Para-Gen

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Chapter 11: Para-Gen

Rio sat on the bench beside the guard who held a Taser wand at the ready. She knew if she had to, she could use her vampire speed to get away, but then they would go back and take Joseph and Tomas and quite possibly kill Andre.

She was forming a plan in her mind when she felt a presence that was unfamiliar to her.

“Rio, don’t try to escape. I was talking to Joseph and based on what he told me, the likelihood that you are pregnant is much greater than normal, even for a vampire my dear. As much as you despise what is bound to happen, please don’t fight them. You are much too important to Andre. Your child, if you did conceive, is much too important to all of us. You are the first to do so in over a hundred years. Will you please just not fight?” Kelan asked.

“No fighting, I got it, but I don’t trust him when he says he’ll take me back to the house. Reading his intentions could be dangerous, but I think he’s planning on putting me in a cell so deep in the ground no one will find me. I couldn’t take it if he did that. It would kill me.”

“I know my child, we won’t let that happen. Kieran’s people informed me that he allowed himself to be captured. He is in a cage in the warehouse you’re about to enter. Kieran is much stronger than Delacourt believes. Even at his weakest, Kieran has a strong enough mind that he can make anyone do anything. Now don’t fight them and don’t run from them. Tomas, Joseph, and Andre are fine. Thanks to you, we knew what to do to help Andre. He has a headache, which is why he’s not talking to you. Please be patient and try to see where they are taking you.”

“I’m supposed to go straight to the infirmary. Oh God, the guard is touching me. Ick! Grease ball m…”

“Rio, I can hear you, my dear daughter-in-law,” Kelan chuckled.

“Oops, sorry. I’ll try not to do that in the future. Anyway, I’m supposed to go to the infirmary, but that doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot.”

“Just do as they say, we’re coming to get you,” Kelan repeated and slowly allowed the connection to fade.

“You do know that vampires have an excellent sense of smell. If Andre finds your scent on me because you were touching me, you’ll be the first one he kills,” Rio said, relishing the look of fear the comment elicited.

“Gerald, are you touching her?”

“Yes sir, I did. You didn’t say we couldn’t touch the subject. You just said we couldn’t kill the subject.”

“That’s true, but if she’s not pregnant then he has to screw her again, and your scent will prevent that from happening right away. You know the pressures I’m under Gerald. You know better than to force me to do something I really don’t want to do. And defending her is something I despise. So, I’m going to give you an option, Gerald. You can run and hope to make it to the front gate, or I can shoot you in the head now.”

“We both know that I won’t make it to the front gate before you have a sniper take me out. But, I’m not stupid enough to give you a loaded weapon when you are becoming unhinged either,” Gerald sneered.

Boy, Gerald is either brave or a complete idiot. He obviously didn’t know that Michael loaded his weapon and used it once already on a different guard. Uh-oh, here it comes, she thought.

“All right, let’s find out,” Michael said as he pulled his weapon, pointed it at Gerald’s head, and pulled the trigger. The report from the gun temporarily deafened Rio, as Gerald’s brains landed in a bloody heap in her lap. When his body slumped in her direction, she looked into his vacant green eyes and pushed him out of the cart. After a week of living in a cell, she accepted it was nothing to be sitting next to a living man one minute and a dead one the next.

Though it was gross to have his blood all over her, she broke out into a raucous fit of giggles. It was so bad she was doubled over with the spasms. She was being kidnapped for the second time in two weeks, and she had some man’s brains and blood all over her. And now, she was going to be subjected to God only knew what kind of poking and prodding, but here she sat laughing it up like she was watching a comedy skit.

“Care to share with the rest of us?” Michael asked.

“It just dawned on me that I was looking for something new and exciting to put into my next book. That was the reason I went to the convention. It was for material, background, and motivation. You just killed a sleazeball sociopath without skipping a beat, even when he told you that he removed the ammunition from your weapon. I find that fucking hilarious. You’re a true psychopath. You’ll destroy anything to get what you want,” she paused, trying to get control over the giggles.

Giving up on the effort, she continued, “did you not get enough hugs when you were a child? Did mommy or daddy beat you too much? Did they take away your Bentley for breaking curfew or was it for hacking into the school’s database and changing your grades?”

“When I want a lesson in social ethics, I’ll call you, okay? Now shut your fucking filthy mouth before I tranq you.”

