So as today is my birthday and I have had such an amazing amount of love and well wishes from everyone, I thought I would knock up a little treat for you all to celebrate the day.
It's quite short and only a little glimpse into this event, but it was something that I have been asked for by a number of readers so I thought I would answer those calls.
“Dayton…I think it’s started.”
The words had barely issued from Freya’s mouth before her mate was sitting bolt upright in bed, his eyes glowing obsidian blue in the darkness.
“Are you sure? Are you okay? We shouldn’t have left the compound. We need Mallen here.” Dayton was already springing from the bed, turning on the light even though there was no real need for it. They performed the human rituals so that they would never slip up in human company, not that they lived in human society, but there was often a need to be there.
Another shaft of pain speared through the vampire’s body and she sucked in a deep breath to prevent an involuntary moan escaping. The pain was a novelty for her, the whole motherhood thing something she had never dreamed she’d ever experience. Until Dayton, it hadn’t been anything she’d wanted to experience, but now it was as important to her as it was him. She wanted to make him proud and that meant she couldn’t be seen to be weak and give into the pain.
“Has your water broken?” Anxious eyes met hers as her mate hopped into his discarded jeans from the night before. The inch long grey lock of hair had escaped the leather thong he’d tied his hair up with and fell across his eyes.
Another waft of sharp pain, so unexpected she had to grit her teeth. “No, I regularly lie in a soaking wet bed. It’s my favourite pastime.”
“Fuck, if your water’s broken you won’t be able to move to the compound. The baby will have to be delivered here.” A hint of panic crossed Dayton’s face and it was enough to dampen the sharp rise of irritation that had overcome Freya.
“Day, come here.” Holding out her hand, she breathed through the next wave of pain and kept her emerald gaze locked squarely with her mate’s as he took her proffered hand. “I believe your mother successfully birthed six children, not to mention so has our Alphas, pack mates and other hybrid mated couples. I am fairly certain that though this is a unique experience for me I will be equally as successful.”
Her words brought him up short and he managed a rueful smile. “I know that, honey, but it’s not quite the same when it’s your own mate giving birth to your first born. It’s a bit hard to be objective. And…you’re the first female vampire to give birth to a child in god knows how long.”
He had a valid point and she squeezed his hand in acknowledgement before swinging her legs over the side of the bed. “Why don’t you let Rafe know and he can alert Mallen or just call Mallen direct, whichever is easier.”
“What do you think you’re doing?” Dayton’s hissed words came out barely a second after her own.
“Uhm I don’t know about you but I don’t relish lying in a wet bed until this baby is born. I’m getting up.” Freya sucked in another breath as her mate supported her. Another wave of pain crashed over her and she waited for it to pass before with a quick flick of her talons, her nightdress pooled to the floor and she was shooing him over to the bureau for a new one.
“Rafe, Freya’s in labour and we’re up at the cabin alone. Can you let Mallen know to get up here ASAP? Her water’s broken so she can’t be moved.” The beta wolf used his direct mental connection with his Alpha, pulling out a fresh nightdress.
“I want a shower first.”
“Freya, you’re in labour!”
“I want a shower and I don’t want to wrestle you for one. Labour or no labour you know I’ll kick your ass if I have to go through you.” The deadly intent in her voice was enough to make him back down. He tossed the nightdress onto a chair in the corner and helped her into the adjoining en-suite.
“Why aren’t you fazed by this?” Dayton was puzzled by his mate’s easy acceptance of going into labour. He’d expected her to panic that their child was coming but instead he was the one who was panicking. “Did you do something?” Suspicion crept into his voice.
The guilty expression on Freya’s face had him frowning. She had been insistent yesterday that they come up to their retreat for a few days before their daughter’s imminent birth. He had tried to talk her out of it but eventually conceded because he could see she needed to get away from the compound for a while. It was always wise to heed his mate’s ever fraying temper as an early warning sign that the shit was about to hit the fan and react accordingly.
