Authors: Christine M. Butler
Tags: #paranormal fantasy, #paranormal romance
Bound by the Moon
The Ancients - Vol. 4
Christine M. Butler
Copyright © 2014 Christine M. Butler
Moonlit Dreams Publications
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, preprinted, or uploaded in full or in part without explicit written permission from the author and Moonlit Dreams Publications.
Cover Design © 2014 Christine M. Butler
All rights reserved.
For all the readers who let me know how much they loved the series!
Also By Christine M. Butler
The Ancients Series
Shadows of the Ancients
Falling into the White
Branches of the Willow
Ashley and Evan (e-book only)
Bound by the Moon
Mikael (Winter 2014)
The Daniels Clan Series
Becoming One (Fall 2014)
Bringing Change (Winter 2014)
Falling Star Series
Catch a Falling Star
Replicas (Fall 2014)
The Awakening Series
Beyond the Awakening (Winter 2014)
Death Viewers Series
Breathless (Winter 2014)
The VooDoo Follies
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Up to this point in my life I had been shot, burned with wolves bane, beaten, poisoned, drugged, and nearly raped. None of that compared to the contractions I was now facing. Now, these crazy fools wanted me to push again? Seriously, never in my life had I wanted to punch my own mother, but I was definitely considering it at this point. If she told me one more damn time how all the women through history had gone through labor and I could do it too, I was going to… scream! And so I did.
“Come on, Jess, you can do it. I know you’re tired, but you need to push through it. She’s almost here now.”
“I’m.” How could one word you leave breathless? “Not. Tired,” I managed to pant out in between the pains. “This shit hurts!”
“It’s okay, baby, just squeeze my hand,” Mikael offered. I squeezed. He yelped. “Maybe not that hard,” he pouted.
I shot a scathing look at him, and he quickly shut up, and let me squeeze his hand as hard as I wanted. “Why would any woman volunteer to do this more than once?”
My mom smiled, “you’ll see.”
“I see…” I breathed through the next contraction before continuing. “…already. No one in their right mind would suffer this way once they knew what it actually felt like.”
“Okay, Jess, time to push again, now.” My mom called out to me, and I grabbed Mikael’s hand hard enough that I heard something pop. “That’s it, her head’s coming, push a little harder.”
I never thought anything could hurt worse than the contractions, but the burn of pushing a baby out definitely topped it. I forgot how to breathe. I forgot everything in that moment, except trying to push as hard as I could to get that baby out as quickly as possible.
“That’s it, just take a breath, and be calm.” My mom was coaching as the contraction subsided.
‘Be calm,’ I thought, ‘who is she kidding? There’s a little person, currently lodged between my legs, and I feel like I could give out at any minute, and she’s telling me to be calm?’
“Okay, baby, I need you to push again as hard as you can with this next contraction. We need to get her shoulders out. Okay. Now. Push, Jess!” My mom’s coaching voice was annoying the crap out of me. This moment seemed to go on forever, like I was locked in some perpetual hell where I was doomed to live the worst pain of my life for eternity. And then, suddenly, the sweet rush of freedom from all of the pain came flooding in as the baby made her way out. My mom had tears in her eyes as she held my little girl in her arms. It took a second, or an eternity, but then I heard that shrill cry coming from my daughter. She was just as unhappy with this process as I had been moments ago. I knew then that we would get along just fine.
My mom passed the baby off to Mikael so she could clamp off the umbilical cord, and help deliver the afterbirth. Mikael’s face was pure amazement as tears spilled freely down his cheeks. I’d never in my life seen anything more beautiful than the site of my mate crying over the birth of our baby girl. Now, I understood. I would go through it all again just to see that look of complete adoration on his face. Mikael finally looked up to see me smile at him.
He brought our baby to me, and put her in my arms. “Willow, meet your mommy,” he managed to choke out through all the emotion.
“Mikael?” My mom called out to him. “Why don’t you do the honors and cut the cord?”
He was doing just that when my dad walked in the room. “Eileen?” He questioned.
“Jameson, come meet your granddaughter.” My father’s hand flew to his face, rubbing across the stubble on his chin. I saw tears in his eyes then too. When he got close, he leaned in and kissed me on the forehead, and then repeated the gesture with Willow.
“She’s absolutely beautiful, Jess.” He reached out one of his thick, calloused fingers and touched it to Willow’s tiny, puffy cheek. “I can’t believe my little girl is old enough to have her own baby now.” Dad shook his head in disbelief as I finally had a moment to take in the sight of my own daughter. The rest of the world seemed to fade away as I did.
Her head was full of deep brown hair and she was still messy from birth, but beneath that, I saw the beauty. She was my little miracle with those rosy cheeks. If not for her I wouldn’t be here, and neither would Mikael. This tiny, beautiful girl was the reason we were both still alive. I made a silent vow the day that the witch, Sophia, told me that only my pregnancy had saved me. As I looked upon my daughter’s face for the first time I reaffirmed that promise to her. “I will always do whatever is needed in order to protect you,” I whispered into the softly curling hair of her head before I kissed her.
A throat clearing in the doorway brought my attention away from my daughter. “Sorry to interrupt. Jameson, we have a problem.”
“Then deal with it. In case you can’t see, my granddaughter has just been born,” my father snapped.
