"No." I crossed my arms and legs, leaned back against the couch and strengthened my resolve. I would not surrender.
Four small faces turned up, eyes shiny with unshed tears, lower lips quivering.
Well, okay. Three sets of eyes produced something that looked a lot like tears, and there was some suspicious sniffling. Ivy did none of that. She just looked at me. And thought reproachful thoughts. Have you ever been stared down by someone who could kill you with a harsh thought but had to use a booster seat in restaurants? It's freaky.
"Harry. You swore to Kincaid that you would keep me safe and happy. I saw you sign the contract." My finger throbbed where Kincaid had actually made me sign it in my own blood. Freaky bastard. "I wish to play house. Little Harry has informed me that we need a mommy. Therefore, my happiness requires that you do this."
"Ivy, I am not playing mom. I'm here to supervise. Not participate." One pale blond eyebrow quirked up.
"If you do not cooperate, I will tell Kincaid that you made me cry."
I was bent over in the play room, putting the kids to 'bed' when I heard heavy foot steps coming up behind me. None of the wards had gone off, so I knew it was someone who belonged in the house. I took my time straightening up. The puffy pillow strapped under my shirt with a bathrobe belt was big enough it made moving in any direction fast an interesting enterprise. I'd been running into things all day until Ivy had made me sit down and delivered a lecture on how dangerous it was for 'the baby' for me to be bumping into things. There'd been graphs and pie charts done with glitter pens.
When I turned, Michael was standing in the door, a huge grin plastered on his face, clearly trying not to laugh. I started to make a very rude gesture, purely out of reflex, and then the man in the hall behind him moved into sight.
Donar Vadderung unfolded to his full height as he came out of the hall and the smirk on his face was so sharp it could have cut glass. I aborted my hand gesture. As bad an idea as it was to flip off the retired 'Fist of God', it was an even worse idea to look like you were flipping off a living (semi-retired) god. Vadderung liked me, but I assumed there were limits to what he'd take.
"Harry." He managed to get my name out through muffled laughter. The kids all jumped up at the sound of their fathers voice and ran to him, jumping up and down and trying to tell him about everything we'd done all at the same time. He smiled, eyes still laughing at me and settled in to listen.
Ivy sat up from her place on the floor and watched them, like it was some strange tribal custom she was studying.
I jumped when a pair of very large, strong arms came around me from behind, hugging me tightly to the broad chest at my back.
"Hi honey." Donar's beard brushed against my jaw as he leaned down and planted a quick kiss on my cheek. One huge hand patted the pillow-baby gently, and I could feel his laughter rumbling through my back.
I turned my head to say something. Something both diplomatic and face saving, and maybe a tad sarcastic, but there was a tugging at the hem of my shirt. When I looked down, Ivy was standing there looking up at us with far too serious eyes.
"I am going to tell you about my day now."