Dark Wolf Page 66

“The Hän ku pesäk kaikak,” Francesca said firmly. “He may have been the catalyst, but he wasn’t the cause. This type of warfare had to be planned a long time in advance. Our enemies had no way of knowing that Dimitri was Hän ku pesäk kaikak, let alone that he would fall into their hands. They used him as their excuse to start their war.”

Skyler nodded. “The thing is, we don’t know what having mixed blood might do to a child. MaryAnn and Manolito haven’t gotten pregnant. Tatijana is like me, not yet there, but both of us will be someday. It may be that we can’t have children.”

Francesca was her usual thoughtful self. She didn’t jump in to reassure Skyler, but thought it over in her mind. “There are two ways for you and Tatijana to look at this. You could try to get pregnant now, before you have enough of the Lycan blood to fully transform you, or you can wait and see. There is no sense in worrying about something you have no control over.”

“I just thought . . .” Skyler trailed off and reached out to grasp a flower stem, pulling the flower to her so she could smell the perfumed center.

“What?”

“The flowers up in the mountains, the Night Star flower, do you think the ceremony helps beyond fertility? Do you think it actually prevents miscarriages?”

“I know that it enhances one’s addiction—for lack of a better word—for the taste and scent of one’s lifemate. The flower ritual seems to create a tight sexual bond between lifemates, but as to whether or not it helps keep a child alive, no one honestly knows yet.”

“But Gregori and Savannah and Mikhail and Raven didn’t actually undergo the ceremony, and their babies have survived.”

“So has Shea and Jacques’s little boy. Tamara survived. Corrine and Dayan’s little Jennifer is doing well and she had a very scary start,” Francesca said. “None of them even knew about the fertility ceremony.”

“Did you know about it?” Skyler asked.

“I’d heard of the ceremony, but of course I’d never witnessed it,” Francesca admitted. “Why are you so worried about having a child, Skyler? You and Dimitri are just starting your lives. You’ll know eventually because, truly, you have all the time in the world. There is no ticking biological clock for you. You’re Carpathian.”

Skyler plucked at the hem of her jacket. “Maybe that’s true, but what if the clock is ticking? What if I can’t have children because I’ll be a mixed blood? Josef had to convert me,” she confessed in a little rush.

“Because Dimitri had to hold you to earth.”

Skyler shook her head. “Not just that. He was afraid to convert me. No woman has gone through the conversion as a mixed blood.”

“MaryAnn . . .”

“Was already Lycan,” Skyler finished. “Her body refused the total conversion. She retained her wolf. The two bloodlines coexist in her, just as it does in Fen and Dimitri.” She bit her lip and looked at her mother. “I knew everything, every concern Dimitri had when I asked him to convert me. And I accept it, if we can’t have children, I really do. Dimitri is my everything, but I did always picture us having children.”

Francesca stroked caresses over Skyler’s hair. “Don’t give up on the idea. And you need to talk to Dimitri about your fears.”

“I don’t want to make him feel bad, it’s not like he can do anything about it. This mixed blood thing isn’t anyone’s fault. It started centuries ago when he would fight vampires, need blood and there you go. He is what he is, and I’ll be the same.” She shook her head. “I guess I had all these fantasies in my head about my little house and my children and you and Gabriel coming to see us. It’s silly.”

“It isn’t silly. You have a house you and Dimitri will fix up into a beautiful home,” Francesca pointed out. “Whether you have children or not, we’ll come to see you. Skyler, it’s okay to be worried or upset, even when you have a lifemate. It’s a natural part of life. Dimitri is there for you to talk to. If children are important to you, he’ll find a way to make it happen.”

Skyler nodded. “I know he will. I just needed my mom for a minute to tell me everything is going to be okay.”

“It will be,” Francesca assured. She looked around the meadow. “Look how beautiful the night is, honey. Who would have thought that only two days ago men were killing one another?”

“Does anyone know why yet?”

Francesca shook her head. “I’m sure they all thought they had good reason. The Lycan council is staying to try to work the alliance out with Mikhail. They’ve sent for their own packs, ones they believe they can trust.” She hugged Skyler again. “You saved Zev’s life, Sky. It was an impossible wound to heal, but you saved his life.”

Skyler shook her head. “I had a lot of help. Tatijana and I played tag team. When one got too drained the other went in. The Carpathian people came through for us in spite of the battle going on, and Branislava”—she shook her head—“I don’t even know what she did.”