“Patrols found another girl this morning.”
“Damn it.” My father grumbled under his breath. “Well, unless the killer was still with her, I don’t suppose there’s a time issue now.” He raised his eyebrows quizzically at the man in the doorway.
“Actually, this one’s not dead, yet. We thought you might want to question her yourself. You know, in case she doesn’t make it.”
My father looked back at me then with an apology in his eyes. “Go!” I nodded my head toward the door and managed a weak smile for him too. “It might be just what we need to put an end to this and make the pack that much safer.” I looked down at Willow as I said it, and he understood. He could miss these first few moments with his grandchild if it meant we our women weren’t under imminent threat anymore.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can,” he announced as he rounded the doorway and disappeared into the hallway. Mikael looked between the now empty doorway and our daughter, torn between two impossible responsibilities.
“I’ll go,” my mom offered. “Jess looks fine, and we’re done here. She just needs rest now.” She turned to me then. “I’ll send Sierra in to help clean you and Willow up.”
“Eileen…” Mikael started, still not convinced it was right for him to stay.
“I will send for you immediately if I need to, Mikael. I know in my heart that Jameson would not want you to miss this time with them for anything. Believe that.” my mom reassure him.
Mikael settled down then, and sat in the chair beside my birthing bed as Sierra came through the door carrying baby Jack. She put him down in the cradle, and came over to take a look at Willow. “She’s so precious, Jess.” She leaned over, and carefully took Willow from my arms, “I’m just going to get all the gunk cleaned off of her, and then I will hand her right back over, okay?” Sierra glanced from Mikael to myself, waiting until both of us agreed before she moved another inch with our baby.
I must have nodded off for a bit, because when I awoke it was because someone had entered the room, changing the air pressure as the door opened. It seemed like such a small thing, yet I immediately went on high alert. My first instinct was to seek out my daughter, and make sure she was safe. I didn’t have to look far. She was resting peacefully in the arms of her father who was still in the chair beside my bed, staring down at Willow as if she was the most amazing thing he’d ever seen. I knew in an instant that I would never grow tired of seeing him dote on her that way.
Of course, as I drew my attention back to the doorway of our room, I realized there was never a threat to begin with. My mom stood there, as if not quite sure she bother us, but I saw the moment where resolve won out, and as she addressed my mate. “I hate to do this, but we think it’s important for you to come speak with this woman.” When Mikael appeared slightly confused she continued on. “The victim that was found earlier. She has quite an interesting story to tell. I think you need to hear it.”
I didn’t hesitate. I flipped back my covers and started to get up out of bed before I noticed the horrified look on my mother’s face. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m coming too. If Mikael needs to hear it, then so do I.”
“Jess, you just had a baby. Willow needs you, and neither of you should be out running about just yet. Most humans take at least two days before they’re even allowed to leave the hospital, and then they still don’t go running off for to work for a while after.”
“We’re not human, mother!” I challenged her.
“No, but Willow hasn’t been through any changes yet, so for the time being she’s more human than werewolf. You need to remember that. Stay here, and take care of your daughter. Mikael and I will fill you in on what’s happening later.”
I huffed an indignant growl at my mother, but before I could get another word in edgewise, Ashley was there, filling up the doorway with her bright and shinning smile. “I can’t believe Asi and I were away for the birth!” She screeched out, and was immediately shushed by Mikael as he handed Willow off to me. “Oops, sorry,” Ashley whispered.
“I’ll be back to fill you in as soon as I can, baby.” Mikael offered as he bent down and kissed me. “Bye sweet girl, you be good for your mommy.” He leaned in and kissed Willow on the forehead then. I watched as he struggled with not wanting to go, and then I wondered what the hell was wrong with me that I was so ready to jump up, and get back into the mix of werewolf politics and intrigue, when I had such an amazing little gift right here in my arms to enjoy all to myself if I chose to?
“Love you,” I called out to Mikael when he was nearly to the door. He turned his head, and smiled at me, those jeweled eyes of his catching the light and sparkling as he turned to leave. “Love you too,” he called back over his shoulder and then he was gone.
“You guys are too sweet!” Ashley was staring at me as if I were hiding a big secret, and then I realized I had Willow bundled so snuggly against me that she couldn’t see her at all. “Can I hold her?”
“Of course you can! You’re Auntie Ashley, after all.”
“Oh my God! I can’t believe I’m an aunt.” She squealed as quietly as she could as she took hold of Willow and breathed in her fresh baby scent. “She’s so wonderful, Jess. I can’t wait to hold my own baby. It’s going to be so amazing. How bad was it? Was it horribly painful? Or was the pain really just hyped up by a bunch of moms who didn’t want to see their babies get knocked up too young?” Ashley was rambling, something she only did when she was nervous, and had a secret she was hiding.
“Ashley? Do you have something you want to tell me?”
“Okay, fine. How do you always manage to pull things out of me? Your super power is interrogation, I swear it.” I cocked an eyebrow at Ashley in amusement, because I hadn’t even tried to get the secret out of her yet. “When Asi asks, though, I am going to tell him you beat it out of me.”
“Fair enough,” I agreed as I laughed at her. She stalled for a few more minutes while cooing to my darling daughter. Willow already had Auntie Ashley wrapped around her little finger, it seemed. “I’m still waiting,” I whispered to her.