Chapter 29: Haunting Dreams
A week passed after the incident at the party at the Bacardi residence. Hailey didn’t know what Gabriel or Hunter were planning to handle the Lucas Waldorf. But since then, the security around the pack territory had doubled, cameras were installed everywhere and even though Gabriel hid it expertly, Hailey could see the tension in his golden eyes.
“Ms. Swan,” Hailey was pulled out of her thoughts by her students. She didn’t get any time to worry over others for the rest of the day.
At the end of a hectic day at the Institute, Hailey grabbed her purse and locked up her classroom for tomorrow. The sun was swimming just above the horizon peeking with its blinding her with golden beams. She pushed her hair behind her, when she exited through the double doors, and like always, her mate was waiting for her at the bottom of the steps. A smile crept up her lips. Since the beginning Hunter has always come for her at the end of her day. He would patiently wait to be with her again, even after he’d drop her off in the morning too.
“Did you wait long?” She asked as she joined him.
Hunter laced his hand in hers. “No,” he said. “I just came myself.”
“How was your day?” Hailey stepped closer to him, wanting his scent and warmth surround her.
“It was fine,” he said. “But-” he looked down to her- “it’s much better now.”
Hailey blushed. “My day was pretty hectic as well,” she told him. “But it all feels like a faint memory when I meet up with you again.”
His hand brushed her cheek. “Are you hungry?” He asked.
“I am but I don’t feel like cooking at all,” she confessed with her head slung low. “Maybe we should go out for dinner?” Suggested Hailey. She knew that both of them were quite tired from the long day. So, it would be a nice change to head out and eat at a restaurant. “It’ll be a date,” she told him.
Hunter’s amber eyes brightened. “Let’s go,” he said eagerly.
Hailey chuckled as he led her towards his car. They hit the road and reached a pizzeria named La Famiglia Pizza, which Hailey absolutely adored the name. The restaurant was spacious with lots of round tables scattered evenly. The lights were dim, since it had darkened outside. Each table had been covered with a red and white checkered table cloth with a couple of white candles. A waitress took them to a table and memorized their hefty order.
Two hot trays of pizza that was fresh out of the oven arrived at their table. Hailey and Hunter both watched the waitress cut through the cheesy pizza in front of them. They hadn’t even noticed that they both had grown quiet. Hailey grabbed a cheesy, meaty slice and moaned at the first bite that just hit different. The jalapeño added that last punch to the saucy goodness, that was seasoned to perfection.
“This some good pizza,” said Hailey as she found herself on her third slice. “We should take some for everyone.”
“I was thinking that too,” said Hunter as he pulled out his cell and phoned Klaus. He got the orders to the pizza everyone wanted at home. Hailey laughed when she heard the orders for five extra-large pizzas. She wondered where those guys were going to put all that food. But she completely understood their hunger for pizza.
After they paid and ordered the five boxes. The waitress told them that it was going to take them a half an hour to complete the order. Hunter was about to cancel some of the boxes, but Hailey knew that if they didn’t take five boxes, everyone was going to still be hungry.
“We’ll wait,” she told the waitress.
“Okay, then,” the waitress smiled and handed them the receipt. “Your order will be done in thirty minutes. You’re welcomed to wait here.”
“Thanks,” said Hailey.
Hunter looked down at his phone when he got a text. “Klaus texted that there’s no beer at home,” he told Hailey.
“Excuse me,” Hailey called the waitress over. “Is there an alcohol store nearby?”
“Yeah,” she pointed out the massive window, “it’s just down the street on your right.”
“Thanks again,” said Hailey. She nudged Hunter out the door.
They strolled down the street, which was busy since many were parking to visit the stores and restaurants like Hailey and Hunter had. They both crossed the street and entered the beer store. It was much cooler in this store and the lights were bright against the glass bottles and barrels.
Hunter didn’t even need to ask for assistance since he knew what his family liked for their beer. He grabbed two cases and simply priced them. They put the cases in the car, but they still had a lot of time left until the pizza was done.
“We still have some time,” said Hailey. “Should we visit more stores?”
