Adelle crept up the stairs into the attic, trying to keep her footfalls quiet on each squeaky floorboard. It was futile though, Jack heard everything with those sharp ears, probably scented her coming close as well. Sneaking up on a dragon was not easy. Every step made her heart lurch, the pit of her stomach churning in hot waves as she approached. Her hand shook when she touched the doorknob and she stopped, taking a long, deep breath before the icy clutch of her siren’s power overcame her. God, it was flaring up again; after all the time she had spent trying to control her powers they were starting to slip from her grip.
It was a mistake keeping such a huge secret from him. She knew it the moment she saw those two lines on the pregnancy test and threw the stick out instead of running down the stairs to tell him. Deep in her heart, Adelle knew that Jack would have been overjoyed at the news. Well, he’d be overjoyed after waking up from a dead faint. Yet there was still a piece of her that had been scared to tell him.
Probably because you’re terrified yourself, Dell.
Adelle swallowed hard, her dry throat stinging as she twisted the knob and walked into the attic.
Light poured through the window, bouncing on the mounds of treasure, and Adelle had to shield her eyes from the shine. She squinted into the mini hoard room, looking for Jack’s hulking human form amongst the shiny coins, sparkling jewels, and glittering glass bottles. After a quick scan, she found him laid out across a squat pile of gold, staring up at the roof with his arms folded tight across his massive chest. Pouting? Oh yes, there was some epic dragon pouting happening. So epic that his lower lip was protruding and his heavy brow was creased tight.
When Valerie and that priest left to go on their strange adventure, Jack had stormed up to his sanctuary without a single word, but the look he gave her tore her heart into pieces. She had expected him to fly into a rage, but the only emotion that had filled his amber eyes was disappointment. That was ten times worse than any fury he could have released.
Adelle tip toed around the loose glass trinkets that littered the floor. When Jack moved in, he started a new collection, picking up every glass jar, shard, and vessel that caught his eye. Her toe jostled a bright blue bottle and she winced as it rolled towards him with a hollow chime. Jack snatched it up with a swift hand as soon as it neared, then lifted it into the streaming sunlight above him. Its blue twinkling surface softened his hard expression and he let out a long breath.
Without turning towards her, he said, “So you thought I’d freak out?”
The deep rumble of his voice shook her core and she gave up her quiet approach. Her bare toes brushed against scattered coins, making them jingle until it distracted her. Jack finally turned to her, face blanketed with hurt that he tried to disguise with anger.
“Yeah,” Adelle said, her voice a ghostly rasp. “Yeah, I did.”
Jack sat up and rubbed his hands across his face. Every muscle in his bare chest rippled as he moved, the golden brown of his hair shining almost as bright as his hoard. He said nothing only fixed her with an unreadable stare that burned right through her.
“I wasn’t sure how you were going to react,” Adelle continued, rocking from foot to foot.
Jack shook his head, the crease between his eyes deepening. “We’ve been together for over a year, Adelle. You should know me better.”
“I do… I mean-”
Jack jabbed a finger towards her with a scowl. “And you should know that I’m in it for the long haul, kid or no kid. I made a vow and -”
“You take your vows seriously. I know.” Adelle pinched her forehead, guilt wracking every inch of her. “I panicked and kept my mouth shut.”
She felt his hard gaze bore deeper, sizzling through her skin. “For a whole month?”
Words spilled from her mouth in a mad rush. “I just took the test a week ago! I don’t know if I’ve been pregnant a month, or a day or… Jeeze, cut me a little slack here! I’ve never been pregnant before, okay?!” Tears scalded her eyes and she clenched her jaw to hold the emotion inside.
Keep calm. Just keep calm.
“I screwed up, Jack. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Adelle shoved her knuckle between her teeth, her bite threatening to break skin. The unwieldy power that resided inside her rolled in her chest, yearning for escape. Would she unleash it on the ones she loved, like she had that morning? Would she hurt her baby? Christ, what if I hurt the baby? White haloed her vision as terror wrapped around her and squeezed. Harder. Harder.
