Mia pulled her thick winter jacket tighter around her shoulders and she trudged back to the house, Aiden in tow. The sun was beginning to set and the air had turned frigid. Her breath misted the air in front of her face each time she exhaled.
Aiden was silent behind, the crunch of snow the only sign of her presence. He hadn’t said anything when she finally emerged from the cave. He had just looked at her with a blank expression on her face and fell in to step behind her.
She would have teased him about this being the longest he had ever gone without saying a word to her, but she just didn’t feel up to it. She didn’t really feel like returning the house just yet, but she knew that if she remained out past dark, Nick would go insane with worry. As mad as she was, she was not cruel enough to make him suffer that way.
Besides she hadn’t been running away, she had just wanted a moment of peace of quiet to think. She wasn’t sure who had spread the news that she might be pregnant but within half an hour of Mia storming out of the kitchen, the cars began to arrive.
The first one was Marco and Ada. Ada hadn’t even bothered to knock before she barged in to Mia room demanding why Mia had not told her she was pregnant before going on how pissed was that Mia had kept something so important for her. She had kept it up for thirty straight minutes before she paused long enough for Mia to tell her she wasn’t pregnant.
Ada had refused to listen to her. After all, hadn’t Ada seem her barfing up her breakfast not too long ago. Of course she was pregnant. Of course that was the exact moment that Daphne and Adeline had walked in to the room so of course they took up where Ada had stopped.
After ten minutes of all three babbling at her, Mia hadn’t been able to take it, she fled her room only to find the kitchen now contained her mother, her half-brother, William, Aiden and Ronan. All eyes turned to her and as one they opened their mouths to speak to her.
Mia hadn’t been able to take it. When she could find no room to hide in at the house, she had fled. She had grabbed her winter coat and ran out the front door telling Nathaniel as she passed him on the way out that she needed a moment to breath. Of course that moment had turned in to six hours, but really, who was counting.
As the wooded path they walked on, began to open and she spotted the clearing where Nathaniel’s house stood just up ahead, her pace began to slow, until finally her feet stopped at the edge of the clearing.
It looked like every light in the two story wooden cabin was on. And just like the first time she saw the house, she felt that same welcoming warmth fill her chest. Home, this placed was home. It didn’t matter how many years had passed or how many lives she had lived in between, this place would always be home.
Taking a deep breath, Mia stepped in to the clearing, her silent shadow a step behind. She hadn’t any of the others on the way back, but she could sense their presence, William’s Enhanced Army guarding this place she called home.
She knew William never did anything out of the goodness of her heart and that he had some up his sleeve, but at the moment she was just thankful that he had his men protecting the house while she was away. She figured she could deal with him later.
Right now she just wanted to be home. She climbed the back stairs and opened the back door leading into the mudroom behind the kitchen. She slipped off her jacket and took off her boots. Aiden hadn’t followed her in to the house, instead he stood outside the back door, standing guard once more.
She stopped to wonder for a moment just what he thought he was protecting her again, but the lure of the warm hearth and the sweet scent of hot chocolate drew her in to the kitchen.
She was surprised to find it empty except for Nathaniel who stood at the counter stirring a pot of simmering on the stovetop. He looked up with a smile as he entered the room.
“Perfect timing,” Nathaniel said as he clicked off the gas burner and removed the pot from the stove top. He poured the steaming liquid in to two mugs sitting on the counter.
“Where is everyone?” Mia asked as she drifted over to the bar separating the cooking area from the dining area.
“A call came in a not too long ago. Marco and Ronan had to leave to check up on it. Alistair had left to pick up Delilah from the airport. Her plane came in early and Marco didn’t have any men available to pick her up. Sarah and the rest of your family are trying to clear a walkway up in the attic now that Delilah is on her way. William is in the temporary base he set up in the den,” Nathaniel informed her as he held out a mug towards her.
“And Nick?” She asked hesitantly as she accepted the steaming mug.
“He’s in his room,” Nathaniel said with an amused smile, “He said he needed some peace and quiet. Your mother was demanding he go and get you. They didn’t have time for you to be throwing a tantrum. He had restrain himself from zapping her with a bolt of lightning on multiple occasions. When Sarah suggested they go up to the attic to make space, he fled.”
