Desired by the Bear Book 2(9)

By: V. Vaughn






5





Isabelle



Gooey cheese stretches as I remove another serving of lasagna from the casserole dish in the middle of the table. While Rachel has only pushed her food around, my body’s need to feed my babies supersedes my need to be polite. Grace found a picture of Caitlyn at the age of twelve, taken a few weeks before she disappeared, and the look on Rachel’s face confirmed that Caitlyn is most likely the twin Rachel thought had died. Rachel told us more about her pregnancy and what happened with Julie. It appears Julie lied to her so she could steal a baby and have a way to trap Henri into marriage.

Jean Luc says to Rachel, “I’m going to invite Henri over after dinner if that’s okay with you.” I can tell from her thoughts that she’s equally eager and afraid.

She says, “Yes. It’s time he heard the truth about what happened.” She closes her eyes for a second and shakes her head. “I feel so betrayed by Julie, I considered her my best friend. And now I discover she has my daughter. I can’t help but think that’s how Henri is going to feel when he finds out about Kelsey.”

The way Rachel talked about her feelings for Henri earlier makes me think they were true mates. My heart aches for Rachel and Henri as I imagine the pain their separation caused all these years. I ask, “When did you discover you were a half?”

Rachel wipes her mouth on her napkin and says, “Soon after I went home to my parents. I confessed to my mother I’d fallen in love with a werebear, and she told me she’d done the same.”

“Did you ever marry?”

She shakes her head. “Henri will always be my one and only.” She glances at Jean Luc. “You know how we were. Now that I know more, I think we may have been true mates.”

She knows. My darn pregnancy hormones make tears fill my eyes, and when I glance at Grace, I see she’s reacting the same way. I say, “You still are.”

Grace sniffs and looks at Jean Luc. “I’m not sure what you plan to do with Julie, but I have a sharp knife and would love to use it.” She stands, and plates clatter as she begins to clear the table.

He says, “It’s not that simple. She’s still the mother of Henri’s other children.”

I think my husband needs time to figure out how he plans to handle the situation, and I suspect he’d like to talk to Rachel alone, so I get up to help Grace and ask, “Who’d like coffee or tea? I’m going to see about dessert for when Henri gets here.”

After I take their orders I leave Rachel and Jean Luc to talk. When I get in the kitchen Grace whispers to me, “I was serious about the knife. To think, Henri had a true mate all this time and Julie finagled her way into his life to keep him from her.”

The dishwasher rattles loudly as she yanks it open. I whisper back, “I know. My bear wants to tear Julie apart, but Jean Luc is right. There’s more to consider. You know how Henri is, he’s all about his kids, and he won’t want anything to happen that could hurt them.”

Grace glances at me. “You’re right. I’m sure they love their mother, and Henri would never compromise that.”

My mother-in-law was the prima of the clan as the previous alpha’s wife and as Jean Luc’s mother before I came along, and I know she has experience with many difficult clan situations. I ask, “What do you think Jean Luc is going to do?”

As alpha of the clan, Jean Luc can speak to every member in their head and he says, “Ladies, you’ll be the first to know what I decide to do. Now stop whispering like gossips. Henri will be here soon.”

Grace and I exchange guilty looks before we get back to cleaning the kitchen. When Henri arrives, I greet him at the door. We exchange cheek kisses, and he places his hand on my stomach. He winks, “Those babies are warriors. I’m sure of it.”

I put my palm on his chest, and his heart thuds beneath it as I say, “You have the heart of one, Henri.”

He forces a smile for me, and I say, “Go talk to Rachel.”

I follow him as he walks toward the woman he hasn’t seen in over twenty years. She stands and begins to tremble as she watches him approach. She speaks softly, “Henri.”

He grabs her arms and pulls her into a hug. His voice wavers a bit as he says, “Rachel.” Her hands clutch at his back as he says, “Mon Dieu, it’s really my Rachel.”

They pull apart and stare into each other’s eyes as if no one in the world exists beyond them. The love they both feel is the overwhelming kind I have for Jean Luc, and I shut my ability down to give them privacy.

“I missed you so much, Henri. There were days I could barely take it.” Rachel has tears rolling down her cheeks.