More than seven years have passed. Keif is an adolescent wolf, and the twin boys are a handful of trouble. It's Christmas in Jen and Adrien's cabin, and though wolves don't usually celebrate the human holiday, the entire den has embraced the alpha female's traditions. But all is not calm in the den. Can Keif ease tensions with a special surprise?
"And which present do you want to open tonight?" Adrien asked his mate.
Jen smiled. "Keif's."
"No," the young leader replied. "You can open any other gift you want to tonight, but not mine. Mine is for tomorrow morning."
Adrien shot him a quelling look. "That is not according to the rules of Jen's tradition." Even Michael knew better than to try and change something so vital to their little den's alpha female. Adrien wouldn't stand for it. Typically, Michael wouldn't stand for it either.
"It will ruin the surprise if Jen opens my gift tonight," he defended himself.
Before Adrien could protest, Jen answered. "Oh, my gift will ruin the surprise of what someone else bought me?"
Michael tipped his head. "Something like that."
"Okay, then. Is it safe to open the gift from Andrew and James? Or is that tied to this big surprise as well?"
Adrien expected a negative reply to that. Then again... To his knowledge, nothing Michael could give her would ruin the surprise of his own gifts. And I didn't tell any of the boys what gifts I bought. They might have blurted it out to Jen.
"Their gift is safe."
The Keif probably knows what my gifts are without me telling him. He could very well have gotten Jen something that would ruin the surprise of mine. If so, I owe him thanks for not allowing her to open his.
Jen smiled her acceptance, and Adrien handed her a sloppily-wrapped gift from under the tree. Their twin sons gathered closer, encouraging their mother to open it. James fidgeted, seemingly nervous to see her reaction.
She pulled at the paper, creating a satisfying rip. In the next heartbeat, Jen had created the confetti rain of Christmas paper the boys adored so much.
Michael leaned back in the chair he'd adopted from Jen's father's office within minutes of first setting foot inside the cabin they called home. He watched the proceedings with a faint smile.
No longer the child he'd been when he'd been orphaned and had subsequently latched onto Jen as his new mother, Michael was twelve years old. He was all lean limbs, standing above Adrien's shoulders in height but gangly and growing as adolescent wolves did. Within the next four years, he might match Adrien in bulk, but that was unlikely. Keifs were usually smallish wolves, tremendous powers in a small package.
Adrien focused on Jen, smiling as she opened the box inside the paper. She parted the tissue paper and pulled the knitted gloves from inside. Adrien hid a smile behind his hand, anticipating her reaction to their sons' idea of 'a good present for Mommy'.
"Try them on, Mommy," Andrew urged her.
"Yes. Try them on," James echoed him.
She pulled the first on, her brow furrowed. The moment of realization was impossible to miss. Jen's eyes crinkled, and she started laughing. She pulled the other glove on, then curled her fingers to show off the fake knitted claws on the ends of the fingers. Tendrils of yarn created fake fur on the backs of her hands.
In the next moment, she'd gathered both boys to her chest. "I love them. Thank you both."
Andrew and James wriggled closer to her.
"Now you can shift like us, Mommy," James crowed.
"Like me," Andrew corrected him.
James pouted at the reminder that he lagged behind his brother in learning the task.
"You both shift beautifully," Jen assured them.
"You do," Adrien agreed, adding a tone of warning for his elder twin. No one was allowed to ruin Jen's holidays. It was her favorite time of year.
Andrew looked up at him, nodded solemnly, then went back to cuddling with his mother.
Adrien sighed. Though he wanted Jen all to himself, he realized Jen needed time with the boys, as much as he needed time with her.