Tears of joy wept from a woman’s face, her young children beside her looking queasy at the sight of them, shuffling backwards awkwardly. People applauded from behind us and I swallowed hard, fists clenching hard in my pockets as I focused on breathing.
“Thank you so much.” Elizabeth blubbered, wrapping her arms around my shoulders, giving me a firm hug. I forced a smile on my face, my body stiffening as a reaction to the sounds of clicks, avoiding the cameras set up nearby. Taking her hand, I led the kind woman up her beautiful pathway and to her new home, her children trailing behind her.
Using her key, she unlocked the door and squealed as she stepped inside, eyes focusing on the marble table in the kitchen. More tears came and I rushed to grab a box of tissues, holding it out to her. I winced at the sound of her blowing her nose, the noise echoing in the quiet and fairly large home.
The children looked disgusted by the sound and momentarily were shaken out of their awe of the home. They quickly became distracted when we entered the living room, jabbing at the remote to turn on the large flat screen television.
I stayed for the next hour, helping her set up some of the items she had brought with her and departed, not surprised to see the paparazzi still standing outside. Brad was quick to come by my side, his mere presence calming my nerves. I followed him through the people, my pace fast and determined. A low, long whoosh of breath fell from my mouth when I finally sat on the leather seats of the SUV, head tilting backwards as I rolled my shoulders, shaking off the tension in them.
I had to meet with Flynn later in the evening, to discuss the areas which needed to have more homes created. The number of families without homes had decreased throughout the last month, but some were still without proper homes and had been placed to live in hotels for the time being.
Brad glanced down at his watch as he started the engine. “I received a call from Penelope whilst you were in the house. She asked if you would want to meet for lunch.”
“Did she say where?”
“I believe it was at Lebins.” He gave me a knowing look when he saw my nervous face. “There are few people who eat in the area, so there is no need to worry about anyone coming up to you with questions.”
I nodded, taking out my phone and tapping out a message. “That will be fine then. I’ll tell her I’ll meet her in the next half an hour.”
I barely managed to utter those words. My hand reached for my seatbelt and metal hit against metal, throwing me back as my vehicle slammed into another, the sound of them colliding leaving a harsh ringing in my ears. The SUV’s tires screeched against the road as Brad fought to control it once more, his eyes wide with panic, hands rapidly turning the steering wheel. Pedestrians dodged out of the way, narrowly avoiding the oncoming vehicle.
The SUV ran into a light pole and my scream filled the interior of the vehicle as glass from the windshield broke. Brad was in a daze, gripping his seatbelt with blood trickling down his forehead. With my heart thundering, I looked through the window, a choked cry falling from my parted lips as the jeep who had ran into us reversed and turned with full speed, ramming into us once more.
The SUV tipped, landing on it’s side. My head banged against an already shattered window, feeling the broken pointy glass dig into the side of my head, into my hair. My rib ached as I landed on my side, gasping in pain.
My vision blurred for a few seconds. I could no longer hear Brad’s frantic movements and worry swelled. People were talking outside, yelling for someone to call an ambulance or police. No one was stepping forward to help us out of the wrecked vehicle.
“Brad?” My voice was hoarse with shock and it ached as I spoke. Pain blossomed as I stretched an arm forward, touching the back of the driver’s seat. I could see his hair streaked with blood and his hunched shoulders. I received no response and I attempted to crawl forward, my face burning as I avoided any rough movements that would further injure my ribs. Desperate, I grasped his slack wrist by his side, feeling for a pulse.
It was there, but so faint. The smell of smoke filled my nostrils and it was then that I knew why no one had moved to help us. Fire was coming from the engine, fastly approaching the broken windshield. With a cry, I heaved myself forward, unclipping Brad’s seatbelt. But there was no way that I would be able to carry him out myself.
The sound of the siren was a blessed noise. The process of getting us both out was a strenuous, difficult one. The pain by my ribs flared, a suffocating intense pain that made me choke out a cry as I was rushed to the hospital, Brad in an ambulance not far behind.
I licked at my parched lips, pressing the rim of the cold glass against them, watching as Flynn went over every detail I had told him with Easton and Kesley. I straightened when Flynn returned, smiling reassuring down at me.
