I stumbled out of the woods and turned back into my human form as soon as I reached the road, hoping no one would see me. But luckily, there was not a single person around and the houses looked quiet. When I took my first step as a human, I almost screamed out in pain. Looking down, I saw my jeans soaking in blood, eating in the wound the wolf had left in my calf.
I clenched my teeth and hobbled home, the distinctive taste of the foreign wolf still lingering in my mouth, making me gag.
By the time I finally reached my home and closed the door behind me, sweat covered my forehead, running down the side of my face. I felt dizzy, and the sides of my vision slowly turned black. I may have lost a little too much blood for my liking.
I dragged myself to the downstairs bathroom, opened the cabinet under the sink, and pulled out the toiletries, crashing them to the ground. I huffed, trying to stay awake while I searched for the first aid kit I put in here.
“Why did you lead us into the forest?” I complained to my wolf, feeling this was all her fault. She whined, winding in the same pain I felt. I knew I was being unfair for bringing it up now, but I promised Gunnar to stay out of problems. I only wanted to go for a walk, not confront the Vindictoria pack.
I closed my eyes, not wanting to see the room spin any longer, but my wolf pushed me awake, scared I would fall asleep. With my last strength, I finally spotted the first aid kit behind a few rolls of toilet paper and pulled it out, fiddling with the clasp to get it to open.
With shaky hands, I opened my jeans and pulled them down my legs, gasping in pain when the fabric got stuck on the wound. I stared at the gaping wound on my calf, mortified by what I was seeing. Blood was oozing out of it and it looked like the bite was deep and maybe even tore a muscle.
This was another moment in which I hoped I had a stronger regeneration rate, but I was glad that it was faster than without my wolf.
I purred disinfectant over the wound, screaming in pain. The wound pulsated, and for a second, I thought it would be better to cut my leg off. I leaned against the bathtub, thinking happy thoughts, but it didn’t help a lot to stop the pain. It took me a few more minutes and deep breaths to dress the wound as best as I could.
For times like these, I wish I would live next to Cedric and Joseline. They surely would do a better job and had some sort of natural product to help to heal faster. I’m pretty sure I still had that ointment for my burn marks somewhere. Perhaps I could use it for this wound, too, after it closed up a little.
When my head stopped spinning, I carefully pushed off the ground, frowning at the mess I made. The tiles of the floor were covered in blood, just like the way from the doorway to the bathroom. I bit my tongue and, with the last effort I could muster, whipped out my mop to clean up the mess before Gunnar arrived again. Even if I might not be able to hide the attack, I didn’t have to present it this obvious.
I threw the things I pulled out of the cabinet inside again, not caring to make it look neat. I could still do that some other day.
After swallowing painkillers and slipping into a pair of sweatpants, I felt better but very exhausted. When I was about to sit down in the living room with a nice hot cup of my favorite herb tea, the doorbell rang.
My pulse picked up, and I broke out in a sweat all over again. It couldn’t be Gunnar. He had a key to the house. Tyra, too. Joseline and Cedric wouldn’t come by unannounced, either. Was it Jelto? Or possibly the Vindictoria pack?
I walked to the front door and peeked through the peephole, not believing who I saw standing in front of my door.
I opened the door. “George?”
He smiled at me, his eyes sparkling. “Mia! Thank God, I finally found you.”
George stepped forward and pulled me into a hug. I awkwardly patted his back and eased out of his embrace, letting him step inside before anyone saw us.
I closed the door behind us and led him into the living room. “What are you doing here?”
He looked around the room and sat down on the spot Gunnar usually sits on. I almost wanted to tell him to sit somewhere else, but I bit my tongue.
“I wanted to meet you and finally talk to you. I know you wanted time, but it didn’t feel right to split up like this. Besides, I realized I shouldn’t have done what I did and said.”
I sat down on the armchair across from him, glad I could finally take the weight off my leg again. George looked tidy and well-kept. There were no dark circles under his eyes or a whiff of alcohol coming from him. He must have finally stopped drinking and moved on for real.
He grabbed a pillow and squeezed it in front of his chest when I didn’t respond, his eyes darting around the room nervously. “After I haven’t been able to get in touch with you anymore, I thought about my behavior and realized I didn’t act right. I know that now. I also shouldn’t have pushed you into the corner and demanded more than you wanted to give. But I was an idiot and couldn’t accept that your feelings might have changed.”
I leaned back and crossed my arms. “And then you decided to somehow find out my new address and visit me because that is a lot less intruding?”
