Immortal ever after, p.39
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       Immortal Ever After, p.39

         Part #18 of Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands
Page 39


  “Need a hand?” Anders asked hopefully.

  “No, I— Jesus, you wrapped him up in duct tape,” Mortimer said with disgust, and began ripping at the silver tape, muttering the whole time about the job being worse than Justin’s gift wrapping.

  Shaking his head, Anders turned his attention back to the women as Valerie urged Leigh to the opposite side of the van so she could lean up against the side panel. His gaze dropped to the spot where she’d been lying and he frowned and leaned in, feeling the darker patch in the middle of the blanket. It was huge, and glistening, and his hand came away red with blood.

  “Mortimer!” he barked, straightening.

  The Enforcer paused with the rogue half out of his seat and raised an eyebrow. “Problem?”

  Anders turned his hand for him to see. “Is there blood in the SUV?”

  Mortimer’s mouth tightened and he shook his head. “This was all unexpected. The only thing I grabbed was the computer on the way out. ” He dumped the rogue back in his seat, and pulled his phone back out of his pocket. “I’ll call Lucian and see if he has blood. If he doesn’t, maybe Rachel will have thought to grab some. ”

  “Don’t bother. You can ask Lucian in person,” Anders said as the sound of a slowing engine drew his gaze toward the road in time to see an SUV steer onto the grass, heading their way. Lucian was at the wheel.

  Grunting, Mortimer put his phone away and dragged the rogue out to heft him over his shoulder. He then carried his burden out of view as he headed for the arriving vehicle. Anders watched until Mortimer appeared at the back of the van, and then turned his attention to the interior of the van as Valerie left Leigh and crawled across the van to him.

  “How long until Rachel gets here?” she asked worriedly. “There’s something really wrong and Leigh’s losing strength fast. ”

  “Can you help her?” Anders asked with a frown. He knew Justin, Etienne, and Rachel were a good ten minutes behind Lucian. Rachel had insisted on taking the time to get a medical kit of everything she might need together before leaving the house. Justin had mentioned that in one of the calls.

  “I don’t know. I might be able to help her,” Valerie said cautiously. “And I was going to offer, but she keeps saying she wishes Rachel or Dani were here and I’m not sure she’d be comfortable with my examining her. ”

  “Rachel and Dani aren’t here,” Anders said quietly. “You are. ”

  “Where is she?” Lucian suddenly loomed beside them, worry knitting his brow.

  “Inside,” Anders said, and caught Valerie by the waist to lift her out of the van and out of the way. He’d barely set her feet on the ground when Leigh screamed out again and began to writhe in the van.

  Lucian was inside and at her side in the blink of an eye, his face almost as bloodless as Leigh’s as he scooped her into his lap and held her through the pain.

  “Valerie,” Lucian barked the minute Leigh’s shrieks ended and she sank into an exhausted heap in his arms.

  Anders lifted Valerie back into the van, and followed to kneel on one side of Lucian as Valerie knelt on the other.

  “Something’s wrong,” Lucian growled. “Leigh’s in too much pain. ”

  Despite the concerns she’d mentioned to Anders, Valerie tried to soothe the man, saying, “Leigh is in labor, Lucian. It’s painful. ”

  “Not this painful,” he said firmly.

  “She’s lost a lot of blood, Valerie,” Anders said quietly. “There shouldn’t be this much blood. ”

  “Blood?” Valerie glanced to him with surprise and he realized that she hadn’t noticed the blood. He should have realized, of course. Her senses weren’t as acute as his and the blanket was dark, as was the black and red maternity dress Leigh wore.

  Anders gestured to the large slightly darker spot on the blanket and she stared at it blankly, and then turned back to Lucian. “Where is Rachel?”

  “Too far away to help right now,” Lucian said grimly. “Help her. ”

  Valerie glanced to Leigh uncertainly and asked, “Is it all right if I examine you?”

  “Just make it stop,” Leigh begged.

  That was enough for Valerie. Shoulders straightening, she glanced to Anders and said, “Check the first-aid kit and see if you can find hand sanitzers, or wound cleaners or something. ”

  Anders nodded and moved to do as she asked, but his attention was on her as she then turned to Lucian and said, “Remove her panties and turn her to sit between your legs. You can support her back and comfort her while I examine her. ”

  Lucian did as instructed, quickly tugging down Leigh’s panties and then settling her on the blanket on the van floor between his legs. He then wrapped his arms around her gently, resting them over her stomach as he pressed a kiss to the side of her temple and murmured encouragingly to her.

  “Anders, have you found anything I can use to clean my hands?” Valerie asked, as she knelt at Leigh’s feet and arranged her legs, setting her feet outside of Lucian’s legs so that her knees were bent and his legs acted like stirrups of a sort, keeping her from closing her legs.

  “Don’t worry about cleaning your hands,” Lucian growled.

  “But she could get an infection and—” Valerie paused and shook her head. “Right. Immortal. The nanos will take care of any infection,” she muttered.

  Anders turned his attention back to the first-aid kit as Valerie began her examination. He rifled through the contents in search of anything that might be useful, but didn’t expect to find anything. Mostly, he wanted to give Leigh some semblance of privacy.

  “The baby is sideways,” Valerie announced suddenly, her voice grim. “Christ, she’s bleeding badly. Where the hell is Rachel?”

  “Get the baby out,” Lucian barked and Valerie jerked her head up to peer at him.

  “She needs a cesarean section, Lucian. I don’t have the equipment to do that. ”

  “Can’t you turn the baby yourself?” Anders asked.

