“Mom, can you come over here for a second?” I interrupted the heated conversation that was taking place in the kitchen.
My heart sank as I saw what was happening. I thought today was going to be difficult but this was the last thing I wanted to see happen.
Mom was crying and lashing out at Jack, accusing him of having lied to her. Jack sat on one of the wooden kitchen chairs, holding his face in his hands and looking completely defeated.
Mom immediately stopped yelling and turned to face me.
“Helen, what’s wrong?” She quickly wiped her face with the sleeve of her sweater.
Too bad because I had already seen it. It killed me inside, the thought of her trying to protect my feelings when she was hurting so much. I felt awful having to be the bearer of bad news like this but we were running out of time.
“Jack, you too,” I said, apologetically.
Mom frowned. “Honey, what is it? You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.”
Sam came and stood alongside me and squeezed my shoulder. It was as if he could sense how scared I was feeling and wanted to help.
“We’ve got to go down to the town hall. Some guy called Jeremy called and said you needed to get there as soon as possible, or else a trial will take place without you present. The elders have summonsed you and Jack,” I explained.
Jack snapped his head up as soon as he heard what I said.
“This is my business, involving my wife and me, it has nothing to do with the council,” he muttered, in agitation.
Sam’s shoulders slumped. “Dad, if you don’t go, they’re going to call for a public trial.” The worry was evident in his tone. I gripped onto the hand he placed on my shoulder and squeezed it back.
“Shit!” Jack cursed under his breath.
“Jack, can they do that? What’s going to happen?” Mom covered her nose and mouth with both hands. I watched painfully as she started to break down into floods of tears right in front of me.
It hit me hard like a tonne of bricks. The last time I’d seen her cry like this, my dad had just died. The police had come to the house to inform us that he’d been involved in a motorcycle accident. It had been raining that night and Dad was on his way home from work. Some drink driver hit him head on, Dad was killed instantly and the guy driving the car veered off the road and crashed into a ditch. We found out that he died a few days later, but because he was some rich guy, his lawyer kept his name out of the press. Mom knows who was responsible, but I never wanted to know. I didn’t want the image of the man who killed my father plaguing my dreams. It was better for me that he remains anonymous.
It took her a while to get over Dad’s death. She had only just started dating again these past couple of years but none of her relationships had ever lasted, though. Jack got her to love again, so that makes him special. This wasn’t fair, she finally finds happiness again and shit just had to go and land on her head and ruin the freaking day.
“Helen, I want you to stay here and....” Sam began to say.
I spun around to face him. “Like hell, I will. I’m going with my mom. There’s no way I’m leaving her alone in the state she’s in.” I stared him down, defiantly.
I couldn’t believe that he actually thought that I would agree to sit around at home, not knowing what the hell was going to happen to my mother. I was going insane, thinking over the worst case scenario, that I blew up in a heated rage.
“If anything happens to my mom, I swear, I’m going to the police, the FBI, the fucking President of the United States! I’ll tell the whole fucking universe about bear shifters, I swear to God,” I threatened, vehemently.
Maybe I was renowned for being dramatic, but threaten my mom and watch my temper explode. When I lose my shit, grown men quake in their boots.
Sam reached over and grabbed both my wrists, pulling me into a comforting embrace.
“Helen, calm down. It’s not going to come to that, is it, Dad?” Sam soothed.
I could imagine him looking over to Jack for reassurance by the way he spoke.
Jack was pacing the floor like a man possessed by this point. He was muttering ideas, trying to come up with a story that would convince the elders that nothing untoward had been going on.
“I have it,” Jack announced with a single clap of his hands.
“We say it was because our children are fated mates. I haven’t marked you yet because of it. We play it to our advantage, that way, they’re never going to suspect a thing,” he answered.
“That actually might work.” Luke stepped out from behind Sam. “They could question that you knew each other before Helen and Sam met. I have a better idea.”
I turned to listen to him with keen interest as to what he had to say. If he knew a way out of this mess, then I’d be only too willing to convince Mom to take it.
Luke continued, “You both met before Sam and Helen found out about being mates. So you elaborate the truth slightly, you say you fell in love, you were both heartbroken and grieving, you just decided to marry the human way and that you didn’t mark Elena out of respect to your deceased mate. That’s why you haven’t registered yourselves yet.”
Luke spoke to Mom directly this time, “And Elena, you knew all along that Jack is a bear shifter. You got to convince the elders that you’re OK with that,” he finished.
Mom stared straight ahead deep in thought, her brows were scrunched and I could tell that she was over thinking everything.
I muttered to Sam to let go of me so that I could go talk to her. He responded with a small encouraging smile. I walked over to my spaced out mom who looked like she was ready to have a mental breakdown. I crouched down to her level.
“Mom, you love Jack, right?” I asked.
She nodded. Her frightened eyes met mine, all bloodshot and teary.
“I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that you dragged us both into this and that if you hadn’t met Jack then we’d be home right now, safe and sound. But you know what? I’m glad you met Jack.”
Her expression creased as she processed what I was saying. Tears gathered in her bloodshot eyes, puffing the skin underneath.
“I’m glad you met Jack because he makes you happy. And also because I never would have met Sam if you hadn’t. I love Sam, Mom. I can’t explain it, but I do.”
I waved a hand towards the window randomly as if referring to the whole bear shifter community, not that I knew much more than she did.
“But these guys...the ones who we need to convince could really hurt us, Mom. We need to be smart right now, so can you do that for me, please? Can you stand in front of them and tell them this is what you want? That Jack is what you want?”
Mom nodded. She turned to face Jack who was looking as if his world had ended.
“It is what I want,” she spoke, finally.
Jack breathed out in relief and rushed over as she stood, pulling her into a comforting embrace.
“Thank God,” I mumbled, standing up and backing away to face Sam and Luke.
“It’s not over yet, princess. We still have to get to the town hall and we now only have twenty minutes to get there,” Luke warned.
“Everyone get in Jack’s Jeep. I’m driving,” Luke ordered.