Mates Since Birth (Half-breed Shifter Series)

BOOK: Mates Since Birth (Half-breed Shifter Series)
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Previous Works

 

Best Friends Share Everything

Mile High Service

All the Wrong Moves

Safe in Their Arms

 

Caught In Heat

Dreams of Wolf

 

Taken by a Killer

Saved From a Killer

Framed as a Killer

Interview With a Killer

 

 

Mates Since Birth

A Whispers Publishing Publication

February,8th 2013

 

Copyright © 2013, Miranda Stowe

Cover illustration copyright © (
Elaina Lee)

 

ISBN Not Assigned

 

All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system-except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed in a magazine, newspaper, or on the Web-without permission in writing from the publisher.

All characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author, and all incidents are pure invention.

Published by: Whispers Publishing, P.O. Box 1165, Ladson, SC 29456-1165.

Mates Since Birth

 

 

 

Miranda Stowe

 

A Whispers Publishing Publication

www.whispershome.com

 

 

For Ivy Bateman

 

Prologue

 

 

Fear lodged in seven-year-old Dane Griffin’s chest as he dashed through the dark night, bearing his jaguar form. His heart pounded a crazy tattoo against his ribs and leapt into his throat as an outside energy shimmered through him, beckoning him. He knew the life force that called for help, its frightened talons of distress reaching for Dane, clinging, begging. Yet the closer he rushed toward it, the weaker it became, its hold on him diminishing…dying.

Worried he might be too late, he skidded on his hind legs as he neared the back entrance of his nanny’s house, swiftly morphing into a naked boy so he could grasp the latch with a trembling five-fingered hand. Upon his entrance, the screams of his nanny, Jaycee, chilled his skin, propelling him toward the stairs.

He reached the second level moments later and scrambled for the bedroom she shared with her mate, Knox.

“Jesus Christ.” Knox’s anguished roar rent the air as Dane shoved open the door. “She’s in pain. Why aren’t you
doing
something?” The wolf shifter sat on the blood-drenched sheets next to Jaycee’s shoulder, gripping both her hands as he glared at Dane’s mother, who knelt between Jaycee’s bent and spread knees and worked frantically under a red-soaked sheet.

“Back off,” Dane’s father muttered with a scowl toward Knox. “This is Riley’s first time to midwife. A little patience, please.” He hovered at his wife’s elbow, the sleeves of his shirt rolled up to his elbows and a heavy layer of sweat coating his brow.

The four adults didn’t notice young Dane quivering in the doorway and he was too afraid to speak.

Knox growled, his wolf fur shimmering through his skin as his body vibrated with uncontrolled emotion. “I’ll practice patience the moment my female’s life is no longer in danger.”

“Sweet…” Jaycee panted in a frail voice. “Sweetheart, don’t…don’t yell at…” But she couldn’t finish the scolding. Her face contorted, draining of what little color it held, and her pupils dilated as she sucked in a gasp before screaming again.

“No!” Dane couldn’t contain himself a moment longer. Terror propelled him forward.

His father caught sight of him just in time to sweep out his arm and hook Dane around the middle, preventing the boy’s forward progress. “Damn it, Dane. What’re you doing here? Go home!”

“No.” He struggled against Shaw’s hold, needing to reach the thrashing woman.

He loved Jaycee. She was a second mother to him. He didn’t want her to die, almost as much as he didn’t want her baby to die.

“Get him
out
of here,” Knox boomed, pointing toward the doorway just as Jaycee’s contraction settled.

“No,” Jaycee rasped, letting go of one of Knox’s hands to reach for the boy. “It’s okay.
Dane
…” Her frail fingers stretched his way.

As soon as his father loosened his hold, Dane wiggled free and dashed to Jaycee, positioning himself at her side opposite the bed from Knox. Taking her proffered hand, he paused in front of the huge mound hidden under her soaked nightgown. Inside, her frightened baby whimpered, pleading for Dane’s help.

“Ari,” he whispered, setting his free hand atop the baby bump. Instantly the moving underneath his fingers ceased. Settled. “She’s scared,” he explained. “And fighting the pull.”

“What the fuck—” Knox exploded, rising to his feet as if to grasp the seven-year-old by the scruff of the neck and physically toss him from the room.

“No,” Riley commanded the soon-to-be father. “Just a minute now.” Keeping her hand held up in Knox’s direction, warding him away, she turned to her son. “Dane, can you calm the baby, assure her everything’s going to be fine?”

He nodded, knowing his touch was already doing just that. But he leaned close to Jaycee’s belly and spoke in a quiet murmur anyway. “It’s going to be okay. I know it’s scary but we all have to do this to be born. Don’t fight it, Ari.”

The female wasn’t even born yet, and he could already tell she was going to be a stubborn one. Not that her obstinacy mattered; he loved her anyway. Since the moment he’d sensed her life force growing inside Jaycee, he’d carried a connection with the fetus, feeling bonded to her in a way he couldn’t understand.

