Chapter 44 - A Flash of The Past
The world seems different somehow but I know, it’s me who’s changed...still changing. It’s not just the enhanced senses, but something inside makes me see the world in a different way. Sitting between Genesis and Caspian in the auditorium, everything looks familiar yet so alien.
We are surrounded by familiar-looking strangers. I mean, I don’t know these people but I’ve seen them around enough that they look familiar. For example, in front of us, sit the three girls I secretly called “The Sundress Squad” though they’re not wearing sundresses today. My interaction with them was that one time when I gave them the finger when they insulted me and my hobo hoodie. That was on my first day of school. Most of the others, I’ve never had any interaction of any kind at all, yet their faces still seem familiar. I once felt like I was one of them...or maybe I once wanted so badly to be one of them. Now, I feel detached. I feel sort of like a lion in a herd of zebras. Not that I want to hurt the zebras, but they seem so fragile. I feel more than ever now that I’m not part of this big crowd. As I sit here, my connection and sense of belonging are only with these two beside me; Caspian and Genesis.
Caspian told me that this might be the last week of our lives as students here. So, very soon, I won’t be seeing these people anymore. I’m okay with that. No attachment. No lingering sadness. I consider it as another chapter of my life, closed.
“You okay, baby?” he asks. His green eyes inquisitive. I guess he senses my strange mood. His hand that has been stroking my thigh now moves to graze my cheek. He can’t seem to go five minutes without touching me.
Yup, I’ll follow him anywhere. I don’t know what’s waiting for us in Russia. The unknown makes me a nervous but knowing that I have Caspian and the rest of the pack behind me makes me feel stronger. I can’t deny that I’m excited too. I’m always up for a new journey. A new challenge.
“Never better,” I tell him as I take his hand and twine our fingers together.
He smiles and our eyes locked. Sometimes I feel too much, like right now. I love him so much it hurts. He brings our hands up and brushes a kiss on my knuckles.
It’s just as well that this might be my last week here. Sitting through a lesson next to Caspian is not a conducive learning environment. I don’t recommend it.
He’s much more interesting to focus on than the topic of Natural Resources sustainability and International Trade.
It’s hard to ignore the heat of his eyes on me while the class is going on. Every time I glance at him he’s already looking at me. Whenever our eyes meet, my brain starts to malfunction.
On top of that, he’s acting like a like a bored, errant child. One moment, his hand is on my thigh, halfway through the lecture, he’s playing with my hair, then he’s whispering funny idiotic things in my ear.
We rush out with other students after the lecture is over. Genesis is eager to get some sandwiches and a smoothie from the cafe but when we’re just a block away from the cafe, we see Constantine on the curb, leaning on the side of his car. He’s reading a book that looks tiny in his big hand. He seems oblivious to the looks he keeps getting from the people, especially the girls around him.
He stands up and tucks the book into the back pocket of his jeans as soon as he sensed us. His face lights up when he sees his mate.
“Bye, you two!” yells Genesis as she goes running into his arms. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” There goes Genesis.
“See you later!” I yell back though I doubt they can hear us.
“With Red, I think the list of things she wouldn’t do is pretty short,” says Caspian with a grin. “Want to go explore what’s on and off the list with me?”
The idea sounds tempting but I poke his chest with my index finger. “Cafe first, mister!” He laughs as he tucks his arm more securely around my shoulders.
The phone rings in his jacket pocket. He looks at the screen and his whole demeanor changes. “I have to take this,” he tells me. “You go on inside. I’ll see you in a minute.”
He puts the phone to his ear and he says something in Russian while his eyes stay on me as I walk into the cafe.
Club Espresso Degree Cafe isn’t too busy right now. There are only three people at one of the tables and one person ahead of me at the counter. Cat is the only person behind the counter. Her straight, short, purple hair fans out to cover her cheeks as she works the cash register.
The person in front of me leaves and I step right up. “Hey, Cat!”
She lifts her eyes up and her eyebrows rise when she sees me. Then a big smile overtakes her face. “Quincy! Where have you been?”
“I...Around,” I reply. I’m still not sure what to tell people about my disappearance.
“You didn’t show up for work. I called you, but I only got your voicemail. Evelyn called you. We were getting worried,” she says.
“Well....things happened,” I say. “I’m sorry I made you worry. Is Adam very mad at me for not showing up?”
“He’s not happy about it,” Cat replies with a wince. That means he’s mad at me. “He got some of us to cover for you the first couple of days, then he shuffled our schedule around the next few days. Yesterday, he hired a new girl to replace you. I’m sorry.”
I understand. They have a business to run and a lot of students would be interested to fill in the position. The cafe is in a very convenient location and the hours are very flexible to fit in with our class schedule.
"He's not in right now," she tells me. “So, what happened? Everything’s okay though, right?”
“Well...” I lift my left hand up to show her my rings. “I got hitched.”
