Dark guardian craved the.., p.1

DARK GUARDIAN CRAVED (The Children Of The Gods Paranormal Romance Series Book 12), page 1

 

DARK GUARDIAN CRAVED (The Children Of The Gods Paranormal Romance Series Book 12)
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DARK GUARDIAN CRAVED (The Children Of The Gods Paranormal Romance Series Book 12)


  DARK GUARDIAN CRAVED

  The Children Of The Gods Book 12

  I. T. LUCAS

  FOLLOW I. T. LUCAS ON AMAZON

  Contents

  Chapter 1: William

  Chapter 2: Eva

  Chapter 3: Andrew

  Chapter 4: Bhathian

  Chapter 5: Nathalie

  Chapter 6: Syssi

  Chapter 7: Amanda

  Chapter 8: Carol

  Chapter 9: Eva

  Chapter 10: Jackson

  Chapter 11: Bhathian

  Chapter 12: Eva

  Chapter 13: Nathalie

  Chapter 14: Kian

  Chapter 15: Amanda

  Chapter 16: Bhathian

  Chapter 17: Eva

  Chapter 18: Kian

  Chapter 19: Eva

  Chapter 20: Kian

  Chapter 21: Eva

  Chapter 22: Tessa

  Chapter 23: Jackson

  Chapter 24: Carol

  Chapter 25: Robert

  Chapter 26: Bhathian

  Chapter 27: Nathalie

  Chapter 28: Bhathian

  Chapter 29: Robert

  Chapter 30: Syssi

  Chapter 31: Robert

  Chapter 32: Bhathian

  Chapter 33: Bhathian

  Chapter 34: Eva

  Chapter 35: Amanda

  Chapter 36: Jackson

  Chapter 37: Nathalie

  Chapter 38: Tessa

  Chapter 39: Eva

  Chapter 40: Bhathian

  Chapter 41: Eva

  Chapter 42: Jackson

  Chapter 43: Tessa

  Chapter 44: Jackson

  Chapter 45: Tessa

  Chapter 46: Nathalie

  Chapter 47: Eva

  Chapter 48: Andrew

  Chapter 49: Nathalie

  Chapter 50: Bhathian

  Chapter 51: Eva

  Chapter 52: Bhathian

  Chapter 53: Roni

  SERIES READING ORDER

  OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES

  FOR EXCLUSIVE PEEKS

  Copyright

  A Note From The Author

  Chapter 1: William

  As he scrolled through the day’s mediocre gaming results, William lifted his glasses over his head and pinched his eyebrows between two fingers. Admitting failure was difficult, but to keep hoping for a pleasant surprise every time he opened the portal was irrational. The idea that had seemed so promising was good for producing profits but not discovering Dormants.

  At first, he’d thought he’d made the game too difficult, but he was starting to realize that precognition, the only thing his game was designed to test, was just too rare of a talent.

  With a sigh, William powered down his desktop. It was after midnight, and staring at the screen wasn’t going to change the numbers. It was time to call it a day.

  The sound of a phone ringing in his quiet apartment startled him. Who could be calling now? It wasn’t as if people had tech emergencies that couldn’t wait for normal business hours. Unless it was Kian. On occasion, when the guy was on the phone with someone in a different time zone, a tech question would come up.

  But when William looked at the screen, it was Anandur’s smiling face that stared back at him and not Kian’s.

  “Is everything all right?”

  “Could you do me a favor and come stay with Fernando tonight? Nathalie’s waters just broke, and Andrew took her to Bridget’s. I can’t stay, and Bhathian will want to be with his daughter.”

  “Sure. I’ll be there in a couple of minutes.” William disconnected the call.

  What exciting news.

  With most of the clan’s expectant mothers traveling to Annani’s retreat to deliver their babies, Nathalie and Andrew’s would be the first baby born in the keep.

  Laptop tucked under his arm, William headed out and almost tripped over the wires strewn over the living room floor. Carefully, he maneuvered around them to reach the door. One of these days he’d have to organize his equipment better so he could vacuum the floor. The dust bunnies coating the wires were getting bigger by the day.

