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The next day, we woke up early. Originally, we were supposed to leave for Georgia’s cabin today but due to the events of last night, we postponed it for a day.
Lazarus sat in the car with me and Marco. The atmosphere was tense and awkward.
Marco informed me that he already contacted my mother. She was waiting at home, eager for my arrival. I knew this attack would put her against me going away tomorrow. I would have to spend a long time convincing her that I wanted to go.
I was right. She was sat on the steps leading up to our house, her hair tied back into a ponytail. Her expression was stern and determined. Thankfully, Simon wasn’t there. I couldn’t deal with seeing him today.
Slowly, I opened the car door and slid out of the seat. She rose to her feet in a stiff fashion and waited patiently for me to approach her. Lazarus came around the car and joined me for moral support.
Having Lazarus with me would hopefully help persuade her.
Her gaze hardened at the sight of Lazarus with me. She had never told me she disapproved of Lazarus—not to my face at least. Yet, I knew if she could have it her way, I wouldn’t date anyone. She wanted me to focus on my safety and my schoolwork. Boys weren’t part of the equation.
“Celeste,” She called, her mouth twisting. For once, she wasn’t leaping into my arms and hugging me as she normally did after an attack. This time, she remained stoic. It appeared the frequent danger around me had hardened her. “Come inside, I’ll make you a cup of tea.”
I followed her inside with Lazarus still close to me. I was glad she hadn’t dismissed him. It would have only ended in a fight.
We all sat around my dining room table, a hot cup of tea in front of us. Nobody said anything for a few minutes. Neither one of us wanted to start the conversation that we knew would inevitably happen. We couldn’t remain in silence forever.
“So, this is the boyfriend?” My mom asked, glancing at Lazarus. I narrowed my eyes, not appreciating how she spoke to him. If only she knew he was a royal werewolf. She would be bowing and stuttering like a fool.
Pinching my lips, I nodded my head. “Yes, this is Lazarus. Lazarus, this is my mother, Francesca.”
“Pleased to meet you, Mrs. O’Connor,” He greeted in a formal manner. He held himself in such a poised way and his tone was nothing but polite and friendly. “I’m sorry it isn’t under better circumstances.”
For a moment, my mother’s stony stare wavered. Respect flashed in her orbs. But it was gone so quickly, I hoped Lazarus caught it.
“I haven’t seen you before. Did you move here recently?” She questioned, cocking her head to the side.
Lazarus answered her calmly, adding some charm. Any woman could fall for it, including my mom.
As Lazarus concocted a lie—that was largely based on truth things—about his sister needing someone with her here, I watched my mother’s reaction. The more Lazarus spoke, the more at ease she looked. I knew she was falling for his charm and elegance.
Lazarus was somebody you couldn’t help but love. People gravitated towards him.
“Oh, wow!” Mom gasped, letting her poker face drop. “Your sister must adore you for being so kind.”
My mother had been won over my Lazarus.
Lazarus chuckled, “Yes but she has an unusual way of showing it.”
“Still, I bet she’s grateful she has a brother like you.” Mom replied, her eyes softening.
“They’re both lucky to have each other,” I cut in, attracting my mom’s attention. She shifted her gaze to me and blinked as if she suddenly realized I was in the room too. How awkward.
“Lazarus, honey, do you mind giving me and my daughter some privacy for a few minutes?” Mom asked him in a sweet voice, maintaining eye contact with me. Seriousness swirled in her eyes.
“Mom, Lazarus can stay here. Whatever you have to say to me, you can say in front of him,” I argued, in a confident and strong voice. I would not back down.
Mom flickered her eyes to him, uncertainly. She didn’t want him to see her as an unfair and unjust person.
“Fine,” She relented, sighing.
“It’s about the attack last night, right?” I got straight to the point. We had already beat around the bush for so long. I wanted to get this over and done with. “You think it’s a bad idea going away.”
She pressed her lips together. “You read my mind. I know it’s a bad idea.”
I huffed. She was going to be stubborn. “I don’t want to have this argument again. I told you before, I need this week away. I need a break.”
“I’m not letting you go off and get killed in an unfamiliar place,” She snorted, shaking her head vigorously.
Lazarus clenched his jaw at her words. They had disturbed him.
