“I’m pregnant, Dec,” she said so softly that even with his wolf hearing he had to strain to understand.
When he did, he froze. In response, her body tensed.
How could she think he would be mad over that? She was carrying his pup, his child. He felt his heart swell and tears formed in his eyes. He pulled her back to look at her but she fought him. She grabbed onto his shirt and held on tight.
“That’s not all.”
“Tell me, baby. Trust me, please,” he whispered back.
“The Fates came to me in a dream.”
Decebel got deathly still. The air seemed to grow charged with his power.
“The night you had the nightmare?” he asked her cautiously.
He felt her nod her head against him.
“What happened, Jennifer?” He tried to keep his voice gentle so she wouldn’t get scared, but it was so hard to keep his wolf down.
“They said I have to pay the debt I owe them because I didn’t die when it was my time.”
“And what is the payment?” Decebel closed his eyes as he asked, already knowing the answer.
“Our daughter's life.”
She pulled back and looked into his face. Her face was swollen and tear-stained. “They said that when she is born they will take her from me. From us.” After a pause, she added, “In nine months, Dec. Nine months.” Her lower lip trembled. “I killed our baby.”
Anger filled her up. “My choice to come back from the dead is going to kill our child.” She slammed her hand against her chest. “MY CHOICE! How selfish was that? How can you not be angry with me? How can you even want me in your sight?”
Decebel’s eyes were glowing and hearing his mate spill such nonsense was causing his wolf to surface. His wolf didn’t like to see their mate so broken and he sure as hell wouldn’t tolerate Decebel being the cause of that pain. He closed his eyes, trying to help his wolf understand that he wasn’t upset with their mate.
“Jennifer, look at me.”
Jen ignored him and continued to stare at her fidgeting hands.
He took his finger and gently lifted her face until he was able to look into her amazing blue eyes – they still took his breath away.
“It would have been my choice as well.”
Confusion flashed across Jen’s face. “What choice?””
“For you to come back to me. I would have chosen that you not die at 18 years old after completing the bond with your mate. If I had known that you were able to make that choice and you chose death instead of life, instead of me – then, my beautiful love, then I would be mad at you. This,” he laid his hand gently on her stomach, where their child grew, “is out of your control. It’s not your fault. And we are not going to lose our child. Jennifer, I love you, with every fiber of my being, every cell in my body, I love you. Please believe me when I tell you I do not blame you for our circumstances. Tell me you believe me.”
Jen had started crying again and her hiccups in between words tore at Decebel’s heart.
“I – believe – you –”
He brushed the tears from her face and leaned down. Then he pressed his lips against hers and pushed all the comfort and love he could into that kiss.
“Please don’t leave me.”
Decebel smiled softly. “I’m not leaving your side for quite a while, love.”
Jen smiled back weakly. “Let me guess, nine months?”
Decebel chuckled. “Something like that.”
Decebel kissed her firmly once more and pulled back, framing her face with his big hands. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m not angry with you. You are mine and nothing will happen to you.” He placed his hand on her stomach and poured all the truth he could into his words. “Nothing will happen to our baby. I won’t allow it.”
Jen placed her hand over his, then pressed her forehead to his. She trembled and wept as he whispered to her in Romanian, telling her over and over how beautiful she was to him, how precious and how happy he was that she carried his child. They hadn’t even thought about the others standing around them, witnessing this very private moment.
Decebel held her face in his hands and kissed her gently.
“I love you, Jennifer,” he told her sternly.
“I love you, Dec. I love you so much.”
He gently lifted her shirt to expose her skin and leaned forward, placing kiss after kiss across her stomach.
“You are safe, little one,” he whispered against his wife’s skin. “You are safe and you are loved. I will not let anything happen to you.”
He raised his head back up but kept his hand, skin on skin, against her stomach. Decebel looked into her eyes.
“We are not going to spend your pregnancy mourning. We are not going spend this precious time worrying. We created this little life, Jennifer. Our love created this and I don’t want that tainted by our fears. Please. I can’t stand the idea of nine months without your smart mouth or sexual jokes. Seeing you like this today was my breaking point.”
“Shh,” Jen pressed a finger lightly on his lips, “I trust you, Decebel. You are my mate, you are the father of our child, and I know you will take care of us.”
Decebel’s body shook with emotion – he felt the trust and respect in her words, words that poured strength into him and affirmed his capability to do what he said he would.
“Thank you,” he told her quietly.
The group was quiet as Decebel held his pregnant mate in his arms. There were no words in that moment, no smart remarks, no endearing comments. It was simply a pack watching the pack mates they loved deal with the challenges of life.
Sally stared dumbly, stunned at Jen’s revelation. Her best friend was pregnant – she was pregnant! She just couldn’t wrap her mind around it. Not only was she pregnant, but the Fates were saying they were going to kill their baby. Could things get any worse?
“Let’s not ask ourselves that.” Costin cautioned in her mind.
Sally looked up at him from where she crouched next to Jacque’s still form. She grunted her understanding, agreeing that anytime you asked that question, things always seemed to go from bad to worse. And, as if that very flip had been switched, the air grew thick and lightening ripped across the sky.
All of the males were suddenly on alert, creating a circle around the females. They looked into the forest in all directions as if waiting for the enemy to come charging at them.