  When he got to Andrew and Nathalie’s place, Anandur was waiting for him with the door open. “Thanks, man. I really appreciate it.” He clapped William on the shoulder and headed out. “I’m late for my rounds.”

  “No problem.” William didn’t mind helping out with the old man. Fernando was good company. Loony at times, but that was entertaining as well. Certainly beat spending entire days alone.

  Making himself comfortable on the couch, William flipped open his laptop. But he wasn’t in the mood for looking over more uninspiring reports.

  Instead, he leaned his back against the couch’s soft pillows and closed his eyes. Nathalie’s mother was probably on her way as well. They would need to be careful about keeping Fernando from bumping into her in the morning.

  To see his ex-wife after so long, looking even younger than when he’d met her over thirty years ago, would freak him out. Dementia made Fernando forget many things, but not Eva. He still talked about her as if they were together.

  Fascinating story. Statistically, Eva’s activation by an unknown immortal was impossible. As was the probability of there being unknown immortals at all. If only there were a way to find them.

  But if there was, he couldn’t think of one. Embarrassing for a guy who was supposed to be a genius and have a solution for every problem.

  With a shrug, William picked up one of the throw pillows and put it on his thighs, then put the laptop on top of it. Better ergonomics. Navigating to one of his favorite news apps, he started scrolling through the articles in search of something new and interesting to read.

  One piece caught his attention. It was about a new information-sharing agreement the US was trying to broker with other countries. Specifically their facial recognition databases.

  If that happened, it could prove problematic. Clan members’ fake documents had to be redone every fifteen years or so. If countries started running passports through facial recognition software and looking for matching pictures on documents belonging to different people, it would make travel abroad complicated. After all, if Mr. John Doe’s picture from twenty years ago looked exactly like Mr. John Smith’s picture today, someone would start asking questions.

  Wait a minute, how the hell didn’t I think of it?

  If Andrew could get him access to that database, William could run it through his own facial recognition program and look for those alleged immortals.

  I should start working on it right away.

  Snapping his laptop closed, William tucked it under his arm and got up. Only when he was at the door, he remembered why he was there.

  Damn.

  With a sigh, he went back to the couch. There wasn’t much he could accomplish with the help of his laptop, for that he needed the heavy lifting equipment in his lab, but he could start organizing his thoughts.

  Chapter 2: Eva

  Eva put her hand on Bhathian’s thigh, taking comfort in the connection as her feelings kept swinging between excitement and apprehension.

  This late at night the roads were practically deserted, which was good since he was driving as if his heavy sport-utility vehicle were a race car, speeding and taking sharp turns—screeching tires and all. The way his powerful hands were gripping the steering wheel, it was a wonder the thing hadn’t disintegrated under the pressure.

  “Slow down, Bhathian, we don’t want to get into an accident.”

  “We won’t. My reflexes are f
ast enough to avoid collision.”

  “There is no reason to hurry. This is Nathalie’s first delivery, and it’s not going to happen for a while. We have hours of waiting ahead of us.”

  Bhathian lifted his foot off the accelerator an infinitesimal fraction. “I worry about her. The baby is big.”

  Eva patted his shoulder. “Nathalie was big too, eight and a half pounds, and her birth wasn’t particularly difficult.”

  He cast her a sidelong glance. “You were an immortal when you had her. Your body would’ve fixed an internal bleeding and whatever other possible complications that could’ve happened before any of the doctors or nurses became aware of them. Nathalie is still a human.”

  He was right. As her gut did the flip and sink thing, Eva ran a shaky hand through her hair.

  No, he wasn’t right.

  She shouldn’t let Bhathian stress her out like that. He was overreacting. Women gave birth to big babies every day, and most of them survived. Especially in a well-equipped hospital with a well-trained staff assisting in the delivery.

  Crossing her arms over her chest, Eva turned to Bhathian. “I don’t like it that your in-house doctor is taking care of Nathalie. If you’re really that concerned about your daughter, you should insist that she is moved to a hospital with a proper labor and delivery department.”

