Heat flooded my skin, sinking into my veins as I awoke, flush against a big, warm body. Through blurry eyes I managed to see the figure of Xerxes beside me, resting on his side, a heavy arm slack around my waist. His curly black hair was messy, obviously from sleeping the way he had hours ago.
He wasn’t one to sleep still, something I realized throughout the night after waking up numerous times to find his body sprawled across the bed, me almost on the edge. When I had finally managed to fall asleep again and then woke up once more, I found my body crushed under his, in a rather uncomfortable position. I didn’t bother to move, too tired to do so, a decision which I regret now, because of my sore body.
I slid away from him after wiping at my eyes, sitting up for a few minutes, wondering what I would be doing for the day. I had no intention of staying in this room and wanted to return to bed only when night came. My head tilted as I heard the clattering noises of plates being washed and Greta muttering to herself down below.
My foot touched the floor and almost immediately, Xerxes awoke. Squinting at me as he rested up on his elbows, a perplexed sleepy expression plastered on his face.
“Where are you going?” His voice was incredibly, husky, laced with drowsiness.
I began to stand, giving him my back. “I’m hungry.” I murmured. “You can go back to bed. I’ll be fine.”
But he didn’t. Instead he dragged himself out of bed, grumbling things about the early hour and how the sun hasn’t risen yet. He went to the bathroom, demanding that I wait for him before going downstairs.
Scoffing I leaned against the doorframe, listening to the sound of him splashing water against his face. He looked much more awake when he returned by my side, his pace fast as we both walked to the kitchen.
Greta watched through slitted eyes as we entered. Her blond hair was slicked back into a tight high bun. Her lip curled in my direction, her lips lifted in a smile at Xerxes.
“Good morning,” She called, dipping her head at her Alpha. “What is it that you’d like to eat for breakfast?”
“You decide.” Xerxes told her. He looked down to me. “Is there anything anything specific that you’d like?”
I spotted a box of cereal resting on a counter beside the fridge and then met Greta’s sharp eyes. “I’ll make my own. Can’t really trust missy over here to make me anything; she might slip some poison in.”
Her snarl did not go unnoticed by Xerxes, who responded with one of his own, the depth quickly silencing her.
“Don’t start.” He growled. Greta sniffed, head high as she turned and walked to some plates.
I quickly made my own breakfast, taking the bowl into the dining room. Xerxes’ face was hidden behind a wide newspaper as I ate slowly, shoulders sagging as I realized that I may have to call Matthew to keep me updated about the topics which my class would be covering.
Using the house phone I called him, stiffening when the newspaper slapped closed on the table, electric eyes narrowing when I said Matthew's name. I attempted to ignore Xerxes’ glare as I hurriedly spoke to Mathew, only to have the phone plucked out of my hand, the call ending as Xerxes jabbed a button.
I hissed, “He has to give me the topics-”
“I’ll have the professor give them to you instead. Calling that boy was not necessary.”
My body tensed. I was not taking well with his candid attitude, the tone which he delivered those words causing a heavy feeling to form in the pit of my belly. I did not like this side of him, demanding and blunt.
“I’m sure the professor is a busy man. Matthew could easily give me the work instead.” I bit out, my anger evident.
Greta entered the room, placing a plate of waffles with maple syrup down, eyes widening as she noticed the growing tension.
“This is my home,” Xerxes spoke, ignoring the nosy bird-eating maid. His voice was unmoving, firm. He would not be swayed. “He is not coming here.”
Greta cleared her throat, lifting a steaming kettle. His attention was drawn to her and I chose to stand a bit too roughly. The pain in my leg grew, but I managed to withhold any visible reaction to it, turning to walk upstairs. Xerxes calling my name sent shudders down my body as I fought against the bond, the need to stop and face him almost overwhelmingly powerful. I continued up the stairs, resting on each step carefully.
