Chapter 6: 24 weeks
“Boss, you look like shit. Go get some sleep.”
I turned away from my computer screen to look at Jessica, my now-18-year-old assistant, as she leaned against the doorway of my Pack House treatment room. These last two months had not been easy on her either. Eleven times I had delivered premature babies under duress, and eleven times she had taken the tiny infants to the warm, oxygenated bed.
And eleven times the baby was buried with the mother.
I told her it wasn’t her fault, but it was her job and she took it hard. “You too. The supplies don’t need to be sorted again.”
She turned to Carson, a young warrior who had volunteered to be her full-time security; now that she could be directly blamed for the deaths of the babies, the Alpha wanted her protected as well. Carson was sweet and good looking, they weren’t mates, but I could tell he liked her a lot. “Carson, I’ll see you two in the morning. No earlier than ten.”
“Yes Doc,” he said with a smile as he led her away. It was past midnight, and I was working myself to exhaustion trying to find a solution. There were only a handful of doctors left, the rest having been killed, or gone feral when their mates died. None of us had any ideas of how to stop it, what caused it, or how to treat it.
There wasn’t enough warning time. For the baby to have a chance, I would need to give it drugs to help the lungs develop earlier than normal. However, if you gave the injection and the baby wasn’t born in the next few days, it could cause permanent fetal damage. So far, no one had made it to 25 weeks.
The Luna was at twenty-four.
Alpha Clark was more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, as my mother used to say. I no longer had his confidence; that is what happens when you save no one. He asked me after dinner tonight if there was anything else I could try. There was one, but it was very dangerous, I said. “The issue we have with the mothers is that something is causing the placenta to detach, and the normal clotting process isn’t working,” I said. “No matter how fast I work, the patient is losing too much blood. Whatever it is spreads, causing more vessels to rupture. There is a drug, the military started using it in the Gulf War on soldiers suffering major blood loss. It’s given intravenously and works quickly. It functions to kickstart the clotting process, giving the doctors a chance to fix the damage before they bleed out.”
He leaned towards me. “Then GET IT. What are you waiting for? My mate is in danger here.”
I let out a breath, trying to gather my thoughts. “There are two reasons why I haven’t tried this yet. The first is that it is incredibly risky; even in soldiers, it greatly increases the risks of blood clots and death. No doctor has prescribed it for a pregnant woman or used it to treat anything like this. No one knows if it will travel across the placenta, it could affect the baby as well as the mother.”
He looked at me, unimpressed. “And the second reason?”
“It’s incredibly expensive. I checked the supplier, a single dose of NovoSeven costs about seven hundred thousand dollars. It’s not the most expensive drug on the market, it’s the second most expensive.”
He sat back. “Order it. We made enough from the liquidation of the Grand Marais Pack lands to afford it.” He got up and left, leaving me to go back to my office and make the order. The pharmacy wouldn’t order it unless it was paid for in advance, and we had to wait until morning when the banks opened. He was personally going to drive to Duluth to take care of it. I spent the rest of the night researching everything I could find on it.
It was truly a desperation move, but this was our Luna, the male she carried was the heir to the Pack. I knew he would do anything to save them both. I closed down my computer and stood up, rolling my head around due to my sore neck. Werewolves weren’t supposed to spend all this time sitting in front of a computer, I thought. I raised my hands, stretching my back out.
I waved to Matt and he followed me up to my room. Donovan was already pulling off his clothes to shift, he would stand guard in the hallway in wolf form, on a rug placed there for him. Matt followed me in, closing the door behind him. “Finally,” he said, his hands circling my waist as I pulled my scrub top off. I leaned back into his broad chest as his hands moved up to unclasp my bra. I pulled it off as soon as it was loose, and his hands quickly reached around to cup my aching breasts.
I had given up on ever finding my mate with this going on, and Matt was close and comfortable and considerate. Our relationship had slowly evolved from friendship to something more. I didn’t know if it was love yet, but I loved the sex. His mommy taught him well. He understood that if he kept ME happy, Mr. Happy would be happy.
The man could spend hours down there if I didn’t stop him.
I could feel his hard length pressing against my back as his fingers pinched my nipples gently. “Let me worship this body tonight. You feel tense.”
I let out a yawn, ruining the mood. “I’m tired, sweaty and sore,” I said. “I need a shower and sleep.”
“Join you?” he said hopefully as I started to walk away.
“If you come in, you’ll just make me more tired and sore. You can have the shower next, and you can have me in the morning,” I promised. I tossed my clothes into the hamper, evading the slap he tried to put on my bare ass as I moved through the door. I started the shower, brushing my teeth quickly as it warmed up. I took a quick shower and washed my hair; another leftover of my medical training was how efficient I was in my nighttime routine, plus I could fall asleep almost instantly. I gave Matt a kiss as he went into the shower.
Probably a cold one.
I was asleep before he pulled me into his chest.
It felt like no time at all before Matt was shaking me awake, already dressing. I opened my eyes, quickly closing them from the sunlight streaming in. “Luna’s bleeding, she’s on her way to the clinic.”
