"Where were you?" Sissy's voice carried from the kitchen she stood in and I teetered on the edge of the bottom stairs, hesitating in facing her. I looked up, contemplating whether or not I should blurt out some random excuse and make a run for my room, but I'm sure she would follow me there.
I faced her slowly, noticing the way her eyes went over my body in curiosity. "Leo dropped George and Alyssa off this morning and they were asking for you." Sissy said, her fingernails tapping casually against the glass of water she held. She cocked her head. "So where were you?"
"Um," I cleared my throat. "I went on a walk."
She raised her eyebrows, not fooled. "You're wearing the same clothes that you did last night. You have a painful looking bruise by your jaw. And your eyes are red and you look like you didn't sleep."
I rolled my tongue in my mouth, stepping backwards and resting my arm on the bannister of the stairs and forced a smile. "Alright, alright. I got into a little altercation last night and I stayed up with Xerxes by the shed whilst he interrogated the person who punched me."
Sissy sipped her water slowly, eyeing me and then lowered the glass. "So does this person have a name?"
My hands tightened around the bannister. There was no way I would tell her that her mother was the one who had been 'interrogated.'
"It doesn't matter, Sissy. Have you had breakfast yet?" My attempt to change conversation was a complete failure. She squinted her eyes at me and waved a finger sternly, instantly reminding me of my mother when she would catch me doing mischief as a child.
"Nuh-uh. You're gonna tell me what happened or I'll just ask Xerxes." Sissy said.
I let out a breath. "Then you do that. I'm going to take a nap." I almost twisted an ankle as I ran up the stairs, feeling a bit guilty that Xerxes probably would be left to discuss with Sissy about what had happened in that shed.
I stripped once inside my bedroom, tossed the clothes into a hamper and made my way to the shower. I spent roughly ten minutes inside and slipped on a onesie that Penelope had bought for me after my house had burnt down and crawled into bed, heaving the duvet over my head and blocking out the noises of the television below and Greta's obnoxious humming.
I awoke late in the afternoon and grimaced at the bright sunlight beaming through a window which I knew I hadn't opened when I went to bed. I sighed loudly, stretching and groaning loudly when I felt the ache by my ribs. I placed a hand on the area and stood, gently massaging it as I remembered the little scuffle between Idina and I.
My eyes narrowed to the adjoining bathroom where I could faintly hear the noise of water from the shower running and then to Xerxes' coat which was folded neatly on the edge of the bed.
Wiping my tired eyes I walked down below, smiling at Greta who glared at me suspiciously as I shuffled to the kitchen to make some coffee and toast. Sissy was nowhere to be seen and my stomach clenched at the thought that Xerxes had told his sister about what he had done to her mother.
"What are you planning to do for the week?" Greta asked the question as I smoothed some butter on my toast. Her always piercing eyes scrutinized me as I set it down and rested it on a plate.
"Just chilling, I guess. And then...later this week...you know." I looked at her. "Going to that meeting by Charles Street."
Her lips pressed together in disapproval, watching as I poured some black coffee and casually sip it, managing not to gag at it's bitter taste.
"I don't think that's a good idea. At all." She declared, waving her hands dramatically. "You can get hurt."
I smiled, surprised and patted her cheek. "Aw, look at you all worried."
She withdrew, showing fangs and all and I grinned, sitting on a stool and licking my lips, preparing for my little meal. "I'll be fine, Greta. Really. Have a little faith in me."
She scowled. "You can be easily damaged, Rebecca. I will talk with Xerxes and make him change his mind about letting you go with him."
I spoke through a mouthful of buttered toast. "I'm still going regardless of what he says, Greta."
"Why can't he just raid the place with a bunch of his soliders?" Greta demanded. "And get to the bottom of this whole thing?"
I swallowed the bread. "I think he just wants to gather a bit more evidence before he does anything drastic...and hear firsthand about what exactly is going on in those meetings."
She harrumphed at my words and flaunted away, her hands finding random objects to straightening and fiddle with. I watched her walk away. She oddly reminded me of a grandmother with a mean demeanour and sharp-tongue, but meant well. I carried on eating, mentally counting the different tasks I would like to do in the next few weeks coming up. I needed to check on the new housing developments in a neighborhood.
My phone vibrated, and I hastily read an email from Mary. It was a sweet invitation to celebrate the opening of her restaurant and I tapped out a message, telling her that I would be there.
As I washed my plate in the sink, I felt the presence of Xerxes beside me and felt lips graze my cheek. I peered at him under my lashes, noticing the little bit of anger that remained in his eyes because of what had happened earlier today and then the tense movements of his actions.
I faced him, resting against the counter as Xerxes rummaged noisily through the fridge, frowning at the lack of food inside. "Have to pass by the supermarket." He muttered more to himself than me, straightening with some peeled and sliced oranges in a container. He hesitated once he opened it but released a sigh and ate a slice anyway, still frowning.
