Had someone told me years ago that I would be leaving the small gated community of Wolf Heights to live with my dad a month ago, I would have looked at them like they had grown seven heads and were speaking in German, but that was my reality now. I had graduated last month and spent a summer with my best friend since forever, Alexander Manuel Carters, saying my goodbyes and promising to call every night.
I step out of the cab and pay him a generous tip as I grab my backpack. I look up to the manor and sigh out the intimidation the huge glass mansion provides on the top of the hill. I grab my backpack up and start walking, taking every detail I can from what I can see. The woods hold large Douglas Fir and Aspens and even Cotton Woods. I smile as the smells from the surrounding nature floods my nose and I smell rabbits and deer within the area. My fox, Nixxen, purrs softy in joy of the small things and big things we could hunt. I remind her softly that I would have to ask my dad if we could go for a hunt. I treck up the mountain side, making my way to the mansion that seems to glow with masculinity.
I make it to the door and take a deep breath. Exhaling, I knock and hear kids screaming and adults barking orders. A man in a suit walks over and opens the mahogany oak door and looks down at me.
“Who are you?” He growls in a territorial voice that causes my anxiety to kick in double time as I smell his Wolf scent.
“Is that you Mia?” Dad calls from behind the guy and the guy steps aside to reveal a dishelved looking version of my father.
“Hey papa. It’s me,” I smile as he pulls away from squishing me in a hug.
“Grant. She can come in. This is my daughter, Miracle.”
Dad says my name and the guy blinks.
“Sorry about that Milday. I did not recognize you. I thought you were a stray who was trying to kill Mister Winters.”
“It’s alright Grant. Please just call me Mia. I prefer it.”
“As you wish Lady Mia.”
I go to correct him when a four year old boy comes running out of what appears to be the family room screaming and crying as an eight year old boy chases him. I catch the little one as the older one looks up at me.
“Hey,” I soothe the little boy as he cries against my shoulder and I use my calming magics as I rub my pinkie finger over his nose. He slowly calms down until he falls asleep and Dad stares at me amused. “There we are little guy.”
I look up to a bemused Dad, a bunch of little boys staring at me in awe and a blonde who looks grateful and worn out.
“I see your mother taught you her ways Mia. That is very good. We could use some help with the kids if you don’t mind,” he says hopefully and happily.
“Of course,” I smile as I look over the pack of little wolf boys. “I love kids anyway. It would give me an excuse to teach them my evil little tricks that you love so much Dad.”
He looks at me in mock horror as the boys smile evilly.
“You’re so beautiful Mia. I’m Erica. Your father has told me a lot about you. I hope you don’t find this situation...” the blonde, Erica,starts as she sits at the table and the boys run outside to play in the mud.
“Don’t worry,” I smile sweetly at her. “I know my dad has the biggest heart of anyone and he only falls for good women. This isn’t at all awkward for me. How about you two go to your rooms and relax. I’ll get dinner started and bring a tray up. Then I’ll clean the boys and put them to bed after a bed time story. Ten sound right?”
They smile at me with pure bliss on their faces.
“Yes that’s perfect. Thank you love. I appreciate this so much. You are my savior.”
“It’s not problem. I’ll even watch the kids on Saturday and Sunday so that you two can have your weekends freed to go on dates and we can have fun while you’re away. You can even go take a week off and I’ll watch the kids.”
“You’re sure that’s not too much to ask? You’re sure you can handle all eight of them? For a week? Do you need me to write anything down like how they like their food and who has what allergies?”
“No that’s fine thank you.”
“We should pay you.”
“There’s no need. I insist. I can watch them and be the nanny and maid around here as long as you let me live here. I honestly don’t need any money.”
“Are you sure? I would feel guilty to have to leave you alone with these hellions for a whole week while you watch the house and take care of everything.”
“It’s no problem. I like kids and the challenges they bring. My mom had me trained to take care of kids by time I was four. She wasn’t around much as I assume you know and she left me to take care of everyone. I honestly don’t mind. I like taking care of kids.”
They smile and she hugs me, which I return one armed, then Dad kisses my forehead and I smile as I watch them leave to go pack a bag for a week away. I start cooking some spaghetti as I hold the little one and set the table. They say their last goodbyes before leaving and I smile. I was telling them the truth. I liked working with kids. All kids. They were amusing and fun to be around. Even when they were messy and said that made absolutely no sense to anyone but them. I had thought of becoming a teacher once but soon realized that was not going to work. Not with my low patience. A very low sense of patience. Many would say no patience when it came to being locked in a room full of kids. I set the table for the amount of eight boys and myself at the island. I wake up the little one and sit in a booster seat to sit in the chair and eat as I head to the sliding glass door and call for the boys.
