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Twas The Night Before Their 1st Christmas



Chapter 1 

André POV

Everyone knows that I live for celebrations. I go all out for holidays, especially Christmas. This year and probably every Christmas till my babies are grown enough to say, ‘Papa, stop,’ I am going to go all out. This will be my babies’ 1st Christmas, and I want it to be spectacular. I know they are only five months old and won’t remember it, but there will be pictures and videos that we can show them as they grow up. All Madonie wanted to celebrate and make this Christmas special for their new princes and princesses. 

 

We’ve been often asked which heirs were mine, but we never tell. Sure, we gave Caspian and Aragon my surname, while our girls Amaryllis and Éowyn have Darren’s. But that’s not common knowledge. And I don’t know if I’ll keep it that way. I’ve considered updating their official birth certificates to Delaney-D’Amore for all four. 

 

As far as the pack knows, their surnames are all D’Amore. It might be wrong, but I want to keep it that way. I won’t have them treating my babies any differently based on DNA. It still makes me angry that they would treat Lando differently because we adopted him. I love my babies, but I’ll never forget that the pack pushed us to have biological heirs because Goddess forbid that they accept Lando as their next Alpha.

 

‘Let it GO already.’ Duilio rolled his eyes. ‘Who cares? The pack can have whatever antiquated views on ascension they want. The important part is we have our pups.’

 

I took a breath and slowly let it out. Duilio was right, as annoying as that could be. In the grand scheme, the only thing that matters is that Darren and I have our beautiful babies who will grow up with Goddess willingly, my good looks and fashion sense paired with Darren’s brains. I smiled at Caspian as he kicked his little legs, fighting me about putting on his suit.

 

“Work with Papa, sweet little prince,” I spoke sweetly as I managed to wiggle his adorable butt into the pants. “You want to look as fabulous as your siblings.” I smiled as I kissed his nose.

 

In true Caspian form, he told me his displeasure at being dressed up with a kick to the face. Darren chuckled as he put the adorable headband on Amaryllis. Of course, he’d find it funny. Aragon hadn’t given Lando any trouble about putting on his suit. Amaryllis hadn’t given me any issues getting into her dress either. It’s always Caspian and Éowyn who get fussy about dressing up. They are their daddy’s children. 

 

“At least daddy thinks it’s funny when you abuse me for making you look fabulous.” I sighed as I scooped Caspian up and ensured his suit hadn’t bunched up anywhere.

 

He at least held still long enough for me to get his adorable little cap on his head before putting him into the double stroller next to his brother. They looked adorable in the matching suits Deb and Kevin sent. I don’t know how long the soft white quilted cotton and white silk trim three-piece suits with red velvet accents and little red monogram crests would stay clean, but our boys made those suits look good. I couldn’t help myself. I snapped a quick pic of them on my phone and texted it to the family chat.

 

André: How freaking adorable are my little princes?

Mama Deb: Oh, my grandsons look so handsome! 

Papa Kev: That white will be stained before they meet us at the festival.

Alison: I think it’s adorable that all the grandkids got the same outfit. Deb, you’re a very thoughtful grandma.

Sadria: She is, but Kevin is right. None of these kids are going to keep these outfits white.

André: We shall see. Either way, we have pictures to look back on.

Papa: They look cute. If they are anything like you, André, that white won’t last five minutes.

André: I am offended! 

Kat: Liar! I can’t believe you are putting all the kids in white—bad move.

Tie: Oh, let him dream of a world where babies stay clean.

 

I rolled my eyes and turned my attention to my princesses. Darren had just fastened Amaryllis into her seat next to Éowyn. They looked precious in their white embroidered cotton eyelet lace with a sweet, scalloped edge and lace trim, soft lace cap sleeves, and red velvet accent ribbon dresses. Not to mention the adorable headbands with the red velvet bow. Like their brothers, their dresses had the added touch of the red embroidered monogram initials.

 

I snapped a photo of my gorgeous girl and added it to the chat.

 

André: Kat, you’re just jealous Mama Deb only got them for her eight grandkids. Or that you can’t look as beautiful as my girls in these dresses.

Kat: Oh sure, it’s jealousy. That’s it. Before I got a picture, my kids would have dirt, mud, juice, snot, or spit up on those outfits.

Tie: She’s not wrong. They have a talent for creating a mess.

Mama Deb: And that’s why I wouldn’t risk sending your pups these outfits. But Delaney babies, even hellions like my boys Colby and Azriel, could stay clean long enough to make it worth washing everything later.

Colby: Thanks?

Azriel: I don’t know if I’m supposed to be offended that mom only called us out

Darren: Be offended, it’s still true. I’m the tidy one. Now stop texting and meet us at Madonie Square for the festival.

