S I X T Y
“How’s she doing?” A quiet voice asked softly from behind me.
I turned and found Beckett watching Taylor, like me, through the morgues observation room window.
She was sitting on the morgues floor, next to the cabinet that held Ethan’s body, clutching her head.
After we managed to find the rest of Rhys unharmed Pack members, we sent a crew out to collect the remaining bodies of the pack members that fell during the Wolf Moon.
The Pack house’s onsite morgue was already filled to its capacity by the time the first team came in, so Rhys father had to step in and take over the situation. He managed to get the County’s corner, a fellow pack member, to lend us his open morgue space until families had a chance to bury their loved ones.
“She’s handling it the best way she can” I spoke softly as Taylor’s shoulder began to shake as she sobbed again “Considering the fact that her twin was murdered in front of her eyes”
“They were twins?”
Beckett was silent for a few seconds
“What...” he cleared his throat “What was he like?”
“They complimented each other” I said solemnly, nodding towards Taylor “She was always the serious and reserve one, whereas he was always the loud and crazy one who cursed like a sailor”
“Ethan was the class clown” I smiled, reminiscing our past “He could make you laugh even during the toughest of times”
I sniffled, tears forming in my eyes as I remembered my final encounter with him
“Even when you felt like never laughing or smiling again”
I took a couple seconds to compose myself before I continued
“But underneath all those jokes and smartass comments was a guy who loved like no other” I said, my voice cracking “He was big softy that would do anything for the ones he loved, including dying for them”
Beckett was silent, no doubt taking in and absorbing all my words
“Do you think she’ll ever recovery?” He asked, standing next to me “Will she...will she ever open up her heart again?”
I glanced at him and noticed he was wearing a look of both determination and longing.
“She’ll never be the person she once was” I said, meeting his gaze “But, maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe she needed to see for herself that tomorrow’s never promised”
“She needs to live each day to the fullest and in order to do that, she needs to learn how to go for what she wants” I patted his shoulder “Just like Ethan”
I turned away from him after that, walking towards the exit
“And as far as opening her heart again” I looked back slightly and found him staring at me “You might just be the right person to do it”
“Just be there for her” I said softly “Care for her like your life depends on it...Love her with all your heart, and never ever give up on her. She’s stubborn like hell but trust me, she’s worth it”
“When she loves, she loves with all her heart and soul” I smiled at him “Just be patient”
After my encounter with Beckett, I made my way through the Pack house to the room in which my Parents were staying in.
I knocked lightly and the whispered voices inside quickly silenced
“It’s me, Kassi” I said “Can I come in?”
There were soft shuffling of footsteps from the other side of the door before it gently opened to reveal the worried face of my mother.
“I don’t think it’s the best time right now sweetie” she worried her lip “Your father is...”
“It’s okay Carrie” my father’s soft voice rang out “Let her in”
She sighed before opening the door wider and letting me in.
When my father saw me, his face lit up and he started to sit up.
My mother rushed towards him when he began struggling with the heavy blankets.
I leaned against the wall
“How are you feeling?”
“I’m doing okay” He gave me a laugh but it sounded fake to my ears “Well...as okay as I could be given the circumstances”
“And how are you adjusting?” I asked “With being back in the modern world and all?”
“Kassi!” Mom scolded but my Dad just laughed, a real laugh this time
“It’s okay Carrie” he smiled at me “That’s just how our girl is”
She smiled before sitting next to him in the bed
There was a awkward pause, like each of us didn’t know where to start, so I took the lead.
“Why didn’t you tell me” I said, staring both of them down
“Kassi,” Mom sighed “I don’t think now is the best time to have this conversation”
“Oh really?” I raised an eyebrow, my anger rising “So we’re just going to sweep this conversation under the rug until I get kidnapped again?”
“Kassiopeia!” Mom sucked in a breath “Now is not...”
