Someone behind them started clapping.
Cassandra turned to see a man who dwarfed her. Standing somewhere near seven feet in height, he was gorgeous. Blond and slender, he appeared to be around her age.
"Nice speech, princess. It changes nothing."
Cassandra narrowed her gaze on him. "Then how about a good ass-kicking?"
He actually laughed. "You’re pregnant."
"Not that pregnant." She shot one of the daggers from her wrist at the man. It embedded in the wall just past his head.
His face lost all humor.
"The next one goes into your heart."
"Cassie, stop!" Phoebe commanded, grabbing her arm.
Cassandra shrugged off her hold. "No. I’ve spent the whole of my adulthood putting any Daimon or Apollite who made the mistake of coming after me out of his misery. If you think for one minute Kat and I can’t tear down this place to free Wulf, then you need to think again."
"And if you die?" the man asked.
"Then we all lose."
He gazed at her thoughtfully. "You’re bluffing."
Cassandra exchanged a determined look with Kat.
"You know I’m always itching for a good fight." Kat pulled her fighting staff out of her coat pocket and extended it.
The man’s nostrils flared as he saw them preparing to engage him. "This is how you repay my kindness for sheltering you?"
"No," Cassandra said with a calmness she didn’t feel. "This is how I repay the man who protects me. I won’t see Wulf kept like this after all he’s done."
She expected the man to fight, instead he stepped back and bowed his head respectfully toward her.
"She does have the courage of a Spathi."
"I told you so," Phoebe said, her face shining with pride.
The man offered them a slight smile. "Go inside with Phoebe, princess, and I will have your Dark-Hunter brought to you."
Cassandra eyed him suspiciously, not sure if she should trust him or not. "Promise?"
Still skeptical, Cassandra looked at her sister. "Can I put any faith in that?"
"You can. Shanus is our Supreme Councilor. He never lies."
"Phoebe," Cassandra said sincerely, "look at me."
"Tell me the truth. Are we safe here?"
"Yes, I swear it by everything I hold dear-even Urian’s life. You are here because Stryker will never think to look in an Apollite commune for you. Every one of us here knows that if your baby dies, so does the world. And our lives, such as they are, are still precious to us. Twenty-seven years to the people here is better than none at all."
Cassandra took a deep breath and nodded. "Okay."
Phoebe opened the door behind her while Shanus excused himself and left them to explore their new home.
Cassandra stepped into an extremely nice living room. Probably four to five hundred square feet, it had everything a regular human home might have. A stuffed sofa and love seat, entertainment center complete with television, stereo, and DVD player.
"Does that stuff work?" Chris asked as he walked over to examine it.
"Yes," Phoebe said. "We have relays and uplinks that can bring the human world down to us."
Kat opened the doors to the bedrooms and bathroom that were off the main living area. "Where’s the kitchen?"
"We don’t have kitchens," Phoebe explained. "But the councilors are working on getting a microwave and refrigerator brought in for you. Along with groceries. There should be something here very soon for all of you to eat."
Phoebe showed them a small dark green box on an end table. "If you need anything, the intercom is here. Just press the button and one of the operators will help you. If you want to buzz me, just tell them you want Urian’s wife and they’ll know which Phoebe to put you through to."
A knock sounded on the door.
Phoebe went to open it while Cassandra stood back with Kat and Chris. "What do you guys think?"
"It seems okay," Chris said. "I’m not picking up any evil vibes, what about you two?"
Kat shrugged. "I agree with Chris. But there’s still a part of me that doesn’t trust them. No offense, Cass, but Apollites aren’t known for being honest."
"Tell me about it."
She turned to see a woman her age with Phoebe. The woman’s blond hair was arranged in a bun and she wore a light pastel sweater with a pair of jeans.
"I’m Dr. Lakis," she said, extending her hand to Cassandra. "If you don’t mind, I would like to examine you and see how the baby is doing."
Wulf sat in the cell wondering how the hell he had gotten himself into this. They could be killing Cassandra for all he knew and he had docilely allowed them to take him.
"I should have fought."
Cursing, he paced the small cell where they had incarcerated him. It was dim and dank, with only a bed and toilet inside. He’d never been inside a human jail, but from what he’d seen in movies and on TV, the Apollites had modeled this one after them.
He heard footsteps outside.
"I’m here for the Dark-Hunter."
"We were told he’s to stay."
"The heiress wants him and she won’t remain under our protection unless we release him."
Wulf smiled at those precious words. Leave it to Cassandra. Then again, she was extremely stubborn when it came to getting her way.
It was one of the things he loved most about her.
Wulf’s heart stopped as that thought went through him. There were a lot of things about her that he liked.
Things he was going to miss…
"Are you mad?" the guard outside continued to argue. "He’ll kill all of us."
"He’s not allowed to kill Apollites, you know that. No Dark-Hunter can kill us until we go Daimon."
"Are you willing to bet your life on that?"
"No," Wulf said loudly so that they could hear him outside. "He’s willing to bet yours on it. Now let me out of here so that I can make sure Cassandra hasn’t been hurt."
The door opened slowly to reveal a man who was surprisingly taller than him. It wasn’t often Wulf met such a person.
"So you do protect her," the man said quietly.
The Apollite gave him a strange look. "You love her." It was a statement, not a question.
"I barely know her."
The man gave a half-smile at that. "Time has no meaning to the heart." He held his hand out to Wulf who shook it reluctantly. "My name is Shanus and I’m glad to know you will do anything to keep her safe. Good. Now, come, she’s waiting for you."
Cassandra was lying on the bed while a nurse prepared her blood transfusion. It was a good thing too. She’d been weak before tonight, but the added excitement of Stryker’s attack had taken a lot out of her.
