Title: Nine Heartbeats
Summary: Nathaniel reflects
on Anita's pregnancy.
Dedication: To BeElleGee this is for you, because
He lay there quietly in her arms, enjoying the soft idle stroking of her fingers on his stomach
as she read. Anita's voice drifted over him, soothing him as nothing else he'd ever known. She was his Nimir-Ra, but more
than that she was the woman he loved with all his heart and soul. In her embrace he could trust the safety she offered, for
it never came with a price and it never asked for anything in return. It was given freely and he returned the safety and love
and trust tenfold.
Nathaniel knew he would always be there for her. It wasn't even a question. Now that she was seven
months pregnant, he considered himself lucky to be able to dote not only on her but also on her child. The ménage à trois
between her, Asher, and Jean-Claude had led to her becoming pregnant despite the contraceptives that they had used. It was
yet another confusing link between the dead and living, or the virility of the undead.
It had troubled Anita greatly
in the beginning; she had wanted nothing more than be rid of it because she was scared. He had found her crying in the bathroom
one morning with the telling home pregnancy test in her trembling hands. That day he'd offered her comfort and soft loving
kisses until long into the night. Anita hadn't wanted to leave the bathroom, afraid of the harsh reality that might exist
outside. It had taken both Asher and Jean-Claude to drag her out and to their doctor, Lillian the wererat.
been lucky to escape the disease that affected most vampiric children… but she had refused to hear from Dr. Lillian
on whether her unborn child was male or female or for that matter who the paternal father was. As far as Anita was concerned,
the child had two fathers and a bunch of male uncles ready to pamper and spoil him or her rotten.
Hell, Anita was
being spoiled rotten too, and they wouldn't let her put up any fight to it. She was clearly outnumbered and as she was unwilling
to shoot them all with silver bullets, Anita learned to just give into their need to pamper her. Nobody would let her work
for Animators Inc. or the police, or join in the two stands they made against the council when they showed up unannounced,
or let her do anything fun as she would put it. Jean-Claude and Asher had moved her under the Circus of the Damned that night
so they figured it was just a hormonal mood swing that had made her cranky.
He stretched beneath her touch, focusing
again on her soft husky voice as she read aloud from a new one of her favorite book series by some Evanovich woman. Her nails
scraped lightly along the lines of his abs causing him to shudder, a lazy smile spreading across his face as a low grade arousal
swept over him. Damn. She was gorgeous with her belly swollen with child, her maternity nightgown a frothy, sinful creation
from Jean-Claude's wardrobe and naturally enticing- so much so that he debated moving and lifting it up and over her head.
The pads of her fingers soothed the marks her nails had traced into his skin and he sighed, loving the soft strokes
of her fingers. Nathaniel settled his head further into her lap, as much as he could with the baby pressing her tummy out,
and breathed deeply, inhaling the scent of her, and his leopard purred. Home… pard… contented, he closed his eyes
Nights like these made everything before Anita worth it; all the humiliation, the pain, the dread hopeless,
helpless feelings that had swamped him. He had endured those years of loneliness and anguish because there had been no other
choice. When Anita had entered into his life all the bad had been erased with the glorious promise of the new and to this
date it was the most lasting true promise that had ever stayed true.
“I love you, Anita,” he sighed sleepily
against her thigh, curling his body around her as much to protect her as to comfort himself.
Ever since the incident
with Richard six months before, he'd been worried sick; becoming the only wereleopard minus Micah allowed to almost constantly
be with her. Anita either felt she needed to reassure him because he was so dependant on her to keep his world from falling
apart and or because she truly loved him and thought he deserved not to be shoved away.
It had been frightening.
had stormed the Circus as soon as he heard; it had been Stephan who had squealed like a pig and let it out. Nobody had forgiven
him for his treachery. He'd been banned from this sanctuary for being the one who had nearly brought on the deaths of both
Anita and her baby. He hated the feeling of helplessness that had engulfed him that night and had vowed to become stronger
for Anita's sake.
