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

The others had somehow gotten it in their brains that they needed to take care of her so they were all at Dante’s Circle, the place where it had all started, to try to have a normal night. Most of them had babies with them or were pregnant.

Lily and Shade had their little Kelly, who wasn’t so little anymore since she was walking and talking and going to an angelic preschool. Ambrose, Balin, and Jamie had Sami, who went to the angelic school with Kelly. Hunter and Becca had little Hazel, who kept wanting to shift into her little wolf form even in the human realm. Apparently, Hunter’s dominance was helping her keep her shifting under control.

Dante, Jace, and Nadie were pregnant. Or rather, Nadie was, but her dragon and bear mates hovered like no other. If Eliana weren’t so pregnant herself, she might have found humor in that. Faith and Levi weren’t pregnant yet, but Eliana had a feeling it would happen any day now. The same with Amara, Tristan, and Seth.

It was scary to think that just a few short years ago, she and her friends had met up at the bar where Becca had worked, one that happened to be owned by a dragon, totally unaware of the inner workings of what truly went on around them. Now they were having babies, saving the world, and finding mates.

Eliana washed her hands when she was done letting the baby take care of her bladder and tried not to scowl at herself in the mirror. She didn’t like acting as though she hated the world. She might not be as sweet-tempered as Nadie or soft-spoken as Lily, but she’d never been as…hostile as Faith. She’d always figured she landed somewhere in the middle of the pack when it came to personalities. Not too harsh, but not too sweet.

Forgettable.

She closed her eyes and tried to push the doubt away. It wasn’t easy when all she saw when she did was Malik’s face when he’d kicked her out of his place. He hadn’t physically touched her, but he might as well have thrown her away with the day’s garbage.

She hadn’t been good enough for him and, apparently, she’d just have to deal with it.

Eliana splashed some water on her face and let out a breath. “Stop it,” she snapped at her reflection. “He’s gone. He left you. So the fuck what? You’re going to be a mom. So stop acting like a little fool and learn to be an adult.”

“Some pep talk,” Faith said from the doorway.

Eliana flipped her friend off and rubbed her back with her other hand. She was due in a couple of weeks, but the doctor had said it could be any day now. She wasn’t ready for this, and no matter how many times she lied to herself saying she was, she never truly believed it.

“Your back hurt?” Faith asked as she moved toward her.

Eliana held out a hand. “I’m fine. Just the normal pain from lugging around squirt.”

“Pain and fine don’t usually go together,” Faith said dryly as she pushed her way toward Eliana. When her friend rubbed Eliana’s back, tears sprang to her eyes.

Damn it. Malik should be the one rubbing her back. Malik should be the one making sure she was okay and trying not to comment on how swollen her ankles were.

Freaking hormones.

She let out a breath, annoyed with herself yet again. Malik wasn’t here, but this baby was. She didn’t know the sex because she’d wanted to be surprised, something out of character for her. Usually, she wanted to plan things perfectly, but since the baby wasn’t planned, she’d wanted to keep it all in the same theme.

She wouldn’t be alone for much longer; soon she’d be a mother. And no matter how much her heart hurt, no matter how much she wanted to scream or cry over the fact that she didn’t have a clue what she was doing, she would be damned if she’d hurt this baby because of it.

This was her baby, and she’d love him or her until the end of days.

Faith leaned into her and Eliana held back a sigh. She loved her friends, she really did, but she knew once she had this baby, she’d be even more more separate from the rest. The others might not know it, but she did.

“Talk to me, Eliana,” Faith whispered as she leaned into her shoulder, still rubbing her back. “What’s going on in that head of yours?”

Eliana closed her eyes a moment before opening them to meet Faith’s gaze in the bathroom mirror. There was no use hiding from Faith. The other woman always seemed to know everything. In fact, all her friends did these days.

“I’m scared,” she admitted.

“Of course, you are,” Faith said simply. “If you weren’t, I’d be worried about you.”

Eliana raised a brow. “More worried than you already are?”

Faith shrugged and took a step back, keeping her hand on Eliana’s back. “We love you. You can’t lose us, even if you feel like you have to. I know you’re scared about the baby and pissed off that that asshole Malik isn’t here, but we’re here. We’re going to be kickass aunts and uncles, and you’re not going to be able to get rid of us.”

Eliana let out a watery snort. “Things are going to change, Faith.”