The doctor handed her a T-shirt to put on instead of the sweater so that they could hook her up to the machine. At first, they had balked at her refusing to drink blood. Apparently, Apollites weren’t squeamish, but Cassandra had enough human in her to not want to do that.
So after a brief, heated debate, they had given in to her.
Cassandra exchanged shirts while the doctor prepared her for a sonogram.
"You will need more blood than normal to accommodate your baby," Dr. Lakis explained as Cassandra lay back down on the bed. The doctor lifted Cassandra’s shirt, exposing her slightly rounded stomach. "It’s a good thing you’re here since Apollite blood is stronger and will have the nutrients in it your baby needs. You’ll also need a lot more iron and calcium since you’re part human. I’ll make sure you have plenty of vitamin-enhanced food to eat."
Cassandra heard Kat say something outside the door. She lifted herself up on her elbows and cocked her head to listen but she couldn’t make anything out.
Weird. Chris and Phoebe had both gone on to their rooms to sleep.
Cassandra was about to get out of the bed to go check outside when Wulf came through the door.
Relief flooded her at the sight of all six feet six inches of that well-muscled male form. He looked tired, but unhurt. She drank in the gorgeousness of his body and face.
The doctor, however, looked at him suspiciously. "Are you the baby’s father?"
"Yes," they said in unison.
Cassandra held her hand out to Wulf who took it, then kissed her knuckles.
"You’re just in time," the doctor said as she rubbed an oily gel over Cassandra’s belly. She placed the cool paddle against her.
The machine on the cart bonged and hissed.
Cassandra watched the screen anxiously until she saw the teeny-tiny infant that was kicking its feet.
Wulf’s hand tightened on hers.
"There he is," the doctor said. "A fine healthy little boy all ready to take on the world."
"How can you tell it’s a boy?" Cassandra asked breathlessly as she watched her son flex. He looked much like a tadpole to her.
"Well, we actually can’t really tell yet," Dr. Lakis said as she took measurements with the machine, "but I can feel him. He’s strong. A fighter like both of his parents."
Cassandra felt a tear roll out from the corner of her right eye. Wulf kissed it away.
She looked at him and saw the happiness on his face. He was proud of his son.
"Everything looks fine so far," the doctor said as she printed out a small photograph of the baby. "You just need to rest a lot more and eat a better diet."
The doctor wiped the goo off her belly while Wulf and Cassandra looked at the tiny picture.
"He looks like an angel," Cassandra whispered.
"I don’t know. I think he looks like a frog or something."
"Well, he does. Kind of."
"Dr. Lakis?" She waited until the doctor paused and looked at her. "Do you think the baby will…" She hesitated, unable to finish her sentence.
"Die like an Apollite?"
Cassandra nodded, her throat tight with apprehension.
Dr. Lakis’s eyes were sympathetic. "I honestly don’t know. We can run tests once he gets here and see, but genetics are a strange thing so there’s really no way to predict."
Swallowing the lump in her throat, Cassandra forced herself to ask the other question she was desperate to have answered. "Is there a way you can tell if I’ll live longer?"
"You already know the answer to that, Cassandra. I’m sorry. You are one of the lucky ones who has some human traits, but your genetics are strongly Apollite. The mere fact you’re in the middle of a blood transfusion says it all."
Cassandra’s eyes welled with tears as she felt the last of her hope dwindle.
"Isn’t there something we can do?" Wulf asked.
"Her only chance to live longer is to turn Daimon and I somehow doubt you would allow her that option."
Cassandra clutched the picture of her baby as she wondered how Apollite he would be. Would he, too, be damned?
She didn’t speak further while the doctor and nurse were in the room with them. It was only when she was alone with Wulf that she reached for him and held him close.
She held on to him tightly, afraid of tomorrow. Afraid of everything.
"It’ll be okay, villkat," he whispered.
How she wished that were true. Still, she was glad he at least went through the motions of pretending they were a normal couple with normal concerns.
Someone knocked on the door.
Cassandra pulled away before Wulf went to answer it.
It was Phoebe. She ignored Wulf and moved to where Cassandra sat on the bed. "I thought you might want some fresh clothes."
Cassandra thanked her as Phoebe placed the bundle of clothes on the bed at her feet. "Have you heard anything from Urian?" she asked her sister.
Phoebe shook her head sadly. "But sometimes it takes a few days before he can talk to me. Sometimes a few months…"
Cassandra felt for her sister. She hadn’t known Wulf very long and yet she couldn’t imagine not being able to talk to him everyday. Not having him make her laugh at something he said. It must be much worse for her sister. "Why don’t you live with him?"
Phoebe gave her a "duh" stare. "His father tried to kill me, Cassie. He knows what we"-she indicated herself and Cassandra-"look like. He would kill Urian if he ever caught us together."
Wulf moved to stand near Phoebe. "Since you’re still alive and married, Apollo’s lineage is safe, right?"
"No," Phoebe said wistfully. Her face was dark and sad. "Daimons can’t have children. Like Dark-Hunters, we’re walking dead. It’s why I allowed my father and Cassie to think I was dead too. There was no need to make them even sadder about who and what I’ve become."
"Did it change you much?" Cassandra asked. "Is it like we always heard?"
"Yes and no. The craving for the kill is hard to resist. You have to be careful of the soul you take because a part of it blends with you too. I think it’s different for Daimons who kill than for those like me."
"What do you mean ‘those like you’?" Wulf asked.
"You’re an Anaimikos Daimon," Cassandra said.
Wulf was completely confused now. He’d never heard that term. "What’s that?"