Sitting in Dagen’s living room listening to Meyer play guitar, I looked around for pictures or mementos. Nothing in my field of vision showed a thread of personality.
The furniture was modern with clean wood lines. The tabletops were bare except a few lamps and color-coordinated knick-knacks scattered uniformly here and there. Books, movies, video games, not even a backpack, was left in sight. Each boy’s world was contained in their own bedroom, out of sight. Not a bad way to run a household, but it felt sterile.
I was anxious. My neck felt hot and prickly. I wanted to jump up and head for the door. The words ′I want you all to myself′ tumbled in my brain. The severe edges of the statement never found a place to land in my non-traditional mind. I smiled at Dagen and clapped for Meyer when he finished his song. I couldn’t sit still any longer.
I looked at my phone screen and stood up. “That was wonderful. Thank you for inviting me tonight, Meyer. I should get going—early morning.” Dagen walked over to me with a surprised look on his face. I hugged Meyer, quickly kissing him on the cheek.
“Let me walk you out,” Dagen skimmed his hand down my back, sending my wolf into a twirl. I smiled and nodded. I wanted his touch, just not his cage.
“I’m glad I could see you tonight. I hope I didn’t disrupt your plans. I really assumed Meyer invited me for you.”
“Yeah, I think the boy has a serious crush on you.”
“Is he pureblood?” Dagen’s mouth fell open.
I put my hands up. “I’m joking. I swear.”
“When will I see you again?” He scanned my eyes, stopping at my mouth. His heart beat faster. I lost my will to leave.
“Soon, I need to convince Henry to go back inside the White.”
“You don’t want him to?” Dagen swallowed hard, skidding his hands into his pockets.
“He’s happy in the White. I want him to be happy. I feel oddly responsible for him. I really should get going.”
Dagen reached out for my arm and slid his hand to my fingers. “I don’t know how we got here, but I want to get back to where we were.”
“This was a lot for me tonight—our conversation, telling you what I want. Maybe I was too honest. You caught me off guard. I hope we can find a compromise.”
“I can’t share you.” I smiled and leaned in to kiss him. There was no upside to standing in the street discussing his terms for my life.
He grabbed me tightly and kissed me with such need and passion. Something ripped my mind from the haze he put me under and jolted me back to reality with a crystal-clear objective. I needed to get back to Henry. I slowly pushed away from Dagen.
“I’ll text you tomorrow. Enjoy your family and take care of your business. I don’t want Bruce accusing me of distracting you again.”
“Fuck Bruce, he’s the one that told me to wait two days to call you.”
“I figured as much,” I kissed him quickly and jumped in the car. I was thirty minutes from Henry if I made all the lights.
Pulling onto the street, I noticed a cluster of cars where I expected to park. One police car was parked by the curb, the other nosed into the garage opening. I parked across the street and walked up to the house. Henry was being led away in handcuffs in his pajama pants.
“Oh my God, be careful with him. He’s blind.” Came flying out of my mouth.
“It’s okay, Al. I can’t find my wallet to prove I live here.”
“Ma’am, do you live here?” A small-framed female officer asked as I approached.
“Yes, but my license shows my old apartment address. We just started living together.” I pulled my wallet from my purse and handed her my driver’s license.
“Ma’am, the neighbor claims this house should be vacant, and she heard a man yelling profanity.”
“No, my boyfriend’s family estate owns this townhouse and the home the neighbor rents. That tenant is being evicted. His wallet must be inside. Can you accompany me to look for it? We were away for a few days. It could still be in one of the suitcases.”
“Ma’am, we need to verify you live here before we can let you inside.”
“Because one person knowingly gave you a false statement? He’s blind. He’s not a cat burglar.”
“Ma’am, we need to—”
“Fine,” I interrupted. Let me look in my car. Maybe it’s in there. But please uncuff him. He can’t see, and if he falls, he will need his hands. Please, he’s not resisting.” The male officer was a tall, thick man and appeared to soften his approach while manhandling Henry.
“No, sir, not resisting. I’ve lived here for years. I didn’t realize the neighbor was so spiteful.” Henry played along with the bad neighbor scenario. One way or another, that bitch was getting evicted.
I searched the front seat and found nothing, then I remembered tossing a few bags in the trunk. I popped open the trunk, tore open the duffle bags, and found Henry’s wallet.
“Officer! officer, look here, I found his wallet in our luggage.” I took Henry’s ID card out of his wallet and handed it to the female Officer.
“I will need his driver’s license,” she said, holding the ID.
Her partner looked at me and tilted his head. “Mr. Rhodes doesn’t drive—because he’s blind.”