“I’ll be safe. Marco will be there and so will Lazarus. He knows how to protect people,” I countered.
“No offense Lazarus but you’re just a teenager. You can’t fight against a maniac.” Mom replied, in her kindest voice when talking to Lazarus.
“Mom, he can,” I persisted. Lazarus had more chance of killing the scarred man than Marco.
Mom continued to look skeptical. “I don’t think—”
“Mrs. O’Connor, I can assure you I can protect her. My dad made sure I was taught how to fight.” He assured her.
“You call me Francesca, dear,” She said, smiling politely. My mom paused after that and pondered over what to do. I wished I could read her mind. “Okay, you can still go but I want you to check in with me every day.”
I smiled brightly and released a sigh of relief.
“Thanks, mom, I really appreciate it,” I said, gratitude evident in my tone.
She smiled at me, genuinely this time. No matter what, she loved me deeply.
“Lazarus is going to help me finish packing for tomorrow,” I informed her, rising to my feet. Lazarus copied my movements and excused himself. I’m sure it wouldn’t take my mom long to adore him. She couldn’t resist a knight in shining armor.
Lazarus looked around my room with interest. His eyes lingered on every single part. I shook my head, grinning like an idiot, and pulled my suitcase out from under my bed. I managed to do some packing over the week but I had left most of it for today—I figured I’d have time to pack before we left. Fortunately, now that we moved it back to tomorrow, I have plenty of time to finish packing.
I opened my wardrobe and flicked through my clothes whilst Lazarus got comfortable on my bed with a book.
“What do you think of this top?” I asked him, putting it against my body. He glanced up from the book and stared at me for a few seconds in thought.
“It looks lovely.” He commented, simply.
I asked him what his opinion was on a few other outfits—he said they were all nice. I soon grasped Lazarus wasn’t the best at anything fashion related.
“Lazarus, you need to be honest. So far, you’ve said they’re all nice.” I scolded, crossing my arms over my chest. He raised both of his eyebrows and looked at me as if to say ’so what is the problem?’ “I can’t take all of them! I don’t have enough room.”
“But you do look lovely in all of them. To me, you are so beautiful. You could go in a bin bag and I would still think you’re the most gorgeous girl in the world.” He said truthfully with furrowed eyebrows.
I swear, my resolve melted. I couldn’t be mad at him when he said things like that. Sometimes, I wondered if this was a dream I conjured up. It felt like he was too good to be true.
My feet automatically walked over to him. I sat on the bed beside him and placed my head on his shoulder gently.
“You’re amazing, you know that?” I murmured, softly.
“I’m simply bowing down to my woman, that’s all,” He replied, placing a kiss on my temple. Goosebumps erupted on my skin.
We stayed like this for a while, in peace. I revealed in it, feeling content in his presence. I never knew I could feel so many emotions for one person. Lazarus completed me.
In the end, Lazarus ended up staying for food. Mom cooked a roast dinner—something she didn’t do very often.
It was surprisingly a good meal. Mom didn’t harbor any hostility towards Lazarus—she made him feel welcomed.
I found myself relaxing and enjoying the meal. For once, it didn’t feel like I had a shadow with me, controlling the atmosphere. It wasn’t gloomy—things felt normal.
I let out a boisterous laugh at something Lazarus said. He was telling a story about Dexter. Mom was laughing too. Her eyes were so bright and happy. She looked so young in the light.
Lazarus darted his eyes between us, looking pleased with how things were. I knew he didn’t want things to be awkward between me and my mom. At the end of the day, I loved my mom a lot. Putting everything aside, she was the woman who gave birth to me and raised me. She shaped me into the person I am today.
She has put up with a lot. And I respect her for sticking by me and caring for me. Some people would abandon their kids.
“Thank you for the meal,” Lazarus said later when I was helping my mom with the dishes. She refused to let Lazarus help. “I only wish you’d let me help you with the dishes.”
“You’re my guest, Lazarus.” Mom held her ground.
I shrugged my shoulders at him. He pursed his lips and slid onto one of the stools.
“So, have you packed your things, Lazarus?” Mom asked him, making conversation.
“Yes, Mrs—Francesca,” He quickly corrected himself, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. I refrained myself from smiling.
