Sunlight streams through the open window as I blink, trying to focus my eyes. The steady beeping of the monitor reminds me where I am. I stiffen as I notice the rhythmic light breathing of someone sleeping and slowly sit up, having learned my lesson last time.
Chris is slumped over the side of the bed sleeping lightly, his head tilted to the side. There’s a small gash surrounded by a bruise on his temple. I reach out, lightly brushing his hair away to get a better look. At the contact he shoots straight up, eyes wide as he stares not blinking for a minute while searching my eyes.
“Are you okay?” He asks, reaching out for me, but I flinch away. Hurt flashes through his eyes before they harden and his anger flares. “What the fuck were you thinking!?” He says, balling his fists, causing me to look away. “They could have killed you!”
The door opens, then Dr. Phillips and Jace enter. Chris grabs me by my shoulders, then his eyes lock on mine as they swirl with more emotions than I can process. The sudden contact causes me to gasp as my panic spikes. I’m frozen, looking up wide eyed, not knowing what is coming next.
“Chris,” Jace cuts in. “Come on man, she’s been through enough right now.”
He grabs Chris by shoulder, trying to guide him back. He lets go of me and sinks back to his chair. “Why,” he whispers. “Why did you leave the house, you almost died! If we had been a moment later...” His voice is laced with sorrow as he trails off.
My heart starts to race as last night’s events begin to flash back, making me jolt upright in bed. “Ethan! Where is he!? Is he okay?” I remember the terrified boy being attacked by wolves; his screams will no doubt haunt my dreams.
“Shh, he’s safe too, thanks to you,” Jace assures me. I slump back, relief flooding through me.
It was worth it, he’s safe.
A small smile creeps on my face as I take solace in that.
The rest of the night starts flashing back, the attack unfolds in my mind and I remember Chris and Jace covered in blood fighting wolves. The wolf was crushing me under his weight and Chris pulled it off and threw it like it was nothing. My eyes widen at the mental images. I look at Chris and Jace, who are staring back like they can see my thought process.
Fear creeps up my spine as it all sinks in. “What are you?” I whisper, unable to look away.
“What do you mean?” Jace asks weakly. The guilt and surprise are clear in his eyes; he never expected me to come right out and say it. I can see the wheels spinning as he looks for a way to dodge my question. Instantly I bristle, knowing he’s trying to say anything but the truth.
“Don’t toy with me,” I say lowly.
I trusted them and they’ve kept me in the dark
Even now, he won’t be honest with me and it just feeds my hurt and anger.
“Jess,” he starts, desperation laces his voice but I know he’s stalling. His grey eyes lock on me, begging.
I feel my face flush as my temper blooms at his evasiveness.“Get away from me!” I shout angrily.
How can I ever trust these people again?
“I need some space,” I say looking directly at Chris as his shoulders slump. Hesitantly both men slowly get up and head back outside. I sigh, hiding my face in my hands.
What is even going on? My head is pounding again, I can’t think straight.
Dr. Phillips clears his throat to get my attention, reminding me he is still here. “Here, this will help your headache.” He hands me a glass of water and two pills. At this point I don’t even care, I quickly take them and drink the water. “I’d like to keep you overnight for observation,” he trails off.
“No,” I cut in immediately. Just the thought of staying here has my heart racing.
He shifts uncomfortably. “I understand your concern but he won’t want to release you before we are sure you’re okay.”
“Too bad. Thanks for patching me up but I’m fine now.” I feel my pockets, checking that my phone and keys are still there.
“Jess dear, you are not fine. You have a severe concussion and several smaller wounds that need treatment,” he protests, shifting uneasily.
“I’ve had worse,” I mumble. “Don’t worry I’ll be fine.”
He opens the door, both Chris and Jace are waiting in the hall, as he whispers something to Chris.
“Absolutely not,” Chris snaps as Jace holds him back. I cover my ears and curl tighter into a ball as my heart threatens to burst out of my chest.
“Perhaps we should talk more in my office,” Dr. Phillips offers. Chris hesitates, staring at me from the door before reluctantly walking away down the hall. The slam of a door makes me jump.
