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Many, many years later… (As to not fuck up future timelines yet to be written.)



I was going to murder the next person who touched my stomach.


The pack was large enough to fill this city if we chose so, and it seemed like every single member was in my house at the moment and crowding me. I should have probably cared that this ball was to be seen as a welcome to our new members, and yes, I loved party dresses as much as the next gal, but…


Not one woman unfortunate enough to be pregnant with twins in the middle of a Savannah summer wanted to be wearing any clothing at all. Especially not this poofy tulle monstrosity that made my belly three times the size it already was. I did not give that first fuck if it was designer. I wanted to shift and let Ghost rip it apart with their teeth.


“I swear to everything holy, if you don’t sit down and eat something, I’m going to tattle on you.”


Fiona waltzed through the crowd, hooked her arm around mine, and spirited me out of there as fast as my waddling hips would carry us.


And at this late in the pregnancy, my waddle was significant.


Three tries, and we found a quiet room with a small buffet and some comfy chairs.


“You’d have to find him first. Is it me, or do we have more than twice as many pledges this year?”


Truth be told, I knew precisely where Nico was, and interrupting his discussion with the Council wasn’t in the cards unless my water broke right there and then. As the last event until the little ones came, I was ready for this night to be over and to do nothing but eat frozen fruit and read my case files in a room where no one asked me a gods-damned thing.


I’d already cleaned everything people would let me clean and painted the nursery twice. Okay, Wyatt and Frankie painted it twice and I supervised, but whatever.


I was ready for them to just be here already. I wanted my arms full, my husband at my side, and no one to need anything for the next month. And if one more person asked me when my due date was, maiming was definitely on the table.


“It’s not you. A few packs to the north have disbanded, so we got the overflow. You know about wolves and their packs. Too many aren’t meant for a solitary life.”


I settled onto a chaise and rocked awkwardly to get my legs up. Instantly, my feet felt about twenty degrees cooler. Using my toes, I slipped off my heels and let them fall to the floor.


Ahhhh. Bliss.


“Any ideas on how I can get them to stop touching me? It’s weird.”


Fiona handed over a rare steak and a bowl of icy fruit. “Have you tried growling at them? Or letting Ghost come out to play? That should do it.”


I settled the plate on my belly and considered her suggestion. Unlike normal wolf pregnancies, I had no problem shifting into Ghost at all. Most women spent the whole time in their human form, but me? Yeah, that wasn’t an issue. The issue was Ghost accidentally breathing fire out of my mouth in human form.


Or the smoking eyes in public.


Or the scales erupting on my skin when the animal inside my head thought I needed more protection.


Not. Cute.


“I’m trying not to set anyone on fire. Too much paperwork. You remember the last time.”


Fiona sipped her champagne and shrugged. “They’re going to have to see you shift eventually. Personally, it’s my favorite part. When they realize you’re the monster and not Nico.” She did a little chef’s kiss. “Makes me roll every time.”


She wasn’t the only one. Hannah, Malia, and Ellie damn near pissed themselves laughing each time we brought in new members. It had become somewhat of a spectator sport. They usually busted out the lawn chairs and sangria and watched the show. I refused to tell her this, but it was my favorite part, too.


Just not this time.




“Look,” I growled, glancing at my watch again as Wren’s rage boiled in my gut. “I have a very pregnant mate upstairs who is a millimeter away from murder. Wrap it the fuck up, Councilman, before the next pool of blood I’m going to have to clean up is yours.”


Wren had managed not to kill anyone in the last eight and a half months.


Burn the shit out of them? Yes.


Murder? No.


If I had told these idiots once, I’d told them a thousand times. Don’t touch pregnant women without consent. It wasn’t rocket science.


The lanky mage lost all color in his face. “A-absolutely, Alpha. Please carry on with your evening. We’ll discuss this later.”


