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Stitched(Rylee Adamson #8.5)(5) by Shannon Mayer

Nothing came back to me and a cold sweat broke out over my back. “Fucking hell, what now. Why would he leave?” I was jogging before I thought better of it, running for the dining room.

I skidded to a stop at the sight in front of me. Erik, and a whole host of supernaturals sat around the dining table, laughing and eating. By the looks of Coyote dancing on the top of the table, he was in the middle of a story of some sort. Over our heads, the ceiling was open and Ophelia and Blaz had their heads stuck inside so they could take part.

“What the fuck is going on?” I whispered to myself. Was I still dreaming? I blinked several times, the scene just a little weird, even for me.

I started toward the table, and Daisy stood, waving to me. “Rylee, come see the little man.”

Quickening my steps, I realized I’d left my weapons in my room. What was wrong with me?

Daisy handed me Zane, who blinked sleepy, green eyes up at me. I cradled him lightly, and sat beside Daisy, who patted me on the shoulder. “You’re a natural. You’ll do fine when your little one comes.”

I stiffened and glared at my uncle across from me who shook his head. “I didn’t say anything, so no need to shoot daggers at me, niece.”

“Oh, no one said anything,” Daisy said, smiling. “You fairly glow with it.”

I didn’t want to glow with anything, but my stomach rumbled and I found myself drooling over the heaping piles of meat in front of me. I avoided the greens and the vegetables, digging in deep to the eggs, bacon, sausage, and ham. I cleaned off a plate one-handed while I held Zane. Maybe Daisy was right, maybe I did have a bit of a knack.

“Do you know when you’re due?” Daisy asked, and I froze mid-bite.

“No, not really.”

“I can tell you, if you don’t mind me touching your belly,” she offered, almost shyly. I swallowed my mouthful of food and then nodded. I turned to her so I straddled the bench.

“Okay.”

I leaned to one side, handing Zane to Erik. He took the little boy with no issue, bouncing him lightly.

“Lift your shirt, I need to have contact with your skin,” she said.

I lifted my shirt, looking down at my belly. There was no obvious bump, no rounding of my body at all. I said as much to her and she laughed.

“Well, every pregnancy is different. You’re loaded with muscle, it will keep your shape. Well, in shape better than someone who is soft.”

Her hands were warm as she pressed them; one just above my belly button, the other below, brushing the top of my low cut jeans. Eyes closed, she kept her hands firm against me as she hummed softly. “A girl, but you knew that already.”

I stayed quiet, realizing the joviality that I’d come into the room hearing had gone silent as we all listened to Daisy.

“She’s healthy, but her blood, it isn’t like yours. She will take after her father and be a Guardian, not a Tracker.”

A sigh of relief slipped over me. As a Guardian, she would be damn hard to kill, and wouldn’t have the pull of responsibility on her that I did as a Tracker. “That’s good.”

Daisy smiled, but still kept her eyes closed. “She won’t be ready to come for at least four months. That would be the earliest.”

I frowned. That would only give me two months, if I was lucky, with her. And now that I knew I was pregnant, I wanted as much time as I could have with my child. “Are you sure?”

“Yes, you are four months along, maybe a little more, but not much.” She opened her eyes and took her hands from me. I lowered my shirt.

“Shit, that isn’t a lot of time with her.”

Erik tapped the table. “Worse, it doesn’t give you a great deal of recovery time. The end game is coming and you need to be ready for it.”

“Fuck, I didn’t forget that, Erik,” I snapped at him, “but right now I can only focus on one thing and that thing is my daughter.”

Zane let out a squawk, and Daisy reached for him, settling him easily onto her breast. He was a noisy little bugger, slurping and drinking, milk trickling down his chin. “There is a way to speed up your pregnancy,” she said, her eyes lowering.

“I don’t want to end the pregnancy,” I said, stabbing my fork into another piece of meat. Didn’t matter to me what kind of meat, as long as it was thick and juicy. I realized I was eating the way Liam had. Meat, meat, meat.

“No, of course not!” Daisy spluttered, her eyes going wide as they filled with shock. “No, there is a way to make the child grow faster, so you give birth sooner. Perhaps as soon as a month.”

Images of Milly laying on the stone floor in Orion’s castle deep within the veil, giving birth to Zane far earlier than she should have because of something the demon had done to her made me cringe. “I’ve seen something like that, with . . . a friend. It sure as shit didn’t look like a good idea to me.”

Daisy nodded. “Well, perhaps they did not do it right. If the spell laid on the mother is twisted too much, then there can be . . . problems. There is no one within the monastery who can help you with that. You will have to step outside the safety of this place to find someone.”

I chewed my mouthful as I mulled over her words. Having the baby sooner would be good all around. I’d have more time to recover as Erik pointed out. More importantly, I’d have time to spend with my daughter. Liam’s daughter. The meat in my mouth suddenly didn’t want to go down my throat and I spit it back onto my plate. I pushed myself out of my chair and headed for my room, the world spinning crazily.

My reactions were driven by grief and hormones, but knowing that and controlling it were two different things.

Catya and the cat still slept in a tiny, heaped bundle, but the girl woke as I came in. Her eyes followed me, golden and so solemn I could see the old soul in her as clearly as if she had “I’m older than I look, fool” painted across her forehead. There were clothes folded at the foot of the bed and I lifted one corner of the material. A deep orange hunk of cloth hung from my hand.

“Not going to happen,” I muttered and dropped the robe onto the bed. I let out a sigh and did a complete turn of the room. Slowing my breathing, I sent out a thread to Track the monk who welcomed us, Bao.

Again, no response and a trickle of sweat broke out along the back of my neck. “Catya, can you help me find Bao?”

She bobbed her head and slid off the bed, her bare feet barely touching the floor before she was off and running. I jogged after her. Why they hell wasn’t I able to Track him or Erik? There was no way I was across a large body of water from the monk. I tried to Track Coyote and got the same nothingness back. The sweat that had been a minor trickle slid down my back, soaking my t-shirt in the cool air. Twisting and turning through the dusky, dry corridors of the monastery, she brought us to a doorway that opened into a courtyard bursting with color. Grass so green it seemed to vibrate stood ankle high, flowers and trees heavily laden with petals, fruit, and buzzing bees. Catya hopped ahead of me, then mid-stride, shifted into her wolf form. A small, golden wolf pup let out a yip and bolted away, chasing the bees that floated lazily in the air.