A Christmas Rose:A Dusk Gate Chronicles Novella(3)

By: Breeana Puttroff

“Good. Because I can’t wait that long to see Linnea. And I want to see Thomas, too – and your mom, Will. It would be really, really nice to talk to your mom right about now.”’

He could see in her eyes, hear in her voice what she wasn’t saying – what she couldn’t bring herself to say anymore, the thing she was trying not to dwell on. That the person she really wanted to talk to right now was her own mother.

Going to spend time with William’s mother was only a poor substitute for the real thing – but it was the most he could do for her right now.

“Come here, love,” he said, pulling her up into his arms, holding her tight and kissing her. “We’ll go. And things will get better. Once the baby’s here and everyone sees that she’s safe, it will get better.” He put his hands on either side of her belly and bent down to kiss her there, too.

“She? You still think it’s a girl?”

He shrugged. “I’ll be happy with whichever one. But for now, I like thinking about a little girl with your hair and your eyes and your strength.”

“And you, wrapped around her tiny little fingers.”

“Yes, that too,” he agreed, smiling as the baby rewarded him with a strong kick, right below his hand. “See? She knows it already.”

“Maybe he’s just kicking you because you’re calling him a girl.”

“An indignant little man, huh?”

“Or a quiet, sweet, little dark-haired boy who just has to kick out on occasion to let us know he’s there and that he wouldn’t mind being part of things sometimes, too.”

“Well, you have the perfect Mama for that, little one,” he said to her belly. “She’s good at noticing the quiet ones and making them feel important, too.” He looked up at her tenderly, keeping his hand on her, smiling in delight as the baby – active now – moved and pushed against him. “Whoever this is in here is one very lucky baby to have you for a mother, Quinn.”

“You’re going to be an incredible father, Will. This baby definitely lucked out in that department.”

He smiled again, leaning in close and kissing her neck. “I think we’re the lucky ones.”

“I can agree with that.”

He held her like that for several minutes, rocking her back and forth, her tummy pressed against him, both of them feeling the baby’s gentle movements. Finally, she yawned.

“Did you ever consider actually taking an afternoon nap, instead of just telling your grandmother you did?”

“Maybe I’ll sit on the couch and put my feet up. You can tell me what you’ve been doing all day.”

“That will put you to sleep for sure.”

She rolled her eyes. “Sounds like you win either way.”

He smiled and walked her over, settling her in with a blanket and pulling up the footstool for her before going back to the tray of food.

He still hadn’t gotten used to living in the master apartment in the castle. This one was even larger and more impressive than the one his parents shared at the castle in Eirentheos. In addition to this sitting room, a bathroom, and an enormous bedroom, it had the little nursery right to the side of their bedroom, and a large library with built-in shelves and a polished wooden desk.

The bathroom was even complete with water that could be pumped up from a heated tank near the fires in the kitchens, somewhat like the system Nathaniel and Stephen had spent many cycles devising at the castle in Eirentheos, although this one was much simpler, and only served the king and queen’s private living space. It was a pet project of William and Nathaniel’s now, to see if they could expand it, especially to the quarters Sophia had re-located to before Quinn’s coronation.

Although neither Quinn nor William would have ever dreamed of insisting on it themselves, they were both very appreciative that Ruth had made sure their apartment had been completely re-decorated before they’d come to live in Philotheum. Everything, down to the plush, ornate rugs was new, and there were no traces of Hector, with the exception of some of the books William had found in boxes and had been sorting, replacing the ones he was interested in on the empty shelves.

Still, it was strange to know that Hector and Sophia had shared these rooms for so many cycles, and before that, the library had belonged to Quinn’s grandfather, Jonathan.

Having grown up as a fourth-born prince, William had always expected to someday move away from living in a castle, not to be the master of one. Although the power and decisions belonged to his wife, king was still a title he wasn’t ever sure he’d grow comfortable wearing.

Marriage, on the other hand, was a lifestyle he was finding more to his liking with every passing day. He looked over at Quinn, sitting in front of the fire, their child rounding the blanket that covered her. Yes, he liked this very much.