“Memories, even bittersweet ones, are better than nothing.” —Jennifer L. Armentrout
“You don’t have to be angry at him for gripping your wrist you know,” Abigail came in when I stepped into the small washroom inside the changing room. “He is not that bad.”
Ugh… Not her and definitely not now... I screamed internally as I rubbed my hands under the running water, trying to wash off any germs he left while gripping my wrist. She always supported Liam and tried to hook me up with any guy possible.
“Shut it, Abi. I will not sleep with that moron just because you think I need sex,” I spat making her cringe.
“I am not asking you to sleep with him, Clara. Why don’t you give him a chance? Besides, sex is not a bad thing you know. Maybe you won’t be all that furious if you let go for once.”
I almost screamed in frustration at her response. Why does everyone want me to get laid so badly? Can’t a woman live alone? “First, I don’t want a man in my life. Second, I don’t want to get laid and no more talks of sex,” I said in a stern voice and exited the room, breathing a sigh of relief noticing Liam had left. I don’t have to worry about him until tomorrow morning.
He worked in an office somewhere near and came every morning for breakfast. I am glad he didn’t come here for lunch or dinner. The rest of the day was a blur with all the work and for me, Abigail kept her mouth shut.
“I’m sorry, Clara. She doesn’t mean it,” Gigi offered with an apologizing smile as we made our way to the empty tables.
Gigi was more mature and understanding than Abigail. She was married and was a mother of two beautiful children. Her husband, Norman, worked with a logistics company here in Dawson Creek. Gigi had wheat colored skin with thick black locks that bounced around her shoulders and warm brown eyes that always glanced at me with sisterly love.
“I know,” I responded and continued to clean the tables.
Abigail was very outspoken. She didn’t give a bat shit to what others thought about her. Abi was engaged once, but found her fiancé cheating on her with the clerk working with him in his office. She called off the engagement and went out to pubs to take revenge on him. At least that’s what she said, trying to forget him and live her life for once.
Again, I knew better. She hasn’t got over her love for her ex-fiancé in these two years and she hasn’t slept with anyone else. She kind of hoped that he would come back to her one day realizing her love for him.
Abigail was beautiful with a short brown hair that reached her shoulders and dark colored eyes. She had thick well-groomed eyebrows and a killer body, which had me wondering how Eric could betray her with that skinny skank.
We stumbled onto the couple once. Abi couldn’t stand their PDA in the mall and I had to drag her back to her small apartment. She cried her heart out that day. I and Ben stayed with her all night making sure she was fine.
She had a troubled past, and at twenty-five, just when she thought she was finally on track with a steady job and a fiancé, her world came crashing down in a matter of minutes with Eric cheating on her. And that bastard made it his habit to rub it on her face.
“Hey,” Abigail called, her hands fiddled with her top. Something she did when she was nervous. “I am sorry. I pushed you too far. It’s just… Clara, I–” Her eyes filled with tears. “I don’t want you to end up like me. At least, someone’s showing interest in you. No one even looks at me these days and–”
“It’s okay, Abi. I forgive you.” I intervened, not wanting to go there again.
“I don’t want your life to be a disaster like mine,” Abigail continued with a crestfallen look and I couldn’t help but hug her. “You deserve someone who would sweep off your feet.”
“My life isn’t a disaster, Abi. I have Ben. Besides, I have you and Gigi. I am content with my life. Look, let’s not talk about this again, okay?”
She nodded in understanding before going to her station.
The clock dinged four times bringing me out of my thoughts as I cleaned the tables. Ben’s bus should arrive now. My shift here ended at eight p.m. The school bus dropped off Ben at the restaurant. He does his homework in the changing room or chatted with the owners while I worked.
Wendy and Jones acted as our guardians here and they were like grandparents to Ben. Does he have real grandparents somewhere out there? Will they show him the similar love he deserves? I wondered and smiled when two small arms hugged my knees.
“Ben!” I kissed him on the cheek and embraced my baby, breathing in his comforting scent. The simple hug had all my sour thoughts of the day flying out of the glass door.
Giving him his favorite evening snack, I sat him with Wendy at one table as she helped him with the homework. The next four hours flew faster, and I was massaging my aching back when the familiar ding of the restaurant clock showed that it was time to leave.
“Anna, you should come home next weekend. It’s been too long,” Wendy said when we sat down to eat dinner.
“Sure. Ben wanted to visit too.”
“Grandma Wendy, will you make that apple pie for me?”
“Oh, sure, my child. Anything for my sweet Ben.”
We ate in comfortable silence as my mind wandered to my past. When I came here first with my son, the couple offered me a place to stay. They’d provided me with everything when I had no one to support me during my hard time.
They have given me this job, got admission for Ben in the school and even paid the advance for the house where we stayed. I am indebted to them for my life and thank my lucky stars every day for sending them.
“It’s time for our bus. See you tomorrow, Wendy. Bye, Jones.” I hugged and kissed them on their cheeks. Ben went to hug them as Abigail and Gigi came out with their dinner.
“No hugs for Aunt Abi?” Abigail chided and Ben went to hug her with a broad grin.
“Good night, Aunt Abi.”
“Good night. Now you stay good for your mama, okay?”
“I am a good boy.”
“Of course, you are.”
“Abi, stop smothering the boy and let me have my turn,” Gigi scolded and hugged Ben, bidding him goodnight.
“Bye girls, see you tomorrow.” I waved at them and exited the restaurant with my son.
“The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish,
Swish, swish, swish.
Swish, swish, swish.
The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish,
All through the town.
The driver on the bus goes “Move on back!“,
“Move on back!“,
“Move on back!“.
The driver on the bus goes “Move on back!“,
All through the town.”
