“Of course we will. You don’t even have to ask but one question: what will we feed them when they wake? They’ll be hungry in the next few hours and their only source of nourishment has come from Chansey.” I’m glad we have someone with some type of motherly instinct to care for the babies because that wouldn’t have crossed my mind until they awakened ready to eat.

Curry stands with his hands on his hips for a moment before he finally answers. “I guess we don’t have a choice. They’ll have to take formula.”

“They’re half-vampire,” Lairah says. “What if that’s not what their bodies need?”

I see the torment on his face. He’s torn between staying to tend to the health of his babies and leaving them to go after their mother. This is where I come in. It’s my job as his best friend to help him through this crisis. “The best thing for the babies is to find Chansey and bring her home to them. Ask Dr. Knight to come out and examine them. She’s their physician. Let her make the call on what kind of nourishment they need until you can bring Chansey back.”

“You’re right,” he says. “Getting Chansey home as soon as possible solves any issues the twins might have with nutrition so that’s what I must concentrate on.”

Anna Grace frets in her sleep and Gia places her hand against her back. She rubs it in a circular motion to sooth her. “Don’t worry. Lairah and I will take wonderful care of your babies and Dr. Knight will figure out what to feed them.”

I give Curry a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “Your kids will be fine. Leave them with the girls so we can get a plan together.”

My best friend reaches out and places his finger inside James Grady’s tiny hand. The baby grasps his father’s finger in his sleep and sighs. “I’m going to bring your mother home to you, son. I swear I will.”

He pulls his finger gently from James Grady’s grasp and walks toward the door. “And after I get my wife back safely from that son of a bitch, I’m going to kill him.”

I don’t think so. “Only one problem with that plan, my friend. You’ll have to beat me to it.”

The five of us–Curry, Sebastian, Sully, Thatcher, and myself–convene in the living room. “I have something to say. I know the two of you aren’t going to like it but I think we should stake Vincent’s place out before we strike. We need to know what we’re going up against.”

Curry and I reply at the same time. “No.”

“I know you don’t want your agápes staying a minute longer than necessary but Sebastian is right,” Thatcher says. “It’s the wisest thing to do. And the safest for your mates. Go in there tonight with guns blazing and you could get them and yourselves killed if you don’t know what you’re walking into.”

I’m sure my brother’s attitude would be much different if he was in my shoes. “Your beloved is here with you–safe and sound. Talk to me about patience when a lunatic like Vincent comes in and takes Gia from you.”

He doesn’t deny my accusation regarding his affection for her. “I suppose I wouldn’t be patient about getting her back but I’d like to think I’d have the good sense to make a sound plan without getting myself killed.”

Sully speaks up to agree with Thatcher. “We understand your anxiousness but you can’t save Avery and Chansey if you’re dead.”

“No one is going in and getting killed tonight,” Curry tells his brother. “I don’t think they’ve figured out we have the advantage of walking in daylight so they won’t be expecting it. I think a little past dawn is the best time to strike. As much as I despise the thought, Vincent and whoever is with him will be high as kites by morning after having a blood jewel in their possession again. We’ll go in and take Chansey and Avery while Vincent and his coven are passed out for the day.”

He’s basing his plan on my ability to day walk and I haven’t had time to try since finding out Avery is my agápe. “I haven’t been in sunlight yet.”

“You haven’t slept during the day in months. Trust me. You’re a day walker even if you haven’t confirmed it yet.”

Curry sounds very confident but I guess we would find out in the morning. “So we’re doing this right after the sun comes up?”

“Hell, yeah!” He pounds his fist into his open palm. “I’m not leaving Chansey there a second longer than I have to. You with me?”

“All the way.”

Chapter Eleven

Curry and I are sitting in a parked car on the side of the road waiting for the sun to make its appearance. We’re armed with wooden stakes but it’s my bare hands I plan to use when I kill Vincent. I have many reasons for needing to be the one to do the honors. I want that monster to pay for all the ways he has hurt my beloved. Stealing her from her family. Killing her parents. Draining her almost to the point of death. Whoring her blood out so anyone addicted to it is a threat to her safety. The list goes on and on. But I couldn’t be sorry for the way things have played out. In a way, Vincent has played a part in bringing me and my agápe together.

