Mercy’s head was so turned around, it took her brain until after the other couple had left the yard to process what Faith had actually said. “Multiple births.” Her no-doubt punch-drunk eyes slammed into Riley’s. “Multiples.”
“But she’s sure we’re not having twins.” Riley looked alternately ecstatic and dazed. “Changelings have a lower birth rate than Psy or humans, but within that, we do have a higher rate of multiple births than the other races.”
Mercy stared at him. “How can you be so calm?”
“Because I can’t wait to kiss the babies you give me, kitty cat.” Taking her into his arms, he nipped her affectionately on the jaw. “One or three or five, I hope they all have their mama’s spirit.”
“My mother always said my punishment for giving her countless gray hairs before she was thirty would be little terrors of my own.” Stealing a kiss from those firm lips, she said, “Hopefully, your genes will balance mine out and we’ll get gorgeous, well-behaved auburn-haired babies who listen to their mother.”
Riley stared at her … and then they were laughing and kissing and holding on to one another, happy and scared and nervous all at once.
FROM: Lara<[email protected]
TO: Sascha<[email protected]
DATE: Sep 22, 2081 at 1.21 p.m.
SUBJECT: Patient A
I wanted to give you an update on the results of Sascha’s visit. Patient A’s mental activity has increased at an acute rate, and I have to say she’s significantly more “alert.” However, there are no signs of her rising to consciousness.
FROM: Amara<[email protected]
TO: Ashaya<[email protected]
CC: Lara<[email protected]
DATE: Sep 22, 2081 at 1.38 p.m.
SUBJECT: re: Patient A
It may be the optimal time to inject her with the new serum.
FROM: Ashaya<[email protected]
TO: Lara<[email protected]
CC: Amara<[email protected]
DATE: Sep 22, 2081 at 3.45 p.m.
SUBJECT: re: re: Patient A
I agree with Amara. However, we’ll need another seven to ten days to complete our final calibration of the serum—some of the tests take time to show results. Call me if you see any sign the patient is regressing. I’d rather not inject her with the serum as is, but if it’s a choice between taking the risk and her life, then I will.
TELEPATHIC COMMUNICATION BETWEEN AMARA ALEINE AND
ASHAYA AFTER PREVIOUS E-MAIL
Why do you make me use this archaic method of communication? I am not a primate only capable of tapping out primitive messages on a keyboard.
Because you need to learn to communicate with others.
Amara, you said you’d try.
Very well. Have you completed your analysis of section 2B3 of the Alliance neural chip?
Yes. It appears stable and secure. Your conclusions?
I concur. Let’s move to section 2B4.
Agreed. Amara … how are you?
Stable and secure.
There is a male in the labs who speaks to me. I do not know why—he has nothing of relevance to say.
Perhaps he likes you.
Then he’s being irrational. I can’t like him back.
Talk to him anyway. You might find it an interesting interaction.
Unlikely, but I will consider it another step in my “rehab.”
Do you feel any different?
I no longer have psychopathic thoughts as often. I believe that could be termed progress.
You’re not a psychopath.
Or perhaps you simply don’t want me to be.
HAWKE SLAPPED RILEY on the back. “Hell yeah.” His wolf was as proud of the other man’s news as he’d be if he were the father.
Riley raised his beer in a cheer. “To redheads.”
Hawke clinked his bottle to Riley’s, both of them seated on the steps of Hawke and Sienna’s private cabin. While the place was meant to be off-limits to the rest of the pack, they’d realized they enjoyed inviting friends over at times.
“Wait,” Hawke said, before taking a sip. “Which redhead are we saluting? My redhead, Mercy, Faith, or your future spawn?”
“All of them.” Riley spread his arms expansively. “And I’ll thank you to call my spawn pups or cubs, or pupcubs.”
“Pupcubs.” Hawke mused. “I like it.”
From her chair on the porch, Mercy shook her head at Sienna. “The boys are drunk.”
Sienna was fascinated. “I’ve never seen Hawke drunk. Or Riley.”
“This,” Mercy said, her tone that of a wise teacher, “is celebratory drunkenness. Witnessed at times when men rejoice in their own prowess.”
Riley glanced over his shoulder to grin—actually grin—at Mercy. “I gave you multiple pupcubs. I have prowess.”