As they returned to the massive glass building, Rio saw the sign for the facility. Para-Gen. That name sounded familiar. She wasn’t sure where she had heard it before, but she knew it. She was so focused on her own internal thoughts that she didn’t realize they were inside until the bright lights of the fluorescent bulbs hit her eyes. As she looked around, she found herself in a warehouse-style bay. It was an open space with portable cages. Most of them were empty, but there were a few that weren’t. One of the men looked like Kelan, that must be Kieran, she thought. The others looked at him when they saw her. She averted her gaze when she saw them, she didn’t want to give anything away.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to dissect them yet. I want those men to do for me what I think you and Andre have done. Of course, that means that they’ll have to be here for about a year, but if that’s the price I must pay to get what I want, then so be it. I promised you that I would return you to the house once this is all over with. I keep my promises Rio, now move,” Delacourt said, gripping her by the arm and forcing her away from the cages.

They moved to an elevator with the back wall exposed to the outside. She saw the sign again, and then the city lights. They weren’t twenty miles from a city. She knew that Para-Gen wasn’t near her hometown, so, where was it? Then it dawned on her, those are the city lights of Metchosin, British Columbia. And to the south are the harbor lights of Port Angeles, Washington, USA. To know that she was so close to her own country and not able to get there was disheartening, but she had to be patient. They would come for her.

“Do you recognize it yet?” Michael asked.

“Recognize what?” she asked feigning ignorance.

“Metchosin.”

“We’re not far from where your parents died, are we?”

“No, we’re not,” she answered, hiding the pain his words brought her.

“Didn’t you ever wonder what they were doing up here even after you grew up?”

“No. My parents enjoyed coming here on vacation. Wait, what are you talking about? You didn’t know me growing up. I would have remembered you.”

“You’re naïve. Your parents weren’t coming here for vacations. They were coming up here to keep you safe. My deal with them was to not touch you, but then they died, and you disappeared. Imagine my surprise when you put yourself in my hands—voluntarily. They came up here every year so I could run a few tests on them. That’s how I know you’re a paranormal. It might be weaker in you, but it’s there. I just need to find the right gene sequence to bring it out. It’s too bad that truck lost control and slid into them, killing them. Now, if you’re pregnant, I can use the DNA in your bastard child to get what I need.”

How can he not see me as a vampire? I know the conversion is complete, but he can’t see it. I’ll have to ask Andre about it, she thought as he yammered about her being a paranormal human and that her parents were up here getting tested.

“He doesn’t have the gene to recognize a paranormal. He wouldn’t know one if he or she hit him in the head. Someone else must be identifying paranormals. He doesn’t have the sight for it. Ironically, the ability to see paranormals is a passive paranormal ability,” someone sent to her.

“I could hit him and test that theory,” she joked.

“No. You’re about to get off the elevator, go back to your conversation with the megalomaniac. You were about to ask if he had your parents killed.”

“Did you kill them?” she asked, completely numb from the memories this conversation brought up.

“No, I didn’t kill them. Though there were a couple of times, I wanted to show your father just what kind of power I really have. Do you know why I chose this side of the border instead of the American side?”

She took a breath, pausing for a moment as if to think about her response. When enough time passed, she gave Michael the information that was being fed to her from that mysterious voice, “the rules governing experimentation and drug usage are stricter there. If you apply for grants, funding or patents, you must have reproducible results. You must let the FDA and all kinds of oversight committees into the labs. They want to verify that the test subjects are being humanely treated and that they know and understand the consequences of the experiments.” She forced herself to take another breath to make him think she was still human.

“Good girl, keep it up,” Kieran came through.

“Was that you talking to me?”

“Yes, now, back to our social civics lesson for this asshole.”

Returning to the present, she continued, “they must be able to demonstrate that you didn’t coerce them into the experiment. Here, the oversight is there, but not as restricted. You can get away with having a few people in cages and claim it is part of the experiment if they are being placed in humanely run rooms, not cells.

In the United States, the regulators show up every six months. If they can get a regulator out here every twelve to eighteen months, they’re lucky. They don’t have enough trained regulators,” she replied, looking at his reflection in the mirrored glass of the elevator.

“Very good, yes, that is exactly why I chose this particular locale.”