I need to think about something besides all the things Vincent has done or I won’t be able to sit here and patiently wait for the sun to rise. “I spoke with Avery about the potential pregnancy. She was happy about the possibility.”

Curry reaches over and slaps me on the back. “Ah, man. That’s great news. And a relief for you, I’m sure.”

Relief didn’t quite cover it. “She said we should know in a couple of weeks.”

“If she’s expecting and the pregnancy progresses at the same rate as Chansey’s, you’ll be parents by spring.”

Oh shit. I hadn’t thought of it like that. Avery could potentially give birth to our child–or maybe even children–in a few short months. “We aren’t married.”

Curry laughs. “I thought you didn’t believe in vampires observing marriage vows.”

I guess I had changed my view on the matter. “I didn’t before I had an agápe and possibly got her pregnant.”

“A mate changes how you see everything,” he says.

Curry was born after me but still in a time period that shared the same beliefs. “I always expected to be married when I had sex the first time. I thought it would be with my wife and I definitely expected to be married to the woman that would give me my first child.”

“You want to marry Avery?” He doesn’t sound surprised at all.

“I do. I want to be Avery’s husband. I was wrong when I thought it didn’t matter. I want to be tied to her in every possible way. Marriage will be us telling the world we want to be together forever because it’s what we choose. Not because our match was preordained by Anteros.” I think I remember Curry saying something very similar to this once.

“You won’t have long to get married if she’s pregnant and you want her to be your wife before the baby comes.” He’s right. A pregnancy will make for a tight schedule.

“I’m going to as soon as I have her safe and sound in my arms again.” A thought passes through my mind. What if she doesn’t want to marry me? “I hope it’s what she wants too.”

“Don’t worry. It will be.” I wish I had Curry’s confidence.

Our time as vampire and agápe has been nearly nonexistent so I’m not certain where her head is on the whole marriage thing. She could think she’s too young to get married. “Did you know Avery’s only twenty?

He grins and I suspect he’s recalling the way I once rimmed him out over Chansey’s age. “I didn’t realize she was so young. Just a mere child,” he laughs. He thinks he’s funny.

“She’ll be twenty-one next month.” I was trying to make it sound better by tacking on that extra year–just as Avery had attempted.

“Twenty-one isn’t that much younger than Chansey. Only a couple of years.” This is his way of trying to make me feel better.

“I don’t want to rob her of the best years of her life.” Or have her look back on the things she missed and hate me for it.

“You haven’t had enough time with her to figure this out but every day gets better and better.”

“I couldn’t even hold on to my agápe a full twenty-four hours.” Avery must now have zero faith in me as her protector. “What does that say for the kind of mate I’ll be?”

Curry stares ahead. “Chansey was taken too so you’re not alone in feeling like an inadequate mate.”

“I’m never taking my eyes off of her again after I get her back.” I’ll stay so close she’ll think we’re conjoined twins. She’ll be sick of me.

“I know the feeling. After Chansey is back and the dust settles, I want to revisit the subject of turning her. I rather have her as a vampire than live without her.” Turning his mate is his decision but I’ll never attempt that again. I love Avery too much to watch her die like Lisette.

“What about the babies?”

“We’ll have to wait until they finish nursing.” He already has an answer so that tells me he’s been thinking about this a lot.

“You don’t think she’ll want more children?”

“I don’t know,” he laughs. “We haven’t discussed it. We’ve been so busy with the twins that the thought of having more children hasn’t crossed my mind.” He grins. “I remember her telling me once that she wanted at least three but that was before either of us knew what we were to one another. She might not feel the same now.”

I sense Avery’s agitation so something must be happening. “Can you feel Chansey right now?”

“Yes. She’s terrified.” His hands are in tight fists and I expect him to punch the dashboard any minute. “Her fear is as strong as it was the night Marsala attacked her through black magic and caused the emergency cesarean. I’m trying to calm her so she’ll know we’re coming but I haven’t been successful so far.”

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