  Valerie frowned. “Maybe if her water hadn’t broken, and I had the right drugs to make her uterus relax . . . and an epidural to ease her discomfort. But . . . ”

  “She’s already in agony, Valerie. You can’t hurt her any more than she’s already suffering,” Lucian said grimly. “And you have to get the baby out now if it is to live. ”

  “What?” Valerie stared at him in shock. “But he’s an immortal baby. I thought that meant survival would be a sure thing?”

  “It usually is,” Anders said quietly, dragging the first-aid kit with him as he moved over to join them. “Fetuses with any genetic anomalies are aborted by the nanos during the first trimester, but after that, so long as the mother takes in enough blood, the baby is fine. ”

  “Well then—” Valerie began.

  “She’s losing too much blood,” Lucian interrupted. “And if the nanos see the baby as a threat to Leigh’s well-being, they will attack and try to kill the baby. The baby’s nanos will fight back. If enough damage is done and the nanos kill each other off we could lose one or even both of them. ”

  When Valerie stared at Lucian with incomprehension, Anders said, “Think of it like a nuclear war inside the body. So long as no one launches, everything is peachy. But if the nukes are launched, or in this case, the nanos start attacking each other, no one gets out alive. ”

  “Jesus,” Valerie breathed, going pale.

  “Can you get the baby out?” Anders asked quietly.

  Valerie hesitated. “We could try a cesarean section, but I’d need a knife and—”

  “That would increase the blood loss and raise the risk of the nanos attacking before you can get the baby out,” Lucian interrupted. “We need to turn the baby and get it out now. ”

  Valerie stared at him silently, but then said, “She’s fully dilated. I can try to turn the baby manually, but it’s risky and you’ll need to hold her still. ”

  Lucian nodded once.

  Sighing, Valerie hesitated and then turned and crawled out of the van. Standing in the open door, she patted the floor of the van. “Bring her forward. ”

  When Lucian moved both himself and Leigh to the edge of the van, Valerie nodded and knelt in the grass, but before she could do anything, another contraction hit Leigh and she arched in Lucian’s arms, shrieking her head off.

  “Help her!” Lucian shouted.

  “I have to wait for the contraction to end,” Valerie said helplessly and they all waited. It seemed to Anders to go on forever, but finally, Leigh’s screaming ended on a moan and she passed out in Lucian’s arms.

  “Spread her legs more and keep them open,” Valerie said at once and then set to work the moment Lucian complied.

  Anders held his breath as he waited behind the couple. He knew exactly what Valerie was doing, she was using a technique he’d seen used ages ago on a mare in trouble. She was physically easing her hand in to try to turn the baby’s head down so it could be born. He also knew that if another contraction hit Leigh while Valerie’s hand was inside her . . . well, immortal muscles crushing down around a mortal’s bones was never a good thing, Anders thought grimly and then glanced past her when Mortimer appeared.

  “Justin’s just pulling— Whoa!” Mortimer interrupted himself and turned abruptly away as he realized what he’d walked up on.

  “See if they have blood,” Lucian barked and then turned his attention to Valerie when she frowned and said, “There’s something pressing down on . . . ”

  “Pressing down on what?” Anders asked, when she paused a semi-perplexed look on her face. In the next moment, her eyes suddenly widened and she exclaimed, “There’s a second baby pressing down on the first. It’s why the baby couldn’t turn. ”

  “Twins!” Mortimer exclaimed, forgetting himself and turning back, only to turn green and swing abruptly away. “I’ll fetch the blood if they have any. ”

  Valerie’s face was scrunched up with concentration. “I think I can—that should do it,” she muttered and leaned back slightly.

  “What did you do and did it work?” Anders asked. Valerie didn’t bother to answer, Leigh’s sudden shriek would have drowned it out anyway. In the next moment, Lucian and Leigh’s first child was lying silent and still in Valerie’s hands.

  “Is he all right?” Lucian asked anxiously, cradling Leigh and rocking her gently from side to side as she sank back against him.

  “She’s alive,” Valerie said, holding her to her chest and rubbing her back until the baby coughed and began to breathe normally, her little arms beginning to wave now.

  Anders saw the relief on Valerie’s face and knew the baby’s stillness had worried her.

  “I need something to cut the cord,” she said.

  “I can help with that,” Rachel announced, appearing behind her and frowning as she peered at Leigh.

  “Valerie, this is Rachel,” Anders announced, reaching past Lucian’s shoulder to take the blood bags she was holding out. He passed the first one to Lucian, and held the second one while Lucian popped the first bag to Leigh’s teeth. She didn’t even appear to be conscious, he noted.

  “Nice to meet you, Rachel. If you have something to cut the cord, we should do it quickly,” Valerie said. “I don’t think the second baby is going to wait long to join us. ”

  “Twins?” Rachel asked, a smile claiming her lips. But she didn’t react at once to Valerie’s suggestion. Instead, she watched Lucian tear the now empty bag from Leigh’s teeth and replace it with a fresh one. Anders didn’t know what she was looking for, but after a moment, she relaxed and turned to gesture to someone Anders couldn’t see. Etienne, he realized when the man appeared in the opening, a large duffel bag in hand that he opened for Rachel to dig through. After a moment, she turned back with surgical scissors and clamps.

  Valerie held the baby as Rachel made quick work of the umbilical cord, and then offered, “I can take the baby if you want to take over here. ”

  Rachel grinned, but shook her head. “Are you kidding? You’ve done all the hard work. This is the fun stuff. I wouldn’t take that away from you,” she said, taking the baby and using a wet nap to clean her up as much as possible before wrapping her in a blanket.

  Valerie watched silently, but turned back to Leigh when she groaned around the blood bag in her mouth.

  “Bear down, Leigh,” Valerie ordered. “Push. ”

  Within moments, the second baby emerged to join the world. This one began to squawl and wriggle about at once, arms and legs flailing as Valerie sat back on her heels with it in her hands.
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