Desired by the Bear Book 2(6)

By: V. Vaughn

Grace introduces herself to Rachel and asks, “What can I get you to drink? We’re having lasagna, and I have a nice red to go with it.”

“That sound lovely, thank you,” says Rachel.

The cabinet clicks open while Grace gets glasses, and I ask, “What brings you to town?”

“I came to see my daughter. Jean Luc was kind enough to give her an internship this summer.”

“Kelsey, right?” I ask.

“Yes.” She glances at Jean Luc and he nods at her before she says, “Boat building is in her blood, and I couldn’t keep her from it.” Now I detect guilt, and I see flashes of her with a little girl and a memory of the child asking about her father.

Is it Henri? I ask, “She’s a Ouellette?”

Rachael nods and takes a deep breath. She glances down at her drink and her voice is low as she says, “She’s Henri’s daughter, but he doesn’t know.” Grace roughly sets a goblet of wine down on the granite countertop, and the contents splash up with impact. I glance at my mother-in-law to see her eyes are as wide as mine probably are. Rachel continues. “Yet.” She sighs as she looks at me. “Part of why I came here was to tell Henri about Kelsey.”

My nurturing instinct kicks in with sympathy for the woman when I read the guilt in her emotions. I reach out and touch her arm in support, even though part of me is furious that she kept a child secret from Henri.

Rachel says, “When Kelsey informed me she was in love with a man she just met, I suspected it was her true mate. And I knew I had to come and tell her what she was.”

I offer a sympathetic smile to Rachel as I say words I’m not sure are true. “The Henri I know is a forgiving man. But if you don’t mind me asking, why did you keep this a secret all these years?”

Her pain is still the dominant emotion as she says, “While I now know I’m a half, at the time I thought I was only human. As you can imagine, knowing Henri, I thought he would abandon the clan to be with me and our children. I know how important he is to the Ouellettes.” She glances at Jean Luc. “He was in line to be the right hand man to the alpha of the clan. I couldn’t ask him to give that up to be with me.”

I can tell she’s not lying, and I say to Jean Luc in his head, “So far she’s telling the truth.”

Suddenly Rachel’s thoughts turn to giving birth, and I’m shocked when a younger version of Julie is in the replay. I hear Henri’s wife tell Rachel that she’s doing the right thing by not telling Henri, and how brave she is. A low rumble forms in me as my anger surges. Rachel hears it, because her thoughts turn to strong guilt and she says, “I did a terrible thing, and I’ve lived with it for a long time. I convinced myself Henri found his true mate and was happy with a family, and that I’d only hurt him.” She twirls her glass of wine and her eyes are glassy as she gazes at me. “I was a coward. And now that Kelsey is here, I’ve got to make this right.”

I stare at her as I communicate with Jean Luc. “I just saw a memory where Julie told Rachel she was doing the right thing by not letting Henri know about the babies.”

He replies, “This isn’t the first time Julie has lied to get what she wants. I’m not sure the other twin died.”

My jaw drops, and I snap it shut before Rachel notices.

Jean Luc appears to change the subject abruptly when he says, “Today we had an incident that’s presented an interesting turn of events. Nadia and Xavier saw Kelsey and thought she was a hunter they noticed a few days ago.”

“What?” Grace asks. Her brow knits in confusion.

“She’s not,” says Jean Luc. “But the hunter my warriors mistook her for is named Caitlyn.”

Realization relaxes Grace’s frown, and I ask, “Do you think she’s Henri’s daughter Caitlyn?”

“Maybe, but it doesn’t make sense.”

I only know a little bit about the story, but supposedly Henri and Julie’s oldest daughter ran away when she was twelve, and they’ve never been able to find her. I’m still tuned into Rachel’s mind, and she stares at Jean Luc with disbelief as the pieces begin to fit together. Anger surges in her when she says, “When I gave birth to Kelsey there was a twin. She was stillborn.”

Jean Luc shakes his head as he reaches for Rachel’s hand.

Rachel’s knuckles turn white when she grabs Jean Luc’s fingers. “Is she alive?”

“How old is Kelsey?”

“Twenty-one last December.”

Jean Luc says, “If Caitlyn is alive, she’d have been twenty-one in December too.”