I knew that André and Darren had found a surrogate that met all their requirements in November. By December, she had successfully undergone IVF with an embryo fertilized by André and another by Darren. To the surprise of some, except medical professionals that understand how genetics can behave, both embryos divided, and the surrogate went from carrying two babies to two sets of identical twins.
I haven’t kept tabs on the progress beyond what I’ve heard from conversations with André. I trust Annamaria to handle things. She’s an excellent obstetrician. I’d considered telling André to trust Annamaria regarding the surrogate’s care. However, the words died on my tongue when he told me the surrogate had suffered a placental abruption.
Medically speaking, there isn’t anything Annamaria could do about it. She could only put the surrogate on bed rest, monitor the babies, and prescribe medicines to help the development of the babies to increase survival chances if it was to get worse and they needed to be delivered sooner. As a healer, medical limitations don’t apply. There are a few things that my power cannot heal. Things like cancer. I’m unsure if I can repair the placental damage, but I can and will try.
I quickly threw on some casual clothes while contacting our pilot to prepare the jet for departure. As concerned as I am for the safety of the future heirs of Madonie, I’m just thrilled for an excuse to get the fuck out of Silvermane. This pack is fucked in the head. They spit in the eye of the Goddess by denying the mate bond and forcing chosen bonds. The further I am from these crazy people, the better.
Now I must let my Papa and sister know I’m leaving and taking the jet. They can easily find other travel methods to reach Ironfur. It’s not like there is anywhere near that pack the plane could land in the first place. I did one last check to ensure I had everything before I went into the hall and knocked on Zoe’s door and then on Papa’s.
“Alexander?” Zoe frowned, rubbing sleep from her eyes as she opened her door.
“What’s wrong?” Papa asked as he rubbed his hand over his messy blonde hair.
“André has called me home. There is an issue with the surrogate that has placed her on bed rest and put the heirs in danger. It’s a placental abruption so that Annamaira could do nothing.” I quickly explained.
“Wait, what does that mean? Is she okay? Are our baby cousins okay?” Zoe asked, now very much awake.
“If caught early enough, it won’t be life-threatening to the surrogate or the babies,” Papa assured her as he stepped out of his room and came closer so we didn’t have to talk loudly.
“It’ll be fine. But you know André. He is worried for the safety of the babies, thus calling me back. I’ve already called our pilot and told him to be ready to take me home.” I assured her.
“Wait, if you are taking the jet, what about us? We are supposed to be flying out tomorrow… er, tonight. Whatever freaking time it is. Have I mentioned I’m so over this time zone change bullshit?” Zoe lost the plot a little as she ranted.
“We’ll figure it out, Zoe. Alexander returning to Madonie is more important than our travel arrangements. I’ll contact Alpha Finn on his recommendations for our travel.” Papa quickly found a solution, or at least a path to a solution.
“Fine. If Alpha Finn can’t provide an alternative, I will hitchhike not to spend another day here if necessary.” Zoe shuddered as she wrapped her arms around herself.
“Zoe, it hasn’t been that bad.” Papa sighed.
“Not that bad?” Zoe blinked. “Alexander, is he being serious?” She asked.
I shrugged. I knew exactly what Zoe’s problem was. We’ve both had a similar issue in this pack of people thinking they can try and force a chosen mate on us. While it’s bad enough when they try to push their daughters on me, it’s far worse for Zoe.
The males they’ve been pushing at her all have this Neanderthal mindset that Zoe would GIVE UP her title to live in this backward fucking pack. My sister would rather die mateless than stop being the Nebrodi Beta.
“No one is forcing you to do anything.” Papa pointed out. “You’ve freely, loudly, and perhaps too bluntly told off six males that have offered to be your mate.”
“Too bluntly?” My sister scoffed.
I grimaced because I could see what was coming. You’d think Papa would know better than to prod the DeLuca temper. Twenty-six years with Mama should have taught him where that line is. Then again, he probably did know and pushed her buttons on purpose.
“Oh, I’ve been kind when I’ve told these Neanderthal sexist bigots to fuck off. I haven’t left enough statues to fill a museum in my wake because I’m here on Nebrodi business.” Zoe’s hands started to flail in frustration as she got worked up.
“And I tell you this, if that rat-faced, self-hating closet piece of shit Beta Tucker tries to suggest a mating between us, I’m going to throw up on him and then make him a statue with the puke fused in.” She warned.
“Well, on that disgusting note, I’m heading out. Enjoy the rest of the trip.” I shook my head.
“Safe travels, son.” Papa nodded and hugged me.
“Take good care of their surrogate and our baby cousins.” Zoe sighed and hugged me.
“Of course,” I assured her, but as I went to step back, she gripped my shoulders and made eye contact with me.
“I mean it, Alexander. I know you have had your issues since she-who-shall-not-be-named. But I need your word. I need you to promise me, promise on Mama’s life, on the Goddess herself.” She insisted, holding my shoulders tighter.
“I don’t care, but I need you to promise that no matter what, you will take the best care of their surrogate. Not just keeping her healthy physically but mentally and emotionally.” She continued.
