3 years later
The drive from work to home had been excruciatingly long. Hitting every red light made the already lengthy drive seem to stretch on for eternity.
Finally, after hours of being stuck behind the wheel, I was pulling into the driveway of my rental home.
Shutting the engine off, I lay my head against the steering wheel.
I was exhausted. Wanting to crawl through my front door, down the hall to my bedroom, only to collapse on my comfy bed. But that was not going to happen.
Sitting up with a sigh, I slipped the keys from the ignition and reached for my purse in the passenger seat.
The car door opened with a groan, reminding me I needed to pick up some WD40 to oil the stupid thing.
I was in desperate need of a new car, but I couldn’t afford it. I had to make this one last as long as I could. If I limped it along until tax time, then maybe—just maybe—I could get something a little more reliable.
As it was, this thing, died every time I went over a bump in the road, so I had to make sure not to hit the many potholes on my way to and from work.
Putting those depressing thoughts out of my head, I wearily made my way to the front door.
I glanced around my yard in the early morning light to see toys strewn about.
Looks like they forgot to pick up the yard again, I thought to myself.
Letting it go for now, I unlocked my front door and kicked my shoes off next to the door.
The house was quiet and dark, as everyone was still in bed. A glance at my watch showed it wouldn’t stay that way for long. So much for my daydream of falling into bed. Instead, I collapsed onto my refurbished garage sale couch.
My house was small—and may have been a rental—but I tried to make it feel like a home. The walls painted in warm neutral colors, pictures and wrought iron art pieces hung here and there.
Aside from my used couch, there was a flea market end table with a lamp that looked like Tinker Bell. I had a small T.V. set on top of an old entertainment center. On the shelves under the T.V. there was an old VHS/DVD player, and an ancient Nintendo game system.
The living room was open into the kitchen, which looked like something from the 70’s. I didn’t mind though. I just put knickknacks and cookie jars on top of the cabinets and the counter only contained a microwave and a toaster. The pea-green refrigerator was covered in colorful magnets and scribbled drawings.
Seeing them brought a smile to my face.
I may be tired, and want to quit my job—wishing for a better life—but there was one thing that I would never regret in my short life.
The sound of a door opening and the pitter patter of footsteps down the hall was that very reason.
A ball of energy rushed into the living room, tackling me on the couch. The cry of “Mommy!” was my only warning that my son was going to jump on me.
Wrapping my arms around my son, I leaned into his tiny neck inhaling his wonderful scent of baby shampoo, crayons, and the unmistakable scent of little boy.
Exhaustion was getting to me as tears threatened, thinking about how much this little being meant to me. I held back the flood as another set of footsteps reached my ears.
The shuffling steps came closer revealing a tall well-built man wearing pajama bottoms. He was still half asleep as he ruffled his dirty blonde hair and let out a huge yawn.
“Hey, Kawywa. Ahhow wass wwoork?” he said through the yawn.
I smiled slightly at him. “It was okay,” I say, not wanting to get into how one of the bouncers had to throw a guy out for trying to get too fresh with me. If I told him that, he would want to hunt the perv down and beat the crap out of him.
I figure the bouncer did plenty damage, so I was going to keep the information to myself.
He blinked sleepily at me as he made his way to the kitchen. “Do you want any coffee?” he asked, as he passed me and my son on the couch. He ruffled Quinn’s hair absentmindedly, then continued his way to find his version of the nectar of life.
Instead of answering, I asked, “Do you have any plans today?” I prayed he said no. If I could get him to watch Quinn then I could try and get some much needed sleep. I’d been on my feet for over fifteen hours on only four hours sleep, I don’t know how much longer I could keep it up.
The sounds of the cupboards opening and closing reached my ears along with the sound of running water.
I couldn’t afford a coffee maker so I had to make do with instant. Just dump it into a cup and add water. Simple, easy, and inexpensive.
“Uh, not that I know of. Why?”
“Well, I was wondering if you could watch Quinn a little while longer. I’m beat from work and need to get at least an hour of rest before I deal with monster-mash here.”
My son giggled in my arms at his nickname. He was the light of my life. At 2 years old he had completely changed me.
I don’t know where I would be right now if I didn’t have my little man with me.
“Yeah, sure, no problem. Go on to bed. The midget and I will have some breakfast and play some video games while you rest.”
At the mention of video games, Quinn jumped up with a “Woo hoo!” Using my lap as a spring board, he launched himself towards the kitchen.
I swear, I have no idea how he has so much energy so early in the morning. Quinn and Cameron made their way back into the living room and settled in for a long and bloody battle of Mario Brothers. With my lids drooping, I made my way towards my room and collapsed fully clothed onto my full sized bed. I was asleep before my head even hit the pillow.
“Bad boys, bad boys
Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do
When they come for you
Bad boys, bad boys”
With a groan, I rolled over and reached for my phone. I didn’t need to read the screen to know who was calling. The ringtone gave it away. I definitely did not get enough sleep to deal with this phone call. Nevertheless, flipping open my outdated Nokia, I cleared my throat, and answered.
