Every scream was going to rip him in two. Blaze couldn’t bear to listen to this. “Do something,” he demanded imperiously of the doctor, and ran a hand through his hair so furiously he felt as if he were pulling it out.

“Alpha, there’s nothing I need to do at the moment. Aden is doing fantastic.” The doctor beamed at him.

“Such a good boy,” Conner murmured and clicked his tongue in comfort as he wrung the cool cloth out and blotted at the sweat on Aden’s forehead.

“He’s in pain, dammit.” Blaze was beside himself and getting ready to throttle the doctor. If he smiled at him one more time…


Blaze turned at the soft, breathy sound from Aden, and nearly elbowed Darric out of the way where he was seated on the other side of him. My beautiful boy. My Aden. “What? What is it, sweetheart? What can I do? Tell me.” Blaze searched the boy’s beautiful face, the pale skin and huge dark shadows under pain-filled eyes. Aden wasn’t strong enough for this, it should never have been allowed to happen. Not that they’d even known it was possible it could ever happen.

Aden blew out a deep, shuddering breath. “Please, please hold me.”

Hold him? Where? Blaze looked aghast at Aden’s hugely swollen stomach, so tight it looked like his skin was going to split. He dare not try and cuddle him; Aden had nearly punched him an hour ago when he’d tried. Okay. He hadn’t realized bending Aden forward in the middle of a contraction would hurt, but dammit, he had no clue. One second Aden wanted nothing more than to be held tightly and carried everywhere, the next, God help anyone who so much as looked at him like they would suggest he shouldn’t be walking on his swollen ankles. The last seven months had been a nightmare from start to finish. They had been so happy when they’d found their little omega, it made every one of their six hundred plus years on this earth completely worth it.

But was it that simple? Oh, no. Every damn time Blaze turned around, Aden was doing something stupid and putting himself in harm’s way again. And the more Aden’s pregnancy progressed, the worse it had got. He leaned forward to kiss Aden’s forehead, but Aden brought his arm around quickly as he writhed into another contraction, and he ended up socking Blaze on the cheek.

“Blaze, be careful,” Darric murmured, horrified.

“Be?” Blaze spluttered. Aden had hit him, not the other way around. Darric leaned over and started rubbing circles on Aden’s back, lifting his damp t-shirt, and Blaze retreated hurriedly to his previous position, wearing a hole in the carpet by pacing up and down.

Blaze stared with frustration out the window in the corner to see the position of the moon. Ten hours! Ten hours since Aden had got a funny look on his face as he’d got out of bed to go to the bathroom. Ten hours since Blaze had laughed because he thought Aden had peed himself. Ten hours since Aden had given him the first bruise on his arm for suggesting it. He thought it had sounded completely plausible; Aden hadn’t seemed to be able to go more than twenty minutes without peeing for the last month. Blaze glanced around all the smiling faces in the room despairingly. Why was it just him that felt this was going to be a complete disaster?


Darric was the next one to get back. He walked in, his long, silver hair flowing down his back, gray eyes flashing as he zeroed in on Aden. Aden nearly dragged him over to a chair, and Darric with a tired smile to Lilly as she plonked a full plate of meat and bread down, drew Aden straight onto his lap and buried his head in Aden’s chest. He heaved a sigh; Aden gently wrapped his arms around Darric’s back. “There must be something else I can do, Darric,” Aden murmured in frustration. He was so useless without a wolf. He couldn’t even join the search, and he was so weak he knew Conner and Darric were timing their appearances so he wouldn’t get sick.

Darric lifted his head and his big hands settled on each side of Aden’s face. “Listen to me. You are not weak. A weaker person would never have survived the life you have had. Aden, you are one of the strongest people I know.” He placed a kiss on Aden’s lips and Aden tried to get a little closer. Darric broke off. “You have a wolf spirit, Aden. With everything that’s been going on, I should have tried to help you find him far sooner than this.”

Aden looked up eagerly. He had a wolf? He remembered Blaze saying that to him last year. Maybe—

“You will never shift, Aden,” Darric said quickly, picking up Aden’s thoughts. Aden sighed. He would love to have the freedom that they all spoke of.

“Close your eyes.” Aden’s eyes widened at Darric’s words. “I cannot make you shift, but I can give you that feeling. Close your eyes,” Darric urged, and Aden did. “Now breathe. Become aware of who you are, where you are. Your vision loses color, but becomes sharper. As you stand in the grass, poised to run, the scents surround you, become intense. You don’t just stand on the grass, the grass surrounds you and carries you forward. You start to run.”

Darric’s words washed over Aden as he ran, chasing every scent, breathing in the flowers, the earth, the wind through his fur and the sun on his back. It was wonderful, and he wanted it so much.

“Aden?” Aden opened his eyes slowly, felt regret as Darric kissed his cheek. “I’m sorry. I should have done that far sooner, and I don’t have time to do any more.”
Aden nodded. “That was wonderful. Is that what Blaze meant? That I would find my wolf?”

Darric took the sandwich that Aden passed him. “No, Blaze meant it as a more spiritual concept.” He took a large bite.

Aden sat up. “Then how did I see that? Was that not my wolf?”

Darric swallowed and grinned. “No, Aden. That was my wolf you felt.” He nudged Aden almost playfully. “He likes you.” Darric finished his sandwich and glugged the coffee that was on the table. He lifted Aden as he stood, and settled him down on the chair he had just vacated. Darric leaned in, cupped Aden’s chin with one hand to raise his face, and clasped Aden’s other hand to his heart. “When Blaze is home safe, I’m going to take you camping to the base of the Lookout Mountain. It’s beautiful. You’ll find your wolf, and share mine as much as you like.” Darric nibbled Aden’s lips gently, stood silently and smiled. “You are far more powerful than you know.”