Homebound

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twenty - nine

Cleo


The foster home looked just as simple as ever. Hardly a month and a half has passed since I, uh, ‘moved out’ and yet not a single thing had changed. The bricked walls were still chipped, miscolored, and missing an occasional corner, while reminding me of every single moment I’ve had here all at once.

I lightly knocked on the decaying door, cringing when I felt the wood creak under my gentle fist.

It swung open, and I was met with my previous foster parent.

Mrs. Donna studied me nervously. The last time I had actually spoken to her was at the police precinct, where I was about to be evaluated for my mental state. I had called her in hopes of having someone comfort me, and when she didn’t and I got mad, she flipped out on me about her own mate. Understandable, I now realize, but still uncalled for.

Now neither of us knew how to act.

Was she still mad at me? I had practically insulted her and her dead mate, and honestly, I was ignorantly rude.

A loose smile suddenly engulfed her mouth. With a heavy sigh, she wrapped her arms around my neck and swallowed me in her grasp.

Cleo!” She exasperated. “I’ve missed you.” Mrs. Donna pulled away, resting her palms on my shoulders while she studied my appearance. “You look so much healthier.”

Addressing the large elephant in the room, I sighed.

“About the call -”

“ - don’t worry about it, honey.” She ran a hand through my hair, flattening it. “We both said things we didn’t mean, and we don’t need to delve on it. Come, come.”

Mrs. Donna turned around, motioning for me to follow her. She led me to the kitchen, where she pulled a chair backwards and led me to sit down.

“How are things here?” I asked as she took a seat in front of me.

“Well, Dustin moved to another foster home last week.” She started, moving her eyes up and to the left as she thought. Dustin and I were sorta friends, and I guess a change of scenery is good. Hopefully he’s in a new state and away from all these woods. “We took in another kid, she’s about seven and Alla adores her.”

I smiled, running my sticky palms together.

“Heather?” Although a part of me, a large part of me, still despised her, I still was curious about her. A thought suddenly struck me, when I had last spoken to her in the police precinct. She did visit me in the hospital but soon left after I woke up. “Didn’t she turn eighteen a week or so ago?”

Nodding, Mrs. Donna said, “Last Wednesday. She hadn’t found a place to live, so she’s hiding out here. I can’t just kick her out knowing she’d be on the streets.”

“Oh.” I forgot about that.

“And while avoiding her emancipation, she is trying to figure out how to get custody of her brother, Derrick.”

Oh, shit. With my own problems, I had completely forgotten about Heather’s.

“The worst thing,” Mrs. Donna began. Her eyes turned glassy, and she yanked a silver handkerchief out of her shirt pocket and brought it under one of her eyes. “She has a week’s grace period before I have to remove her from our household. If she stays and a social worker finds out, I could get fined, and I’m barely making it by. I can’t afford it - and the rest of the kids -” She dabbed her leaking eyes with the scrap of silver. “It’s just basically worse and even worse. Poor Heather, she knows this, but still hasn’t found a place she can afford.”

She sniffled quietly before recomposing herself.

“But, besides that, how are you and those boys of yours?” Her voice wavered, and I couldn’t comprehend how this one woman could hold such burdens.

“We’re good, great actually, but Mrs. Donna, I can’t just push the ‘Heather Situation’ aside. I want to help.”

“Oh, Cleo, you’re so sweet, but how can you?”

“Uh . . . me, Kieran, and Ezra are going out of town for the next week. She could stay in our cabin until she can find her own place.”

Mrs. Donna’s eyes light up. A huge smile befell her winkly cheeks, and she stood up before grabbing me into another hug.

“Oh, Cleo! Thank you, you’re saving Heather, and this foster home!” She spoke into my hair, unaware that there was a look of uncertainty on my face.

Now all I had to do was figure out how to convince the boys to go on a vacation - which shouldn’t be difficult. I hope.

“Hi, welcome to Restauranten og Baren!” The dark skinned hostess cheerfully smiled at me as I entered, and I returned the gesture. “Would you like a table or sit at the bar?” She continued.

Her whimsical eyes skimmed me up and down as my mind went blank.

“Uh . . . what is Ezra working at?” Stupidly, I asked. He told me he was serving, but bartending could also be considered serving, in a sense.

“He is on the floor right now. Would you like to sit in his section?” She smiled again, but it was in a knowing sense. As if she knew something.

“Yes please.” I nodded.

“Right this way.”

The hostess led me around a few tables and down a short path before stopping at a booth. “Just right here.” She motioned towards the table.

