She seems to feel it too because she stops crying and looks up at me in wonder, clutching her chest with her small hands. We stay still, just staring at each other for a moment.
Then she lifts her arms, beseeching. Without thinking, I take that final step forward, stooped over slightly, and lift Kails under the arms.
I’ve never held a small child before, but Kails knows what to do. She reaches with her arms and I bring her to my side. Her legs come around my waist and I put one arm under her rear to keep her seated.
Weight settles and she seems to fit perfectly. I have the most curious feeling thrumming through my chest. It’s glorious. Joy intermixed with absolute pleasure. It’s magical.
Kails sighs and puts her head down on my shoulder. All at once I’m overwhelmed by a fierce need to protect the small, delicate being resting in my arms. Her arms tighten around my neck and I know.
This child is mine. It doesn’t matter that she’s not born of my flesh and blood. My entire readily accepts its new role. I am this child’s mother. And I know, without a doubt, that I would give my life to protect this child.
Hours later I’m lying in my blankets, Kails curled up against me, her small head pillowed on my arm. Her and I had gone to a stream a few hundred yards away and cleaned ourselves up. Then, I’d insisted we go to bed for what little time we had left before morning arrived.
That doesn’t mean that we all slept, however. As soon as Kails and I were settled, she had promptly fallen into an exhausted sleep. I never managed to find that same peace.
I stayed awake the entire night. Solees did too. I know because every few minutes he’d get up and check on Caden.
Caden never was awake so Solees would settle back into his blankets only to get back up a few minutes later.
The walls of the tent are lightening and it doesn’t seem as if I’ll be getting any sleep. I carefully lift Kails’ head and put it down on my pillow before making my way outside to get breakfast made.