“Oh, alright. I didn’t DO anything though Elina may have let me know that she was ready to be born.” Freya held her multi-coloured hair away from the shower spray to allow the lukewarm water to slide over her aching body. Her daughter moved inside her and she doubled over with a long hiss.
Cursing, Dayton scooped his mate out of the shower and wrapped a towel around her. “We are going to have a long talk about this later, woman.” The words growled out though his hands were gentle as he patted her dry.
Freya allowed him to fuss, smiling at the juxtaposition of his words and his actions. She had been suffocating at the compound and afraid of what she might do as her daughter’s birth came ever closer. It had seemed prudent to take herself out of the situation, so she was willing to listen to whatever lecture her beautiful wolf wanted to mete out as long as she was having her child where it was safe for everyone.
Her acute vampiric hearing heard the wolves approaching before he did and she sneaked a quick kiss to soothe him a little. “They’re coming.”
Dayton’s head whipped back towards the bedroom and he cursed again. “Stay here.” He hurried to grab the abandoned nightdress, returning to drape it over her head. It mattered naught that Mallen was a doctor and about to see far more of his mate than any other man ever should. Dayton could tell there was more than just the doctor arriving so he wanted his woman decently covered.
“Let them in, Day. I’m fine for now.” And she did feel fine, the shower seeming to soothe her daughter a bit and there being a slight lessening in the spasms wracking her body.
Of course, her Alpha, the doctor and the others let themselves in as Dayton was helping her to sit in the armchair before the fire. Freya was surprised to feel the sting of tears in her eyes as her brother Nors entered the room with his mate Ashleigh and their young son peeking out from behind his father’s long auburn hair. The family looked remarkably awake for the early hour.
“Liam woke us,” Nors smiled crossing to her side and touching her hair gently. “He said Aunt Freya was hurting and it was all Elina’s fault?” He quirked an eyebrow at his sister’s startled expression, his own full of query.
“Liam?” Freya’s voice was tender as she raised her arms out to take her nephew gingerly onto her lap. Neither she nor Dayton had told anyone what they were going to name their daughter. They had decided to wait until she was born before imparting that information.
“It wasn’t me,” he whispered, concern on his little face. “I didn’t talk to her Aunt Freya, I promise I didn’t. Elina talked to me but with words.”
Staring at her bump, the vampire gently stroked her belly, reaching out with her senses to her daughter within. She knew exactly what her nephew meant, Elina didn’t think in word concepts but more in emotions. To date, she had thought that she was the only one that could hear her.
“What did she tell you,” she coaxed the anxious child, soothing him with her other hand so he knew he wasn’t in trouble.
“I think she wants to meet me,” he answered, his expression breaking into a shy smile. “I think she likes me.”
“I’m sure she will love you as much as we all do, Liam,” his aunt answered with a smile though she could feel the pain was welling up again and motioned for her brother to quickly remove Liam as she let out a loud gasp.
“Okay, everyone out except for the father-to-be and Lynn. We don’t need an audience for this.” Mallen shooed every out of the room, with the exception of his nurse and Dayton. The nurse freshened up the bed quickly and they helped the mother-to-be back into it.
“I think you’ve got a ways to go yet, Freya. Your daughter may not be in as much of a hurry to come out as you think she is. If you could please refrain from biting me during the process, I’d appreciate it. Try to remember neither Lynn nor I are immune to your venom.”
The doctor’s dry humour brought a bark of laughter from the vampire’s lips quickly followed by a groan of pain. Dayton was at her side immediately, holding her hand and pressing his lips against her temple.
“Let it out, honey. You don’t have to be brave when the pain comes.”
“I will not shame you, Dayton.” It was important to her that she never see any shame or disappointment in her mate’s eyes. She loved him so much and always wanted him to be proud of her.
Ignoring the doctor and nurse, he slipped an arm around her shoulders and gave her a kiss full of the love he had for his amazing woman. “You could never shame me in a million years, Freya Eriksson. And it’s okay to give vent to the pain. I believe my mother swore like a sailor during all her birthings.”
