- Epilogue -

Bella marched down the sidewalk with determination, a quick smile and hello to passersby, but she couldn't stop to chat that day.

The sun was high in the sky even this late in the afternoon, the warm summer breeze blew through her skirt, and tried to tug at her hair but couldn't penetrate the severe bun. Thank goodness it was Friday. It had been a long, long week, packed full of meetings and wolves needing this and wolves complaining about that. She couldn't wait to get home, she could hear a warm bath and her nice cozy bed calling her.

She could also hear something else. She walked up the path to her house, noise and screaming were coming from it. No, not from the house, from the backyard. Instead of going through the house, she walked around it, trying hard not to make a sound.

And there, on the green lawn, covered in grass stains, was her mate. He was rolling on the green grass, laughing loudly as three boys jumped him. It was an unfair wrestling match, and Max was losing, but he didn't seem to mind. There were four of them on the ground. Max with his black hair all over the place, his dark beanie forgotten a few feet away. He hadn't changed at all, his loud laugh filled the house every day, his eyes continued to sparkle with mischief, even if the lines around them had deepened. And there were their three boys, all freckled and redheaded like their mother, but their bright blue eyes and pointy noses were their father's. And she loved them all so much it hurt.

"Surrender!" Cody called out, jumping on Max, pushing him to the ground. At nine he was their oldest, born almost exactly nine months after their adventure on the hood of the car.

"I will never surrender!" Max gasped out when six-year-old Luke accidentally kneed him in the stomach. "I will not surrender to pirates!"

Bella covered her mouth to keep herself from laughing out loud at the sight, and had to also resort to biting her lip. But Max spotted her anyway.

"Oh no, boys. Boys!" he called out, raising an accusing finger at her. "Look!" The boys all stopped what they were doing, all of them dirty, their cheeks red from laughter, and looked where he was pointing.

"Mommy!" Ethan, their youngest, called out and ran to her on his little three-year-old legs, arms reaching for her.

"Hey baby," she called out in a laugh when scooping him up, kissing his cheeks as he threw his little arms around her neck, cuddling into her.

"That's just mommy," Cody said, breathing hard, lifting his eye-patch to see her better. When he grinned at her like that it was like seeing Max, and it always made her chest ache with love. They all had his smile, his wide, overpowering grin that she loved so much.

"No. No, it isn't. It's the Mommy Monster," Max gasped out, rising, making Luke drop to the ground with a laugh, his pirate hat sliding off his head. "She's guarding the pirate treasure." The two oldest boys instantly shifted their attention from Max to Bella, eyes lit up and their mischievous grins growing. Max knew what he was doing, of course, laughing loudly he continued. "She'll say she doesn't have any treasure, but pirates know just how to spot a monster with a booty."

"Oh no, no, you are not getting me involved in this," Bella shrieked, sliding Ethan back on the ground, ready to flee as she saw Max approach. But it was too late. And she knew it was happening, she had already kicked off her shoes.

"Go get her," Max whispered to them. And they were off, Bella ran back into the house, closely followed by cheers and screams, even little Ethan ran after them. She charged through the house, holding up her skirt and laughing as loud and free as she ever had.

"What is all the commotion?" Geraldine demanded from the kitchen where she was sitting, laying down cards in an intricate game of solitaire.

Bella ran behind her, kissed her cheek in passing, and continued before the boys got to her. "Can't talk now, Nana. I'm escaping with pirate treasure," she told her, darting out of the kitchen.

"What?" Nana barked, tapping her hearing aid furiously. "Treasure?"

Bella could only laugh at her confusion as the boys continued to chase her gleefully. She just managed to escape them, jumping into the backyard again through the wide-open garden doors, when she felt an arm reach around her waist and pull her close. She shrieked in surprise as she was spun around, her feet touching grass.

"I've got her," Max announced proudly before all three boys came charging at her. They fell to the ground in a bundle of little arms and legs, all tickling and laughing and shrieking.

"You're all monsters," Bella called out, giggling as she returned their tickles. The battle was over, she had been defeated. And she didn't want it any other way.

Max stood back, laughing at his struggling mate and their kids. Watching as they played and laughed. And he could not believe his luck, he was definitely not supposed to be this lucky. He locked eyes with Bella, her smile so wide, the tears on her red cheeks from laughing so hard. He couldn't handle it any longer. "Alright, boys," he announced, "Daddy's turn."

He picked them off her one by one, with disappointed groans ringing in the air, and Bella sat up, her body still shaking as a few giggles escaped her. She was about to stand when Max pushed her back down, covering her with his body as he also tickled her. "No!" Bella screamed out, punching his back, unable to stop the laughter.

And he did. He chuckled and wiped a few grass strands from her face. Then kissed her. Bella welcomed the kiss, she had been waiting all day for it, waiting to come home to him. It was long and tender and she sighed into him as he took charge.

