I lean forward forgetting the broken cup in my hand and pull myself into a ball, the tears I’ve been holding in the past few hours break free.
I don’t feel the pain from broken pieces cutting into my hand. Or notice the blood pooling from it into the floor beneath me. I stay that way, curled into a fetus on the kitchen floor until my limbs become numb and tiredness washes over me.
“Amber...baby.... Greg call nine-one-one.” My mum's loud shouts startle me awake and a cramp forms in my legs. I don’t know how long I’ve been down here for. I only register what she says when I overhear my dad on the phone. I stir back quickly and take in the blood on my hands and in the floor and they begin to throb.
“Wait no dad, I’m okay, I just dropped a mug." My mum nods for him to carry on with the call.
“No really, I’m okay, I was tired and I haven’t eaten yet today. I think I just went a little dizzy, let me speak to them dad.” He passes me the phone, and hooks an arms around my mum's shoulders while she sits and cries. I probably do look a bit of a state. I manage to convince them that I am actually alright and don’t require medical assistance and take a seat at the kitchen table.
“I’ll fix you a drink and some food honey. What would you like?” I smile at my mum, feeling guilty for causing her concern.
“Grilled cheese sandwich sounds great.” My dad appears in front of me with the first aid kit, I’m surprised there’s much left in there
“Make that two hun.” I always admired the affection my parents showed towards each other. I knew not every family was like mine and that I was blessed to have them. I just hated to see the sad look in their eyes now.
“You want to talk about it?” He looks at me while gently wiping at my hands, waiting for me to answer.
“I panicked, I thought I smelled something that reminded me of there and I guess I didn’t handle it as well as I would have wanted to.”
“Why didn’t you call us sweetie, we would’ve come straight back.” My mum's caring voice soothes me a little.
“I know, I didn’t want to worry you. I called Alex and she came by, I dropped the cup when she left. I guess I didn’t have the energy to get up.” My dad wraps bandages around my palms after putting some ointment on them.
“You should always call us. It’s our job to worry about you, even when you’re forty, we will still want to know , even if it worries us. You seemed to be doing okay recently, if schools getting too much, just say, you can delay, or just forget it altogether. we just want you safe and happy, you know that don’t you?” I fling my self into his arms and just let him hold me, like he would when I was a little girl.
“I know daddy, I love you too.” My mum's arms surround me too and I can feel the soft vibration of her tears through her body.
“Don’t forget me, I want in too.” My family are my world, while Alex had her mate, Logan to help get her through the healing process, I had my family. There were dark times, when they didn’t know what to do or say, I didn’t even know what I wanted them to do or say; but they were just there. Through it all, I couldn’t imagine still being here without them.
I think back to Shawn and wonder once more about what his home life would have been like, how he coped when things got bad when he had no family to turn to at such a young age. Maybe that’s why he finds it so easy to switch off our friendship. He had to turn his emotions down a notch when he was younger and now he just fades them out.
There’s a small part of me that doesn’t quite believe that. Otherwise, why would he have stayed today, after Alex and Logan left? Why keep texting most days to ask if I’m alright? Maybe he feels an obligation, he once said he had promised Vicky to make sure I was safe.
Maybe that’s all our friendship ever was; an obligation. And silly old me, thought too much, read too much into it and began to see things that were never really there. At least now I know and I understand, and at least I’m not too far gone that I won’t get over him quickly enough.
My parents had been overwhelmingly close the past week. I can understand it didn't look good when they walked in that night, but it wasn't like I was about to do something to hurt myself on purpose; not now anyway. There was a point not long after we were found, when everything just seemed... dark. But now I know I have a reason to live. Just because... I want to live. I deserve to live just because I want to. However I dont suppose my parents really know what's going on inside my head.
The problem though, is that even though I want to live my life, it doesn't stop me from being scared to live it. I want to go out, but the irrational fear that he will find me and make good on his promise is still very real. It was the smell, I cant get it out of my head, it was real, and even though Logan has said he would put out extra guards, there's still that tiny nagging feeling.
My phone vibrates, bringing me from my thoughts. My eyebrows rise in question when I see who it is from and what the message says, but still an hour later I'm ready to go out when I hear the familiar car pull up outside.
