One Year Later
It was hard to believe how much time had passed, even as I stood at my own wedding reception, surrounded by the people I loved most in this world.
So much had changed in three hundred and sixty five days, and it wasn’t just my marital status.
There had been some uprising within the other packs in the country, but with Zeke as an ally and assuming leadership over Bran’s pack, they were easy to defend ourselves against.
The packs that wanted nothing to do with this new world closed themselves off, shutting their gates and increasing their security even though we had no intention on retaliating. It would take time before those packs changed their ways of thinking, and despite what they believed, violence was not the answer.
Rather than wage war, we focused on our own lands and doing all that we could to welcome any Vampire or Witch that needed a place to call home. Towns similar to the Vampire’s safe haven were currently being built on neutral territory.
Never in a million years could I have guessed the identity of the Vampire spearheading the entire thing, but I was slowly learning to love surprises.
Speaking of which-
Well, look at this. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look more like a Queen.” Deacon’s grizzly laugh rumbled throughout the massive tent my reception party was being held under. He emerged through the crowd of Werewolves,
Vampire’s and Witches that attended. The mixture of our kind brought a lightness to everyone’s hearts that had Asher and I grinning at one another throughout the night. “Spence and Dina wanted to make it, but their little one is still learning to control his blood lust. Won’t be safe to have him around for at least another six months.”
It’s not a problem. They’re welcome over as soon as their boy is able. I’m looking forward to meeting him. He’ll have all the support he needs when he’s finally of shifting age.” I replied.
Wrapped around Deacon, wearing a floor-length gown of maroon silk, was his mate Bridgette.
She quickly winked in my direction before scoffing at my brute of an Uncle. The two would pick at one another relentlessly, but the love and adoration between them was all too obvious.
I disagree completely. You saw her put that force field over our town last year. Now that’s what I call a Queen.” Her giggle was warm and airy. She placed her hand on my arm and said, You look gorgeous, Lola. The gown is incredible.”
“Asher insisted on having it custom made. In fact, he insisted on spending the most amount of money he could get away with.’I commented dryly, glancing at the man in question.
Lucky he has such good taste then.” Bridgette winked.
A voice sounded to the far left, beside the bride and groom’s table that Asher and I sat at. It brought a grin to my face, filling my chest with unimaginable warmth. Tonight was easily one of the best night’s of my life, and it was partially because of this person.
“Oh, don’t let that brooding Alpha tell you he planned this get together. He might’ve signed the checks, but the masterpiece surrounding you was a team effort.” Grandma’s huff was nothing short of stern, but the soft tilt to her features exuded playfulness. “If we let these brutes have their way, they’d likely host a fighting ring right here on the dance floor.”
She quickly wrapped me in her arms, whispering her congratulations in my ear before moving onto Asher. Since getting out of the hospital a few months ago, Grandma had been even more affectionate with Asher than usual. I liked to think it was her way of reminding him he wasn’t to blame, and despite the stoic way he held himself, I knew Asher enjoyed the affection.
“Now that sounds fun. Wouldn’t mind duking it out a round or two. Someone has to teach these young pups how to hold their own.” My Dad’s voice came next, still just as raspy but lighter than ever before.
Deacon’s laugher was a sonic boom that made the people closest to us jump. While it was startling at first, there was something infectious about it. Within seconds, we were laughing along side him.
“Can’t say I’d mind knocking some heads.”
Deacon said, sharing a grin with my Dad.
“Good to know it’s not just the Werewolves that can be brutes.” Flora’s soft and whimsical voice trickled through the crowd.
She waddled her way past the other party-goers, her stomach round and swollen from the life she carried. In her hands was two plates stacked with pastries and various finger foods. Upon seeing her, Dad rushed to her side to take the plates from her arms. There was an adorable blush that stained her cheeks when she realized everyone was looking her way. I Claire, Asher’s”updated by jobnib.com” mother, appeared from the woodworks. She and Flora had become close friends over the past year. Between Claire and , we’d been there throughout the entirety of Flora’s pregnancy. It was the least I could do considering my little sister was a short two months away from being born.