“Hey, Buttercup.” Jack took her hand and pulled the knuckle from her mouth with gentle ease. “You’re holding it in again,” he said.
Adelle looked the huge hand engulfing her delicate wrist. “I’m fine,” she said, voice still tremulous.
Jack’s arms were around Adelle in a blink and she was pressed tight against his chest. Warmth embraced her like a second skin. “You are so far from fine it’s ridiculous,” he said. “You know what happens when you hold it all in.”
“You say that as if I have control these days, Jack.”
“And you still have it. We just have to find a couple go-arounds until you’re back to normal.”
“Something is wrong with me,” she whispered.
“Yeah, you’re pregnant.”
When she lifted her head to glare at him, he responded with a mischievous little grin. For that, Jack was rewarded with a sharp swat across his chest.
“I meant other than that,” Adelle said. “I’ve been feeling wrong since a piece of my voice was stolen.”
Jack tilted his head to the side as worry filled his amber eyes, then his mouth creased into an angry scowl. A wisp of grey smoke curled from his nostrils.
“Those fucking mages.” His arms tightened, squeezing until her breath caught. Adelle stroked his arm, trying to calm his rage.
Her kidnapping and torture didn’t sit well with the dragon. Hell, it didn’t sit well with her even though she had managed to survive the pain. Some nights the memories would tear through her in a nightmarish playback and she’d wake drenched in a cold sweat, her screams rattling the foundation of the house. Only the sound of Jack’s breath and his protective touch could calm her.
“Shh Buttercup. You’re alright. I’m here,” he’d whisper over and over until her sobbing stopped and she fell into a dreamless slumber. The night terrors were less frequent now but they still infuriated her dragon. As far as Jack was concerned he should have been there. Adelle was his mate, and that meant a slow, painful death to the ones that dared to hurt her.
Jack regained his composure and his grip loosened. “You’re going to feel off until we fix it. But we can handle this.”
“Are you sure?”
He bent down and pressed his hands against her face, his calloused thumbs passing over her cheekbones as his lips turned up into a crooked smile. “Have I steered you wrong yet? We got this. We’ll be a family. You, me and the hatchling.”
Adelle sat up with a jolt and her gut went cold “Oh shit, I’m not going to lay an egg am I?” Laughter shook Jack so hard, the attic windows rattled. She scowled, hands on her hips. “Don’t laugh! You’re a damn dragon and it’s a legitimate question!”
“Sorry. I’m sorry,” Jack wiped the corners of his eyes, still snickering. “No, you won’t lay an egg. With mix matings, birth is determined by the mother’s species. Since you’re part human, you’ll be doing it your way, whatever that includes.”
“Fluids and blood probably,” Adelle said.
Jack pursed his lips in contemplation then shrugged. “Eh, I can handle that.”
His fingers soothed her into a place of calm. Serenity. The glow of magic evaporated from her sight and everything returned to its normal hue. Adelle’s heart finally stopped racing and she slumped, taking in a long breath.
“I’m guessing I hit the bulls-eye on date night,” Jack said.
He kissed her forehead then settled into a Jack-shaped dent embedded in one his gold piles and yanked her down with him. Adelle fell across his thighs with a soft laugh.
“Which one?” Adelle asked.
“Back seat of the Impala date night,” Jack said smugly. He leaned back into his gold pile, coins tinkling as they tumbled down their shoulders and across the floor.
“Ooooh, that date night,” Adelle said, her cheeks flushing.
It was hard to forget that date night.
Adelle had been a wreck for weeks so Jack took her away to get some peace, quiet, and one on one time. Oh there had been sisterly protests of course: Valerie was certain that Adelle was still in too much danger to travel for leisure. Phoebe on the other hand, had wanted to tag along to get away from Valerie. After convincing Valerie that no one, not even a powerful mage would mess with a dragon, she reluctantly conceded. And telling Phoebe they were probably going start making out at some point made her little sister turn tail and run while screaming “EWWWW!”
