"Dad, where are you going?”
Father’s smile was soft as he packed his bag, glancing down at me. I peered up at him, worriedly. His face was tired, bags under his eyes.
“To work, Becca.” His fingers touched my hair and then my shoulder, stepping away from me as he lifted the heavy looking bag. “I’ll be back before four this evening.”
I followed him to the front door, staring with wide eyes as he paused and turned. “We can go get some books from the library after I come back home.” He told me. My smile was unstoppable.
“Really?” I demanded, my excitement making him laugh, a deep throaty sound that was infectious. He winked at me.
“I promise.” He pressed a kiss on the top of my head and straightened. My smile dropped away at the sight of Sander, his approach immediately making my father scowl.
“Get inside Rebecca.” His voice held no room for argument. My eyes locked with the werewolf's before I retreated back into the house, watching from the window as the two men conversed angrily. My father eventually left and Sander continued up the pathway with quick strides. Whatever my father had said angered him and he flung open the door.
His eyes landed on me. “Why aren’t you in your work attire?” He spat. I narrowed my eyes at him.
“I woke up only a couple minutes ago.” I hissed at him. He blinked, taken aback by my attitude. His hand lifted, striking me across my face. I collapsed onto the hard floor, my cheek throbbing. Wails from my two baby siblings soared through the house at the disturbance and I bit back my own cries.
Sander watched as I climbed to my feet shakily, my teeth nibbling my lower lip as I tilted my head up to meet his gaze, fingers clenching into fists by my sides. My mother was hushing the babies from across the room and I knew she hadn’t seen what had taken place, distracted by Alyssa and George.
“I’ll get dressed.” My words were spoken between clenched teeth and I marched away from him, beginning to tug at the bottom of my creased shirt. Three minutes later I re-emerged, now wearing pants which were too big for me and one of my father’s shirts. Sander snorted at the sight of me and I ignored him.
My mother held both of the young babies in her hands as she watched me from where she sat. “Did you have breakfast, Becca?”
I opened my mouth to respond, my eyes darting to the slice of bread and cheese resting on a plate, only for Sander to clasp my arm, jerking me forward. “She is late for work.” He snarled at her. Mother’s face darkened with fury.
“How do you expect her to work properly when she hasn’t eaten?” She demanded. Sander did not reply, choosing to drag me out of the house instead, slamming the door closed behind us.
“You will learn Rebecca,” Sander spoke as he released my arm once we were a good distance away from my home. “That people like myself control your life. You have an attitude like your father and many will not put up with that.”
I gritted my teeth, my cheek still aching. My head lowered as I walked away from him briskly, only crying when I knew he could no longer see me.
That evening, father did not return home. Worry was etched across my mother’s face and I watched as she paced back and forth, her eyes going to the twins every now and then.
“I can go and see if he decided to take a rest up the road again.” I offered. It hadn’t been the first time that he had done so; the journey to and from the factory which he worked at was a long one and many times he had been too exhausted to make it back home without taking a short break.
My mother nodded reluctantly. “Be safe.” She told me when I left. I smiled back at her and began to walk down the road.
I did see my father. I sighed softly, taking in his body laying under a tree, his eyes closed as he looked to be sleeping. I gave him a sharp nudge with the tip of my sneaker.
“Wake up dad.” I called, leaning down, tapping his face gently when he gave no response. I laughed, thinking that he was probably playing some sort of game with me. My giggles ceased when I saw that he was not breathing.
“Dad?” I whispered, my fingers seeking out his thin wrist, feeling for a pulse. My throat tightened when I felt nothing, his cold skin sending shudders throughout me. I recoiled in shock when I saw a bullet wound resting on his side, blood pooling onto the grass.
My legs gave out and I sank to my knees, sobbing as I clasped my father’s hand, willing this moment to be some sick dream. But it was not.
My eyes lifted, seeking for someone to help me. And through blurry eyes, I saw Sander watching from a distance by a tree, his gaze harshly cold.
I awoke drowsily, my fingers clenching around the sheets as I inhaled the unmistakable smell of smoke. Immediately I threw off my sheets, chest heaving violently as I coughed, eyes stinging as they darted around the floor of my bedroom, choking in surprise at the sight of flames approaching the bed which I sat on.
The heat was palpable, so hot that I could not stop my gasp of horror at the realization that there was little chance that I could escape this room. Eyes widened at the sight of my door falling heavily to the ground, a whoosh of blazing heat surrounding my body.
Tears trickled down my cheeks as I looked around the room desperately, searching for some way in which I could leave. The smoke was filling my lungs with each breath I took, my throat burning horribly.
My attention drifted to a window and I exhaled slowly. I glanced down at the floor, recoiling at the fiery flames beginning to reach my bed, surround it. I looked back at the window once more. The flames had yet to reach the area near it.
