Chapter 4: Mystery
I knocked on the Alpha’s office door, I could smell Luna Connie’s scent in there with him along with Beta Charles. “Come in,” he said.
I opened the door nervously. “You wanted to see me, Alpha Clark?”
“Please, Vivian, sit. I’d like to hear more about what you found in Duluth, as well as what happened last night.” Mitch had Connie in his lap, her hand was protectively held over the small baby bump she had.
Charles was sitting in one chair in front of his desk, so I took the other, keeping my eyes down respectfully. “As you know, I went to speak with Dr. Jennings, as he is the closest and most experienced Pack Doctor. As I arrived, a woman in his Pack had just died, her baby lost at eighteen weeks. From the symptoms and how quickly it progressed, it appears to be the same cause as what killed Laura.”
Connie was pale, nervously looking at me. “How can that be? You said this had never happened before.”
I nodded. “I have found nothing like this in my training or in the human training. Human medical texts have been no help, and until yesterday, I’m not aware of any other doctor seeing it. Dr. Jennings had the same problem; for an unknown reason, the placenta started to detach from the uterine wall while the pre-term fetus was still viable. The mechanism prevents the normal process that stops the bleeding, in fact, it seems to promote bleeding. He got to her faster than I did, delivered the baby by C-section, but couldn’t stop the bleeding before she died.” I looked at my hands. “I’ve also called my father, he is helping me research, but as to cause or treatment, we are at a loss.”
“Could it happen again?”
“I don’t know WHY it is happening, much less why in two different Packs so close together. Anything is possible, I’m afraid.”
Connie looked at her husband, he pulled her close before looking at me again. “If it happens again, what will you do?”
“Get the female into the clinic at the first sign of fever or bleeding. If I see any evidence on the ultrasound or physically it is starting, I’d have to take aggressive measures.” I gulped, what I was about to say went against every instinct a wolf had. “I’d do an emergency C-section, even if the fetus is not viable, which for us is up to twenty-eight weeks gestation since I don’t have access to neonatal intensive care. Then I would remove the placenta and attempt to stop the bleeding; if it doesn’t stop, I would be forced to perform a hysterectomy in order to save the mother.”
There was silence in the room for a long moment as I looked at my hands. “How many females in our Pack are beyond twenty-eight weeks, Doctor?”
“Two,” I said. “Wendy and Joanne are both at thirty weeks. The other ten known pregnant women are between four and twenty-four weeks.”
“What if you are wrong? What if the bleeding or fever is not the result of what happened to Laura?”
“Then I might terminate a viable pregnancy.” Connie gasped, but I continued. “It’s not what I want to do, but the health of the mother is my main concern here. Whatever this is, it comes on fast, in a matter of hours they are beyond help.”
“We need to let the Pack know about this. You need to discuss with the pregnant women what their desires are,” Alpha Mitch said. “Get it written down, because I don’t want to be dealing with an unconscious female and an out of control mate when you have to decide.”
“I’d like to meet with the pregnant women first, before the Pack,” I said. “I don’t need all those people around when I do it. Charles, I will need you and some strong males, unmated or whose mates aren’t pregnant, there as well.”
“Why?” Beta Charles looked at me. “Denise’s heat didn’t take this year.” Werewolf females went into heat once a year in the early spring, but heat didn’t start until it was activated by the mating bite.
“Security for me,” I said. “I’m basically going to tell these males that if things don’t look right, I’m going to abort their baby and maybe remove the ability of their mate to ever have pups again. It may not go well.”
“I’ll be there, and we already know. I’ll put Alpha command on them if I have to,” Mitch said.
“Can we set it up for tonight? I have to go pick up my truck in Silver Bay, Viper’s note said it should be ready by three.” All my supplies for Pack visits were in it.
“Matt can drive you down and escort you back. No side trips, Vivian. I can’t afford to have you too far away from the Pack, and you need to carry this.” He tossed me a pager. “If you get a series of ones, you get back here as fast as you can, don’t stop and call.” I looked at the device, it had a belt loop. The hospitals in Duluth were just starting to use them. I hooked it on my waist. “It is supposed to have a thirty-mile range, so that’s your tether after today, at least until things settle down.”
“Yes, Alpha. I’ll be back in time for dinner.”
“Now what happened with the biker?”
I spent ten minutes telling him the story. “He was stable when I left. The club is in St. Paul, they have no idea I’m not human, they aren’t a threat.”
“I was a little nervous when you called last night. I wish I had been called first.”
“I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t think of it until we were on the way, and it was almost morning. I figured the guest house was safe enough.”
The Alpha set Connie on his desk, then stood up. “Is there anything else we should do for the women, Doc?”
