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Redwood Pack Book 4.5
Hannah Jamenson has babies on the brain. It seems that her sisters-in-law are expanding their family in the blink of an eye, but Hannah feels left behind. Every time that little test reads negative a little part of her dies and she feels like her Healing powers are failing her. Her mates, Josh and Reed, are doing everything they can to help her deal with their trials and losses, but they too feel like there is nothing they can do.
Just when the lines of what they mean to each other go out of focus, an enemy from Josh’s past is back to prove the things that go bump in the night are real and everything they had held dear is now in jeopardy. In order to fight back and find their way, they’ll need to put everything on the line before they lose it all.
Author’s Note: This is a novella set between books 4 and 5 to give you a taste of Reed, Josh, and Hannah. It is best that you have already immersed yourselves in the Redwood Pack world, however even new readers will enjoy a glimpse of the Redwood’s favorite triad.
For a visual representation of Blurred Expectations, come on over to my
Winner for Short Story/ Novella at the Menage Romance Fan’s Choice Award 2013
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and ARe Bestseller
Winner Sizzling Read of the Month ñ Feb 2013
Nominated for Best Romance Novella by the Indie Romance Convention Reader’s Choice Awards
“In this novella, Carrie Ann has told the story of a loss and pain in a very real way. Showing the bond of these mates falling apart, their pain at the loss, and what lengths they will go to to return to each other. A wonderful addition to the Redwood Pack series! Don’t miss it!”
“Take a journey into the very real conflict and near disastrous outcome that occurs, when one person fails to believe that they are not always in total control and that fate can deal the most crippling blows when least expected.”
” Experiencing Hannah’s emotions while they are so desperately trying to start a family was powerful. I was so happy when it was finally up on Amazon yesterday so I could finish the story and get to the HEA Carrie Ann is known for. The story was beautifully written and had the emotional journey of the three along with some adventure and the heat Carrie Ann is well known for.”
“This story has it all, adventure, angst, heartache, romance, love and devotion. It has everything you could want in a great story.”
The solitary pink line mocked Hannah Jamenson as she sat on her bathroom floor, her free arm wrapped around her middle. She blinked away the tears that filled her eyes, though it was beyond pointless. They fell anyway, leaving salty lines down her cheeks. She’d have to clean her face again and put on makeup to cover the blotchiness. With practice, she was getting better at hiding the evidence of her tears. Her failure.
Another month, another failure.
She wasn’t pregnant.
Hannah looked down at the offending evidence of her inadequacy then threw it across the room. It hit the wall with a pang that didn’t ease the tremors within her. Anger coursed through her veins, and she cursed. Anger at the goddess for not blessing her with a baby of her own. Anger at the other Jamenson women who could have a baby with only a thought and, in her newest sister-in-law, Bay’s, case, an afterthought. Anger at herself for not being able to have a child and for disappointing her husbands, her mates.
Josh and Reed were the loves of her life, and every time that little plastic stick revealed there would be no baby, she felt as though she’d lost; that she wasn’t worthy. Though they never looked down on her for her failure, she could never be sure what they were thinking. Their mating bond didn’t allow that.
Hannah slowly unwound from her fetal position, stood and picked up the pregnancy test. She didn’t need to show this one to the guys; she hadn’t shown the previous two to them either. They would know the moment they looked at her. They always knew.
Reed and Josh knew her in every way possible. They knew her facial expressions, her body movements, her moods—everything. No, she didn’t need to show them the stick. They would know the moment she tried to put on her not-so-brave face and said it would be okay.
Because it wouldn’t. Not when she was one woman with two men. Of all the Jamenson woman—the wives and mates of the Jamenson brothers—she should have been the pregnant one. She had the best odds, but, apparently, math wasn’t in her favor. She wrapped up the stick and stuck it in the bottom of the trash. It wasn’t the best hiding place, but it really didn’t matter anymore.
Hannah turned to the sink and ran the tap. She scooped some water in her hands to wet her parched throat, and then washed her face again. She gripped the sides of the pedestal sink that Josh had installed for her the month prior and tried to compose herself.
