I watched as Charlotte walked down the pathway steadily, the tired expression on her face remaining, but not as troubling as it had been before. Brad straightened from his position by the edge of the house, continuing to watch her probingly as she trotted away.
“It’s getting late,” I called to Brad, who jerked in surprise at my voice. He hadn’t known I had been watching. “Isn’t your shift over?”
He scratched the back of his head, eyes going back to Charlotte who was continuing her walk in the distance. “Yes.” He muttered. He straightened his coat. “Please tell The Alpha that I am leaving.”
I nodded and watched as he ambled down to his car parked opposite the house. Tires screeched noisily on the road as he sped away. I was not surprised when he slowed to a stop near Charlotte, who it seems, after some prompting from Brad, got into the car.
“Looks like someone has a crush.” I murmured to myself. Or, maybe he was just being the kind person that he is.
I lowered my body to the warm
doorsteps, watching several uniformed men, security guards I believe, walk up and down the sidewalks. Instantly I was reminded of Sander and the daily walks he would take while patrolling the neighborhood. I scowled at the memory and fixed my gaze on the clouds, at the pink and blue colours in the sky.
Evening was fast approaching. I squirmed at the thought of Greta cooking me dinner and wondered what I could make myself without having to stand on my feet for too long. Eyebrows raised high when a familiar small car rolled down the road, loud pop music blasting from the interior.
I hid my smile behind a hand as the car jerked hard, a few gasps of exasperation flinging from Penelope’s mouth as the engine shut off. She wasn’t a good driver, at all.
She got out of the car and looked to me. “Could you help?” She called, circling her vehicle and going to the back. In her trunk were some more clothes, all neatly placed in shopping bags.
I walked with them to the front door and sat some down. I lifted a plain orange shirt, surprised that she had once again guessed my size correctly. Penelope placed another heap inside and closed the door.
“I have a few more things to pick up from a store,” She said. “Would you like to come along?”
I immediately bolted, eager to get away from and out of the house for a while, only to wheeze when that irritating pain shot up my legs. Penelope opened the car door, waiting for me to get inside as I limped towards it.
“You can stay in the car whilst I get the stuff.” Penelope said once I slipped on the seatbelt. The strong scent of bubblegum filled my nostrils as I inhaled.
“And I will bring the clothes out from the store.” She continued, blowing her horn at a neighbor as she drove.
Music continued to blast from her radio as she drove, halting any possibility for further conversation. She only decided to lower the volume when we arrived at the store, putting the car in park. I was silent as she left, pressing a button so that my seat could lean backwards as I surveyed the many people passing. They were oblivious that I was here; Penelope’s tinted windows made sure of that.
A child screamed, stomping as her ice cream dropped to the floor. A man who I assumed to be her father shook his head, grasping her hand and taking her to an ice cream parlour. A woman was spitting curses as she stalked past, hand gripping a cellphone to her ear. A dog roamed the parking lot, sniffing tires and munching on any food from a nearby trash can.
Recoiling further in my seat, I narrowed my eyes at the sight of a particular woman, a group of young men trailing behind her. Mathew's mother led the small crowd, a proud smile etched onto her face as she handed out what looked like flyers, the persons behind her doing the same to other people passing by as well.
My seat belt snapped off when I saw the clearly demented woman approach Penelope who was leaving the clothing store, large shopping bags in her hands. My fingers wrapped around the handle of the door, preparing myself to intervene if needed.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had to step in. They had began to form a circle around Penelope, making it difficult for me to even see her. I searched in the car, looking for any weapon I could use if they became violent. Their body language sure made it seem like they were riled up, irritated.
I finally pocketed a small knife which I found under the seat and got out, limping over quickly to the crowd. Angry tears were beginning to form in Penelope’s eyes, a dark red flush covering her face.
“What the hell is going on?” I spat, drawing their attention away from the furious pregnant werewolf. I knew that Penelope was physically stronger than these humans, something which these persons hadn’t taken into consideration before they decided to antagonize her.
Matthew's mother gasped at the sight of me, her eyes widening. “Rebecca?” She demanded, the crowd quieting. “How is...why…”
I grabbed Penelope’s arm. “We’ll be leaving now.”
The woman’s sigh, the breath escaping her mouth blew over my face and my anger spiked considerably. “You still haven’t learnt your lesson have you?” She muttered. The shake of her head was subtle, and murmurs from the surrounding people could be heard.
“Do you remember what I told you?” She hissed.
“Yeah, yeah. I’ve been blinded by riches and fame and I don’t care about my race. Have anymore false information you’d like to spew?” I spat, my hand tightened around Penelope’s as I began inching backwards, listening for any other words.
The woman’s chin lifted high as she considered me. “You’ll just have to see.” Her whisper was barely audible. I stiffened, releasing Penelope’s hand and eyeing the woman, who remained in place, her friends watching us. A leer etched across her face as she waited for me to give some form of a response.
“Let’s go Becca.” Penelope said loudly, turning my body around and pushing me towards the car. The hair on the back of my neck rose as I felt the crowd’s unnerving stares, my anger only easing when I slammed the door shut behind me, collapsing into my seat.
Penelope tossed the bags in the backseat and got in as well, quickly shifting gear and driving.
“What did they tell you?” I asked immediately. She shrugged a shoulder.
