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Prowled Darkness (Dante's Circle, #7)
Author:Carrie Ann Ryan

Malik had left her high and dry with no way to contact him—going so far as to change numbers so his friend—and Eliana’s friend’s mate—Tristan couldn’t even get ahold of him. Tristan had tried to reach out as soon as he’d heard about the pregnancy, but Malik was nowhere to be found. She didn’t want to think about the fact that he’d so clearly cut all ties with the part of his past that was about her, but it was hard not to when the evidence of their relationship was currently doing a little dance on her bladder.

The little squirt tended to do that at all hours of the night. And the day for that matter. She’d heard stories from her friends about how some of them had sleeping little babies during their pregnancy. How those babies had been content to hang around and only perk up with a dose of caffeine. Yet her squirt was apparently a future soccer star.

Why wouldn’t her baby be? It wasn’t as if anything else in recent years had gone easily for Eliana, so why would this?

Little squirt decided to do one last kick straight to her bladder and Eliana winced. There would be no holding back the literal floodgates if she didn’t get out of her chair and waddle her way to the bathroom. Whoever said pregnancy was a gift and women glowed during it clearly hadn’t met her. Of course, maybe if she’d had a partner during it instead of freaking out all by herself, it would be different.

And that was enough of that. No more pity party. So what if Malik didn’t want her and didn’t know he was about to be a father. Or rather, a sperm donor since he’d actually have to be there to be a father. She’d do this on her own like she did everything else, and she’d live her life while trying not to ruin her baby’s.

Easy.

She gripped the arms of her chair and tried to lever herself up. Only, when she made a grunting sound, nine men of varying sizes and species came at her, arms outstretched.

So maybe she wasn’t so alone.

Since all six of her friends had found their mates and three of them had happened to find two mates, they didn’t lack for men in their group. Only single men.

Eliana tried to wave them off but ended up wincing as little squirt did a summersault.

Seth was the closest to her and gave her a little grin.

She wanted to punch his face. Dimple and all.

“I’ve got you, Eliana,” Seth said smoothly. He was a big man, all lean muscle and youthful features. He may be older than her since he was a merman and all, one who’d been around the block, but she was pretty sure she was the one who looked her age. He and Tristan had mated Amara around the time Eliana had found herself pregnant, and Seth had therefore declared himself keeper of Eliana.

One of many.

She hadn’t missed the pitying looks on the others’ faces. One of them was a ten-thousand-year-old dragon, but she could still see the sadness in his old eyes. They all felt sorry for her as if she were nothing but an incubator, all alone and manless. What they should have figured out was that plenty of women were single moms; she wasn’t exactly an outlier.

Except for the tiny detail that she was the last lightning-struck without a mate, and therefore, human. Eventually, she’d start to age and the rest of them wouldn’t. They’d pop out even more babies than they already had, and she’d have to watch as they made their families and thrived in new realms as well as the human one.

She’d die as a human while the rest of them mourned her.

But they’d be able to watch over squirt when she was gone. And squirt’s children, too.

There may still be a chance that she’d find her mate, but it didn’t mean fate would align for her perfectly. She was single and pregnant, so clearly fate had fucked with her already. If Malik hadn’t been human, she would have thought he was the one for her. She hadn’t had that same weird connection the others had felt, but he still could have been the one for her. He’d never met her friends since everyone had always been so busy with their own realms and she’d wanted to keep him to herself. Since he was human, she’d known he wasn’t her mate, wasn’t her true half, so it would have been weird to introduce him to a new world if he wasn’t ready for it.

And, thankfully, she’d never trusted him with the secret of the paranormals since he’d clearly been on a different page than her.

“Eliana, honey, didn’t you need to get up?” Seth somehow put his arms under her knees and behind her back and had her out of the chair and on her feet in the next instant. “What’s wrong?”

She shook her head as Lily and Amara stood up as if to come closer. “I’m fine. Just thinking, and I have to pee.” She inhaled through her nose and let out the breath. “Thank you.”

With that, she waddled past Seth and the others, knowing if she didn’t get out of there she’d make a fool of herself—and not just by peeing her pants.

She hadn’t even closed the bathroom door before she heard the others start to speak about her. She might not have supernatural hearing, but it wasn’t hard to figure out whom they were talking about.