  Bhathian nodded. “Nathalie is human, and she should be in a human hospital. Bridget is a good doctor, but her experience is mostly with immortals.” Finally slowing down, he turned into the entrance of the parking garage. A few moments later they stood in front of the bank of elevators. He pressed the down button.

  “The clinic is in the basement?” Eva asked.

  “Not exactly. I wouldn’t call the underground complex a basement. It’s several stories deep and sprawls under several buildings.”

  “For safety?”

  “Yes. There are exit and entry points in several of the neighboring buildings.”

  As the elevator doors opened at the clinic’s level, the sound of multiple voices indicated that they were not the first to arrive. “Who else is down here?”

  He shrugged. “Probably half the immortal population of the keep. Everyone loves Nathalie.”

  The hallway outside the clinic was teeming with immortals. Some were standing and talking, while others were sitting on the carpeted floor and leaning against the concrete-block walls.

  Clasping her hand as he strode briskly through the crowd, Bhathian only nodded in greeting to the people as they moved aside to let Eva and him pass.

  He knocked on the clinic’s entry door and opened the way. The doctor’s office was to the right of the reception area, and since her door was open, they walked right in.

  “Where is Nathalie?” Bhathian asked.

  “Over there.” Bridget pointed as she pushed to her feet. “Let me check if she is okay with you coming in.” The petite redhead ducked into the adjacent room and closed the door behind her.

  “How come we don’t hear anything?” Eva still remembered Nathalie’s birth, and it hadn’t been a quiet and peaceful affair. The grunting, and in the end screaming, could not have been silenced by a wall and a closed door. Especially when those on the other side had immortal hearing.

  Was Nathalie sleeping? Not likely if she was having contractions.

  “The soundproofing here is done with immortals in mind. Unless the door is open, we won’t hear a thing.”

  Bridget opened the door wide and stepped out. “Go ahead.”

  “Hi, guys.” Nathalie looked lovely and still smiling. The doctor must’ve given her something for the pain.

  “You got here fast.” Andrew stood up and offered Eva his seat, then sat down next to Nathalie on the hospital bed.

  Eva ignored the offer and walked over to Nathalie’s other side. “How are you feeling, sweetie?” She clasped her daughter’s hand.

  “As well as can be expected.” Nathalie grimaced. “The contractions are coming every three minutes. I didn’t know they would hurt like that.”

  Eva glanced at the various wires connecting Nathalie to the monitoring equipment. No wonder her daughter was in pain. She wasn’t hooked up to an IV drip yet. “Why no pain medication?”

  “Too early. Bridget wants me to walk around a little before she hooks me up. Only after my cervix dilates to four centimeters, she’s going to give me an epidural.”

  Just then another contraction gripped Nathalie. Her pretty face twisting in pain, she rose up and clutched Andrew’s hand on one side, and Eva’s on the other, breathing in and out until it passed.

  “God, I hate this.” She collapsed back on the bed.

  “About that,” Bhathian said, his raspy voice drawing Eva’s attention to his face. The poor guy looked green. “I think you should go to a human hospital.”

  Nathalie arched a brow. “Why?”

  “Bridget is only one person. What if you need a cesarean? Who is going to assist her? And what about complications? She has no experience with human mothers.”

  Bridget entered through the door which had remained open. “I assure you I can handle it. If I couldn’t, I would’ve been the first to suggest moving Nathalie to a hospital.”

  “And what about a cesarean? You can’t do everything yourself.”

  “I have two nurses to assist me. They are on their way.”

  A tight squeeze on her hand alerted Eva a moment before another contraction rolled over Nathalie. Stronger and longer than the previous one. A quick glance at the screen confirmed it. The spike was higher.

  “I need to check how Nathalie is progressing.” Bridget walked over to the sink and washed her hands, then pulled a pair of surgical gloves from a dispenser. “You should leave.” She snapped the gloves on.