Panic and fear rose. I stared as some of my furniture in the room crumbled to the floor, textbooks for college worth almost a thousand dollars destroyed.
If I were to reach the window, there was a good possibility that I could make it outside. A burst of adrenaline pushed me forward, climbing off the bed, only to scream as the blaze burnt my ankles and feet, agonizing pain shooting throughout my entire body.
I raced forward, pushing past the pain from each flame that licked my exposed legs. My closed fists struck the window pane, my vision momentarily darkening as I began to find it difficult to breathe. I could feel my blood dripping down my ankles as I struggled to open the window.
My fright increased when I came to the realization that the flames had now reached the area I stood. My chest began to ache as the result of inhaling so much smoke.
Gasping, I slid the window up, a cold gust of air surrounding my face. Shaking hands yanked at the screen behind it and I clambered up the window sill, hissing at the heat from it. Someone yelled and I felt hands grab at me, pulling me out the window.
Sirens blared, the noise leaving a frustrating sound in my ears. I coughed and inhaled desperately, wanting to gather as much fresh air as I could. A fireman lifted me, carrying me away from the inflamed house.
The ache in my chest increased. Everything quickly became a blur and I fought but failed to stay awake.
“How are you feeling?” My mother's fingers swept across my forehead, using a handkercheif to wipe at my sweat.
“Never been better. Just fantastic.” I croaked sarcastically, watching as a nurse apply bandages on the blisters. My mother shot me a glare and I sighed tiredly, correcting my answer.
“I feel like shit.”
Mother nodded, “You look like it.” She muttered. The nurse’s eyebrows raised, but she didn’t look away from her task.
I ran a hand over my face, tears springing to my eyes. “My house is destroyed.” I whispered. “Everything I owned is gone.”
Penelope huffed from where she sat, waving a hand dismissively. She had been the first one to arrive at the hospital after I was taken there. Somehow she had managed to find out about what had happened. My appreciation towards her has grown.
“Don’t worry about that. Those things can be replaced.” She said. I said nothing, keeping silent until the nurse finished up.
“Thank you.” I told her. She gave a polite smile, asking if there was anything I needed. When I shook my head she left the room. My mother took out her phone and dialed a number. She had left the twins with a neighbor and they would be staying there until she returned back home. She was calling to check up on them.
I sipped at the water which had been placed on the small table beside me when I had arrived at the hospital, eventually managing to drink all of it. Penelope observed me, concerned. Mother had perched herself on an armchair, her eyes going to my bandages again, her face twisting into a grimace.
Voices echoed from outside and I tilted my head, watching as Xerxes entered the room, the bond between us tightening, his face portraying the rage and worry which he felt. My mother stepped away as he came to stand by my side, a large hand cupping the side of my face. Eyes were stormy gray as they scrutinized my face, a hint of relief flickering across his own.
His heat and embrace subdued some of my distress, his lips pressing against my forehead as he breathed my name softly. I closed my eyes, allowing my head to rest against his chest, listening to the fast pace of his heartbeat.
The nurse returned minutes afterwards. “I just have a few questions before I can let you go. Is that okay?”
At my nod she cleared her throat and began to speak,
“Is there a place which you could stay after-”
“She’ll reside with me.” Xerxes’ voice swiftly cut her off, his tone hard. The nurse glanced at me, wanting to see if I would confirm his statement. I straightened up on the bed at his words. Xerxes and I locked eyes as I contemplated my situation.
“I guess.” I mumbled, finally turning back to the young lady.
She asked a couple more questions, mostly about pain. There was still a slight throb which happened each time I shifted my foot on the bed, but it was bearable. When she left, Penelope spoke up from where she comfortably sat.
“Do you have any clues on how that fire could’ve started?”
I shook my head. “No. I’m...confused. I had a battery operated radio on. But that’s the only thing that I had used before I went to bed. I don’t think that thing would cause a fire...right?”
Penelope didn’t answer. Xerxes moved from where he stood, giving a tense smile.
“Are you ready to leave?” He questioned, eyes roaming over my form and then back to my face, his hands already reaching for mine. I winced as I climbed to my feet, my fingers latching tightly onto his own as I stood.
The nurse returned and helped me into a wheelchair, which she pushed until we reached the exit of the hospital. I said my goodbyes to Penelope and my mother and Xerxes guided me to his car.
“I don’t believe that fire was an accident.” He told me after he began driving. “Some of the neighbors believed they heard a few voices before the fire started.”
I shifted, feeling a throb by my right ankle. I tentatively touched the bandages. “They weren’t able to see who they were?”
“No.” Knuckles turned white as he clenched the steering wheel, his stare ahead darkening with anger. “But I do have an idea about who these people may be.”
Hi...so I tried to edit the chapter as much as I could, but I'm really sleepy so there may be some errors. Hope y'all liked the chapter anyway. (: