“Here it is, sir.” I slapped the printed pages held in a gray folder on my teacher’s desk. The look of disapproval was sent my way, but I ignored it as my mind drifted. I needed to return home to pack my suitcase for my trip. Behind me, Mathew was fumbling with a lighter, the clicking noise filling the empty room as the professor flipped through a couple pages.
He grunted, his eyes travelling between us as he finally closed the folder, placed it amongst another stack of work resting on his desk. “I shall assess it further. The marks shall be emailed by Monday morning.”
I didn’t bother to offer any other words to the professor. With a quick sweep of his hand, he dismissed us. Mathew lit his cigarette once we were outside, resting beside me, one leg propped behind him on a wall. No words were exchanged between us as we watched the passing vehicles, the lights from a few cars momentarily blinding me every now and then as they passed.
The cold chill of the night increased as I checked my phone. Brad was only a couple minutes away and was in light traffic. I glanced at Mathew, briefly wondering how he planned to get to his home. He hadn’t driven his car to college and had told me earlier today that the engine was being checked. At my gaze he lifted a packet of cigarettes.
“Want one?” He asked. I shook my head. I had tried smoking once, when I was sixteen. I hadn’t enjoyed it, to say the least. Mathew shrugged, slipping it back into his pocket and leaning back against the wall.
My arms folded against my chest as I stared down the road, the wind burning my eyes, causing them to water. Rain began to sprinkle from the dark sky above and I huffed loudly, grabbing my hoodie and pulling it over my head.
Small puddles began to form on the slick road and more than once, my jeans were sprayed as a result of oblivious drivers splashing right through them. The smell of Mathew’s cigarette began to waft away and I watched from the corner of my eye as he let it drop to the sidewalk and crush it with his sneaker.
A car slowly came up, halting near Mathew. He looked towards me. “You want a ride?” He called. I glanced ahead. There was no sign of Brad. And almost fifteen minutes had passed since he had said he would be able to collect me in less than two minutes.
But I would wait. “It’s fine,” I finally told Mathew. He looked reluctant to leave me, but eventually nodded and opened the car’s door. My lips pressed together at the sight of his mother, sitting by the driver’s side, her beady eyes locked on mine. Her mouth opened, but scoffing I turned, giving her my back. I wouldn’t be entertaining her strange, ridiculous words.
I would rather wait for an hour for Brad, than get into that car. But thankfully, I didn’t have to stay so long.
Just as they finally left, Brad pulled up, offering many apologies. An accident had made the trip here longer and he had to take a different route.
I knew instantly that someone was in my home as soon as Brad dropped me off. The living room lights were on and I could see the shadow of a familiar person moving around. My pace quickened as I neared my door. Swinging it open, my eyes immediately landed on Xerxes.
Dark brows were furrowed in confusion as he met my gaze. “Good evening.”
I scoffed, glancing down at a suitcase and a bottle of my last soda drink. I shook it. Empty.
“You sure did make yourself comfortable.”I grumbled, assessing the papers on the small table in the living room and an unzipped suitcase. Xerxes said nothing, just continued to watch me as I took off my bag, resting it on the floor, kicking off my sneakers.
My feet moved swiftly towards the kitchen. I hadn’t had lunch for the day and I was starving. There was no leftovers from the dinner I had yesterday and I knew I would have to...oh.
I came to a stop before a platter resting on a counter in the kitchen. My mouth watered at the sight of mashed potatoes with gravy and fried fish, along with a side of mixed vegetables. It was a simple meal, but I was still giddy at the sight of it. With wide eyes I looked up to Xerxes. He shrugged one broad shoulder casually.
“I figured you would be hungry after the long day you had.” He told me. I couldn’t help my smile. Surprise and appreciation warmed my body. My fingers quickly grabbed a fork and I began eating, savouring the delicious meal with every bite.
When I was finally finished, I rested back in my chair and Xerxes moved to wash up my plate. I listened to the sounds of him cleaning up and then stood, standing on my toes and pressing a quick kiss on his cheek. “Thank you.”
The action startled him and I watched with mild amusement as silver eyes darkened, the sponge he held dropping into the sink. His hand reached out to me, gripping my waist and pulling me flush onto his hard body.
A low purr vibrated his chest when my fingers clenched around his shirt, his head lowering as he pressed a slow, searing kiss onto my lips, his other hand lifting to clutch the back of my head, fingers delving into my hair. Fangs nipped my bottom lip softly and I shuddered at the erotic feeling.
My chest was heaving when he finally, reluctantly, released me. Cheeks were hot as I cleared my throat, my entire body tingling as I felt the bond between us strengthen.
“You’re welcome.” Xerxes said to my earlier statement. He reached back for the sponge, moving it across the plate. For a few seconds, all I could do was stare at his back, still dazed by what had just taken place. When I finally gathered my bearings, I quickly left the kitchen, moving to my room as thoughts of the heated kiss replayed in my mind, thrills of heat erupting throughout my body.
I stayed in my room for most of the night, finishing off the few assignments due next week. Concentrating on it had been difficult- my mind would now and then drift to the large male sitting down in my living room, watching what sounded like a football match. It didn’t seem like he was planning on leaving anytime soon.
I fell asleep that night, listening to the sound of his movements and the roars of cheering coming from the television.
“It’s coming along beautifully, isn’t it?” Mary whispered, brown eyes sparkling at the sight of her restaurant, which was halfway finished. “Just two more weeks and I’ll be able to have it opened to the public.”