“Good,” Mom mumbled, “Celeste here always leaves things like that to the last minute.”
I wanted to groan. She was going to embarrass me.
“Mom,” I warned.
“What?” She played the innocent card. “It’s the truth. Do you remember when we went to California? You forgot your swimming costume, underwear, and your toothbrush.”
I exhaled loudly, “Well, I have everything I need this time.”
Mom let the water out of the sink. She dried her hands off with a towel and arched an eyebrow at me. “Are you sure, sweetie? You always say that but when it comes to unpacking, you discover you’ve forgotten something.”
“I can vouch for that,” Lazarus chirped.
Mom believed Lazarus instantly. I had to admit, it hurt a little bit. I was her own daughter.
“I think I’m going to call it a night. I have a book I want to read. You two can watch a film in the lounge if you want?” Mom suggested.
I glanced at Lazarus, seeking confirmation from him.
Lazarus looked eager to stay.
“That would be nice. Thanks, mom.” I said. She kissed the top of my head—an action that was uncommon—and bid goodnight to me and Lazarus.
I curled up against Lazarus and melted into him. He was happy to oblige, also loving this moment.
We decided to put on Titanic. I had seen it once before and knew that I would cry. Lazarus didn’t mind me crying into his shirt, even if it ruined his top.
Fortunately, I fell asleep towards the end of the film. When I woke up the next morning, I was in my bed. Lazarus was gone.
I squinted my eyes and checked the clock. The clock read 8:45 in the morning. Lazarus must have carried me upstairs and left.
Rolling onto my back again, I dragged a hand through my hair. Georgia said she would be round at ten so I had plenty of time to shower and double-check I had everything.
I showered and changed into a pair of shorts and a tank top. It was supposed to be very hot today.
Mom was already in the kitchen when I came downstairs. She was dancing in the kitchen, swaying to the music. I had never seen her act like that before.
Stopping outside the kitchen, I stared at her for a minute. What had gotten into her?
“Mom,” I said, shock evident in my tone.
She twirled around and faced me with a stunned expression on her face. She blew a strand of hair out of her face and faced me with her hands rested on her hips.
“Yes, honey?” She asked, sweetly.
“What are you doing?”
“Dancing,” She shrugged her shoulders, acting as nothing happened.
“Right...” I drawled. “I’m going at ten.”
She pinched her lips together, “Okay. I made you some breakfast.”
She dished up the food she had been making and set it on the dining table. I lowered myself into the chair and poured a glass of orange juice.
I gingerly took a sip of the drink and swallowed the cool drink down happily. She sat opposite me with her porridge and smiled. The corners of her eyes crinkled and the light in her orbs glimmered.
“This is nice,” She mused, folding her arms on the table in front of her.
I hummed and continued to eat my cooked breakfast. It was surprisingly good.
“I hope you have a good week, Celeste,” She said to me, honestly.
I stopped eating and hesitantly flickered my eyes up to her. There was no deceit in her eyes. She was telling the truth.
“Thanks...mom. I will,” I replied.
Content with my answer, she started eating her porridge. We remained silent after that though I didn’t mind it.
Five minutes before Georgia was due in her large campervan, mom was helping me lift my suitcase and rucksack down the stairs. We came to a halt before the door and watched each other.
She made the first move.
Her frail arms cocooned me. She held me tightly. I breathed in her scent, memorizing it. We broke apart when Georgia honked, precisely on time. Always punctual.
“Bye,” I forced myself to smile as I swung the front door open.
“Have a good time, Celeste,” She called out. “And stay safe.”
“I will,” I repeated from earlier.
Lazarus hopped out of the second car—his SUV—and assisted me with my bags. I threw him a grateful smile. Instead of driving in Georgia’s campervan where her, Ellie, Jamie, Wilder, Sammy, and Matt were, I climbed into Lazarus’s car. Marianne and Dexter smirked.
Settled, Dexter honked the car, telling the others in front of us that we were ready.
As we drove away, I glanced through the back window and saw my mom standing on the lawn, a sad expression plastered on her face.
Hello! Have you had a good week? I hope you enjoyed this chapter. There will be lots of drama coming up! My next update will probably be on Wednesday.