The Black Wolf and The White Swan

Chapter 28

The next month it was Elsee's seventh birthday and she woke Sam and I up early like she had on Christmas to open her presents before she went to school. I groaned as I got up, I hadn't been able to sleep and, when I finally had, Sam came home and fell over one of Elsee's toys outside our door causing him to stumble in the room making a racket and effectively knocking me from the restless sleep I had been in.

Sam pressed a kiss to my temple as we went downstairs together. Elsee was already in the kitchen were her presents were piled up, bouncing on her chair like a jack in the box. I made coffee as Elsee began to open them just to try and wake myself up so I could be a bit attentive to her on her birthday. I turned around when I heard her squeal a thank you to Sam and throw her arms around his neck. I smiled. Sam had brought her a charm bracelet I knew that he was going to add to every birthday, Elsee bounced over to me to show me this years, the first years, charm.

I bent down as she held out a silver object and examined the shape between her thumb and forefinger. Now I was closer I could see it was a little silver four leaf clover - each pair of leaves looking a little like hearts - with a little green gem in the centre and short silver "stem" sticking out the bottom.

'Isn't that beautiful, honey?' I exclaimed for her benefit though I wasn't lying: it really was a beautiful charm. 'Can you get on it on the chain?'

She nodded and I followed her back to the table with two mugs of coffee, dropping into a chair beside Sam, he rested his arm on the back of the chair behind me, and put a mug in front of him as Elsee stuck her tongue out in concentration as she tried to fasten on the little charm to the bracelet. Eventually she managed to get it on just as I was about to offer to help her and held it out and her arms. Knowing what she wanted, I took the bracelet and fastened it, tightly, around her wrist so she wouldn't lose it. She hugged Sam again and kissed his cheek causing him to chuckle before turning back to her other presents. We watched her until she'd finished and once we'd eaten breakfast I spoke.

'Come on, Else, we better get you to school,' I told her standing up.

'But it's my birthday!' Elsee complained. 'Can't I stay home with you and Daddy?'

'You ask me that every year, Elsee, and every year I say no,' I told her sternly. 'Besides Daddy and I are going to work. Go on and go get ready.'

'Fine,' Elsee sighed and left leaving me gapping after her until Sam chuckled and he rubbed my back.

'She's just growing up,' he said comfortingly and I sunk back in my chair beside him.

'Why?' I moaned wishing that my little girl could stay just that: little… and sweet and innocent.

'Because that's how life works, baby' Sam chuckled into the hair that covered my ear and I shivered at having his lips so close.

I turned and captured his lips with mine. Another good thing about Elsee spending every other Saturday at Claire's was that Sam and I finally got time alone though we sometimes got that on a Thursday when Elsee went swimming. Our lips moved together without thought completely in sink and sending thrills through my body. Sam's warm hands moved, one to cup my cheek and the other resting on the small of my back, pulling me towards him slightly. We only pulled apart when Sam must have heard Elsee's light footsteps exit her room.

Luckily I was already dressed, having gotten ready after Elsee's opened her presents and before making breakfasts, so after I gave another kiss to Sam we were out of the door.

'Happy Birthday, Princess,' Sam called as we left the kitchen.

'Thanks, Daddy!'

I dropped Elsee of at school with a tub of sweets to share with her class - because apparently that's what they did on birthdays at primary school - and then drove to work myself only to find a very wet Joshua. I sighed heavily as I opened my umbrella and step out the car.

'What happened to staying away?' I called to him as he walked towards me. 'And why didn't you just wait inside the school?'

'Because I thought you might like some help bringing stuff in,' Joshua only responded to my second question now in civil hearing range as he eyed the pile of sheets in my arms.

I hesitated.

'Well, that would be very helpful, thank you,' I said and he came a bit closer.

He carried the majority of my stuff to my classroom for me which gladly saved me from multiple trips in the rain but then stood there awkwardly as I took the chairs down in the classroom and began setting up for my homeroom.

'What are you doing here, Joshua?' I asked finally looking at him again once I had finished.

'Not much,' he said coming to lean on the desk in front of mine.

My classroom was laid out with three columns of five, the door was about level with the third row and my desk centred in front of all the desks. Joshua leaned against the front desk of the middle column.

'I'll be gone out your hair for good in a few minutes,' he promised. 'I just wanted to thank you for at least getting Sam and Embry to hear me out - they still want me to leave and I accept that, I more than deserve it - but I just need to thank you and see you again. Sam did well.' (I could feel myself blushing) 'I'd also thought I'd pass along a "Happy Birthday" for Elsee to you -'

'How do you-?' I began to ask.

'Sam mentioned both her and her birthday without meaning to,' Joshua shrugged and I shook my head at my fiancé.

'You came all the way here to tell me that?' I questioned, not entirely convinced.

'Yes,' Joshua said with blatant honest in his voice. 'I was on my way out of town when I saw the school… well goodbye, Isabella, I wish you and my son every happiness.'

I forced a smile onto my face, 'thank you, goodbye, Joshua.'

He nodded his head and left the classroom without another word and I looked at the door as it clicked shut. That man confused me so much, he seemed so kind and genuine but I got a horrible feeling everything he spoke there was something unspoken, something bad, lingering under the nice things he was saying.

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