Wet hair grazed my shoulder as Alyssa reached a hand out on the table, plucking off a grape from a bowl of fruits. She ate it noisily, looking up at me with a smile as she did so. Arthur continued drinking his wine as Alyssa got into a chair, George following suit. They were both pretty short for their age, and their feet barely touched the floor.
I made conversation with them as they ate the various fruits provided, noticing that they both seemed content and happy, which was such a contrast from how they had been many months ago.
"Do you and Xerxes sleep in the same room?" George asked me suddenly. I looked at him in confusion, wondering how the topic from deciding what movie to watch later tonight had switched rapidly to this. Alyssa smirked knowingly at my bewildered expression, peeling the skin of an orange.
"Yes." I said, hearing Arthur chuckle at my strained voice. Alyssa leaned forward, wriggling her brows, her smirk growing.
"So do you guys...do it?"
I stood abruptly, cheeks burning. "Well would you look at the time," I exclaimed, looking to a clock hanging on a wall. "I have some work to get to."
George wiped his fingers in a napkin, glancing up at me. "Sure you do."
Eyes narrowed at him warningly but I said nothing else, hurrying to the stairs, taking two steps at a time as I grudgingly thought of several emails I had to respond to.
The fire pit crackled from where it was situated, a distance away from me, but yet I felt it's warmth relax me. Empty glasses of wine rested by Xerxes' feet and my head rested on his chest, feeling strangely tired after drinking the strong wine. Xerxes' arm curled tight around my waist when I finished talking, lifting my head when he inhaled.
I had just finished speaking to him about what Sissy had told me earlier. Xerxes had been mostly silent as I explained to him her words, and the state she had been in.
"I think you should talk to her about it." I suggested, staring into the flames. "Maybe you shouldn't kill Idina."
I could feel his eyes on me, hear the low sounds of raspy growling, clearly disagreeing with my words. It was obvious that Xerxes had a troubling past, one that he wasn't quite ready to disclose to me yet, but I knew that whatever those things were that Idina did to him, contributed to why he loathes his mother now.
"Just listen to what she has to say," I continued, resting my hand against his arm, the snarls emitting from him ceasing almost immediately. "And make your decision afterwards."
Xerxes ran a hand over his face, appearing frustrated, but reluctantly nodded. My gaze went to my mother who sat afar from us, reading through a book silently, a large blanket resting over her body to shield her from the cold. Her eyes lifted as Xerxes stood, leaving the balcony and then went to me.
"Is everything okay?" She asked, even though I knew she had been listening into the conversation the whole time. My lips twitched at her 'innocent' expression and I watched as she snapped the book closed, blinking in expectation.
"You heard mom." I told her dryly. My fingers twisted at my robe as she pulled the blanket closer around her. "What do you think he should do?"
My mother's eyes darted to the cover of the book she held, hesitating before speaking, "I truthfully don't know." My mother said. "But he'll know what to do when the time comes."
Sissy's teary eyes flashed in my mind and my fingers tightened into fists. "Sissy doesn't deserve a mother like Idina." I said softly, barely being heard over the crackling flames. Mother lifted herself from the chair and walked across to me, leaning down to press her lips against my hair.
"I'm going to check on George and Alyssa," She told me. "And then get to bed."
I watched as she walked away, the door sliding closed behind her. Standing, I moved to the rails on the balcony, gripping it tightly as I stared at the steady stream of vehicles entering and exiting the neighborhood after being checked by security.
Xerxes had stayed true to his word and had hired more guards to patrol the area; their added presence brought about confusion for the neighbors but no one had asked either Xerxes or myself about it.
I could see the shed when I moved across the balcony, saw a single light glowing from it and wondered what Benjamin and Idina were doing. She had been quiet when I had walked by her cell earlier and I noticed that she wore clothes.
Pulling away from the rails, I took up and folded the blanket my mother had left behind and walked into the bedroom, putting it away. A laptop which I had been using before rested on a table and I found myself back on it, composing and writing reminders for the upcoming weeks.
I only stopped when my fingers began to cramp, and by then midnight was approaching. Frowning, I looked towards the door, wondering why Xerxes hadn't returned to the bedroom. I shut off the laptop and stood, pulling and tieing the strings of the robe I wore and walked out into the dark hallway.
"Xerxes?" I called out softly, not wanting to wake anyone up. I received no response but carried on walking anyway, my fingers sliding against the wall, helping me find my way.
I paused when I saw light coming from Sissy's bedroom. Slowly I made my way over to her door, looked inside. I blinked in surprise when I saw Xerxes sitting up with his back against the headboard of the bed, asleep, with Sissy's head resting on a pillow as she slept on her side on the bed, her arm thrown over one of his legs.
I snickered to myself, wishing I had brought my phone to take a picture; they both looked adorable. I switched off the overheadlight and returned back to my room, sitting back down by the laptop. I was far from tired, so I got back to tapping out emails.
Arthur looked at me over his glasses as I pulled on the heavy jacket and laced up my boots. Kesley and Easton were already outside, taking shelter from the drizzling rain under an oak tree. Flynn was already dressed for the weather and Xerxes was finishing off a conversation with my mother, who tossed me a wary glance before I stepped outside.
It when when Xerxes left that we began our journey to the shed. My hair became damp as the drizzle became a hard downpour and my walk broke into a run, boots slipping against wet grass and mud, vision beginning to blur because of the water constantly hitting my face.
I reached the shed before the others did, yelling out a 'thank you' to the guard who held open the door for me and the others, who simply walked. I took off the now heavy coat, hung it up and stared down the bleak pathway which led to the cells.
Water dripped noisily from my shirt as I walked ahead to the cell where I knew Idina stayed. Stormy, feral eyes met mine as I paused by the bars, watching the way she leapt forward, lip curled in a furious snarl, her body heaving hard against the sturdy metal. Her hand reached out and I flinched away from the claws extended towards me.
"Step back Idina!" Xerxes voice roared over hers and after they both stared at each other, Idina's head lowered and one of her feet pressed backwards, hand lowering behind the cell. The guard nearby shook her head at Idina.
"She's been getting very rowdy lately," The woman told us dryly. "And she's refusing to eat the meals provided."
"Then she will starve." Xerxes' snarl echoed in the shed and I sighed, focusing on the cell where Benjamin was in. I tossed one last look towards Idina, who by now had retreated into the shadows of the cell and carried on walking.
Benjamin perked up at the sight of me, a small smile brightening his features, only for that to fade away when he saw the four werewolves behind me.
He heaved out a breath. "What now?"
Xerxes withdrew a set of keys from his pocket and Benjamin's eyes widened in disbelief but narrowed after in suspicion when Xerxes' hand reached for the door.
Xerxes pushed the key inside the padlock of the cell door, his voice drawing Benjamin's gaze away from his hand movements. "You're going to do something for me," Xerxes told him, his voice raised so it could be heard over the sound of the rain outside and the several keys hitting each other. "And you won't be able to do it behind these bars."