Kiss of the Night (Page 19)

Kiss of the Night (Dark-Hunter #5)(19)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

"No," Kat said. "That’s not Stryker’s style. He’s into punishment and hitting people where it hurts the most. He’ll send Chris back, all right. The kid just won’t be intact any longer."

"Intact how?" Chris asked nervously.

Kat lowered her gaze to his groin.

Chris immediately covered himself with his hands. "Bullshit."

"Oh, no, baby doll. Stryker knows how much Wulf values your ability to procreate. It’s the one thing he’d take from both of you."

"Chris," Wulf said sternly, "go to your room and lock the door."

Chris ran from the room without hesitation.

Wulf and Kat glared at each other. "If you know this Stryker so well, then how do I know you’re not working for him?"

Kat snorted at that. "I don’t even like him. He and I have a mutual friend who has caused us to run into each other a few times over the centuries."

"Centuries?" Cassandra asked. "As in centuries! What are you, Kat?"

Kat patted her comfortingly on the arm. "I’m sorry, Cass. I should have told you before, but was afraid you wouldn’t trust me if I did. Five years ago when Stryker almost killed you, Artemis sent me in to make sure he didn’t get that close to you again."

Cassandra’s head swirled at the disclosure. "So you were the one who opened the portal in the club?"

She nodded. "I’m breaching nine kinds of oaths here, but the last thing I want is to see you hurt. I swear it."

Wulf moved forward. "Why all this trouble to keep her safe when she’s only going to die in a few months anyway?"

Kat took a deep breath and stepped back. She looked at each of them in turn before she finally spoke. "I’m no longer here to keep her safe."

Wulf put himself between Kat and Cassandra. He tensed as if ready to do battle. "What do you mean by that?"

Kat tilted her head so that she could meet Cassandra’s gaze behind Wulf’s back. "I’m here now to make sure the baby she carries is born healthy."

Chapter 8

"M-m-my what?" Cassandra asked, floored by Kat’s words. She couldn’t have heard that correctly. There was no way she was pregnant.

"Your baby."

Obviously her hearing was fine. "What baby?"

Kat took a deep breath and spoke slowly, which was a good thing since Cassandra was having a hard time following all this. "You’re pregnant, Cass. Only just, but the baby will survive. I’ll make double damn sure of that."

Cassandra honestly felt as if someone had slugged her with a stunning blow. Her mind could barely conceive of what Kat was telling her. "I can’t be pregnant. I haven’t been with anyone."

Kat’s gaze went to Wulf.

"What?" he asked defensively.

"You’re the father," Kat said.

"Oh, like hell. I hate to break it to you, baby, but Dark-Hunters can’t have children. We’re sterile."

Kat nodded. "True, but you’re not really a Dark-Hunter now, are you?"

"Then what the hell am I?"

"Immortal, but unlike the other Dark-Hunters you didn’t die. Ever. The others become sterile because their bodies were dead for a time. Yours, on the other hand, is every bit as intact now as it was twelve hundred years ago."

"But I didn’t touch her," Wulf insisted.

Kat arched a brow at that. "Oh, yes you did."

"That was a dream," Wulf and Cassandra said in unison.

"A dream you both remember? No, you were put together so that you could renew Cassandra’s bloodline, and I ought to know since I was the one who drugged Cassandra earlier so that she could be with you."

"Oh, I’m going to be sick," Cassandra said, stepping back to lean on the sofa arm. "This can’t be happening. It’s just not possible."

"Oh, well," Kat said sarcastically, "let’s not have reality intrude now, shall we? I mean, hey, you’re a mythological being descended from mythological beings and you’re in the house of an immortal guardian no human can remember five minutes after they leave his presence. Who’s to say that you can’t get pregnant in a dream by him? What? We’re jumping into the realm of reality now?"

She gave Cassandra a penetrating stare. "Tell you what, I’ll believe in the laws of nature when Wulf here can go out in the daylight and not spontaneously combust into flames, or better yet, when you, Cass, can actually go to a beach and get a tan."

Wulf was so stunned that he couldn’t move as Kat continued to rail. Cassandra was pregnant with his child? This was something he had never, ever even dared to think about or hope for.

No, he couldn’t believe it. He just couldn’t.

"How could I have made her pregnant in a dream?" he asked, interrupting Kat.

She calmed down a bit and actually explained it to them. "There are different kinds of dreams. Different realms for them. Artemis had one of the Dream-Hunters pull both of you into a semiconscious state so that you could, shall we say, get together."

Wulf frowned at that. "But why would she do that?"

Kat indicated Cassandra with her hand. "She wouldn’t sleep with anyone else. In the five years I’ve been with her, she hasn’t so much as even looked at a guy with lust in her eyes. Not until the night you stepped into the club to kill the Daimons. She lighted up like a firefly. After she ran out after you, I thought we’d finally found her someone she would happily sleep with.

"But did you two do the normal, natural thing and go back to your place and mate like bunnies? No. She comes strutting back in like nothing had happened. Sheez. You are both hopeless." Kat sighed. "So Artemis figured she could use that momentary connection you two had on the street to put Cass into your dreams so that you could impregnate her that way."

"But why?" Cassandra asked. "Why is it so important that I be pregnant?"

"Because the myth you laugh at is true. If the last of Apollo’s direct bloodline dies, the curse is lifted."

"Then let me die and free the Apollites."

Kat’s face turned dark with warning. "I never said they would be free. See, the fun thing with the Fates is that nothing is ever easy. The curse is lifted because Apollo will die with you. Your blood and life are linked to his. When he dies, the sun dies with him as does Artemis and the moon. Once they are gone, there is no world left. All of us are dead. All of us."

"No, no, no," Cassandra breathed. "This can’t be right."

