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The clouds emptied the last staggered drops of rain. Gray slush was piled to the sides of the streets. It had been a bleak two weeks of constant snow, rain, and a mix. Acceptance had finally settled most of my nerves after my mother’s funeral. Nash had stayed with me, even though Michael pressured him daily to find the other two packs. I wouldn’t have survived the two weeks alone without him. When I broke down, he slumped to the floor cradling me. Et tek sumo neti, our hearts cry together. He whispered this over and over to me, wiping away any lingering tears.

I wondered the house like a ghost on most days. The five stages of grief were a daily routine. Amber stayed for a short time; her eulogy on my behalf was beautiful. I hardly remember the funeral, but I’ll forever relive my mother going into the ground.

Nash had scouted the pack lands a few days after the fight to bury his brothers and old friend, Alpha Davis. I stayed in the car unable to relive my mother’s death. The ritual of passing to their Goddess was sacred and I felt like an intruder which was just another reason to stay away. Nash eventually coaxed me out of the car to say goodbye to my father one last time before we left. I had no idea if his vision of me would come true. How could I be victorious when Davis and an entire army of wolves failed? Maybe his vision was wrong and a third choice awaited me.

Amber took care of my financial responsibilities and somehow found the executor to both my mother and father’s will. Being a physic paid off, literally. Two men in suits showed up within the same day to read each inheritance. My mother’s life insurance through the hospital covered most of her funeral. Davis, however, had a stupid amount of money with small requests attached. They were strangely specific but with someone who could see beyond what I could, I didn’t question it. The house was paid off also with Amber’s help. I never made friends easily, but she was someone I would always be grateful for knowing. Eventually, she was called to help Michael find the rat vampire who helped the High Alpha.

Nash took daily calls from Michael to keep updated, but never revealed what was going on unless I asked. He helped me through every breakdown and encouraged my future growth. One night he asked me if I ever wanted to go back to college, to which I didn’t reply. How could I go back to ‘normal’ life after this? At the same time, normalcy was what I craved most. Even without my answer he signed me up for the second semester and emailed all my professors to let them know I would start late in the year due to a death in the family.

After the funeral, two strangers stuck around; and strangely enough I was grateful. I finally got to meet my grandparents. Ironically, my mom had connected us after all. They were regretful for kicking their daughter out after getting pregnant with me. I found out through them, they had asked for her to come back shortly after I was born. My mother refused, whether from her stubborn pride or the hurt they inflicted when she needed them most. We spent days going through photo albums and stories of the past. Each night they would go back to their hotel and come back with donuts in the morning.

Michael’s insistence grew after two weeks. My world had stopped, but that didn’t mean everyone else’s had. Nash left with promises he’d call every day.

I wasn’t completely accepting of my grandparents, they had kicked my mom out with only a locket and her clothes because of me. However, it felt good to have some connection to my mom.

The locket, which had remained around my neck since the funeral, caught my grandmother’s attention. I wore it for my mother, for the luck, and to understand the writing on the back. My grandmother leaned close with a sparkle in her eye. “Oh I remember this. It was my grandmother’s wedding gift in the early 1900s. I was her favorite grandchild; my siblings are still a rowdy bunch.” She diverged into setting up a family reunion and introducing me to all my extended family. I stayed noncommittal.

I turned the locket over my to reveal the two words carved into the golden locket. “I can’t open it.”

“Oh only my grandmother knew the trick to open it. She showed me once. It’s a beautiful picture of her and her husband. I’ve always been too scared of breaking it to force it open.”

“I’ve tried. It doesn’t open.” My grandfather was a man of few words. Those were probably his only ones for today.

“Did great-great grandma tell you anything about the words on the back? I’m not sure I’m reading them correctly.” My fingers traced over the inscription. “What’s Willow Ware?”

“Oh now that is a story I’ll never forget.” My grandmother leaned in with a conspiratorial twinkle in her eyes.

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