Later. Sure. He wanted to ensure I wasn’t planning a takeover of the Eastern Seaboard and rendering his council obsolete. Considering I had not one but two babies coming in the next few weeks, I wouldn’t be taking anything over. And unless they planned on fucking shit up while I was tending to my family, they wouldn’t be seeing me again.




“Very good. Have Theo see you out.” I gestured to my brother and second in command, who would probably rather eat this asshole alive than see him out of this house safely, but that was neither here nor there. “You know how wild wolf parties can get.”


Theo shot me a glare before guiding the mage to the door, and as soon as they were out of sight, I slipped out the back. A flight of stairs later, I found Wren and Fiona in a sitting room. My wife was munching on bloody steak and cold fruit and eyeing Fiona’s champagne like it had personally offended her.


“Well, if it isn’t my beautiful bird.”


Wren transferred her glare to me. “Just this once, can you take the urge for people to touch me away? Expend just a teensy bit of Alpha power? I’d do a spell, but…”


Wren’s powers had been a little haywire since she entered her third trimester. If she was an amplifier normally, now she was a nuclear fucking reactor. A blooming spell turned into an entire forest, a healing spell made every scar and injury go away, a disappearing spell made the object undetectable from every being in every reality—even the Underworld.


She’d given up spell work until the twins got here.


“I’ll see what I can do.”


A single raised eyebrow had my whole gut clenching. My vague answer was about to get my ass set on fire.


“Consider it done?”


“Better.” She put a piece of fruit in her mouth, and oh, how I wished I could be that tasty morsel.


Theo waltzed through the door, making a beeline for the buffet. “Please tell me you didn’t eat all the frozen grapes. I’ve been dying for them all day, but Mom said they were for you. Stingy ass.”


Both Fiona and I took large steps away from Theo while his back was still turned. One would think that being around Wren for the last eight months and some change would make my brother wise up, but…


A whoosh of a flame sailed across the room, setting the hem of Theo’s suit jacket on fire. While my idiot brother wriggled out of his jacket and stomped it out with his designer loafer, Wren sniffed and ate more grapes.


Fiona and I shared a glance and then stifled snickers.


“That was Prada, you asshole,” Theo growled, a clawed finger pointing at my wife.


Like Theo couldn’t buy the whole company if he wanted several times over. But that claw was really pissing me off. “How about you put that claw away before I make you.”


“No,” Wren said, her voice like a warning, “let him try. We’ll just see what happens. Maybe you and Ghost can have a conversation about who gets the frozen grapes. The jerk face that can make them whenever he wants, or the giant pregnant lady who can’t get off this couch by herself.”


Wren waggled her hand, and dutifully, I helped her up. Face flushed, her hair pulled into a complicated style, and that dress accentuating her rounded belly and substantial breasts, I was practically salivating and had totally forgotten that Theo was about to get eaten by Ghost.


Only, Wren’s face went slack, her heartbeat picking up speed. But it was the faint drip filling my ears that made it all make sense.


“My water just broke,” she breathed, her arms going around the swell of her belly.


Tears hit my eyes and I quickly blinked them away.


Our children were coming. Finally.


“We’ll clear out the house,” Theo said, kneeling at Wren’s feet. “You want me to get Mom and Alice?”


Wren’s bottom lip wobbled just a little. “Yeah. Sorry about the jacket.”


Theo’s smile was wide. “Fuck the jacket. I’m gonna be an uncle again.”


Wren’s breath eased as she brought her gaze to mine. She told me everything with that one look alone.


She loved me.


She loved our life.


And she loved that we were about to be parents.


I dropped a kiss to her lips, breathing in that jasmine and honey scent.


“Come on, Bird. Let’s go meet our family.”

Want more in the Arcane Souls World?


If you would like to see more from the Acosta pack, stay tuned for CURSES & CHAOS and all the crazy, witchy shenanigans that is to come.


I hope you’re buckled in to see Fiona contend with the aftermath of her Hell gate snafu, life as a witchy Mafia princess, and her sinfully hot, totally clueless mate.

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