  Eva pushed a strand of sweat-soaked hair off Nathalie’s forehead. “We will be right outside if you need us.”

  Nathalie managed a weak smile. “It’s getting worse. I don’t think I want anyone other than Andrew to see me like that. After all, it’s his fault, so he should suffer along with me.”

  Andrew paled and swallowed.

  “It was a joke, Andrew!” Nathalie slapped his bicep.

  Before the next contraction had a chance to roll out, Eva grabbed Bhathian’s hand. “Let’s go. We’re not helping Nathalie by being here.”

  “One moment.” He pulled his hand out of Eva’s grip and walked over to Nathalie. “We are here for you. Anything you need. If you decide you want to go to a hospital after all, I’ll take you. I’d like to see anyone try to stop me.” He smoothed his hand over her hair and bent down, planting a quick kiss on her cheek.

  “I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me.”

  He nodded, but the worry lines on his face didn’t fade.

  “Come on.” Eva hooked her arm through his and dragged him out.

  “I’m walking. You don’t need to pull me.” Bhathian pushed the door closed behind them.

  “I know. But I didn’t want Nathalie to suffer through another contraction with us there. The sooner Bridget checks her, the sooner she is going to give Nathalie pain relief.”

  Outside the clinic, it looked as if Nathalie’s café had been moved to the hallway. Robert was pushing a rolling cart similar to those Eva had used while working for the airline. A big carafe with coffee and another one with tea were on top; wrapped sandwiches and cold drinks were on the bottom. Carol handed out the sandwiches, while Robert served the drinks.

  Nice fellow, Eva thought. He was helping Carol despite the dismissive way she treated him. Most guys wouldn’t have given her the time of day. Living in such a close-knit community, the odd couple was the main subject of gossip. Even Eva, who was still an outsider and hadn’t visited the keep often, had heard the whole story.

  It was a shame he couldn’t leave the keep. Sharon would’ve liked him. A quiet, hard-working guy, who also happened to be tall and handsome, was exactly her type.

  Chapter 3: Andrew

  The Demerol drip was doing nothing
for Nathalie. She seemed to be in as much pain as before, just lacking the energy to do anything other than whimper.

  It was killing him. Every contraction, every grimace, every whimper was tearing him to shreds.

  “I’m so sorry, baby.” He kissed her hand, which hadn’t left his since her ordeal had started. He was dying to take a piss but refused to leave her side even for a moment. It would have to wait. As long as she suffered, so would he.

  “Nothing to be sorry about,” she whispered. “Not your fault. I was joking before.”

  “I know. But I can’t watch you suffer like this. I wish I could bear the pain for you.”

  Nathalie closed her eyes. “Can you ask Bridget to come and check if I’m ready?”

  The doctor had done it less than twenty minutes ago, and there was little chance Nathalie had dilated enough since, but he was going to ask anyway. He’d do anything so Nathalie didn’t have to suffer a moment longer than necessary.

  Andrew pressed the button, and a few seconds later Bridget walked in.

  “I know.” She lifted her hand, forestalling his arguments. “Let’s check again. The contractions are getting stronger and closer. You may be ready, Nathalie.” She snapped a new pair of gloves on.

  As Bridget lifted the thin blanket covering his wife, Andrew pushed to his feet and turned around, giving her a measure of privacy. No one wanted to be watched at moments like that. Not even by their spouse.

  “You’re good to go,” Bridget announced.

  Thank God. Both he and Nathalie sighed in relief. Salvation was near.

  Bridget opened the door and called for her nurse. “Hildegard, I need you in here.” She then turned to Andrew. “You have to leave. I’ll call you once the epidural is in.”

  “Why?”

  “It’s okay, Andrew. Go grab something to eat and drink. There isn’t enough room in here. You’ll just be in their way.”

  The women looked at him impatiently. He hated to leave, but it seemed no one wanted him to be there during the procedure.

  “Fine, I’m going.” Andrew kissed Nathalie’s forehead and made himself scarce, so she could get what she needed as soon as possible.

 
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