Bled Dry (Vegas Vampires #3) by Erin McCarthy
“Well, it’s not the flu.”
Brittany Baldizzi watched her general practitioner tuck her hair behind her ear as she stepped back into the room. Perched on the edge of the examination table, Brittany was seriously confused. “An ulcer then? I’ve felt this awful nausea for weeks.”
“Not an ulcer.” Dr. Hopkins smiled. “You’re pregnant.”
“Excuse me?” The room went stark white and a buzzing rang in Brittany’s ears. “Pregnant? I can’t be pregnant!”
There was no way. It wasn’t possible.
“Have you been practicing abstinence?” Dr. Hopkins asked with a rueful shrug.
“Yes, I’ve been totally abstinent.” How in the hell could she be pregnant?
Dr. Hopkins raised her eyebrows. “Really?”
Okay, so that wasn’t completely true. “Well, mostly. I’ve only had sex once in the last six months.” But that had been with Corbin Atelier, and that didn’t count because he was a vampire.
“Once is all it takes.”
Normally. When you were having sex with regular, mortal men. “But… ” Brittany rubbed her head. “He can’t have children.” She didn’t think. Of course, he had never really said he couldn’t have children. But neither had he suggested birth control.
“I’m sorry this is such a shock, Brittany, but obviously he can have children, because you are definitely pregnant.”
“Well, I had no idea.” That vampires had sperm.
Which was a stupid assumption on her part. After all, hadn’t her brother-in-law sworn to her up, down, and sideways that her own biological father had to be a vampire? But she hadn’t put two and two together when she and Corbin had been talking that night.
Though to be totally honest, it wasn’t like she and Corbin had devoted a whole lot of time to conversation when he had climbed in her bedroom window and asked for blood. She’d given him her blood and her body, and now he had given her a baby.
It really would have been nice if he had warned her his boys could still swim.
“You’re what?” Her sister, Alexis, just stared at her.
Brittany threw herself down on Alexis’s leather couch and groaned. That appalled look of disbelief on Alexis’s face must have been what she had looked like in the doctor’s office. “You heard me. I’m pregnant. And before you ask, I made the doctor do the test twice.”
“Well. Gee. Shit. This is unexpected.” Alexis rubbed her hands through her hair. “A baby. You’re going to be a mother. Wow. Okay. Well, that’s exciting. I think. No, I’m sure, it is, babies are always good. But damn, for the first time since Ethan turned me, I think I actually regret being a vampire. I’m not exactly going to have a normal relationship with my niece or nephew, am I? Though you know I’m happy if you’re happy.”
Tears popped into Brittany’s eyes. Alexis was the closest thing to a mother she had, since their mom had overdosed when Brittany was thirteen. It was hard sometimes to accept that Alexis was now a vampire, married to a really old vampire and living in his Las Vegas casino. Her sister had a whole different life from Brittany’s mild-mannered existence as a suburban dentist.
A suburban dentist who happened to be knocked up by a French vampire. Oh, God.
“I’m happy about a baby, yes, but Alexis, I’m scared.”
Alexis popped up off the easy chair and came over to her. “Oh, honey, don’t be scared.” She hugged her, which made Brittany feel better. She may have been nearly a foot taller than Alexis, but it still felt good to be cosseted. “It will work out. We’ll help you out.”
“Help her out with what? What’s wrong?” Alexis’s husband, Ethan Carrick, current president of the Vampire Nation, strolled out of their bedroom in pajama pants and no shirt.
“Did I wake you, Ethan? I’m sorry.” Brittany hadn’t been able to wait a minute past six o’clock, which was really early for vampires to be getting up for the night, but she had desperately needed to hear Alexis tell her everything was going to be alright.
“It’s fine. What’s wrong, Brit?”
“She’s pregnant,” Alexis told him.
“Oh.” His mouth opened, closed, opened again. “So, uh, congratulations. That’s fabulous! A baby. I’m sure you’ll be a brilliant mother.”
“Absolutely,” Alexis said stoutly, patting her leg. “This is one lucky baby.”
While Brittany had always imagined she would have several kids, and had looked forward to that time in her life, she had never once thought she’d be having a baby alone, without a man anywhere in the picture. Not to mention she was a touch concerned about the health of two-hundred-year-old vampire sperm. That seemed a little past the expiration date.
“I’ve always wanted to have a baby, and I’m sure once the shock wears off, I’ll be really excited. It was just a… surprise. Really unexpected.”
“I didn’t even know you were seeing anyone,” Alexis said. “Who is the father? Do you think he’ll want to be involved with the baby?”
Whoopsie. She’d left that little tidbit of info out, hadn’t she? Brittany pulled away from Alexis and looked down at her jeans. She commanded her tongue to speak, but it didn’t cooperate. Alexis was going to freak when she heard Brittany’s very embarrassing answer.
“I’m not sure if he’ll want to be involved, but I suspect the answer is no. I haven’t seen him since the one night we slept together eight weeks ago.” Brittany looked up, locking eyes with Alexis, hoping like hell her sister would put two and two together so she wouldn’t have to say it out loud.