“Who are you?” The boy who looked about thirteen years old says as he sits at the table.
“I am your stepsister,” I answer smiling as I take down in memory what each boy drinks and what cups to grab.
“What’s that? Why isn’t Maria cooking and serving? She always makes dinner and serves us? Where’s mom and Aaron?”
“They went to take care of business for a week. I am going to be staying here taking care of you as they are away. I could use your help the first day which is today to learn the ropes.”
“Okay. What do you need to know?”
“Who has what allergies to what? Who’s picky about what?”
“Is this canned sauce?” A boy who looks similar to Erica whines.
“No. I made everything from scratch.”
“This is good!” A chorus of voices sings as they eat.
“I am Caleb,” the thirteen year old says after I clean up the dishes and join them in watching Lady and the Tramp in the movie room.
I pass them their drinks and their popcorn and sit back to watch.
“Mia,” I say and we shake hands.
“I’m thirteen in three weeks. Then that’s Jacob,” he says pointing out the one who looked exactly like Erica. “He’s ten. Benjamin is nine. Carlos is eight. Noah is six. Monroe is five. Thomas and Lucas are three, and the little one is Henry. He’s two years old.”
“Nice to meet everyone.”
They all nod but seemed engrossed in the movie. Caleb looks over at me and smiles.
“We have an older brother. He’s nineteen. He comes in around nine.”
“Boys?! Where are you?!” A deep voice booms from the door and I tell the boys to watch the movie as I go greet the male that Caleb had said was his older brother. I step out the room with little Henry in tow and smile as I pick him up and he falls asleep in my arms. I walk into the kitchen to see a god of a man standing there pacing. I gulp as he turns and stares at me with his beautiful green eyes, the color of a beautiful meadow. His dark black hair is dishelved and shoved up as if he had ran his hands through it numerous times.
“Who are you?” He says shocked but going void just as quick. I ignore the smell of earthy musk and rain water filling my nose and hold Henry close. “Why are you here? When did you get here? Where’s Maria? Where is Aaron and my mother?”
“Erica and Aaron left to take a week trip off. I am Mia. I am living here with you and the rest of the family as I go through the process of finding a job and making more money than what I regularly do.”
“Mia? As in Miracle? Aaron’s daughter?”
“So he left you here to take care of us as you search for a second job?”
“How old are you?”
“Huh. How do you feel about applying for the secretary position at my office. You’d have to bring the boys but they pay well.”
“Thanks for the tip. There’s some spaghetti on the stove, and I already bathed the boys after dinner. Once the boys are done with the movie, then I’ll send them to bed. I am going to need to ask you to show me to a room for my duration here though. If that’s not too much trouble of course”
“No it’s not too much trouble. I’ll eat and help you with the boys. Then I can show you to your room.”
“Thank you so much.”
“Don’t mention it.”
“Would you join us in the movie room? If you don’t mind. The boys missed you a lot from what I gather.”
He smiles and nods, a stressed and tired smile, as he rubs the good bit of unshaven five o’clock shadow on his muscles jaw. I grin, unable to help the sympathy I feel as his stress floods my empathetic powers.
“I haven’t been here in a few weeks. I travel a lot. With the military. A security opt. You know how that is don’t you?”
“Yes. I went into ROTC when I was thirteen. Graduated top in my class. They were improved by my performance and loyalty. Sent me out on the field early.”
“Yes. I did the past four years.”
“They sent you home?”
“Yeah. My CO put out a mandatory withdrawal. I had some...issues to handle and am still handling.”
“That and a few other things.”
“That how you got the scar?”
He motions to the claw mark scars going over my right eye and down my throat to the bottom of my stomach. He couldn’t see that far of course but I knew exactly where it was and the exact curve of the marks. I had been tested on along with my supernatural friends in the Army and turned into monsters. We were all forced to wear collars that prevented our shifts for months and then they would turn us loose from our dog cages and force us to shift. Luckily for me, they had found me right after one of the others on my team had gutted me from my eye to my stomach. They’d healed me since my body had given out and I was too weak to remeber my own name let alone my abilities to heal myself. I had been in enough pain that I couldn’t have seen straight let alone tell my doctor my name.
“Touchy subject or memeory that bad?”
“It’s that bad. I haven’t told anyone but my CO what happened. Even he went rogue hearing it. Anger was too much.”
I shrug at his shocked face and we head toward the movie room together.