Have you voted for Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones? My book baby is in the running for a RONE award and your vote could make a huge difference.
To vote, go HERE or go to www.indtale.com and from the menu bar select InD’Scribe/Rones >2017 Rone Awards > 2017 Rone Awards Week 2. You will be prompted to register if you have not already done so. It’s free and easy.
In addition to voting for Zoraida Grey in the Long Paranormal category, consider a vote for a fellow Wild Rose author– Abigail Owen’s Home for the Holidays is up for the Anthology category.
Episode 21: Unexpected
Discarding the light blanket Mayebelle has wrapped around me, I scrabble in the spring-damp mold of the forest floor. Pain in my midsection redoubles, but I crawl to the edge of the road and use a handy rowan sapling to hoist myself up.
“Maddock!” I would have run to him, but little Priscilla or Madeleine or Jane will not be ignored.
A contraction tightens like a band of iron across my stomach but the figure on the path is running now. Running toward us. My womb convulses, and I’m sure I’m about to die. Mayebelle pulls me back to the warmth of the makeshift pallet of leaves and spare clothes and pushes me on my back.
“It’s real, isn’t it, Mayebelle?” I can’t see past her solid form and a nagging fear whispers to me, telling me the castle and Maddock are wishful visions only—perhaps dissolved already into nothing. “It has to be real this time.”
Mayebelle glances over her shoulder, her face etched with fear. “It’s real, my dear, but what it means I cannot guess.”
I vaguely feel his steps, vaguely hear his voice.
“What’s wrong. Mayebelle, what’s wrong with her.”
“She’s having a child, you fool.” Mayebelle hikes my skirt and splays my legs apart, peering at my groin. “Right now, by the look of it.”
A warm hand grasps mine. Solid arms support me. I trace the line of his jaw, the curve of his lips, unable to pull my eyes away for fear he will disappear.
A quizzical expression on his face, he snaps his gaze from Mayebelle to me. “How did this happen?”
Mayebelle glares at him with her one good eye. “What an idiotic thing to say.” She returns to her perusal of my privates and shifts my pelvis into a different configuration. Aching, gnawing pain in my abdomen redoubles and the pressure on my nether regions becomes nearly unbearable. I squeeze Maddock’s hand.
“Where have you been? Where is Lucia?” I gasp out the questions. “She mustn’t get little Ruth or Mary or Esther.”
His La Croix eyes flash. “Lucia is gone for the moment, but . . . ”
A contraction draws me upright, but my cries are more of frustration than pain.
“No time for news, dear. This baby is most insistent to be born.” Maybelle pats the inside of my leg encouragingly. “A few good pushes and we’re finished.”
She snaps at Maddock. “Stop gaping like an overripe fish. Sit behind her, brace her back.”
“We need to join the others. Our strength is in numbers,” Maddock sits behind me, stretching his legs on either side, wrapping warm arms around me. “How long is this going to take?”
“Don’t be an idiot. Do as you’re told.” Mayebelle straightens the blanket beneath my hips and lays a steady hand on my tummy. “Push, dear.”
As if she has to tell me. Birth is on automatic pilot at this point. All I know is that Maddock’s arms support me, Maddock’s lips whisper encouragement, Maddock’s heart beats against my back.
Three grinding pushes and the baby slips into Mayebelle’s waiting hands. Before I can blink, Mayebelle swaddles the wriggling child with a soft cotton towel and lays her on my chest.
Maddock and I look at her for the first time. She wriggles and stretches, free at last. A sheaf of hair, tawny and wet, lies plastered on her oval crown. She sneezes, expelling the last of the amniotic fluid. Tiny fingers curl around Maddock’s thumb and milky blue eyes, strangely alert for such a tiny child, blink in a red, damp face. I lean back in Maddock’s arms, spent but elated.
“I’ve only been gone a few minutes, Allium,” he whispers. “Just a few short minutes.”