“I had to go off birth control some months ago. We were taking precautions and we were always careful.” In the last few months before his death, John had begun to complain about using condoms. The pill made Corinne sick, and so did the shot. He hated everything else because it was “invasive.” “It was just the one time. I knew better, but I wasn’t thinking much about it at the time.” John had gotten impatient with her inadequacies. Corinne hadn’t blamed him. He had wanted her to feel for him the same things he felt for her. How could she explain how guilty she felt for not being sexually attracted to John in the way he needed her to be? She loved John — she knew she loved him. She loved him dearly, but she had never wanted the physical side of their relationship as he had. That morning she had tried hard for John.
“It was totally irresponsible of both of you,” Lisa snapped. “I told John he should have an operation, but he didn’t want to because...” She trailed off.
“Because he thought he might have children one day with someone else after I died,” Corinne finished for her. “I wanted him to be happy.”
Lisa’s fingers tightened around Corinne’s desperately. “What can we do? Can they take it early?”
“Take a deep breath, Lisa,” Corinne advised gently. “This baby isn’t an it. We’re talking about a child. A part of John.”
“I don’t care who it’s a part of. That baby is going to kill you.”
“John and I have a daughter, Lisa. She’s a living, breathing child, kicking and moving, a little girl.” Very gently Corinne attempted to guide Lisa’s hand over the small mound of her stomach.
Lisa snatched her hand back and shoved open the car door. She scooted out and slammed it very hard, a measure of her mood. Corinne sighed and slid from the vehicle, following her up to the house. As Lisa grabbed for the doorknob, Corinne stopped her with a gentle hand on her shoulder. “I know you’re upset, Lisa. I should have told you right away, when the doctor confirmed it, but I wasn’t certain I could carry the baby. After the horror of John’s death, I didn’t want you to suffer along with me. It was all such a nightmare, a terrible nightmare. What would be the point of making you worry even more? John was dead, I was already pregnant, and we both know the chances of my carrying successfully were slim. I didn’t want to worry you.”
Lisa spun around, her blue eyes reflecting a mixture of grief, fear and anger. “You didn’t want me to tell you what you knew all along. You can’t have this baby because you’ll die if you do. You’ll die, Corinne. That’s the bottom line; it’s always been the bottom line. I thought you had accepted the fact that you’d never have a baby. You’re everything to me. My family, the only family I’ve got. We fought for the life we had, the three of us, but then when we finally made it, someone killed John and now you’re planning on dying and leaving me all alone!”
Corinne wrapped her arms around Lisa and held her close until the stiffness melted away and Lisa was clinging to her. “I’m not planning to die, Lisa, and if I did, you wouldn’t be alone, you’d have a part of John and a part of me with you.”
“I don’t want a part of you, Corinne, I want
I can’t do this — I won’t lose you too. I’m not like you. I’m not strong and brave and I don’t want to be,” Lisa said adamantly, then breathed a soft expletive under her breath as headlights caught them for a moment and the engine of a car died. “I can’t possibly act normal now. I want everyone to go away so I can cry a river.”
The moment Dayan stepped from the car and inhaled the night, he knew something was wrong. He was well aware of the dissension between the two women; he could easily read their thoughts. He wanted to comfort Corinne, knew she was fighting tears, but they were both in danger. Even as he read their minds for information, he scanned the area, his mind seeking the hidden threat. His heart in his throat, he glided toward the two women, putting on a burst of preternatural speed as they turned away from him to reach for the front door. His hand was there first, effectively blocking Lisa from entering. Even as Dayan jerked the door shut, Corinne gasped and pulled Lisa away from the house, across the lawn, back toward the car.
“It was open, Lisa. The door wasn’t closed all the way.” There was panic in Corinne’s voice. She had been afraid someone was watching them ever since John’s body had been found in the small park close to their home.
“You probably forgot to lock it,” Lisa ventured, but her voice was shaking.
Corinne shook her head, her eyes meeting Dayan’s over Lisa’s head. “I locked it, I know I did. We have to call the police.” She wanted him to believe her.
Dayan was already herding the two women toward Cullen. Dayan nodded his head as if in agreement, his hands very gentle on Corinne’s arms, moving up and down over her skin, warming her, offering a measure of comfort. “Go with Cullen. I’ll take care of things here.” There were two human males waiting in concealment in the house. “Cullen, take them to the house where we’re staying. I will come as soon as I am able.”
The authority in his voice said he was a man used to being obeyed. Lisa immediately slid into the car, her face very pale. Corinne balked, just as he had known she would.
She lifted her chin at him, her green eyes flashing. “I don’t think so! You’re getting in the car too, Dayan. What are you thinking? My husband was murdered. Don’t you think it’s a bit of a coincidence that someone’s in our house? You’re coming with us!” Corinne caught his arm and tugged.
Dayan smiled down at her, his heart melting. “Thank you, Corinne.” He framed her face with his hands, his black gaze holding her captive. “You will go with Cullen and wait for me, and you will not call the authorities.” His mouth brushed the top of her head, the briefest contact; then he was smiling his reassurance as he put her gently in the car.
“Dayan, please, come with us. I have a bad feeling about this,” she protested.
“It will be fine, Corinne. I am not easily killed.” He leaned across the seat in the protective way he had and tightened her seat belt. “Your heart is beating too irregularly,” he whispered against her ear, his mouth against her skin. “Listen to the rhythm of mine.” He brought her hand to his heart.
For one moment she couldn’t breathe, and then she could hear the sound of his heart. At once her heart seemed to work to follow his lead. It was impossible, but then, Corinne could move objects by simply willing them to move, so she believed in the impossible. With Dayan, everything seemed natural. She felt a jolt of electricity as his fingers brushed the silken top of her head before he closed the car door. Whips of lightning danced in her bloodstream. He did everything smoothly and efficiently, with no hurry, his confidence complete. It was impossible not to do as he said when he seemed in such complete control and utterly invincible. Corinne couldn’t look away from him until the car pulled out from the curb.
The moment those black eyes were no longer on her, Corinne covered her face with her hands. “We shouldn’t have left him like that. I don’t know why I act so out of character around him. Cullen, we need to go back and help him. If someone is in our house, they could hurt him, or worse.”
Cullen laughed softly. “Save your sympathy for anyone in the house. It won’t be Dayan who goes down.”
“I’m serious,” Corinne said. “There could be several men with guns.”
“Believe me, it won’t matter. They won’t hurt him.” Cullen spoke with complete conviction.
“He’s a musician, a gentle, sweet poet,” Corinne protested, thinking of the beauty of his words, the tenderness in his smile.
Cullen laughed softly. “He’s much more than that, Corinne. Don’t worry about him. He really has an uncanny knack for taking care of himself.”