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Badlands: The Lion’s Den

By:Georgette St. Clair

o skinny that it hurt Flora’s heart to feel his bones pressing against her. “Finn said we could live next door to you guys, if it’s all right with you.”

“Of course it’s all right,” Flora said, hugging him back. “I’m going to be baking you guys lots and lots of Danishes. And I’ll make burgers and steaks. And salads. No more rats, ever.”

“I did a grocery run,” Krystle said to Madison, Sarah and Sam. “There’s a picnic table and a grill out back. Let’s go start frying up some burgers and give these guys a few minutes to tour their new home.”

They headed outside, leaving a misty-eyed Flora struggling not to cry with happiness.

Finn led her into the living room, which had a wood-burning fireplace with a mantel, and was furnished with a leather sofa and loveseat.

This room felt different from his apartment. Warmer. He’d hung up landscape pictures, and the bookcase had some old high school football trophies that he must have unpacked from somewhere. He’d put fresh flowers in several coffee cans throughout the room – on the coffee table, on an end table, on the mantel.

“Look,” he said. “I put the flowers in Maxwell House cans. Fancy, huh?”

He’d remembered her favorite brand of coffee.

“Better than fancy,” she said, blinking back a sudden rush of tears. “Homey.”

On the mantelpiece, next to the picture of his squadron, was a framed picture of him standing next to Liam, and, to her surprise, she saw a picture of her.

“I took that when you weren’t looking,” Finn said. “We need a picture of the two of us, of course. And there’s plenty of room on there for more pictures. You know, for our cubs,” he said.

She looked up at him. “Cubs?” she echoed.

“Yeah, those little furry things that nip at your ankles and turn from human to animal when you least expect it.”

“We’re going to have cubs.” She nodded hard, and sniffled just a little. She had been claimed by the best man in the Badlands, and they were going to live in this beautiful little house, and she would be the mother of his cubs.

“Well, not if we just stand around here and talk about it. I believe a tour of the bedroom is in order,” Finn said, and grabbed her by the hand.

“But…our guests…” Our guests, she thought in amazement, as he pulled her towards the staircase. She and her mate had guests. In their own home.

“Our guests can wait,” Finn growled, hurrying her along now. “It’s a Darwin tradition that a couple has to break in their new bed within the first fifteen minutes of entering their house.”

“That’s really a tradition?” Flora said skeptically.

“It is now,” Finn said, sweeping her into his arms and carrying her over to their bed.