28 Every right to be here

After looking at the pictures for a while more, Nate and Lara decided she would keep the album with her.

He said he preferred to know the children for how they were at that moment. And Lara agreed that pictures weren't all that useful, after all. She hid the disappointment of not being able to help him.

«You can sleep in my bed,» Nate said. It was getting late, and they both were supposed to get up early.

Lara to go to work, and Nate to give her a ride. With the pups following, probably.

«I'll sleep on the couch,» he said. «You can use my room as if it was yours.»

«Oh, please,» Lara chuckled. «There's no need. I'll sleep with the kids.»

«Wouldn't you feel more comfortable alone?»

«No, I'm used to them.»

«Still...» he murmured, looking for any kind of argument. «You need to rest, right? It's a comfortable bed; I can vouch for it.»

«What if the kids wake up and think I'm gone?» Lara replied. «I don't want to pacify them again in the middle of the night.»

«Indeed.» To that statement, he had no reply.

She was right. The pups would wreak havoc if they couldn't feel their mother close enough. Moreover, if they were to notice she was in his room...

«The bed is big enough for all three of us,» she added. «It's huge! Our bed isn't that large.»

He had chosen a big one for both the pups to sleep on it. He couldn't have imagined his idea would have backfired since there was still space for Lara.

He couldn't believe how lucky the pups could be!

Not that her, sleeping in his bed, would have meant anything. Yet, it was a little thing. He would have felt her scent the day after, and she would have had his scent on her.

«You can take a shower here, so you don't need to go back home tomorrow,» he continued. «I'm sure you have some clothes in that bag...»

«I don't,» she murmured. «Only the kids'.»

«Next time, bring yours as well. It's better if you have some things here. Situations like this one can happen again in the future. If you leave your things here, it will be more comfortable for everyone. Am I wrong?»

«Oh, no,» she sighed. «But I don't want to disturb you, Nate. You have your own life and privacy, and I don't want to ruin something by leaving my traces...»

«What are you talking about?» he murmured, confused. «What could you ruin?»

«You're young and handsome. I don't want to ruin your future relationships by forgetting my stuff in the bathroom or something like that!»

He smirked, even though his heart ached.

«A woman hurt by your things in the bathroom is not the right woman for me,» he said.

Then, he realised that was the wrong path.

«I mean, I don't do relationships.»

Somehow, that statement didn't improve the situation. It still sounded wrong.

After all, when he met Lara, it all ended in a one-night stand. Those words could do more damage than expected, so he frantically looked for another reply.

«I don't bring women here,» he said. «And I have no intention to date anyone.» He wanted to say he wouldn't date anyone else, but he wasn't dating Lara either… yet.

In his mind, they were already close. But the woman didn't know about his intentions. And he didn't know what to do other than ask her to marry him.

He had tried the day before, and it all ended with her sobbing desperately.

«You're the mother of my children,» he said, then. «Your things have every right to be here. And it's better. I feel more at ease if you sleep with the kids. At least for the first few times they stay the night.»

After all, the pups were the easiest path to her heart. She would have lowered her defences with time. And he would have earned his chance to conquer her heart.

«All right, then. I will bring some stuff the next time we come.»

«Wonderful!»

He beamed, happy like a pup himself.

Lara blushed all of a sudden and without apparent motive. His handsome face, lightened by the grin, was so irresistible. And they've been alone for a while, sitting on the same sofa.

Her body was starting to lose rationality and shift from her normal state back to how she had been six years ago. However, she hadn't drunk any alcohol! Why was she feeling warm and unresting?

«I'm happy you want to take care of them,» she said. «For real.»

«What else could I do?»

«Oh, you could claim you had nothing to do with us. I wouldn't have blamed you, really! After all, it's not easy to accept a family after finding out about it all of a sudden.»

«What kind of man can abandon his children?» he murmured.

He felt a little guilty for his words. All his attention was on Lara. The pups were only collateral. They were there, so he had to take care of them too.

Not that he would have fled responsibilities. But he wouldn't have gone farther than paying for their needs and making sure they had access to everything he could offer.

His cold emotions were balanced by Lara's unconditional and unbounded love. That fact made it easier to accept.

He was a bad father: he knew it. But he would have tried to improve. At least at the beginning.

«In any case, I'm happy the kids can have a father,» Lara said. «It's easier when we're two, right? Soon, they will need a paternal figure. I was worried I wouldn't be able to help them when they grew up. Now, I'm glad I won't have to do everything alone.»

He smiled. He was tricking her to such a degree that his own soul was suffering already.

«I will be there for them,» he said. And he wasn't lying. Because being there for them meant being next to Lara.

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