He winced, but a sheepish smile spread over his face. “Of course, this isn’t the proper way either, but any day could be our last, and I didn’t want to lose the chance to apologize to you personally.”
I nodded, feeling uncomfortable in his presence. My wolf growled, urging me to send him away, but I felt like I had to settle this with him once and for all.
“Your one eye has a different color than the other,” he noted.
I gulped and smiled. “I’m testing new colored contact lenses right now.”
He raised a brow, but didn’t say more to that, instead he told me about his journey back to God, and that it helped him find new strength and see his faults. “I admitted my sins, and I’m working on being a better person now. Even my parents said that I grew into a much stronger person.”
The way he looked at me, with his chin held high and shoulders back, it almost seemed as if he wanted to hear praise from me, but I had no words to say. Especially, his parent’s thoughts couldn’t matter less to me. They are probably happy that the only sin they saw in their son’s life was gone now.
“They hope you are doing well, too,” he added.
I snorted. “Excuse me?”
He squeezed the pillow again, his shoulders sagging. “After you left, and they saw me so broken about it, they realized you were better for me than they thought, and that I truly care for you. But they were also angry that you made me feel that way, too.”
Before I even had time to tell him my mind, he raised a hand, stopping me. “I know you don’t care about their opinion, and I also think they have no right to be angry. But I thought I would pass along what they said.”
I sighed. “I would have cared if they had cared about me in the past, but they hated me. And George, I’m sorry to break this to you, but they probably still hate me.”
He smiled, but it looked loopy and insincere. “I’m sure you always had some sort of place in their heart.”
I laughed bitterly, shaking my head. “Okay, let’s drop this topic. It will lead to nowhere. What is your plan now?”
“I thought we could start anew,” he said, beaming at me. “As friends.”
I felt my jaw dropping open, not believing my ears. Did he think we could have some sort of friendship after everything that went down? Besides, I very much doubted that friendship was the end goal. I couldn’t imagine staying friends with him, not with our history and the secrets that would still weigh on us.
“I’m not sure what to say,” I said, wringing my hands.
His smile faltered but didn’t disappear entirely. “I didn’t expect you to agree. We didn’t part in the best way, and I acted out of line, too. Besides, you had your reasons to leave. But I do think that you loved me. I hoped we could build on that as friends.”
I pinched the bridge of my nose, not knowing how to break it to him in the least painful way. “George, of course, I loved you, but there are certain things in my life that I can’t change. Those things and you won’t work out. I’m sorry to say this, but I moved on.”
He glanced around the room, sighing. “You definitely moved on, that’s clear. I also tried to move on, but it’s hard to forget what we had, and it’s difficult to let go of the woman I thought was the love of my life.”
My heart clenched. I took a shaky breath, wishing I didn’t have to have this conversation right now. It’s not that I couldn’t understand how much pain he must feel, but I had to think about my happiness, too, and I was happy now. I left George in my old life, and I wanted him to remain there.
“I’m sorry, George. For you, I wish things would be different, but I couldn’t be the woman you wanted me to be. You deserve a good life with a loving wife, but it won’t be me.”
He leaned forward, his hands clenched together into fists. “You never know, though! Things could change again. If we stay friends, maybe we get to know each other on an entirely different level, and fall in love all over again.”
Anger surged through me. His desperation was tasteless, and it only proved that it was impossible to have a platonic friendship with him. Not now and not ever. “Are you even listening to me? I started a new life, and I moved on. I don’t want to try and fix this relationship with you.”
“I told you, it doesn’t have to be a relationship. It’s supposed to be a friendship.”
“Please stop. You aren’t ready for a friendship, and you might never be. All you want is to be close to me again, so you can cling to the last hope of everything going back to how it was. It won’t happen though! It’s over.”
He jumped up, making me get up from my seat, too, wincing when my leg throbbed.
“Mia, this isn’t like you! You always believed in us,” he said, sidestepping the coffee table and standing right in front of me. I wanted to step back but was blocked by the armchair.
I glared at him. “I believed in us for as long as there was hope for us, but there isn’t anymore.”
He leaned forward, feeling his breath on my skin. I leaned backward, trying to get away from him. “Step back, George. You are making me feel uncomfortable.”
He took my hands, staring at my lips. “We both know that’s not true.”
Hearing the front door open, I pulled my hands out of his and pushed him away. He stumbled back, his eyes wide in shock.
“I told you to step back.”
Heavy footsteps echoed through the house towards us before Gunnar entered the room. His gaze landed on George and then on me, a frown on his face. “Is everything alright here?”