Their child. She stopped in the shadow of one of the old oaks, her hands pressing her flat abdomen as her womb convulsed in need. The heat was building again. She couldn’t conceive, would never conceive because of her own foolishness. Was it fate’s sneering payment for having not protected the child she had carried the first time? She believed heavily in fate, in payment earned for any and all crimes against nature. Just as the world was now paying, as nature demanded the survival of the species science created, was fate exacting its own payment because she hadn’t protected the life she had been given?
“Sherra, are you okay?” Callan’s voice came through the communications unit she had clipped on before leaving her bedroom.
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She drew in a deep breath. If he was watching the pinpoints on the monitors in the communications shed, he would know where she was and worry that she wasn’t heading for the meeting he had arranged.
“I’m fine.” She fought to keep her voice even, to keep her breathing calm. “I’m on my way in.”
“We’ll be waiting on you then,” he responded quietly, though she knew she hadn’t fooled him. Damn, Doc probably told him about the test results, which would only make things worse. The increase in the hormone in her system was dramatic. Pretty soon, she would no longer to be able to fight, she’d be on her knees begging Kane to f**k her again.
The hormones in Kane’s system, though increased, didn’t seem to be affecting him as drastically as they were her. Even more worrisome was the strange tenderness around her womb, a slight swelling in the area of the fallopian tubes that had become more sensitive.
The heat was changing as well. The need was so much fiercer than it had ever been at this phase. She should have had two more weeks before entering the full phase of it, and even then, it hadn’t been like this. This went beyond pain. Beyond hunger. It was a fire inside her that only Kane’s release had quenched, and then, only for a while.
She drew in a hard breath and continued to the communications shed and the meeting Callan had called. The missile attack, followed so closely by Seth Lawrence’s arrival, was worrying him as well as Kane. The information gained from the missile-wielding attacker had been anything but comforting. Learning that some unknown person or group was hiring assassins to get into the compound and kill Merinus, Roni and the child was frankly terrifying. It upped the stakes in an already dangerous game.
* * * * *
Kane flipped the lights back on and watched the expressions of the four people gathered in the makeshift office after the briefing on both the assassin who had struck days before and Aaron and Seth Lawrence.
The assassin was an irritation. An inept nobody who had found the caves that opened from the other side of the mountain and led into Breed territory. That would have to be taken care of. Aaron and Seth were a larger issue. The son, Kane was inclined to trust. The father was another matter entirely. His public stand on the Breeds was well-known, his opinion that they should be penned back up and kept closely guarded had been vocalized publicly several times.
“Double the guards in the forests,” Callan said, his voice vibrating with an angry growl. “Have a unit start scouring the property for other caves, other entrances we’re unaware of. Whoever strikes, they have to get past our perimeter security before they can strike the house. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen again. Put extra guards on the guesthouse too. Make sure the Lawrence party stays put.”
“Seth wouldn’t hurt his sister.” Dawn surprised them all when she spoke up then. Her voice was firm, carrying an edge of steel that had slowly developed after Dayan’s death. Her amber eyes regarded them all, the shadows of the past still swirling in the depths, though she no longer avoided their eyes.
“What makes you say that?” Kane asked her. His voice, though questioning, didn’t outright reject her opinion either.
She pushed back the fringe of soft, light brown hair that fell over her forehead.
“I can’t explain it.” Dawn shook her head. “You can smell the truth just as easily as you can a lie,” she told him, her voice low. “He’s not lying, Kane.”
“He’s not the only one here, either,” Kane reminded her. “What about the others?”
She seemed surprised that he asked her opinion.
“I don’t know about the others,” she finally said nervously. “Some people are easier to read.”
He nodded quickly. “Okay, you shadow the son then, I’ll put others on the father and chauffeur. Let me know what you sense, Dawn. We’re all in this together. We combine our strengths and weaknesses. That’s how we’ll survive.”
He was aware of Dawn’s start of surprise, the slow confidence that built in her gaze as she watched him closely. But Sherra’s look was like a physical caress. She was thrown off balance by the way he handled Dawn, but he didn’t agree with the others and their intention to shelter her through any and all of life’s hardships. She had been kicked too hard and too often in the past. Protecting her now would only harm the woman slowly emerging from her shell.
“That’s it,” Kane said decisively as they all rose to their feet. His gaze narrowed on his mate. “Except for you.” He gave Sherra a mocking, sardonic smile despite the growing arousal tightening his body. “I still need to talk to you.”
She lifted a brow. He hadn’t spoken to her since the night before but he had noticed her nervousness and irritability as the meeting progressed. She was so damned hot she was nearly blazing. He watched her now, his gaze touching on her swollen br**sts, her ni**les poking against the dark cloth of her uniform tank top, the way her gaze, when it touched upon him, turned hungry. No hungrier than his, though, he was certain. He was starving for the taste of her. His own lust had only increased since taking her the night before, the need for the unique, dark taste of her kiss was making him crazy.
“Don’t fight with her, Kane,” Callan grumped as he moved to the door with the others. “We’re having a hard enough time getting along with her.”
Sherra clenched her teeth as she stared back at her Pride leader.
“That is not true,” she snapped.
Callan snorted. “Tell it to someone who doesn’t have the scars from sparring with you, little sister. They might believe it.”
A small warning growl was her only response as Callan chuckled and left the room, leaving Kane alone with her. He had watched the byplay between brother and sister, seeing the affection, the familial bond between them. Just as he shared one with Merinus.