F O R T Y - F O U R
Four Days Later
“I’m leaving!” I said, scarfing down the rest of my omelet in my mouth before grabbing my coat from the back of my chair.
Nana arched her eyebrow from her position at the stove “And where do you think you’re going young man?”
“To practice my gifts” I gave her my most heart-stopping grin “I’ll see you later Nana.”
My Mom, who was out late making preparations for the Spring time, walked out of her room and kissed me on the cheek before grabbing the outstretched plate out of my Nana’s hand.
“Morning Mom” she said and sat down “What’s going on?”
“Your son is sneaking out of this house” Nana snitched on me “And then he had the audacity to make up a terrible lie to my face. My god Persephone, if he wants to lie, at least teach him to lie well. I would think Hades, the God of Lying, would have taught his own son how to lie better. He lies like you used to.”
At the sound of my father’s name, my Mom’s face turn thunderous before shutting down completely.
I raised an eyebrow at her but she continued to eat her omelet, essentially avoiding my gaze.
I ignored her weirdness and gave her a pleading look “Can I go, please Mom?”
“Where are you going?”
“To the field” I said “To practice my gifts.”
She hummed “Give me a couple of minutes and I’ll go with you-”
“No!” I shouted, cutting her off mid sentence “I mean...take your time to eat. I wouldn’t want to impose.”
She raised her eyebrow and then shrugged “You can go but when I’m finished with breakfast, I’ll be out there to join you.”
I gave her an excited smile and kissed her cheek “Thanks Mom!”
She smiled and pinched my cheek “Have fun baby.”
I ran outside quickly and was halfway down the driveway when I stopped and groaned loudly.
I forgot my keys!
Normally, I wouldn’t need them but since Nana was going to be in town today and Mom would probably go back to her springtime duties after breakfast, I really needed them if I wanted to get back inside our house.
Instead of using the front door like I usually did, I used the side door that was connected to the kitchen and the back portion of the living room since I knew Nana left it open to get fresh ingredients from her garden this morning for breakfast.
I paused when I heard my mother’s raised voice “I can’t believe he did that!”
“Slow down louloúdi” Nana said “I can barely understand what you’re saying when your voice gets high pitched like that. Now take it from the top.”
“Hades did something real stupid” Mom said slowly “Something that I don’t think I could forgive him for.”
“That idiot is the definition of stupid” Nana snorted “What did he do this time?”
Mom lowered his voice “I don’t think I should tell you.”
“Why not?” Nana bellowed.
“Because if I tell you, you might actually kill him” Mom paused “And I don’t think I would stop you this time.
“Persephone, if you can’t tell me what happened then I can’t fix it” Nana said calmly “Besides, nothing you could say about that fool will ever surprise me. His stupidity knows no bound.”
“What did he take away from my grandson exactly...” Nana said slowly, probably trying to pry the information from my mother “Is it like a toy or something else? I could replace it if you-“.
“He...he...” Mom said softly, crying in defeat “He took away his... Mate.”
My breath stuttered in my chest and I gaped at the blank wall.
“WHAT!?” Nana started curing in Greek “What do you mean Mate? How does he have a Mate?!”
“It’s a story for another time” Mom said softly “But the short version is that Zephyr has a Wolf Mate that lives in this area. Her pack boarders your part of this land. The Matthews Pack.”
“What did that idiot do?” Nana hissed.
“He took away the Mate bond” Mom sniffled “My own son doesn’t even have a choice in the matter. This happened when he was just a baby. Hades did it behind my back when...”
There was more questions asked, mostly on my Nana’s end, but I couldn’t take it anymore.
I didn’t want to hear anymore.
I ran out of the house, keys forgotten, and didn’t stop until I was inside the heart of the forest.
Shadow appeared at my side the second I stepped foot outside the house but I sent him away, wanting to be alone to process all the information that I just heard “Go scout out the Matthews Pack. I need information on them, specifically the Matthews family themselves.”
He nodded and them vanished.
Once he was gone, I ran North.
To my safe place.
The place where I felt like myself whenever I was feeling overwhelmed.
And boy, was I overwhelmed with everything that I just heard.
I used my gift to start a fire in the fireplace I made one summer when I was seven.
I didn’t know how long I was staring at the fire, but I knew that the longer I stared at it, the more peace I felt.