"This is disgusting." Xerxes grumbled. My lips twitched at his sour expression, his silver eyes narrowing before he decided to slap back on the lid of the container and place it beside him. When he turned to face me, I shifted under the weight of his thoughtful gaze and my eyes lowered to his knuckles and fingers. Fingers which had hours ago been wrapped around the handle of the whip he used to beat his mother.
"Is she dead?"
Xerxes instantly knew who I was talking about. "No. Not yet." He snarled and I regretted asking the question, visibly flinching at the anger that flared in his eyes. They fell on me and my lungs constricted in wariness, taking a step away from him. Almost immediately he straightened from the counter, the annoyance diminishing and replaced with a soft gaze that warmed my stomach upon seeing my cautious expression.
His fingers reached forward, catching my wrist and bringing me to him with ease. Hot breath gently drifted across my cheek when he spoke, my head tilted backwards so that I stared at his face.
"Let's not speak of that woman." Xerxes said, his chest vibrating against my own with each word he spoke. I could feel my body slowly melting into his own, watching the way his silver eyes became half-lidded with lust as they raked down my body and then back to my face.
Heavy hands pressed me even closer to him and my breath caught as his lips slanted over mine gently. A low sound built in the back of his throat when I deepened the kiss, my fingers which gripped the sides of his shirt tightening as pleasure soared through me, becoming infatuated with feeling of his lips against mine.
My fingers raised to clench gingerly around the soft curls of his black hair and then lowered to caress the sharp, angular jawline of his face. Xerxes chuckled softly when I groaned as he pulled away, frowning up at him as he unclenched my fingers from his shirt, lifting to press them to his lips.
My lips lifted at the soft gesture, dropped away at the sound of footsteps approaching. Xerxes too looked disappointed, running a hand through his now unkempt hair as Greta waltzed inside, but paused. Her eyes darted to me and then to him knowingly as she inhaled.
"Smells like lust in here." She muttered, but carried on speaking anyway,
"Alpha. I have to speak with you." Amusement danced in Xerxes' eyes when Greta began a tirade of reasons about why I should stay home instead of going to the meeting and me being apart of a weak race. I frowned and smiled at most of her words, unsure about if I should be flattered about her concern or offended by some of her jabbing remarks.
Xerxes raised a hand, stopping her mid-way. Greta grunted at the notion but kept silent as her Alpha quietly explained that he would take her words into consideration. I had moved out of the kitchen by then and walked to the living room where Flynn sat in. His head raised when I passed him to sit on the sofa.
"How are you?" The words were spoken quietly, almost a low murmur as he contemplated me, his normally smooth forehead creased with worry under his blonde locks. "I know that what you saw wasn't a pretty sight but it had to be done."
I shrugged, looking away from him as the gruesome memory of Idina's whipping resurfaced. "I'm good." I was unable to hide the terse note in my voice and I quickly changed conversation. "So what time do we leave tonight?"
Flynn's brown eyes lingered on my expression for a tad bit longer before he straightened, allowing his back to rest in the chair comfortably. "Around eleven. We need to be there by twelve so leaving at that time would be better."
A thought came to mind. "How are Xerxes and I to get inside without being recognized? We can't exactly go in wearing masks because that would just draw too much attention."
"Not everyone will go inside then." Easton's voice boomed from the doorway of the living room. He nodded to Kesley, who rested against the frame, arms crossed as she listened in. "She'll be going in, alone. A hidden camera will be attached to her, allowing us to see what's going on."
I locked eyes with the quiet female werewolf. "You're comfortable with that?"
She grinned, shrugging. "I've done things like this before." Her grin dampened. "I just have to be careful, however and hope that everything goes to plan."
I thought of how things could go array and sighed deeply. If Kesley was to be harmed and things were to get out of hand if the people in the meeting knew she worked for Xerxes, blood would be shed and that was something I was hoping we could avoid, but also knew was a strong possibility to happen. She would fight back and I knew that Easton and Xerxes would have to intervene. Specific measures would have to be taken so that this could be avoided.
"Rebecca!" Mary opened the door with excitement, white teeth gleaming. The faint smell of what I assumed was soup or some sort of stew permeated the air. Voices came from behind her and I shifted on my feet nervously.
She opened the door further, outstretching her arms for a hug, only to stiffen, eyes going wide with shock as she looked above me, mouth hanging open. Her hands fell limply to her sides. "A-Alpha."
Xerxes' smiled politely, holding out a broad hand. "You must be Mary. Rebecca has told me good things about you."
Mary glanced to me, slowly taking his hand and giving it a small shake with her own and quickly dropping it back to her side. "I had no idea you were coming."