“Just insults. Things about me being a werewolf and stuff like that.” It was clear that Penelope didn’t want to talk about it further and that she was hurt by what they had told her. There was a long, awkward silence as no one spoke for the first couple minutes. And when a topic was eventually brought up by Penelope, it was about her appointment with the doctor and the baby’s health.
“Where were you?” Xerxes’ snarl caused Penelope to flinch as we both walked up to the house. I raised my head from the stoned pathway at the sound of his voice, watching as he opened the door further, his features harsh with ire as icy eyes glared down at me.
I had completely forgotten to mention to him that I was leaving with Penelope. I should’ve given him a heads up. It was evident that Xerxes had been worried throughout the time I had been gone and now that I was back, that worry had morphed into anger.
“I went on a little drive with Pen here.” I said when I reached him. Penelope scoffed at the nickname I had given her.
“Let’s just stick to Penelope.” She muttered, moving around Xerxes to drop off some of the bags. I turned to look back up at Xerxes, seeing the anger simmering in his gaze.
I rubbed at my bare arm, feeling a hint of nervousness. “I think I should’ve said something beforehand-”
“You think?” He rasped, cutting me off effortlessly. “Rebecca, I had no idea where you were and I had assumed the worst. You didn’t leave a note or anything behind to let me know where you going. I was minutes away from rounding up a search party.”
I shifted on my feet, feeling regretful. “I’m sorry. I should have said something.”
“Yes, you should have.”
I scowled at his cold words, pressing my lips together as he turned, walking out of sight. I stood outside for a few minutes, my guilt deepening. It was clear that he had been very concerned and I didn’t blame him. There has been a lot of questionable, suspicious things that we were both facing and me seemingly disappearing abruptly would've only made him presume negatively.
Penelope left after a couple minutes and I grabbed the bags, walking upstairs with them to the bedroom. I sorted through them, placing shirts into their respective areas and other items away.
Sissy burst through the door just as I had began to finish up, remorse written all over her face as she headed to my bed.
“I’m sorry about what happened earlier. I didn’t mean to….interrupt you guys.” She whimpered. “Xerxes is so angry with me.”
Heat flew up my neck and I coughed at the memory. “That’s okay Sissy.”
She sniffed. “Greta called me a cockblocker.” She said softly.
“Oh.” I said, not sure what I should say other than that. Eventually, I mustered up, “Did you finish the homework your tutor assigned?”
At the shake of her head I told her that I wouldn’t mind helping her complete it. She grinned enthusiastically and darted away, claiming that she would return with her books.
We spent an hour looking through her work. More than once I had to guide her back to the assignment and I noticed that she easily lost focus on her work. But when she did concentrate, she did very well and answered most of the questions correctly.
“Have you ever thought about being a teacher?” Sissy asked me as she erased a pencil mark.
I shrugged. Teaching requires a lot of patience and that was something I lacked. Sissy answered the last question and stretched her arms high, straightening up on the bed. There was the cracking noises of bones and a dramatic groan of elation.
“Sitting in one position makes me feel so stiff.” Sissy told me when I tilted my head. She glanced down at her worksheet, crossing her fingers.
“Hopefully this is right. I don’t want my teacher to get mad again.” She grumbled, standing. “In fact, she should be here soon.”
I followed her downstairs, and there her tutor stood, by the table in the dining room, appearing to have a deep conversation with Xerxes. From the angle I was in, I couldn’t tell what reaction he was having to her words.
Sissy made her way to the table and began setting out her work, whilst I remained standing in the doorway, until the dialogue between Xerxes and the tutor came to an end.
My jaw stiffened when I saw him turn and leave, tossing me a fleeting glance. Looks like someone was still angry. Chest stinging, I sat on a chair, watching quietly as the tutor and Sissy interacted, taking in the look of glee which covered her face when she got the answers correct and was praised. I smiled when she looked up at me, the happy expression becoming a frown when another heap of work was withdrawn from a briefcase.
As Sissy studied the work, the tutor, Hadley, sidled up to me. “I was having a word with Xerxes.” She told me, after pausing to make sure that Sissy was distracted. “It was about Sissy. She sometimes bring up the topic about her mother and I was curious to know what the situation is between her and Sissy.”
I looked towards the young girl sitting a few feet away from me. I knew she could hear every word that was being spoken; her writing had slowed and her eyes were no longer focused on the paper before her.
“Okay.” My comment was quick. I didn’t want the conversation to continue in front of Sissy, but I was curious to know what it was that she told Hadley.
At the silence, Sissy speedily continued her work, refocusing smoothly. That feeling of boredom began to creep back up and I followed the noise of a television, walking carefully on cold tiles as I travelled through the house, eventually coming to a stop before what looked like Xerxes’ office. He sat in a large chair, head lowered as he assessed the paperwork laid out on his sturdy black desk.
He looked up when he saw me standing there and for a few seconds, it appeared like he was not going to say anything, his face difficult to read.
When I began to step away, he cleared his throat.
“Hold on, Becca.”
A cell phone was tossed in the air and I swiftly caught it. I lifted the slim device, staring at the flat screen and then back at Xerxes.
“Make sure to use that next time before you decide to run off somewhere.” He told me, a smile in his eyes, the corners of his mouth lifting in the slightest.