“My what?” I take a step away from him and grip the towel as if it would give me moral support.
“Don’t play dumb with me Amber. You may not be a werewolf, but you know enough now to have thought about it. It was only a theory to me, but by the look on your face… I’m certain that’s what he was to you.” He just looks at me, watching my reaction; I’m rooted to the ground unable to move and unable to form a word.
The thoughts that I had had, were just that… thoughts. I had never voiced them out loud to anyone. If I spoke my thoughts, then they become real; and I was never ready for them to be real.
“He wasn’t anything to me, I wasn’t his… I wasn’t his anything.” I stand up straighter, as if to prove my point, it only makes Shawn frown.
“Go get dressed, we’ll talk downstairs. I’ve just been stabbed and need food.” He gently takes my waist and guides me back into the centre of the room when I don’t move by myself and leaves me stood there whiles he goes back to the kitchen.
Why did he think he was my mate? I know I have my own reasons, but how could he have thought that from knowing so little? Was it a werewolf thing and that’s why Alex hadn’t thought about it? Or did she think it and just didn’t say anything. I had so many questions running through my mind.
“Amber get dressed. You haven’t moved an inch. Don’t make me come and dress you.” Hearing Shawn’s threat, if you could call it that, sprang me into motion, muttering under my breath.
“Amber, get dressed, don’t make me come and…” I say it quietly, mimicking him.
“I can still hear you Amber. I’m a werewolf remember.” Hearing his booming voice again, followed by a laugh I quickly and silently get dressed in a comfy oversized sweater and leggings. I towel dry my hair a little more and run a brush though it, before going back down to the man who seems to be making himself at home in my kitchen.
I’m surprised to see him wearing a clean top, when he turns to look at me, my expression must give away my thoughts.
“I had a clean one in the car. I always carry spare clothes. Just a habit.” He shrugs and brings a plate full of pancakes to the table.
“They are a little cold now, I made them fresh earlier, but someone got a little handy with a kitchen knife.” He pulls out a chair from the table and sits down with a small smile on his face. It doesn’t make me feel any better.
“I have said sorry. You don’t have to keep going on about it.” I take a pancake, but I don’t really have the appetite to eat, so take a glass instead and fill it with juice. Shawn really had made himself at home here. Not that I really mind.
“You’re right, sorry; but a heads up… I’m going to use this for a while. Stop being a girl, its fine. I really have had much worse. It will be all healed in few hours.” He laughs at me and the expression of shock on my face.
“Really, a few hours. When did you have worse? Have you been in many fights… like when … that night?” he eats a few pancakes, taking his time to answer. I don’t push him, I know he will answer me, he’s just taking his time.
“I’ve been in a few fights in my time. None as bad as that night. For obvious reasons, but trust me when I say I’ve had worse. So when did you plan on telling anyone about this Clayton guy?” he looks at me, all smiles gone, concern filling his face.
“There was never anything to tell. He was just a guy… wolf… werewolf, whatever. He wasn’t very nice.” I push the pancake around my plate, still un eaten.
“He was your mate?” he asks me genuinely.
“From what Alex has told me about mates, about her and Logan, no he wasn’t my mate. He had some form of fixation with me, like Scott had with Alex, but they weren’t mates either. I’m now hoping he is dead or bored with me. Preferably the first option.”
“What Shawn? What?” he sighs and runs a hand over his head and through his hair, and just focuses on me for a few seconds.
“Want to go do something? Watch a movie? You got an Xbox here?” I don’t miss the change of topic of conversation, but I’m grateful for it.
“I don’t have an Xbox sorry; I was never very good at playing video games. I have loads of movies though.”
“Go choose a something to watch, I’ll tidy up.” I start to chuckle, which earns me a look from him.
“I didn’t know werewolves were so well house trained.” I say as I leave the table.
“We’re not all the same Amber. Just like not all humans are the same.”
“I know that.” I carry on to the lounge and choose a film to put on, not really caring what it is.
Half an hour later we are both sat in silence, each at either end of the sofa, neither looking remotely interested in what is playing.
“Why do you have a habit of keeping clothes in your car?” He stretches his arms before answering.
“I had an unusual up bringing. I learned to take things with me and to always be prepared to... move.”
“So, are you prepared to move again? I thought you said you were staying here, that this was your home?” I tuck my legs up underneath me, the movie forgotten altogether. I’m suddenly much more interested in getting to know this huge man that seems to always be there when I need him.