“Get out!” she exclaims. “Get. Out!” she says louder. “Oh, my God! You’re serious!” she shrieks, grabbing my hand to take a closer look at the rings. “Oh wow! Who’s the lucky man? Wait! Don’t tell me. It’s that gorgeous sex god, isn’t it?”
“If you meant Caspian, then yes.”
She lets out a funny yelp and claps her hands. “I’m so excited!” She grabs my shoulders like she’s about to haul me over the counter. “Oh my God! Where is he?” She peeks around me to see if Caspian is behind me.
“He’s on the phone, just outside. He’ll be in soon,” I answer.
She leans in closer to me and lowers her voice almost to a whisper. “So how was he? Is he good in bed? Seriously, he is, isn’t he? I mean, tell me he’s phenomenal, please! With that look...I’d be so disappointed if it’s just false advertisement. Wait! How big is he? Show me with your hands.” She puts both hands up with a gap between them and says, “Is he this big? Or this---”
“Hey! What do you have to do to get a coffee around here?” interrupts a guy behind me, sounding very annoyed.
Cat scowls at the poor man and places an index finger to her lips. “Shhh!!! Wait your turn, buddy. This is a very important matter!” She then motions me to get behind the counter. Oh God! Crazy Cat. I try not to look at the unhappy customer behind me. He must have heard the whole thing! My filter might be broken sometimes, but Cat has no filter. At all.
I walk to the other side as she asked me to, just to get away from the scowling man. As soon as I get behind the counter, she pulls me into a hug. “Oh my God! You are so lucky! I’m so happy for you.”
She steps back and something behind me seems to catch her eye. Her eyes narrow and a devilish delight flashes on her face before she slides her gaze back at me. “You know, Jenna’s working today. I don’t suppose you want to stick it to her...I mean, stick around and say hi to her, do you?” She smiles sweetly but I’ve seen that wicked look on her face, so her innocent act isn’t very convincing. Oh, Cat.
I look over my shoulder, and sure enough, Jenna is leaning against the wall leading to the washroom. There are a rag and a spray bottle on a table next to her, but she is busy typing away on her phone.
Cat all but drags me to where Jenna is standing. “Hey, Jenna, look who’s here to say hi. You were telling Adam how worried you were about Quincy not showing up for work. Aren’t you glad she’s alright?”
Jenna lowers her phone to look at us with raised eyebrows. The look on her face is telling us that she’s everything but happy to see me. “Yeah, overjoyed,” she says flatly. “So, you’ve lost your job. I’m sorry Adam replaced you so quickly.” Yeah, I can see how sincerely sorry she is.
Cat smiles and before I can say anything, she replies, “Well, that couldn’t be helped. She was busy getting married.” She lifts my hand to show Jenna my rings. “Take a look at that engagement ring. Beautiful, isn’t it? And big!”
I almost say “That’s what she said,” but managed to bite my tongue just in time. I’m so proud of myself. So proud. Insanely awesome self-control right there.
“Oh,” says Jenna, seemingly lost for words. Then she blinks and says, “Congratulations, Quincy....though why anybody would get married so early is beyond me. Unless you got knocked up. You did, didn’t you?”
“Nope. Not that I know of,” I reply.
“Hey sweetheart,” comes my mate’s voice from behind me. I grin up at him as he slides an arm around my middle from behind. I know he’s been listening. I know the exact moment he stepped into the cafe.
He drops a kiss on my upturned face, then he looks up with that wicked grin on his face. Oh uh...“Oh, hey, you’re the girl who barks,” he says to Jenna. “How is it going?”
Jenna’s mouth drops open and her eyes can’t get any bigger. I hear Cat snorts.
I try to pull him out of there before he can wreak a bigger havoc. “Hi, Cat,” he smiles at Cat. “I’m here to pick up my wife who is not pregnant....yet.” He then turns to me and says not so quietly, “We better go home and keep working on that, sweetheart.”
“Oooh la, laa...” says Cat who is now back at her station behind the counter. “I fully support that.”
“Oh, my God!” I tug at his arm harder. “I'll see you later, Cat. Say hi to Evelyn and Travis the next time you see them!”
"Hey, I'm not done yet," he protests as I pull him out the door. Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of.
“You are nuts! Totally incorrigible!”
He laughs. “I am your totally incorrigible nuts.”
That’s true. “Oh, shut up!” I can’t keep the smile from my face though.
When we get back into the car, I ask him, “So, who called you?”
I feel bad about asking when I sense his good mood plummeted.
Just for a second, I can see that he’s about to give me a standard answer like “don’t worry about it” out of habit but he catches himself. “His name is Chamberlain,” he says instead as he starts the car. “He’s the youngest of the Royal Advisors, and he called as a friend.
“He advised me to go back as soon as we can. He sensed that trouble is brewing. The sooner we get back, the better.” He eases the car out onto the main road and grows quiet.
“What kind of trouble?” I ask him after a while.
“He wouldn’t say on the phone but I suspect he must know something. I’ll set up a meeting with him as soon as we get to Russia. I told him that we might travel back in a few more days. Lady Celeste will be able to travel by then. I’ll talk to the others about it tonight.”
