Jayne stretched her aching back after loading her last bag into the back of Gabriel's beat up old truck.
She'd thought about using her own car to drive back into civilization, but other than the baby growing inside of her, the rust covered vehicle was all she had left of her mate.
Walking back into the cabin one last time, she went through each room making sure she hadn't left anything behind.
All of her equipment was packed and tagged for retrieval by the college, the fridge and cabinets were cleared out of everything besides the dishes, pots, pans, and utensils.
The only thing left on the small kitchen table was a note she'd written to Gabriel if he ever came back.
Gabriel, my love, my life,
By now you are mated and possible even a parent and Alpha of your pack.
I wanted you to know that I've kept my promise to you. I haven't hurt myself once since the night you left me.
I know you had no choice, and that has helped me heal a little.
I also wanted to tell you that I finished my study and submitted my thesis for review. With any luck I will soon be the proud recipient of a Master's Degree in Biology.
I don't know where I will end up in life, but know that I will always and forever love you.
With one last sniffle, she locked the door and climbed behind the wheel beginning the long, treacherous drive away from the place of her greatest happiness and greatest sorrow.
Reaching town, she made a quick stop at the dump to deposit all the trash she'd bagged over the last few months and headed to one of the few local restaurants for a real, honest to Goddess, cheeseburger.
Sliding awkwardly into a booth, Jayne looked up to see the same blond who'd come to Gabriel's cabin all those months ago approaching her, menu in hand.
"Hey," Lizzie beamed, recognizing the purple ends of Jayne's dark hair, "you're with Gabe right?"
"Not anymore," Jayne replied, accepting the menu and opening it, holding it up to cover the tear that escaped. "He left a few months ago."
As the silence stretched, she lowered the paper and plastic barricade to see an angry look on the blonds face.
"Gabe left you?" she asked, looking between Jayne's sad face and swollen stomach.
"Yeah," Jayne nodded, her cheeks suddenly burning, "though neither of us knew about this at the time."
"Are you gonna tell him?" Lizzie asked, sliding into the seat across from her, a conspiratorial look on her face.
"I don't even know where he is," she admitted with a heavy sigh, her hand absently rubbing her stomach.
"He left without telling you where he was going?" the blond asked, looking flabbergasted.
"Yeah," Jayne sighed, her appetite gone.
"You know what?" she said, pushing herself out of the booth. "I changed my mind. I'm not that hungry."
Lizzy hurried to get up as well.
"Hey," she called, moving catch up with the retreating Jayne. "Listen, I know we don't actually know each other, but if you need anything, let me give you my number.
"Us girls have to stick together," she added with a wink.
In the end, Jayne gave her cell phone number to Lizzie as well.
With a brief, somewhat comforting hug, she climbed back into Gabriel's truck and pointed it north.
Despite the traffic of Seattle, Jayne made good time and headed straight to the small house she'd rented sight-unseen over the internet in the little town of Lochsloy north of the city.
As she pulled into the driveway, she was met by a cheery looking woman in a conservative business suit.
"Are you Jayne?" the woman asked, reading from a clipboard.
"Yes," Jayne replied with a smile, locking the door to her. "And you must be Mrs. Lupine."
"I am," the older woman agreed with a small smile.
Over the years of living on her own, Jayne had managed to stumble into a small group online of other were's like herself who lived quietly in the human world, and Mrs. Lupine was one of them.
While it wouldn't be called friendship by any stretch of the imagination, the group all felt the natural pull of their kind to be connected, and even though it was mostly online, the tangible connection the group had was enough to keep them from going full rogue and loosing the last bit of their humanity.
"It's nice to meet you deary," the elderly wolf told her holding out a set of keys.
"Nice to meet you too," Jayne replied, accepting the offered keys.
"So," Mrs. Lupine said, getting down to business, "you said in your email that you needed a place close enough to Seattle to finish your Master's, correct?"
"Yes," Jayne nodded, wincing at a solid kick to her ribs from her baby. "I have my dissertation in a few weeks and then soon enough my little kick boxer will be born."
"How far along are you?" the elderly lady asked.
"Almost six months," Jayne replied.
Seeing a look of confusion on the other woman's face, she hastily explained.
"I was born without a wolf," she said sadly. "Without a pack doctor I've had to do a lot of research and guessing, but it seems I will have to carry for nine months like a human would."
"How sad," Mrs. Lupine said, clicking her tongue. "Well, let me show you around inside and then I'll help you bring in your things."
The small house was a simple one room building with oriental screens separating the living room and eat in kitchen from the bedroom and small bathroom.
While it wasn't much, it was more than enough for Jayne's needs, and as a bonus it was mostly furnished, and best of all really cheap.
Bringing in her last bag, she sighed and thanked the elderly woman for all her help.
"If you need anything," Mrs. Lupine said from the door, "you have all my contact information."
"Yes," Jayne nodded with a smile, "and thank you again for all your help."
"Well," the older woman sighed, "us outcasts have to help each other."