"Mum, I'm just heading out with a friend." I call into my mother who is sat in the lounge, engrossed in her latest book.
"Okay sweetie, do you know how long you'll be?" she rises quickly and worry covers her features.
"Mum, I dont know, but I'll be alright. I'll let you know if I'll be late." she holds me close, stuck between wanting me to go out and make the most of my youth and wanting to swaddle me like a new born baby.
"I'll keep her safe." A deep voice sounds from behind me and her face instantly relaxes.
"Oh Shawn, I didn't realise Amber would be with you." I think I manage to hide my eye role, that she thinks I need him to keep me safe. Slightly annoyed at myself, that I agree, but I dont need her to think it too though.
The car ride into town is quiet, awkwardly so. When we pull up to park, the silence gets to the both of us and we start at the same time.
"You said you wanted to ..."
We both smile for the first time since getting in the car, and it seems to break the ice.
"Shall we get a coffee?" He asks gently.
Again we walk in silence, and I walk into the coffee shop without really paying attention until I realise its the one that Ryan works at. Shawn must notice my hesitation when we enter.
"Everything alright?" I just smile and nod my head. A quick glance around tells me Ryan either isn't working or is out the back somewhere, however the bigger surprise comes when I see who is standing behind the counter.
"Welcome, what can I get for you Amber?" That is the politest Tara has ever been to me in her life.
"Tara? I didn't know you worked here?"
"Yeah well, we all gotta work Amber. So do you want coffee or not?" Oh... there's the Tara we all know and love.
"Two hazelnut lattes please." I ask, still in shock that Tara is doing actual work.
"And two slices of chocolate cake." Shawn speaks over my shoulder. Tara eyes the two of us and a small smile appears on her face.
"Not bad Ambs'." I shake my head and walk off to find a table, leaving Shawn to deal with her and the flirting that's sure to follow, even though she clearly thinks we are together. How wrong she is.
Shawn appears a few minutes later with a tray full of coffee and cake.
"This is the place that guys works at isn't it?" he questions as he sits.
"I'm sure more people than Tara work here Shawn. Its a busy shop." I pull my drink towards me and gently blow it to cool it down.
"Yeah, it is. I knew there was a reason I didn't come here." I raise my eyebrows, intrigued as to why Ryan would bother him.
"And why's that?" he just shakes his head and chooses the biggest slice of cake.
"Not important. Anyway... we need to talk."
"So talk..." He blows out a breath, showing a little bit of frustration.
"Don't be like that Amber." he says quietly and leans closer to me.
"I'm not being like anything Shawn. I dont know what you want from me." He just stares at me, his brow creasing.
"Have you smelt the smell again?" Now its my turn to sigh and I lean back in my chair.
"No, I haven't." I fidget with my hands, noticing a slight tremble there. Suddenly they are encased in warm, strong ones. I look up and he tugs at my hands, gaining my attention.
"It wasn't him Amber." I pull my hands from his grasp and he lets go.
"You dont know that for sure Shawn. No one does." He just shakes his head.
"I know what you said before, but... I still think you were his mate. If he was alive, he couldn't have stayed away." My temper flares but I keep it down.
"He wasn't my mate. I dont have one of those. I think one human mate in the town is enough dont you? Two is a little odd. That's why he had to keep... doing what he did... because it didn't work... because I wasn't... his, you know." He takes a bite of cake and a drink before replying, both of us just sitting in silence.
"I admit, two humans being being the mates of werewolves in one town is odd, but Alex isn't from here, so actually you would be the only one in this town and he wasn't from this town either, but that is getting off the point...the"
"So what is the point then Shawn?" I interrupt him and he smirks at me.
"Well, if you let me talk, the point is you." I dont understand.
"Me?" I question, leaning forward again.
"Tell me truthfully, talk to me Amber, not Alex or your parents, not a shrink, just me. When he touched you, there was a spark, now I'm not saying you enjoyed it or liked it, but was there a spark?"
"Amber the truth.., please, I'm trying to help you." I know he is trying to help me. That's all Shawn has ever done, but I dont know how admitting to someone, something I have never said out loud to anyone before could possibly help me.
"Amber?" He whispers, taking my hands again.
"Yes... there was a spark."