“I’m dying. On the happiest day of my life, I’m dying.” Jasmine Bennett moaned, curled in a fetal position on the king sized bed in the large mansion Silas rented for their mating celebration. Another cramp seized her lower back, pulling, and twisting her insides. She bit her lower lip to keep from screaming. Sweat rolled from her forehead onto the pillowcase leaving track marks of her discomfort.
Yesterday, Silas wiped out the local drug store, buying every over the counter drug available. Her doctor had sent three prescriptions for pain, nothing worked. The doctor had no idea how to treat her, she was neither fully human nor fully wolf. Her physiology differed from female wolves. Their cycles lasted one to two days with very little bleeding.
Human breeders’ bodies fell into a different category, a complex mix no one had correctly identified. Silas had his best researchers working diligently for an explanation on breeder biology, but the women constantly displayed new characteristics which made them scratch their heads and scrap their notes. Jasmine had no doubt her mate had contacted the team back in West Virginia to see if they had ever come across her situation before.
“You’re still having cramps, I see.”
Jaw clenched, Jasmine opened one eye and swallowed back the smart remark. “Mom?”
Victoria nodded and took the seat near the bed. “Silas had a meeting this morning. He’s in the other room with my mate and a few others, not far. He asked me to sit with you until he returned since he needed Jacques with him.” Her mom touched her arm. “You okay?”
Do I look okay? “No. Everything hurts. I don’t remember ever having cramps this bad. Or zits.” She touched the offending mound. “Or the heavy bleeding. Or the damn diarrhea.” She wrapped her arms around her waist; another gut-breaking cramp tugged her insides. “Oh….no…..” She breathed long and slow through the intense pain.
“That was a stupid question, sorry honey. Your menstrual cycles were so irregular as a teenager; I was surprised you got pregnant with the twins. Did you have a regular cycle after the boys were born?”
Jasmine took a deep breath steadying herself. “No, I’ve gone months without one, last year I had a total of two cycles. But never anything this heavy or…” she took a deep breath feeling the onset of another cramp. “Painful,” she wheezed, eyes closed tight.
“I didn’t think so. Silas had Jacques doing all kinds of research last night regarding human women and our reproductive cycle. He’s scared. He thinks you’re bleeding too much. I tried to explain to Jacques that it was normal, but he agrees with Silas, they think you’re losing too much blood.” Her mom’s voice held a question as if she wasn’t too sure the men were wrong.
Jasmine groaned. Silas had been horrified when he saw her yesterday. She had soaked through her pants and was on the way to the bathroom when he walked in. Immediately he searched the room thinking someone had attacked her. Even now her face heated in remembrance of his feral and then shocked expression.
“Honestly, mom. I don’t know what’s going on. It could be stress, or my body is just doing its thing. I have no control here. I tried thinking and wishing it away –”
“Why would you do that?”
“The breeders told me that was how to control getting pregnant. My mind supposedly controls my body, well the reproductive part anyway. That has worked so far, but not against the cramping.”
Her mom nodded. “Everyone is tiptoeing around Silas. He’s really upset.”
Right now, Silas’ upset over her condition did not faze her, cramps and diarrhea stole her focus. But her mom had mentioned it twice. “He told me. His thoughts are all over the place. He thinks this is barbaric, he can’t believe human women go through this every month, he even begged me not to do this again.” Jasmine’s jaw clenched in preparation of another cramp.
“Men, they’d never survive child birth. Silly man. If you could control it, you wouldn’t be going through this now, especially on your mating day. You’ve wanted to marry him for quite a while.” Her mom picked up a bag lying near her bed. “I see you have your supplies handy, do you need to go to the bathroom? Maybe take a long soak or warm shower? I read that helps.”
The idea of moving held no appeal. She prayed this wouldn’t go on much longer. Her cramps started late last night, hours after the first signs of her cycle. But they had grown harsher each subsequent hour. Thankfully the diarrhea stopped sometime in the wee hours of the morning. It had been a rough night. A few times Silas had carried her to the bathroom and remained throughout her ordeal. Nothing says I love you like cleaning up your woman in the midst of her violent cycle. He’d been the port in her storm.
“Maybe later, I can’t move right now.”
“Okay, that was one of the suggestions from Jacques research; another is a gentle massage on your stomach, or a warm beverage or a heating pad on your stomach.” Her mom ticked off each idea like a clinical nurse. “Want something to drink?”
The idea of anything going into her stomach made her nauseous. “No…not right now…thanks though.” Her fingertips inched toward her face and brushed against each large zit that popped up overnight. “Of all the days, I have bumps the size of rocks on my face. It’s a damn conspiracy to stop me from claiming Silas officially on my big day.”
“I think it’s because you’ve been a bundle of nerves for the past month or so, honestly, the way you’ve worried over meeting a few thousand people…it’s no wonder you’re sick,” Victoria, patted her arm in a patronizing way that had Jasmine gritting her teeth.
“I’m not sick.”
Her mom’s brow rose.
“Not sick, sick. Women have periods every month,” Jasmine said her tone defensive.