There was no reprieve in Kat’s expression. "It’s right, hon. Believe me. I wouldn’t be here otherwise."

Cassandra looked at her while inside she struggled to make sense of it all. It was so overwhelming. "Why didn’t you tell me before?"

"I did and you freaked out so badly that Artemis and I decided to erase it from your memory and start over more slowly."

Fury lanced through her. "You did what?"

Kat turned defensive. "It was for your own good. You were so angry at the prospect of being forced into pregnancy that Artemis decided you would need a father and a baby in order to cope with the reality of it. When I explained it to you, you were gung-ho to toss yourself under a bus rather than use a man and leave behind a baby to be hunted down. So it’s great now that you found Wulf, right? With his powers, the Apollites and Daimons can’t come near him without dying."

Cassandra started for Kat only to find Wulf pulling her back so that she couldn’t reach her. "Don’t, Cassandra."

"Oh, please," Cassandra begged him. "I just want to choke her for a few minutes." She raked an angry glare over the woman she had mistakenly thought of as a friend. "I trusted you and you used me and lied to me. No wonder you kept trying to set me up with guys."

"I know and I’m sorry." Her eyes said Kat meant that, but Cassandra had a hard time believing it at the moment. "But don’t you see how it all works out for the best? Wulf is afraid of losing his last blood link to the world. Through you he has another line that will remember him while you have someone immortal who can tell your child and grandchildren about you and your family. He can watch over them and keep them all safe. No more running, Cass. Think about it."

Cassandra didn’t move as Kat’s words sank in. She would be remembered and her children would be safe. It was all she had wanted. It was why she’d never considered having children before now.

But dare she believe in this?

Apollites gestated their babies in a little over twenty weeks. Half the time of humans. Since they had such an abbreviated life span, there were several weird physiological differences. Apollites reached adulthood at age eleven and often married between the ages of twelve to fifteen.

Her mother had only been fourteen when she married her father, but her mother had looked like any human woman in her mid-twenties.

Cassandra looked at Wulf, whose face was unreadable. "What do you think about all this?"

"Honestly, I don’t know what to think. Yesterday my number one concern was getting Chris laid. Now it’s the fact that if Kat isn’t on drugs or delusional, you are carrying a part of me that holds in his or her hand the fate of the entire world."

"If you doubt any of this, call Acheron," Kat said.

Wulf narrowed his gaze on her. "He knows?"

Kat hedged a bit and appeared nervous for the first time. "I seriously doubt Artemis told him any of this particular plan to put you two together and make a baby. He tends to get rather upset at her whenever she interferes with free will, but he can easily verify everything I’ve told you about the prophecy."

Cassandra let out a bitterly amused half-laugh upon hearing that her "friend" actually knew one of the men they had read about on the Web site. Not to mention the fact that Kat also knew Stryker and his men. "Just out of curiosity, is there anyone you don’t know?"

"No, not really," Kat said a bit uneasily. "I’ve been with Artemis a 1-o-n-g time."

"And just how long is that?" Cassandra asked.

Kat didn’t answer. Instead, she stepped back and clapped her hands together. "You know what? I think I should give you two a few minutes to talk to each other alone. I think I’ll go scope out Cass’s room."

Without another word, Kat bolted for the hallway that led to Cassandra’s wing. Though how she knew that was the right way to go, Cassandra couldn’t imagine. Then again, Kat wasn’t exactly human either.

Wulf didn’t move until Kat had vanished. He was still trying to come to terms with everything Kat had told them.

"I didn’t know about any of this, Wulf. I swear it."

"I know."

He stared at her, the mother of his child. It was incredible, and despite the confusion he felt, the one truth he knew was that a part of him wanted to shout out in delight. "Do you feel all right? Do I need to get you anything?"

She shook her head, then looked up at him. Her green eyes scorched him with need. "Actually, I don’t know about you, but I could use a hug right now."

Mentally, he didn’t think that it would be wise to get attached to her. To open himself up to a woman who came with a short expiration date, but he found himself pulling her into his arms anyway, and he had to tense to keep himself from falling victim to the sensation of her body against his. Her breath tickled the skin on his neck as she wrapped her arms around his waist.

She felt so good here. So right. In all these centuries, he’d never known anything like this feeling of warmth.

What was it about her that made him tremble? Made him hot and aching?

Closing his eyes, he held her close and let her scent of powder and roses lull him into forgetting they should be enemies.

Cassandra closed her eyes, too, and let Wulf’s warmth seep into her.

It felt so wonderful to be touched like this. This wasn’t sexual, it was the kind of touch that soothed. One that bound them a lot closer than the intimacies they had already shared.

How can I feel comforted by someone who has already told me he has no use for my people ?

Yet there was no denying that she did.

Then again, feelings seldom made sense.

As she stood there, one horrible thought disturbed the peace she felt. "Will you hate my baby, Wulf, because it will be part Apollite?"

Wulf grew tense in her arms as if he hadn’t thought of that. He stepped away from her. "How Apollite will it be?"

"I don’t know. For the most part, my family has been pure-blooded. My mother broke with the custom because she thought a human father could protect us better." Her stomach tightened as she remembered the secrets her mother had imparted to her not long before she died. "She figured he would at least outlive his children and grandchildren."

"She used him."

"No," she said breathlessly, offended that he would think that for even a minute. "My mother loved him, but like you, she was doing her duty to protect us. I guess since I was so young when she died, she didn’t really have time to tell me how important my role would be if all of us died without children. Or maybe she didn’t know either. She only said that it was every Apollite’s duty to carry on our lineage."

Wulf moved to turn off the TV, but he didn’t look at her now. He kept his attention on the mantel where an old sword rested on its side on a pedestal. "How Apollite are you? You don’t have fangs and Chris said you can walk in daylight."