“IT’S NEVER THE TIME!” I exploded, pushing myself off the wall “It wasn’t the right time then and it sure as hell hasn’t been the right time now!”
“Watch your language young lady!” Dad snapped at me “And respect your mother!”
My eyes locked with his
“Why should I respect two people who didn’t even have enough decency to respect me” I snarled and they flinched “You two purposely hid my culture from me”
“And for what?” I snorted “To protect me? Well guess what, you failed in that department because I still got kidnapped and tortured”
They were silent
“We thought we could protect you” Dad said quietly “We never would have kept it from you if we would have known...” he trailed off
“Known that your father would have been kidnapped” Mom finished for him “We never anticipated that”
I raised an eyebrow “You never, not even once, considered that either of you could have been kidnapped? Or killed?”
“We knew it was a risk” Dad said “But since we were always withing eyesight of each other,and moving from city to city, I didn’t think it was a huge risk”
I snorted “You thought wrong”
“And that’s a choice I will have to live with for the rest of my life” he whispered hoarsely
Another awkward pause
“Even then” I looked at my Mom “How come you never told me even after dad “died”? I get not telling me when I was young because that would have been a lot for a nine year old to handle but why didn’t you tell me when I was a teenager?”
“I was...” She bit her lip, struggling to find the right word “...Scared”
“Scared?” I gave her a confused look “Of what? My reaction?”
“That” she sighed “And a load of other things”
“It’s hard being a Mom Kassi” She sighed again “It’s especially hard being a single mom to two kids. When your father vanished, it was like my whole world vanished with him. I was suddenly lost and questioned every decision I made. We used to make decisions together and when he was no longer there for me to turn to, I was just...lost. Therefore, at the time, I thought the best choice was to just keep you and your brother in the dark”
I looked at my Dad “And you never tried to escape?”
“I did, multiple times” He gave me a sorrowful look “Almost escaped once too but they were always a step ahead of me. After they realized I wasn’t going to give up, they began heavily drugging me with Aconite”
I sighed and stood in front of their bed
“I need your help” I asked my father, looking him square in the eyes
“Anything” he responded immediately
“I need to fix this” I said, motioning towards the outside world “So that something this horrendous never happens again”
He gave me a sympathetic look and nodded
“Okay prinkípissa” he said “I’ll take care...”
“No,” I interrupted him ”I need to take care of it”
“Kassi” he sighed “I’m back now and as the active Prince, it’s my job to handle...”
I leaned forward and placed my hands on their bed
“And as the Queen, it’s my job to protect my people”
Mom’s jaw dropped open as her eyes widened in disbelief
Dad just stared at me like he couldn’t believe what I was saying
“You don’t know what you’re saying” he said after a few minutes “You don’t even know where to start”
“That’s why I need your help” I straightened “You obviously know what you’re doing and have established the connections that I haven’t had the chance to forge yet. I need you to be my adviser until I get the hang of it”
“This isn’t like riding a bike Kassiopeia” Dad gave a harsh laugh “You just don’t ‘Get the hang of it’. It needs to be taught to you from a young age and even then, it takes years to fully master being a Royal”
“I don’t have years” I said, my anger rising “I have a month at best”
“That is why I need to rule” he stood “I have more experience and knowledge and can rule over them correctly”
“I DON’T WANT TO RULE OVER THEM!” I snapped “I WANT TO RULE WITH THEM!”
My father’s eyes widened “What?”
I took a deep breath
“I don’t want to control them like past generations did” I said firmly “What I’m proposing is something a little more modern”
“This new era shouldn’t be ruled by a monarchy” I looked him in the eye “I want it to be ruled like a democracy”
My dad’s eyes widened in shock but I continued my speech
“We’ve all seen what happens when there’s a Royal family’s in charge” I said “Our people end up resenting us and plotting our demise. With my proposal, they not only have a voice in all Wolf affairs but we all get to work together to form a much needed peace between each Pack”
“That’s never going to work Kassiopeia” he shook his head “There’s too much animosity between the Packs”
“Besides,” He continued “Our family has ruled for centuries and besides these minor little setbacks...”