Carefully I get up, and check the hall; no one in sight. I head towards the brighter end of the hall hoping for an exit.
I quickly head out before anyone can stop me. Once outside, the sun is blinding. I stand there for a moment blinking my surroundings into focus. Things are back to normal, with people out and about.
I realize I’m on the far end of the main house, and make my way to my truck as fast as I can without drawing too much attention. Movement in a window catches my attention. Claire looks out at me with concern in her eyes as she realizes what is happening.
I sprint the remaining stretch to my truck, jump in, and take off as she burst through the front door with Sara. My relief is cut short by my phone, I look briefly it’s Chris.
Hard no there bud.
He continues to call as does Jace in between texts. As the first message pops on the screen, I can practically hear Chris yelling through the words.
Chris: get back here now! You are in no shape to drive! What are you thinking!? Seriously turn back now, I’m not asking!
An involuntary shudder runs through me, no doubt he’s a dangerous man, but I have no intentions of going back. I send only one reply.
me: I’m going home, seriously stay away, all of you, I need some space.
My phone continues to go off so I turn it off.
What have I gotten myself into?!
I frown and continue on home, leaving the rez in my rearview mirror as fast as I can.
Pulling up to my house, I’m shocked to see Sara leaning up against my back door.
How did she even get here so fast?
We stay staring for a moment before she speaks.
“So, you gonna rat us out?” she asks with a challenging tone of voice.
“You need to leave. I told Chris not to send anyone, you aren’t welcome here,” I reply, trying to keep my voice level.
“Answer my question and I’ll go,” she counters, dark eyes locked on me. I frown and consider her question.
Am I going to tell someone about them? Who would even believe me?
I sigh, since exposing them never even crossed my mind, I just wanted out and away.
“No,” I whisper, feeling defeated. “I just needed some space, I feel like I’m suffocating.” She nods satisfied; a look of pity briefly crosses her eyes that is followed by disgust.
“From Doc.” She shows me a bag before setting it on the table. “And Chris doesn’t know I’m here,” she says as she walks away heading down the laneway.
I walk up and cautiously check the bag, two bottles of pills and a note:
Antibiotics are to be taken 3 times daily, the others are as needed for intense headache/nausea/dizziness. Call me at the first sign of fever or if you need any more medication. Plenty of rest and fluids.
I take the medication before hitting the shower to wash all the grime off. I freeze, catching my naked reflection in the mirror. My back is black and blue from hitting the ground and flakes of dried blood still linger, presumably from the hidden head wound. I decide to wrap my bandaged forearm to keep it dry; I don’t feel up to tackling that yet.
After standing in the shower till the hot water ran out, I finally got out, dried up, and got ready for bed. Brushing my hair was nearly impossible; it’s so painful, I give up halfway through and fall fast into a deep sleep.
The following day everything catches up to me. Everything hurts, places I didn’t even know I hit. I secretly thank Sara for bringing me the meds; I would have been in worse shape without them.
Tomorrow is market day; I won’t stay long but I have to see Jude. He’s been strangely quiet and I think I know why.
I look up to see my lone wolf, who looks restless as he paces by the laneway. My jaw clenches as my suspicions grow. “You’re not a normal wolf, are you?” I ask lowly. He drops his head, a small whimper makes it to my ears.
“Get! I’m done playing games! I said I wanted space and I meant it!” He reluctantly leaves.
Nothing feels simple anymore.
Market day and Jude is sitting away from Trish as I head over to drop a box off to her. “Shit Jess what happened?” She gawks at my forearm.
“Wasn’t watching what I was doing and cut it open on a broken window,” I lie. “Teach me to not pay attention eh?”
She lets a small nervous laugh out, but lets it go. “Something’s up with Jude, he’s acting strange. Can you see what’s up?”
I nod. Talking to him face to face is the whole reason I came today. I walk over to his stand when no one else is around. He won’t even look at me, which just upsets me more.
“Are you one too?” He refuses to look up. “Jude! Look at me!” I practically hiss. His sad blue eyes lock with mine and I know I’m right.
“Why didn’t you trust me to tell me?! I expected that from them, but not you.” I let all of my hurt and betrayal seep into my words.