“You should be able to leave later tonight,” He said.
My face hurt as I spoke, the small scratches from the glass which had cut into the skin of my cheeks throbbing.
“Thank you.” I squeezed Flynn’s hand and his smile widened in understanding. He had rushed to the hospital and stayed by my side as I was checked over.
Xerxes had left two days ago, doing business elsewhere and had planned to return later this week. However, because of what had happened, Flynn told me that he would be returning later tonight.
My ribs were not broken, thankfully. However, the pain there was still strong. Despite this, I wanted to see Brad. And so with the assistance of Flynn and Kesley, we walked down a couple doors to where my friend stayed.
Tears blurred my vision when I saw him, when I listened to a nurse explain the internal injuries he had suffered. He was still currently unconscious and he would heal in a few days time, because of him being a werewolf.
As I stared upon his body, seeing the scars against his once smooth skin and his bruised face, my sadness became anger, a flush of heat creeping up my body, my back straightening from it’s once hunched state because of the pain. My pain was forgotten now and all I felt was a deep fury that made me see red.
Greta watched, hands on her hips as I sat gingerly on the sofa, slowly raising my eyes to meet hers, batting my lashes. With a huff she sauntered over, lifted a steaming kettle and poured hot water into my cup.
“Thank you.” I said, unable to stop myself from teasing her. “You are always so kind to me.”
Some of the hot water from the spout of the kettle dripped onto my pants, making me hiss as she withdrew. Greta arched a brow high. “Don’t you start now.” She warned. She placed the kettle away and wiped her hands down her apron. “You drink that and get to bed. You need to rest up for a few days.”
I smiled at her over my cup. “Will do, ma’am.”
Greta scowled but the corners of her eyes crinkled. She was forcing her dislike towards me. With a flick of her hair Greta left me, her heels clicking against the floor. I sipped the tea half-heartedly, grimacing whenever I made the slightest movement, for the pain from my body grew with every action I did.
Loyal Greta was waiting for me when I finished drinking, her hand outstretched, awaiting my cup. When I handed it to her and began to stand, she clicked her tongue.
“You stay there. I will not have Xerxes attacking me if you fell because I did not assist you up the stairs.” She left before I could speak and my brows creased in confusion. Sighing I continued to stand anyway, letting out a loud whoah when the room began to spin.
Greta was by my side in an instant, holding out an arm for me to hold whilst looking away with her head held high, not wanting to see my smirk. Locking my arm with her’s, we both traveled up the steps of the stairs, our pace slowing when I mumbled about how the ground under my feet felt like it trembled.
“I told The Alpha that it wasn’t a good idea to have you leave the house. With everything that has been going on, it’s best that you stay inside.” Greta said, helping me into bed. “I’ll make sure to have another word with him again.”
She paused, shaking her head. “He’ll take one look at you and probably agree with me as well.”
I grunted into my pillow, placing my fingers gently on the area near my rib. Greta fussed over me for a couple more minutes, jerked the sheets to my chin and switched off the overhead light, leaving on the lamp on the bedside table.
I drifted in and out of sleep throughout the night. My chest heaved after I awoke from a dream, one which I immediately couldn’t remember. The room was dark and I could hear the flames from the fireplace, which hadn’t been created when I had first fallen asleep.
Peering around the room, I spotted Xerxes’ suitcase in the corner, heard his voice coming from outside the door, a deep, thundering sound that somehow made me relax enough for me to fall asleep once more.
Xerxes was not facing me when I woke up in the morning. Instead, he sat by a chair, facing the fireplace. The repeated noise of a swishing sound came from him and I frowned at the peculiar sound.
“Good morning.” The warmth from his voice was soothing, so calming.I blinked ever so slowly, wondering how he knew I had awoken when I hadn’t even moved.
Xerxes stood, one hand lifting a bowl of green mush, something that instantly reminded me of what Destiny had given me for my pain after the fight I had with a spiteful werewolf by Arthur’s home.
Xerxes sat on the side of my bed, resting the bowl on my lap and resting the wooden spoon he had been using to stir the contents of the bowl on the table. Lifting a hand, he pressed the back of his fingers against my forehead, scowling at what he discovered.
