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|Sacrifice of Love(Grey Wolves #7) by Quinn Loftis|
Jacque couldn’t believe what had just happened. In fact, she was waiting for herself to wake up and for all of this to be some horrific dream that she could tell the girls about over hot chocolate. But there would be no more hot chocolate, not without Sally, not ever again. She watched as Costin rocked her best friend in his arms and her heart broke right along with his. She felt Fane’s arms come around her and even without the bond she felt his love engulf her and knew that he ached for her and would take all of her pain if he could. Her mind flashed to Jen and she felt tears well up in her eyes. This would break Jen. Sally may have meant the world to her, but Jen had a different sort of bond with Sally. Jacque didn’t even know if Jen was aware of it, but Sally was what kept Jen grounded. Sally was to Jen what a tornado shelter was to those who needed a safe place to run to in the storms of life and now she was gone. Jacque felt her knees go weak and knew that if Fane’s arms hadn’t been around her, she would have crumbled to the ground like a house of cards. She heard Fane’s voice in her ear, but she couldn’t discern what he was saying. Her mind was too much of a mess. Her heart hurt for the death of her mother-in-law, but something inside of her died right along with Sally and she didn’t know if it would ever live again.
“We must continue,” Decebel finally spoke up. “I mourn the death of our little healer, but there are the others who still need us and we must find the strength to go on.”
“I can’t leave her,” Costin’s voice was hoarse and he sounded completely defeated.
“She won’t be alone,” Jacque spoke up, “I will stay with her.”
“Jacquelyn,” Fane began, but was cut off when she pushed away from him whipping around at the same time to face him.
“I’m staying Fane. I won’t leave her here in this forsaken place alone. You all go on and finish this and kill that bastard who took from me what is mine! Then you come back for us.” Jacque’s jaw was set and it was obvious that it would take an army to get her away from Sally. She walked over to Costin and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Costin, I’ve got her, honey. I’ll watch her. You go and do what you know she would want you to.” She waited silently for him to respond to her.
He nodded his head and kissed Sally one more time. Jacque sat down and opened her arms for him to lay Sally’s head in her lap. He did so gently and then looked into Jacque’s eyes with his glowing ones. “Thank you,” he told her simply. Jacque bit the inside of her cheek to keep from sobbing. She gave him a short nod. As he stepped away Fane replaced him and knelt down in front of her.
“I love you,” he told her, “you have no idea how hard it is for me to leave you here.”
“Yes I do,” she said, “but part of loving each other is letting go when we have to. I’ll be here waiting for you. I love you, Fane Lupei.”
He leaned forward and kissed her being careful of Sally’s still form, and then stood. Jacque watched as they began to move back into the forest. Peri was still standing there after everyone else had already moved on. Jacque looked up at the fae and saw that Peri had tears running down her cheeks. She didn’t know if she could remember a time Peri had ever cried, at least not in front of her.
“She shouldn’t have done it,” Peri said. “Not for me.”
“You know her well enough to know that she wouldn’t let a fly die for her, not if she could stop it,” Jacque said.
“I should have been able to stop him. I should have been able to stop this.”
“Peri,” Jacque nearly growled, “you are not all powerful. You can’t prevent the death of every person you love, no matter how badly you want to.”
“Perhaps not, but I can sure as hell die trying.”
She was gone before Jacque could reply.
“Houston, we have a problem,” Jen said breathlessly.
Cynthia stood up from where she had been sitting at the entrance to the cave. She walked back to where Jen was pacing. “What’s wrong?” she asked while taking in Jen’s flushed skin and rapid breathing. “Crap, you’re in labor,” she answered her own question.
“What gave it away? The, I’m in terrible pain, look, or the, I’m scared as hell and don’t think I’m ready for this, look?” Jen asked dryly as she tried to breathe through the next contraction. She gritted her teeth and braced herself on the cave wall as her stomach cramped down. She swore that her child was trying to claw her way out instead of going the traditional route. “I guess we don’t have to worry about that C-section, huh doc?” Jen growled.
“How far apart are the contractions?” Cynthia asked as she went over to the box that contained the blankets. She began making a pallet for Jen to lie on.
“Not freaking far enough,” Jen growled.
Cynthia watched her for a little while as she helped her walk slowly around the cave with Jen cussing her all the while. She determined that the contractions were around six to seven minutes apart; so they still had some time.
“Well, look on the bright side,” Jen said after a particularly difficult contraction, “at least you don’t have to filet me.”
Cynthia didn’t smile. “We aren’t out of the woods yet.”
“Pun intended?” Jen tried to smile but it came out more of a grimace.
“I’d like to say that I’m feeling that clever right now, but honestly Jen, I’m just hoping I remember everything I need to about delivering a baby. I haven’t done it since med school.”
“Uh, doc, you aren’t inspiring a whole lot of confidence here.”
“I’m going for honesty.”
Jen let out a huff of laughter. “Of all the times, you go for honesty. Remind me to teach you when it’s appropriate to lie which is in nearly all stressful situations, by the way.”
“I’ll remember you said that.”
“Tombstone,” Jen grinned at the doctor.
“Is there any movie you haven’t seen?” Cynthia asked.
“Doc, we’re from Coldspring, TX,” Jen said just as another contraction began.
“Have we been foolish to believe that we could win? Have we been so vain to think that we were powerful enough to defeat evil and walk away with no casualties? We have been fools. We have walked into the lions’ den. Instead of respecting the danger the beast possessed, we believed ourselves to be invincible.” ~Peri