A chime indicated that they had reached the floor of the infirmary. Rio cringed inwardly as she turned her back on freedom and moved into the cold dark waiting area. From around the corner came a new doctor. She was young in comparison to Joseph, but she still looked to be in her forties. She glanced over the rim of her black framed glasses at Rio, then looked at Michael, “You don’t waste any time, do you? You do realize that even if he got her pregnant, we can’t test her for another week.”

“You’ll run the test I gave you, or I’ll find someone who will. If Rio’s not pregnant, then give her the next series of hormone injections. If she is, I want to know. When you’re done, call me, and I’ll come get her.”

“Fine, but this mess is more than I signed on for. Schlichman screwed up all the files. He’s corrupted them. I need to find her file and get the morphine injection ready in case this is too much for her,” the woman complained angrily.

“You won’t give her morphine or any opioids. She’s highly allergic to them. Give her the recommended dosage of whatever Schlichman was giving her. Don’t screw this up. If you do, you won’t have to worry about collecting your payment. You won’t be able to do that if you’re dead,” then turning to Rio, he continued, “behave yourself, and you’ll be back in the cottage before dawn. Don’t, and you’ll be in a cell so deep in the ground you’ll feel the heat from the Earth’s core. Do I make myself clear?”

“As crystal,” she replied.

“All right girlie, let’s go. I’ve got three specimens downstairs to intake. I don’t have a staff, so I get to do it. That asshole thinks I work around the clock. Then, I need to figure out the system that damn Schlichman was using,” the doctor said, gripping Rio by the arm and forcing her into an exam room.

“Get on the table. One wrong move and I use the implant I put in your brain.”

“You won’t do that. If you do and I have a seizure, Michael will kill you. He pointedly told the guards not to use the batons, that the electrical charge could hurt the fetus,” she replied as she dropped the blanket and hopped up onto the exam table.

“He doesn’t run this medical facility, so he can just go to hell.”

“You see that camera over there in the corner?” Rio pointed to the corner behind the door, “he’s watching us. He has audio in this room. So, unless you want to become Orca bait, I’d shut up. What’s your name?”

“Why do you ask? It won’t be of any use to you.”

“Because I’d like to send a sympathy card to your family when you turn up dead,” Rio said, staring the doctor in the eye.

“My name isn’t important. Now, lay back and open your legs like you did for that monster.”

“Oh, we didn’t lay back and do anything,” Rio retorted, smiling at the doctor’s consternation.

“If you didn’t screw him then why are you here?”

“I didn’t say I didn’t make love to Andre. I said I didn’t lay back and do anything. We were standing in the shower. With lots of hot water and steam. Mm, just imagining him….”

The doctor adjusted the stirrups on the table as loud as possible and snapped on a pair of rubber gloves. From somewhere in the room a crackle could be heard, then Michael’s voice. “Don’t hurt her doctor, she’s more valuable than you will ever be. You treat her like you would your own child. Rio, don’t antagonize the doctor. I’m not above punishing you with less harsh methods.”

“Yes Michael, I understand,” Rio responded, hiding her smile.

Twenty minutes later the results confirmed that Rio was pregnant. The doctor re-entered the room to call Michael. Rio watched the door, just out of the camera’s view, float shut. She watched surreptitiously as the power indicator light on the camera blinked out, a sure sign that the power had been disconnected, but she waited.

“Get dressed you disgusting excuse for a woman. How could you betray your own race? You screwed a vampire.”

“Would you have let Delacourt kill you? You have a choice of dying or living and sleeping with a paranormal, which one would you choose? With Andre, I have a deep connection to someone who would kill to keep my child and me safe,” she paused, laying her hand over the life not two hours old, “just like I would kill or die to protect him. What would you risk your life for, doctor?”

“I can tell you what I wouldn’t risk my life for, not some freak of nature. It’s unnatural what they are.”

“What makes you so sure that you and I aren’t the freaks of nature by being born without special abilities?”

“I’m done with you, I’ll get his Highness to send you back to your gilded cage with your freak lover,” she said.

“Doctor?”

“What now?”

“I don’t want to worry you, but you might want to put the phone down. If you don’t, that freak of nature will remove your arm from its socket and use it to club you to death,” Rio said as casually as if she was telling her best friend the latest gossip.

When the doctor turned around, she came face to face with an enraged Andre. His eyes glowed dangerously in the light of the office. She glanced at the camera thinking she was safe, that Delacourt would send a guard to help her.

