Silence filled the room of the car, both Xerxes and I consumed with our thoughts. What the werewolf had said, in that shop, rung in my head, a heavy feeling in my chest as I continuously recalled his words.
Xerxes had done many horrible things, including what the man had spoken and I was now questioning myself and this relationship that I was attempting to build with him. Although he has done many things to try and better the lives of humans now, the memories of actions which he had allowed to be enforced in the past on my kind still troubled me and so many others. That is why I understood the hesitance of the townfolk when it came to trusting Xerxes.
My eyes flickered to him, watching him grip the steering wheel tightly, his jaw clenched as he glared ahead at the road. He was still furious with Andy. I got the sense that he was somewhat angry that the topic of his past had been brought up in front me; he knew my feelings regarding his former doings and Andy reminding him and I about it once more may cause tension between us.
Xerxes was trying, to do better, to be better, and some have said that his determination to show other that he has truly changed, was admirable.
I sighed, turning to stare through the window at the passing houses, the drizzling rain.
“So where are we going to eat?” I asked, breaking the quietude, continuing to look outside at the passing scenery, and the familiar route which we were taking. At first, I thought he hadn’t heard me, for he didn’t respond, but then he eventually answered.
“We can eat at my home. Greta has prepared some food.” He said, glancing down at his phone which he held in his hand. My stomach churned and I gaped at him.
“Greta? The maid who has a habit of snapping off birds’ head with her teeth is cooking us lunch?”
Xerxes grimaced, but nodded as he slowed the vehicle, turning into his garage. Greta was waiting for us once we entered the home he had moved into two months ago, a snarky, haughty expression plastered on her face as her eyes narrowed onto me, only to soften when she looked at Xerxes.
Holding out a hand, she asked for my coat, which I reluctantly gave her.
“Have a seat in the dining room,” She said to us. “And I will serve you two in a couple minutes.”
I watched as she stalked away, my coat gripped tightly in her hands as she turned a corner. Xerxes’ phone vibrated and he answered the call, leaving me to find my own way to the dining room. Clear glass walls allowed me to see outside at the wet grass, the pool in the backyard. The sun rays were beginning to peek through the dark clouds above and the rain had eased considerably.
My bare feet swept across cold tiles as I moved to the dining table, sitting on the metal chair and resting my arms on the armrests stiffly. I heard the sound of Greta approaching, the clicking noises of her heels making me want to sink into my chair. She’s a very intimidating woman, and she knows it. Despite my fear, I smiled as she walked past, her strong perfume making my throat itch. Despite my politeness, she continued to stare at me with those eery dark eyes of hers.
“Will you be staying the night?” Greta snapped, wiping a hand on her apron. Her body language was stiff like mine; she disliked me and I despised her.
“No.” I told her, watching the way her shoulders slumped with relief, before she whipped around and moved to the kitchen. I could hear Xerxes, his deep voice echoing as he entered the dining room, pulling a chair backwards and dropping his large body on the furniture, his phone still gripped tightly in his hand. His words had lowered to a hush now that he was in the room and I looked away, offering him some privacy.
Feet pattered against the tiles and I watched as Xerxes’ sister, Sissy, practically skipped inside, her smile widening at the sight of me.
“Hello!” She chirped, choosing a seat beside me. I gave her a small grin, watching as she relaxed back into her chair, her eyes dancing around the room, rubbing her palms together in excitement. “Where’s the food?”
I glanced over my shoulder. “I believe Greta is getting it.”
Her nose wrinkled. “Oh.” She leaned over to whisper to me, “She got into trouble this morning, with one of the neighbors.”
My eyebrows raised in curiosity. “Why?”
Sissy shuddered. “She stole some baby parrots from the neighbors’ cage outside. She admitted to taking them, but she didn’t say what she did with them.”
Greta chose to return with steaming plates at that moment. It was a simple meal, which I was thankful for. I didn’t think I could stomach a lot of food, especially when I saw the small, dark bones which peeked out from the pockets of her apron.
“We should go out some time.”
I jerked my head up, staring at Mathew from where he sat. He met my eyes, his smile widening as he leaned across to me, briefly looking at the laptop which rested between us.
Scoffing shakily I refocused back on the project. “Yeah, that’s not going to happen.”
