Rolling over on the couch, I am awoken by a noise up the hall. I rub my eyes and can feel that Everly is awake through the bond. I could hear her at the back of the place, rummaging around and doing something. I try to go back to sleep but when I hear tiptoed footsteps in the hall. I crack an eye open to see her go to the front door, whispering under her breath to herself. I sit up, wondering where she is going so late at night. I hear the door unlock, then relock before hearing her footsteps again.
“What are you doing?” I grumble and she jumps startled.
“Nothing. Was making sure we locked the door,” she answers before padding off back down the hall. Now awake I got up to get a drink, yet she felt off through the bond, it made me wonder why she felt scared? The scariest thing in this d**n place was lying on the lounge! Did she really think I would let someone in to get to them?
Lying back down, I tried to go back to sleep. I was in that part of sleep when you are asleep yet also not, my ears pr*ck at soft footsteps again, only this time she was checking the balcony doors. What is she expecting? Someone to scale up the side of the hotel? I watch her trying to ignore the nagging of the bond when she goes to the front door again.
“You already checked it,” I say she stops and I could just see her from where I lay, she was standing in the hall, she rubs her temples and goes to walk back to our room when she pauses and walks back to the front door.
“Everly, I said you already checked it,” I growl at her.
“I just need to be sure,” she mutters and I listen to her twist the locks and relock them again. I click my tongue and sigh listening to her walk off again when Marcus tugs on the mind-link.
“You just got home? I thought the company driver was meeting you halfway. Why are you up?” Marcus asks.
“They did meet us halfway, dad and I took turns driving. And to answer your other question, because Everly keeps checking the damn locks,”
“You two still not talking?” he asks.
“I don’t want to upset her, I have nothing nice to say right now,” I admit, feeling like a damn a**h0*e but I didn’t know what else to feel. I was angry and words stung so I didn’t want to throw them out in anger and upset her.
“Try and get some sleep. I will be by at 7 AM to pick you up,” he says, cutting the link.
The last thing I wanted to do was go see Nixon, but after what we found out off John I needed to investigate, though I don’t see him being cooperative.
I try to sleep, I catch a couple of hours when I hear the damn lock twist on the front door again, ignoring her, I listen as she checks the balcony doors, then the window. She was driving me up the damn wall but when I heard her check the kitchen window I sat up. Valarian would struggle to fit through it, let alone any ninja that managed to scale up the building. She rushes back off to the bedroom and I shake my head, laying back down and closing my damn eyes only to feel eyes on me a few minutes later. Unease rolls over me and I knew she was awake. What I wasn’t expecting was to open my eyes as I rolled over to find her next to me.
I near sh!t my p#nts and jumped out of my skin. She jumps in fright when I do and I groaned clutching my hair. “What?!” I snap, annoyed. I had spent all damn day and night in a f*cking car and now all night with her, waking me up every goddamn second. I growled at her and sat up only to notice her blanket and pillow on the floor next to the couch.
The look on her face made me feel like a p***k for snapping at her when it clicked into place, she said nothing but I don’t miss the way her lip quivers as she stood up to go back to the room. I grip her wrist as she reaches to grab her blanket, and I can feel the tremble in her hand. I lift the blanket and tug her on the couch with me. The stupid bond!
She rolls into me and I slide my arm under her head so she can bury her face in my neck. She says nothing and falls asleep almost instantly while I found myself now unable to sleep trying to understand her strange action and the weird look of fright but also humiliation on her face like she was caught doing something she shouldn’t.
Her breathing evens out, her heart rate slows falling in sync with mine and her scent calms me as I tuck her closer and I eventually fall asleep.
The following morning however I wondered if I dreamt it because I was on the couch alone and Valarian and Everly were nowhere to be seen. I reached for my phone to find missed calls from Marcus, it was 10AM.
I open the mindlink and feel for Marcus tether, he answers immediately. “Why didn’t you wake me?” I snarl at him.
