Chapter 188: Kailani 

"Time after time we warned you, and you didn't listen."

"Your foolish crusades have had too much collateral damage this time, Kai. It's one thing to battle on your own, but when you bring the wrath down on your crew… that's too much."

"I can't believe I ever thought you were cute. Or smart."

"I wish you'd release me. I can't believe you let my friends get hurt like that."

"Do you have to mess up everything you touch?"

"Why is it you can't let one day go by without making a mess?"

Even knowing it wasn't "real," the words cut Kai… because there was a bit of truth in everything they said. She had made this mess, she'd hurt her friends, just trying to help out. She hadn't had her priorities straight, and it had ended up causing far too many people pain.

Her stomach cramped at the thought. Of course, she'd caused herself some pain, too. Funny how easy it was to forget that. Easy until she was trapped alone in a room with Tolly.

"Kai?" He was trying to make himself as small as possible, which really was a useless attempt and just made him knock things over. "Are you okay?"

"No." She didn't even bother not snapping. This was all his fault. Him and his stupid crew. "No. I hurt my friends and my stomach hurts and I've just made a horrible mess of everything."

"I'm sure your friends will forgive you. 'Lisha and Mea won't stay mad for long; they're just… hormonal."

She'd already determined that Tolly didn't know what was going on, and, while he knew Agatha was vindictive, he didn't think she'd actually messed with Mea and 'Lisha's minds. "Mabina's going to be saying 'I told you so' until she graduates," she sulked instead. "If she ever starts talking to me again, that is." She curled up tighter around her stomach, trying to ignore the gnawing pain. She missed Conrad. She'd had to order him to act mad at her, but it still hurt to hear him say those things. I wish I'd never taken your collar. It's given me nothing but pain and betrayal.

She sobbed around another cramp, the pain in her heart seeming all too real. Her whole body hurt, in a way that it hadn't since she first started training with the Thorne Girls.

Yet another fuck up. Yeah, you're so brilliant, Kai, why can't you even manage Friendship 101? Time to go back to kindergarten, little girl. Figure out that people are mean and throw blocks. You remember people throwing blocks, don't you? What made you think anyone had changed?

Another pain wracked her body, and she swallowed another whimper. She'd make it through this. She had to make it through this, to get 'Lisha and Mea back for her friends. A little suffering was nothing. She curled tighter on her bed. A hot water bottle would be nice. She'd had cramps before, before coming to Addergoole. She'd made do with a water bottle and some tea.

Tea. She might have some tea in the kitchenette, still. She pulled herself to her feet, wondering at the amount of effort it took, and took a step that way.

From his corner, Tolly spoke up. "Kai… Kailani. Let me get it for you. What do you want?" It took him two and one-third steps to cross the room and loom at her side, his hand hovering just a scant centimeter from her waist.

It couldn't hurt to let him wait on her. He'd insisted on being her Kept, after all. "Tea, please. There should be some chamomile tea in my kitchenette, in the back left of the right-hand cupboard."

"I can do that. Sit down, please. What's wrong?"

"My stomach feels bad." Hadn't she already told him that? "I have cramping in my lower abdomen and my back seems to be seizing up." She let him help her sit back down. "I don't feel well."

"Kai… Kai, you're having a baby."

"I'm aware I'm pregnant, thank you. I remember you helping me get that way. Could I have that tea?" She leaned slowly back and sideways onto the bed. "I've been thinking about names. I know it's the father's job to name the babies, but it seems reasonable to consult the mother, doesn't it?" Her mother would have had a fit. Had she? Had Falk named Kai? And if he had, how had Moonchild reacted to that invasion of her rights? "I was thinking of something ordinary, like Sally. Or maybe Julie."

"Kailani…" He was getting her the tea, but he was frowning at her rather than looking at his hands or the mug, which looked tiny in his hands. The way she'd felt in those hands… tiny, and fragile.

"Something normal. Didn't you hate being saddled with 'Anatoliy?' Something teachers can pronounce."

"You don't like being called Kailani?" He was heating the water now. "I didn't mind; I've been Tolly as long as I can remember and, really, when you're the biggest guy in school…" He smiled at her. "People have always been too afraid to make fun of me."

"I wish that was my problem." She grabbed both pillows and tried to mound them into a comfortable position. "I don't want to give any children of mine that cross-eyed teacher's face, where they try to figure out what kind of name 'Kailani' is."

"But 'Sally,' really?" He shook his head. "You're not going to have ordinary children. Not by any means."

She found herself chuckling around a cramp, and gasped. "Not born and raised in this prison, they won't be."

"I just meant… you're brilliant. You're beautiful and brilliant."

"You're biased and Bound." She was proud of herself for the alliteration.

"And those who aren't agree with me. You're going to have beautiful, brilliant kids. You look like you're in a lot of pain, right now. Can I take you to the Doctor's?"

"Hot water bottle and tea." She tried to make her voice firm but mostly ended up gasping. "She can't do anything for cramps."

"She can for childbirth. You're having a baby, Kai."

"And are you going to name her 'Onomatopoeia?'"

"It doesn't start with A. And besides, I thought that … um. I thought we were more worried about John and Jack."

"John and… oh. Yes." She was getting a little fuzzy-headed. "These cramps are getting to me. Conrad fathered my daughter. You… fathered… my son."

She could still notice his wince. "I did." Carefully, he put his big hand over her stomach. "I'm not sure about being a father," he admitted, and then fell quiet, his shoulders rolling.

"So not Onomatopoeia?" She didn't want to think about how sorry he was, or what had happened. She wanted to make someone hurt for it, but she wasn't sure, anymore, that that should be him. And everyone kept getting hurt anyway.

"Not Onomatopoeia. Though Io says she's carrying a girl." He smiled sideways at her. "Kai… I think you're in labor."

"In… what? That's ridiculous, it's not close to forty weeks."

He stared at her for a moment. "You like horses, right?"

"I like horses. I have one at home… had." She wasn't sure how she was going to handle going home this summer. "Have. I raised her from a foal. Windstar. She's a bay Morgan horse with a white star on her forehead."

"And if she had had a foal when she was very young…" he offered.

Kai bit her lip. "If it was far too young, her pelvis might not have been big enough to give birth properly. I don't know pan… the animal word. I didn't know about magic at all, then. She might have trouble with maternal instinct. Sometimes it just doesn't kick in if they're too young. And they have trouble, sometimes, making enough milk."

It might have been her imagination, but she thought Tolly looked really, really pale. "That doesn't sound good at all."

"It's not. A good horse owner keeps their mares from breeding too young."

"I'm taking you to Dr. Caitrin's." He scooped her up in his arms before she'd really registered what he'd said.

"Tolly…" she protested. He kept walking, opening her bedroom door. She hadn't thought to order him to stay in the room, just "stay with me."

"You're in labor, Kailani. And you're really too young, like your horse would have been."


Yes, you moron. Your body is doing something and it didn't ask your permission first. What did you think was happening?

Not labor. Just cramps. Just a little pain. "Anatoliy!" Her stomach cramped again, relieving her from the need to think about the way Tolly's hands encircled her, holding her. She didn't want his hands on her. She didn't want him touching her. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, you're young, you're small, and you're carrying twins. One of them mine. And I don't know about the giant thing." He frowned down at her, his face way too close. "So I'm taking you to the doctor's." He shifted one hand to cover her mouth. "Don't tell me not to. Please."


  Copyright © 2009-2012 Lyn Thorne-Alder. All rights reserved.
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