 

I pocketed my phone, knowing that if Darren joined the text, I probably ignored him, not subtly telling me to get going. And I was right. Darren and Lando had taken the babies. I hurried after them, getting to them before they reached the door. 

 

“Wait for me! I’m not missing my babies’ first Christmas festival.” I called after them.

 

“That’s what you get for focusing on texting.” Darren rolled his eyes and glanced at me before pushing the girls out the door.

 

“We wouldn’t have left without you, Papa,” Lando assured me as he stepped aside for me to push the boys.

 

“Oh, I know. Your dad doesn’t have it in him to leave me. Nor would he want to juggle all four babies without me.” I smiled and tossed his hair. “Though with your help, he might have managed it.”

 

Lando rolled his eyes and joined me as I pushed the stroller to catch up with Darren and the girls. It didn’t take us long to arrive at the Christmas festival our pack was throwing. It was easy enough to spot the Delaney family in the crowd. Our nephew Andrew and nieces Ashley and Blaire were dressed in the same outfits as our kids. And like us, Darren’s brothers wore red suits with white details and their initials to be opposite the boys, and the girls wore red dresses with white accents. 

 

Deb and I worked to ensure everyone matched for the babies’ first Christmas. Deb spotted us first, waving before making her way to us. She didn’t even say hi to Darren or me, for that matter. Instead, she took each baby from the strollers to love on them before passing them to Kevin. Our babies were passed around to all their American Zias and Zios before returning to their strollers to be kissed and fawned over by their older cousins.


Caspian POV

Why does Papa do this to us? It’s like he lives to dress us up. I like the days when Daddy picks our clothes. He doesn’t pick fancy clothes. Maybe when I’m bigger, I’ll understand Papa’s reasoning or, at the very least, properly voice my discontent. Not that I hold out hope my words will matter when I can say them.

 

Our big brother Lando is dressed equally as goofy as we are. He didn’t look thrilled to wear this outfit and even said something. Daddy told him we had to wear the outfits because Grandma got them for us, and she came to see us. Now that I can forgive. We don’t see Grandma as much as we see Nonno and Nonna. That information didn’t make me feel bad for kicking Papa earlier when he put me in this outfit. 

 

Aragon didn’t seem bothered by having to dress up like this. He never fusses about what we get made to wear. He’s already a people pleaser. That or genuinely likes getting dressed up. Both are possible. Our sister Amaryllis loves dressing up even more than Papa loves dressing us up. At least I have Éowyn on my side. We’re practical people like Daddy.

 

When we arrived at this Christmas Festival, our Papa and Daddy were so busy planning these past weeks, but I’ll admit it was interesting. Lots of lights, sounds, and smells. And then the reason we got all dressed up rushed over to us and picked me up first. For Grandma, I’ll deal with looking stupid. She was so happy to see us in outfits and gushed about how cute we were. How can I be mad about something that made her so happy?

 

It also made me feel better when I saw our American cousins were dressed the same way. We weren’t being singled out for this humiliation. Ashley and Blaire seemed happy in their dresses, but Andrew knew my pain. He was tugging at his little tie, too. It’s nice to know I’m not the only grandson uncomfortable in this outfit.

 

Once everyone had finished fawning over us, we were led to a massive tree covered in lights and babbles. It reminded me of that big tree in that book Daddy read to us. Something about a Grinch. I don’t remember the whole name, but there was a big tree like this at the end. It’s even bigger than the tree we have at the house. I quickly realized what was going on.

 

I’m five months old, but this isn’t my first time dealing with a photo op. Apparently, as an heir, there are lots of pictures that get taken. So that’s why we all had to dress up like this and match. I hope that there won’t be more of these. We must be running out of firsts that must be captured in photos. Right? How many more firsts can there be? 

 

Daddy picked Éowyn and me up while Papa took Aragon and Amaryllis. Someone was shouting instructions, rearranging everyone. Part of this rearrangement was deciding who would hold my siblings and me. I didn’t understand why this was even an issue. Our Daddy and Papa were more than strong enough to hold two of us each. I was taken from Daddy and handed to Lando. I was okay with that since I love my big brother. 

 

Yes, the photographer didn’t like it, so I got passed to Grandpa. I love my grandpa, so I was okay with the switch. He’s a funny guy. He always makes the funniest faces at me to make me smile. But the guy didn’t like that either and moved me to grandma. Now this I liked. I love grandma. She smells so nice, and being held by her is so cozy. 

