Gula Bonus Scene

This fluffy little bonus scene takes place around the end of Gula (book 3), and features Austin and Selene.

CW: Pregnancy


“How are we all doing tonight?” Austin asked from the stage, causing the slightly inebriated crowd to stomp their feet enthusiastically. He was already strumming the introduction, energizing the crowd in preparation for his opening number. The more concerts he did, the clearer it became that Austin wasn’t just a musician. He was an entertainer. He had an undeniable charisma that made it impossible for the audience to look away. 

“We’re doing good!” Oriana yelled back, attempting to stand on her stool before Callista yanked her back down. 

“Must you behave like you’ve never left the valley before?” my sister sighed. 

“Can’t I go up to the front and dance?” Oriana asked as Austin laughed, launching into one of his newer songs.

“Not in this crowd. You’ll have to dance here where we can see you, okay?”

“But Aunty can come to the front and watch me.” 

“Aunty is resting,” Callista chided, not for the first time. I had waved off Callista’s concerns the first couple of times, insisting I could keep up with Oriana, but I was going to concede defeat now. 

Pregnancy was exhausting. 

Callista claimed it had been exhausting for her too, but I was convinced my pregnancy was more trying. After all, the baby was half Austin, and he was jumping around at the edge of the stage without a single care for his safety, and would be just as energetic by the end of the night as he was now. 

If our child was half as spirited as their father, I had my work cut out for me. And judging by the somersaults they did all day long in my belly, I was guessing they were.

Oriana huffed dramatically, jumping off her stool to dance next to our table instead, arms flailing perilously close to the goblets on the table, though Callista slid them out of danger without even looking. Would I develop those reflexes someday? I had good reflexes in general, but I couldn’t help worrying that my child would find a way to get into trouble anyway. 

It wasn’t as though I could anticipate their next move like I could with an opponent in a fight. Children were not known for their logic. 

“They adore him,” Callista said fondly, her gaze darting between Austin and the crowd while somehow never straying too far from Oriana. 

“He’s easy to adore,” I replied absently, discreetly admiring the way he flicked his hair out of his eyes without missing a single beat of the song. 

Oriana was singing along at the top of her lungs, having all but demanded Austin teach her his set list. He had been so patient and wonderful with her, I couldn’t wait to see him with the baby.

“You two are sickeningly cute,” Callista teased. “Perhaps I should start talking to males again, see if anyone catches my interest.” 

“Really?” I straightened slightly in my seat. Callista had maintained a casual arrangement with Oriana’s father for a few years but had lost interest in it a while back. 

She grinned at me. “No. It’s a small valley, Selene. I’ve sampled all that’s on offer.”

“You’ll have to spend more time in Cartava then.” I gestured at the packed room. “Plenty of options here. You can always leave Oriana with us for the night.” 

Callista took a sip of her drink, looking thoughtful. In the past, she might have been apprehensive about the idea, but Oriana was older, and seeing Austin living safely in Cartava had given Callista some confidence in the city.

The crowd stomped as Austin finished up the song, Oriana practically leaping on the spot like an insect.

“Hey,” Austin said, beaming at the crowd while taking a moment to catch his breath and tune his guitar for the next song. “Thank you guys for coming out tonight. I’m playing some new stuff; I hope you like it. I’ve been feeling inspired lately. Speaking of—my wife is here tonight, have you guys seen her? Selene, honey, say hi!”

I shook my head slowly, giving him my best warning look while Austin grinned unrepentantly back at me. 

“Isn’t she beautiful? She’s my muse. I hope the baby takes after her. I don’t want our little bundle of joy to have lame blunt human fingers and get teased by all the little Shades in the nursery.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” Callista muttered, sounding suddenly worried, though the joke had landed with the rest of the crowd at least. Austin blew me a kiss before launching into his next song, an upbeat number about trying new things and embracing the unknown. 

“The king had already assured us that our child can do their schooling at the palace with any other Hunter-Shade offspring,” I replied drily. “They won’t be the odd one out.”

I suspected that the royal couple were hoping for a child of their own, which was why King Allerick had mentioned the idea to me at all. 

“Oh good.” Callista looked affectionately at my rounded stomach, barely concealed by my shadows. I couldn’t stand covering it up. I wanted to be able to stare at my bump whenever I wished.

“Do you think you’ll still love me when you have your own baby?” Oriana asked abruptly, ducking under the table to pop up next to me.

“Of course. Love isn’t finite, Oriana. I have more than enough for all of you.” I winced internally at my flat affect, wishing I had a softer, more emotive voice for moments like these. Wishing I was naturally affectionate and comfortable pulling her in for a hug rather than waiting for her to ask. 

“I’ll still love you when you’re a mother,” Oriana replied solemnly, before rounding the table to get back to her dancing. 

Callista shot me understanding smile from across the table. “You’re going to be just fine, little sister. You know that, right? You and Austin are going to be great.” 

I looked up at the stage, finding my husband’s eyes already on me, his gaze full of affection. 

“Yes,” I agreed softly, my hand resting on my belly. “We’re going to be just fine.”