“That should make him rethink marrying me,” Mia snorted as she took a sip of the warm chocolate milk. She let out a blissful sigh and she closed her eyes and savored the sweet slightly bitter liquid.
She heard Nathaniel chuckle, “I don’t think that woman would be enough to make him rethink marrying you.”
“I would think my family would be enough to make any man run away screaming,” Mia said with a smirk as she opened her eyes.
“Most men probably,” Nathaniel admitted, “But not Nikolas.”
“If he were smart, he would run far and fast,” Mia said as took another sip of hot chocolate before setting the mug down on the granite counter in front of her.
“I don’t think there is anything in this world that would make that boy turn away from you,” Nathaniel told her.
“Sometimes I wish there were,” Mia said with a heavy sigh, “You know from here on out, things are not going to be easy. There are only just going to get worse. People are going to get hurt, a lot of them will probably die. Emily has been holding back until now. She won’t be holding back any longer, she’ll come at us full force now.”
Nathaniel nodded solemnly, “There is a war coming. But it a war we are prepared to fight.”
“The world is not prepared for what it coming. Death will walk among us once more,” Mia said as she looked down at her pale hands, seeing the blood that covered them long ago.
“Does this mean you are prepared to face the truth?” A new voice said, Mia turned slowly to find Nick leaned against the kitchen door leading to their room.
“The truth doesn’t matter any more,” Mia said simply, “By now word will have reached my sister, whether or not I’m pregnant won’t make a difference. As long as she believes it, that is all that matters.”
“She will come and she will destroy anything that stands in her way. Blood will run down the streets and ash will fall from the skies. Nothing will stand before my sister and survive.”
“Well it’s probably a good thing then that Damien was able to convince his father that siding with the Dragos Clan will be the only way he will survive this war,” William announced as he walked in to the room from the front hall, “If your sister tries to come after you, she will find herself up against an army of Dragos, Chen, and Enhanced.”
“Are you pledging your men to me?” Mia asked, too stunned to make a sarcastic remark.
“I am pledging my men for a chance of survival. We won’t let Emily destroy this world without a fight. She may one day have your father on her side, but we have his heir on our side now.”
Mia watched in amazement as William drew a slim blade out of his sleeve. He quickly slid the thin blade against his palm. Mia could taste the magic on the back of her tongue as blood weld up in his palm. He straight at her, and spoke, “I make this vow to you now, Mia of the Dragon Clan, I will retrieve your body and I will find a way to transfer your soul back to your body. We are going to need every weapon in our arsenal and you are the greatest weapon of all. If we are going to war, we are going to win. I will make sure of that.”
Mia could only stand there, mouth hanging open as the blood in his palm burst in to black flames. A blood vow, she had heard of them, but she had never seen one done. William had basically just promised to return her soul back to her body or he would sacrifice not just his life, but his very soul.
Mia didn’t know what to say. Thank you just didn’t seem to be enough. As it was, he didn’t give her time to say anything. He closed his fist, as the flames vanished in a puff of acrid smoke.
“The healer is ready for you,” was all he said before turning around and walking out of the room as if he had not just made the most important proclamation of his life. Well damn, how was she supposed to follow that. Sacrificing her life now to grant Nick eternal life just seemed so selfish. Not when William was willing to risk his soul to save her own. She had no choice now, she had to fight and survive long enough for William to complete his vow of they would both be dead and then this war would definitely be lost.
Mia lay back on the portable examine table William’s men had brought it. The had been kind enough to put a curtain up separating the den in half, one side was William’s temporary command center, the other side was exactly as Ronan had described. The amount of equipment they had in the room, would have made Sarah’s OB-GYN jealous. It was all new and the latest models from what William told her.
Mia wasn’t interested in the medical equipment around her, she just wanted to get the ultrasound over with. The examine table wasn’t the most comfortable thing to lie on, and the number of people crowding around her and William’s healer was making the room uncomfortably warm.
It was a good thing she had gotten over any modesty long ago, otherwise she wasn’t sure how she would feel about the amount of skin showing. The moment Mia had stepped in to the room, one of the healer’s assistants had handed her a hospital gown and asked her to get changed.