“Please,” he begs. “It’s not like that.” I can hear the desperation in his voice but the betrayal hurts more.
“Don’t! You had your chance and plenty of time. Now give me my time.” He nods, sinking back down in defeat as I turn and leave.
Saturday night, I see a wolf walking up the back laneway. I’ve never seen this one before. It’s coat changes colour with the wind, his inner coat is silver with the outer coat being pitch black, with deep brown eyes. I yell at the huge wolf to go. It stops and stares defiantly before taking another step.
“That’s enough! I’m done playing this game!” I grab my bow from behind the door, nock an arrow and draw. The wolf stands tall in challenge and continues to walk. I aim and release, the arrow burying itself in the post less than a foot from the wolf’s head.
He freezes as the realization of what happened sinks in and his shock quickly turns to anger. A deep growl cuts through the quiet evening air, but he doesn’t come closer.
Wednesday morning comes and a cloud of dread hangs over me. I’ve already told him not to come, but Jace has never been good at following orders.
I’m healing well, the stitches have started to itch. I can take the ones out of my arm but not sure how I will manage the ones in the back of my head. Even the headaches are far less frequent and less severe.
Mid afternoon comes and still no visitors, so I start to relax. Just as I start to pack up for the day, I freeze as the rez’s dark SUV slowly pulls in. Dr. Phillips and Grandmother are the last two people I expected to see, but they get out and we study each other for a moment. Doc looks very nervous, shifting and scanning the area while Grandmother as always is calm and keen, as though nothing has happened.
“You shouldn’t be here,” I state matter-of-factly. She just laughs and dismisses me like a child.
“And you wonder why we don’t tell people about us,” she scolds. “We have a long standing order and I’ve come to collect as apparently everyone else has been barred from your place.”
I’m stunned by her total disregard for my boundaries. “I’m sorry, but I wasn’t expecting anyone so nothing’s picked or packed,” I say, feeling a bit guilty.
“I’ve got nothing but time, child, show me the way and I’ll even give you a hand.” She’s clearly not giving up, so I grab a stack of crates and head to the garden. “I’ve always wanted to see where the magic happens anyways,” she muses.
As I collect her order, she walks around admiring my personal eden. She spends a lot of time smelling all the different flowers and herbs. “They’re beautiful dear! I had no idea you were so gifted,” she says with sincerity.
“I’m not sure how much of a gift it is to grow plants, but yeah I’ve always had a green thumb,” I trail off with a small smile.
She takes my hand in hers and looks at me with those sharp crystal blue eyes. “How are you child?”
I shrug. “I’m healing well, I’ll be back to normal soon,” I reply, not looking at her.
“That’s not what I mean and you know it.” She squeezes my hand to drive the point home.
“I don’t know honestly,” I say with a sigh. “I don’t know what to think or feel I’m just confused and numb.”
She looks at me with a sad, knowing smile. “It’s okay not to have it all figured out you know, but you have friends and people who care about you that are desperate to talk to you, but you’ve shut them all out.”
“I think I’m afraid,” I whisper, embarrassed.
“Of what!? We would never hurt you,” she scoffs.
“No, no, I don’t think they are out to hurt me, it’s just, it’s complicated,” I trail off in exasperation.
“Hump, things are as complicated or as easy as you want them to be,” she chides.
“It’s not that easy Grandmother, it never is, my past is... messy to say the least and it has twisted up how my mind processes things,” I finish in a whisper.
No one needs to hear the hot mess of my past.
“And you think you are processing things properly, hiding here on your farm alone?” She asks skeptically, knowing she’s right. “Come now, let Doc take a look at you before we go.”
He checks my sutures and deems them fit to remove, which he does thankfully. After checking everything else out, he’s pleased with my rate of recovery and says to keep up the good work before heading back to the SUV.
“Set two extra places for dinner tomorrow, you’re going to have guests to help you sort things out.” I open my mouth to protest but am cut off. “Do try not to skewer these ones, the last one you nearly shot has been a bear ever since,” she teases.
“I had warned him to stay back and he didn’t listen. It was only a warning shot, my aim is better than that,” I glower, which she just laughs at as they head out.
So much for my boundaries...