She glanced at Andre as he slowly shook his head, displaying the ruined power cord to the camera. The doctor looked again and realized the light was out. Slowly she backed up, reaching for the remote for the implants. She smirked maliciously as it slipped into her hand.

“I can’t use this on her, but on you, I can. We have to keep you around until the brat is born, but that doesn’t mean I can’t put you out of commission for a while,” she chortled as she depressed the button on the remote.

Her snide smile disappeared quickly when Andre continued to stand. She saw the LED light flash, but the vampire was still standing, and now he displayed vicious smile. Dropping the remote, the doctor turned to run but she ran into Rio’s fist so hard it broke her nose. The doctor was unconscious before she hit the floor.

“Damn that felt good,” Rio said, wiping the blood from her hand.

“Where did this blood come from, are you injured?” Andre bombarded her.

“No, they didn’t hurt me. My ego’s a little dented, but I’m fine. The blood belongs to Gerald, the guard who used to deliver my food. He was touching me on the way over here. Michael shot him in the head, and I pushed the creep out of the moving cart,” she replied, shrugging.

“Here, I thought you might like these my little vampire,” Andre said, pushing clothes into her hands.

“Thank you, running around in a blanket covered in Mr. Creepy’s blood wasn’t really doing it for me,” she said, displaying a huge smile.

Andre picked Rio up and placed her on the exam table. Cupping the back of her head, with one palm he brushed the other over her core. He needed her, but not here, instead, he crushed his lips against hers, devouring her. The stench of Gerald’s blood and Rio’s natural aroma overwhelmed him.

“Go in there and wash that shit off. Get dressed and meet me back here. I’ll be right back,” Andre said tersely and left as quietly as he had entered.

Rio went into the shower room she had used when she had been housed in the lower levels of the facility and washed the dried blood and brain matter from her hair and skin. She was dried off, dressed and ready to go ten minutes later.

Wow, this is the first time since I was in college that I was dressed and ready in less twenty minutes. I can’t wait to see how long it takes to clean the house with vampire speed, she thought.

The restrained doctor was slowly waking as Rio re-entered the room. She was about to punch her again when a gorgeous woman with straight black hair and electric blue eyes quietly entered. The woman was tall and thin, and her graceful walk would rival the best models. Soft facial features gave the appearance of femininity, but those electric blue eyes were hard when she examined the doctor. Rio saw Joseph standing in the doorway, fear etched on his weathered face.

“Rio, my god, are you, all right?”

“Yes Joseph, I’m fine. She performed the exam, everything is fine, really,” she consoled him. She stared curiously at the woman and was about to introduce herself when the beauty spoke.

“Hello, Rio. My name is Iris, I’m Andre’s mother. I would like to welcome you to the family, but now may not the best time for that. Now, before we go any further, are you carrying my grandchild?” she asked, hope shining in her eyes.

“Yes, I am,” she replied, placing her hand on her abdomen, “but I think we need to find a way out of here. Andre said he’d be back but he hasn’t returned, and I can’t reach him.”

“No need to fear. We won’t be leaving this area since it’s secure against intruders. I brought Joseph and Tomas with me, so we’ll keep you company. Now, what happened to her?”

“She had a problem with her balance. You see, she turned around to run from Andre, and she ran into my fist instead.”

“Ah, I see. Well, that does happen, sometimes,” Iris said, sitting on the chair nearest the door.

“What’s her name?” Joseph asked.

“I don’t know, she wouldn’t give it to me. I know she’s not here under duress. Her motivation is the money,” Rio said.

“I know how to get the answer from her,” Joseph said, turning to the cabinet and unlocking a hidden drawer.

“Joseph, before you give that to her, do you know the name of the doctor who did the implant surgery?”

“Yes. Janice Tinsdale. It’s listed in the medical files in case there were malfunctions with the implants.”

“Well, Doctor Tinsdale, what do you have to say for yourself? Was the money worth it?” Rio asked.

“I didn’t do it solely for the money. I did it to get rid of you. You were a blight on my family. When you were born, I told them you would bring nothing but trouble. You’re the reason they’re dead you little rodent!” she said, contempt woven into every word.

“Who are you talking about?” Iris hissed, anger flashing in her eyes that the spiteful woman was intent on hurting her new daughter-in-law.

“Her parents, her father was my brother. They died protecting her, but they didn’t have to. All they had to do was turn her over to Delacourt when she showed the first sign of paranormal ability, but no, they just had to keep her and give up their lives.”

