Smoothing down rebellious curls, Rima sang softly the chorus of the lullaby she had sung to all of her children. “May there always be angels to watch over you… To guide you each step of the way…” She adjusted the near-baby in her arms. Avani’s head was heavy against her shoulder. Finally, her very (very) stubborn youngest daughter was slipping off to sleep. Terrible twos indeed. ”To guard you, and keep you, safe from all harm… Loo-li, loo-li, lai-lay…”
“That’s my song!”
Avani whimpered against her shoulder. Rima rolled her eyes upward, prayed for patience, and looked back down at her seven-year-old son who was not adjusting well, either to their new home or to the fact he was no longer the baby. Poor boy was also the only son, which meant he was besieged by his sisters near-constantly. She couldn’t blame him for being perturbed that the baby was getting the same lullaby she had sung for him for so long.
He was missing a puzzle piece though. She raised both of her brows at him, reminding him without words to watch his tone when speaking to her, and watch his volume while in the youngest two sisters’ room. He had the good grace to look sheepish at least.
Avani had settled at last into real sleep. Enough that Rima felt safe putting her down in the crib, murmuring soothingly the whole way. She hovered for just a moment, making sure the baby was actually going to stay asleep this time before she rounded on Cy.
He hovered in the doorway. She crooked her finger and beckoned for him to follow her. Just in case he had any ideas, she rested one hand on his shoulder—her little boy had gotten so tall on her, even at seven. She steered him up the stairs, into the proper nursery. It was meant for guests, but Rima had long since monopolized it to keep her children entertained. Angel had finally entered its autumn years, which meant thunderstorms and lots of them. They’d had to adjust to the change in their lives that would last until her children were starting families of their own, including keeping children inside more often than once very couple of months.
All three of the girls were thankfully out riding, most likely together. Rima wasn’t surprised. At fourteen, twelve, and nine (respectively), all three girls were coming into their femininity far better than Rima ever had. Estelle was even debuting later this year, and Roxy was in practice for hers.
It just left poor Cyrus out on his own more than he probably liked. Caught between two extremes, and just when he thought he had something of his own… Rima sighed, half-throwing herself into the rocking chair kept there for when Rima or Nate would read to the children before bed. “Alright, little man,” she beckoned, holding out both her hands. “Looks like we’re overdue for a talk.”
He was pouting, but he came forward easily enough. Rima held his hands in hers, winding their fingers together. “Now, yah know quite well I‘ve sung that lullaby to all of yah,” she scolded, gently as possible. “What’s the fuss really about?”
Cyrus fidgeted, not looking at her. “I dunno.”
Unlike her father, who never accepted that answer from any of his children, Rima listened. She squeezed his hands gently. “Well, try and talk to me ‘bout it.”
That was the keys to the flood gate. “Everything’s weird here!” he finally spat out. “Stell’s always talkin’ about dresses and dancin’ and all that girly stuff, and so’s Roxy, even though she hates wearin’ skirts. And Tu isn’ spendin’ as much time with me anymore, and stupid Avi keeps takin’ yer attention, and Father is busy with getting his carpentry goin’ again, and it just ain’t fair! I wanna go home!”
Oh, her poor little man. Sighing, Rima pulled Cyrus into a hug, not letting him stay stiff on her. Soon, he had his arms around her neck, sniffling in her shoulder. “Oh hun… Yer sisters are just growin’ up right now. They’ll settle down after Estelle’s big party. And Avani is almost big enough that I won’ be so busy with her.” He nodded against her shoulder, and she felt some of the tension ease out of him. “And if you know if yah ever need me or your father that we’re right here.”
“I know… I just forget sometimes…” And there was her Cy, the only one besides Estelle who had picked up Nate’s Core way of talking—though Tu was quickly picking it up too.
“It has been pretty frantic around here,” Rima agreed with a sigh. They hadn’t moved until she was well into her second trimester and almost too far along to move at all. The house had barely been settled by the time Avani came along—early, early enough that they had worried about her for quite a while. She’d also scared the dickens out of them since her hair hadn’t grown in black, like all the other children, but instead a blondish brown. Probably the closet they would ever get to Rima’s hair color in their offspring, but it had made Rima worry for quite some time.
Only now when she was a healthy, energetic little bundle of terror did Rima feel that strain easing, making it possible to see past her own nose. Thank God the Darksider practically ran itself under Seb, with just expense reports for her to sort through, and Olivia could handle Darius like a pro.
But it seemed Cyrus had gotten overlooked in the jumble a little too much. Cursing herself, she gave him another hug before pulling back. “What’s say you and I take over the kitchen for a little while?” she asked him with a grin. “We can surprise everyone else with special Mama-and-Cyrus cookies.”
His eyes lit up, and he half-dragged her out of the playroom. Laughing, she rushed him, bringing up into her arms despite him almost being too big for it. They snuck past Avani and Tu’s room, and the housekeeper was more than happy to let them make a mess of the kitchen for an hour.