I was pulled into Asher’s arms, missing the playful jab Deacon tossed back at Flora that had everyone breaking into laughter. Everyone seemed to be holding their own conversations, jumping back and forth whenever someone poked fun at another. It was chaotic in the best way possible, and I enjoyed taking a step back to watch the madness unfold.
Claire and Bridgette were holding their own conversations when I caught Flora’s eye. As I took her in, noting the mossy gown that hugged her body and showed off every inch of her rounded belly, I decided that pregnancy suited her.
Asher’s silken lips skimmed my temple before moving to whisper in my ear.
“Do you regret it?
Dad approached Flora from behind, stopping rest his chin on the top of her head. His arms slid around her wa!st, his hands coming to rest on her swollen stomach. There was this dreamy look on my Dad’s face that I’d never seen before.
The euphoria it filled me with was indescribable.
As I looked over her pregnant belly, thinking about the life my magic helped create, I realized I already had my answer.
“Not one bit.”
Little did I know that nine months later, I’d be welcoming my own child into the world.
Two Years Later
“I’m going to kill him.” I hissed, clenching my teeth as another jolt of pain wracked my insides.
I’d suffered through evil in many forms, became a Luna and a Queen, but it was this that threatened to take me out. The pain of this little gremlin in my stomach, kicking and fighting to make her grand entrance into the world, was nothing short of excruciating.
If it wasn’t for Holly and Breyona, I’d be waddling my way to the hospital alone.
“It’ll be okay. It’ ll all be okay.” Holly, ever the peacekeeper, said soothingly. She had her arm wound around my waist as she supported my right side. I couldn’t tell if the words were to calm me or to calm herself.
Breyona, who supported my left, barked out a laugh. “Il help you kill him.”
Together, they hoisted me into the van, easing me into the seat. Between my swollen ankles and the contractions, I could barely move without writhing in pain.
“Help me and I’ll make you Alpha.” I gr0aned, falling back onto the seat.
There was a handful of heartbeats in between each contraction, and that number was quickly dwindling as they grew closer and closer together. Breyona started sucking in slow breaths, puffing them out in awkward patters that she expected my agony riddled mind to follow.
She’d been studying childbirth the last six months and while I absolutely loved her for it, I had to resist the heinous urge to clamp my hands over her mouth to stop the huffing and puffing.
“Drive faster!” I howled at Giovanni, who clenched the steering wheel so tightly his tanned skin turned white.
The stronger the pain became, the more time seemed to slip through my fingers. Looking back, the moments leading up to giving birth would come in sporadic flashes. Holly, sitting at my right, dabbing my sweaty forehead with a damp wash cloth. Breyona, whispering words of encouragement to remind me what a bad b!tch I was. Her words not mine.
And finally, the rage I felt towards Asher because he and Zeke chose this moment to go and visit the council of witches elected to oversee the magical community, just two towns over.
In his defense, he didn’t know my water would break just six hours after his departure, but when you’re in the middle of contractions those details seem to slip through the cracks.
It wasn’t until I was in a birthing room at the hospital, with no less than a dozen staff members flitting about, that Asher tore through the door. From where I laid in bed, snarling at anyone who came too close, I could see the line of visitors piling up just outside the room.
At the front of the crowd was Dad, Flora, and their daughter, Penelope. Grandma stood at their side, flanked by Asher’s parents, Zeke, Tessa, Brandon, Ember, Tristan, Mason, and Clara. The others at their back were hospital staff or overly excited pack members hoping for a glimpse at the future Alpha or Luna.
You’re late!” I meant to snarl the words at Asher, to convey how furious I was, but a vicious contraction tore through me so sharply that the words came out in an agonized yelp.
Asher skidded to a stop at my side, wasting no time as he smoothed the hair away from my face.
There was pain burning in his eyes, but it was overshadowed with awe and the innocent kind of joy that came with watching your child come into the world.
His hand found mine, toying with the rings on my left hand. He made no mention of how drenched in sweat I was, and instead whispered in my ear.
You’re absolutely beautiful.”
Breyona leaned over the side of the bed, forcing a straw into my mouth. Her stern expression told me to drink, and despite the pain tearing up my spine, I obliged. Only she and Holly were permitted in the room considering they were the only two I’d allow near me.