I smiled, watching as a few construction workers sit down to rest on a bench. I lifted the plastic bag containing bottles of water to her. “I’m going to take this over to them. I’m sure they are thirsty.”
One of the men amongst the constructors workers was Mary’s son, Anthony. He was the only man who firmly refused some of the water offered and instead chose to watch me silently.
His expression was blank and gave away nothing of what he was thinking as he observed my actions. Mary huffed at what she perceived to be his rude behaviour towards me, but I was personally not offended.
“You don’t even have anything else to drink!” Mary exclaimed, nudging the man’s shoulder, taking the bottle which I had once held out to him and letting it drop to his feet. “Take the water. You will be no use dehydrated.”
I turned away when I began to see his mouth open, perhaps to protest or to agree with his mother. I glanced down at my watch, knowing I only had a couple hours left before I headed to the airport. I spotted Robert and had a short conversation with him about the building.
It was only after I had said goodbye to Mary that her son decided to speak. He stepped forth, blocking me from entering the SUV. Brad straightened in the driver’s seat when the man began to speak, his eyes alert.
“You may need to be careful with that guy.” Anthony told me, his words slow and pronounced. His head was lowered, as if he wanted the conversation to be heard only between him and I.
Anthony nodded solemnly. “The man who was with you on the day you visited my mother’s home.”
My eyes narrowed. “You must mean Harold.” I paused, glancing behind me as I heard Brad open the door.
“He is not to be trusted. He is no true friend of yours.” His words were quietly spoken. My chest tightened as I continued to listen, “He dislikes many of the things you do.”
My brows creased. “What…?”
Brad reached my side, tapping on his bare wrist. I nodded, slightly irritated by the break in conversation and turned back to face the young man, my teeth biting the inside of my cheek. Never once did the man break eye contact with me. Earnest could now be seen on his expression as he silently pleaded for me to take in consideration his words.
I had some suspicions about what he had spoken, but I wanted to hear his explanations for saying what he told me.
“Can I take your number?” I asked. “When I return back to town, we can talk further about this.”
“Your glass of water, sir.” The air hostess leaned down, offering the glass which sat upon a gray tray. Harold took it, releasing a grunting noise,
“Thanks.” He swallowed it down in two gulps, wiping a hand across his forehead. I watched as the woman departed, her smile dropping away once she thought she was out of our line of vision.
“Can’t stand fake bitches.” Harold grunted and I knew that the lady had probably heard him. Scowling, I turned back to face him. His attitude, since we had boarded the plane, was completely sour. He had been rude to the pilot who had greeted us as we entered, which earned him a frown from myself and Penelope. Harold also had several complaints when he saw crumbs resting on a wooden table. It was quickly cleaned up, but that didn’t stop him from moaning about how unprofessional that was.
“What’s up your ass?” I hissed, leaning forward. “You need to relax. You’re acting like a fool.”
Penelope nodded in agreement, watching Harold with wary eyes. Harold scoffed, wiping at his mouth with a handkerchief.
“You have no idea about how much pressure I’m under.” Harold spat, his dark eyes narrowing down at me. This wasn’t the first time he had talked about how stress was affecting him, because of the work which he had offered to do for me. He knew what he was getting into when he had decided to step into the role of organizing meetings between myself and people from various communities and countries. He was paid extremely well, but that didn't please him.
“You can always back out of it.” I snapped, his bad attitude making my muscles tense. “If you don’t like what you do, I can have someone else come in and do it for me. Your whining is annoying.”
Harold blinked, startled by my outburst. It wasn’t very often that him and I argued. His mouth snapped shut, lips pressing into a thin line. Beside me, Penelope heaved a sigh, picking up her phone.
“Finally.” She breathed. I stood, looking over to where Flynn and Xerxes sat and decided to join them. Me being in Harold’s presence only mounted my anger.
I ignored the smirk which was sent my way by Xerxes when he saw that I was approaching. The soft material of the chair instantly soothed my rigid body and I melted into it, pulling a grey, thick blanket over my legs as I made myself comfortable.
Flynn carried on talking, going into great detail about what Arthur Swiss’ intentions were with the large meeting he was having with us and many other high ranking werewolves. I quickly learnt that Arthur was a good friend of Xerxes. Xerxes had once seen him as an ‘uncle’, for he had helped taken care of him when he was a child.
“There will be one meeting from nine a.m to two in the evening, and another from three to seven. I believe Arthur would like for us to be there for both of them.”
“Will there be any humans?” I asked. There was silence for a few heartbeats as Flynn hesitated in answering.
“The only humans there will be you and Harold.”
Xerxes locked eyes with me. “It is important that you stay close with either me or Flynn whilst we are there. Many of the werewolves I will be discussing with still dislike humans.”
I rested my chin on my fist, peering up at him. “Perhaps it would’ve been best that I stayed back home.”
“Arthur is very eager to meet you. He will do his part to ensure that no harm comes to you.” Flynn spoke quickly, as if trying to lessen any of my worries.
Xerxes nodded in agreement. Doubt still swarmed in my stomach, despite both of their reassurance that I would be protected. Werewolves can be cunning and extremely smart.
Long fingers threaded through my own, warmth slowly seeping through me from that one simple touch. Crystal silver eyes scanned my face as Xerxes sensed my unease through the bond we shared. Minutes ticked by before the emotion lessened, muscles relaxing as I squeezed his hand, letting my thumb rest on his warm wrist, feeling his slow pulse.