That prompted another bark of laughter from the vampire, as she tried to imagine gentle Charlotte Alexander cursing. A cry of pain escaped her, and the need to push was suddenly overwhelming.
“Okay, looks like your daughter may be about to prove me a liar. Don’t push until I say so, Freya. I know you’ll want to but fight the urge until I let you know it’s the right time.”
Freya gripped Dayton’s hand hard, groaning as another wave of pain rushed over her. “Please, please prove the doctor wrong, daughter of mine. So I don’t forget myself and bite him in a moment of madness.”
In the living room of the mountain retreat, Rafe Hanlon smiled as he watched Liam playing with some building blocks before the hastily lit fire. The winter was cold and the cabin hadn’t been used for a few months so would take a while to heat up. Ashleigh was in the kitchen area making tea and coffee while glancing over at her son every now and then to make sure he wasn’t tempted to get too close to the flames. Not that her Alpha or mate would allow any harm to come to her child but it was force of habit just to keep one eye on him at all times.
Rafe and Nors were sitting on the sofa, talking quietly and trying to ignore the muted sounds coming from the back of the dwelling. They had been where Dayton was themselves, and knew that feeling of excitement suffused with rage that their mate was in pain during childbirth and there was nothing they could do to help. The result was always worth it, but it was hard to wait for their children to be born.
“So, Liam had some kind of discussion with the baby?” Rafe was curious about what this new information may mean for the growing Vârcolac children being born into the pack. He was curious as a man but also as the Alpha of the pack.
“I don’t think discussion is the right word for it, not from what Liam told us,” the vampire beside him answered, smiling at his mate as she set down the drinks in front of them and curled up beside him. He automatically looped an arm around her shoulder and drew her close.
“A couple of days ago he started talking about someone called Elina and saying she wanted to come play with him. To be honest we thought he was talking of an imaginary friend. It wasn’t until he mentioned Freya tonight that we put two and two together.”
“Was it just Elina he mentioned or did he say anything about Rayne and Gard’s child?” The impending delivery of the first child born to a mated Vârcolac was only a few weeks away and the Alpha was interested if there would be any forewarning to that child’s birth too.
It was Ashleigh who shook her head and answered. “Just Elina. Liam is very close to Freya so that could be the reason he sensed their baby on such an intimate level.”
The Alpha looked at the toddler for another moment and then smiled and relaxed as much as he could. There was no point in interrogating the child and from the sounds of things in the bedroom, Baby Elina was going to be born into the world very soon. A new life in the pack was always a wonderful thing, but this birth was that bit more special, as it would hopefully help Freya become more integrated with the pack.
The sharp wail of a child’s cry and the rustle of a presence in his mind, told the Alpha that Elina Alexander was now part of their world, his newest pack member, another precious soul that was his to protect.
“Elina’s noisy,” Liam laughed, his brown eyes shining brightly as he looked towards the closed door separating them from the baby.
The adults looked at each other and smiled, sharing in his delight, before they rose to head towards the new arrival. If she was as empathic as Liam and able to communicate mentally at such a young age, it would be wise to have enough positive reassurance surrounding her as she began the next stage of her life.
A small hand tugged at Rafe as he went to enter the back of the retreat and he hung back motioning Ashleigh and Nors to precede them. He bent down to be of a height with Liam, whose little face held a solemn expression. “He isn’t happy like Elina was, Rafe.”
The sombre words sent a chill down the Alpha’s spine as he looked into eyes that were far too old for a child of such tender years. “Who isn’t happy, Liam? It’s okay, you can tell me. I’m the Alpha and I’ll take care of anything that needs taking care of.”
“The other one,” Liam whispered, his voice trembling and tears welling up in his eyes. “He doesn’t think nice things. He thinks mean things about making people bleed. He makes me scared, Rafe. Don’t let him hurt his mommy. He loves her like I love my mommy but he’s thinking of hurting her.”