Hunter locked the car. “Sure,” he said. “Where to next?”
Hailey took them to the shop that was further down the street. It was a home decor boutique. She grabbed a basket and started to load it up with candles, a soft couch fleece and some lanterns for the table on her porch and bedroom. Hunter helped her pick the scent of the candles, and the colour of the fleece. She knew that it may have been over doing it with him, but she enjoyed spending time with him like this. Hailey liked that he was relaxed and his mood wasn’t thrown off by everything going on.
In this store, time passed in a flash. Hailey priced everything quickly and they made their way back to the car first. Hunter opened the truck and she put the two bags securely at the back.
“I can’t believe I got everything at such good prices,” she smiled down at her handy work.
“It’s good you came during a sale,” said Hunter.
“We got lucky,” she said.
Hunter looked down at his watch. “The order should be done,” he said. “Let’s go.”
Hailey didn’t do what she usually would do. She didn’t scope the area for cars, for people, for danger. When suddenly, right across from where she stood. A blaring light surprised everyone that stood on the sidewalks. A white car screeched through the street, but the black car that was too slow couldn’t move in time. The white car braked hard. Black tires skid across the grey pavement. The black car toppled over with the harsh impact that the white car hit it with. Both cars flipped, right in front of Hailey.
Hailey’s skin crawled. Her body froze. Her heart raced. This wasn’t something she needed to see again. A accident that takes lives, like it had for her parents. Accidents that created scars on the body, mind and heart, like it had for her. Hailey didn’t see the cars that crashed in front of her. She saw her parents. She saw the trauma that stole her sleep for years.
“Hailey,” Hunter’s voice was distant. “Baby, come back to me.”
Hailey’s hazy eyes refocused. She pushed it all back down. The cold, the sickness in her gut, she pushed it all back down. “Sorry,” she muttered. “I just didn’t expect to see that.” Hailey turned her head away from the accident, even though everyone else that was on the street ran to help.
“I’ll go get the pizza,” said Hunter, “you just rest in the car.”
“No,” she grabbed ahold of his hand. “Don’t leave me here alone.”
Hunter knew why her eyes were full of pain because she had showed him. She had showed him the scar on her body that tormented her. “Okay,” he put his arm around her shoulder. They crossed the street and Hunter leaned her towards his chest so she would see the scene behind them. “It’ll be alright,” he whispered. “You’re safe, Hailey.”
Hailey swallowed even though it felt like someone was choking the breath out of her. Hunter didn’t stop whispering in her ear as they waited for their order. He held her close and hid her from everyone. No one paid attention to her, since all their eyes were to the scene outside.
“I’m sorry,” she mumbled.
“Don’t be,” he smoothed her hair comforting her. “You have nothing to apologize for.”
Hailey helped lift the boxes after she lied to Hunter telling him that she had calmed down. But she hadn’t. Her mind was still replaying her parent’s car accident in her head. The terror she felt when she had to escape the car, that was about to blow up and kill her too. Hunter didn’t raise any questions to her, but she was sure that he had them. In the rest of the car ride, she was quiet, distant. She couldn’t concentrate on the beautiful night or her mate. It was like she had tumbled down the stairs, landing back in the traumatic past she tried so hard to forget.
They arrived at the pack territory at back at the house. Everyone was eager to take the boxes of pizza from them. They were all sitting in the living room in front of the TV which was playing a movie. Klaus had a whole pizza all to himself while Vincent and Viola shared a box. Gabriel and River shared the spicier pizza with extra cheese and olives. Ryder and Azura devoured the pepperoni pizza, that also had sausages on it. Hailey tossed them each a can of beer as they ate their dinner, which was thankfully was still hot and delicious. Hunter grabbed another slice, but Hailey couldn’t stomach anything. Not because she was full, but her dampened mood wouldn’t let her speak or eat. Everyone ate happily and enjoyed their dinner, which was all Hailey needed to relax her aching heart.
