"You bastard! I hate you! I can't believe you did this to me, you hideous jerk!"
As Grif watched, frozen in fear, from the opposite side of his wife's bed, Doc Galbraith looked up at him and said calmly, "I think perhaps you should wait outside, Grif. You appear to be agitating her."
He wanted to stay. He wanted to make sure she was all right. But Doc Galbraith was with her, and Mae, who'd apparently assisted in many a birth with fellow slaves, would remain, as well. They could take care of his suddenly possessed wife. He needed to leave before the sight of her in so much pain did him in.
So, followed by her hateful shouts and screams, he turned and quickly fled the room.
Only to find himself standing in the middle of a den of Damarkins.
Though he'd been home for over three months now, this was the first time he'd actually encountered some of them face-to-face. Geyb he saw frequently, as his old friend was still assisting him in building their stables. Meena would occasionally bring the baby by; Koreena was getting quite mischievous and apparently enjoyed playing with his feathers. In fact, she'd started demanding him by the highly inappropriate nickname she'd devised for him.
Fuzzy. To Geyb's kid, his name was Fuzzy. He really hoped it didn't take with any of the other kids sprouting up lately.
Emmi, too, came by regularly, in spite of her husband's protests that she continue to boycott them just like he and his father and younger brother were doing.
Out of all of them, Shaun's continued rancor hurt the most. Though he'd never been quite as close to the youngest Damarkin brother as he'd been to Geyb, they had still been friends. Good friends. Yet even though the person who would have suffered the most from his selfish decision had completely forgiven him, even though she appeared to be ridiculously happy – until today, anyway – Shaun still refused to come and see him, let alone speak to him.
Now, they were all standing in the hallway outside of his and Mak's bedroom. Every last one of them, from the dour head of the clan to the tiniest member, cherub-cheeked little Greyg.
When his wife let out another furious scream, he immediately turned to the friendliest face in the bunch and asked, "Is this normal?"
Though Doc Galbraith and his sister had both assured him that it was quite typical for women to experience a great deal of pain while giving birth, he'd partly suspected that they'd been lying to him just to calm him down. He'd already threatened to knock the Physician on his ass if he didn't make his wife feel better immediately. Geyb, however, wouldn't lie just to make him feel better. Geyb would tell him the truth.
"I don't think Meena screamed quite so much, but then again, my wife is not nearly as strident as my sister," he replied. "Don't worry. It will be over soon, and then she won't even remember why she was so pissed off at you in the first place."
He closed his eyes for a moment, blocking out the stern and silent people surrounding him, and then he turned and faced the young woman standing just outside of the half-circle. "Maybe you should go in there."
Karissa shook her head. "Hell no, feather face. If I see blood, I faint."
"Damn it, Karissa, you are such…"
"A girl. I know."
Mak's best friend had come to stay with them nearly a month before her due date, supposedly to offer moral support. Grif had noticed, however, that she spent a great deal more time trailing his butler around than she did actually offering any kind of support to her friend. Though she'd not yet succeeded in breaking past Urmas's defenses, he could tell that his head servant and good friend was weakening.
His wife cried out again, and all of a sudden he had an idea. Turning his back on her family, he ripped the door back open and barked, "Damn it, Mak, stop squalling like a girl and just push the kid out already!"
"I am not a girl!" she screamed angrily.
"Then stop acting like one!"
Five minutes later, their son was born.
He had wings.
And Mak cried like a girl as she and her husband doted over their new infant.
Outside of the room, Iain Damarkin watched through the open door with his arms crossed over his chest. "Did you hear that shit? He called my daughter a girl."
Only the Damarkins and Karissa seemed to understand that the word girl was considered an insult. The spouses just looked confused.
"Yeah. It worked, though, didn't it?" Shaun remarked. "She'd been screaming and shouting for hours, but she pushed the kid out quick after that."
"He looks like he really loves her," Emry muttered reluctantly as they watched Grif climb gently into bed with his wife and curl up next to her and their baby.
"He does," Geybrial assured them.
"Damn it, we're really going to have to forgive that bastard, aren't we?" Shaun grumbled.
"Unfortunately, I believe that we are," Emry agreed.
Iain sighed. He'd never seen his daughter so damned happy before, not even before she'd found out she was ill. There was a level of contentment in her expression that went beyond anything that he could ever hope to give her. Only a soul mate could do that. He knew. He'd experienced it once before.
Though he hated what he was about to do, he'd lived long enough to know that sometimes, it paid to be the bigger man and admit that he was being a stubborn ass.
"Hey. Bird Man." It might have been a nice start if he'd used his son-in-law's name instead of Shaun's chosen nickname for him, but he wasn't that nice, damn it.
Grif glanced up from his son and looked straight at Iain. He said nothing.
"I expect to see my grandson downstairs in half an hour."
His son-in-law nodded tightly.
"And…welcome to the family, damn it," he growled, and then he turned and stomped away.
"How hard do you think that was for him?" Shaun asked no on in particular.
"Probably about as hard as it's going to be for you to suck it up and apologize for being such a jerk to your friend these past few months," Cait remarked.
"And about as hard is it will be for my husband to finally make the effort to befriend him in the first place," Emmi added.
"Shit," the two brothers said simultaneously.
Inside of the room, Makenna looked at her husband with a happy little smile and said, "I told you they would come around eventually."
"Yeah, you did," he agreed, leaning over to kiss her gently on the forehead before bending to brush another kiss across his son's soft cheek.
"I believe we should probably give them a moment alone, my dear girl," Doc Galbraith was saying to Mae.
"Yeah, if I stick around any longer, I think I might puke," Grif's surly sister agreed. Mae was a total bitch, completely unlike anything Makenna might have imagined a Xesomelian slave would be. She was completely unrestrained, aggressive, and every bit as grumpy as her brother.
Makenna had liked her almost instantly.
And now, she knew, their family was finally complete. The feud was over.
"Hmmm?" he mumbled sleepily.
She looked exultantly down at their son and said, "I know I already marked it off of my list, but…well, I think this time, you really flew me to the sun."
Her response was a soft, contented smile.
She couldn't have asked for more.
Author's Note: The end. Of this story, anyway. Now I need to get started on Regan's. I was kinda hoping to have the entire series finished before I gave birth, but I don't think that's possible, even for me. I'll shoot to at least get Regan's book finished, as I have a fairly good idea of how that one's going to go. I'm still pretty vague on the specifics of Ruy's story. Oh, and I should probably warn you guys that Mae is going to be a very different type of character for me. Hopefully, that won't make it take me longer to write that book...we'll see. As always, feel free to let me know if you have any questions/comments. Provided I can, I'll try to reply, but I've been super busy this past week (and will continue to be for at least another week yet), so I make no guarantees.
Okay, and I'm adding this in b/c I think it's been asked a couple of times now. I don' t know if this comes off as condescending, but I totally don't mean it that way. This is just my explanation - Just because two people have sex does not always mean they will produce a baby. I know from personal experience that it can sometimes take quite some time (9 months, in my case) to get pregnant. So it's perfectly normal that Emmi not be pregnant yet. She will get pregnant at some point - maybe not in the actual series - so it's not that she's barren or anything. FYI. Hope that helps.