving the children behind and if you don't mind getting married to an obviously pregnant woman... I think my calendar might just be open."
Even if it wasn't, she could have a meeting with anyone up to and including the president of the United States and she'd have canceled it, at least put it on hold to arrange this. They could even run down to a justice of the peace right now and she'd be happy.
"My children aren't bastards," he said in mild surprise. "They're the children of my mate, whom I would want to walk down the aisle next to me no matter what she looked like." He shrugged. "We can have the ceremony whenever you want, Nikhila. I just thought you wanted it sooner."
Pregnant, not pregnant, naked, on roller skates, he didn't care. It was just a piece of paper to make them legal. All Xeph cared about was making sure society recognized Nikhila as his legal wife. In his head and in his heart, there was no one else and there had been no one else for quite some time.
He sighed and laughed softly at her. "You don't have to make bargains," he said softly. "Whatever you want, whenever you want it, we'll do it."
She could have a honeymoon every year if she wanted. Xeph didn't mind. He simply leaned up, kissed her on the temple again, and lay back down. "It's up to you, Nikhila. However you want it to work."
If he said it enough maybe she'd get that. It was all according to what Nikhila wanted. Xeph just loved her, and their family, and wanted to make sure they were provided for. Sure, he knew the Pack would always be there for him, but there was a whole government legal system to take into consideration as well.
She leaned into the light kiss on her temple and thought about it. As Aidan lay down she stretched on with him, propping herself up on his chest with Noah tucked into her arms as he started to drift off.
No bargains huh? And she didn't want anything big it wouldn't take long to plan something.
"Then I think next weekend sounds perfect."
Nikhila decided suddenly, she didn't want to wait any longer and there was no reason too. It wasn't like either of them were ever going to change their mind or their hearts.
"Do you think for Noah and I to travel though?"
That she hadn't asked the doctor, she hadn't planned on any long trips in the immediate future so it hadn't been something they needed to know. That would be the only reason to wait now.
He and Nikhila could plan it together in the next day or so. "You had better find yourself a dress," he said, "if you want one. I'll marry you naked."
He leered at his mate a little bit. It didn't matter; pregnant or not she was beautiful to him any way. Maybe a little less so when she was yakking over the toilet with morning sickness. But still beautiful, even when green!
He shelved that though and nodded against her hair, taking her blouse from her shoulder and using it to spread over Noah to keep the sun off of his brand new baby skin.
"You'll both be fine to fly. We'll charter a private plane. I'll find you a masseuse. You won't even know you're in the air, and neither will Noah."
He would call his parents as soon as they got back to the Den. "Is there anyone in particular you'd like to invite?"