 

Grandma's snuggles are almost as good as Zia Delilah’s. Outside of Daddy and Papa, we all feel most comfortable being held by Zia Delilah. From what I’ve seen in my short life, everyone loves Zia Delilah. So, it’s not that strange that we like her best too. 

 

Just as I got comfy in Grandma’s arms, I was taken from her to be held by someone else. This was getting ridiculous. How many more people did this guy think he should pair me with? Wait a second. I don’t recognize this person. This isn’t one of my Zios or my Zias. And we are moving away from my family. What was going on?

 

I screamed as loud as I could, kicking and punching with all my might at this stranger who was trying to take me from my family. He put a hand over my mouth like that would stop me. I tried biting him, but I don’t have teeth yet. I continued to wail behind his hand but found it hard to breathe because this hand was large enough to cover my mouth and nose.

 

I heard people shouting and my siblings crying as things got fuzzy. The next thing I knew, I was in the familiar embrace of my Daddy’s arms. He turned us away just as there was a snarl and bright lights. I was still crying, freaked out from not understanding what had happened. 

 

“Shh… it’s okay, Cas. Daddy has you. Daddy and Papa will always protect you.” Daddy assured me with his soft voice that wobbled a little as he kissed my cheeks. 

 

I still didn’t understand what had happened or what was still happening. All I knew was I was safe. Nothing bad could happen if I were with Daddy.


Chapter 2 

Darren POV

I have not been this terrified since Delilah had that placenta issue in April. I had hoped I would never be that afraid again. Yet when that fucking photographer took Caspian from me, I felt it in my gut something was wrong. It didn’t settle my nerves that he also had Amaryllis move from André to Dad. 

 

The more times I saw the babies rearranged, the angrier I became. It was like those con artists with the pebble under the cup. Keeping track of where all four babies went was their plan. They thought they could hand Caspian to someone who wasn’t part of the family and get away with it. 

 

They thought wrong. I noticed the switch, and Caspian was not the baby that would go quietly. My boy has his Papa’s sass when a situation isn’t to his liking. I had passed Amaryllis to Sadria and shouted for my brothers to get the photographer as I ran toward Caspian’s cries.

 

André had been right on my heels when he handed Aragon to Alison. André had shifted mid-chase and used his speed to get their first. It was because of his distraction that I was able to snatch our son back before he could be harmed. I knew what André and Duilio were about to do, and I backed them a hundred percent. I didn’t want Caspian to see it, so I turned away and focused on settling my little prince.

 

‘Is he okay? I saw that shithead’s hand over his mouth.’ André asked as Duilio nudged his body against my side with worry. 

 

I carefully crouched down so Duilio could see that our pup was safe and sound. Caspian was sniffling, still settling down from his scare. I turned him in my arms so he faced Duilio and pressed one of his tiny hands to his fur.

 

“It’s okay, Caspian. Papa’s right here, too. His wolf won’t let anyone hurt you.” I promised as I kissed his soft black hair. 

 

The kidnapper must have knocked off Caspian’s hat while he tried to get away. I’ll have to find it. I wouldn’t want Mom’s money to have gone to waste. Duilio nuzzled against Caspian and licked his face. Caspian’s sniffles of fear turned into baby giggles. That helped ease my frantic heart.

 

“Holy shit!” Colby exclaimed as he and the rest of our family found us. 

 

I looked at my family and did a head count of all the kids. Lando, check. Andrew, check. Ashley, check. Blaire, check. Aragon was in Alison’s arms. Sadria still had Amaryllis. And Dad had Éowyn. They were all here and safe. 

 

“Eww. What happened to that guy?” Blaire boldly asked as she pointed to what I knew without looking was the extra crispy remains of Caspian’s kidnapper.

 

“Blaire!” Alison scolded.

 

“Looks like an extra crispy scumbag to me, baby girl.” Colby shrugged as he picked up his daughter. 

 

“What about his photographer friend?” I asked, standing back up now that Caspian and André were calmer. 

 

“Right, here, brother,” Azriel smirked as he forced the photographer to his knees by the scruff, his arms tied behind him with what looked to be Azriel’s bow tie.

 

“What do you have to say to your Alpha and Aleph?” Azriel snarled as he applied more pressure, making the man grimace.

 

“I…have…nothing…to say… to them.” The photograph said.

 

“Whoa, André… it’s Christmas Eve, no one but our brother wants to see your schlong.” Colby grimaced while covering Blaire’s eyes.

 

“Here, Papa. I know you aren’t one for shame, but this is a family event. Our pack may not want to see your nudity.” Lando said as he took off his jacket and handed it to André.

