Chapter 7: Deliverance – part 2
Shane’s mental presence reassured Addison more than she cared to admit. When the next contraction came she recalled the seemingly ridiculous breathing exercises. They didn’t take away the pain, but that wasn’t their purpose. Breathing gave her a focus to ride the torrent more easily.
Panting against the pillow, Addison barely heard the doctors’ announcement that she’d reached nine centimeters. Instead she erected a porous version of her shields. Shane wasn’t wired to handle the pain of childbirth. Addison didn’t know if she could maintain the partial shield during contractions, but she would try.
Shane’s curiosity filtered through the gauzy barrier. Addison wound her fingers through his and sent him a pulse of gratitude. “Don’t want it to be too much.”
“Let me help you,” Shane pleaded. Addison shook her head. He scowled, frustrated.
Dr. Frasier stepped forward. “You’ve another hour to go at least, Dr. Harris, and it won’t get any easier. The less pain you feel, the less exhausted you’ll be when it’s time to push, and the faster it all will go.”
Addison sniffed. “I didn’t need help for Ashlynn. I won’t need help–”
Another contraction cut her off. Addison focused on her breathing, determined to ride out the pain. But as the contraction continued, her unborn son’s discomfort grew into panic. Mummy? Ashlynn called. Confusion colored the thought.
Addison’s muscles finally relaxed. As she caught her breath she reassured her daughter. I’m fine, poppet. Don’t worry.
What about the Little Prince?
He’s fine, too, Addison lied. Jacob was upset from the long labor. All he knew was that his safe, stable world was being turned on its head. He’s almost here. Mind Svetlana, now. Addison felt her daughter’s agreement, and her mental touch withdrew.
Ashlynn? Shane queried. One of his hands held hers. The other rubbed the back of her leg. The touch was oddly comforting.
Addison managed a small smile. Yes. Then she swallowed her pride. “Make it easier. Please. For Jacob.”
Shane breathed a sigh of relief. Even before he’d choked back his dinner for the third time, he’d decided that Mother Nature was a ruthless bitch. Creating a new life should not be this difficult. Labor and pregnancy created far more suffering than joy. At least it seemed that way to him.
For Jacob? Screw that. He won’t remember a thing. This is for us. Shane resisted the urge to kiss Addison’s hand. He’d already shown embarrassing amounts of familiarity with Addison, but there was no need to go all chick-flick.
Shane’s connection with the crystal in his pocket was a mixed blessing. Although it brought the comforting coolness of his alien side, it also heightened his awareness of Addison. He didn’t understand how she was conscious with so much pain, discomfort, and exhaustion. Jacob, although not in pain, wasn’t happy either.
“What’s that?” the obstetrician asked. He and Dr. Frasier frowned curiously in Shane’s direction.
“Nothing to be concerned about,” Shane told them. The reassurance he sent with the words made sure they’d believe him. As the doctors returned their attention to the various monitors, Shane focused on Addison’s spine.
After studying how lumbar epidural anesthesia was performed and worked, Shane had studied his spinal cord, then Addison’s — not that she knew it, but what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her — and practiced on one of Triptych’s human test subjects. There was no way he was going to mess with his lover’s nervous system without having practiced until he could perform the procedure in his sleep.
Shane concentrated on the portion of Addison’s spinal cord protected by the first vertebra. He simulated what an injection of lidocaine did during epidural anesthesia. The pain and soreness radiating from Addison cut nearly in half. She inhaled sharply, then beamed at him. What did you do?
Shane grinned. Gave you the equivalent of an epidural. I can take more of the pain away if you want. Just say the word.