Fuck. I jumped out of bed, pulling on scrubs before grabbing my keys and running out the door with him. “Get Jessica.” I looked at the clock, it was 9:08.
“Already on the way,” he said as we burst through the door. I ignored the cold and snow on my bare feet as we ran across to the clinic. I had the key in my hand already, I opened the door and turned the lights on. Looking back, Beta Charles was carrying Luna Connie across the street to us. Blood was dripping from her soaked dress, coloring the fresh white snow crimson as he ran. He carried her into the room and set her down. I pulled the guards off the IV needles and inserted them in each arm, they were already hung and ready. This wasn’t our first rodeo.
Jessica came in, grabbing the blood bags out of the refrigerator and putting them on the warmer. We had pre-staged the C-section kit for just this event. Tearing the cover off and grabbing the scalpel, I made the first incision. She screamed in pain, begging me to save her baby, then passed out due to the blood loss as I reached inside her to remove her son. Clamping the umbilical cord twice, I cut between it and handed the tiny baby to Jessica.
It was a mess in there, blood was everywhere, bubbling up out of her abdomen and soaking the sheets. I knew I was too late.
I performed an emergency hysterectomy after clamping the arteries, which slowed the bleeding but didn’t stop it. I had directed Charles to put the heart monitor on her while I worked, and the pulse was dropping fast. Her heart was weak, and I heard it stop as the monitor alarmed.
“Start compressions,” I yelled at Charles. He started to do CPR as I grabbed two blood bags and hung them, hooking them to the large-bore needles I had inserted. Her heart had stopped because of low blood volume, I had to try and get more in. I gently squeezed the bags to force it in faster. When they were in, I tried three times to shock her into rhythm without success.
Like a broken record, it didn’t work. I tried for another round after injecting adrenalin, five minutes more and nothing changed. I pulled Charles back, he was exhausted and crying. “Time of death, 0932.” I stripped off the bloody gloves and went over to where Jessica was trying to get the tiny infant to breathe.
The incubator was warm, and huge for the tiny baby that weighed about a pound. His lungs hadn’t developed enough yet; Jessica was using a bag ventilator to try and force air in, but he didn’t have the strength in his chest to force the air back out. His skin was bluing, Jessica was crying, and eventually I had to call him as well. “Time of death, 0941.” I took a small blanket and wrapped him up, placing him on his mother’s chest. “Come on, we have to clean her up before he gets here.”
I knew he would be breaking every speed limit to get back here, and I knew he felt his mate bond break when she died. Charles pulled me aside. “Vivian, you need to leave NOW.”
“I still have to clean up and…”
“Listen to me. You need to get dressed, grab a bag and your purse, hop in your truck and leave in the next five minutes or you could end up dead.” He grabbed my arm, pulling me towards the door as I scrambled to keep my feet.
“Because he’s coming back here, and he’s in a rage. If he turns his rage on you, he’ll kill you in a second and there is nothing I can do to stop him.” We left the building and started running back to the Pack House. “You have to hurry, if he decides to order us to hold you, we’ll have to comply.”
I raced up the stairs to my room; quickly pulling on jeans, socks, boots and a blouse and sweater, I went to the safe. Pulling out my cash, bank cards and other valuables, I put them in a suitcase Charlie had gotten out of my closet. I shoved some clothes in there, then he zipped it up while I put my coat and gloves on. He carried it as I ran back outside to my Ranger; I opened the door and he put it on the passenger side seat as I started it up. “Good luck, Doc. Drive somewhere safe, call me once a week or so and I’ll let you know when it is safe to return. Stay away from any Pack areas, you aren’t safe and you won’t have his protection.”
“Aren’t you going to send someone with me?”
“Can’t, the Alpha could order him to kill you or bring you back. Get out of here.”
“Take care of Jessica,” I said. He slammed the door closed as I put it in reverse. I wasn’t going to take his warning lightly, I had to keep in the back of my mind that I wasn’t even a part of this Pack. He was right, and I was kicking myself for not thinking about what would happen if I had failed. I just got lucky, if he wasn’t heading for the bank this morning, I could be dead now. It wouldn’t take much for an Alpha like him to kill a wolf like me.
I fought off tears as I tried to focus on driving. The roads were slippery, but I made it to the main highway without incident. I hadn’t gone five miles when I saw the Alpha’s car, moving at close to a hundred miles an hour, heading past me the opposite way. I felt terrible for him, but I wasn’t going to die at his hand. I’d done everything I could.
I drove south for Duluth, thinking about where I could go. I couldn’t work in the clinics, I’d be too close to the Pack. I didn’t have privileges at the Duluth hospital, and my parent’s Pack was too obvious a place to go. I couldn’t go anywhere werewolves might be at all; one sniff and I’d be kidnapped, raped or force mated.
I stopped for gas in Duluth, pulling a business card out of the pocket of my purse. I smiled, they had been calling me on a regular basis, begging me to visit them. I couldn’t tell them that I was effectively under house arrest, though. I started south for White Bear Lake, just north of St. Paul, where the Northwoods Riders had their clubhouse.
Viper and his boys would protect me from anyone.