Chapter 28

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As the minutes ticked past midnight, Jenna sat reflecting back on the past year of her life. Her new love lay sleeping in her grandfather's arms not far from her mother as the family quietly welcomed the new year, so as not to disturb the newest member.

The last year had been one of the most amazing, and most difficult of her life so far, but she wouldn't trade it. She had thought time would help ease the ache of losing Daniel, but her feelings for him had never receded. He was often in her thoughts and dreams, more than she ever cared to admit, even to herself. She could see bits of him every time she looked into her sweet Noelle's face. How she longed to tell him, to share her beautiful little girl with him.

Her pup. She smiled, remembering her shock when Talia had first told her that werewolves referred to their children as pups. She had thought at first that maybe they were born that way, as wolf pups, and Talia had found that hilarious. She'd laughed until her sides hurt and tears rolled down her cheeks. Jenna hadn't found it funny, though now she could see the humor in it.

She had made herself a resolution that this year, she would find a way to reconnect with Talia. She needed her friend badly. She'd been so worried and scared about the birth of her daughter. She had no idea what to expect, and as she could feel her labor progressing, she'd become more and more worried about what would happen. Werewolf births were not something Talia had ever mentioned, but then, why would she?

In her agitation, Jenna had kept the fact that she was in labor from her family as long as she could. But putting off the inevitable for as long as possible had resulted in her giving birth at home, which had scared her even more. What if her baby did come out as a wolf pup? She knew she was being ridiculous, but all the worst possible scenarios had ran rampant through her mind that day.

But the moment Jenna had held Noelle in her arms, the world had righted again, and suddenly, everything was okay.

She smiled as she looked around at her family. They all had Noelle spoiled already. Only one piece of her heart was still missing, and Jenna was afraid it always would be.

***

Over the next few weeks, Caroline seemed to do okay. She spent time with her children, her new grand baby and her husband, enjoying each and every day with them, but then, things started to go down hill.

The aggressive cancer was spreading throughout her body and Jenna watched her mother grow sicker and sicker by the day. The doctor was almost a daily visitor to their home. He asked Caroline if she wanted to go to the hospital, but she refused, telling him she would rather die at home.

Jenna's father spent almost all of his waking moments with her. He'd do most of the talking, reminding her of important moments in their lives. Their wedding, the birth of each of their children, his return from each deployment, and the recent birth of their new grandbaby. She'd smile and listen, reminiscing with him over those precious memories. She wouldn't trade any of them for anything .

One evening in early February, Caroline decided she wanted to go down to the lake and sit on the bench Mitch had built for her on the dock the previous summer.

"Mamma, it's too cold," Jenna protested. She'd just put Noelle down for a nap.

Her mother gave her THAT look. Jenna glanced up at her father and he nodded. "Alright. Let me at least get you bundled up."

Ten minutes later, Caroline was ready to brave the cold February evening. Mitch walked her over to the back door, where she stopped and turned back to Jenna. "Jenna, come here."

Jenna stood up from her seat on the couch and approached her mother. Caroline placed a hand on her cheek. "Jenna, you're a wonderful mother. I love you very much," she whispered softly.

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