As I lazed around on the same bed which I had promised earlier to myself that I wouldn’t return to until night came, Penelope visited with parcels of clothes, all which fit comfortably. She had to leave soon after, for she had an appointment with a doctor.
“Your mother is here.” Xerxes’ gruff voice echoed through the closed door an hour later. I hobbled over and exited the room, not at all surprised to see that he had disappeared in a mere few seconds. Him being a werewolf made it easy for him to walk so swiftly; his footsteps could not be heard if he desired them not to be.
My mother sat on the outside, basking in the morning sun and staring dreamily at the blue pool water. Her head tilted when I pulled the screen door and stepped outside.
“Look what I brought.” She sang, lifting her arms to reveal two plastic containers, plain ole vanilla icecream resting in them. I wasn’t particularly fond of the flavour, but I would be a fool to deny ice cream.
“Thanks mom.” I pressed a chaste kiss on her forehead, taking one of the containers and seating myself opposite her on one of the lounge chairs.
“How are your legs?” My mother asked after a moment of silence. I swallowed the cold sweetness down, wiping at my lips.
“Still hurts,” I told her, pausing to squint up at the sun and then at the pool as a small ripple formed as a leaf from a nearby tree dropped into it. “I’ll take this week off and get back to college next week.”
A neighbor started a lawn mower and loud laughter spilled from somewhere beyond the property of the house.
“Alyssa and George haven’t met your boyfriend yet, right?” I asked, remembering that she had spoken of him once before. She shook her head.
“I thought about it some more....and I think it’s best that I not introduce him to the kids yet. Maybe in a couple more months I will. But I’ve only known him for less than a month and it just seems too soon.” Mother sighed, stabbing her spoon into the slowly melting ice-cream. I nodded in agreement.
I finally finished up my ice cream and placed it way. “Mother?” I asked, leaning back to stare up at the cloudy sky above, listening as her spoon scraped against the bottom of the container. “Have you seen Sander recently?”
The scraping came to a stop. The chair creaked as mother rested on her side to face me. “No. I haven’t.”
I met her eyes, seeing her bewilderment at my abrupt question. “Are you certain?”
Mother nibbled on her lip. “The last time I saw him was a month ago...working near that shoe shop…”
She nodded. “Yes. The one that Xerxes’ friend works at I believe. He was waiting outside the door,” She paused, clearing her throat. “It almost seems like he’s gone into hiding after the laws changed.”
My stomach knotted, throat clenching. “Sander killed father.” It wasn’t a question.
“Yes.” Her voice had lowered, sadness leaking into her soft spoken words. Sander never confessed to it, but mother and I both knew that he had murdered my father. He never denied it when my mother confronted him. He also did not admit it either. But it was so apparent. He knew he would get away with it, for he is a werewolf and my father was merely a human. He believed that there would be no punishment for his actions.
Sander never took well to others disagreeing or arguing with him, especially those who were humans. My father was one who had many disputations with him regarding his actioms of barging into the home every day, tauntingly. He would take our food and give it to the dogs who roamed nearby alleys, ransack our house, claiming that we were hiding large sums of money which we stole. He knew this was not true. However, he chose to do this frequently as a way to remind us that he was superior and that our basic human rights were non-existent.
Sander is a sick man who acted accordingly to his hatred and idiocy. The day my father was murdered was when they had gotten into an argument that same morning, the dispute that I had witnessed as a child. Sander had enough of my father spitting back retorts, standing up for his family. Us being submissive towards werewolves was practically a law, one which my father and I broke repetitively.
And so, Sander killed him.
Many nights have passed in which I swore that I would somehow avenge my father’s death. It was only a matter of time before Sander would meet his fate. He can’t hide forever.
A couple hours later after mother left, I went to the living room and aimlessly searched through channels on the television, attempting to find something interesting. I grumbled to myself as I spotted Xerxes approaching my direction. I was certainly not in the mood to have any arguments with him.
“Becca.” Xerxes caught my arm as I tried to move past him, his hold stronger than I would have anticipated. His other hand went to my jaw, keeping my face high, not allowing me to escape his gaze. “I apologize if how I spoke to you this morning offended you.”