"You said another person could come." I explained as she showed us into the restaurant. "So I invited Xerxes."
Mary smiled uneasily. "Of course." She laughed weakly when Xerxes looked down at her. Her hands clasped together tightly before her as she walked into the buzzing restaurant, to a particular table in the back where most of the people she had invited sat. Conversation hushed at the sight of Xerxes and I, the noises of glass and silverware dying down. Long, awkward stares and furrowed eyebrows ensued as Xerxes greeted them.
"Have a seat." Mary whispered to me as Xerxes went around the table, introducing himself to the humans. But that wasn't needed; I knew that everyone knew who Xerxes is. Names were exchanged during the process and I was becoming anxious at the thought of having to remember all of their names.
One of Mary's children, a young man who I had seen the day I had first visited her, watched Xerxes carefully as he sat beside me. However, the look wasn't one of malice or anger, just curiosity. The man's eyes met mine and they widened when he noticed that I had caught him staring before darting away to the bowl in front of him.
"More people are coming." Mary said to me. "They will be in a shock when they realize who is here."
Even though those words were intended for my ears only, Xerxes had heard them. His head lifted when she scurried away, going to the door.
Anthony, another one of Mary's son smiled when I made eye-contact with him. "I heard about the accident you had with the vehicles. Glad to see you're okay."
I returned a smile. "Thanks." Heads turned as a couple walked in with a young child and this time, I was expecting the confused stares at Xerxes, coupled with fear.
The girl, who looked to be around three or four hurried to a chair next to him before her parents could say anything, managing to climb on. I could tell the mother was struggling to keep quiet and pull her child away and with an uneasy smile at Xerxes and I, sat as well with her boyfriend or husband.
As more and more people arrived, I became comfortable and accustomed to the blatant stares. Xerxes didn't seemed affected by them either and I guessed it was because he was used to it.
A meal was served, vegtable and beef stew, and coversation picked up quickly. No one spoke to us for a long while and I, at first didn't mind. The taste of the food was the only thing I focused on really. But then, as time progressed, I did begin to feel awkward and I looked across the table to Mary, who was engaged in a conversation about the different types of entrées she would be making at the restaurant once it became open to the public.
It was only when conversation between the guys and a few women about an upcoming football match developed that Xerxes decided to partake in the conversation. I could see their apprehension when he spoke, but that quickly became replaced with interest as they drawled on about which team should win. I faintly remembered Xerxes watching some match whilst I had been at my old home, but had no idea he was so into that sport.
"Rebecca?" Mary tapped my shoulder half-of-an-hour later. "Would you like to help me put these away?" She gestured to the empty bowls and I nodded, rising to my feet, glad to be doing something other than listening to debates on football teams. I carried some of the heavy bowls in my arms, hurriedly following Mary into the large kitchen in the back.
"Just rest them there." Mary gestured to the sink, which I gently placed the bowls into. Lifting a sponge, despite her protests, I began to scrub the bowls clean. Mary washed them after I did this, by the sink beside mine and cleaned them with a towel afterwards.
"So what did you think of the food?" Mary asked mid-way throughout her cleaning.
"It was delicious." I told her, my mouth watering at the memory of the taste. "I've never eaten stew that tasted so good."
Mary smiled widely. "Thank you." She said, laughing softly. "My mother taught me how to do it. And before that, her mother taught her. There is a secret ingredient that I use to enhance the flavor." She paused when I looked up at her. "I can't tell you that, though. It's only for the family to know."
I chuckled. "I see."
Mary cleaned the last bowl and put it away. "I saw that Xerxes liked it too." She said after a moment of silence, watching as I washed my hands clean of the suds and cleaned my fingers with the soft napkin Mary handed over.
"He seems to be getting along well with the others." Mary continued speaking. She looked over me, visibly hesitating to speak but did anyway. "I was a bit nervous when I first saw him...and I was worried about the other's reactions to him. It took a while, but it seems like they've warmed up to him."
She looked pointedly towards the kitchen door as laughter roared from behind it. I nodded in agreement, my eyes flickering to the door as well. And as we stepped out the kitchen, a sense of hope flared in me upon seeing the joyful, relaxed persons at the table. For many months I've read from newspapers and magazines about how it would be near impossible for humans and werewolves to get along, to live with peace.
And although I knew this was quite not true, because I firsthand had seen a couple werewolves converse easily to humans with no animosity, I too began to think so as well because of all of the recent events that had been occuring.
There obviously is some sort of tension remaining between some humans and some werewolves, but some chose to understand that not all werewolves are wicked, whilst others hold onto that hostility towards the other race.
And as I watched my fellow humans sitting around the table, actively engaging with The Alpha, I had an inkling that the pre-judgements that they held towards Xerxes, had been shifted, atleast to a small degree.