After dinner ended, none of them moved off the couch because the movie hadn’t finished yet. Hailey kept herself busy cleaning up the boxes and cans in the kitchen. She needed a distraction because sitting and simply watching a movie wasn’t helping- even if the movie was Lord of the Rings and Aragorn was the love of her life.
Hailey heard faint footsteps behind her. “Thank you for bringing pizza,” Gabriel said kindly.
Hailey turned and she faked a small smile for his sake. “No worries,” she told him. “I’m just glad everyone enjoyed it so much.”
Gabriel frowned. “Is everything alright?” He asked.
What did Hailey expect by hiding behind a mask with this man. He could see through any fake smile or mood. “I’m just a little lost in my thoughts,” she told him briefly.
Gabriel’s gold eyes hardened. He laid his hand on her cheek. “Don’t worry to much over what happened,” he reassured her.
Hailey gaped up at him. “How-”
“Hunter told me,” he said.
“Oh,” her breath fumbled as she bit back the sting in her eyes. “It just took me by surprise, that’s all.”
Gabriel nodded. “That can happen,” he said. “But don’t lose that smile we all love.”
Hailey heart clenched like it was held in a tight fist, crushing the blood and soul out of her. “I won’t,” she told him. “It’s not that easy to do that to me.”
Gabriel smirked. “Good.” He sauntered away with another beer can in his hand. Gabriel joined everyone that was still in the living room.
Hailey leaned against the counter, when Hunter strolled into the kitchen right after Gabriel left her moments ago. He tossed the empty can in the recycling bin after the crushed it in his hand.
Hunter turned and put his arms around her, caging her within him. “How are you feeling?” He asked. Hailey smiled again. “Don’t even think about lying to me,” he remarked. “I can tell with those sad eyes of yours baby, that you’re not okay.”
All joy left her face, her eyes saddened and her lips puckered. “I thought I overcame it,” she didn’t even realize when tears spilled down from the corners of her eyes. “I thought I had healed.”
“It’s okay to be hurt over wounds we all thought we healed from,” said Hunter. He pulled her into his arms. Her torrent of tears soaked his dark shirt as she clenched her fists and bit back her sadness. She silently screamed and suffocated in his arms. With each breath she took, her anguish spilled out. Hunter ran his fingers through her hair in attempt to comfort the war inside her mind.
“Why did this have to happen?” She asked through her tears. “All it did was rip me open and make me bleed.”
“It was just an experience, Hailey,” said Hunter. “This had nothing to do with you or your past.”
Hailey laid her head on his shoulder. “Just when I think I’m doing better, feeling better,” she said, “I’m thrown back into the hole I want to climb out of so desperately.” Hailey concentrated on Hunter’s even breath, that eased her nerves down.
“I’m last person that should speak of healing from the past,” he said. “But you have healed Hailey. You’re not in that hole anymore because you climbed out the moment you decided that you needed to survive for your parents.”
Hailey closed her eyes, and like Hunter’s shirt soaked up her tears, she soaked up his warm words of encouragement. “Thank you,” she said. “You don’t know how much that means to me.”
Hunter tilted her head back and lead a sweet kiss on her lips. He was gently and kind as he opened her into submission for him only. Hailey drank in his taste, his scent and poured her heart to him through the kiss. Her heart grew calm and her body unnerved. Hunter grew rough as he deepened their kiss. His hands started to roam over her body and she welcomed his touch. With the last shred of patience, Hunter peeled himself away. Hailey’s sensual gaze looked into his amber eyes. They both left the family in the living room and went to the bedroom.
Laughter turned into shrieking cries and then silence. Hailey opened her eyes remembering the darkness that surrounded her. She couldn’t move from the pain, her body hung down as the belt of the car bit into her flesh. Blood pooled under her. She was sucked back into the car that had toppled over and was being crushed by its own weight. Hailey’s tears streamed down her face, she called out for her parents but there was no answer. It was then did she cry from excruciating pain. A shard of metal had ripped out of the car and stabbed the side of Hailey’s body. Hailey’s trembling hands unfastened the belt. Her body dropped onto the broken shards of glass, that pierced her hands and arms. She swallowed the irony liquid in her mouth, that made her sick to her stomach. Hailey broke through the window that wasn’t crushed under the car.