She started to argue saying she had watched enough shows on television to know she didn’t need to strip to do an ultrasound, when the assistant informed her that her husband had asked the healer to do a full examination. Mia had turned to glare at Nick who stood behind her. He just glared right back.
Without saying a word, she grabbed the gown and walked down the hall to the nearest bathroom where she stripped out of her warm clothes and pulled on the drafty hospital gown.
She walked back in to the den to find that the small space designated for the pop-up clinic was now filled with people. It seems they had finished cleaning the attic and now her “family” had come to watch.
Ada had just snickered when she spotted Mia holding the thin gown closed. Mia ignored her cousin and climbed carefully on to the examination table. The healer who looked to be a woman in her early thirties smiled at Mia and promised her she would be as gentle as possible.
The woman looked nice enough, but Mia couldn’t help but be suspicious of anyone that worked for William. So instead of replying, she just nodded and lay back, concentrating on counting the wooden beams above her head while she tried to ignore the woman poking and prodding her lower half. The experience had definitely not been comfortable.
Nick stood beside her the whole time, he had taken her left hand in his own as he watched the doctor do her examination. His thumb absently brushing the gold ring around her thumb.
“Okay, everything looks good so far, now I think it’s time we take a look at the baby,” The healer said with a smile for Mia that she did not return. It didn’t seem to deter the woman as she squeeze a bottle of warm jelly on her bare stomach.
“Will we even be able to see anything?” Ada asked curiously as she pushed her way to the front so she could look at the monitor, blocking Mia’s view. But since she wasn’t interested in seeing nothing, she didn’t much care.
“At this point, the fetus wouldn’t be more then a small speck on the screen, but we should be able to see something,” The healer informed them.
“Or nothing,” Mia said under her breath, which got her a dark look from the man at her side.
“Behave,” he scolded as the healer pressed the handheld probe against her lower abdomen.
“You owe me,” Mia told him, “This is not what I signed up for. Giving my family a free peep show was definitely not part of the agreement.”
“Behave for a little while longer and I’ll make it up to you,” He said with sexy smile on his lips, before he leaned down and pressed a soft kiss against her lips.
“Don’t think that’s going to work on me,” Mia told him, “Not after what you just put me through.”
“It was necessary. We don’t know what the change did to your body, or what affect it would have on the child,” He informed her.
“There is no child,” Mia said with a weary sigh.
“That’s not what this little dot on the screen,” Ada said as she looked over her shoulder at Mia.
“What? Where?” Daphne demanded as she pushed Ada aside. “I don’t see anything.”
“It’s right the-“ Ada was saying when her words cut off as she turned back to the screen. “What the hell? It was right there.”
“I think you’re seeing things,” Daphne said with a toss of her magenta curls as she moved away, no longer interested.
“But it was right there,” Ada argued as she turned to the healer who was staring at the screen with a deep frown on her lips, “You saw it. Tell them.”
“Did you see anything?” Adeline asked as she came to stand beside’s Ada, looking over the other woman’s shoulders.
“She’s right. There was something there for a moment and then it was gone,” The healer said as she rolled the probe over Mia’s abdomen.
“Could the machine be mistaken?” Adeline asked as all eyes were now suddenly focused on the screen.
“It’s possible,” The healer admitted, “But the fact that we did see something and that all the blood tests came back positive, I can’t say what’s wrong.”
“Wait, there! It’s there again!” Ada practically screamed as she was pushed out of the way as Daphne moved forward again.
“She’s right, there is something there,” Adeline said as glanced down at Mia with a troubled frowned on her lips.
“It’s flickering. Is something wrong with the monitor?” Daphne asked as she touched the screen.
“No, it’s not the machine,” the healer informed them as she turned to look back at Mia and then Nick.
“What’s happening?” Nick demanded to know, his grip on Mia’s hand turned painful.
“May I take a look at the markings on your chest?” The healer as she gestured to the one part of Mia that was still covered up.
“Its not like there’s any part of me that the people in the room haven’t seen,” Mia said with a sigh as she sat up enough for the healer to pull down the top half of the hospital gown enough so that she could see the red veins running across her chest, neck and shoulder. she lightly ran her warm fingers over the markings on Mia’s neck. It send a shiver down her spine but it didn’t hurt.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” The healer admitted, “This is definitely not natural.”
