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I didn’t go to school the next day. I was too tired and too scared. Mom left early in the morning so she had no idea I didn’t go. I called reception at eight-thirty and told her I had come down with a fever.
Officer Martinez knocked on my door at nine o’clock, wondering why I hadn’t left for school. He told me the officer from last night handed over everything that happened—including what I said to him—and that there was no evidence the scared man was here.
“You know, you’re letting him win by hiding,” Officer Martinez said a few hours later when we were sat at my dining table, munching on a toastie. “From what I’ve heard, he’s been controlling your life for so long.”
I swallowed audibly and peered up at him. I hated how right he was. I was being a coward right now. Maybe I was just one massive coward. For so long I had let him dictate my life. Every choice I made, he was there in the background, lurking.
But then I remembered how I managed to stay alive and home. I fought him. I didn’t run when I saw him the other day.
With Lazarus here, I felt like I could win. I could fight him.
“You’re right, oh-wise-one,” I replied in a joking manner.
He smirked, “I know I am.”
After eating, I decided to sit outside and read a book. In the book, the male protagonist reminded me of a lot of Lazarus. They were both strong people who hid their insecurities. So far, the main character was beginning to open up her love interest, who was still debating whether to return the favor.
The corners of my lips quirked upwards at the thought of Lazarus. I messaged him earlier, telling him I was feeling unwell. I received a reply seconds later, filled with multiple questions. He wanted to know if there was anything he could do.
I told him I would tell him later—after school.
“Officer Martinez,” I called, catching his attention.
He snapped his head in my direction and frowned, “How many times do I have to tell you, Celeste? You can call me Marco.”
I nodded my head, going along with him. “Sure. Anyways, do you think you can give me some privacy when my friend comes round?”
He pinched his lips together, “Is this the friend you were with yesterday?”
“Yeah...his name is Lazarus. I really like him,” I told him, blushing slightly. It felt weird talking to an adult about Lazarus. But then again, Lazarus was technically an adult too. An immortal adult.
My stomach churned at the horrible reminder. That was something I needed to talk to Lazarus about.
“Is he your boyfriend?” Marco questioned, lifting an eyebrow curiously. He leaned forward in interest.
I shrugged my shoulders, “Sort of.” We were a lot closer. He was my soul mate. Apparently, the love of my life. We were made for each other. “I haven’t told my mom yet. With everything going on, I don’t really know how to. We’re...not in a good place right now.”
He seemed to understand. Marco was present at one of our talks.
I’m still angry at my mother. Less than I was but still annoyed. She lied to me for a year and a half. I still can’t fathom her with anyone else but my dad. Call me selfish but I don’t want her with anyone else. I don’t want this stranger to think he’s my new dad. In my eyes, it’s always been just me and my mom. We haven’t needed anyone else.
“I’ll keep my mouth shut,” He winked, pretending to zip his mouth.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in the sun, enjoying the warmth. Five minutes after school finished, the doorbell rang.
Leaping to my feet, I rushed over to the door and swung it open. Lazarus leaned against the door frame, posing like a model. He looked gorgeous.
“Hey,” I greeted, smiling brightly.
His forest green eyes brightened. “Mi amore.”
I loved it when he called me that. It filled me with so much warmth and love.
“Come in,” I said, opening the door wider for him. He stepped in, his eyes examining the hall once again. Now that he was here under better circumstances, he took more time looking at each picture.
His eyes lingered on the photo of me, my mom, and dad. It was taken when I was three. I was missing one of my front teeth.
“Is that your dad?” He asked, pointing at him.
“Yeah,” I replied, staring at the same picture sadly. We shared the same hair color. I inherited my eye color from my mother. “He’s dead.”
Sympathy swirled in his eyes. It was the same emotion everyone felt when I told them. But coming from Lazarus, I felt it really meant something.
“I’m sorry, mi amore. That must have been so hard on you.” He commented, softly. His strong arms wrapped around my slender body, bringing me to him.
“It was hard on the both of us,” My voice was muffled, due to my face being nestled in his chest. He still managed to understand me. “Mom took a while to recover. I don’t think I ever did.”
“What was he like?”
“Amazing,” I breathed, smiling fondly at the memories of him. “He would read to me every night before I went to bed. He would always check under my bed for monsters. I used to be afraid of thunder so he would always sing to me. Now, whenever there’s a storm, I like to watch it and think of him.”
“You really loved him,” Lazarus stated, stroking my hair.
“He was the best.”
A lone tear trailed down my cheek. I made no move to wipe it away. Lazarus placed his large hands on my cheeks and lifted my head so I was locking eyes with him. His fingers drew circles into my cheeks.