“I need to have a blood drive, I’ll look up what type the pregnant females are and make sure we have a good supply of each set aside. I’ll be ordering some more supplies on the Pack Clinic card, things we’ve never needed like a neonatal oxygen tent. It could get expensive.”
“If it is over ten thousand, run it past me first, but we will give you whatever you need, Doc.” I shook his hand and turned for the door. “Matt will meet you at the dining hall at one.”
“Thank you, Alphas, Beta.” I turned and walked out the door, Charles closed it behind me. I needed a phone.
I returned to my clinic, it was open, and Jessica was restocking the rooms. “Good morning, Doc,” she said with a smile. “I heard you had a little fun with bikers last night.”
“Only if you thing blacktop brain surgery is fun,” I said.
“I don’t know, that young one was kind of hot. That bad boy look makes me all hot and bothered,” she giggled. “Too bad they are humans.”
“You’re too young for that, you need to find your mate,” I said as I walked past her towards my office.
“True, my battery bill is WAY too high.”
“You’re doing it wrong, plug-ins are more powerful and can go forever,” I said as I closed the door to my office. Female wolves of age had high libidos, we were strong and healthy and wanted to enjoy our bodies. There was a lot of girl play and masturbation in the Packs; we taught the girls to wait for their mates, as it was common for new mates to find and kill males who had defiled their mate before they were together. The smell lingered down there, no matter how much you washed.
I was a twenty-nine-year-old virgin. I was too busy for a boyfriend, and a mate was not happening anytime soon. He wasn’t in my home Pack, this one or the four allied Packs, so I was unlikely to find him while this contract was in place.
I sat at my desk, pulling out the note Viper had left with the name of the garage. I called, they said my truck would be ready in an hour, which was fine with me. I checked in with my Dad, he had nothing new, but I filled him in on what had happened at Larry’s pack. I then called Larry. He had nothing new, he had just woken up as well. Finally, I called the Duluth hospital, checking on Hammer. The duty Doctor was in the intensive care unit, in a medically induced coma to limit brain swelling, but his prognosis was good. He also told me I had a new nickname. DeWalt.
They are SO funny.
I asked him to pass a message to the brothers I knew would be waiting there, to have Viper or one of the other guys call me back. I checked my AOL account, smiling as the “You’ve got Mail!” sound played on my computer. My Dad had sent a summary of the cases so far to our network of Pack Doctors in North America. The responses were coming in, and it was horrifying.
Over half of the doctors reported similar losses, all with otherwise healthy women between 16 and 25 weeks gestation, all in the last few weeks. Until the note came in, most had blamed it on spontaneous abortion, or placental abruption due to a suspected fall or trauma. Only a few had done an autopsy, or taken tissue samples or cultures. It was a shock to us all that this was so new, so widespread, and so deadly.
My phone rang, I smiled thinking it was Viper. “Doc, a car is coming from the Two Harbors pack. Female, twenty-five, fifteen weeks pregnant. Bleeding heavily. ETA five minutes.”
“We’ll be ready, Alpha.” Shit, that had to be Josephine, I’d just examined her two weeks ago on my regular visit. “JESSICA, PREP THE ROOM, PREGNANT BLEEDER INBOUND.” I pulled off my clothes and put on scrubs and a surgical gown before grabbing the gurney out of the hall and going to the front door. I caught Jessica as she was getting trays in place. “She’s O Positive, get four units on the warmer stat.” I didn’t wait for an answer, I hit the door opener and pushed it outside before going back in.
I hung an IV bag and made sure a kit was ready, then laid out all the monitors and turned on the electronics. Jessica had the C-section kit ready, and was pulling on her own surgical gown and gloves. As soon as it was ready, we went outside to wait.
It didn’t take long for the car to arrive, and it wasn’t good. There was blood everywhere, and she was ashen and unconscious. We quickly transferred her and got her into the room, but she had died en route and there was absolutely nothing we could do.
Her mate knew it too, he couldn’t even get out of the car, he just stayed there, holding onto the blanket that had her scent on it. Our men, along with the driver, were watching him just in case. Jessica and I cleaned her up; I hadn’t even started to remove her baby, there was no point. An ultrasound confirmed the placental separation.
Jessica and I cleaned her up and wrapped her in a blanket. Luna Connie came in, her face downcast. “We’ve got her mate in the Alpha’s office, and we’ve cleaned the back of the car. We need her to return to her Pack if you’re ready.”
“We are, Luna.” We changed the sheet on the gurney and moved her over. A number of Pack members had gathered, showing their sympathy to him as we brought her out. He was sitting in the back seat, and we carefully laid her so her head was in his lap. The door closed and they drove away.
I was almost back to the door when I heard a yell. “DOC!!! SHE’S BLEEDING!!!”
Oh Luna, what was going on?