The Forgotten Claim - The Claim: Book 1

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Chapter 25 - Cameron (Part 2)

When Olivia and Chloe arrived, he saw Chloe’s face in the car as they passed by—her big green eyes were open wide and her mouth in the shape of a little “o.”

Cameron’s heart pounded in his chest.

It was finally happening. His family was coming together. It took five years, but he’d take that over never finding them at all.

He got down on one knee so he could meet her at her level, but she hid behind Olivia’s legs.

She was wearing a Disney princess dress, he wasn’t sure which one but it had a fluffy tulle skirt. She had her dark brown hair pulled up in a ponytail with little silver star barrettes.

Olivia laughed. “Since when are you shy?”

“Uh oh, is my tail poking out?” He looked over his shoulder. “Nope. Maybe I have big pointy ears?” Olivia snorted as he cupped his ears. “Nope. Must be my teeth. They’re too big and scary, right?” He exposed his teeth and ran his tongue over the edge of them. Chloe giggled as he closed his lips and gave her a warm smile. “Nope. Must just be me in person and not on the phone, huh? I’m too big and scary for my little princess to give me a hug.”

Chloe slipped out slowly behind her mother and shyly walked into his waiting arms.

He held her close, his eyes prickling. He was finally holding his pup. After all these years, she was finally here in his arms.

“I missed you so much,” he whispered, kissing her hair. Blinking back his tears of happiness, he picked her up and held her against his hip. “Shall we go inside, Princess Chloe?”

Still shy, she nodded her head before he looked to Olivia expectantly. She was smiling back at him and the sunlight caught the shine in her eyes that she blinked away.

Olivia stepped forward and held the door to the cafe open for him to walk in with Chloe still in his arms. He wasn’t ready to set her down any time soon, and maybe she picked up on that. It wasn’t until they reached their table that he set her down on her chair.

Olivia sat across from him with Chloe between them and ordered the tea and some specialty cookies made with tea. When it came, Chloe pointed to the ball in the middle of the glass pot as the bound tea leaves unfurled into a flower.

“See! See! So pretty!”

Joy gathered in the back of his throat as her smile lit up her face. It took all his strength not to stare at her and make her uncomfortable. Goddess, she was so beautiful and precious.

Olivia poured out the tea into little glass teacups once the flower was done blooming and reminded Chloe to be careful and blow on it to cool it.

Chloe was beaming with happiness the entire time as she told them about her weekend with Grandma and playing with the neighbor’s new puppy while Olivia was trying to avoid the gazes he cast toward her. He knew what she was thinking about.

“I have a big dog at my house. Maybe you and Mommy can come visit me next weekend and meet him?” He looked at Olivia hopefully.

She needed to accept that part of him that he and Chloe shared and Chloe was past the age when pups were introduced to their wolf-sides.

“I’ll see what my schedule is like next weekend,” she said in a soft voice as Chloe bounced in her seat and pleaded.

He dropped it for now and crammed one of the light green shortbread cookies in his mouth. Even though the cookies were made with tea, they were pretty good. All the while, he couldn’t wipe the shit-eating grin from his face as he watched his mate and pup chat and smile over tea.

Yes, the Goddess is surely smiling down on me now.

“Can Daddy come over for bedtime stories?” Chloe asked, turning to Olivia and extending her bottom lip.

Cameron could feel himself giving in already to her puppy-dog face and it wasn’t even targeted at him. Oh boy, he was a goner with her already.

Olivia pressed her lips together in a firm line before those beautiful emeralds looked his way. He could smell her hesitation and also a little hint of arousal.

He grinned at her. Was she thinking about this morning? Because he’d gladly give her another bed-thrashing after Chloe fell asleep. He was already pitching a tent thinking about it.

“I guess that depends on Cameron.”

Chloe’s eyes darted to him as he bit his tongue to hold back a four-letter word. “I would love to come over for bedtime stories.”

Squealing, Chloe jumped from her seat and hopped on his lap, wrapping her little arms around his neck and just missing his hard-on. “Thank you, Daddy!”

He nuzzled her hair, holding her tiny body close to his heart and wishing he never had to let her go. He could feel Olivia’s eyes on him, but he couldn’t bring himself to lift them. They would only give away the weakness of his heart. How he ached to be with them always.

They left; this time, Olivia let him pay the bill at his insistence. With Chloe still in his arms, he carried her to their car and agreed to follow them back home.

Twenty minutes later, he was in their apartment and waiting for them in the living room while Olivia gave Chloe a bath. He walked around the small space, examining all the framed pictures on the walls of Olivia and Chloe. He stopped and stared for an indescribable amount of time at Chloe’s baby picture taken shortly after birth. How small she was with her chubby cheeks and little button nose.

His biggest regret…

“Daddy! Daddy!”

Her sweet angelic voice tore him away from his melancholy as she skipped across the room and latched onto his leg. She looked up at him with her big green eyes that no longer matched the pale blue in her newborn picture.

“Look! Look! I lost my first tooth!” She opened her hand to reveal a little white tooth while baring her teeth at him, displaying the gap proudly.

He picked her up and set her on his hip. “What? When did that happen?”

“Just now when I was brushing my teeth with Mommy. I was going like this,” she made a brushing motion over her teeth, “and it just popped out!”

“Wow! Did it hurt?”

She shook her head. “And Mommy said that the tooth fairy will come tonight and give me a dollar if I put my tooth under my pillow while I sleep. Isn’t that cool? I hope I see her.”

He looked across the room to see Olivia leaning against the wall, waiting. “Very cool.”

Refusing to put her down, he carried her toward Olivia and she led the way to Chloe’s room. As he set her down on her bed, Olivia went to her three-foot-tall bookshelf to pluck a few books out.

“See, Daddy. I put the tooth under here and then the tooth fairy will come and take it,” she said as she put her tooth under her pillow.

“Oh okay. Hey, where can I sit, Chloe-bear?” he asked.

She looked around and hummed before patting the space on her right. “And Mommy sits here.” She patted the space on her left.

He crawled to the spot she indicated for him and squealed when he wrapped her back up in his arms. “I like this spot right here.”

“It’s a bit tight here,” Olivia said as she attempted to squeeze onto the small bed. “Maybe we should move over to Mommy’s bed, hm?”

“Okay!” Chloe wiggled out from his arms and scampered out of the room.

“You okay?” Olivia asked as he pulled himself up from the bed.

“Of course. Why?”

She shrugged and looked away. “I saw you staring at her baby picture.”

He hung his head. “I hate myself for what happened,” he confessed, swallowing back a lump of regret.

“We can’t live in the past, Cam,” she whispered, “so stop dwelling on it.”

He peered up at her. “That goes for you too.”

She nodded. “I know.”

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