The heavy weight of his stare continued, my skin prickling with unease as I tapped rapidly against the keyboards on the laptop. The sheets of the bed shifted as Mathew stood.
“I’m going to get some coffee.” He declared, pausing at the doorway to stare down at me. “Would you like some?”
I nodded, continuing to type. As soon as the door closed, my eyes lifted to take in my surroundings once more; Mathew's large bedroom. A couple clothes were piled in a closet, some looking dangerously close to falling out. An open window allowed a nice, cool breeze to waver around the room every now and then. The color of his walls were light blue, and the faint scent of paint could be smelt, as if the walls had recently been painted.
I had wanted to do this work in his living room, but most of his friends had been there, conversing loudly with one another and eventually I opted to go with him into his room after he insisted we do the project inside there instead.
My fingers began to cramp and I pushed the laptop away, just as Mathew returned, two steaming cups in his hand. “It’s Cappuccino.” He said, handing me one.
Mathew placed his own cup down on a desk, army-crawling towards me, his side brushing my thigh as he peered over at the laptop. “Good job, partner.” He winked. I sipped at the coffee, wincing when the heat burnt my lips.
He watched my sour expression, a humorous laugh rumbling from him. I set the cup beside his firmly, sending him a glare of annoyance and resting back on my elbows, kicking my feet off the floor and onto his bed, in a relaxed position.
“You should do some of the rest.” I suggested. “I’m going to take a little break.”
There was silence for a few brief seconds, and then the noise of fingers against keyboards filled the room.
“We won’t be able to finish all of this today.” Mathew grumbled, papers rustling. I shrugged, staring up at his white ceiling, noticing a yellow spot on the corner of it.
“We can do some later next week then,” I told him. “And just make sure that it’s completed before Friday.”
He grunted and I closed my eyes. Minutes ticked by and he spoke again, “I’m serious.”
I peeked one eye open. “What?”
“About taking you out. Going on a date.”
His words had me immediately sitting up straight, staring at him in bewilderment. Although he stated that he was being serious, he was still smirking.
“You do know I’m Xerxes’ mate, right?” I spoke slowly, raising my eyebrows high. He chuckled.
“Oh I know.” Mathew said, winking at me again. “I don’t mind some competition.”
I honestly couldn't tell if he was being sarcastic about his words and studied him. He had turned back to the laptop and was staring at the screen in confusion.
Leaning across, I took the up the coffee, drinking some of it and then standing. “I think we can finish this off some other time.” I said, saving the work on the laptop twice and placing it into it’s case. Mathew raised his shoulders momentarily, standing as well.
“Not a problem. Just text me later, so I can know what day to meet up with you.”
Nodding, I lifted my bag, placing the laptop case into the bag and zipped it up, sling it over my shoulder.
“I’ll walk you to your car.” Mathew offered. I forced a smile, and quickly moved out of his room, walking downstairs, in the direction of door.
Hands suddenly grabbed my shoulders and I was jerked around to face a woman, one that I had hoped not to meet again.
My teeth grinded together as I saw the familiar face of the woman who had grabbed at me in the shop I went to earlier this week.
“Did you leave him yet?” She demanded.
The young men who had been in the living room suddenly appeared, watching the interaction.
I scowled, eyes darting to the ring in which she wore. “Step back, please.”
I expected her refusal and my hand dropped to the pocket knife that I usually carried. She shook her head adamantly. “I have a few questions for you,” She pressed, looking over her shoulder to Mathew, who watched with curiousity.
“Surely you’re not associated with Xerxes, willingly?”
At my silence, her eyes widened in utter disbelief.
“After all that he has done, you still voluntarily speak with that beast?!” She spat, her shock rapidly being replaced with anger. “What did he do? Promise you riches, fame? Why have you turned against your people and gone with the enemy?!”
My body shook with barely repressed rage. “Watch your mouth, woman.” I hissed slowly, the grip on my knife tightening. “Why don't you go bother someone else?” I snapped, stepping backwards. She continued to follow me, even when I turned and began to walk to the front door.
“You must listen!” She was yelling now. “Xerxes is an evil man. He made us humans live in deplorable conditions for years, killed many who opposed him. And yet you still choose to gallivant around with him.”