“Nothing about me is natural,” Mia said with a snort which got her more then one disapproving look.
“If I didn’t know better, I would say this was a blood magic spell, but I can’t feel the magic. I can sense that there is something there. Something that’s not natural,” The healer explained.
“Could it have anything to do with her being changed?” Nick asked, a deep scowl on his lips.
“I don’t think the change did this. I think it might be a reaction to the change, though. So whatever this is, it was probably there prior to the change. The change just made it visible to our eyes.”
“If you have to make a guess, what kind of blood magic spell do you think it is?” Her mother asked as she moved towards the front of the group. Until then, she had remained quiet and at the back of the room, probably hoping she would remain unnoticed so they would let her remain. Mia had seen her when she had first entered the room, she just hadn’t cared one way who was there or who wasn’t. They only reason she was here was for Nick. If Nick had a problem with her being there, he hadn’t said anything.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” The healer repeated.
“But if you have to take your best guess.”
The healer shook her head, “There is no pain emanating from the markings, no sense of malice that I can feel. Either the spell has not been activated, or it means no harm. Because the markings seem to spread out from the area above her heart I could only guess that it is either meant to protect her heart, or…” The healer let her word drift into silence and she looked at Mia and then Nick hopelessly.
“Or what?” Nick asked bleakly.
“Or it will attack my heart first,” Mia finished for the healer who just nodded.
“Could the spell be affecting the child?” Her mother asked calmly.
“I don’t believe it means any harm to the child. Whatever the spell is designed to do, I don’t think its will affect the pregnancy. But at the same time, if the spell is meant to harm the mother, it will harm the child in turn. I do think though, that the magic is affecting the ultrasound. Magic and technology do not alway work well together. This may be one of those times.”
“So the reason the fetus flickers on and off the screen is because the spell cast on Mia is keeping the machine from getting a good reading?” Adeline asked.
“It seems to be,” The header nodded.
“But is the baby all right?” Daphne asked with a worried frown.
“I unfortunately can’t say. I believe the magic would affect any other tests we would try to run. But because it is early enough in the pregnancy and because her body hasn’t aborted the fetus yet, I would say the child has a good chance of developing normally as long as there are no further stress put upon it.”
“So you agree with William’s assessment that she shouldn’t use her magic?” Nick asked.
The healer hesitated for a moment as she looked at Mia first, then Nick, and then back to Mia again, “William informed me about your situation and how you lost your first child. I don’t think the use of magic has anything to do with the loss of your first child. It was probably the severeness of the wounds you suffered. But I would not recommend the use of magic unless it is absolutely necessary, not because of what it will do to the fetus, but what it will do to your body. If your body weakens to the point that it can no longer support the fetus, it will try to abort the child.”
Mia said nothing. She just lay back on the examine table and stared up at the ceiling. The healer’s words meant nothing to her. In her heart, she still didn’t believe that she was pregnant. Nick may believe it, but she didn’t. It had nothing to do with her not wanting to be pregnant. She was sure of it. It had everything to do with the fact that she felt nothing, nothing at all.
She knew better than to say anything. No one would believe her. Nick wouldn’t believe her. Nick seemed to want this child. It probably had a lot to do with the child they had lost. But he was letting his wants blind him.
Sure, it was a possibility that she was pregnant. They had made love a lot after they had regained their past memories. But then the visions had started and even the thought of getting pregnant had terrified her enough that she wouldn’t let Nick touched her for days. The visions had not stared because her body was trying to tell her she was pregnant. They had started because her body and borrowed soul were deteriorating.
And even if she may have been pregnant, there was no way the fetus could have survived the constant bleeding. She barely had enough energy to support her own body much less a growing one inside her.
It didn’t matter what the tests or the ultrasound said. She wasn’t pregnant. Now she just had convince someone else of the fact. There was no way she could not use her magic for the time it took for them to see the truth. Her sister could attack at any moment. If Nick tried to protect her the way he had done before, he would die. And that was the one thing she would not allow. Screw Ronan’s words and William’s vow, she would not allow Nick to die. Even if he cursed her for the rest of his life. He would not die because of her. Not again.
Next: Chapter Fifteen