Before the Fall

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Chapter 41

It’s over, Gray thinks. Silas got what he wanted--what he claimed he wanted. His daughter is healed. Alpha Jackson is still the coward he always was and they haven’t heard from him since the night of the battle. Sara is still pouty about being left out of the whole thing, but she’s happy it’s over and they can put all the stress and anxiety behind them. She can focus on her baby now. Nearly everyone has healed from the battle, Gray included.

The one who hasn’t is Slate.

She’s just made it to his front porch and walks the last couple steps to his front door. She hasn’t seen him since everything went down a week ago, but apparently she’s not unique in that way. He’s been to see Sara and Jason a couple times--Gray not having been present on either occasion--and she heard Asher tagged along once. He’s probably been out to see his dad, or his dad has come to see him, but otherwise...no one. He even missed his Saturday walk with the three youngest. Raven is fully distraught and Sage is clinging to Asher more, as a poor substitute. People can’t be so easily exchanged.

Gray has decided she will knock on Slate’s door and he can either let her in or turn her away. The former is ideal, the latter just means she’ll try again another time.

Knock, knock.

Immediately, Gray hears shuffling. There’s a short hesitation before the door opens. Gray looks at him and thinks, he really is a beautiful creature, isn’t he?

Even now, hair flat, forehead lined, eyes tired, mouth drooping, face scarred a gruesome red-pink, still in the stages of healing, he looks unlike any other person Gray has ever known. One might think the scars would draw all the attention, but oddly Gray thinks they highlight his eyes even more.

“Hi,” Gray says softly, unsure how he should be approached.

He breathes deeply, chest rising and falling with the motion. “Hi, Gray.”

Gray watches him for another moment, wondering how he’ll take her staring now that his face is different, but he’s still the same old reliable Slate. There are some things that just don’t change, Gray supposes, and she’s glad this is one of them.

Quietly, Gray tries, “Can I come in?”

Slate reaches up to drag a hand down his face, but flinches incrementally when he hits the still tender flesh of his cheek. He drops his hand and leans a hip on the door jamb as he considers her. She waits for him.

Eventually, he says, “Not today. Come back tomorrow?”

Gray smiles. “Okay. Bye, Slate.”

Maybe he’ll invite her in tomorrow or maybe he won’t, but Gray has time. Maybe they’ll fall in love one day or maybe they won’t, but the joy is in the journey. If they do or if they don’t, they’ll take it day by day.

They’ve got a long way to go before the fall.

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