“Yes.” Anita didn’t hesitate.
“Ah, there’s one more thing. I hope you don’t mind. Toby?”
A young boy burst out of the Town Hall and ran to Rory. One of his shirt sleeves flapped, and she realized the boy was missing part of an arm.
“My grandmother.” Rory’s voice held disgust and threaded with pain. “Toby has no close family left, and since my grandmother caused this, I have taken responsibility for him. He’s a great kid and adjusting well.”
“Hello, Toby. My name is Anita.”
“Rory and I is gonna live with you,” Toby said, cocking his head and sniffing loudly to gain her scent.
Anita smothered her grin. “Mr. Henderson, rather sure of yourself, aren’t you?”
Rory slipped his arm around her waist. “More hopeful but determined to woo you until you accept our way of thinking. I understand the idea of another stepchild mightn’t thrill you, but I can’t abandon him. I can’t.”
“My house is big enough for Toby and a few more children.”
Rory’s features relaxed. “This is way more than I deserve. I still remember little of what happened when you first claimed me.”
“It doesn’t matter. We’ll count the gathering as the place we met and fell in love.”
Rory hugged her to his side. “I like the way you think.”
“Anita,” Saber called.
London stood at Saber’s side and bore a smug grin.
“You can go home. London and I can take care of Rory’s people. Will that be okay, Rory?”
“Aye,” he said.
“We’ll do a quick tour of Middlemarch before I take you to my place. Do you have suitcases?” she asked.
“Henry and Gerard are delivering the luggage. Henry told me he’d leave yours at the door,” Saber said.
“Coming, Toby?” Anita asked, holding out her hand.
The small boy didn’t hesitate to take her hand. Rory took her other, and she led the pair to her vehicle. She smiled wide, almost breathless with positivity and joy. “Let’s go home.”
“YoutoldmeMiddlemarch was beautiful,” Rory murmured as they sat in front of the fire.
Toby was safely in bed and seemed settled. He didn’t let his lack of an arm stop him, but Rory had told her it had been difficult at first, and Toby missed his parents. Sometimes, he woke with nightmares.
Anita wished she could kill Elizabeth Henderson herself. Even though she understood Rory would blame himself, he must appreciate, at some level, that he’d needed to act for himself and the pack.
“Thank you for giving me a second chance and for welcoming Toby into your life,” Rory said. “I know the second part is a lot to ask, but I feel responsible. My grandmother—”
“You don’t have to explain. Toby’s presence makes me love you more. It proves you have an enormous heart and care for the people under your protection. It gives me confidence you’ll fit in here in Middlemarch, and even better, you’ll make me the best of mates.”
Rory’s expression softened. “I love you, Anita, and I apologize for the suffering inflicted on you because of my grandmother. It’s clear now the felines broke something inside her when they massacred her family. It’s not an excuse, but it explains her abominable behavior.”
“You feel guilty.”
“I should’ve noticed the rot in my pack.”
“Didn’t your people have complaints?”
“Nay, but they should’ve felt they could talk to me. My grandmother was careful. My best friend, Marcus, was unaware of the problems because he would’ve told me the truth.”