As he continued to murmur quietly and stroke Jaycee’s tightening abdomen, the baby inside heeded his suggestion. Though he could still feel her hesitation and fear, she tried with everything she had to go with the suction of her mother’s body, ejecting her through the birth canal.

Jaycee screamed again. Dane’s mother cursed as his father mopped at her damp face.

Knox began to sob. “I knew this was a bad idea. It’s not natural. Human women aren’t meant to birth shape-shifter babies. Oh God, Jaycee. I’m so sorry.” He buried his face against her neck and wrapped trembling arms around her. “Don’t die. Please don’t die.”

“There we go,” Dane’s mother said with sudden relief. She grinned as she lifted her face. “She’s crowning. I see her head. She has black hair…just like her daddy.”

A jolt passed through Dane as Jaycee began to laugh and cry simultaneously, gripping her husband’s head. “Did you hear that, Knox honey? She has your hair.”

Knox glanced up, looking dazed.

Dane couldn’t believe it either. Whenever he thought of the baby, he imagined a miniature Jaycee, blond-headed and blue-eyed. Still, it mattered nothing to him what she looked like. She’d still be his. He felt that much for certain, deep in his soul.

As he heard her calling out to him in his mind, he leaned closer to Jaycee’s belly. Ari remained scared; not even his presence could appease her any longer. Something kept her trapped inside.

“M-mama,” he spoke in a wobbly voice. “Hurry. She’s…something’s wrong. She can’t breathe.”

“It’s okay,” his mother assured, keeping her eyes on her task. “When Jaycee’s water broke, the amniotic fluid containing her air supply made her use her lungs in a different way.”

He shook his head. “No. This is different. Something…
something’s wrapped around her neck.”

The adults perked to attention. “The umbilical cord?” Dane’s father asked his mother.

Riley paled and shook her head. “I don’t know. But we’re going to have to rush things. Shaw, give Jaycee another shot to numb the area. Knox…” She lifted her voice as she moved in deep toward the action. “You’re going to have to hold her tight to the bed. Dane, tell Ari to tuck her chin down and pull her hands and feet in as close to her body as possible.”

Dane set to his task, murmuring to the baby as Jaycee let out a scream to put her previous wails to shame. His hands began to shake. Tears leaked down his cheeks. If anything bad happened to Jaycee or Ari, he didn’t know what he’d do. His entire life had changed the moment Ari had reached out to him from her mother’s womb and managed to communicate with him.

“Don’t fight it,” he repeated. “You’ll make it through. Come to me, Ari.”

She did. Moments later, his mother gasped. Jaycee bowed up her body, digging her heels into the mattress and arching her neck back in unspeakable pain. Then, yes, there was a choked sputter before he heard the first tiny whimper, followed by a baby’s squawk.

She was born. His Ari had arrived. Jaycee’s hand lost its grip with Dane’s as she slumped back onto the bed. Focused on the newborn’s cry, he left her side and hurried around her bent knees to see the baby just as his mother lifted her for Shaw to swaddle in a waiting blanket. Her gooey miniature arms and legs flailing from a tiny body, she did indeed have a thick swath of dark hair.

His breathing grew clunky as his chest expanded with pride while his parents cut her umbilical cord and tied off the end. He wanted to reach out and grab her into his arms. He wanted to claim her that very moment.

But Knox’s strangled voice caught his attention. “Jaycee?” he rasped, his voice achy and desperate. “Oh God, sweetheart. Wake up.
Wake up
.”

“Shaw, I need you,” Riley commanded, her hands slippery with blood as she returned to Jaycee.

Dane’s father glanced around, looking helpless as he held the swaddled and bawling infant. Immediately, Dane held out his arms. A frantic Shaw thrust the little girl toward him. He accepted her eagerly, curling her close against his young chest.

Instantly, Ari stopped crying and turned her head his way as if sensing who he was.

“Dane,” his mother commanded in a stern voice. “Take her into the nursery.
Now
.”

He paused, clutching Ari tight as he glanced up at his nanny’s pale and prone face, her eyes shut and cheeks sunken in. “W-will Jaycee be okay?”

“She’ll be fine. Just go.”

He did. Once he and Ari reached the nursery, he took her to the changing table and laid her down so he could spread the blanket open and get a good look.

She was so small. A month premature, according to all the adults. But she was still perfectly formed, perfect in every way, except for the blood and slime covering her from head to toe.

Wanting it off, he morphed into his jaguar and swiped out his tongue, letting his animal instincts take over as he cleaned her, licking her spotless. Ari allowed the ministration for a while but grew fussy toward the end; he could feel her hunger pangs in his own belly as hers cramped, needing nourishment.

“Don’t worry,” he assured after flashing back into his human form so he could smooth his hand over her thick, dark hair and rewrap her. “Once your mommy’s better, she’ll give you a great big drink. Doesn’t that sound good?”

BOOK: Mates Since Birth (Half-breed Shifter Series)
2.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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