Status: Finished.

More Than Just Baser Instincts.


The next week was spent in my bed, crying my eyes out and curled into a tight ball. Tiberius stayed wrapped around me and whispering promises to take care of me. And our cub.

That just made me cry more. But the bastard still refused to leave, even when my father came in complaining of my "loud dramatics" and offered him a feast. In recognition of his "accomplishment." I would have snapped his head off, but I just couldn't find it in myself to even move.

I could feel Quince trying to comfort me; that, or I was involved in wishful thinking. But not even my mate could make this okay. Especially not when I could tell he was only trying to comfort me to distract from the fact that he'd spent my entire time here in a fit of counterproductive rage.

But by the end of the second week of my self-imprisonment to the bed, Tiberius had dragged me from the room and to the clinic where I had first encountered my sister. The doctor had to have Tiberius hold me down for that damn ultrasound.

We were having a boy.

In two to three months.

So I did the natural thing: when Tiberius was helping me onto my feet, I slammed my heel onto his foot and ran for the window. I had managed to scramble onto the sill, fully prepared to accept all possible outcomes of falling from three stories up, before Tiberius grabbed me and threw me back inside.

This man really wanted a family. But he couldn't have mine!

Under my father's orders, I was allowed to step foot outside of my room under the condition that I was either accompanied by him (in which case, I refused to leave), my sister or her mate, or Tiberius. Not my mother. She was, apparently, still under lockdown as well. He trusted Arianna and Leonard because they seemed like such obedient little sheep—and, of course, that was the only company in which he was interested.

Tiberius' favourite pastime ever since hearing about his spawn was to drag me to the indoor gardens that served as my mother's only outlet (which Gerald only allowed because Arianna said she loved the scenery there). He would fret over me like a mother hen, holding my arm softly and warning me of any untamed roots that might trip me. Then, he would help me sit ever so gently on the stone bench while he swooped onto his knees and pressed his hand to my abdomen. The slightly subdued sparkle in his eyes all but killed me.

If this were another world, another place, another woman... He would be the most doting and deserving mate on the planet. Even though this man had forced his way into bed with me—an action I could not fully condemn as his own personal crime—I still wished for a happy ending for him.

Just not with me.

He took me to the gardens at least twice every week, even suggesting we take Arianna's cubs—whom Gerald only allowed me to watch because he said it would make sure that my cub "doesn't die from a horrible mother." The ritual had been the same even one month after my sentence was set.

When Leonard came by, he would play with his cubs while muttering under his breath about his next ploy to help me run far away from this place. I just nodded mutely and held my increasingly swollen abdomen; I wouldn't get out.

This place would surely be my grave.

When Arianna came by, she would ask me about Quince—about her "brother." But lately, talking of him was just too painful. Quince had vanished from me entirely in the past weeks, and not even traces of his anger remained. It was as if he was blocking me out, like he wanted nothing to do with me. And I understood: I had betrayed him.

So now here I was, lying on the cold table as Tiberius squeezed my hand while his gaze remained firmly on the screen that showed a silent baby resting. Thankfully, his touch had stopped making me nauseous, as his caresses were now friendly and not obviously wanting of something more. Even when we slept, he only held me to be close to the baby. It was much preferred.

"Elaine, look at him," Tiberius murmured, reaching out and pressing his fingertips to the glass. "Look at our cub, how perfect he is."

I wanted to say that I hated the leech inside me, but the hand wrapped around my abdomen said otherwise. A heavy sigh fell from my lips as I nodded meekly. Yes, I loved my child. Even though he should not have existed, I loved him; even though I would always regret this, he would always be the love of my life.

But part of me... Part of me didn't believe that I could love the child of another male. That part of me had hopes that my baby boy... That he would be born with olive eyes and soft, strawberry hair. He would look like his father, my mate.

A Quince Jr.

That was all that I had to keep me going—my only sliver of sanity and hope—and I clutched at the idea with all of my heart. This way I could be less bitter about the child inside me, and this way I could stop punishing a man whose only crime had been being born in this horrible place.

"Thank you, Elaine."

His words and the sudden kiss on my forehead pulled me from my thoughts. My eyes dragged over the man's soft face, shocked by the peace found there.

"I thought once Carrie was mated off... I thought it would be the end for me. There will never be anything as strong as the love of mates, but the bond of a child is commendable, don't you think?"

That look in his eyes, the desperate call for affection... I could give him no comfort, not the kind he needed. I would escape here—with my cub—and when I did, I would free all of these people.

And Tiberius would find a woman who would love him until her last breath.