“This is my home. For a long time, I didn’t have a home. I didn’t really have a family. I don’t plan on going anywhere, but sometimes things happen that are beyond your control. I like to always be in control, so I’m always prepared.” I inch forward on the sofa, I don’t even realise I’m doing it and Shawn turns his body towards me instead of the television.
“So, you don’t have family here in River Falls?” He pauses again before answering.
“The pack is my family, Logan, and his parents. I came here when I was young, they took me in. We may not have the same blood, but what we have is stronger.” I can tell by his face, he is being sincere.
“How young were you? Where were you before?” He laughs but moves his position again on the couch, moving closer to me.
“I’m sorry, I’m asking too many questions.” He just shakes his head, still smiling.
“It’s fine, don’t worry about it. It’s been a long time since I’ve really spoke about any of it. I was eight, when I came here. Before then I was everywhere. My parents weren’t your typical parents, and I didn’t grow up in a pack like we have here. I haven’t seen them since I left.”
“You left your pack by yourself? When you were eight?” I’m stunned by what he is telling me but also that he is actually talking to me about his past. He always seemed like a closed off person. I was actually always intimidated by him.
I still am, but there’s something else I can’t quite put my finger on. I feel at ease with him.
“It was different for me, I learnt everything much earlier. I had to fend for myself, I had…” I don’t mean to interrupt but I do.
“But… but you were eight? What eight-year-old can fend for themselves?” He just shrugs.
“I learnt earlier than that. But that’s for another day. There was an older lady. Closest thing to a grandmother I ever had, we weren’t related though. She was kind to me, but she knew I had to leave when I did, and I somehow met Logan's dad, and the rest as they say, is history.” He watches my face, watches me taking in what he has said and just waits.
“What do you mean you just left? You were a child; didn’t the authorities get involved?”
“It's different for wolves than humans and my family stayed as far away as possible from the authorities of any sort. They made sure of that. Take that look off your face, I’m good, I survived, it was long time ago and it doesn’t bother me. In fact, I haven’t talked about my past in quite a few years and I don’t plan on talking about it for the next few.”
“What really happened to your arm?” his question threw me off guard, so much so that instead of hiding it away like I normally would I lift it between us and allow him to pull my sleeve up.
“Clayton, did it one time he came for me at the compound. He ummm… he bit me, on my neck, he used to mumble about something not working; so, he would bite me again. It hurt… a lot. I used to pass out from the pain. One day he said he had had enough, I always tried to not make him angry. He wasn’t nice; ever, but if he was in a better mood, things were easier. He would just let us talk.” I run my fingers over the letters carved forever into my flesh, remembering that day.
“His nails grew, long dirty yellow claws; and he just wrote on my arm with his nail as if my skin were a piece of paper. I’m not sure how long it took. I passed out before he had finished the first letter. I remember coming round that time. He had put me back in our room and Alex was in a bad way. But that was the day I found out about werewolves.” I pull my sleeve back down and fold my arms around my body.
“Amber, I’m sorry you went through that. I’m sorry we took so long to find you. We were trying so hard, but everything just came up blank, none of it made any sense, there was no smell, no…” I laugh sarcastically.
“No smell, it stank in there. I can still smell it sometimes. When I wake up, I can smell it. I have to fight with myself just so that I know I’m not back there, it’s so stupid but some days I just hide back under the covers, until I know where I really am.” I sound silly, I know I do, but it’s the truth, and it feels good to actually talk about it.
“It’s not stupid at all Amber. What you went through, how you discovered werewolves; it’s enough to make someone go crazy, but you… you, you get up, go to college, go for runs, get coffee. You do normal stuff. You’re living your life. You don’t hide away like most people would do.”
“Living my life? Is that what you call it?” he frowns and drops his arm along the back of the sofa, his fingertips resting on my shoulder.
“What would you call it?” It’s a good question. One that I’ve asked myself several times over the past few months. I’ve wanted to live my life. To carry on as if nothing ever happened, keep the past in the past and all that. But something did happen, and a part of me, stayed there. I left a football game as a girl who was giddy on the happiness life had to offer. I came back from the compound an empty shell.
And the worst part is, I should’ve been happy, relieved that we were back home. But there was a tiny section of me that missed something, something about being there. But how do you ever admit that to someone, without them thinking that I am absolutely crazy. How could I possibly miss something from the worst experience of my how life. It makes no sense.
“I would call it, doing what I have to do, to keep myself alive; but it’s far from living.”