Another sleepless night resulted in hours of counting small black wolves running through the darkness. A smidgen of light appeared in the distance. Her heart pounded as she rushed toward the glimmering orb, desperate to escape the gloom of the clingy shadows. Heat, amazing in its intensity, splashed over her, battling the perpetual cold just beneath her skin. All night she had longed for the beauty of the sun, the life it produced, the bright glimmer of hope that often trailed in its wake.
Caught up in the majestic beauty and peacefulness of the sun-dappled woods, Jasmine Bennett heard her bedroom door creak open, but refused to turn over or acknowledge her mate and top wolf in the nation, Silas Knight. Instead, she tried to return to the dreamy place she had been enjoying a moment ago.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, his deep voice filled with compassion.
Ignoring his pesky question, she again sought the sunny park with its green grass and long wooden benches that had been a premiere location in her musings. The heat from the blazing sun warmed some of the coldness lodged in her chest, allowing her to breathe better than she had in months.
“Jasmine?” The depression of the bed behind her halted her mental wandering and catapulted her into the here and now.
“What?” She gritted her teeth at the ill-timed interruption. After another night of restless wolf counting and sleep chasing, she invoked her right of irritability.
“You’re in bed, have been in bed all morning…is everything alright?” Silas asked as his hand rested on her arm.
Inching forward to dislodge his limb, she closed her eyes and released a breath. “I need a minute or two alone.” She emphasized the last word, hoping he’d leave. Where his hand sat on the comforter covering her thigh, he pressed down a bit. Heat flashed through her, zipping to her head through her chest and lower, but fizzled before it banished the remaining cold blocks of ice inside her. She tugged on the comforter.
“You’ve been alone for a few of days, and each time I ask, you say the same thing, you are resting. You have not been to the nursery or allowed the twins to visit. For the past week you haven’t left our suite, and you barely allow me to touch you. I held you last night while you cried for no specific reason, yet you refuse to allow the doctor to examine you.”
She forced herself to roll over and meet his concerned cobalt blue eyes. Today he wore his long black hair pulled back in a ponytail, giving him rakish appeal like a pirate. Her lips curled at the mental image of her tall wolf with his deliciously sinful body on a pirate ship leading a raid. His intense gaze normally created a firestorm in her core. He was that potent and never failed to please her. She wanted to tease him but lacked the energy to follow up on the thought.
“I’m fine, just tired.”
His eyes roamed over her body. In her mind, she ran her hand over her wild hair, bringing it into some semblance of order, and then exchanged her short gown for a clean one. But reality was a stickler for the truth, reminding her she had done neither of those things.
He shook his head. “Normal tired would not keep you from the pups or the twins. Everyone is worried.” His voice had taken on an authoritative tone he rarely used with her, which meant he would not be swayed. She tried to get angry but lacked the energy at the moment. A wave of lethargy rolled over her as he continued to stare at her.
“With the recent bombings and drugs floating around, I have called the doctor to check you out. I need to do something because this is not you,” he said sternly when she turned away from him.
“Not me?” She leaned up on her elbow and then fell back to the bed. Wrapped in a cloak of heightened anger, and pleased that she felt something, she snapped. “I have been locked up in this prison for months, and now I’ll never be able to go outside to have a picnic in the sun. On a pretty day,” she added, peeking at the slack-jawed expression on his face. “I’m telling the truth and you know it. With all the recent stuff and them taking Rese, I can’t go shopping or go out to dinner for a nice meal, I have to buy my clothes online. Half the fun of buying clothes is walking into the store, Silas,” she said, her voice raised as every injustice against her, real or imagined, rose to the surface.
He continued to stare at her as if trying to figure out the pieces to a puzzle. Inexplicably, that fired her anger.
“You get to talk to people and see people all the time, but I don’t. It’s like I’m nothing, no job, no responsibilities in your world. I’m not a wolf. The babies will turn into wolves one day, but not me. No sir. I’m not a good example of a wolf mother. The babies are fine with the nurses. I don’t want my boys to see me like this, not when I can’t give them good advice or cook a meal to feed them. I’m not ready. Not ready to do it.” She sniffed, not realizing her face was wet with tears. “I need to take my time, damn it,” she yelled when he didn’t respond.
“You see it, you know I’m right. Just go…go, and let the nurses take care of our wolf-babies, and don’t you dare call them pups. They are babies, half-human, so that makes them babies,” she screamed. She covered her face as her chest expanded before releasing a huge sob.
Everything inside her ached. Worse, she was cold. The kind of cold that stops you from placing one foot in front of the other without Herculean effort. And she was plumb out of effort.
“I’m not losing my mind,” she whimpered.
Each word she uttered contained a price tag and payment was in the currency of energy dollars. Her eyelids lowered as her breathing slowed. The darkness wooed her like her favorite treat. Eventually she would get up, apologize to her lover, talk to her sons, and kiss her babies. But not right now, now all she wanted was rest. Her bones ached along with her head.
She wanted to play in the park she had been daydreaming about earlier, the sun had felt nice…warm. Warmth was good. She snuggled deeper beneath the comforter, covering her head. Darkness welcomed her. It hid her. No one could see her shortcomings, not even Silas, who thought he saw everything.