So what if she wasn’t pregnant? That didn’t mean she wouldn’t ever get pregnant. She placed a shaky hand on her stomach and bit her lip. She wanted a baby more than anything, and the fact that the goddess hadn’t blessed her with one yet gnawed at her.
Right after their wedding, they’d thought they had a chance. When that chance was lost in a moment of pain and panic, Josh and Reed had held her and tried to console her, all the while feeling the incredible loss.
But, time had passed, and they were ready.
Why wasn’t it happening for them?
Hannah finger combed her chestnut corkscrew curls away from her face and let out a deep breath. Some days she just wanted to chop off the long locks that trailed to the middle of her back, but she knew Josh and Reed loved her hair long and wild.
Anything for her men.
God, she loved them. She’d met the both of them in one of the worst situations possible. She’d been kidnapped from her home and potions store, forced to watch the attackers kill her mother, and then she’d been stuffed in a dark basement and chained to the wall. She’d met Reed there and had fallen for him, even when they both were certain they would die. The Centrals had taken Reed from his home when he sacrificed himself to save his sister-in-law Willow. Though they had been chained just far enough apart that they couldn’t touch, Reed’s wolf had tried to take care of her, and the Healer within herself had wanted to do the same for him.
Josh had been a human Finder, someone who could close their eyes and Find anyone in the world once he saw their face. He had only heard her and Reed’s names and had been able to find them. Though their mating may have been taboo to some, their triad was strong and held more magic than most—the trinity bond. They had broken the demon, Caym’s, connection to his hell and secured some peace for the Redwoods, at least for a little while.
But, there was no peace in her heart. Not when she couldn’t get pregnant.
“Goddess, I sound like a whiny brat.” She left the bedroom and walked to the kitchen, her body a bundle of nerves. “So what if I can’t get pregnant right now? It will happen. I’m healthy; Reed and Josh are healthy. I just need to believe in it.”
She poured herself a glass of orange juice and gulped. The sweet tang coated her tongue, giving her just enough sugar to perk right back up. She leaned against the counter and looked at the home they were slowly making their own. Though Reed had had a wonderful, artist-eclectic home before she and Josh had moved in, it was nice to see the blending of their lives. She had added the splashes of color and then life with a variety of plants. Josh had added comfier furniture and hand-built units. He’d even sanded down the corners and made them beautiful and childproof.
That ache settled in her stomach again, and she shook her head. No, she had to stop thinking about that. She needed to move on and keep trying. Even though it ate away a little at her each time, she needed to be strong.
Easier said than done.
Hannah finished the last of her orange juice then cleaned her glass. Just as she was about to get her coat to leave the house, the hair on her arms stood up, and she froze. Something was off, but what? She used her powers that connected her to the earth and reached out to see if anyone was on their property. She could feel the trees, the grass, and other natural things, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Maybe she’d been imagining it.
She rubbed her arms and looked out the window just to be sure. In the past, Caym had been able to come onto their land without hesitation. They’d lost some of their Pack mates through the invasions and it had torn at the Pack as a whole. Hannah still didn’t feel completely safe, though ever since Adam’s new mate, Bay, had done a blood bond with Edward and Kade, the wards should have been strong enough against Caym. No one outside of the Redwoods was supposed to be able to breach the wards, but Hannah never left that up to Fate. Their enemies had proven, over and over again, that where there was a will, there was a way.
She caught the time on the hall clock and winced. Damn, she was running late. She quickly locked up the house and made her way over to Bay and Adam’s home. She’d promised Bay that she’d come over to help the other woman out with Micah, the newest edition to the ever-expanding Jamenson clan. She failed to tamp down that little bit of jealousy over Bay’s new baby. At some point, there was just too much of it for Hannah to bury it all.
“Hannah, you’re here,” Bay said as she opened the door, her red curls falling around her face in disarray. Though Hannah had soft curves that her men said were sexy and sweet, Bay’s curves were all sex. No wonder Adam had wanted her the moment he saw her—and not just because of their mating instinct. Well, at least his body had wanted her from the start, but that was a different story. With the rest of the Jamenson women being slender, Hannah liked the fact that Bay was similar to her.