“She’s with him now, in the ground,” Francesca asked.

Skyler nodded. “I think everyone fears if Zev wakes he’ll think we buried him alive. He’s Lycan more than Carpathian, at least in his mind. I know what it feels like to think you’re buried beneath the earth and can’t get out.” She shuddered and wrapped her arms around herself.

“Maybe your father and I did you a disservice by allowing you to remain human.”

Skyler sent her mother a smile. “No, I think you raised me exactly right. Dimitri’s teaching me everything I need to know, and Ivory’s been helping me as well. She and Razvan have offered us wolf pups. We’re both very excited to be able to have them and become a pack with them.”

Francesca’s eyes widened. “How amazing. Ivory and Razvan are very . . . elusive. I’m glad he’s reaching out to you and sharing your life a little more.”

“It was me more than him that kept a distance,” Skyler admitted. “The idea of having mage blood was repugnant to me, until I needed it. Suddenly I was more than grateful to have it. I realized the blood and lineage had nothing to do with whether or not I chose to use my gifts for good or evil. That is my choice and my responsibility.”

Francesca smiled at her. “I’m so very proud of you. The things you’ve accomplished already are far beyond your years. Dimitri is lucky to have you.”

“I’m lucky to have him. He’s so good to me and patient. He never once pushed me for anything. He just was this constant in my life. A rock. Always there, expecting nothing from me. How could I not fall in love with him?”

Francesca took her hand. “I think the flower ceremony would be good for you, Skyler. Are you able to be with him intimately without panicking?”

Skyler nodded. She had become used to the open way of Carpathian communication and even with her mother, or maybe because she’d always talked things over with Francesca, talking about making love to Dimitri didn’t embarrass her. “So far, so good. He’s very gentle with me and patient. I love him all the more for that.”

Francesca nodded. “I’m grateful he’s your lifemate. He is a good man and a fierce warrior. He’ll protect you always. It’s nice to know he’s so capable. Gabriel was telling me that just last rising.” She suddenly lifted her head. “Oh, dear. I do believe your friends have tracked you down, Skyler. I love them dearly, but tonight their exuberance will be just a little too much for me.”

Skyler gripped her hand, suddenly comprehending. Francesca was very pale, and she hadn’t come to help save Zev, although she was a tremendous healer. “You’re pregnant, aren’t you? You didn’t want to tell me because of this silly worry of mine.”

Francesca leaned over to kiss her on the cheek. “Yes, I’m pregnant. With all this going on, the fighting, the scare with you, I’ve been a little exhausted. Gabriel wants us to go home so I can rest, but he’s needed here and I don’t want to leave until I know you’re safe.”

“Mom, you should have told me right away, instead of letting me go on and on about whether or not I could have a baby. You have to know I’m so excited and happy for you and Gabriel—for us all. I love babies. Tamara is the cutest, best sister in the world. Have you told her yet?”

Francesca shook her head. “We thought it best to see if I carry. You know it’s always so scary during the pregnancy.”

Skyler frowned. “Have you had trouble?”

“Just a little bit, while I was traveling. I’ve been spending most of my time with Sara. She’s on bed rest so we’ve kept things as quiet as possible with everything going on. She’s very near term while I’m just starting out.”

Skyler let her breath out. She could hear Josef and Paul running across the field toward them, Paul whooping enthusiastically and Josef playing leapfrog over him.

“Francesca, let Gabriel take you home. Have him call in Darius and Julian.” Darius was Gabriel’s younger brother. “They’ll come. You know they will. They can take his place. I’ll be fine. I’ve got tons of protection. I can’t turn around without stumbling over Carpathian men, watching that no assassin creeps out of the woodwork to do me in.”

Francesca sighed, her fingers once more stroking lovingly through Skyler’s hair. “If we go, you know Lucian and Jaxon will go with us. Lucian still watches over Gabriel like a hawk. Gabriel thinks it’s funny.”

“Go, Mom,” Skyler encouraged. “Mikhail would tell them all to take you home.” She leaned over and kissed her mother.

“You’re on some kind of a hit list.”

“Go. Really. I’d be on that list whether you were here or not. I’d rather know that you and the baby are out of harm’s way and that you have a good chance to carry this little life to term. If it comes to me never being able to have a baby, I’ll have my sisters and brothers.” She hugged Francesca hard. “Go home for me, Mom.”

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