I shook my head and headed to the bathroom. I still had enough time to think about the BBQ, but for now, I had to take care of the more urgent matter at hand. My eye needed to be hidden before anyone else found out about it.
I stared into the mirror, a feeling of dread rushing through me, seeing me hide part of myself. It felt wrong. I was sick of hiding who I was, but secrecy came with living the way I did. Humans wouldn’t be ready to find out about the ancient wolves, and neither would the they.
I stared into the mirror until my stomach growled. I hadn’t eaten anything yet, and it probably was time to eat lunch. At least this time around, the mere thought of eating didn’t cause me to gag.
Desperately craving lasagna, I grabbed my purse and headed to the center. It was exactly the right place to eat a good portion of steaming hot, cheesy lasagna. Besides, it had been a while since I last went there.
I hurried outside the house and looked around, making sure no Gunnar was around to stop me. When the air was clear, I quickly headed toward the center. I was pretty sure someone from Gunnar’s pack was still watching me, but as long as they didn’t interfere, they could spend their days like this for all I cared.
When I reached the restaurant, I realized many people had the same idea I had. It was packed with people, and it took me a while to find an empty table. Seeing the cheerful people around me put a smile on my face. It was one reason I enjoyed this place so much. Working here gave me the feeling of achieving joy for others. And when it was all too much, and I wanted my peace, I walked home and felt like I was the only person here.
My colleagues rushed through the restaurant, their faces flushed from the work and heat in this place. They should probably check the AC.
It didn’t take long before Helena spotted me and hurried to my table with a toothy smile.
“Mia, nice to see you. Oh! Did you hurt yourself?” She pointed at my eye pad, her brows raised.
I smiled. “It’s nothing too serious. I hurt my eye the other night. The doctor advised me to wear an eye pad for a while, so it could heal without disturbances.”
The lie came over my lips a lot smoother than I expected. I hoped it would be as believable to her as it sounded in my ears.
“I’m glad to hear it’s nothing too bad. I hope it will be better in no time!”
She whipped out her smartphone-looking device and tapped on it a few times. “What can I bring you, then? Wait, let me guess. Lasagna with extra cheese?”
I grinned. “Exactly, and a glass of water, please.”
She smiled and nodded. “Got it. I will be back soon.”
She came back a few minutes later to place the water on my table.
“You are welcome,” she said and glanced around the busy restaurant, biting her lip. I believe she wanted to talk to me more, but the workload on hand wouldn’t allow her to. She sighed and smiled before walking away again.
Relief rushed through me because even though I liked her, I didn’t want to talk to anyone right now.
When the steaming meal got placed in front of me, my stomach almost growled painfully, and I quickly dug in, burning my tongue at least twice.
I had almost finished my meal when someone sat down opposite me. I glanced up and swallowed the big bite I had just pushed into my mouth. “George!”
I didn’t expect him to appear in front of me here. I washed down the noodles with water and pushed the place away, losing my appetite. As much as I wanted to speak to George, I was dreading this conversation.
“Amalia,” he said, looking tired and pale, almost as if he hadn’t been sleeping for a while.
I reached over the table and took his hand in mine. It was cold. “I was worried about you. I couldn’t get in touch with you.”
He looked to the side, avoiding my gaze. “I needed some space.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
We had so many arguments before, but none of them made me this uncomfortable.
He glanced at me and pulled his hand away. “I don’t want to talk about it, but we have to. Just not here.”
I stared at my hand on the table, a stinging in my chest almost made me tear up. I cleared my throat. “We can go to my place.”
“Okay,” he said, his head hanging low.
I called Helena to our table and paid for my food before leaving the restaurant. Walking next to him like this was like walking with a stranger. He kept his distance from me, not trying to hold my hand or to make it seem as if we were more than strangers. It was a side of him I didn’t know. When I first met him, he was a ray of sunshine. He always had a smile on his face and was friendly to everyone. His warm hazel eyes would look at you as if today was the best day to be alive.