“My father was an only child. He didn’t have a sister that I’m aware of.”

“That’s because he refused to acknowledge me. When our parents died, they left me with nothing and gave it all to him. When he died, it went to you. You ruined my life. If they had just given you up, I wouldn’t have had to work and struggle to make a name for myself. I could have been living off the interest of my parents’ estate. I bet you didn’t know that you’re worth more than five billion dollars, did you?” she asked, hatred dripping from every word.

Stunned by the revelation, Rio sat heavily on the edge of the desk, thinking of all the times she squirreled money away to pay for her publishing projects. How she went without the barest necessities sometimes just to find the money for student loan payments.

“You can’t touch it until you’re thirty. If you were gone, I could file an heir claim and get it all. Delacourt was supposed to find you, get you out of the way, run his little experiments on you and then kill you.”

She felt an arm slip around her shoulders. Finally finding her voice, Rio responded, “all you had to do when the time came was come to me and ask for the money. I would have given you what you’d be entitled to under the law. You didn’t have to go to such extremes to get the money.”

“Oh yeah right, I could have just waltzed right in and said, ‘I’m your aunt, and your grandparents kicked me out of their will. My brother, your father, wouldn’t acknowledge me because I said you were a freak of nature and they should give you away. Do you think you could see it in your heart to give me half of your estate?’ I could just see you doing that.”

“I would have been hurt, but if you were honest with me, then yes, I’d like to think I would have given you the money.”

Just as Janice was about to say something else, the door opened. Andre, Kelan, and Kieran walked in. Rio could see the two guards standing outside the room with Tomas not far away from them.

“Is he okay? He’s looking a little pale,” Rio asked.

A chuckle from the outer room drew her attention as Tomas covered his mouth to hide it.

“Did I say something funny?”

“He’s a vampire now, and he’s thinking, isn’t that part of the whole vampire mystic? Andre chuckled.

“Who is this?” Kelan asked, looking at Janice.

“That is Janice Tinsdale. She’s the electrical genius behind the electrogenic devices that were implanted into their brains,” Kieran said, glaring at her.

“She also just happens to be my paternal aunt. She did all this because she was mad that I got the money from the family and she got nothing.”

“You did all this for money?” Kelan asked incredulously.

“It’s the oldest reason in the world—greed,” Joseph stated, then looked at Kieran, “when can I see my family? I miss them terribly.”

“Go with Gregor there, he’ll take you to your family. When you’ve had a chance to be reunited with them, call this number and come see us. We need to be sure that your granddaughter is kept safe from cretins like Delacourt. Don’t leave the safe house unless one of us calls you. I don’t care who they say they are, when we need to see you, we will use your daughter’s name.

Remember, we are a just society, but that doesn’t mean that one of us can’t be bought off. Gregor is my most trusted man. You can trust him with your life. Don’t leave his side until you are reunited with your wife and granddaughter,” Kieran told Joseph and motioned for Gregor to approach. Within moments they were gone.

“What do we do with her?” Rio asked.

“She’s going to get the same treatment that she subjected you to. An implant and confinement,” Kelan said.

“You wouldn’t dare, I’m a human being.”

“So was your niece until Delacourt got his filthy paws on her. Do you know he subjected her hormone therapy that was spliced with DNA from a vampire? It changed her fundamental DNA makeup. He had no intention of killing her. After this child was born, he was going to put her with one vampire after vampire until he didn’t need or couldn’t use her anymore. Those therapies were painful and harmful. He used that same DNA serum on Tomas. I had to convert him to keep him from dying. His transformation wasn’t a slow progression like Rio’s. With him, it was a straight shot. Delacourt didn’t care if my cousin died,” Andre seethed.

“You really shouldn’t upset him, you put his child at risk,” Iris suggested.

“Child? You mean she’s pregnant?” Kelan and Kieran asked in unison.

“Yes, she’s pregnant. The filthy whore,” came Janice’s acerbic reply.

A sudden roar bounced off the walls of the small room. Rio searched for the cause and what she saw concerned her. Kelan and Kieran struggled to restrain an enraged Andre. Kieran whispered something to him, and Andre gazed at her. Whatever he saw calmed him immediately.

Father is it all right if I take her to the house? My place isn’t exactly ready for a mate,” Andre asked, moving to stand beside her.

