I worked on this mural all morning, and I finally had the sign arriving today. So when dad and mum left after lunch, I headed back over to the shelter when I got the text message saying the sign was ready to be placed. The meeting with my parents went well, but the pack’s finances were destroyed.
Dad was using loans to pay off loans which only gave him more debt, and I had to think of a way to absolve all the debt. I was in over my head and with Valen not speaking to me, I didn’t know anyone that could help without selling off the pack assets.
What savings I did have weren’t enough to cover the debt and the Hotel, and I wasn’t about to ask Valen for the money. Then there was the contract between my father and Nixon, who held the pack as collateral to the debt my father owed, and I didn’t have millions packed away, dad had kept up his repayments, but all those repayments were loans from the bank too.
All the pack businesses were in the red, but luckily I noticed that a few of the loans taken out were through two of the banks owned by Valen’s pack, so maybe I could have the interest rate lowered or relinquish those businesses back to the bank to remove those debts without filing bankruptcy.
I paid most of them straight off today, but the larger sums I had no way to cover, then there was the debt to Nixon. I had called Kalen and asked him about it since he handled most of Valen’s accounting, and he said there was no way around the contract that was drawn up, that now that debt was mine because it was put on the pack’s finances, not on my father’s personal finances.
Which left me with two options, sell what remaining assets my father’s pack has or try to get a loan, which I didn’t want to get into more debt. Dad had six months left to pay off Nixon or the pack, and all its assets and land belonged to him.
Dad still owed him 1.6 million, and I knew my Hotel’s land alone was worth more than that, but I wasn’t willing to give it up. That place wasn’t just mine, so now I was debating to see if, once fixed, if Valen’s pack would buy it, so I wasn’t losing it, and neither were the rogues, but with how angry he was, I wasn’t sure if he would help even if it was his mothers.
Pulling up at the homeless shelter, I checked on Macey and Zoe, who left a little before me to pick up the kids and meet me here. They were inside the rec room, putting up the last finishing touches. It looked great inside, and I quickly kissed Valarian before rushing backout.
I checked to make sure the paint was dry first, and it was. Seeing Valarie up on the wall made tears spring to my eyes. Out of every mural I had done, this was my favorite, maybe because of its meaning. I just hoped Valen liked it and the one I did inside the rec room.
I watched as they put it up and instructed them to move the bracket a little higher on the left as it was a little crooked, and I knew it would set off Valen’s OCD that he believes he didn’t have. They set it in the brackets when I feel arms circle around my waist, and I am tugged backward against his hard chest. His scent enveloped me. I was so preoccupied I hadn’t even realized he was here.
“Thank you,” Valen whispered, kissing my cheek. I looked up and pointed to the sign. Valen tilts his head up to see, and I watch as the men peel the white film covering the sign.
‘Valerie’s Place’ – Where your village begins.
“Now, no one will forget her name,” I whispered.
“Is that mum’s handwriting?” he asks, choking on emotion a little.
“Yep, I used the letters and blew it up so I could transfer her handwriting,” I tell him. Turning my face to his, he rests his chin on my shoulder.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you,” I told him.
“I’m sorry, you felt you needed to hide it from me,” he says, kissing the side of my mouth.
“Do you like it?” I ask him.
“Then come on, I want to show you something else,” I tell him excitedly.
“There is more?” he asks, and I nod, grabbing his hand around my waist and walking to the front doors. I grab two hard hats and drop one on his head. Valarian’s, Casey’s, and Taylor’s voices reach our ears, and Valen squeezes my hand.
“Valarian is here?”
“Yep, the girls picked the kids up on the way over after dad left. We promised they could help with this part. Valarian asked me last night. They helped me pick out the frames last week,” I tell him, tugging him down the hall.
We stopped in the mess hall that had been done up as a huge living area for those that came here. It was the first place that Valen had done up. It had a kids’ play area, three huge dining tables, and on the other side was done up with a huge TV and couches. But the walls looked b**e, so I wanted to do something in here too, so it felt more homely for those staying here.
Valen stops at the double door leading in and gasps. Valarian spins on his heel, noticing his father, and squeals rushing over excitedly. Valen stares around the enormous room and scoops Valarian up when he rushes over.
“What’s wrong, dad? Don’t you like it?” Valarian asks when seeing his father become teary-eyed.
“No, I love it,” he chokes out. All of Valarie’s banners from her protesting days were framed on the walls. Along with the blown-up newspaper articles about her efforts to change the city were also blown up and framed.
On the far wall was another painting I did of Valarie, using the photo of her standing on the cop car, a banner raised above her head which read “No Packs, One people”. It took up an entire wall. This is who Valarie is and despite Valen not knowing her, he would know how many lives his mother changed.
Valen sets Valarian down, and Valarian tugs him over to the wall that was full of handprints, rogue handprints. Everyone that knew Valarie had put their handprints on the wall and wrote something about her on each one. Hundreds sat on the wall, showing how many lives she had touched over the years.