Silas’ stomach clenched in agony as his mate wiggled beneath the covers. Initially, he’d gave her the benefit of the doubt. She’d said she was tired, so he left her alone. In hindsight, that may have been a mistake. Earlier, when he entered the room, his heart had stopped and then slammed in his chest at the sight of her lying so still on the bed. He’d stumbled before he heard her light breathing. It had been the most precious sound imaginable.
She had shuttered their link to the point he couldn’t gauge her true condition. The idea that he was losing her played on a constant loop in the back of his mind. The possibility of her not being in his life paralyzed him. He hadn’t been able to oversee his Alphas or competently perform his everyday duties as La Patron. Each day that she remained in bed filled him with impotent dread. He couldn’t shake the dark loneliness that dogged him without her. Every thought, every action led him back to their suite where he waited for his mate to complete her requested respite and then rise. Not wanting anyone to know of his debilitating fear of her death, her request for privacy became his.
He welcomed her outburst, although it made little sense. It proved his sweet bitch was still with him. But, something kept her fire banked. For a moment he’d thought she smiled, there had been a flash of sparkle in her otherwise dull eyes, but then it was gone. He may have been projecting his desire to see his interest reflected in her eyes and that was what he’d seen. This whole listless, disinterested thing puzzled him.
What had happened to his mate? She had been fine after the pups had been born and even after living through the most recent spate of attacks, but then she had simply stopped getting out of bed in the mornings. Now she spouted ridiculous comments regarding everything from motherhood to being a good mate to being a good person.
It was if a switch had flipped and his loving, confident woman had disappeared and someone else now resided in her body. His resolve was firmly in place. Not knowing anything about this weird behavior ended today, the doctor would tell him what was wrong with his mate…or else.
Silas had talked to the twins, Tyrese and Tyrone, about taking her shopping or out to a restaurant since it had been a common theme of her infrequent rants. Tyrese completely shut down when Tyrone mentioned the previous bombings and refused to entertain the idea of his mom in a public place. Despite her requests, all of them agreed that exposing her to the type of danger a shopping expedition would produce was sheer insanity. They all agreed an angry Jasmine could be dealt with; the alternative did not bear thought.
Stretching out behind her on top of the covers, he lay on his back, aching to hold her. He hadn’t missed her drawing away from his touch earlier. Instead of thinking about the pain of her rejection, he covered his eyes with his arm and focused on her getting better. It took a day longer than he’d anticipated to locate Dr. Ross. Jasmine’s new doctor had been out of town and just returned today. He glanced at the clock, it was ten minutes before the doctor was to arrive. Good. Bottom line, he wanted his mate back. And he wanted her now. A light tapping on the door signaled the doctor’s arrival. Silas slid off the bed and headed to the living area. Tyrese, Tyrone and Rose, his mate, stood next to a strange female.
“I’m Dr. Ross. I’ve been Jasmine’s gynecologist since the birth of her babies.”
Pleasantly surprised, Silas shook the human’s hand. “When Jasmine said Dr. Ross…nice to meet you.” He shut up before his tiredness caused him to say something stupid. As La Patron, he knew better than most that women were more than capable of doing most things. In this instance, he and his wolf were happy Dr. Ross was female. “She’s in there.” He pointed to the bedroom door.
Dr. Ross held up her hand, halting him. “First, can you tell me what’s wrong? Are there symptoms?”
Silas glanced at the concerned faces of his new family members as he told the doctor everything he knew. For a moment he thought about sugar coating his mate’s failings to ease the bad diagnosis. But he preferred to know the truth. In fact, he stiffened his commitment to get Jasmine the best care possible to help her through this illness.
When he finished, the doctor smiled.
Silas frowned at her response, rethinking the whole female doctors are just as qualified as male doctors thing. No male would smile at a personality disorder in the woman he loved.
“I will check Jasmine just to be sure, but I will say it sounds as if she’s experiencing a bad case of postpartum depression.” The doctor typed on a large tablet as she continued. “Half the women who give birth experience this in some form. It’s not uncommon. If it’s what I think it is, and that’s based solely on what you’ve told me, I will prescribe an anti-depressant for her. It might help if she talked to a therapist as well. I can give you a list of qualified doctors.”
Ignoring the therapy, his thoughts lodged firmly on the depression. “So she is depressed because she had my babies?” Being depressed because you gave birth? He had never heard of anything like that, not in his world. Bitches recovered fast after birth and went on to take care of their pups.
“No, no, this is not personal,” she said quickly, her face a mask of concern. “It’s a collection of things. Fast drops in her hormone levels after the birth, any kind of extraordinary challenges she’s gone through recently, plus just taking care of four babies. That does a lot to your body and in some women, their minds. It’s not you, her body is going through all types of changes and this is a by-product.”
The doctor’s answers rolled around Silas’ mind for a moment. He had no idea about the hormone stuff. Extraordinary challenges? Jasmine had been dropped down a cavern and gone into labor, plus she had been thrust into a world she’d had no idea existed and was now mated to him, La Patron of the wolf nation for the North American continent. He had thought she was handling the challenges well, obviously he had been wrong.
“How long until she’s back to normal?” Tyrone asked the question that had been on the tip of Silas’ tongue.
“A week, a month, or a day, although that’s rare. The answer is I don’t know and can’t give a specific time. The medicine will work, and a lot depends on her. From what I remember, I don’t see her allowing her condition to keep her down long. The good news is, she will get better, postpartum depression is curable.” She smiled. “Now, I’d like to see Jasmine.”