“You mean the cave I found you in? You’re damn lucky it was me and not a real threat. You’re a prince for fuck’s sake. With your son on the way, you need to act like a prince and stop giving your parents fits,” Kieran responded, feeling the need to point out where he had found his nephew.

“Of course, son, you know how to get in. Leave Tomas here, he can stay with his grandfather,” Kelan said, ignoring Kieran’s comment and slanting a knowing look at his brother.

“Kieran, I always know where my children are.”

“You have always indulged him. He could have lost his life for it,” Kieran responded, calmed by his brother’s voice.

“So, you’re my grandfather,” Tomas said, fighting to hide the sudden tears that formed.

Turning to face him, Kieran said, “yes Tomas. Your father and I didn’t speak much because of my work. I never wanted to put him and your mother at risk,” he paused, taking a moment to push the pain of loss aside, “I’m sorry we didn’t get to meet before now. Since this case is closed, I’ll be taking time off to help you grow. And if I can’t be there, Kelan will be. I want to express my deep regret over the deaths of your parents. Delacourt told you that you’re the reason for their deaths, but you’re not.” He wrapped an arm around the shoulders of the boy.

“Keep what I am about to tell you all very private. Kieran, Tomas listen to me carefully. I’ve discovered that Aleksander and Miranda aren’t dead. They are indisposed at the moment, and for safety reasons, it might be best if they stayed that way. Miranda is pregnant and with Tomas a new vampire, it could be difficult for all concerned,” Kelan explained to everyone, “Tomas, when it is safe, your father will contact you. For now, you will remain with your grandfather. This business of your running away is now settled, and it will not happen again, do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, sir. My parents are alive, can I see them soon? I’ve missed them so much,” Tomas answered as the tears he fought to hide slid down his cheeks.

“When things settle down. Your mother is going to be busy with the new baby. You must finish school and begin your training. And, you did promise Joseph that you would become a big brother to Maisy. A vampire always keeps his word.”

“Wow, I get a little sister who’s a bear and a little…um….”

“Brother, you will most likely have a little vampire brother. We rarely have female vampires born to us.”

“Oh, cool. A little brother vampire and a little sister bear. How awesome am I going to be?” he chuckled.

“Andre told me so. What’s going to happen to Delacourt?” he said, not giving away the conversation that took place between them. He didn’t want the nasty Doctor Tinsdale to know anything.

“He’s about to become an exhibit in his own sideshow,” Kelan said, drawing a smile from all those present.

“What about her?” Rio asked, pointing to her aunt.

“She’s to become the thing she despises most.” Iris said, “I’m going to see to her conversion and accommodations myself. I know exactly what cell block to put her on. Calvin, would you please see to Janice’s transport and her containment.”

“Andre, take your wife home. Get some rest, you both need it. I’m not taking no for an answer,” Kelan said, giving Andre a hard look.

“Come on Rio, let’s get out of here before he sedates us and we end up in a golden cage in his house,” Andre said as he picked her up and vanished into thin air.


Halloween, 1 Year Later

“Come on Rio, we have to go. Mother and Father are expecting us,” Andre said, pushing the double stroller back and forth.

Tucked inside, swaddled in little buntings, sat Kora and Kalleigh. One girl named in honor of Joseph’s son-in-law. The other in honor of Rio’s father. Both men had been lost to the greed of humankind.

“You know, your mother has been a vampire for a year. She’s nearly as fast as me, yet to get her to move with vampire speed when we are going to be late is nearly impossible,” he said to his twins. Their toothless smiles were his only answer.

“I heard that. I almost forgot the gift. I’m so glad Tomas could get back on track with his studies and graduate tonight.”

“Yes, it is a relief, and according to Kieran, he was nearly done when he ran away last year. Besides, it’s also his vampire birthday.”

“Oh yes, that’s right, how apropos. Now, what were you saying about my vampire speed and getting out of the house? It’s a little hard to get out of the house when I’m always throwing up,” she said, waiting and watching for the moment it would dawn on Andre what she said.

“Well, if you wou… wait, did you just say that you’re throwing up all the time?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Rio stand up for a minute please.”

Doing as he asked, she stood up straight, catching his arm to keep from falling over as a wave of dizziness gripped her. Andre caught her, stabilizing her, then placing his palm on her now taut belly he peered into her eyes and smiled wide.