 

A crowd, of course, had formed. Even if they hadn’t been in the immediate area, there was no way our people missed the light show of Duilio frying that kidnapper. André rolled his eyes but used Lando’s jacket to at least hide his dick. Unless someone else was going to offer their coat, too, his ass was going to remain out till we could get him a change of clothes. I think we should all be lucky he bothered with the jacket. 

 

Putting clothes on is the last thing on my mate’s mind. I am beyond pissed, but André is radiating his rage and alpha aura. Those who have gathered around are feeling it. The asshole photographer felt it, too, as they all were bowing their heads in submission. With the jacket on, André’s attention returned to the photographer. He stormed forward, electricity in each step that made everyone step back except me. 

 

“You will speak your final words before I send your pathetic soul to the Goddess to face her wrath for the wrong you dared to commit against a pup.” André and Duilio’s voices overlapped as he reached down and yanked the photographer off the ground by the throat.

 

Azriel quickly let go and took a few steps back to join our family. He picked up his twins and tried to get them not to watch. Ashley was eager to bury her face into her dad’s neck. My sweet niece wasn’t big on violence. Andrew leaned closer to Azriel but kept one eye on the action. Colby tried to do something similar with Blaire, but she wanted to watch. 

 

Everyone holding our babies had turned them away, just as I’d done with Caspian. They are too young to understand what is going on, but that doesn’t mean they should witness their Papa taking a life, even if it were justified. I gently rubbed Caspian’s back, wanting to keep him calm even in the presence of André’s rage. 

 

“You… don’t… deserve… to… raise… children… fino…” The photographer’s words were broken and strained from how tightly André held his neck. 

 

That last derogatory word was left incomplete. Not because André justifiably snapped his neck. Nope, his words were cut off by wolfsbane growing into his mouth. I blinked as I realized I’d missed the vine coming out of the ground and how it had wrapped around the photographer to reach his mouth.

 

“No one speaks that way to our Alpha.” Delilah declared as she and Alexander reached us, the crowd parting for our Beta’s.

 

“Alpha, as you’ve handled his cohort. Please allow my mate and I to question and eliminate this one.” Alexander bowed his head respectfully as he made his request.

 

“Let our Betas take him, André. Our focus should be on our children.” I agreed, placing a hand on André’s bare shoulder to help him control his anger.

 

“I would say you’ll live to regret your words and actions, but that would imply you get to live. Instead, I will say you’ll wish I fried you like your friend before my Betas are done.” André snorted as he took his hand back.

 

“Give me our prince.” André insisted as he turned to me, reaching for Caspian. 

 

I sighed and carefully passed Caspian into his arms. Caspian fussed momentarily but calmed down as André kissed his hair and whispered words of assurance. The poor boy. I hope he won’t freak out when handed to someone because of this. We have a large extended family who all love him. 

 

“We’ll take it from here,” Alexander assured us as the wolfsbane that held the photographer came out of the ground to carry him for them.

 

“If you go that way, Amelia and Stephen’s family are waiting with a change of clothes for André. We all felt it when he shifted. The rage was like a shock wave through the ranked wolves.” He added, pointing to a nearby red and white striped tent.

 

“He will pay for even thinking to harm even one of the heirs,” Delilah growled at the photographer as the vines thickened and tightened to him.

 

She may typically be all sugar and spice, but my Beta is not someone you want to fuck with. Even less when you fuck with one of the pups she carried for us. There was a connection between her and the babies that cannot be denied. And when the kids are older, we will explain why that connection is there. For now, I was going to try to salvage our family outing.


Amaryllis POV

We didn’t all understand what happened but knew it was bad. That man kept rearranging us till suddenly we could hear Caspian crying but not see him. Of course, that made the rest of us cry. Then I went from one of my favorite places, Daddy’s arms, to being held by Zia Sadria. I like her well enough, but she’s no Daddy. 

 

Then there were some bright lights and shouting, and Zio Azriel tackled that man who kept making us get passed around. That made me happy. While I’m easygoing about being held, I wouldn’t say I like being handed off so much. He got what he deserved as far as I was concerned. When we all went to find Daddy, Papa, and Caspian, there was a funny smell in the air. I wouldn’t say I liked it. 

 

Things got very tense when Zio Azriel brought that bad man to Daddy and Papa. Papa was mad. I’d never seen Papa angry. I didn’t know he could be grumpy, let alone angry. Papa was always so happy. But his voice was he spoke to that man, that wasn’t the Papa voice I knew. Thankfully, Zia Delilah came, and Papa stopped being angry. After that, we saw Zia Amelia and Zio Stephen’s family with their new baby, Asher. 