“I hate seeing you sad,” He mumbled.
“We all need to feel sadness. It’s what makes us human.” I told him. “I don’t mind being sad because it means there will be times when I’m very happy too. Like now.”
“You make me so happy too. There were times when I thought I would never find you. I worried I would always be in despair.” He revealed. He told me before that he was afraid of being unhappy and alone. I couldn’t imagine what that must have felt like for so long. He really did wait for me.
“Lazarus, I have a question.”
“Yes, my love?”
“What happens when I grow old? You won’t want me then.” I said, fear seizing my heart. I hated the thought of him leaving me.
Determination filled his eyes. He tightened his hold on me but not in a painful way. More like a reassuring way.
“Don’t say such silly things. I will want you no matter what. I don’t care how old you are or what you look like, I will always love you.” He did it. He said he loves me. “Plus, once you fully accept me, you will stop aging like everyone else. We will both grow old together.”
I couldn’t process anything else he said because I was stuck on the first part.
I think I just died.
Lazarus—this incredible, amazing, and magnificent man—loves me. The girl who had so much trauma and baggage. The girl who was scared to open herself up. Who had a horrible, scarred man after her for some reason?
I fell so hard for him at that moment. If I wasn't certain about loving him before, I was now. If he was willing to be with me no matter what, then I would reciprocate the same devotion.
Lazarus completed me.
I inhale and flutter my eyes back up to his. “You—you love me?”
He nodded his head confidently. “Of course, I do. How could I not? When I’m around you, I want to be a better person. I want to be worthy of you.”
“I love you too,” I told him, emotionally.
He slammed his lips against mine. I ran my hands up and down his chest, earning a delightful moan from him. We stumbled into my living room and fell onto the couch.
Lazarus started pecking my neck, sucking on my skin. My eyes rolled back in pleasure. I knew I was going to have a hickey there; I was in such a good mindset to care.
“Whatever you do, don’t stop,” I muttered, breathlessly.
We kissed as if our lives depended on it.
“You make me crazy,” He mumbled against my skin. I shivered in delight. The electricity between us was insane. I was in heaven.
He brought his lips back up to my mouth. I opened my mouth and gave him access to the inside of my mouth. His tongue darted in and explored every contour, memorizing every detail.
His hands roamed around my back and stomach. I never knew one person could make you feel this good. If this was what a life with Lazarus felt like, I would never give it up.
“I want to mark you, so much,” He whispered.
I had no idea what marking was but I didn’t want him to stop. Perhaps it meant giving me a hickey?
“Then do it,” I replied, without thinking it through.
Lazarus jolted away from me as if I had burned him. Startled, I sat up in my seat and stared at him in worry.
“I —I’m sorry,” He apologized, clearing his throat.
“Why did you pull away?” I asked, confused,and hurt. Did I do something wrong?
“You said you wanted me to mark you...” He trailed off, his mind drifting somewhere else.
I was puzzled. Was marking a bad thing? Did I misinterpret it? I was still new to all of the werewolf terms. I still had a lot to learn.
“What’s bad about that?” I asked him, hesitantly.
Lazarus shifted his position and dragged a hand through his now messy black hair. “There is something werewolves do when they meet their mates. It’s called marking.”
“D-do you bite your mate?”
“Yes,” He said, grimly. He looked worried I would be freaked out. And to be honest, I was a little bit.
“Does it hurt?”
He shrugged his shoulders, “I’m not really sure. I’ve never been marked before. Layton and Alison said it’s not that painful.”
Swallowing the lump in my throat, I envisioned Lazarus biting my neck. “Is it permanent?”
“The mark is, yes,” He answered. “It warns off other unmated werewolves.”
“Oh,” I blinked, processing it. “So...you didn’t want to mark me because...?”
“Because there’s no going back. Once I mark you, you are stuck with me forever,” He revealed, sighing sadly. “I want you to be certain.”
I clasped his hands, forcing him to stare into my eyes. “I don’t need time; I know I’ll want you—and this.”
He seemed hesitant. “You don’t know what you’ll want in the future.”
Why was he so against this? Why didn’t he want to claim me?
“Lazarus, what is really going on?” I asked him.
“I hate the thought of hurting you. With humans, I believe marking can be more painful. I don’t want you to be in pain.” He confessed, sheepishly.
I practically melted. How could this guy get any more perfect? Whoever blessed me with this incredible man must have loved me.
“I don’t mind waiting for you to be ready,” I told him, gently.
The corners of his lips quirked upwards. With his superhuman strength, he pulled me towards him. He rested his chin on the top of my head and wrapped his arms around my waist tightly.
“You are everything I wanted and more.”
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