I interrupted him with a harsh laugh
“Minor setbacks? You call being drugged, kidnapped, and watching one of my best friends, along with countless other Pack members, die a minor setback?”
He stayed quiet
“Look, whether you like it or not, I will take care of this situation ” I stated ” On my terms. You might not have wanted me involved before but it’s too late now. I can’t turn my back on my people”
“But you’re so young Kass” Mom whispered, tears misting her eyes “You don’t deserve this kind of weight on your shoulders”
I softened my stance
“Whether we like it or not Mom,” I said softly “My brothers and I were born for this”
They both gave me startled looks
“Brothers?” Mom said shakily “But...”
I gave her a small smile
“I know about my older brother”
“That’s impossible...” Dad whispered “He died before you were born”
“He didn’t die” I told them softly, bracing them for the impact “Orion’s very much alive. Grandfather saved him from the Hunters and faked his death so Julian would stop going after you two for a while. He was raised as both a Hunter and a Wolf”
I winced at their pale faces but continued anyways
“He gave up a life of meeting you two so that we, Ares and I, could have a chance at semi-normal lives”
Tears were streaming down Mom’s face and she stood up quickly
“Can we see him?”
I nodded “I’ll take you to his room”
Mom quickly helped Dad stand before using her body as his personal crutch.
We silently made our way to Orion’s room, which was conveniently on the same floor as my parents, and although they were quiet the whole way, I knew my parents were extremely nervous to meet their first born son.
I knocked twice and when I went to knock a third time, the door swung open.
When Orion saw me, he gave me a concerned look “Are you okay Kass?”
A muffled cry came from behind me and Orion’s eyes snapped to the sound. When he saw who was standing there, he immediately straightened.
I stepped out of their way
“Mom, Dad” I said “I want you to meet Orion. Orion, meet our Mom and Dad”
“It’s a pleasure to finally meet...” Orion was cut off when my mother suddenly lunged for him, wrapping her small arms around his huge frame.
“Oh my baby boy!” Mom cried harder as she squeezed the life out of Orion “I can’t believe it!”
From the corner of my eye, I saw dad wiping tears from his eyes.
Orion, who was all but frozen at the moment, closed his eyes and relaxed against our Mom as his arms slowly embraced her in an equally loving hug.
When she let go, his eyes opened and I noticed that they too were filled with tears.
“Hi Mom” he said hoarsely “I’m finally home”
She chuckled and patted his cheek lovingly “I’m glad to finally have you back in my arms baby boy”
“Even if he isn’t a baby anymore” Dad chuckled, stepping towards Orion and embracing him in a bone crushing hug
Mom laughed, wiping away her tears “He’ll always be my baby”
Dad snickered and Orion looked embarrassed at Mom’s words
“You know what I find ironic?” Dad asked, stepping slightly away from Orion
“What?” Mom asked
“Your Dad’s name choice for our Son”
Mom laughed hard “He had to represent the Hunter genes somehow”
“By naming his Wolf grandson after an actual Hunter in Greek Mythology?” Dad said “I knew he hated me but that’s just plain insulting”
Call me crazy but as I watched my parents interacting with my older brother, I somehow knew that we would be okay. My family wasn’t perfect and we were far from being normal but hey, normal was overrated.
We had a long road ahead of us, one equally filled with headaches and heartaches as well as laughs and new loves.
Our lives won’t be easy but since when has anything in life been easy?
If anything, I’ve learned that the struggles we face don’t define who we are but shape us into the person who we’re meant to be.
Our destinies were changed the second we stepped foot into Texas and even though I’ll never be the same girl I was before, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Because change is inevitable...
Sometimes, it just takes experiencing the worst possible pain in order to bring out the best imaginable change.