“I have no intentions of doing or saying anything that would negatively impact their surrogate. I know very well that the physical health of a pregnant woman can change based on their mental and emotional state.” I sighed.
“Promise me.” Zoe insisted.
“I promise. I swear on the Goddess and Mama that I will not intentionally do anything to hurt André and Darren’s surrogate.” I promised.
“It’ll have to be enough. I know you can’t promise unintentional actions.” Zoe sighed and let me go.
“Okay…. Well, that was weird. I’m going to go now.” I shook my head and hefted my bag over my shoulder before heading for a taxi to the airport.
I couldn’t understand why my sister insisted on making me make such a promise. I don’t even know who was selected to be the surrogate. It wasn’t my business, and in the long run, it wouldn’t matter. The surrogate wouldn’t remain around after the babies are born. Her job was only to provide the eggs and carry them. She won’t be their Mama or stay in their lives, so it’s not like I’d deal with this woman after the heirs have been born.
And after what happened with Lia, it’s not like I will flirt with the surrogate. I have trouble wanting to touch any woman. No way in hell I’d want to touch a pregnant woman. The thought made my skin crawl, and I resisted the urge to throw up. I shook away the thoughts and tried to get more sleep on the long flight home.
It had been a long day when I finally landed in Madonie. I’d spent nearly twelve hours on a plane traveling across multiple time zones to get home after eight o’clock at night, Sicilian local time. As much as I wanted to go to my Beta suite, I knew it wouldn’t happen. André was clear that I was to report directly to his villa.
I sighed and stretched as I climbed out of the car when I arrived at André’s villa. If the surrogate stayed with them, I assumed she’d be in the guest house. So instead of heading for the front doors, I walked through the carport directly to the guest house. My steps had been sluggish from the travel, but as I got closer to the guest house, I felt a spring in my step.
‘MATE!’ Lucius proclaimed.
Despite the concern in my heart, I started to move faster, following the scent of golden honey and toasted almonds, gentled with a soothing herbal musk. Nothing about this scent coming from the guest house bodes well for me. I could only hope the smell was that of a friend or caregiver for the surrogate rather than the surrogate herself.
Please, Goddess, don’t let it be the surrogate.
As I reached for the door to the guest house, it swung open, and my heart lodged in my throat and stopped beating. Staring back at me, perfect cupid bows lips parted in an ‘o’ as she gasped, with wide green eyes, dressed in a honey yellow V-neck dress with an unmistakable baby bump, stood Delilah Fayte. My Zio Alec’s sister-in-law. My cousin’s surrogate. My mate.
It now made sense why Zoe insisted on me making that promise. She knew. ZOE KNEW! Not about us being mates, but she KNEW Delilah was the surrogate! How many other people knew? How many people kept that from me?
I felt so many emotions that I didn’t know how to handle them. And I will get hell for this later, but it is better than letting myself say something I’d regret. I turned on my heel and walked away.
I ignored my wolf and every fiber of my being, screaming to go back and got far enough away that I could smell or see her and threw up in the bushes. I’ve spent years looking for my mate, and she was under my nose all along. My mate is the one person that cut me out of her life because of Lia.
If Lia hadn’t done what she’d done, Delilah would have been home for her first shift, and we’d have known years ago. We’d have known if Delilah hadn’t continued to avoid me even after Lia’s lies came to light. And now… now I find her, and she’s… fuck she’s pregnant with the future heirs of Madonie. What the hell am I going to do?
Why did André call Alexander? Okay, I know why. With Alexander’s gift, there is a high chance he would be able to repair the placenta issue that caused the bleeding and put Baby D in danger. And I wouldn’t dare try to put my comfort over the health and safety of these babies. It’s just, why did it have to be Alexander? It would have been easier on me if he’d asked Alec to recall Damon. It’s been over two years since I’ve seen him. I thought I’d changed. I thought that I’d overcome this crush. Yet the butterflies were back when André called him. And I know these aren’t the butterfly feelings I get when the babies move. Nope, this feeling is reserved only for Alexander Petridis. I both love and hate it. How can he still have such power over me? I may have taken the suggestions of my Bloodmoon friends and gotten Alexander out of my system by dating. It isn’t like there was a lack of cute males between Bloodmoon and Silverclaw. However, many were apprehensive about flirting with me. I
‘Get it the FUCK together, Alexander!’ Lucius growled. ‘Don’t you think I would if it were that easy?’ I growled back as I held the side of the garage for support. I know he’s pissed at me. I’m pissed at myself. But this isn’t something I have control over. It’s not like I wanted to have this reaction to Delilah, let alone to her being my mate. Why didn’t anyone tell me she was the surrogate? It would have been nice to have some warning before finding her like this. Pregnant with my cousin’s babies. I choked back the vomit as I tried to control my reaction. Seriously, why do the actions of that damn bitch still mess with me? Wasn’t it bad enough that I haven’t been able to touch a woman since I lost all trust in their gender? Now the ripple effect of what she did has me throwing up after meeting my mate. I don’t think anything in my past made me deserve this. I closed my eyes and let myself slide down the garage wall to sit on the ground. I groaned as I pulled my legs up and pl
What is this strange feeling? It feels familiar but foreign, like lounging in a field of flowers on a sunny day. I feel so safe and warm. That’s why it feels familiar. This feels like every time Alexander held me or at the least hugged me. But there’s something else that makes it feel foreign. This electricity makes every cell in my body buzz in response. And nothing responded quite as much as my nipples and vagina. ‘Mmmm… mate.’ Helia practically purred. That was enough to make my eyes fly open. All the feelings of exhaustion and heartbreak from when I went to bed were gone. I felt energized, hopeful, and, I’m embarrassed to admit it, horny. I’m not unfamiliar with that last feeling, especially when associated with Alexander. I won’t ever admit it aloud, but he was the first man I fantasized about. So opening my eyes to see Alexander sitting on the edge of my bed with his hand under my dress felt like a scene from one of those fantasies. Maybe I am dreaming. That would be my luck.