Macey and Zoe come over to me. Macey rests her head on my shoulder, and Zoe leans against me. “She would love this,” Zoe says, and I nod as I watch Valarian point out his handprint, his read ‘My Nana’
“No, she would ask why we are dredging up the past and tell us to get back to work,” Macey chuckles, and so do I. She was right, Valarie was a tough cookie to crack, yet when she did, she crumbled.
Valen stood by the wall reading each one, and I moved away from the girls to go over to him, I touched his back, and he looked down at me, tears trekking down his face.
“It’s dusty in here,” he grumbles, wiping his face.
“Pretty sure I saw someone cutting onions back there,” Macey says, coming up on his other side and gripping his shoulder. He laughs and tugs me closer, hugging me and kissing the top of my head. Reaching over, he grabbed Macey and Zoe to embrace us all.
“Thank you,” he says to all of us.
“You should be proud, Valen. She was an amazing woman. I wish you got to know her as we did, but we will always remind you of who she was, and there is no bigger reminder of her than the woman who carries your mark,” Zoe says, and I smile sadly. I feel him nod against my shoulder.
“F*ck, the dust is terrible in here,” Macey mutters, and Valen laughs. “F*cking terrible,” Valen laughs.
He lets us go and wipes his face, and looks around.” This is amazing,” he says, and I couldn’t agree more when my phone beeps in my pocket. It was a reminder to go to the ultrasound. I pull it out and sigh.
“Want me to take Valarian?” Zoe asks, but I shake my head.
“No, he can come with me,” I tell her, and she nods before rushing off to wrangle the kids and I look at Valen nervously.
“You’re still coming with me?” I ask Valen, and he gives me a funny look. “Of course, you aren’t alone this time, Everly. I will be right beside you every step of the way,” he says, draping his arm across my shoulders. He tips my chin up to look at him.
“Mine,” he whispers, leaning down and kissing my lips before his hand drops to my stomach.
“Ours,” he says, rubbing my belly. “Don’t ever doubt that. I will never leave you to do this on your own, not again, no matter what,” he says, k!ssing my temple.
I sighed, relieved; I don’t think I could do it again by myself. The last time I had Valarie, she was a godsend, but I would have if I had to.
“Come on,” he whispers, holding his hand out to Valarian. He waves to the girls, and we go to the Doctor in Valen’s car.
Pulling up at the Doctor’s, nerves kicked in, and Valarian asked why we were there.
“Because mum has to get a check-up, and then we get to see the baby,” Valen tells him.
“Will we find out if the boy wrestling worked?” Valarian asks.
“No, not for a while, and it will probably look like a jelly bean,” Valen laughs.
Valarian scrunches his face up, looking confused. This time around, it was different. My father was not here to demand I abort; no judgment, no worry as I waited for the urine test to come back. Once it was confirmed, Doc took blood samples before leading us down the hall to where they did ultrasounds.
“You can lie down,” Doc says while motioning toward the gurney. I lay on it, lifting my shirt, and Valarian watches with avid fascination as the Doctor squirts the jelly on my belly.
He fiddles with the device, and after a few minutes, we hear the heartbeat, and I sighed, not realizing how worried I was about the fetus. During the challenge, I was so concerned with protecting my stomach that I could hardly fight. I was making sure to pick my moves and keep my abdomen out of reach. I would hate to see a replay of it because not much action happened in it. Dad was worried about hurting me, and I was concerned about hurting myself, so it probably looked more like a synchronized dance than an actual fight.
“There we are,” Doc says, and I peer up at the screen. He takes some measurements of the sac before I squint at the screen when he moves to the next.
“Wait!” I gasp, and Doc chuckles.
“I wondered when you would notice the other one,” he laughs, and Valen looks between the Doctor and me.
“What’s wrong?” he asks, sounding frantic.
“Nothing, Alpha, both heartbeats are strong,” Doc says, and Valen sighs, leaning back.
“Wait! Both?” Valen shrieks, leaning forward and looking at the screen, and making Valarian fall off his lap.
“Yep, you’re having twins,” Doc tells him, and his eyes widen. He looked horrified, and I laughed at his face. He looked like he was calculating some math equations.
“Two, there are two in there? Are you sure?” he asks, looking at my stomach.
“Yep, definitely two,” Doc says, pointing at the screen to show him.
“That is so many diapers, we are never gonna sleep again,” Valen whispers, shaking his head and trying to wrap his head around it.
“Twins, mum is having twins?” Valarian gushes.
“Yep, you are going to have two-“
“Two brothers! This is awesome. Can they sleep in my room?” Valarian says, cutting me off. I laugh, and Doc chuckles.
“What if they are girls?” Doc asks.
“Na, Mum and Dad promised to wrestle in the boy way, right, dad?” Valarian says, tapping his father’s shoulder while Valen appears in shock.
“Ah, yeah, right in the boy’s way,” Valen mumbles, staring at the screen.
“See, I’m gonna have two brothers,” Valarian declares. “If you say so,” Doc laughs.