Even a witch with two mates sometimes needed a boost in self-confidence. Especially with how things were going lately.
No, she had to stop thinking about that. All it was doing was making her more depressed.
She pasted on a smile and hugged Bay as she entered her home. “Hi, hon. Sorry I’m late. I got distracted.”
Bay looked her over and gave a sad smile. Damn, she couldn’t hide anything from this family. They all knew.
Luckily, Bay didn’t say anything and led Hannah to the living room. Hannah loved the way Bay had slowly added photos to the walls of the house, something that had been lacking in Adam’s home before he’d met Bay. There was also a small photo of Anna, Adam’s first mate, framed on the mantel. Hannah didn’t know if she could have lived with that, but it had been Bay’s decision to remember the other woman in Adam’s life, something that just showed how much Adam and Bay needed and loved each other.
“I’m glad you’re here though,” Bay said as she sat down, her hands wringing together in nervousness.
“What’s wrong?” Hannah asked as she took a cookie from the plate on the table. It crumbled in her mouth in buttery goodness, and Hannah moaned. “Willow’s?”
Bay laughed. “Of course it’s hers. You know I can’t bake. Thank God Jasper married a woman who can because between you, Mel, and me, we’re a bit scary.”
“Hey, all of us can bake, just not to the artistic degree Willow can. Plus, why should we when Willow bakes so oh-my-goddess good?”
“True,” Bay said as she bit into her cookie.
“But, what’s wrong, Bay?”
“What?” The other woman shook her head. “Oh, sorry. I’m just worried about Adam.”
Hannah held the other woman’s hand and gave it a squeeze. “He’ll be okay.”
“I know. I know. It’s just that he’s having a tough time with his new prosthesis, and I’m afraid he’s doing too much too soon.”
Adam had lost his leg in the most recent battle with Caym. Though werewolves were fast healers, they couldn’t regrow limbs.
“He’s a Jamenson. Of course he’s pushing himself, but he’ll be okay. He’s with Josh, and he won’t let Adam do anything crazy.”
Bay nodded and visibly relaxed a bit. “I forgot Josh was with him. That’s good. I know Adam is the Enforcer, and Josh is one of the men who works for him, but, right now, I’m glad that Josh is taking more of the leadership role while Adam is figuring things out.”
“Josh will be there for Adam, no matter what.”
“Your mate is good like that. How is he doing by the way?” Bay asked, her eyes darkening.
Hannah swallowed the now-dry cookie and gave a sad smile. “He’s better, though his voice will probably always be damaged.”
Bay nodded then squeezed Hannah’s hand. Josh had almost been killed when Caym had come into the den and slit his throat. He’d also crushed every bone in Mel and Kade’s son’s body. Finn was recovering and was almost back to normal, though he didn’t laugh as much, while Josh remained himself, though he now had a jagged scar on his throat and a raspy, deep voice.
They’d come so close to losing them both. Hannah still had nightmares that her magic hadn’t been enough to Heal them. As it was, she’d almost depleted her resources and magic in order to do it, and had lost something just as precious. A sharp pain flashed through her, and she closed her eyes, trying to keep it all in. She had to remember this pain so she’d never let herself drain her powers like that again. She couldn’t go through that.
“Hey, I’m sorry for bringing it up,” Bay said, clearing her throat. “Let’s talk about something happy.”
Hannah’s eyes filled, and she blinked the tears away. “What would that be?”
Bay chuckled and cleaned up the cookies. “You’re right. It has been a bit depressing around here. We’ll have to fix that somehow.”
Micah cried through the baby monitor, and Bay hopped up from the couch and made her way to the nursery. Hannah took a steading breath and followed. She could do this. Just because she didn’t have a baby didn’t mean others weren’t allowed to have them. She wasn’t that selfish, even though at the low times she desperately wanted to be.
Where once the nursery had been a tomb and dark tribute to a lost child, now it was a bright room filled with love, toys, and bumblebees. Bay had made it perfect for her and Adam’s son.
