Luc gets his first taste of fatherhood #Excerpt A Stolen Heart by Kayelle Allen #SciFi #MFRWhooks

Luc finds out what fatherhood is like first-hand.

Fatherhood - a lot of work

After rescuing a toddler, Luc must now oversee his care. He managed dinner with the help of his house-droids and the five young thieves who are part of his Thieves' Guild "family."

Luc has managed to give Senthys a bath. Next up, tucking the three-year-old into bed.

And this is where Luc gets his first taste of fatherhood.

With his hair flat against his head, Senthys resembled a wet cat and looked half his usual size. Shivering, the boy stood quietly while Luc dried him. Unlike Kin, the toddler had human feet without claws. After dressing him in a clean t-shirt and underpants, Luc wrapped Senthys in one of Nikko's old button-down sweaters as a robe and rolled up the sleeves. The garment swallowed the tousle-haired moppet.

Luc had hair like the boy's. A comb would never go through such tangles. "I don't want to pull your hair, so we'll leave it alone."

Senthys took Luc's face in his hands and looked into his eyes. "Thank you."

"Welcome. Let's get you into bed." When he re-entered the bedroom with the boy, Nikko was waiting.

"Hey, Luc. I got the bed ready for you, Senth." His Deshai pulled down the covers.

Senthys hopped in excitement. "A real bed!"

Nikko helped him climb onto it. "It's comfortable too."

"I get to sleep up here?"

"You sure do." Nikko fluffed the pillow. "I'll be right over there on the couch if you need me."

"Okay. Hug, Nikko?"

Nikko bent over and hugged him. After turning around, he mouthed, "So cute!"

"Hug?" Senthys held out his arms.

Luc gestured to himself.

"Uh huh." Senthys waited.

How was it Luc was back to feeling like he was the student trying to please the teacher? "All right." He bent closer.

The boy threw his arms around Luc and kissed him on the cheek. "Night night, Sen'dai."

Touching his cheek, Luc stepped back. He'd supervised bedtimes for his older Deshai. What did one do with a toddler?

The paper gift bag on the floor caught his attention, and he picked it up.

"The house-droids sent up something for you." He sat on the edge of the bed. "Shall we see what it is?" Luc cracked open the top, peeked inside, and snapped it shut.

Senthys sat up and grabbed the blanket with both hands, looking like a cat spying a toy. "What's in there?"

"Maybe you should find out." Luc passed him the bag.

After opening it, Senthys peeked in and then squealed. "Pocket!" He pulled out the bear. "You fixed him!" He clasped the mended bear to his chest and rocked back and forth. "Thank you!" The boy clambered out from under the covers and threw his arms around Luc's neck.

"You're welcome." He hugged back.

"You have the best house-droids ever!" Senthys stood on the bed, holding the bear's arms and dancing around with him.

"Careful!" Luc guided him to a seated position. "I'll make sure to thank them for you."

"Look, Nikko!" Senthys held out Pocket. "They fixed my bear!"

"Cool!" After getting a closer look at the scraggly toy, Nikko's eyebrows shot up. "This is fixed?"

Luc nudged him. "Trust me."


Hugging Pocket, Senthys climbed under the covers. He nestled his head against the pillows. "Pocket is sleepy now."

Luc smoothed covers over him and on impulse, over the bear.

"Hey, Senth," Nikko asked, "should I leave the light on in the bathroom?"

"Are--" He swallowed. "Are you scareded of the dark?"

"I used to be. But what if Pocket needs the light on 'cause he's in a new house? What do you think?"

Senthys held out the bear at arm's length, looked him over, and then tucked him back under the covers. "He says you're right."

"Good deal."

"Nikko?" Senthys yawned. "Pocket says thank you."

The young Deshai grinned. "Glad to help him out."

"Me too," the boy murmured, eyes drifting shut.

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