Hailey stumbled to the front of the car and she saw her parents bleeding out, like animals that had just been slaughtered. She called out to them but there was no answer. She couldn’t hear their voice. Hailey fell to her knees, crawling to get to them despite the metal imbedded in her body. She tired to pull them out but it didn’t work, nothing worked and her eyes were losing focus. A strange scent of oil dripped down on her head. She looked up and noticed that the entire car was surrounded by gas.
“Run, Hailey,” her mom’s voice cracked from inside the car.
“Mom,” Hailey sobbed. “You need to get out. Grab my hand, hurry!”
“No,” her mom’s tears were heavily mixed with blood. “I need you to run and live.”
Hailey shook her head. “I can’t leave you,” she cried out.
Her mom smiled. “We love you, Hailey,” she said. “Now go! Hurry!”
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, mom,” Hailey’s feet took her as far as they could before the car she left her parents in exploded. The blaring boom was deafening. Hailey’s ears rang for a long while as she wandered the empty road.
Hailey awoke up with a start. Her body frozen to the touch but her heart beating like a drum. She looked around the room and remembered that she was with Hunter in his room.
Hailey rolled onto her side and got up from the bed. She didn’t know what time it was or how long she’d been asleep. Hailey turned the light on in the bathroom, she sauntered over to the sink but when she reached to turn the tap on, her eyes widened. Her hands covered in crimson red blood. She looked up to the mirror; blood dripped down from her hair onto her face and dripped all over Hunter’s shirt that she had on.
“No,” she covered her mouth but the blood smeared over her lips making her sick.
“Hailey,” Hunter appeared behind her.
She looked down at all the blood she had on her. “Don’t touch me,” she said, his eyes hardened, “I can’t get you dirty.”
Hunter frowned. “Dirty,” he said. “Dirty with what, baby?”
Hailey’s lip trembled. “Blood,” she choked out the word. “I’m covered in it.”
Hunter didn’t turn away or leave her on her own. He stepped closer and gently first touched her trembling hand. “You can’t dirty someone who’s already been sullied,” his deep voice was reverberating. “I’ve been covered in blood a lot more than you.” Hunter’s warm hand trailed up her arm and he then stepped into her space. “It’s fine,” he said soothingly. “Nothing of you can dirty me.” Hailey unravelled in his arms. The coldness that surrounded her melted when he gathered her crumbling body.
Hunter guided her back to the bed. She crawled on top of the sheets alone when Hunter left the room to get her some water. Hailey curled up on the bed feeling as small as she did when her parents died. Helpless, alone and desperate. No one to save her family when she needed it. Hailey’s body crawled with the darkness she tried so hard to forget.
The door opened and Hunter sauntered inside. She sighed in relief knowing she wasn’t alone in the room anymore, because it felt like it was crushing her. Hunter held a crystal glass, that had a dark gold liquid sloshing around.
“I thought you were getting water,” Hailey didn’t realize how groggy her voice became.
“This will help more,” said Hunter. “Drink.”
Hailey grabbed the glass and sipped the strong whiskey, that cooled the whole way down her throat and gut. Hunter had his own glass and he took a seat in front of her on the bed. Idly, he sat beside her. He didn’t say anything nor did he ask her questions. Hunter simply stayed calm so she could relax with him too.
“I’m sorry I bothered your sleep,” she said.
Hunter shook his head. “No bother at all,” he told her. “I know more than anyone what it’s like to wake up like this.”
“It doesn’t happen to me often,” she told him. “It was the accident we saw that made me remember things.”
“Will you tell me, if I asked?” Hunter gazed into her eyes that were lowered.
“I think I can,” she said. “It’s not a fun story though.”
Hunter downed the last sip. “I don’t have any of those either, baby,” he remarked.