I glanced at him from the side. The look in his eyes seemed as if the world had ended, and his pale skin made him look ill. I pushed my hands into the pockets of my jeans and clenched them into fists. The silence made everything even worse. By the time we reached my bungalow, I was ready to scream, just to get rid of it.
When the door closed behind us, and we stepped into the living room, he whirled around to me, his eyes wide and teary.
“I am so sorry, Mia! I really am. I’m the biggest idiot!”
I was speechless from the sudden change in demeanor, and I couldn’t form one word before he continued to ramble on.
“I shouldn’t have suspected the worst of you, but I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t understand why you were out there with a man I didn’t know. The situation overwhelmed me, and I acted like a complete ass.”
“Okay. It’s fine.”
The words left my mouth with little thought, and I didn’t know why. I didn’t feel like it was fine, so why would I say that?
He reached out to me, grabbing my arms. “No, it’s not! I shouldn’t have doubted you like this.”
“Ouch, George, you are hurting me!” I tried to wiggle myself out of his grip, but he only held me tighter.
“I don’t want to lose you,” he said, pulling me towards him and placing his head on my shoulder.
A heavy smell of alcohol hit my nose, and I pulled away from him, searching his eyes. “George, are you drunk?”
He had never drank before. His community was strict about the use of any drug, and he supported that wholeheartedly. But first I heard about the encounter with his colleagues, and now this.
He lifted his head and blinked at me. “What happened to your eye?”
While he was confused about the eye pad, I freed myself from his grip and stepped away. “I had an accident.”
“An accident?” His eyes widened. “That dude! He hit you, didn’t he?!”
“What? No, of course not! You saw me last night. I told you I had an accident!”
He brushed a hand through his hair and dropped his gaze from me. “What is this?”
He rushed to the table and grabbed Gunnar’s jacket. I cursed under my breath. I forgot it was still here.
“What is this?!”
“It’s Gunnar’s jacket. He gave it to me because I was cold. I forgot to give it back to him,” I said, my voice sounding a lot weaker than I wanted to. Why did I feel like I did him wrong?
“Is he your lover, after all? Is he violent towards you?”
He threw the jacket through the room, and I stared at it, crumpled on the floor. His words echoed in my head. Was he my lover? No, of course not.
“Are you listening to me?!” George’s voice boomed in the small bungalow.
It was as if a switch was pulled in my brain, and I thought clearly again. Heat flushed through my body, and hands trembled with anger. “Are you serious? You came here to apologize for doubting me and then accuse me of having a lover a few minutes later!”
He paced up and down the room. “Why didn’t you tell me? How long has this been going on?”
“Are you completely out of your mind? Gunnar is not my lover!”
My heartbeat drummed up in my ears, and my left eye stung painfully under the eye pad. It felt like it burned into my skin, making me want to rip it off.
“Is he the reason you refuse to be intimate with me lately?”
I breathed in and out deeply a few times, trying to calm down this boiling anger inside me. I tried to reason with myself that he wasn’t in his right mind. He was drunk and probably didn’t know what he was talking about. But drunks speak the truth, don’t they?
George stepped in front of me and grabbed my arms again.
“Don’t touch me like this. You are hurting me,” I growled.
“I’m your fiancé! I should be allowed to touch you in any way I want. Or do you only want to be touched by that Gunnar person now?”
The burning inside me almost made me feel as if I was about to explode out of my skin, but instead of me, it was the necklace around my neck.
A white blast of light filled the room, and small pieces of the pendant flew all over the place. The power of the explosion knocked me off my feet, and I landed against the coffee table with a loud crash.
My ears were ringing, and the spot where my pendant touched my skin was burning hot. Why did I think it was a good idea to put it on again after it already caused a similar situation to this?
I didn’t dare to look down to see what damage it did to me and instead, looked around to find George. He got knocked away in the opposite direction and lay on the floor, unmoving.
“George!” I screamed, feeling like the world around me was about to stop.