It had been terrible. Rage had curled the air with power and Richard's beast had leapt at Anita,
clawing at her own power, ripping through her magical barriers and shredding her. And while Richard had done that he had accused
Anita of many hurtful things that weren't true, attacking her mentally and emotionally even as he attacked her physically.
He remembered feeling Anita's terror as she lashed out with her waning power at a man whom she once had loved and
cherished. The baby had sapped her of energy all day, and she had been near sleep when the attack had come so swiftly and
unexpectedly. Anita had been able to do little damage to Richard and he hadn't been by her side, for which he still blamed
himself. He had been in the shower, unknowing until she had called out to his beast with desperation. She must have called
out to Asher and Jean-Claude too, for they had appeared on the scene almost as soon as he had.
Richard had been wrestled
to the ground and stripped to within an inch of his life before they heard Anita's mewling cries of pain. They had left him
immediately to tend to her. Blood from the power slashes had spilled from all over her body, but more frightening had been
that she kept slipping in and out of consciousness, soft babbling accompanying her reawakening.
The three of them
had cleaned her and wrapped themselves around her in a mental cocoon of love and life-giving mystical power, feeding as much
to her as to the baby. Miraculously they had all survived the night. Richard had been banished from St. Louis along with his
Furiously blinking his tears away, he hugged Anita tighter, burying his face into her warm flesh.
She had stopped reading and reached over to turn off the light. When she returned to his protective embrace, he gave her another
squeeze before turning her onto her side and wrapping a leg over her hip. He settled himself into the warm cocoon of her body,
pressing his hard length into her gently rounded stomach.
Anita sighed softly, her fingers trailing down his chest
to pass lightly over the quivering muscles of his stomach.
“The ardeur has awakened, Nathaniel,” Anita
whispered in his ear, scratching his belly before soothing the aggravated welts.
“Has it?” he questioned
She nodded, bending over to kiss him on the lips. Her breath mingled hotly with his as he opened up his
mouth to accept her probing tongue. He suckled swiftly and eagerly on that plundering intruder. Then her hand closed around
his erection, and he groaned feverishly into her mouth, wrapping his leg more securely around her waist, drawing her near.
Her touch sparked him and he surged into her fisted hand. “Anita,” he moaned gutturally. Anita slipped
her hand beneath his boxers and pumped him. He gave into her demand and let himself go, mindful only of the pleasure of her
talented fingers as she relearned his shape and size.
“I've almost forgotten how wonderful you feel inside me,”
Anita murmured, bringing his erection out of its silken barrier.
“I haven't,” he managed to utter between
quick, excited pants.
At that she smiled lovingly at him, and brought his penis between her legs. The cloth of her
nightgown clung to his sweaty flesh and slowly she rocked her hips above him. With a hoarse cry, he clutched her to his chest
and pushed himself harder into the sheath she'd made for him. Thrusting upwards, he hit her clitoris through the thin layer
of her gown and she dampened.
It was unbearable, it was intolerable, it was painful. He grunted and shoved his face
into the pillow beside her head as he continued to love her body. The baby's heartbeat thrummed against his belly, and his
hands came up to cup the life within her womb.
“Anita,” he crooned, “Anita, oh, Anita.”
was a telling tightening in his balls, and his back bowed as he fed her ardeur with his release. He continued pumping for
several moments afterwards against her nether lips until he fell onto his back with a contented groan. Anita laughed huskily
at him before putting her head onto his shoulder and settling her girth comfortably against him and falling asleep.
snored softly, her arms wrapped around his chest as she drifted off. He cradled her arm for a moment before turning onto his
side and holding the precious life of her baby in his palms.
“I'm going to love you, little one,” he whispered
reverently stroking the sides of her wide tummy. “Just as much as I love your mother.”
A proud smile curved
his lips upwards as he finished wrapping his arms around Anita. They trailed lightly in the small of her back, and he closed
his eyes as he thought about how lucky he was. He was trusted enough, nay, loved enough to be a part of Anita's ever growing
family. For a while he lay awake, just staring at the woman in his arms, but eventually he closed his eyes, missing her sweet
smile as she cuddled him closer.