I just nod my head and with that, he puts the top down. The air is nippy but the sun is shining bright. The wind is in my hair. The song My Type by Saint Motel is playing on the radio. For now, life is good.
He turns to look at me. Love and admiration glimmer in his eyes. The sun is glinting in his golden hair. “I look after what’s mine. I’m going to keep you safe, Moya Printsessa,” he says with a fierce determination. I believe him.
“Jonah!” I fling my arms around my cousin even though I know he doesn’t like being hugged...or maybe because I know he doesn’t like being hugged. I think he’s trying not to roll his eyes because of how dramatic I’m being. It’s only been two days since I last saw him and here I am acting like it’s been months or years. He gives me that awkward pat on my back while trying to discreetly shove me away. Oh, Jonah. He reminds me of Oscar the Grouch. What a sweetheart. I will have to try harder to annoy him.
“Layla!” I hug Layla who giggles and hugs me back. Well, here’s somebody who’s happy to see me.
“It’s good to see you again, Quincy!” she exclaims.
Isaac is standing behind Layla near the sofa with a big smile on his face.
“Hey, Isaac!” I find myself being pulled back by the collar of my jacket from behind before I could take another step forward. I scowl at Caspian but he’s not even looking at me because he’s too busy giving Isaac a cold glare.
Isaac’s big smile disappeared. “Nice to see you, Quincy. Now I’m going to go...uh, fold the laundry. See ya!” Within seconds, he disappears behind the closed door of his room. Yup, Isaac loves his balls.
Who could blame Isaac, though? My mate is good five or six inches taller than he is, not to mention more muscular and scary when he’s in this possessive caveman mood.
We have a good visit with Layla and Jonah. Caspian surprises me when he asks Jonah to come to Russia with us. It’s a good surprise.
The day after that, we visit Genesis’s and Penny’s old pack where Genesis’s younger sister, Autumn is the Luna. Everybody comes with us except for Lady Celeste and Jorden.
It’s funny to know that Alpha Hunter Stevens, Autumn’s mate once had a crush on Genesis. Both of them seem to be happy and are expecting their first child.
Genesis’s parents are as sweet and as crazy as Genesis is.
Penny’s and Genesis’s best friends, Reese and River and their three-year-old daughter, Piper are also doing well. Reese is pregnant again. Piper is a handful but very adorable.
It’s a fun visit. It reminds me of my old pack but with a nicer Alpha and pack members. Much much nicer.
The next few days after we get back are a blur to me as we get ready to travel to Russia. I grow even closer to everybody in the pack. The bond that we share is unbelievable. They really feel like family instead of some people that I met just a few weeks ago.
Lady Celeste seems to recover quite well. She doesn’t need her neck brace anymore. She’s back to normal...somewhat. I can still hear her throwing a tantrum, especially when she thinks we’re not around to hear or see it. I think the cook and the housekeepers would throw a party once she’s gone. I think Caspian should give them all a big bonus for this cause.
I still smell her scent near the pool house whenever I go see Jorden but I try not to bring it up again. I know They’re not mates. Theirs is a very unlikely friendship. I don’t get it. They’re as different as night and day.
“Is everything packed and ready to go?” asks Serena as she sits on the upholstered tufted bench at the foot of the bed.
“Yeah, I think so.” I don’t have that much to pack but we’re leaving at dawn. “What about you? You have so much more than I do. Are you done?”
“Pretty much,” she replies. “I didn’t pack everything up. Everything that’s left will be shipped over later if we’re not coming back.”
“Are you ready to leave this place for good?” I ask her as I look around. I’ve grown to love this house.
“I’ve grown to love this place too,” she says as if she’s able to read my mind. “But I’m used to moving. You’ll always grow to love a place. Each place leaves a mark on you. But you keep moving on to the next one. Always looking forward to new marks and experiences. As long as you have your mate and your pack with you, you’re home.”
“That’s true,” I say, giving her a smile. “Serena?” I take a seat beside her. “What’s Banehallow Palace like?”
She looks out the window at the blue sky and the view of the ocean. Her face looks thoughtful as she takes her time to think about it. “Banehallow is surrounded by werewolf packs, but it’s far away from human’s population. The Palace and the vast forest around it seem intimidating yet magical. The palace itself is very old and mysterious: full of secret passages and rooms I’ve yet to discover. It’s very opulent and lavish. No matter how long or how often I stayed there, I’ll never get used to how grand it is. When you’re there, it’s easy to forget that humans and the outside world exist.
"I guess that’s why Lazarus, Constantine, and Caspian travel so much- to remind themselves that outside world exists and to experience as much of it as they can before they’re bound by duties there.
"But really, it’s hard to explain it all. You’ll see it for yourself soon enough.”
Yeah, I guess I’ll see it for myself soon enough.
My next update will be on Tuesday evening (est) Have a wonderful week, everybody!♥