Documents, papers and contracts dated years before Xerxes met me sat in a thick file. The words on some of the documents described many meetings which were held. Printed emails between a handful of persons were pressed between the documents. Old written notes, with liquid stains on the edges fell as I lifted the file.
A few of these contracts were signed by Xerxes and his mother and other werewolves, more than ten years ago. The information spoke of implementing the laws which humans had to abide by, the approval of werewolves forcefully making families move from their homes and allowing werewolves to treat them as they pleased.
And then, a folded paper, which appeared to be a letter from five years after the contract was signed, showed that Xerxes regretted his decision. He had not yet tried to stop what was taking place towards humans, but had instead told the individual on the receiving end of the letter about his remorse. He expressed his frustration towards his mother, who was still firm on the initial plans. The letter was supposed to be mailed to a werewolf who I didn't know and it seemed that Xerxes had decided against sending it.
A handful of notes showed him going back and forth on whether or not he should stick with what he had agreed on, or to halt and rid the system which was taking place.
Finally, a year before we met, he created another heap of contracts, which detailed specific information about human rights and wage payments, which were signed by both Xerxes and other werewolves from various towns and countries. He wanted humans to continue to work in his businesses, but a large increase in pay was to be given, and the living and working conditions were to be improved, which slowly began to happen.
Werewolves, as expected, were against his ideas. They had enjoyed their comfortable lifestyles and wanted nothing to change. But Xerxes being who he was, overpowered any of their protests, making them have little choice but to do as he wanted.
He, for whatever reason, had once cherished his mother's opinions, but as time passed, and she saw that he began drifting away from what they had agreed on, only caused her to be furious. Months ago, when Xerxes finally turned his attention to the town which I lived in, their relationship drastically changed for the worse.
My hands shook as I gathered all of these things, re-reading them once more. The light from the window beamed through, brightening the words more. Voices from below rose in volume as more people ate breakfast, dishes clanking loudly together. The thought of food only furthered the knot in my stomach and I sighed softly, dropping the stacks of papers down.
My mind was racing, a throb by my temples increasing as a headache formed. Staring at the papers, reading all of them, had been mentally draining, yet I had kept on, because of curiosity. There was so much to process, so many emotions flooding my body.
Whilst I now understood that Xerxes had been for a while shifting and deconstructing the unjust ways of things were in several towns, he still had chosen to sign that contract, to strip away the rights of many people. And that action was not to be taken lightly, or to be easily forgiven.
I was secretly relieved when a knock sounded by my door and a young lady entered. My attention on the information was gone as she assisted me in packing some of my bags. I was leaving in the evening and would arrive back home early the next morning.
Afterwards, I decided that I would be revisiting the mall; there was still a few more things I wanted to buy for my family. I took a quick shower and skipped breakfast. I sent a quick text to Penelope, telling her that I would be out for the morning and would return later in the afternoon.
Destiny joined me as I walked to the mall. She too had a few things that she needed to buy from there. She was mostly silent throughout the journey to the large mall, only dropping a few comments about the chilly weather and greeting some people she knew.
She purchased several jars and woven baskets, which she said she would be using to gather her herbs and flowers from the garden back by Arthur's home.
I bought several more things for Alyssa and George, such as candy and clothes with their sizes and returned home, Destiny close by behind me.
"Would you like to help me?" Destiny asked after we began the trek up the pathway. She stroked a soft, grey flower, the petals shimmering as small dew drops dripped from it. I hesitated, knowing that I would have to be getting ready to leave soon, but decided that I would at least spend half of an hour with her. Her smile widened when I nodded, and she gestured for me to follow her further into the thick, large garden.
My fingernails quickly became dirty with the brown mud as I plucked at some of the weed surrounding the plant Destiny desired. My palms slowly became smeared brown as I shoved a stiff clump of wet mud away, sighing softly as I retrieved the plant I had been searching for and gingerly placed it in the basket.