“Do you really believe that us humans think he’s truly changed? A man like him cannot be changed.” She paused, watching as I withdrew my knife, hold it against her throat.
“You need to step back.” I pronounced each word carefully, keeping my eyes firmly on hers. She ignored my words.
“Do you know how much of a fool you look like when you go out talking to us, claiming that things will get better? No one believes you. You are a foolish young girl, who has turned against her people by staying with that Alpha.”
My chest felt heavy, a burning sensation causing me to shudder. Blood trickled from her neck as I pressed the blade into her skin.
“Alright mom, that’s enough!” Mathew said, pushing her away from me. My mouth dropped open and I whipped around to stare at him.
“She’s your mother?” I demanded, surprised. He ignored my question, snatching the knife from my grip.
“I think it’s best that you leave, now.” He said softly, shaking his head at the sight of his mother’s blood on the blade. He led me outside, walked me to my car and handed me back the pocket knife.
Mathew gave me a long look, which I couldn't quite decipher the meaning behind, before walking back inside his apartment.
My hands shook as I fastened on my seatbelt, the woman’s words still a fresh memory, the anger I felt remaining. Listening to music didn’t help calm me, the tasty burger I bought after I went into a drive-through didn’t help at all.
By the time I had pulled up at the building in which Penelope and I had arranged to meet at, I was fuming. She noticed as soon as I entered the doors of the mall and allowed me to rant to her about the encounter I had with Mathew’s mother. By the time I had finished, we had reached our destination; the food court.
One of Penelope’s friends, Natalie greeted us and I instantly picked up on the bubbly attitude that she had, which was very similar to Penelope’s. She held the arm of a young five year old boy, who was pointing towards a place which sold chicken and chips, demanding that he be fed.
“Hold on, Sam.” Natalie chastised him, beginning to look flustered as her eyes darted around the area. Finally I decided to step in and chose a table.
Natalie sent me a grateful smile as I lifted the squirming boy into his chair. She gave him a handful of crayons, which she withdrew from her handbag and a small colouring book, which the boy eagerly grabbed, flicking through pages and eventually settling on the drawing of a tiger.
Once we were all seated, Natalie began to speak with Penelope.
“How is everything with the little one?” Natalie asked, gesturing to Penelope’s small baby bump.
A red flush came over my friend’s face as she beamed. “The baby is fine.”
“Do you know if the baby’s a boy or girl yet?” Natalie questioned, glancing at her son, who had began to colour his tiger green and yellow.
Penelope shook her head. “No. I don’t want to find out yet.” She explained. “Flynn is hoping for a boy.”
Natalie smiled sweetly. “He’ll be a good father.” She sighed, relaxing back into her chair and staring at her son, who had dropped his crayon onto the floor and began to crawl on his hands for it. I stiffened, thinking of all the shoes which had crossed where he touched.
“When I met my mate, we both agreed on not having children.” Natalie told us, shaking her head as her son returned to his seat and began chewing on the edge of his crayon. “But here he is nonetheless.”
Penelope smiled and watched as Natalie wrestled the crayon from the boy's hand. My eyes widened as his lower lip trembled, mouth opening.
“Anyone want a drink?” I blurted, standing. “I can go buy some.”
Natalie shook her head, but Penelope nodded.
“Just get me any juice, please. I need something sweet.”
I slipped into a store and bought a drink for myself as well. The cashier appeared disgruntled at my appearance.
“You that chick who’s with that Alpha?” The girl asked, snapping gum and packaging the drinks.
Sighing, I lifted my hands for the bag, hoping that she wouldn’t react like Mathew’s mother. “Hmm.”
Her disgruntled expression dropped away. “My family and I recently moved into a home. I’ve never got to thank him for helping in constructing and designing it...could you pass on my gratitude?”
I blinked. “Um, sure,” I narrowed my eyes on her name tag. “Whitney. I’ll tell him.”
After a wave I quickly left the store, returning back to the table, my mood brightened somewhat. I slid a bottled juice to Penelope, which she quickly chugged down.
Natalie looked towards me, smiling slyly as I uncapped my bottle and lifted it to my mouth. Clearing her throat, she asked me,
“So has Xerxes spurted some of his seeds into your fertile womb as yet?”