Call it instincts or the horrors of the past, but some anmimalistic part of me was already attached to this child and skeptical of anyone who tried to come close.
“I’m so sorry, baby. We got here as quick as we could. Fvck, I’m glad we got here when we did.”
He panted, still drool worthy with his hair disheveled and hospital scrubs hanging off his muscular form.
If I wasn’t in such pain, I would’ve peed myself laughing when Asher, naked as the day he was born, rushed into the room.
The doctor, a kind woman whose name I’d already forgotten, guided my feet onto this metal contraption that left me wide and very much exposed to the entire room. She rolled a stool over and situated herself front and center stage.
With every contraction, I unleashed my full strength on Asher’s hand, spitting and snarling as the pain surpassed any and all thresholds. My incredible mate didn’t balk, not even once.
Through every one of my death grips, he murmured words of encouragement and reminded me that even covered in sweat and gasping for breath, I was the thing he treasured most.
“Alright, Luna. Are you ready to push?” The doctor asked, peering up from between my legs.
I bit back a snarl “Do I have a choice?”
“No, you do not.” She said, though not unkindly.
With that, lets begin.”
The doctor began counting softly, instructing me when to push and how hard. The nurses, who kept a healthy distance, kept a monitor on my vitals. During contractions, they’ d gone over breathing techniques and how I should employ them as I pushed. At first, I hadn’t been paying much attention, but I guess my brain stored the information somewhere because the second I began pushing, all of their tips rushed to the surface.
Pain, so much pain that it shouldn’t have been possible, drilled it’s way through my body, carving a path that ended at the junction where my legs met. My own voice rang in my ears, loud and shrill, higher than I’d ever heard it before.
Fvck, I’d kill for some painkillers.” I cried out, but it was useless. Morphine and epidurals were meant for humans, not werewolves.
In any other situation, I would’ve forced my magic into reality, carving my pain out of existence, but since becoming pregnant my magic had been…wonky, to say the least.
Asher, doing what he could, attempted to distract me.
“Do you still think it’s a girl?” He asked.
We hadn’t gone through with a gender reveal.
Both of us wanted to be surprised.
Gritting my teeth, I answered with utmost certainty. “It is.”
The lights in the hospital room began to flicker.
Within seconds, the nurses started chittering nervously, their eyes flitting to the corners of the room. In the midst of the agony of my daughter clawing her way into the world, I noticed the shadows that had slithered into view. They clung to the outskirts of the room, very much visible as they closed in.
Their attention wasn’t on me, but on the sharp squeal that came from between my legs as I pushed one final time and forced our child into the world.
She’s so beautiful.” Breyona hiccupped; her cheeks red as tears streamed down her face. “She has your hair, Lola. A full head of it.
It’s a girl?” I gasped, locking eyes with Asher.
My mate stared at the small bundle swathed in a little pink blanket with nothing short of awe, his eyes glossy and flecked with brilliant gold.
The doctor cradled our daughter, the future of our pack, in her arms before passing her over to a nurse. My heart stuttered as I reached out for my daughter, but before I could utter a command, the doctor was once again in between my legs.
A sharp slash of pain split my stomach in two, traveling down, down, down. It felt like a contraction, only worse. That wasn’t possible, though. It couldn’t be. The shadows hadn’t left yet. They were still there, creeping closer as they watched with silent interest.
“Oh, fvck. What’s happening?” I cried out, frantically looking Breyona and Holly.
Holly’s face paled as she stood behind the doctor, peeking over her shoulder. When Breyona joined her, I thought my friend might faint.
“Oh my goddess…” Breyona gasped.
Holly’s eyes flickered up to my own. You’re not done yet, Lola. There’s another coming,”
Seconds and minutes bled into one cacophony of pain. Voices merged into one, drowned out by the screams that I still couldn’t quite believe were coming from me. It could’ve been hours that passed for all I knew.
When a second wail hit the air, I was completely void of energy, fighting sleep with every breath I forced from my lungs.
The shadows had retreated to the corners of the room, whispering in feverish voices that I only managed to catch snippets of.
The doctor raised her head, her eyès watering as a smile graced her lips.
Congratulation’s, Alpha and Luna. It’s a boy.”