“I don’t. Haven’t had one in thirty-five years. Still got pregnant a few times, go figure.”
Ignoring her mom’s smug comment, Jasmine listened intently for the low timbre of her mate’s voice. When she heard him, she pulled the sound close, wrapping it around her for comfort. She missed the warmth of his arms.
“I miss you too, Sweet Bitch,” he said through their link. She snuggled into her pillow, wishing today was different.
They had been in Bently, Colorado, a mid-size town west of Aspen, the past week ramping up security, and finalizing details. For the past six months Silas had cracked the whip to make sure everything went according to his plans. Plans she had limited input which probably accounted for her body committing high treason, and laying her low.
Her stomach clenched.
“I’m dying. Revive me when it’s time to walk down the aisle.” Her body throbbed in a constant ache. “I’ve got zits inside zits, I am going to be a lovely mate tonight,” she grumbled.
“So dramatic,” her mom said in a glib tone that tap danced on Jasmine’s nerves. “Put on makeup, no one will notice, drink a little tonic to settle your stomach and… hmmm, we may need to have the seams let out of your dress, though. You’re holding water like there’s some kind of famine.”
Jasmine snatched the cover from her head and looked around. Rolling to the side, she leaned up on her elbow, holding her stomach. Strands of her long dark hair wrapped around her neck and fell down her back to the bed. She spit out the hair that landed in her mouth, pushed some behind her ears and glared at her mom who stood near the closet holding a dress. When had the woman moved? She hadn’t heard a sound.
“That was not nice, that was mean.” She paused, tilting her head. “Why do you have my gown?” she inched up further in the bed. “I…I haven’t gained that much weight, have I? It’s only been a day, not a full twenty-four hours.” She patted her cheeks. They felt fuller. Her breasts had swollen making Silas smile at first, but they hurt like fire when he touched. His wolf did not like the word no. Not at all.
Her mom’s silence screamed her answer.
“That’s all I need. No… I don’t need that. I paid over five thousand dollars for that designer to create that gown for me. The sparkly-beads are shaped with Silas’ crest; it’s visible when I walk. I planned to surprise him tonight with my wolf-head creation.” She exhaled, thinking of all the fittings and trouble they’d gone through to make tonight perfect, she rebelled. “I am going to wear it if you have to stuff me into it like sausage.” Jasmine slid to the edge of the bed and stopped, dizzy.
“Not fair…not fair…I finally meet the man of my dreams. He wants to marry me… well, mate with me, and I’m on my fucking period. I can’t remember the last time I had a period.” She shook her head. The room spun. She froze for a second and lay back down. Another cramp tore through her leaving her gasping. “I want drugs. Drugs will fix this.”
“Mmhmm,” her mom said in a nonchalant tone. “The doctor already gave you medication and the nurse gave you that shot you demanded. It didn’t work. None of it worked, honey. They don’t know enough about our bodies yet. You have to ride this one out, it’ll be okay.”
“Promise?” she asked, her voice small needing reassurance. She could not imagine cancelling tonight and going through the planning again. She wanted to return to their compound in West Virginia. There her babies could laugh and run free in safety in the security of familiar faces, not a constant stream of well-meaning strangers. No matter how much Silas assured her everything was under control, thoughts of the past months assailed her. Their enemies had broken into the compound, taken her son, stormed the walls, attacked her mate and tried to kill her. In the marrow of her bones, she knew they waited to strike again; the war was far from over. Fear, like an ill-fitting girdle, clung knowing her babies would be exposed to so many people and there was nothing she could do about it. Silas insisted it would be fine, but experience kept her on edge.
Her mom turned and their gazes met. Neither spoke. Returning the gown to the closet, her mother walked to the bed, sat on the edge and took Jasmine in her arms. “I promise to do everything in my power to make your mating celebration everything you want it to be. You’ve been through so much, having the twins at such a young age, married to a man who couldn’t love you, finding out about wolves and now you’re mated to the top dog.”
Jasmine lay complacent in her mom’s arms, needing comfort and understanding. “It has been hard.”
Her mom stroked her hair, smoothing the wild strands from her face offering a calmness Jasmine desperately needed. “Yes, but you’re tough, you’re strong, you’re the A team. Davian was just a practice round. You proved you could birth and raise exceptional sons. No one matches Rone or Rese, and yes, I am biased over my grandsons.”
Jasmine nodded, her face securely planted on her mom’s chest, keeping the pain at bay.
“You proved yourself capable of handling half-breed sons. Silas is the final round. His decisions impact millions of people. He needs your wisdom and strength to be an even better leader. You gave him four kids. Poor man never thought he’d have any. He’s been distraught and suicidal at times, not good for the leader of wolves. And after three hundred years, can you blame him?”
“No, not really.” Jacques must’ve been chatty regarding Silas’ personal history because Jasmine never told anyone about Silas’ despair at not having a den. The steady strokes from her head down her back were magically healing.
Her lids drooped. The noise from the other room dimmed and she drifted to sleep.