Kai had let him take her to Dr. Caitrin's office, although she had protested around his hand the entire time. Tolly was worried about her. He was pretty sure girls were supposed to know what was going on when they went into labor, and not deny the whole situation the way she had been. Wasn't there some sort of instinct that was supposed to kick in?
Sometimes it just doesn't kick in if they're too young. How old was Kai? They'd all been young when they came here, but some - Delaney, for one - had been even younger. And how strong was she? Sweet, naïve - had she cracked under the pressure? The thought made him horribly uncomfortable.
She'd finally given him an order when he'd set her down on an exam table - Go get Conrad. Okay, he could handle that. Conrad's daughter was being born, too. And the jackass might be mad at her - not that any of this was really her fault - but he still Belonged to her. Tell him I said he should come here now.
Tolly hadn't wanted to leave her. But an order was an order, and that order had been pretty damn clear cut. So he knocked loudly on Mabina-and-Cassidy's suite door and walked in, booming "guys, I need to see Conrad, sorry," as he headed for the room Conrad and Kai had been sharing. It was still her room. He was still her Kept. He Belonged here… even if he'd never belong with her.
He pounded on Kailani's door much as he had the outer door. "Conrad. Conrad." Nobody answered; he knocked again. "CONRAD! Conrad, damnit!"
"Anatoliy, you're waking the twins." Mabina looked more tired and more angry than he'd ever seen her. "Please be quiet."
He nodded, and opened Kailani's door with no further knocking. "Come on," he told Conrad, with no preamble. His cy'ree-mate was sprawled on the bed, staring at the wall, hair and tail a mess, no shirt, pants stained.
That wasn't quite an order, and Kailani's orders took precedence anyway. "Come on, Conrad, Kailani's in the Doctor's." He grabbed the first shirt, threw it at Conrad, and grabbed the smaller guy by the arm. "She's in labor, I think. She says Tell him I said he should come here now. Come on, man, stop sulking."
Conrad twisted out of his arm and threw the shirt on. "Right. Go back to your suite and mope. Tell Aggie Kai sent you away, if she asks. Don't tell her I said anything. Don't tell her I'm going there."
"Con!" The orders were already pushing at him, though. Damnit, what had Kai been thinking?
That she can't trust you. Duh.
"Conrad," he tried again. "Come on, man."
"She's my girlfriend. She's my keeper. And that's my daughter."
And my son. Tolly hung his head. "Go, take care of her," he muttered, giving Conrad a push towards the door. "Take care of the babies." Go home and mope. That wasn't going to be hard. "Go, damnit." He gave Conrad the hardest shove he dared without hurting him, and trudged back towards the suite.
"Tolly!" Agatha's smile was wide and genuine, and she set down her embroidery to hug him around one leg. "Did that little twit finally let you go?"
"She sent me home." Moping wasn't hard at all; he patted Aggie's head and gave her a sad smile. "I'm glad to see you, too, Aggie."
She pouted up at him. "You don't look happy."
"I know. I'm sorry. It's just… Kailani's giving birth."
Aggie positively lit up. Tolly tried hard not to think badly of her, but in that moment, it was hard to see her as anything but nasty and vindictive. "Alone?"
He shrugged. "You know 'Bina kicked her out. And she sent me away." There, he wasn't lying to anyone."
"Alone." She smiled brightly. "Tolly, that's wonderful. I mean, it's a pity you can't be there for the birth of your son, but it shows the little bitch, having to sit there and sweat and strain with nobody to hold her hand."
Tolly had held Aggie's hand when she gave birth to Dulcinea last year, while Ofir had been relegated to a corner of the room, unable to behave. He imagined she'd ask him to do the same this year. "I'm worried about her." He didn't mean to say it, but it came out anyway. "She's awfully young."
"So was I, honey. Don't worry, Caitrin won't let her die, much as she deserves it. I'll tell you what." Aggie patted his hand. "I'm going to the Store to get Kai a baby gift. Something nice. She likes blue, doesn't she?"
"Aggie…" She was up to something. She never gave people gifts without having some purpose… certainly not her enemies. "Don't go bothering her. You two don't get along and she has enough to worry about." Understatements of the year.
Agatha smiled sweetly at him as she swept out the door. "Of course I won't, honey."
Copyright © 2009-2012 Lyn Thorne-Alder. All rights reserved.
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