 

After Papa changed his clothes, we didn’t match anymore, which was sad. I like it when we all match, it’s fun. But oh well, there will be plenty of times in the future, knowing Papa, that we will dress up like this. After the picture incident, Daddy and Papa were super cautious. We didn’t get to ride in the stroller anymore. 

 

I was put in the carrier and got comfy against Daddy’s chest. Papa was carrying Caspian. I think Papa won’t let him out of sight after what happened. Our big brother was carrying Aragon while grandma took Éowyn. I missed the stroller because I could easily sleep, and Éowyn was beside me. Not that I’ll complain about Daddy carrying me. 

 

As interesting as the festival was, it was a lot to take in. There were so many sounds, colors, and smells. It was a lot, like sensory overload. So, I focused on Daddy’s comforting heartbeat. And I’m not at all ashamed to say I fell asleep. Daddy’s a comfortable person to fall asleep on. And I knew I was safe with him.


Chapter 3

Lando POV

As expected after the incident, the presence of on-duty warriors around the Christmas festival became more apparent. Dad and Papa were taking no chances that another attempt would happen. To help ensure the safety of the heirs, they were moved from their strollers to the chest baby carriers. I wasn’t surprised that Papa took Caspian. They never play favorites, but someone just tried to kidnap Cas, so it’s natural to be more protective of him today.

 

I was pleasantly surprised that I was entrusted with Aragon. I would have thought the babies would be with adults, specifically those with wolves, to protect them better. It felt good that I was trusted to protect my baby brother. I won’t have my wolf for another two years, but wolf or not, I would fight to my last breath to protect any of my siblings. 

 

We stuck together as we moved around the festival. I stopped at one of the game booths when Aragon showed interest in one of the toys on display. What kind of big brother would I be if I didn’t stop and try to win him the prize?

 

“Dad!” I called to catch Dad’s attention.

 

“What’s up, Lando?” Dad called as he stopped to look back.

 

“Aragon seems keen on that stuffed Santa wolf.” I pointed to the stuffed wolf with the Santa hat that Aragon was still reaching for. “Is it okay if I stop and try and win it for him?”

 

Dad looked pensive for a moment as he kissed Amaryllis’ head. I could tell he was debating whether leaving me and Aragon alone was safe. When Dad’s eyes glazed over, I knew he was checking with Papa. Under other circumstances, I doubt he’d have thought twice about trusting me alone with one of the babies. Still, after what happened earlier, he and Papa are on high alert. We all are.

 

“Alright. Don’t spend more than ten euros. And once you’ve won it or spent the max, find the rest of us.” Dad conceded. 

 

“I will. Thanks, Dad.” I smiled.

 

“Hear that, Aragon? I’m going to win you that Santa wolf.” I smiled and kissed his hat.

 

“I’ll take five euros of darts.” I smiled and set the money on the table.

 

“Of course, Prince Lando.” The man running the game smiled as he took the money and put five darts down. “Though if it’s a gift for one of the heirs, I’d be happy to give it to you. I’d give you four so each heir could have one.” He offered, and he reached for one of the Santa wolves.

 

“That won’t be necessary. Being members of the Alpha family doesn’t give us special treatment. I’ll win my brother the wolf fair and square.” I assured him. 

 

I wouldn’t say I liked it when people thought being part of any ranked family meant we took what we wanted. We earn what we have, damn it. I took my head and picked up the first dart. I’ve played darts plenty. Zio Azriel was the first to teach me about darts when we visited Alpha Logan’s wedding years ago. Holding my breath, I aimed and released it as I let the dart fly.

 

Aragon babbled happily as the first balloon popped. I’m glad it didn’t startle him. The last thing I needed was for him to start fussing. I wanted to win that toy for him and needed to concentrate. I aimed with my second dart and easily hit the next balloon. As I went to aim my third, I was bumped into.

 

“Oh, sorry. Didn’t see you there…or that’s what I’d say if you weren’t wearing that goofy ass costume.” Tony, one of the older boys that recently shifted, taunted.

 

Of course, his gaggle of friends all laughed, including three girls. I breathed and reminded myself I shouldn’t let other people get to me. I know my worth. So, I ignored my haters and shrugged off his taunting.

 

“Merry Christmas to you too, Tony. Now, if you’ll pardon me, I’m busy.” I smiled over my shoulder.

 

“Hi, Lando.” Rosa, Tony’s younger sister, smiled and waved a little.

 

“Hi.” I nodded and returned to focusing on my next dart. 

 

“Miss.” Tony coughed and nudged me as I started to throw the dart.