I don’t know why I reached towards the flames in that moment.
Yes they were comforting...And yes, they wouldn’t have hurt me (Considering my father was the King of the Underworld and dealt with fire on a regular basis) but I didn’t know what possessed me to do what I did.
Or...what I could have done if a small, familiar body didn’t tackle me to the ground like a professional linebacker.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” the angry voice shouted, straddling my waist and punching at my chest.
I stared at her blankly, tears gathering the corners of my eyes as I realized that this girl was my Mate.
And she didn’t even recognize me as hers.
The look she was giving me was the last straw in my emotions.
It was anger with an underlying look of concern and pity.
“IT’S NOT FAIR!” I let out an anguish wail and she instantly stopped her assault, looking at me in confusion “WHY ME? WHY?!”
“What’s not fair?” she asked softly, patting my head softly.
I ignored her question and continued to let out my emotions, screaming up at the the sky until my voice was raw.
Of course Dad would do something like this.
He always said that he had my best interest at heart but I knew that he just wanted to control me.
To control my actions and make the decisions he wanted me to make.
He was my dad, and of course I loved him, but sometimes he didn’t see what I truly wanted.
And if he did, he chose to ignore it.
We sat like that for a while, me staring up and the sky and her staring down at me, and it wasn’t until I had a firm lock on my emotions did she asked the one question I was dreading the most.
“What happened today?” she twisted off of my lap and sat in the soft dirt, twiddling her hands nervously.
“My father took something from me” I said stoically “And he won’t give it back until after I do what he says, apparently.”
“Oh” she said simply “That sucks.”
I gave her a small smile “Yeah, it really does.”
She stood up and held out her hand to me “Come on.”
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“To steal back the thing your father took from you.” She tried to yank me to my feet but I wouldn’t budge.
Instead, I yanked her back down to the ground with me.
“We can’t Serenity” I said, patting her head softly.
Like she did for me.
“Why not?” she pouted cutely “Usually, when my Dad takes something from me after I get in trouble, I can sneak into his office and steal it back.”
“My dad is...Different than yours.” I paused, trying to find the right words to describe my situation “What he took... I just can’t steal back from him.”
“Work for it how?” she wrinkled her nose innocently “Like doing chores?”
I gave her a small smile “Kind of.”
“For how long?” she asked.
“Until he decides that I’m worthy enough.”
“No offense” she scowled “But your dad’s kind of a jerk.”
“He is.” I nodded.
“Zee” she whispered so soft that I almost didn’t hear here.
“Hmmm...” I hummed.
“Besides your dad taking away your toy...” she swallowed harshly “Is everything alright at home? He doesn’t....hurt you...does he?”
“Oh Serenity...” I engulfed her in a hug “He doesn’t hurt me.”
“You know you can talk to me” she said softly “You can tell me anything. Even if something’s wrong.”
“Everything’s fine Serenity” I gripped her tighter “My dad’s a jerk but he’s not an abusive one.”
“Then why were you about to walk into that fire?”
I stiffened, my body tensing underneath hers.
“I...” I swallowed “I...can relate to the fire...”
She pulled back to look at my face and I avoided her questioning eyes.
“It’s...free” I said softly, explaining as best as I can “Free to do as it pleases, burn as it pleases, without anyone or anything trying to dictate to it how to burn.”
“But you almost hurt yourself.”
“That’s where you’re wrong.” I smiled softly.
“Because I had you” I said, leaning close to her “You’re my little Phoenix, pulling me from the ashes before I had the chance to lose myself completely.”
Her eyes widened, and we sat staring at each other for a hour before her brother came to collect her.
She gave me a conflicted look but I just smiled at her “Go home, I promise no more fires for me.”
She gave me another worrisome look before following her brother’s voice.
Shadow appeared at my side, the moment she disappeared.
“Tell me what I need to know” I said softly “And don’t leave out a single detail.”
While I couldn’t tell Serenity the whole truth, specifically how my own father stole our Mate Bond from us, I told her a good ninety-five percent of it.
It was hard lying to her face but I knew that if I told her the whole truth, she would begin to question everything that has happened to us in the last few weeks.
It’s bad enough that she’s looking at me like I’m a stranger right now.
I don’t think my heart could handle her denying the special connection we share, even without our Mate Bond in place.