My Defender (Bewitched and Bewildered Book 8)(2)

By: Alanea Alder

"Hey, Doc," Grant called out.

Dr. St. John's head popped up. "You're here. Good. You've been requested." He nodded his head to the three small children who were looking up at Grant, tear tracks on their faces. Grant winked at them and walked over to where Susan sat with a fussing Benji in her lap; she glanced at him, and he could almost see the relief flow through her.

"I just can't get him to sleep." Her voice cracked as she gave him a shaky smile. Without saying a word, he lifted Benji into his arms; almost instantly, the child quieted, laid his head on Grant's chest, and promptly fell asleep.

Susan's jaw dropped. "That's impossible. How did you do that?" she demanded.

He shrugged. Adriel pointed to the inflated mattress on the ground, grinning wickedly. "Get comfortable," he ordered.

Grant rolled his eyes but was actually grateful for a chance to lie back down. He climbed into the bed and settled Benji on his chest. Very gently, both shifter fathers placed the two boys on either side of Grant.

Stefan kicked back in a recliner someone had dragged out of one of the houses with little Clara in his lap. Within moments, the whimpering and tears slowly faded, and the sounds of even breathing filled the air. All four children were asleep. The parents looked on in amazement. Clara's father shook his head. "I don't want to know how; she's asleep. Benji is asleep so we're going to turn in. Grant, call us if you need anything; there's a baby monitor by the bed."

He yawned. "Sure thing." The Hamiltons whispered their thanks and headed into one of the houses. Adriel covered Stefan and Clara with a blanket. "Sweet dreams, you two. Grant, swing by Level One in the morning for a briefing." Grant barely heard Adriel and Dr. St. John leave; he was already drifting off to sleep.


The next morning, Grant woke up to an empty bed. Slightly panicked, he looked around, making sure that he hadn't accidentally rolled over and squished Benji or one of the Hamilton boys in his sleep. When he heard voices coming from one of the houses, he went to where he knew Benji lived with his foster family. Feeling a bit awkward, he knocked on the back door. Tobias opened the door wide, smiling brightly. "Good morning, sunshine."

Grant nodded without comment, walked into the house, and headed to the kitchen. Tobias followed behind him. "We picked up Benji and Clara first thing this morning. The Hamiltons picked up the boys about an hour later. We're finishing up breakfast. What can I get you?"

Grant shook his head. "I could use your bathroom."

Laughing, Tobias pointed the way. After Grant splashed some water on his face and used the facilities, he looked in the mirror. He didn't look any different than the other shifters. Why did the kids want him? Shrugging, he walked back to the kitchen.

Clara was kicking up a fuss in her highchair, refusing any more food, and throwing pieces of egg off the highchair's tray. Susan, despite the previous night's rest, already looked worn out. Grant turned to Benji, who was sitting quietly in his own highchair, watching the entire scene with wide eyes. When he saw Grant, he raised his hands. Grant moved almost subconsciously toward the child and lifted Benji into his arms. "How about I take this little guy for a few hours to give you break," he offered. Susan looked up surprised. "Are you sure? We wouldn't want you to miss patrols."

Grant looked down at Benji. "He's no trouble."

Tobias looked grateful. "Thank you. We will spend some extra time with Clara. Maybe she needs to have mom and dad to herself for little while." Grant bounced Benji on his arm while Tobias packed a baby bag. Both parents thanked him again as he left. Once clear of the houses and into the bustling atmosphere of the marketplace, Grant looked down at Benji. "Well, it's just you and me now kiddo. Think we'll be okay?"

Benji blew spit bubbles happily and clapped his tiny hands.

"I'll take that as a yes." Balancing the baby on his arm, he made his way toward the transport tunnel. He really hated flagging down transport escorts; they always seemed to have some sort of snarky remark to make, but as luck would have it, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Micah running toward them.

"Cute kid." Micah tickled Benji under his chin. "I expected you earlier; you must've been really tired. But I guess that's what happens when you get woken up at three o'clock in the morning." Micah placed a hand on Grant's arm.

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