 

If he wanted to mess me up, he almost succeeded. Despite his attempt to mess me up, I popped a balloon. Two more darts, and I’ll have that Santa wolf for Aragon. I didn’t bother looking at Tony and his crew. I don’t want to come off as smug. Enough of the kids in the pack think I’m a smug asshole because our Alpha and Aleph adopted me after the war. It wasn’t my fault I bonded with them. 

 

“He’s good.” One of the girls whispered.

 

“Fluke. I bet he couldn’t hit one if truly distracted.” Tony scoffed.

 

I continued to ignore him as I readied my fourth dart.

 

“What are you chicken? Or do you think being adopted by those fin…” Tony started to taunt me, but I cut him off with a punch.

 

“Don’t you DARE say that word. Don’t you DARE disrespect my Dad and Papa. Don’t you DARE disrespect our Alpha and Aleph.” I glared, one hand still balled into a fist while the other protectively held Aragon.

 

“Cheap shot,” Tony growled as he stepped towards me.

 

His pals all grabbed him and kept him back.

 

“You can’t attack him. Not only is he considered a prince, but he is holding one of the actual heirs.” Buno nodded to Aragon in my arms.

 

“You’re lucky, orphan. If you weren’t hiding behind a baby, I’d kick your ass.” Tony snorted as he shook his friends off.

 

“We can determine if you can back up your words at the next training session after the holidays. Until then, I have more important things to do.”  I rolled my eyes and turned back to the game.

 

“Oh, you think you’re so tough. I got my wolf. There’s no contest in who would win.” Tony scoffed, still trying to agitate me as I popped the fourth balloon.

 

“You walk around here like your shit doesn’t stink because they adopted you. News flash: you aren’t an Alpha. You’re holding your replacement. You’re more sitter than family now that they have real children. Or as real as children can be for two f…” Tony stopped himself from saying the word as the man running the game snarled at him.

 

It’s good to know there are people in this pack that don’t disrespect my Papa and Dad. We are in a better place than ever under the Grimaldi family. We have alliances we never would have before. People respect Madonie because our Alpha is powerful.

 

I threw the fifth dart as I turned towards Tony. I didn’t look back to check that it was on target. I heard the balloon pop as I glared at Tony. He’s got a lot of nerve to talk shit about my family. He’s treated me like shit since the war. It was like as soon as my bio family died, I was trash in Tony and other kids whose families survived the war. 

 

“Tony, you should walk away. Preferably walk your asshole home to reevaluate your outlook on life and what path this behavior will lead you to. Because news flash, shit-talking your Alpha and Aleph is only going to lead to either your death at best or becoming a rogue at worst.” I suggested.

 

“Here’s your prize, Prince Lando.” The man running the game called out, taking my attention as he offered the Santa wolf.

 

“Thanks.” I smiled and laughed as Aragon reached out and took his prize. “Aragon loves it. Dad, Papa, and my Zios will likely be back to win more if the other little ones are interested in the toy.” I warned him.

 

“I would be happy for the business.” The man laughed. “And I’m glad to help put a smile on Prince Aragon’s face.” He smiled warmly at Aragon, who was chewing on the wolf’s ear that peeked out of the hat. 

 

“Thanks. Merry Christmas, sir.” I bowed my head politely and walked away. 

 

I could hear Tony shouting after me, but I ignored him. He wasn’t worth my time. Tony needed to get his head on straight. If he doesn’t, I foresee a very miserable future for him. I doubt he could turn his life around like Stephen’s new brother-in-law Austin did after the war.


Aragon POV

I didn’t like those boys. They were mean. I couldn’t fathom why anyone would dislike my big brother. He’s the best. Trying to stop him from winning me this toy was very rude of them. It’s not often I get something that’s just mine. I’m one of four babies. If I get something, all three of my siblings get it, too. All in the name of equality. 

 

I was happy when we left those boys behind us. Lando won me the toy, and I couldn’t be happier. I could see more of our family up ahead. I just hoped my siblings wouldn’t notice my wolf and want one, too. This one is special and just mine. Lando won it for me. I had no intention of sharing. I shared a womb with them and still share a crib with Caspian. That’s enough.

 

“Lando! Aragon! Over here!” Zio Colby shouted, waving his arm for us to join them.

 

We were nearly there when one of the girls at the game stopped Lando. 

 

“Hey, Lando.” She smiled.

 

“Um. Hi, Rosa. I need to join my family.” Lando nodded to where Zio Colby had stopped waving and was smiling.

 

I didn’t know what he was smiling about. Being held up by this girl wasn’t a good thing. She had a high-pitched voice, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like her.

 

“Oh, right. I just… I wanted to say sorry about my brother. He doesn’t think poorly of you. It wasn’t your choice to be adopted by the Alpha and Aleph.” Rosa said with a strange smile on her face.