“Oh, of course. Yes, this will do then.”
“Notice the address we are standing in front of appears on the front of the legal instrument. It clearly shows my boyfriend’s face.”
“Yes, I can see that. We need to run his ID before we can let him go.” The Officer holding Henry uncuffed him and helped him to lean against the patrol car. He and Henry sounded to be having a nice chat while waiting on the female Officer to clear him.
She guided me to my car by my elbow. “How well do you know this man?” Her head tilting toward Henry.
“Well enough. Mr. Rhodes was falsely accused of murdering his girlfriend over ten years ago.” The Officer nodded and looked at me suspiciously. “She overdosed. He didn’t buy his way out of jail.”
She smiled coolly. Several neighbors were poked out of their windows and doors, looking at us. “He’s clear,” she yelled.
I was finally allowed to approach the house. The lying neighbor stood on the stoop in her red robe and slippers. I walked to the edge of the steps. “You made a false statement to the police. I’m contacting our lawyers. You will be evicted.” The woman’s eyes got as wide as saucers before she scurried back inside.
Henry was already up the steps before I made it back. “Are you okay? What the hell happened?” I asked, checking his arms for cuts and bruises.
“I fell asleep and when I woke up and couldn’t see. I panicked, and I was yelling. I calmed down once I remembered where I was, but the police showed up, and I stupidly opened the door.”
“Time in the White made those three days seem like three months. You aren’t blind anymore, are you?”
“No, this is much more difficult than I imagined. I was wrong to think I could live human again. I can’t even sleep.”
I texted Henry’s mother and told her the story. I asked for the woman to be evicted, so I didn’t have to dig a big hole in the courtyard. She thought I was joking. I was to an extent. I would never leave the body where it would be found.
Henry and I slept in short bursts. He woke up confused several times. I reminded him of where he was and stroked his back until he fell to sleep. I hoped my scent would remind him I was next to him.
A little past midnight, I woke in a puddle of blood on the sheets. Not only was I living out of a duffle bag—I only had a small number of feminine hygiene products with me. I was thankful Pax put all my parts back in the right places—my uterus still worked. I was also thankful not to be pregnant after a sketchy couple of weeks. I was also equally mortified to have bled all over Henry’s sheets.
Henry woke up while I was in the bathroom and came looking for me. “Why is the bed wet?”
“I’m so sorry, it’s blood. Wash your hands.”
“So, on my first day back, I toured a grocery store, survived police contact in my underwear, and got rolled in blood by my girlfriend’s special friend.”
“Yes, I’m sorry it seems that way, but this is technically day two,” I laughed.
“A very human homecoming indeed. I popped a little wood when you called me your boyfriend. It’s kinda high school, but I liked it.” Henry washed his hands and face.
“You did have some sexy shower time with your girlfriend in her parent’s house today too. Very high school.”
“We attended very different schools.” I laughed and ripped open a tampon package with my teeth. Henry put up his hand.
“Are you opposed to a little more mess? I’ve read that orgasm is very helpful for monthly symptoms. Pretty sure they were talking about the females.”
“Yes, that would be my conclusion,” I laughed. “Let me find some replacement sheets first. I’m not sleeping in blood.” Henry clapped his hands together and dropped his boxers on the floor.
In the morning, we got up early, and I drove him to work. I could tell Henry was conflicted about what to do next. Chris suggested several cover stories for when Henry wanted to leave his job.
“I’m picking up some supplies and getting a screen protector for my phone after I drop you off. If you make it all day without the overwhelming urge to run someone through with a flaming sword, I will pick you up for a nice dinner at five.”
“Can you call me at one? That’s when I usually take lunch. I may not make it to five without hearing your voice.”
“I’ll text and update you on my position throughout the day in case you need to flee.”
“Perfect, I don’t flee well on my own. Hey, we can drop by the gym tonight. I bet Gary wonders where I’ve been.”
“Sure, anything you need.” I kissed Henry goodbye and waited for the building security to help him inside before I drove away.
I texted Chris and updated Henry’s progress and our recent run-in with the law. She promised to handle the police report and email me a list of apartments to look at.
Emma texted about a gathering she was planning for Friday night. I told her I would probably be busy, but I would try to make it.
After buying all my personal items, I went hunting for a glass screen protector. Leo always takes care of my electronics. I felt sorry for myself taking on this one little task. I miss Leo for far more than what he does for me, but I needed to see him again soon.
A slow pivot back toward my old life was starting to solidify and blend with my new friends. I could do this. I can walk in the sunshine and still learn to run inside the shadows.