A New Era
Life would never be the same for humanity. Four months ago, Kai revealed the werewolf race to the humans. Since then, we had to fight a lot of fires. Militias had popped up all over the world; rebel humans that didn’t stand with their government or the police. They joined with the werewolves and sought out vampire dens and nightclubs, slaughtering vampires that put humans in harm’s way. But race protectors had also become a problem, humans that thought vampires and werewolves didn’t deserve to be here, that it was unnatural and Earth was for humans only. The result was a blood bath, calmed only by reports that the werewolves were a small species that was naturally dying out and were harmless to humans in comparison to vampires that needed humans as a food source. Sort of a lie because more and more mated couples were having children, thanks to my gift of finding mates. Kai couldn’t go out in public like he used to and our lives on the mountain had changed. All human residents of Mount Hood who didn’t agree with the werewolves, had left. They abandoned homes, shops, everything. It was creepy. The other werewolves were able to keep under the radar, but Kai’s face was all over the news.
I was itching to find Layla, but every lead we had went dry. I was desperate to know if she was pregnant or not. The clock was ticking from when she bit me four months ago and had become fertile. Now, I had Emma on bed rest preparing to give birth and it racked my nerves. Werewolf pregnancy was dangerous and I tried not to think about it as I sat at Kai’s office desk tinkering with some dried herbs, learning to make spells. I wasn’t able to get over to see the witches as often as I wanted. They had managed to escape the limelight and wanted to keep their race a secret. The door creaked and I looked up smiling, sensing Kai. He walked in and gave me a look. His chestnut eyes were hooded, his wild brown hair fell in tousled waves across his forehead.
‘You’re stressing,’ he told me.
I sighed. ‘Not really,’ I lied.
He came up behind me and slowly massaged my shoulders. Mmmm. Then he spun the chair around and faced me. Reaching my hand out, I rubbed the stubble of his strong jaw and he kissed my nose.
“We will find Layla, and Emma will be fine,” he declared out loud. As if that would make it true.
“Okay,” I said, because he was trying to make me feel better. Nothing would make me feel better until Layla was a pile of ash.
His phone buzzed with a text. “It’s Emma. She wants us to come over.”
I jumped up, heart pounding. “Is she okay? Is it labor?” I wiped my palms on my jeans. I was ready; I had read all the books, taken all the classes.
Kai placed two hands on my shoulders. “She’s fine. She said she just wants to talk.”
I released a shaky breath as Kai watched me in anxiety.
We walked to Emma’s, hand in hand. The weather was perfect. Summer. Everything was in bloom. The trees stood tall and thick around our property on Mount Hood. I inhaled. God, I loved this mountain. Kai knocked before letting himself in. Emma was not to leave the couch. Even at thirty-six weeks along, Diya didn’t want her to go into early labor if she could help it.
Diya, Kai’s sister and the pack midwife, was tending to Emma on the couch. Diya’s own pregnant bump was showing. How far along was she now? Nearly four months. Almost every mated couple I had brought together was pregnant. Ten, twenty years from now, our numbers would be stronger. Diya gave us a quick hug and then left.
I gazed at Emma on the couch. Her bright red pixie hair and vibrant green eyes were the unique marker of my best friend. So beautiful but so broken after losing her mate. My stomach dropped at the thought of Devon’s death, sacrificing himself to save me. I don’t think the pack will ever truly heal from that loss. Emma’s hands were rested upon her giant belly. She was huge. I know you weren’t supposed to say that to a pregnant woman, but it was okay to think it, right? Her belly looked so swollen, like she would pop at any moment. I leaned down and placed a small kiss on her cheek. My best friend’s happiness was everything to me.
“Hey, pretty mama,” I peppered her with a compliment.
She rolled her eyes. “Shut up. I’m gigantic.”
I shared a look with Kai.
“You’re not gigantic. You’re just really pregnant,” I told her.
She waved me away. “Whatever. I wanted to talk to you both about something serious. Please sit down.”
I sat down with unease and prepared myself. Had Diya found a placental abruption? Low amniotic fluid? I had researched it all. I was Emma’s birthing partner and I wanted to be ready for anything.
Kai gently took her small, pale hand in his. “What is it, sweetie?” he asked with concern. Kai had never said it out loud but Emma was his favorite, most cherished pack member. I knew it; I could feel it.
Emma’s eyes filled with tears, her lips pursed. Turning to me, she met my eyes. “Before Devon died, we had a talk. We agreed that if anything happened to us, we wanted you and Kai to take care of the baby.”
Tears lined my eyes. “Nothing is going to happen,” I said as emotion constricted my voice. Why was she saying this? Kai kept it together for the both of us, gazing at her with a strong and loving look.
“Devon’s gone now, Aurora. I have to be practical.” She pulled out some papers from under her pillow. “Sign these and if I die, it gives you full legal custody. Devon signed them before he …”
I stood up. “No! You’re not dying. Do you understand me?” A mirror on the wall rattled as mist leaked from my skin. “Life won’t be that cruel. It won’t,” I stated to the universe. I could feel the Devi stirring inside of me. The witches had discovered that I had two affinities, healing and future sight. They also discovered I was a Devi. A soul had attached to mine to help with a big life purpose. They compared the soul to an angel but it still freaked me out. She had awoken with my anger and now I struggled to calm her.