The window on the stick changed colour. Two lines crossing one another appeared.
“Again? How can I be pregnant again? Didn’t we decide two children are enough?” Chantia muttered to herself as she stared at the plus sign on the stick. It wasn’t as if they couldn’t afford another child and she was sure she would love this new child as well, but she was happy with the two she had. Having another child so close to Renard…well, that certainly hadn’t been in her plans.
Sam was reading a book with Arienne when Chantia found him. For a moment Chantia just surveyed the peaceful scene in front of her, taking in the warmth on Sam’s face and the utter adoration on her daughter’s. She knew her daughter loved her, but there really was no question over who Arienne was closest to.Chantia cleared her throat to draw his attention. He looked up, surprised, but upon seeing the expression on Chantia’s face, he closed the book and planted a gentle kiss on Arienne’s hair before getting up and approaching Chantia.
“Everything okay?” he asked her concernedly. Instead of replying, Chantia just held up the stick, allowing her husband to see for himself. Sam, the traitor, was a lot more enthusiastic over the news than she had been.“We’re going to have another child? That’s great!” he exclaimed enthusiastically. “I know it isn’t quite what we planned, but I’ll be honest, I won’t really mind another pair of feet in the house.”
Chantia groaned slightly. She had hoped for a little sympathy from him, but since he wasn’t the one who was going to give birth for the third time, she guessed a little sympathy was simply too much to ask for.
To Chantia’s relief, her pregnancy with their third child went much smoother than her first two pregnancies. With Arienne and Renard she had been almost constantly nauseous, but with this child her nausea was minimal. She did have cravings for the weirdest foods, though.“Is that…spaghetti and ice cream?” Sam asked incredulously as he watched his wife wolf down the food in front of her. Chantia waved her hand in dismissal as she took another bite from the mash-up that was supposedly food.
“Hmm. It’s pretty good, actually,” Chantia admitted. “Do you want some?”
“Uh, no, it’s okay, thank you,” Sam quickly rejected the offer. Chantia couldn’t stifle a smile at the speed with which he turned the offer down. She knew it sounded disgusting, but for some reason she just found it so damn good.
Pretty soon, it was time for their third child to be born. Unlike with the other two though, Chantia decided she wanted a home birth for her (hopefully) last child, with the result that Lyra Marquel was born safely at home.Not long after Lyra’s birth, Renard finally became a toddler. From the get-go, it was clear to Chantia that he was going to be far more difficult to handle than Arienne.
“Renard, come here,” Chantia ordered her wayward child. “You can’t walk around in your diapers the whole day.”
Renard gave her a cheeky little smile before toddling away from her as fast as his stubby little legs could carry him.Renard did not like wearing clothes; especially not pants. He was constantly finding ways to get out of his clothes and leading his parents around in a merry chase around the house as they tried to get his clothes back on him.
Even Sam, who had been absolutely brilliant with Arienne when she had been that age, didn’t have much luck with the boy.
“Renard, come to daddy,” Sam asked sweetly, holding his arms welcomingly out to his son. Renard gave him mischievous glance and before the boy even started to move, Sam already knew he was going to have to catch the child.That cheeky little smile appeared on Renard’s face again and true to Sam’s predictions, the boy turned around and ran away. It wasn’t difficult to catch the boy (after all, there were only so many places he could run to), but Sam made sure to punish the boy with tickles once he finally caught him.
Arienne, on the other hand, was much less happy that her place had been usurped. She refused to do anything with her little brother, even going as far as to clumsily threaten to hit him with her books or toys when he came near her.
“Get out!” Arienne demanded from her brother. It was her room, and he had no right to be there!Luckily though, it wasn’t much longer before Arienne’s birthday arrived, signalling her entry into childhood and the beginning of her schooldays. Chantia didn’t want Arienne to feel like she was getting less attention now that she was a little older, so she made sure to make a lot of noise to keep the girl entertained.
She didn’t miss the amused glance Sam shot her though, and quietly made herself a promise to get back at him when he least expected it. At least Arienne was entertained by the noise.Sam helped Arienne blow out her candles…
…and watched with a proud smile as she officially exited the toddler stage and became a beautiful young girl old enough to start with school.
For now, however, it was her birthday and school was a worry for another day. She had things to do and games to play!
…and little brothers to terrorise…“Rawr! I’m a dinosaur and I’m going to eat you if you don’t listen to me!” Arienne threatened her brother. Much to Arienne’s displeasure, the threat did not work on Renard. Instead he just laughed and clapped his hands together, before demanding “‘gain! ‘gain!” In fact, it impressed him so much that he kept following her wherever she went.