“You have a bit of a fever.” He gathered the bowl from my lap and lifted it to my lips. “Drink.”
“What is it?” I gagged at the overly sweet smell, the thick liquid almost repulsing. Xerxes gestured to the bowl, a small smile on his lips.
“Drink and I shall tell you.” He told me. I lifted it once more, took a gulp and pulled it away. Xerxes chuckled shortly at my bitter expression.
“It contains several crushed herbs, meant to help stop pain from the body.” He said when I began to drink again. “My father taught me how to make it.”
I paused. Xerxes had never spoken to me about his father before and I was now curious as to where this topic was heading.
“Really?” I said, trying not to let my interest to be so obvious.
“Yes. We would drink this whenever we returned from sparring, fighting.” He said, a foreign expression, one which I couldn’t quite figure out settled on his face.
“Who did you fight? Each other?” The question was spoken in a teasing tone, but Xerxes’ expression remained serious.
“Yes.” He told me. “Many young werewolves are trained from a young age. Their fathers are usually the ones to teach them.”
I had finished off the liquid in the bowl and was watching him quietly. He noticed the lack of movements and pulled away from the conversation, eyes tracing over my face. Something shifted in them and he cleared his throat.
“You should try to rest.” Xerxes gently guided me to lay on the bed and took up the bowl.
“Where are you going?” I asked, confused. I didn’t miss his smile, as if he was amused at my question.
“To wash this up. Don’t worry, I shall be back.” He said, grinning. The door clicked softly behind him and I was left in silence.
I had little choice but to stay in the house for several days as my body healed. Soon, where there had once been moderately swollen bruises on my cheeks, were now blemishes. Xerxes did not speak much about the collision.
However, Greta more than once did so and unmistakable rage tightened his face whenever the topic of the crash was brought up, his lips pressing together as he listened quietly to Greta’s words, nodding every now and then.
“Rebecca.” Xerxes said one evening after I had finished up my dessert in the dining room. I was surprised when he spoke, for there had been mostly silence for the past hour, except for the noise of his fingers touching the keyboard of his laptop.
I looked up in question and he turns the laptop around, showing it to me. I study his eyes for a second, unable to trace any emotion in them and turned my attention to the screen. My body stiffened and what felt like a gush of ice swept through my body as I saw the video of the vehicles colliding, the SUV falling to its side.
The video slowed after a moment, rewinded. The video showed the collision again, and I saw the face of a man. Immediately my fingers jabbed at the keyboard, making it stop. Jaw clenched tightly at the man who was driving the jeep and my eyes flickered up to Xerxes’, who was being served dinner from Greta, a steaming plate of steak being placed before him.
“The footage was taken from a man’s outdoor cameras,” Xerxes provided, lifting a knife and a fork, slicing easily through the meat.
“I know who he is.” I said.
Xerxes’ dark brows lifted in surprise. “You do?”
I jerked a nod. “Yes.” I leaned forward again, zooming in on the image, taking the man’s face in all over again.
A doorbell rang in the distance, but I ignored it, staring at the face of the man that I held a deep hatred towards. Flynn said his greetings to us and joined us at the table.
“How are you, Becca?” Flynn asked. I swallowed, forcing myself to look away from the screen. I said nothing for several seconds.
“I am fine.” I finally spoke, the shrill sound of Xerxes’ cell phone ringing bringing me out of my thoughts. He excused himself and left the table, answering the phone.
I jabbed a finger at the laptop. “I’m assuming you’ve already seen this?”
Flynn’s eyes flickered to it. “Yes. This morning, actually.” He paused. “I’ve managed to...interrogate the man somewhat. He’s being a bit of a pain in the ass, dodging questions and all. But I’m certain Xerxes will be able to make him talk further.”
“Sander is a stubborn man.” I said. “But I’m certain that he will speak if you offer him a deal of some sorts.”
Flynn snorted. “We will get the information we need from him, but no deals shall be made. He signed his death warrant the day he decided to drive his jeep into the vehicle you were in.” Flynn poured himself a glass of water from the pitcher and drank some of it, meeting my eyes after he swallowed. “I can assure you that Xerxes will take great pleasure in killing him."