Thanking her, I sat down on the right side of the booth. The hostess hadn’t left quite yet, but instead I found her eyes on me once again.

“You’re her, aren’t you?” She questioned, her brown eyes searching my hazel once expectedly. When I was confused, she opened her mouth again. “The girl he’s been talking about.” How would I know if I was the girl he’s been talking about? Stupid ass question. Apparently the hostess realized, because she suddenly shook her hand. She chuckled, “Sorry, no. I mean, are you, uh, dating him?”

I nodded, making her lightly squeal.

“I was hoping so! You are so pretty, and so much better than Jessabel, like ten times better! Though you’ve only said a total of like eight words to me, I can just tell! I am so happy for -”

A deep voice suddenly cut her off.

“Okay, Kiara, I think you’ve talked her ears off enough.” Ezra appeared behind her, saving me from this seemingly endless conversation. The girl seemed nice enough, but I was not in the current mood.

Apologizing, Kiara turned and headed back to her host stand.

“Sorry about her. She’s a talker.” Ezra smiled down at me. He had a small black apron tied around his slim waist, with a few checkbooks sticking out of the large front pockets. He had a black collared shirt with navy jeans to match. I licked my lips, god, he looked devine.

Kieran really had corrupted me.

“It’s okay. She seems nice.”

Bopping his head up and down, he took a seat in the booth across from me. I cocked my eyes at him - wasn’t he supposed to be working?

Following my look, he said, “It’s really slow right now. My manager won’t care - and besides, you’re my only table right now.” He dragged his hands across the table and gently grasped mine. Rubbing his thumb over my knuckles, he asked, “So what brings you here?”

“I wanted to see you.”

“And?”

God, he really knew me. I did have a slight underlying reason to visit him, but now I felt guilty.

“Uh -”

“- wait, Kieran didn’t bring you here, did he?” Cutting me off, his grip on my hands slightly tightened. Not painfully, but enough to wear I realized I might be in trouble. Horrifying, my thighs warmed at the thought. He didn’t even wait for my answer. “You snuck out and took the car?” Sheepishly, I shook my head.

“No - no I didn’t.”

“Cleo,” He lowered his voice dramatically. “You don’t have your license.”

“That’s just a formality.”

“Cleo.” Ezra turned his voice a notch deeper. More serious, more intense. “You don’t know how to drive, you could’ve gotten hurt -”

“- I used to, uh, borrow the cars at the foster home all the time. I’m fine.”

Cleo.”

Ezra.”

Rolling his eyes playfully, he groaned. “You’re insane.”

“Kieran isn’t even at the cabin he has no idea.”

Ezra’s eyes suddenly shot to mine. “What? Where is he?”

“After he came back from dropping you off at work, he did his wolf thing and just left. I think he told me where he was going but I was half asleep.”

“So you just left then after that?”

“Well, after an hour or so I did. I think Kieran said he wouldn’t be back until late anyway.”

“Oh.” Ezra looked away, deep in thought. “He must’ve traveled to our old pack. There’s been some issues.”

“Old pack?”

“We were born in a werewolf pack, which is when a group of werewolves live together in the woods. Usually it’s a small town with houses and some community stuff. When we were about twenty, we decided to move away from the pack and get our own home.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, and we’re technically considered rogues, like not forced ones.” I didn’t really understand what he meant, but I didn’t question it further.

So, if Kieran left their old pack, and he’d be gone all day, it must be kinda far away. Far away enough to be considered a vacation.

“Can we visit your old pack?”

“Uh, I don’t know Cleo . . .” His eyes shot downwards. Was there something about their old pack that made them leave - or did they not want me there for some reason?

“Please? We could make a trip out of it. I need to get out of the cabin.” I felt devious and a tad guilty for having ulterior motives, but I didn’t stew on it for long.

“I’ll talk to Kieran about it.”

“Okay.” I smiled. “Thanks.”

Ezra’s eyes moved behind me, where Kiara was seating another nearby table.

“That’s one of my tables, I should go greet them.”

Nodding, I stood up and slithered out of the booth. Shamefully, I figured the best time to tell him about the whole Heather thing was now.

“Also, I invited one of the old foster kids to stay at the cabin, she turned eighteen and needed a home. She’ll be over tomorrow. Thanks!”

“Wait, what?”

I brushed past him, practically running out the door.

A/N - Hope you all are enjoying these long chapters! I wanted to split them up - but couldn't find a good dividing point, so I left them as they were! Let me know what you think! Also, this is part one of a double update! So you continue onto the next chapter immediately!

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