“Get to the facility immediately. Patient 16957 has been uncooperative.” With that, the call disconnected. These people never stayed on the line very long. They only told me when to come in, who to take care of, and then hung up.
“Kayla, is everything okay?”
With a startled yelp, I faced my bedroom door. My older brother was standing there, leaning against the doorjamb. I placed one hand over my frantically beating heart and the other over my face, as I flopped backwards onto my pillows. Cameron knew these people. He knew what it was like to work for them, and he knew that I hated everything I was forced to do.
The side of my bed dipped with the weight of my brother as he sat next to me. He pulled my hand away from my face, and I could see the concern in his eyes. “It was them, wasn’t it?” I couldn’t speak, only nodded my head in answer. “Do they want you to take care of her?” Again I nodded.
I was supposed to be under strict confidentiality with the patients I worked with, but I told Cameron everything. Ever since I was pregnant with Quinn, Cameron has been by my side. He was there for me when Quinn’s father left me, he was there when our parents kicked me out at the age of fifteen, and he was there when the Council came knocking on our door.
I didn’t want to go in today, but I had to. I just got off an all night shift at the night club several towns away, and only had a few hours of sleep. I needed more to deal with these people and their demands. Where I was going, I had to keep my wits about me, and make sure I didn’t let on that I was there to spy on them. If they found out that I was there under orders from the Council, I would be dead before I could say, “Don’t shoot.”
The patient I was supposed to come in and take care of had been there for a little over a month now. She was blind and pregnant with a werewolf baby. That’s part of why the Council wants me to spy on these bastards. They have been kidnapping humans, and weres alike, to experiment on them.
I didn’t want to go, but I had promised this girl a long time ago that I would help her in any way that I could. If her wanting me there helps, then I’ll be there. I just wish I could get her out. The problem? Cameron is now on their hit list and can’t help me.
When this girl was taken, Cameron had been there. He had infiltrated a group of vicious Hunters and was part of their group when they attacked the girl’s home. When the group I work for found out he was a spy, they put a hit out on his life. That’s why he is staying with me. As far as these people know, I don’t know who he is, and they have no clue that I have a half-breed son to boot. I plan on keeping it that way.
With an aggrieved sigh, I sit up and shuffle my way to the minuscule closet a few feet away. I pulled out the nurse’s scrubs I would need to wear, and the false identification tags off the top shelf. At first, when I agreed to do this for the Council, I thought it would be cool. I would be like Wonder Woman. Spying on the enemy at night with a false name, while being a stay at home mom with my real name during the day.
As I’ve come to find out, life rarely ever works the way we imagine. I barely make enough money working for the Council and this group of psychos. So, I supplement with the earnings from the night club. Even then, I still barely make enough to pay rent, utilities, and buy groceries for a grown man, a growing boy, and myself.
Shaking my head clear of the depressing thoughts waiting to consume me, I put on the scrubs and turned towards my brother. He was still sitting on the side of my bed watching me with a pained expression.
“Don’t worry Cam. I’ll be fine.” I said, giving him a small smile. “I just need to go in and see what she wants. Hopefully, after that I can get out of there and back here to spend time with you and my boy.”
“I know Kay, but I still worry about you. You know that. And listen, don’t worry about rushing home. Take your time. I don’t want to get a call that you’ve been in an accident because you fell asleep behind the wheel, or were speeding.”
I rolled my eyes at him as I made my way over to him, and punched him in the arm. “Just take care of Quinn for me. Ice cream is not a meal. And make sure he does his color worksheets before going to bed.” I listed off, as I walked from my room and towards the front of the house.
“Don’t worry Mom. I’ll make sure he plays with knives, and runs with scissors. We’ll have a blast chugging bleach, and spray painting the town.” Cameron teased from behind me.
“Ha ha, very funny. But just remember, the last time you gave him ice cream for dinner. He was literally bouncing off the walls. We couldn’t get him to sleep for almost six hours afterwards. If it happens again, you will be the one dealing with him, not me.”
“Party pooper,” Cameron said as I reached the front door.
Quinn was sitting on the couch playing with his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures, and took that moment to chime in, “Yeah, party pooper.”
Cameron burst out laughing. All I could do was shake my head in disapproval, as I tried not to smile and laugh along with my brother. “Look at what you are teaching him,” I said with a scowl to Cameron. “Both of you behave tonight or no Zoo this weekend,” I threatened.
“Woo hoo! Zoo! Did you hear that Uncle Cam? We go to Zoo!” Quinn dropped his toys and was bouncing along the couch, threatening to flip over the sides.
He was so precious to me, and he loved going to the Zoo to see the animals. I tried to take him as often as I could, but with money being so tight it was never often enough. Seeing him like this—so happy and carefree—brought a huge smile to my face.
“Have fun you two, and remember to behave. I’ll be back later. Love you guys!”
A chorus of “Love you” echoed behind me. I closed the front door, making my way to my beat up, rusted, old car.
This was going to be a long drive.