Benjamin sang loudly, making me laugh, and I joined him to sing a few lines of his favorite rhymes.
We were nearing the bus stop and Benjamin clung to my back as usual when his low growl stopped me in my tracks. I turned to look at Ben, who was sniffing the air to the dark alley on my left. I immediately moved further down the road and attempted to walk fast when a voice stopped me.
“Clara, wait please…” I turned to look at Liam who came out of the alley.
What is he doing in that alley? I frowned looking at him with suspicion.
“Why are you avoiding me?” he asked with a genuine expression I almost felt pity for him.
“I am sorry, Liam. You are a good person, but I am not interested in you. You will find a girl suitable for you in every way,” I replied without looking at him.
Ben squeezed my shoulders letting me know he is not comfortable with the entire thing and I needed to move my ass. I turned to leave only to be stopped by Liam again, who had my wrist in his grip.
Why is this guy trying to touch me at every chance he gets? I gritted my teeth as I turned around to face him.
Did I tell you? How much I hated when people think it is okay to touch me without my consent.
“No. I will never find someone like you. I know you have a son and I am ready to accept him as my own. Why don’t you give me a chance?” He asked in a desperate tone making me feel bad.
“Liam, please try to understand. I am not and never will be attracted to you in a way a girlfriend should be. I can never be what you want me to be. Please don’t talk about this again,” I blurted and turned without a second look. Liam’s hand fell away, and I relaxed.
Behind me, Ben relaxed his hold. He had this instinct he can tell when people lie and get uncomfortable when people approach us with a bad intention. And, I was sure whatever reason Liam was there for, it wasn’t good. Ben wouldn’t react to him that way otherwise.
I trusted my son more than anything. Though I have known Liam for over two months, he still gave me jitters—in a bad way. Every time he tried to get within my personal space, I got uncomfortable. It was never easy to trust someone with a past like mine.
I only relaxed once we were safe inside the bus. I looked at Ben who sat with a tight expression. I knew he wanted to talk about something and this is not the right place. The short walk towards our home was silent and once inside I looked at him expectantly.
“He is not good,” Ben said plopping down on the sofa. “If it wasn’t for me being there, he would have hurt you, mommy,” Ben continued, looking at me with so much rage that his eyes turned pitch black.
“It’s okay, baby. Mommy is here and I don’t like that guy either,” I said, kissing him and pulling him close. When his eyes turned black, it scared me and it changed only when he was angry. I felt his small body relaxing and sighed in relief. I didn’t understand how Ben could do that.
His instincts have always been right. He wasn’t like that with everyone, only a few people.
“Mommy… he is like me,” Ben said right before he fell asleep, making an eery chill run through my blood.
I woke up with a start. The digital clock on the table showed 2 a.m, and I lay there trying to catch my breath. Every day it was the same nightmare. I haven’t slept at night for past six and a half years. Six years, eight months and fifteen days to be exact. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to erase my memory of that night.
The unfortunate night I lost my memory.
I turned to look at my son sleeping peacefully. I pulled him close, and he snuggled into my chest in his sleep. Taking deep breaths, I reminded myself that I was safe and tried to calm my racing heart.
Ben held me tight on instinct. He always did that when I needed someone. I closed my eyes and lay there concentrating on his steady heartbeat and the comforting warmth spreading through my body. Sleep seemed too far now and I couldn’t wait for the sun to rise.
At least I am safe now.
Mommy, he is like me. My son’s voice kept playing in my head. What did Ben mean by that?
I watched her from the outside. She had switched off the bedroom light earlier, but I stood watching, her scent still lingered in the air. Her scent was so addicting and she lived alone without a mate. What kind of mate leaves a female alone with his son?
I was being nice when I asked her out. It was the first time I asked someone out on a date, mind you. I tried to get her to like me. She was the first one to decline me and that was something I wasn’t ready for. Girls threw themselves at me and worshipped me, but not her.
When I smelled another wolf on her for the first time, I couldn’t control the rage I felt. I wanted nothing more than to tear that wolf apart and claim her myself. It was a huge disappointment to find it was her son, and she was not as innocent as I thought.
I won’t be the one to show her pleasure for the first time. I don’t know why I feel attracted towards her. I am a lone wolf, a rogue that belongs to no pack. The urge to claim her increased day by day. It wasn’t like I wanted her forever. Just until I get bored with her. Or, that was I told to myself.
Now, I am not a believer in second-chance mates, but the attraction towards Clara was something I couldn’t fathom. I shouldn’t be here. I should be hunting my prey, who has been leading me astray for years. The one assignment that became my headache. My thoughts wandered back to Clara.
I wasn’t used to getting no for an answer and my wolf liked the challenge she offered. For us, it was a hunt, and she was the prey. A beautiful prey indeed... She would’ve been in my bed, screaming my name if it wasn’t for that bastard of hers.
A bastard with an Alpha blood. Oh, how much I would love to spill that blood. I tried to control my rage. If I wanted her, then I should learn to accept him. First, I need to find out who her mate was. Or was it a result of a one-night stand? In that case, there was nothing for me to worry about.
I chewed my lower lip as I thought of a way to find this. She wasn’t associated with any packs in this area. The Alpha Gabriel had a mate and children, who were older than Benjamin, which ruled him out of the equation. A visiting Alpha, maybe.
Benjamin could be a trouble. He is an Alpha born, of that I had no doubt. If the Alpha in question learned about his existence, he’d want him back. The wolves are possessive and that was something I don’t want to put up with.
I scratched my head as I made my way towards my old truck. My mobile beeped, showing a new message. A deep sigh left my lips as I climbed in. With a last look towards the direction of her house, I drove away.
Whoever is that wolf, I’ll find out soon, Clara.