“That doesn’t make sense,” Alex said once I laid out my reasoning.
I jammed my hands on my hips. “Why?”.
“Ellie is nearly four years old. Not an innocent fetus in utero. All the other women they’ve abducted were pregnant, or they were impregnated by a full dino demon. And she’s definitely not a god.”
“You’re right. She’s not any of those things.” Sam actually looked worried, which fed the
fear in my gut. “What she has is my DNA.”
Phil stepped closer to me and wrapped an arm around my shoulders even as she stared at my sister-in-law. “But Bebe said the nanites were rewriting your DNA.”
“No.” I shook my head. “It’s more like expanding it.” Everyone stared at me. For all their various talents, no one, not even Alex, who had a year of medical school back in the 1800’s, really understood Bebe’s explanation of non-human genetics.
I rolled my eyes. “You all understand the basic double-helix, right?”
Everyone gave me dirty looks, except Siobhan who laughed and said, “The twisted ladder, right? It’s the same regardless of whether we’re Norm, were or witch.”
“Yeah.” I didn’t want to admit how reassuring Phil’s hug was. “Vamps, too. In their case, the V-virus replaces sections of the ladder. It doesn’t change the basic shape. Because of the changes the nanites are making, Sam’s DNA resembles a snowflake just like Grandpa Ares’s.”
My sister-in-law scowled and crossed her arms. “My precious little snowflakes don’t change the fact that Ellie’s my blood relative.”
“No, it doesn’t.” The hard lump in my belly grew. “Like I said, it’s also the fact that she’s an innocent.”
Alex snorted. “Innocent my ass. Not the way she took me in poker tonight—”
“Poker?” I glared at him. My fingers twitched next to the pocket where I kept sharpened number two pencils. Dammit, I told Max dinner only. The guys’ poker nights often went into the wee hours, far too late for my daughter to be staying up. Ellie would be cranky and impossible in the morning—
The tightening of my throat threatened to choke me as I realized I may never see her again.
“Tiffany’s right. They need a virgin,” Siobhan said. “And Ellie would be the only one within Sam’s lineage.”
“Why would a dinosaur god get hung up on virginity? Wouldn’t her relationship to me be enough?” Sam interrupted. She saved Alex from a staking and Siobhan from a shooting. And me from charging off half-cocked.
“Because our society is hung up on a woman’s lack of sexual experience.” I hugged myself again. “The dino demon has to play by our rules, magickally speaking.”
Phil leaned back to face me. “Are you trying to replace Bebe as our resident magick expert?”
I knew she was trying to lighten the mood by teasing, but I was too worried for it to do any good. “I’ve been studying everything I could get my hands on since we found out what Sam was becoming.”
“So what do you expect me to do?” My sister-in-law didn’t look very happy. “I can’t conjure Ellie out of thin air if I can’t find her.”
“Odds are they’re only hiding Ellie from you and Grandpa Ares,” I pointed out.
“That doesn’t help us...” Ares’s expression shifted from irritation to confusion as Sam’s shit-ass grin grew to match mine.
“Marcus is one stupid son of a bitch,” she said.
“You can do it, right?” I didn’t like doubting Sam. It had nothing to do with her smiting me, and everything to do with my fear I was grasping at straws.
Her smile darkened. “Oh, I can do the tracking spell. I just can’t guarantee the results.”