I murmured an incoherent response, my heart thundering in my chest as his fingers roamed my cheek. Heat seared my face when I took a step away, only for him to step forward. Uncertainty quickened my movements as I watched a predatory look darken his face, his vibrant eyes gleaming.
“What are you doing?” I finally blurted, watching his stormy eyes as he advanced with each step I took backwards. My back collided hard against the wooden wall, Xerxes’ shadow casting over me, my breath hitching when his head lowered, pressing a kiss on my lips, worried thoughts evading me.
Shivers shot down my spine as my mark blazed almost immediately, a strong need blossoming. His fingers grasped my hair, tilting my head as he kissed my neck delicately, an arm moving to keep me against his body, feeling his arousal pressed against his pants. His hand dropped from my hair, grasping my hips as he pushed them against his, a low guttural sound falling from his parted lips.
“Get a room.”
A snarl ripped through the entire house, seconds after Sissy spoke. Fury blazed in Xerxes’ eyes as his young sister lost her smirk, eyes going wide when he faced her. I blinked rapidly as my lust disappeared, feeling like a bucket of cold ice water had been dumped over my body. I pulled away from Xerxes, who continued to glare down at Sissy.
“I’m...uh...I’m going to get a shower.” I croaked, hobbling away to the stairs, one hand going to my brow in embarrassment. It was only when I had made some distance between Xerxes and I did I look back, meeting his eyes which held a sure promise.
Greta chuckled from where she sat by the entrance of the living room, nibbling on something which I didn’t even try to decipher as I hurried away.
Her smile was so painfully forced, her eyes bland, almost lifeless. Brad stood a few feet away from her, watching with wary eyes.
“She said that you know her?” Brad said, his deep voice jumping her. I nodded vigorously, placing a hand on her shoulder in concern. Her skin was pale, yellow bags under her eyes. Her body was thin, so thin that it was almost worrying.
“Come inside.” I urged her, holding her wrist with one hand, worried that she may collapse any second. She walked inside, her body hunched as she stood awkwardly after taking off her shoes.
I gestured for her to follow me into the kitchen. “Would you like some tea?”
“I...I…” Her voice trailed off, head lowering as she stared at her toes, fingers shaking as she swept away tendrils of hair from her face. “No.”
Worried, I dropped my hands away from the cup that I had been reaching for. “What’s wrong?” I demanded. She flinched at my bluntness, leaning her back against a counter.
“Harold has been acting erratically.” She said, her voice so low that I had to strain to hear her. “He’s been inviting all of these strange people into our home and uses all of our money for these...projects.”
Her chest heaved as she blinked away tears, trying and failing to gain a strong composure. I straightened, listening as she continued,
“I have no money. He took all of it from my account and he’s kicked me out of the house. I have to stay at a relative now and he’s blocked my number.”
“How about we sit in the living room?” I quickly asked, noticing that she was beginning to look unsteady once again. She walked with me to the room quietly.
“I heard about what happened to your house,” Charlotte told me after making herself comfortable. “And I can’t help but think Harold, or someone who Harold knew was involved in what happened. He had some big gathering by our house the night before and I think your name was mentioned several times.”
I nodded, not fazed by what she said. It was becoming more and more clear that the man who I thought Harold to be had simply been a facade.
“Did you recognize any of the people there that he was talking to?”
Creases appeared between her brows as she frowned, eyes narrowing as she tried to remember. “No...I didn’t. Harold tried to make sure I stayed upstairs during the time they came over.”
I nodded again and held a hand over hers. “If money is an issue for you, I can talk to Xerxes about finding you a job. I’m certain he’ll be able to provide one for you.”
That unnatural smile returned, eyes watering again. “Thank you. I just thought it was best that I come over and tell you about Harold. Just...be very aware of what’s going on around you. Please.”
I nodded solemnly. “I will.”