A Little Wilder (Wilder Adventures #4) - Serena Bell
A Little Wilder
A Steamy Small-Town Romantic Comedy
Excerpt from Wilder at Last
Also by Serena Bell
Author’s Note and Acknowledgments
About the Author
I’m awakened in the pitch dark by the unexpected press of warm bodies on either side of me and something wet probing my ear.
There’s a lot more screaming. And… barking. And scrabbling, and the sound of something sliding off the bed onto the floor and yelping.
Which is super alarming because I live alone. Or, for now, I am staying alone.
The beings on either side of me start to cry.
Children! There are children in my bed! And that wet sensation in my ear, was that a… dog?
I touch my belly, totally irrationally, but yep—still pregnant. So the children are not mine.
I mean, assuming I’m in my right mind and haven’t traveled in time.
Which—I am, and I haven’t, right?
But I can be excused for wondering, can’t I? Because where did they all come from?
“Mommy!” one of them shrieks. “Someone’s sleeping in my bed!”
Holy shit. I’m Goldilocks.
Was there porridge?
I swear—there was no porridge.
Thoroughly disoriented in time and space, I start to pick through what I know. I don’t get very far before I’m suddenly blinking into the bright overhead light.
A man and a woman stand just inside the door of my bedroom. The woman has her hand on the light switch.
Is this a home invasion? At… I check out the clock on the nightstand… 4:12 a.m.? An alien invasion?
Do they often bring small children with them?
Do they usually start the process by inserting the small children into your bed?
Because I’m in my own bed.
I am a hundred percent sure of that.
“What the fuuuuhhh…” the man breathes, before the woman, who is also blinking in the light’s assault, says, “Honey!”
He cuts himself off.
As he strides forward, I shrink back. His hands snake out.
I yank the covers up to my eyes, like a four-year-old who has—well, just found someone in her bed. My free hand protectively cups my almost seven-month pregnant belly.
The man is coming ever closer in what feels like slow-mo, and my heart pounds, because even though children and small yappy dogs aren’t particularly threatening, adult humans suddenly appearing in your bedroom for absolutely no reason are definitely grounds for freaking the hell out.
Now he looms over me, but instead of strangling me and leaving me for dead, he snatches the child closest to him and cradles her to his chest.
The woman hurries forward, her eyes never leaving mine, and grabs the crying toddler on my other side.
Dad. And Mom.
My heart slows down by a few thousand beats per minute.
“She’s in my bed!” wails the child from her dad’s arms, pointing at me accusingly.
“It’s my bed!”
Whoops. I guess I’m not my best self when I get awakened before dawn by a probably benign home invasion.
Biting my lower lip, I sit up. The covers slip down a notch.
Maybe I was a little hasty in my assertion.
To be fair, it’s not actually my bed.
Yeah, see. This is why. No matter how great people are about letting you bunk with them, it’s not actually such a great idea.
The bed I’m in belongs to family friends, and I’m crashing here, in their garage apartment, while I finish out my pregnancy and deliver my baby. Because the bed that’s really mine is in my early-nineties Airstream Classic mobile home, and is distinctly less comfortable for a pregnant woman than I would have guessed.
“Who are you?” the woman demands.
She doesn’t look super threatening. She looks tired. And confused. She’s probably mid-thirties, pale-skinned, with brown hair loose and frizzy. Her husband is a matched set to her. He has his free hand in a fist—but doesn’t seem inclined to do anything with it. He’s soft-bodied. Dad-bodied. And wide-eyed. Not super scary, even with the fist.
“Who are you?” I counter, trying to keep my voice gentle. You know, in case there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation, which I’m really hoping there is.
“You first,” the woman says. She squares her shoulders. Nope, still not very threatening.
I let the covers slip down to my chin and say, “I’m Marigold Barrymore. I’m John and Arlene’s friend. They’re letting me stay here.”
“Oh, wow,” whispers the woman, exchanging glances with her husband. “Um, like, for how long?”
“Until I pop,” I say, lowering the covers to