Alexis stared back. Then suddenly she jerked on the couch like she’d been electrocuted, her jaw dropping, head shaking. “Brit… oh, no, don’t tell me. Please tell me that the baby’s father is not Corbin Atelier.”
“It is,” she said in agony, feeling like a total idiot. Why had she even slept with the charming, good-looking, arrogant idiot in the first place?
Because he was charming, good looking, and arrogant. And the sex had been hot.
“It is what? Corbin’s baby?” Alexis said, like she was trying to convince herself she’d heard wrong.
“Yes! It’s Corbin’s baby.”
“The Frenchman got you pregnant?” Ethan’s voice was outraged, his hands on his hips. “Didn’t he use birth control?”
Now that was a little personal.
“Ethan.” Alexis glared at him. “That’s not really any of your business.”
“It is,” he insisted. “Vampires aren’t supposed to sleep with mortal women without using birth control. While the odds of pregnancy aren’t as great as copulation with a mortal man, there is still that risk. It’s irresponsible to mate with a mortal woman and impregnate her with a half-vampire, half-mortal child.”
Copulate … mate … impregnate … could he make it sound any grosser? Next he’d toss out breeding and bitches in heat .
And she was not about to tell her by-the-book brother-in-law that Corbin had not used birth control. That they had gone from discussing Corbin’s scientific experiment to body slapping in about a blink. There hadn’t been time to grab a good breath for moaning, forget finding a condom. They had been there and done before you could say ovulate.
“Corbin and I may have been irresponsible, but that’s irrelevant at this point, Ethan. I’m having a baby. Alone, apparently, since I haven’t seen Corbin since we conceived this child.” Well, she had thought she’d seen him the night she’d been so sick, but Alexis had assured her she must have dreamed that Corbin had showed up, hauled her off the bathroom floor, and put her to bed. “I have no idea how to get in touch with him.”
Brittany would be mortified to actually have to face Corbin and tell him she was having his child, but it made her uncomfortable to realize that he wasn’t going to know. Whatever he wanted to do with the knowledge of impending fatherhood was fine with Brittany—he could be involved or not—but it only seemed right that he have the opportunity to make the choice himself.
But she couldn’t tell him if she couldn’t find him.
Rubbing her mildly nauseous stomach, Brittany bit her lip and worried. It took her a second to realize that Ethan and Alexis weren’t saying anything. When she looked up, she saw them glancing at each other. Damn them. They were doing that vampire mind-reading thing with each other, leaving her out of their conversation.
“If you guys are talking about me, quit it. That is so rude.”
Alexis swore. “Ethan… ” she said in warning. “Let me handle this.”
“I don’t need to be handled,” Brittany said, feeling a little irritated. “What are you keeping from me?”
“So handle it,” Ethan said, sweeping his hand out gallantly. “I have utter confidence in you to do the right thing, Alexis.”
Did they even notice she was sitting there? “What are you both talking about?”
“Brit… ” Alexis tugged on the end of her shaggy blond hair. “Corbin is in Vegas if you want to talk to him.”
Her breath caught. “He is?” A lump the size of a grapefruit seemed to be stuck in her throat. She was having trouble swallowing, and her stomach was grinding and twisting. “How long has he been here?” And why the hell hadn’t he told her he was in town?
“Um, I’m not really sure,” Alexis said, biting her fingernail. It was a clear sign she was lying. Apparently she decided to come clean. “But well, actually, I think he’s kind of always here because he sort of has to be. I don’t think he ever left. He, um, well, lives here.”
Tears popped into Brittany’s eyes, mortifying her. So no one had told her Corbin lived in Vegas, including Corbin himself. Big whoop. They were nothing to each other, an embarrassing little one-night stand, two minutes out of Corbin’s two hundred years of life. Of course he hadn’t put her at the top of the list of people to see when he was out and about. She wasn’t even sure why she had assumed he was from out of town, except that maybe that had been wishful thinking, her mental justification for why he hadn’t bothered to speak to her in the last eight weeks.
She was usually so much more rational about men. Brittany had always liked to live in the moment, to have fun, to meet new people, and she enjoyed sex for the pure physical pleasure. Never before had she felt this weird sort of melancholy and longing for a guy she wasn’t dating, didn’t really know, and who clearly had no interest in her. She had no problem admitting she had indulged in a one-night stand or two in her time, and she’d always walked away with a whistle, no regrets.
This was different, and she didn’t know why. Definitely didn’t like it.
And she was pregnant.
“Where is he?” Brittany blinked hard. She really needed to find Corbin, tell him the news, and retreat back to her corner to get a grip on her life.
Ethan cleared his throat. “I believe he’s on the twenty-fourth floor at the moment.”
“He’s here? At the Ava?” Corbin was in Ethan’s casino right as they were speaking in that very same casino? Her stomach roiled.
“Oh, I’m going to throw up.” Brittany lurched forward and tossed her dinner into the sink adjacent to the bar with impressive velocity.
A martini glass fell off the counter and crashed to the tile floor when she jerked back up, wiping her eyes and mouth. Brittany clutched her gut and ignored her sister and brother-in-law staring at her in horror. Shaking her hair off her face, she took a deep breath.
She had a fertile French vampire to see.