 

Was she trying to be coy? If she was, it didn’t work. Her expression reminded me of Éowyn when she was filling her diaper with poop. What does this girl want? Is she here to be rude to my brother like that other boy was?

 

“One, you shouldn’t apologize for others’ behavior. And two, I did have a choice. Dad and Papa asked me if I wanted to be their son. Other than having my Mama and Papa back, there isn’t a couple in this world I’d want more to be my parents than Dad and Paoa.” Lando shook his head.

 

“Oh. Either way, I’m still sorry for how he treated you.” Rosa looked uncomfortable.

 

“Okay. Well, as I said, my family is waiting. Merry Christmas.” Lando tried to leave again, but she stopped him.

 

“Lando, um, I wanted to know if you’d like to go to the movies after Christmas,” Rosa asked.

 

“Maybe. Who else is going? What movie?” Lando asked.

 

He wasn’t comfortable with this girl. I should do something. I need a reason to get my brother away from this girl immediately. The best way to make anyone go away was to start crying. So that’s what I did. I can cry on cue. I’m good like that.

 

“O... Aragon. It’s okay. You’re probably hungry.” Lando gently bounced to try to soothe me.

 

“Rosa, I need to go. Aragon’s hungry, and Dad has the diaper bag.” Lando again tried to excuse himself.

 

“But you didn’t answer me. I want you to go to the movies with me.” Rosa insisted even as I upped my volume.

 

“Rosa…I… I need to go. And well, not to be rude, but if you were asking me on a date, I’m not interested.” Lando shook his head, still trying to calm me.

 

“Why not? You think you’re too good for me because the Alpha adopted you?” Rosa scoffed. “And will you shut that baby up?” She huffed.

 

“Don’t talk that way about my brother. He’s a baby. He’s hungry, and you are delaying him getting his bottle. Crying is the only way he can communicate his unhappiness.” Lando put that mean girl in her place.

 

“And me turning you down has nothing to do with being too good for you or anyone, and everything to do with the only person I’m having a non-platonic relationship with will be my mate. Now I’m leaving. Enjoy the festival.” Lando shook his head as he moved around her and hurried to join our family.

 

When we were away from her, I stopped crying and returned to happily chewing on my wolf. Lando chuckled as he noticed my sudden change in mood.

 

“You are an excellent wingman, Aragon.” He laughed as we rejoined our family. 

 

Being this small, I couldn’t do much, but I will always do what I can to help my family.


Chapter 4

Éowyn POV

I spent today with Grandma. It was fun. She let me try some of the treats she was eating. I can say that I liked the bacio, chocolate and hazelnut for you Americans, gelato. It reminded me of the before times. The before times were before my siblings and I were taken from the womb. 

 

Other than tasty treats, Grandma bought me a little moon plushie toy that caught my eye. It’s officially my favorite thing. I don’t know what the moon has to do with what we are celebrating, but I do know that the moon is important to our people. And well, I love the moon. It’s so pretty to look at in the night sky.

 

When we got home, we all got a bath, yuck. I wouldn’t say I like baths. Amaryllis loves baths so much she plays around in the water. I prefer to get it over with and get out of the water. Who wants to sit in their filth? But whatever. After bath time, we were put in special pajamas for the holiday. They were comfier than those fancy clothes we had to wear for the festival.

 

“Azriel, that’s the wrong pajama set.” Daddy groaned after Zio Azriel finished dressing me. 

 

“What do you mean? It’s the Christmas set André set out.” Zio Azriel frowned.

 

“Wrong baby.” Daddy rolled his eyes and nudged Zio Azriel out of the way.

 

“What? You’re going to tell me she isn’t Amaryllis.” Zio Azriel scoffed as he gestured to me.

 

I gave him the stink eye and threw my moon at him. I shouldn’t have thrown my toy. He deserved to have it thrown at him, but now I wanted it back. And since I couldn’t tell him I wanted it back, I started to cry and flail my arms and legs while Daddy changed me from my sister’s pajamas.

 

“See….” Daddy shook his head.

 

“I’m sorry, my little moonbeam.” Daddy apologized as he snatched my moon from Zio Azriel. “Here’s your moon. Daddy will get you in your proper pajamas, Éowyn.” Daddy assured me as he emphasized my name and returned my toy.

 

“Ah, shit. I’m sorry, Éowyn.” Zio Azriel apologized with his exaggerated pout.

 

“You should forgive your uncle. He may be a triplet, but he will never know what it’s like to have an identical twin and get called the wrong name.” Daddy sighed and kissed my forehead, putting me in the RIGHT pajamas.