“I tried but Everly said she kept you up last night and to let you sleep,”
“F**k! I’m getting ready now,”
“All good, I cancelled with Nixon until tomorrow, he said he had to leave the city anyway.” I sit up and rub my face.
“What time?” I ask and yawn.
“11 AM tomorrow, go back to bed,” Marcus says but I shake my head before remembering he can’t see me.
“No, I need to check the homeless shelter anyway. Make sure you wake me tomorrow. I don’t care if I am tired or she keeps me up, we need to get this meeting out of the way and see his reaction,” I tell him.
“Okay, well John just got to Zoe’s place with Everly so I should go,” Marcus says.
“Wait, Everly is with you? Where is Valarian?”
“At school, she dropped Valarian here at 5AM this morning and asked us to run him to school so she could get an early start on her mural. Zoe and I dropped him to school for her,”
“So she didn’t take him to see John and Claire?”‘ I asked him.
“No, Everly didn’t want to upset you and bring him without your permission, though Claire looks pretty upset he isn’t here.” Marcus answers.
“Is Everly ok?” I ask him, slightly worried since she didn’t wake me. I didn’t even hear her leave.
“Yes, why wouldn’t she be?”
“Because she kept checking the d**n locks all night, she seemed frightened, maybe meeting her father had her anxious.”
“Ah, yeah, Zoe does that. Drives me nuts, anxiety, Zoe takes medication for hers, but isn’t so bad when I am here. Old habits d*e hard,” Marcus says with a sigh.
“What do you mean?”
“The girls, Zoe said they hated living at the back of the hotel because it was so close to the reserve, she said they were always paranoid about forsaken breaking in and taking the kids, apparently they had a few scares here. Everly must have been scared. Anyway, I know she said she is going to the homeless shelter later, her sign is finished so is she going to watch them set it up at 1pm, maybe you will catch her there”
“Okay, thanks. Mind-link me if John tries anything,” I tell him before I cut the link. Walking to the bathroom, I shower to try to wake up. Pondering what Marcus said about the girls, did that mean Everly didn’t feel safe here with me. I didn’t understand it, she was fine before and it’s the first time I had seen her do it.
Getting out I got dressed and I couldn’t believe I wasted an entire morning, since I knew Everly was going to be at the homeless shelter, I made sure to meet her there so I could take her to her appointment, I went to my father’s place for lunch then I drove over to the homeless shelter to see a crane lifting a huge sign on top of the building but my eyes were drawn to the mural that was out the front.
Climbing out of the car, I could see she had finished it but my footsteps halted as I stopped at the front gates and stared up at my mother. Everly I could see was guiding the men on the cherry picker telling them the sign wasn’t straight as they attached it above the murial and front doors leading in.
My eyes roamed over the huge mural, last time I saw it was a blank canvas which had me questioning what she was doing. One side of the wall was the woman I remember from the pictures I had seen that Everly had shown me. She had used the photo but instead of Everly, Zoe, and Macey beside her like in the photo, my mothers arm was tossed over the shoulder of Emily, and her son stood between them both.
I felt like an a*e, she got up this morning to finish this despite us arguing, emotion clogged my throat as I stared up at the women that influenced my mate most, and made her into who she is today. Dad’s words came back to me about how the rogues were all she had and seeing my mother up on the wall I now knew what he meant. This was my mother but she was also Everly’s and now I understood why Everly went ahead with her challenge, it wasn’t just for the rogues, it was for mum! She wanted to fix the one thing she couldn’t.
Walking over to Everly she stared up at the sign the men were placing in the brackets, she was covered in paint and sweaty from the hot day. I wrap my arms around her waist and she jumps.
“Thank you,” I whisper, k!ssing her cheek. She sighs and up points to the sign.
I look up and watch as the men peal the white film covering the sign and revealing the writing beneath.
‘Valerie’s Place’ – Where your village begins.
“Now no one will forget her name,” Everly whispers. I swallow at her words and tears burn my eyes, she did this in honor of mum and for me. It was perfect.