For the first time in months, they had been on their own; driving down the dirt roads of Hamul with the radio on full volume, laughing and talking. When the sun had gone down, Jack pulled off the road so they could stargaze, something they hadn’t done since their time in Whitmore. They stretched out on the hood of the car, Adelle pointing out her favorite constellations while Jack nuzzled her neck, his fingers slipping under her shirt to curl across her belly.
“You’re not looking,” Adelle said.
Jack kissed her behind her ear. “I’m looking at something better.” When his hand crept up to palm her breast, heat pooled between her thighs. Her eyelids fluttered shut.
“We got a back seat,” Jack insisted. “A back seat and no one around for miles.” He leaned over her, his arms caging her in as he pressed slow kisses down her throat. “How about I spend the night making my siren sing?”
“What if I bust your windows while doing so?”
“I know a good body shop that works quick.” Jack pressed his mouth against hers, delivering a long kiss that made her toes curl and muscles melt. A long time passed before he pulled away, his voice rough with lust “I need you to cut loose, Buttercup.”
All she could do was nod as Jack scooped her up into his arms and laid her across the backseat of his car.
It was magnificent.
They had filled the car with heat, pressed so tight against each other that they were one and the same. Writhing. Thrusting. And when Jack made her come, the back window had shattered and the ground shook from her release. No moaning in hushed tones or having to bury her mouth against his shoulder. Only passion. Only ecstasy. And that had just been the beginning of the night. The sun had already risen when they fell asleep in each other’s arms, bodies slick with sweat and weak with exhaustion.
Adelle abandoned the memories, looking back to Jack with a loving smile. She ruffled his golden brown hair. “That was probably the night,” she said. “Nice shot.”
“Had a lot of practice,” Jack replied. “When our kid is old enough to drive, I’ll let them know they were conceived in the back seat.”
Adelle rammed her elbow into his ribs and he left out a whoosh of air in a hard oof. “Gross, Jack.”
“What? Family history!”
“So, does this mean I’m forgiven?” she asked.
“Yeah.” Jack rested his chin on top of her head. “But still I want some major Mea Culpas, Buttercup. We’re talking control of the remote for a whole year and I get to pick the next two movies we see.”
Adelle laughed, nuzzling his neck. “Slave driver. I’ll endure,” she said.
Jack leaned back, his expression growing serious. He pressed a finger against her lower lip. “Also, I don’t want you out on the field with your sisters anymore. Not while you’re pregnant.”
After pressing a kiss to his fingertip, she pulled his hand away. “I already talked to Val about it. Consider that done.”
Her answer must have surprised him since Jack’s brows shot straight up. Adelle could see the whites of his eyes as shock slowly settled across his face. “So… We’re really going to do this, huh?”
“Yeah. We really are.”
She smiled as Jack’s shock melted into an easy grin, his eyes twinkling with a light she never saw before. His arms encircled her waist and he leaned back against the pile of gold, closing his eyes.
He laid silent a while before saying, “I want to raise our kid in Whitmore. It’s our home.”
Adelle nodded her head. “I’m alright with that.”
“And I want to make sure our kid is comfortable with his or her powers.”
“And I get to pick who they date.”
“Okay Jack, now you’re going rogue.”
“I swear to God, Dell if we have a girl I’m going to have a heart attack,” Jack laughed. “If she ends up taking after her mommy-”
“God help the Wyrd.” Adelle grinned.
Jack tucked a curl behind her ear. “We are going to be awesome parents,” he said before running kisses across her collar bone. He clutched her nape and eased her against the floor, covering her with his enormous body.
“Methinks the idea turns you on.” Adelle’s voice grew ragged as Jack flicked the buttons on her blouse open.
“Eh, I figured while we’re here, why not try for twins.” Jack smoothed the fabric apart to lick the spot between her breasts. When he growled low, Adelle’s body blazed red hot, growing wet for him.
“I don’t think that’s how it works, Jack,” Adelle gasped as his lips wrapped around her nipple, tongue rasping through the lace of her bra.
“Don’t really care, Buttercup.” Jack replied.
At that point, neither did she.