Mom offered me a ride home, which I reluctantly said no to. My face was red and puffy, aching from how much I had cried in her office. I needed time to think. Being trapped in a car with my Mom would only bring on the tears, and I didn’t want any more of those. My body groaned and ached with fatigue, but I trudged home anyway.
It was a fifteen minute walk to my neighborhood, giving me too much time to think. The entire scene in the hallway replayed in my head a million times. I thought of every possible thing I could’ve said, everything I could’ve done differently.
Y’know how something happens to you and after it’s done you think of everything you could have said? That was what I was going through. I could’ve pleaded, I could’ve simply stepped into his arms and used the mate bond against him. I didn’t though, I didn’t because I was weak. This fact was beginning to dawn on me, how I lacked true strength.
When I made it home, I ran inside and grabbed a notebook and a pen. As soon as I had entered the house, I was already leaving. I needed to see Micah one last time, just to say goodbye. I would miss Micah the most, miss the time we had spent together. Spending time with Micah was addicting. I could forget everything going on in my life with him. He had a carefree attitude that was addicting, one I had grown used to.
I was disappointed when I came to the bank of the river. I wasn’t sure why I had expected him to be there. It was one in the afternoon on a Friday. Micah wouldn’t be here at this time. Our visits became less frequent, but I looked forward to them regardless.
Instead of hanging around, I pulled out the notebook and pen. I figured if he wasn’t here I’d leave him a note, letting him know I had left. The thought of Micah waiting around for me hurt, so I decided the truth was better than nothing.
I’m not sure if you’ll ever see this but I really hope you do. I can’t give you any excuses on why this happened, so I hope you’ll understand. My Mom and I are leaving. We’re moving somewhere else. I can’t tell you why, but maybe someday I’ll be able to. I just wanted to leave this so you know I’m safe. Thanks for being my first friend and giving me somewhere to forget my problems. Hopefully we’ll meet again someday.
I sat the notebook on top of the flat rock Micah would always perch on. Hopefully the weather would be kind, and hopefully Micah would actually show up tomorrow.
I walked back to the house, realizing I only had an hour left to pack. I only grabbed the essentials, stuffing some clothes in a suitcase for Mom and I. I tucked some pictures of Dad into a box and stuffed it in the suitcase as well. Everything else was replaceable.
Once I was finished, I looked around the bedroom I had spent my entire life in. These four walls held me since I was a baby, keeping me safe at night. The chipped paint that had been replaced countless times held more memories than I could comprehend. I tried to think back to my childhood, wincing at the blank spots. The injury to my head had done it’s damage, stealing away some of my coveted memories.
I found myself sitting in the living room, my eyes scanning the pictures on the walls. This was how Mom found me when she came into the house an hour and a half later. Her ponytail was falling, some of the long hairs sticking up on her head.
“Everything’s set.” Mom nodded, standing in the doorway with a strange look on her face. “I didn’t tell them anything. They gave us the clear to leave.”
“Good.” I nodded, looking as lost as Mom did.
“Y’know--I never wanted to move here.” Mom chuckled, “I hated this house, still do.”
“You didn’t?” I found myself asking despite the pain in my chest, “I always thought you loved this place.”
“Oh no.” Mom shook her head, “Dad loved this place. I couldn’t bare to tell him I hated this damn house.”
This was the first time Mom willingly talked about Dad. The same pain flashed in her eyes, but this time she seemed more at ease with it. Maybe this was a new start for the both of us.
“I think this will be good for us, Raelynn.” Mom turned to me, a small glimmer of hope in her eyes. “I think we both need to leave our pasts behind.”
“I would like that.” My voice was small, unsure. I knew no matter how hard I tried, I would think about Atlas Andino until the day I died.
We left only twenty minutes later. Mom asked where I wanted to go, I told her I didn’t care. The Alpha and Luna told us we could relocate to another pack, but could not live as rogues. I told Mom to pick whichever pack she wanted.
The car ride was silent, but I battled my tears the entire time. My mind flickered from Atlas to my Mom. She had given everything up for me, while he couldn’t even give me a chance. Mom had given me the world, but Atlas couldn’t even open up his heart. She was leaving her home behind, while Atlas was leaving me behind.
I continued fighting the tears until I fell asleep, my head resting against the cool glass of the car window.
I awoke to the sound of a car door shutting. My eyes snapped open and darted around. We were in a hotel parking lot, the hotel’s neon sign blinking rapidly. Sands hotel, it was called. One of those hotels where the doors were outside and each room had it’s own balcony.
“Where are we?” I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, pulling myself out of the car slowly.
Mom was pulling our suitcases from the car, slamming the trunk shut with a thud.