I straightened to my full height, glancing down at my now messy jeans and watched as Destiny hummed a soft, whimsical tune, content as she plucked away at flowers, gathering handfuls and dropping them into her own basket. Her brown eyes locked with mine briefly.
"You just let me know when you're tired, hun," She called. "I'll manage on my own."
My head tilted, staring as she moved away briskly, searching for more of the flowers she wanted. I lifted my hands to scratch my neck and then paused, realizing that they were dirty and wiped them against the blue material of my jeans.
I couldn't help the surprise I felt whilst I continued to watch Destiny hum away. It wasn't very often that werewolves took kindly to humans and her behaviour was strikingly, relieving.
For most of my life, I had only seen werewolves behave and act in a particular way towards my kind and had found it very difficult to believe that they cared, or even liked humans. But here Destiny was, a full blooded werewolf, smiling at me every now and then, a genuine, kind warmth radiating from her. My lips pressed together.
My body whipped around as I heard a yell. Xerxes was calling my name, his sock clad feet walking down the pathway as his eyes roamed the garden. Behind him, on the spacious porch rested a couple suitcases, mine amongst them.
Destiny laughed softly as I approached her, handing her the basket. "Thank you, love. You picked a fine bunch for me."
"You're welcome." I told her, returning her smile. "I will be leaving soon."
Destiny nodded. "I heard," She plunked down her baskets, opened her arms wide. I gave her a tight hug, her soothing, peppermint scent surrounding me.
"You have a safe flight back home now." She told me after she stepped away. But then she paused, snapping her fingers. "Oh yes. I have this for you."
She reached into one of her very large apron pockets, withdrawing a jar. "This is for you. The bruise on your neck could use some more of it."
I took it, giving her one last wave and turned, not surprised to see that Xerxes had found me. His expression was unreadable as I walked towards him, pass by him.
"I didn't see you at breakfast this morning." He said, his pace easily matching mine. Intense eyes seemed to burn a hole on the side of my face as we walked side by side, his gaze on me unwavering.
I shrugged. "I wasn't really hungry." I told him.
"Where were you this morning? I went into the bedroom and you weren't there."
I glanced at his white socks, the soles of them becoming a bit dirty. "I went to the mall with Destiny. Bought some more things for George and Alyssa."
Xerxes strides increased with mine. "Rebecca," He caught my arm, bringing me to a stand-still. Silver eyes searched my face, looking for something. "Did you read the papers?"
My nod was slow. A muscle ticked in his jaw, waiting.
"They were...interesting." I said, eventually, deciding that was all I was going to say regarding those things. Those papers had answered my question, provided much information. Some which made my chest clench uncomfortably.
Xerxes was silent as I walked into the house, lost in his own thoughts, evidently distressed at my lack of comments. I didn't try to spark any conversation between us and left him in the empty dining room.
Harold did not travel on the airplane with us back to town. Instead, after having a long discussion with Xerxes and myself, in which he refused to speak of the strange ring-bearing group, he was told by Xerxes that he would have to take a separate flight home.
He was not at all put off by the statement and agreed hastily to it. He left a couple hours before us.
The feeling of unease crawled my skin as I watched from the bedroom of the house as he departed. His hands held steady around his suitcase, his expression indecipherable as he walked to a taxi which Arthur had called for him. Penelope too watched silently, only breaking her gaze away when I turned away from the glass pane.
"I'll be taking a shower." I told her, looking down at my dirty nails and skin smeared with mud. She nodded, staying by the window as I hurried to the bathroom.
My anxiety raised tremendously throughout the flight home, so much so that when Brad parked by my house, I almost asked Xerxes to stay with me. My gut tightened and I swore softly as I entered my home, telling myself I had nothing to worry about.
It was still early in the morning, around one a.m. or so, and the quietness of the neighbourhood was chilling, so I switched on some soft music when I reached my room, allowing the sound of classical music to fill the silence. I took one last glance around the room and switched off the light, got into bed, the noise of a piano and something crackling following me into my dreams.
Not a very long chapter, but I hope you all liked it. 💕