“I won’t, Liam, I promise I won’t.” Rafe gathered the trembling child against his chest, soothing him on a physical and psychic level even though his own heart was racing fast at what the child was saying. “Can you tell me his name, so I know who it is I need to be helping, Liam?”
“Kothi.” The name whispered out.
The name meant nothing to Rafe but there was only one other Vârcolac who was due to be born. It appeared Liam hadn’t mentioned to his parents about Rayne and Gard’s child, even though he had been in some form of communication with the child. Rafe knew would need to speak to them and find out if they were experiencing any problems with the pregnancy. Possibly Liam was wrong, but he certainly was afraid of whatever mental touch he’d experienced.
“Can we go see Elina now?” Liam was suddenly all smiles as if relieving himself of his burden to his Alpha was enough to wipe away his momentary fear. The trust the child displayed in him made Rafe all the more determined to ensure nothing bad happened to anyone within his pack.
“Sure, let’s go see your cousin.” Picking him up, the Alpha strode into the back of the cabin.
Freya was smiling, something that was unusual to see for the most part but was becoming a bit less rare the longer she was mated with Dayton. The smile on her face as she cradled her dark-haired daughter was nothing short of beatific, and the open adoration on her face stunned Rafe. So much so, that he had to pause to suck in a deep breath at the beauty on display.
Of all his pack, Freya was the most volatile and yet, in some ways, she was the one he cherished the most. No one, with the exception of her mate, had walked a harder path than the vampire who had just given birth, and that journey struck a chord in him and strengthened their Alpha bond because he could relate to how hard she had fought to make it this far.
“Beautiful,” he breathed out the word, setting Liam down at the foot of the bed. Freya’s bright smile turned to her Alpha as she proudly displayed her daughter.
“She’s perfect,” the vampire sighed, a hint of moisture in her eyes which suddenly hardened. “She will not be overprotected like those silly twins are doing with their offspring though. She will grow up being free to be her own person, Rafe. I will have issues with anyone who tries to coddle her.”
The Alpha laughed, feeling relieved to see the old Freya glaring at him and then at her mate who was frowning at her words. He held up his hands in mock surrender. “She will have to the same level of protection as the other children. I will hear no argument with that rule, Freya, but I will not interfere with your raising of your child as long as the pack is always protected. I will leave it up to you to discuss any other child rearing topics with your mate.”
Her mate gave a long sigh and rolled his eyes. “And I thought going through childbirth was the hard part,” he chuckled gathering his family close and kissing his woman on the top of her head. It was plain to see the love between them, a love that was automatically shared to the new life cherished within her mother’s embrace.
“Elina is happy,” Liam laughed, bouncing on the bed and scooting forward so he could have a closer look.
“Yes, she is,” his aunt smiled, as she allowed her nephew to touch one tiny hand and hold it gently. She smiled up at her mate, her love shining in her eyes as he leaned down and dropped a quick kiss on her lips. “We are all happy,” she added, turning to look at her family and finally feeling that one perfect moment of being connected completely with the pack.
It was a long time coming but Freya knew in that moment that no one would ever hurt her family, and that family was not just the people in this room but the entire pack who now laid claim to her as one of their own. Every member would lay down their lives for her precious daughter in her arms. She could do no less but be willing to return that same sacrifice.
Rafe nodded, stifling a yawn as he said his goodnights and started to head back down the mountain to his own sleeping mate and sons. Liam’s words came back to his mind and he shivered in the cool air as he turned to glance back at the cabin. He hoped those words were merely a child’s flight of fancy, but he had a foreboding that they were a portent of some disaster waiting to come.
Shaking off the sombre feeling, Rafe continued on his way, feeling along his Alpha bond to share in the love radiating from the mountain cabin. He smiled, luxuriating in the joy he felt, and then he made a mental note to talk to Gard and Rayne as soon as possible…just in case.