I usually don’t mind when I’m wrong, and Lucius is right. But I hated that he was right about having to touch Delilah to heal her. Mostly I hated that he was right about how it would affect me. I don’t know why I thought I could fool myself. I’m not above the mate bond and its magnetic pull. Even if she weren’t my mate, I’d still have rushed to help her. It doesn’t matter that she cut me out of her life. It doesn’t matter how bad she hurt me. There was no way I could stand by and do nothing to protect her or keep her safe. And that included having to touch her to heal her. I thought I was prepared for what would happen when I touched her. I thought it would be minor as I was only checking her pulse on her wrist. I’ve touched her wrist and her hand in the past. It shouldn’t have been a big deal. Yeah, I was wrong. No amount of being told about the mate bond can prepare anyone for the intense feeling when you touch your mate, especially for the first time. I had to close my eyes and b
A part of me felt like I deserved this. I deserved Alexander to treat me as just another patient. I am the one that went no contact. I’m the one that ended our friendship. So why should I expect his feelings to change suddenly? The mate bond can do much but can’t erase the past. He was hurt by my pulling away from our friendship. He wouldn’t be acting like this if he wasn’t unless he’s like this because I’m a surrogate for André and Darren. And if that’s the case, well, too bad. André is his cousin, maybe not by blood, but still. They are family, and more than that, André is his Alpha. He should be supportive of anyone offering to carry the heirs for Madonie. Then a part of me says Alexander can go to hell. I don’t deserve to be treated so coldly. He knew why I stopped talking to him. I couldn’t stand around while Liar played him like a fiddle. I couldn’t stand by and watch the train wreck. Plus, she was pretty clear that night I needed to stay away and went so far as to point out th
The run from André’s villa to the pack hospital didn’t help clear my mind. It felt good to be home, however. Spending nine months away had been hard. There’s a reason that rogues tend to be more aggressive and unstable. They have no connection to a pack and a territory. They can’t ever feel ‘home.’ It’s similar, but to a lesser extent, when a wolf spends extended periods away from their pack and territory. It explained why the three of us had grown increasingly agitated the longer we were gone. I’m amazed Papa hadn’t cracked being so far from Incubi and Mama. Then again, maybe that’s why he’d been the more level-headed of us. He may have been far from her, but the bond remained. Meanwhile, Zoe and I didn’t have that. I feel bad for the packs they still had to visit, mostly Ironfur, as it was next after Silvermane left a bad impression on all of us. I can only hope the males of Ironfur aren’t sexist Neanderthals that try to talk down to her. If they are well, I hope Alpha Finn is cool
I wasn’t sure how I would get through this with Alexander acting this way. How am I supposed to handle him touching me, but only in a professional manner? How is he able to separate the feelings of the bond like that? I’m struggling to separate the effects of the bond from my feelings. I admit there is still part of me that cares very much for him, not a result of the bond. There is still hurt in my heart from how he’s been acting. ‘You love him, and you know it.’ Helia commented. ‘That’s why this is so hard for you. And we don’t know why Alexander is acting like this. We can find out more when we talk to him alone.’ She assured me. I’m not sure how much of a silver lining that is. Goddess knows when or if I’ll get to speak with him alone. After I’ve been medically clear, there isn’t any guarantee he won’t try to run off and avoid me. I’ll have to show him I’m not the same old Delilah that will let him sit me on the sidelines of his life. I’m a strong independent woman who can and w
Lucius had crossed a line. He had no right to use the word ‘love’ like that. Least of all, using it when trying to speak for me. I don’t even know how I feel about Delilah. Yes, of course, I care about her. I cared about her even before all this. I’ve cared about her since the war. But that doesn’t mean I love her. And I am not going to let the mate bond dictate my feelings. If I learned anything from my parents, it’s that love should be earned. Love should be cultivated. Love isn’t a light switch that you flick and suddenly feel. Love is a seed in your heart that needs to be nurtured to grow and, if possible, blossom. I don’t want a love that is only there because of a mythical bond. I want a love that I feel on my own. I may have sunk into the darkness of my panic attack to the point that Lucius was able to take control, but I heard him say we love her. And that was enough to get me to fight the rip tide that was trying to pull me under. It took me longer than I wanted to break fr