“Hey, you,” Bay whispered as she picked up a bright-eyed Micah. “What’s all the fuss?”
Micah looked over Bay’s shoulder toward Hannah and held his little fists out to her. She held back a sob of her own and forced a smile.
“Hey, buddy,” she said, surprised her voice was so calm.
Bay gave Hannah a quick glance then covered it up with a smile before handing Micah over.
“It’s fine, Bay. I’ll be fine,” Hannah whispered as she held Micah close to her chest. His heavy weight made her want to squeeze and hold him forever. He really was one of the cutest babies ever.
“I worry, but I can’t help it.”
Hannah shrugged then kissed the top of Micah’s head. “Go do what you need to do around the house. I’ll take care of him. That’s what I’m here for.”
Bay looked torn for a moment but must have seen the resolve on Hannah’s face. Though Bay could have asked any of the other Jamensons, or any other Pack member for that matter, to help out, Hannah had offered because she hadn’t wanted to shut the world away. She had to get over herself and be the aunt she knew she could be.
With Adam’s injury, Bay had been swamped with helping out both her mate and her baby. Though Adam did as much as he could, it wasn’t easy. Plus, Bay was a strong wolf in her own right and lead the other enforcer’s by her mate’s side. Her sister-in-law left to do laundry and clean while Hannah sat in the rocking chair and looked down at the baby in her arms.
Micah stared up at her with his too-wise eyes and smiled. Though she knew it most likely had to be gas, a little part of her melted.
Oh, yeah, this kid was a Jamenson.
Any of the Jamenson men could bring a woman to her knees, just by smiling or showing off those green eyes. Though Jasper and Willow’s daughter, Brie, was a gorgeous baby that brought those strong men down to their knees as well. Jasper was going to have to lock that girl up when she was ready to date.
Hannah smiled at the thought.
A couple hours later, Hannah said her goodbyes and made her way home. Seeing Micah had made the ache grow just that much more, but his happy face had made her feel at least a little bit better.
The smell of roasted chicken hit her as soon as she walked in the house. Oh, her Josh could cook like a dream. Not only was he a sexy, ex-military, part-demon man, but he was her mate.
“Hello, my witch,” Josh said as he enveloped her in his arms. She sank into him and drank in his just-Josh scent—that sweet woodsy scent that made her want to purr. His demon-tattooed arms, already wrapped around her, tightened, and she kissed his chest. She pulled back to look at him and his red-rimmed blue eyes looked down at her, searching.
“Hey,” she whispered.
He tipped her head back and kissed her. Soft, warmth, love … everything. He pulled back and looked into her eyes while tucking a curl behind her ear. “How was it?”
She bit her lip, and her body shook. “Okay,” she said, her voice hoarse.
His eyes filled with tears, and she kissed his chin. That this man would break down with her ….
Just … yeah.
“What’s going on?” Reed asked as he walked toward them.
She immediately went to his arms and sank into his hold. He wasn’t as big as Josh but big enough to make her feel small, wanted. His sandy-blond hair was long enough to brush his shoulders now, and she loved it.
“Nothing,” she lied.
He looked down at her with his jade-green eyes, and she gave a wobbly smile.
“Damn, baby. It was negative, wasn’t it?”
She didn’t have to say anything, but Josh came up behind her and wrapped his arms around the both of them. She stood there between her two mates and tried to be okay with the fact that it might be only them from now on—no babies.
She could do that.
“I made dinner,” Josh whispered after they stood there for who knows how long.
“Okay,” she said, not that hungry. But she had to eat to stay healthy and to act normal. At least acting it would hide the pain for a little longer.
They ate in a sad silence, the loss of something they hadn’t had filling the air. They left the dishes in the sink, went to the bedroom, and stripped down. Without words, they got into bed and held each other.
Hannah lay between both of her men, their mating bond flaring in pain and solidarity.
It would be okay. They had more important things to worry about in their war with the Centrals. Everything would move on, grow. They would live. They had to.