Arienne sighed and pouted. It wasn’t nearly as much fun to be a dinosaur if she couldn’t even scare her baby brother!
Well, she’d be a queen then. People listened to queens so he’d have to listen to her!
Or maybe not. He still didn’t listen to her, but at least her mommy did!She felt much happier when her daddy picked Renard up and told him it was time for bed, and not her. She was a big girl now, and big girls didn’t need to go to bed at eight!
Renard though, wasn’t quite ready for bed either. He kept babbling incessantly the whole time Sam readied him for bed.
“An’ the’ she we’ ‘Raw’! Imma di’osau’!” the boy recounted enthusiastically to his dad.“Oh yeah?” Sam asked indulgently. “And then?”
“The’ she sai’ Imma knight!”
Sam laughed and gently tickled the boy. “Well, little knight, it’s time for you to go to bed,” he informed the boy who still showed no sign of tiredness.
By the time he got the toddler calmed down and asleep, Arienne was already showered and readied for bed (by her mom’s orders. She might not have to go to bed at eight, but the next day was her first day at school so she was going to have to get up early). She held a book out to him in wordless request; one he obeyed indulgently.Arienne listened contentedly as her dad’s soft and low voice droned over her, the familiar warmness slowly lulling her to sleep. She couldn’t pinpoint the moment she lost track of story, but she did feel her dad give her a goodnight kiss.
“I love you, daddy,” she mumbled sleepily. Her dad’s soft chuckles flowed around her in response.
“I love you too, sweetie,” her dad replied warmly. “Sleep well, little princess.”
Content that everything was right in her world, Arienne allowed sleep to pull her under.The next morning, she was much less content.
“Do I really have to? Can’t I just stay here instead?” Arienne begged as she waited for her mother to finish cooking her breakfast. It was supposed to be her first day at school, but she really, really didn’t want to go. Who wanted to go to school? It was so much better to stay at home with her daddy, where they could play tag or have water balloon fights or...“School really isn’t that bad,” Chantia tried to reassure the girl. “There’s lots of people to meet and friends to make and things to learn…” Chantia shrugged and placed a plate of food down in front of Arienne. “You’ll see, it’s not that bad.”
Arienne pouted and looked down at her food. “But I don’t want to go,” she protested sulkily, but to her dismay, her mom had no sympathy.
“Well, you have to,” Chantia declared firmly. Arienne scowled sulkily and stabbed her fork into her food, reluctantly eating her breakfast.
The route the school bus followed didn’t pass their house, so Arienne had to be dropped off personally. It was with a heavy heart and an uneasy discontent that Chantia watched her daughter enter the school.
It was the first time her baby was out of the house without either of her parents watching over her.Chantia doubted anything bad would happen, but she couldn’t help but be uncomfortable about it nevertheless. That psycho that had threatened her family was still out there somewhere.
Arienne came home that afternoon in high spirits, talking nonstop about her first day at school. Her bubbly personality had netted her several friends and she couldn’t wait to go back the next day to see them again. She had also decided she wanted to do ballet, so she had given her name up for ballet classes, which were to start the next day.
With that announcement she bounced away from her mother, declaring she was going to do her homework in the brand-new treehouse Sam had erected that morning.Later that night, after she returned from work and all the children had been put to bed, Chantia found her husband sitting in the living room and staring at their family photo collage with a fond smile on his face. Chantia took a moment to look at the collage as well and couldn’t stop the smile from appearing on her own face.
“I can’t believe we’re officially middle-aged,” Chantia complained as she sat down beside him. Sam absently threw his arm around her shoulders and Chantia allowed herself to snuggle to his side. “It feels like Arienne was born only recently and yet she is already in school.”“I know what you mean,” Sam murmured in response, a slight note of petulance in his voice. “Before we know it, she’ll be grown up and looking at boys and she’ll spend far less time with us than she does now.”
Chantia laughed. “That’s still a far time off,” she pointed out. “She just started with school.”Sam sighed. “I know,” he agreed reluctantly and fell silent. Chantia closed her eyes in contentment and leaned into Sam’s embrace, relishing in his presence. She had no idea what the future held for them, but for now, this small happiness was enough for her. Her children were safe in bed. Her husband was by her side.
All was right with the world.
Bit of a filler chapter, I know, but there were a lot of birthdays I had to get out of the way, and I really want to get the story moving again.