“I didn’t mean to wake you.” Mom smiled softly, “I drove a solid ten hours, but I need some sleep.”
“Don’t worry about it.” I nodded, “The car did no favors for my back.”
The more I thought about Atlas, the sharper the pain got. When I pushed him from my mind, the pain faded. It left me feeling numb and detached. Was this the choice I was left with? Be in constant pain or feel numb to the world?
We clamored up the stairs and into our hotel room. There was nothing fancy about the room, but it had two beds and a working shower. I plopped down on one of the double beds and curled into a ball. Sleep was already beginning to take me.
“Did you want a shower?” Mom’s gentle touch was on my shoulder, and I grumbled in response.
“No.” I mumbled, “I’ll shower in the morning.”
Mom was silent as she crept away, and I faded happily into sleep.
We left the next morning. I showered and changed my clothes into something comfortable. She said we were going somewhere warm, knowing how much I hated the cold. The thought made me miss Texas. I would miss the lush forest with it’s incredible wildlife and density. There was so much room to explore and run around.
We spent all day driving, only stopping for food and the occasional bathroom break. The monotony was getting overwhelming, my thoughts constantly going back to Atlas.
“Where are we going?” I frowned, glancing at my Mom’s GPS before she turned it out of my view.
“No peeking.” She scolded with a stern face, but her lips broke out into a smile. “It’s going to be a surprise.”
I wanted to tell her not to bother, that surprises didn’t matter anymore. I couldn’t say the words after seeing the excited look on her face.
We stopped at another hotel that night, repeating the same process as yesterday. We had driven much longer today, and Mom had let it slip that we only had four hours left to go.
I woke early that morning, ready to get the rest of the drive finished. I’d be the happiest girl in the world if I never had to go on a ten hour drive again in my life. I was tired of sitting in the car, watching the buildings pass as we zoomed down the highway. I’d assume we were somewhere in California, judging from the road signs.
My favorite part of the entire drive was going through the desert. Everything was so big and open out there. It made you feel insignificant when placed against something so vast. I found the desert strangely beautiful, Lila disagreed with me.
‘It’s just a big bowl of sand and rock.’ Lila shook her head, ‘Nothing pretty about it. Wanna know what’s pretty? Forest’s are pretty.’
I could tell we were nearing the end when Mom was practically jumping in her seat. Her eyes flickered excitedly to each building in town. The town was much bigger than our own, but the buildings also seemed older.
“Were here.” Mom breathed, the start of a grin on her face.
I looked at her in confusion. Where was here?
“This is where I grew up.” Mom breathed, her eyes dancing with excitement as we pulled up to the red light. “Welcome to the Night Walker pack.”
The Night Walker pack was just another in a long list of packs through out the United States. The name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place my finger on where I had heard the name.
“I told you about my old pack, remember?” Mom grinned. “You had to have been seven or eight.”
“I can’t remember ever hearing you say those words.” I chuckled humorlessly, rubbing my temple as a sharp pain zipped in my head.
“Must’ve forgotten.” Mom frowned, “The best warriors come from the Night Walker pack. They send the warriors all over to help packs and fight rogues.”
Mom sounded so excited, so wistful.
“I was one of their warriors once.” Mom nodded proudly, a grin on her face as my eyes widened in surprise.
“You?” I was speechless, “A warrior?”
“I was.” Mom grinned, “Not one of the best, but I was still a warrior. That’s how I met your Dad.”
Mom’s voice trailed off, her eyes glazing over. It only lasted a split second, much shorter than the times it happened in the past.
“Sorry.” Mom chuckled, her smile soft. “This place just has a lot of memories.”
“And you wanted to come back?” I grimaced. Why would she want to be bombarded with those memories? Having been rejected, I understand why she’d want to forget.
“It wasn’t all bad.” Mom smiled softly, “I grew up here. My Mom and Dad lived right in the center of town. Dad owned a hardware shop just over there.”
Mom pointed at one of the buildings. It looked like it had been remodeled into something else. Grandma and Grandpa died when I was young. I couldn’t remember much about them, but I had heard plenty of stories.
Grandma and Grandpa were the best example of mates. Grandpa’s family hated Grandma, but he never let that stop him. He took Grandma into his arms and promised her the world. His family disowned him, took away his inheritance but he didn’t care. He stayed with Grandma through it all, and she with him. Their lives had ended peacefully, nearly at the same moment. That was the classic love story everyone wanted to hear. Guy meets girl, they fall in love, defy the odds, have a family, and die together peacefully.
I wondered if they realized how unique that was. How many people truly get happy endings? My black and white vision was becoming melded, shades of grey forming in the cracks. Was an ending truly all happy? Or did the good mix with the bad and make it bittersweet?
I wasn’t sure I believed in happy ending’s anymore.