 

“Will you forgive your Uncle Azriel?” Zio Azriel sniffled, still pouting with his arms out like he wanted to hold me.

 

Ugh. I can’t stand to see a grown-up cry. I decided to forgive him since it’s not like he always sees me and Amaryllis to know which is which. So, I reached out for him, and Daddy passed me to him.

 

“You’re lucky she forgave you. Five months old, and when she decides she doesn’t like something or someone, it sticks. Éowyn’s a tough cookie like that.” Daddy kissed my hair before he went to help get the rest of my siblings ready.

 

“Well, I’m glad you love Uncle Azriel enough to forgive him. Now, let’s go downstairs. Your cousins and big brother are already in their pjs waiting. Grandpa will read you kids the same Christmas story he used to read to me, Uncle Colby, and your daddy as pups.” Zio Azriel smiled as he carried me out of the nursery.

 

Soon, we were all in the big living room, gathered around the fireplace. My siblings and I were put in our little bouncer seats on the floor with our cousins and big brother. Everyone focused on Grandpa, who had a picture book in his hand. I chewed on my moon while I waited for the story. I wasn’t the only one with a new toy in their hands. We all got a toy at the event. Aragon had his wolf that Lando got him. Caspian had a stuffed reindeer. And Amaryllis had a soft dolly dressed in a red holiday princess dress. 

 

“‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” Grandpa began the story by holding the book to show us the pictures.

 

“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds. While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.” Grandpa smiled as he tickled each of us as he read on.

 

“And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap. When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.” Grandpa was a good storyteller. He made such funny faces, and his voice changed pitch as he read.

 

“Away to the window, I flew like a flash. Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave a luster of midday to objects below.” Like Papa, he used his hands to talk and pointed at my moon when he spoke of the moon.

 

“When what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer, with a little old driver so lively and quick. I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.” Grandpa pointed to Caspian’s reindeer and Aragon’s wolf.

 

“More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, and he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name: ‘Now, Caspian! Now, Éowyn! Now, Aragon and Amaryllis! On, Lando! On, Blaire! On, Andrew and Ashley! To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!’” Grandpa grinned as he tickled each of us as he said our names.

 

I didn’t know Santa’s reindeer had our names!

 

“As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky. So up to the housetop the coursers they flew with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too— And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.” Grandpa tapped at our feet.

 

“As I drew in my head and was turning around, down the chimney, St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.” Grandpa described.

 

My eyes looked at the fireplace and wondered how the magical person would come down it when a fire was going. Wouldn’t he burn up? Or will someone put the fire out to ensure he can safely bring us toys?

 

“His eyes—how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow. The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf.” Grandpa continued the story.

 

How does someone so plump as Grandpa described get down a chimney? Magic, I suppose. I shouldn’t be surprised. Magic can do many things. I’ve seen Zia Kat make magic. Even my cousin Liliana has made our toys dance around to entertain us once. 

 

“And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself. A wink of his eye and a twist of his head soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. He spoke not a word but went straight to his work and filled all the stockings. Then turned with a jerk, and laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.” Grandpa used his hands to talk again to play up the story.

 

“He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight— ‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!’” Grandpa smiled as he closed the book.

 

“Now it’s time for little ones to be in bed so Santa can bring you gifts for being such good ups this year.” Grandpa knelt and kissed each of us on the forehead, even Lando. “I love you all. Now, let’s get you all tucked in.”

 

“We love you too, Grandpa.” My cousins and Lando smiled.

 

My siblings and I couldn’t say those words, but we cooed at him and gave our best smiles. We don’t see Grandpa and Grandma as often as we see Nonno and Nonna, but that doesn’t mean we love them any less. After that, we were all taken to our rooms and given more kisses from Grandma, Daddy, and Papa as we were put in our beds and the lights were turned off. I fell asleep holding my little moon tight.


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watson_rk
watson_rk
3 days ago

Lando is such a good son and big brother. 💙

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I just loved this short story. You must, and I think you will, tell all about Lando’s life before he finds his mate. I can bet there is a story behind the bullies and their families, maybe are linked with the photographer and are part of a dark group against André and Darren? Who knows? You are a great writer and the new generation saga is going to be as good as their parents stories are.

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Oh my god, totally missed this. This is SO beyond cute - i am totally in love. And from the personalities they show - this will a VERY interesting next generation series :-D

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Amanda Gerner
Amanda Gerner
Dec 26, 2023

Oh they are adorable babies.

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Shara Baudoin
Shara Baudoin
Dec 26, 2023

Was so excited to read this!!! Loved the Christmas short story from the whole Delaney-DeAmore

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