"Ew," Cody said with a shudder, "They're kissing again."

Luke lifted his eye-patch and watched in horror. "Gross Dad." Little Ethan just giggled.

The sound of a cane knocking against stone was heard, and Geraldine appeared in the doorway. "Alright, you three," she said, pointing to the boys in turn, "Go wash up before dinner." She was met with even more disappointed groans. "I want to see clean faces and hands at that table," she continued regardless. And off they went, one by one, heads hanging low as they waddled inside. Geraldine's attention landed on Max and Bella, and she shook her head at them. "On the ground?" she said, raising an eyebrow. Then shrugged. "You should wash up, as well." And with that she turned, marching away, leaving them.

Bella was about to say something when Max swooped in, kissing her again, having no intention of getting off the ground any time soon. "I missed you," he whispered, "How was your day?"

"Intense," Bella breathed, "I couldn't wait to come home. I missed you, too."

Max groaned as he kissed her again, folding his arms around her as he crushed them together. Bella returned the kiss with a content moan, teasing his tongue into play. The kiss grew in intensity, their hands began roaming, and before they knew it they were gasping for breath.

"Let's get off the ground?" Bella suggested.

Max groaned again. "But I love you beneath me," he said, kissing her jaw, then her throat, his deft fingers opening the top buttons on her cardigan and he kissed along her collarbone.

"I know. We have three boys because of that."

"Are you complaining?" Max laughed, tasting up her throat.

"Never," Bella hissed with a moan, biting her lip. Her body betrayed her, it always did when it came to Max. She wanted him. And by the feel of him poking her thigh, he felt the same. "But we're outside. In the daytime. And they could come out here any second. And Nana, too!" she gasped out with a laugh.

Max grumbled. "Later then," he decided, pushing off the ground, taking her hand, and lifting her with him. "Definitely later. I can wait."

Bella wasn't sure she could. She brushed off the grass on her skirt, but it was in vain. It would need a wash. "Aren't you playing tonight?"

"Yeah, are you going to come watch?" he asked, sneaking his arms around her waist, holding her close as he kissed her forehead, her cheeks, her nose, everywhere he could get to since her glasses had come off in the tumbling. He didn't regret taking over the bar, it was hard work running it, but he could set his own schedule and he had made it his mission to be home to tuck the kids in most days of the week, only working nights when he was playing with the band or there was something else going on.

"Tonight?" Bella asked, "But the kids-"

"Nana said she'd watch them."

Bella raised an eyebrow. "Nana?"

Max shrugged. "And Lukas and Jen are coming over to watch Nana," he clarified. "It'll be good practice for them." Since Lukas had been a doting uncle, playing with and spoiling the boys rotten since they arrived, Bella had no worries about the boys liking that plan.

It had taken a while for Lukas to find someone he loved, Max had been a little worried about him for a while, but then Jen had waltzed into his life from the Riverhead pack and Lukas hadn't been the same since. She was now six months along with their first.

"There's a new song I've been working on I want you to hear," Max said, nuzzling his nose into the hair that had come loose on Bella's head. "It's called Fire, guess who it's about."

Bella laughed as he kissed her neck. "I thought you would never turn into one of those sappy songwriters," she reminded him.

"Fuck it, I'm sappy, I'm in love," he grumbled, biting down on her shoulder before licking it. He still was, he loved her dearly. Every damn day it grew. "Come watch, please," he said, "I want you to." Bella nodded, unable to talk when he kissed up her throat, biting down on her earlobe. "Let's run afterward," Max breathed against her ear. "A moonlight run, you and me, now we have babysitters."

"Yes," Bella breathed against his lips. "Please." It had been a while since they had babysitters for the night. And she wanted him alone tonight, because tonight was special. He just didn't know it yet.

"We could run back to the caves," Max purred in her ear, his hands drawing circles, caressing their way under her cardigan. "We always have fun in the caves." Bella giggled, and closed the gap between their lips, kissing him deeply.

"Yes, let's do that," she agreed. Max gave her a grin and took her hand, leading her to the house where the kids were waiting for their dinner. Bella smiled widely and sighed contently, cradling her stomach behind Max's back. She would tell him tonight.

She was hoping for a girl this time.

If you've made it this far in the story, cheers and thank you for reading. Even if you hated it.

I don't think anyone would be surprised if I said that Northcreek Wolves 3 is about the twins, right? They've been in this a lot.

I'm still trying to figure out what to name it, though. If I was a real romance writer I'd probably be all "Taming the twins" or some shit like that, and then have a cover of them, shirtless and buff, holding their gasping women in an intricate pose, a pose women never actually find themselves being held in, but my head is just blank at the moment.

The working title on my document has been "Those twin dudes" for a while now, I don't think that would work to be honest hmmm...

Suggestions are obviously very welcome.