“Well, I guess those hormone shots are still in your system. You’re pregnant again sweetheart. Do you want to stay home? I can tell Mother and Father that you’re ill and I’ll tell them why.”

“Hel… Heck no. I wouldn’t miss this for the world. How often is it that vampire children are born so close together anyway, especially in the same family? Let’s just hope it’s not another set of twins. I don’t know if I could handle you with another set of twins. You nearly had a heart attack every time I turned around.”

“I take exception to that, I did not,” he said, remembering the first time she got out of bed at six months’ pregnant and began to cry. He had no idea that a woman would cry because she couldn’t see her feet. Okay, he freaked out a little when he thought something was wrong.

Then there were her cravings at all hours of the day and night. He silently chuckled at those. She desired peanut butter, banana, and pickle sandwiches with the activity of one twin. And bacon, egg, and green olive sandwiches with the other twin. They didn’t sound appetizing, but his beloveds were healthy, and that’s all that mattered.

There were all the times she sobbed, convinced he was going to find a prettier vampire. It didn’t matter that he told her daily that she was the most beautiful vampire he’d ever laid eyes on. Until the girls were born, nothing he said could convince her otherwise.

After nine months of worry, the night they had anxiously waited for finally happened. They were at Father and Mother’s home three months ago. They were in the garden admiring the full moon. She leaned over to smell a Moonflower, and as she stood up, her water broke.

He panicked, calling for his parents so loud they were certain Kieran, who lived two miles away, could hear him. They rushed her to a chamber in the basement as a protection against the potential danger from the fallout of Para-Gen. When they got there, Joseph was preparing for the birth. Maisy was waiting patiently in the outer room watching a DVD.

In the last year, she blossomed. Somehow, she accepted that her father was now gone. It was very likely that his absence for four years helped. And the loss was made more comfortable for her with the knowledge that her grandparents wouldn’t be leaving her anytime soon. Kieran and Kelan offered them the opportunity to become vampires, and they took it.

Andre wanted to stay with Rio and help deliver his daughters, but his parents and Joseph insisted that he go feed because they would need the blood to replace what Rio would lose during the birthing process. He recalled his father pulling him from the room and forcing him into the night.

It was hard to believe that Kora and Kalleigh had only been in Andre’s world for a little more than a year. Nine months in their mother’s womb and three months in the physical world. Now he would know what to expect. He was more prepared, at least he hoped he was.

“Andre, happened to Para-Gen? You never did tell me.”

“The evidence that Kieran collected was distributed to governments worldwide. The raids began right after that. Everyone has agreed that the paranormal community will deal with the facilities. Paranormal soldiers like Kieran and Gregor are training others to take over in those countries.

In fact, Tomas is going to be joining them after graduation.”

“He’s not old enough. He should be going to college and getting his education. If he decides he wants to join up afterward, then okay. He should be able to relax a bit,” Rio argued.

“Rio, he’s older psychologically than most kids his age. Besides, Kieran isn’t going to let him go into a dangerous situation without training. He is a member of the royal family so, Father and Kieran can find him anywhere in the world, and so can I. Now come on my sweet, we’re already late. And don’t forget, Aleksander is now a member of the consortium that Kieran works with.”

“What’s going on with Janice and Michael?” she asked as they walked out the door.

“Janice and Michael are in cells like the ones we were held in. I hear Kieran has been interrogating them; quite strenuously. He broke Michael’s nose a couple of times because he was bad mouthing you. Though I must tell you, Michael found out that we had twins and he was livid. Oh, and they made him and Janice vampires. Kieran and Mother sired them. They’ve already been commanded that they won’t ever break the bond.”

“So, who converted Janice?”

“Mother.”

“Kieran converted Michael then?”

“Yes. Now can we go, we’re already late my beautiful wife.”

“We live on the property, and we’re five minutes from the house. You worry too much. Wouldn’t it nice to have a little boy?” Rio asked, distracted by the idea of a new baby.

“It would be nice, yes. Especially since we have two girls,” he stated wistfully.

Leaning in to kiss Andre, they moved toward the path that would lead to Kelan and Iris’s home. It was her most fervent wish to have a little boy. She loved having her girls, but she wanted to give Andre a son, a little boy who would look just like his father. They had defied the odds of having only boys. She chalked that up to the hormone therapy. Still, a little boy would be fun to have around, I know he would give his father and sisters fits, he’d have my personality, she thought as she walked beneath the night’s bright moon.

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