Recalling her past wasn’t something Hailey chose to do. But she would try for Hunter. “My parents were rogue wolves who were always on the road because of their jobs. So, we never stayed in one place for more than six months,” she began. “I didn’t really notice at first, it was fun for some time. But then, changing schools, friends and homes started to catch up to me. I didn’t say anything to them, but they knew that I started to hate it-” Hailey’s lips lifted into a sad smile- “we moved into this town and as usual I didn’t expect to stay long. But I made a mistake… I made friends and started to like going to school. Six months went by and I told them that I didn’t want to leave,” her voice fell when she remembered the fight that was too pathetic to even speak of. “I forced them to stay until my high school year was done. It had already been six months, so I didn’t think it was a big deal.”
“You stayed in that town for the year?” Asked Hunter.
She shook her head. “Before the seventh month even started, I was showed why my parents couldn’t stay in one place for too long,” she told him. “Our house was vandalized and trashed. My parents packed our stuff up and we got in the car-” Hailey’s heart squeezed in her chest- “I was upset, angry and just tired of everything. In the back of the car, I just wished for it to end. I wished for stable parents and a proper life in a pack-” Hailey fell back into the nightmare she had just woken up from- “My parents were deep in discussion over something when a truck in front of us slammed into our car. I don’t know how long had passed when my eyes opened and I found us hanging over a cliff side.” Hailey put her hand on the scar she had showed Hunter already. “I was injured by a scrap of metal and bleeding out. But I got out of the car and went to help my parents. My dad didn’t answer but my mom had woken up-” Hailey raked her hair- “She told me to leave her. To run as far as I could. Gas from the car dripped down and my mom told me to leave. I had to leave my parents to die and then the car exploded. I walked as far as I could when my wolf form saved my life. She transformed when I collapsed. The scrap of metal came out and my injuries healed faster in my wolf form. But you see, because we travelled so much, I never learned how to transition into my wolf. She came out all on her own to protect me.”
“Is that why you became a teacher?” Asked Hunter.
Hailey’s lips lifted into a smile. “I make sure kids are trained about their wolves, unlike how I was,” she told him. “My parents died because I was too selfish and only cared for my own life.”
“You were just a kid, Hailey,” said Hunter.
She shook her head. “Doesn’t matter,” she said. “I should’ve protected them or died doing it, like you guys all do. But I didn’t. I ran away and they suffered because of me-” Hunter fell quiet to her strict voice- “that’s why I joined a pack. Built a safe home for my wolf and myself.”
“Do you know what your parents work was?” Asked Hunter.
Hailey shook her head. “They never told me,” she said. “But when I think about it now, it was probably something grim for them to keep it a secret.” Hunter nodded. “I don’t know anymore, I gave up trying to figure this all out. It makes me so tired, Hunter. I live and breath this trauma that I don’t know how to cut out of me.”
“You won’t be able to cut it out, Hailey,” he said grimly. “Things like this stay with you until the end.”
Hailey’s eyes stung. She swirled the liquid in the glass before she took a sip that saved her tightened throat. “I know it’s impossible,” she said.
“But it’s how you bear them,” Hunter put his hand on her cheek. “Are you going to let these memories drown you? Or put a smile on your face and choose to be happy, despite the bad in your life?”
Hailey leaned into his touch. “I try to tell myself that,” tears welled up in her eyes, “I try to live for them.”
Hunter shook his head. “You don’t need to anymore,” he said. “Live for yourself, because that’s what they would’ve wanted.”
Hailey closed her eyes that were throbbing. “Thank you,” she put the empty glass down and hugged Hunter. “Thank you for being my mate and making me feel safe and loved.”
Hunter’s arm circled around her. “I could say the same back,” he kissed the temple of her head. “There’s no need to rush. You heal at your own pace and I’m right here with you.”
Hailey smiled. “It’ll be long and might get boring,” she warned.
“Never with you,” he grinned, “besides your beautiful heart… I really do love your body.” Hailey chuckled when Hunter teased her but showed her how much he loved her.
Even though she had told him the truth. But it didn’t change his view of her. He still embraced her like he always had. Hailey would never turn away from this man. He had accepted her and brought her a family. Something she thought she never deserved because it was her fault she lost her parents. But now, she was surrounded by remarkable people, by a family that loved her and she them.