All night I panicked, and I felt useless, sick with worry and guilt that I was just sitting here waiting for them to return. I would have just got in the way or become a constant worry for Valen. Sometimes, you need to sit back and allow someone else to take over.
But for me, that was easier said than done. However, Valen had proven to me that he could be relied on. Even when we didn’t see eye to eye, he still showed up and still kept his promises.
And this time was no different. Valen said he would bring Macey home, and he did. Earlier in the night, not long after Valen left, Zoe couldn’t bear being home alone.
Ava felt unsafe at home with just Zoe, or maybe it was her guilt about what happened to Zoe that she struggled to be alone with her. I didn’t know; I was just relieved to have them here. So my room in the maternity ward had turned into a drop-in center.
We sought comfort from each other’s presence. Zoe had some of the warriors bring in blow-up mattresses for the kids to sleep on.
The nurses had also found two extra beds and brought them in. Macey had caused quite a fuss when she got here. She refused to be checked over until she saw Taylor.
Valen, Tatum, and Marcus dealt with pack dramas, council members, and officials. Ava had gone home with Dad and Kalen after they left, and I felt wired and overly emotional.
Or maybe it was because of everything that had gone on recently, or perhaps it was my fluctuating hormones from having the girls.
Yet as I looked around the room, I was brought back to the day I met these two women, two women who became my sisters.
Macey laid beside me in the hospital bed, a drip in her hand, Taylor tucked against her side asleep while she held one of my girls.
Zoe sat by my feet, holding my other daughter while I br**stfed the other one in my arms. Zoe feeling my gaze on her, looked over at me, placing my daughter over her shoulder to burp her.
“Don’t you start? You cry, we all bloody cry,” she chuckles sniffles, shaking her head and glancing at Casey and Valarian asleep on the blow-up mattress in the room’s corner.
She turned back to me and smiled sadly, then stared off at Macey, who was watching us.
Zoe’s guilt was clear on her face. She felt terrible Macey killed her mate for her, for all of us. “Man, this is like a dose of déjà vu,” Macey mutters, and it is clear she was thinking the same thing as me. “
Only thing missing is our rumbling bellies and the rude nurses and midwives,” Zoe chuckled darkly. “And the sneers and mutters, let’s not forget those,” Macey says, and I swallowed.
“This hospital is a little nicer, too,” I snickered, peering down at my daughter attached to my br*&st. “It feels like a lifetime ago,” Zoe mutters, and I nod, looking around at our kids, at my sisters.
“That’s because none of us are those girls anymore,” I told them, and it was true.
All of us came from nothing and built ourselves up in our own images. We raised our children together, and we did it through blood, sweat, and tears.
We did it despite not believing we could at the start until we showed ourselves what we were capable of.
Showed ourselves we didn’t need anyone because we had each other. “We aren’t alone this time. It’s not the same. We aren’t scared little rogue women with no names, no identities, and no chance.
It’s different because we are. It’s different because we know our worth; back then, we didn’t.” I tell them. Macey nods, wiping a stray tear that escapes, and Zoe, I see, bites her l!p to stop it from trembling.
“I know, it’s just I hate maternity wards,” Macey says, and I understood that fear. Understood what it was like seeing families gushing excitedly while we were tucked away, not to be seen.
Understood the trauma that was left behind from that experience. I know the feeling of walking out the hospital doors with a newborn in your arms and not knowing what you’re doing or who to turn to.
Not knowing how to provide for the baby in your arms when you can’t provide for yourself.
“We’ll get through this,” Zoe says, pursing her l!ps, a faraway look in her eyes, and I brush her lower back with my feet through the blanket, bringing her back from where her mind took her.
We all know that feeling of being so low we thought we would drown in our despair and fear, and it’s what brought us together. It’s also what drove us to prove everyone wrong.
We would be heard, seen, and prove to them and ourselves that we didn’t need anyone.
And we did just that. So I knew Zoe was right. This was just another obstacle we would get through. Because despite everything going wrong and finding ourselves back where we started, in a sense. It was not the same.
We were far from that place and faced new challenges, but now we had the knowledge and drive backing us to overcome them. And most of all, we had each other and the village we built.
The village we watched get destroyed and then rebuilt again. Brick by bloody brick, we would rebuild the fractured parts of us. We won’t bleed anymore. We’ll patch those walls, repaint, readjust, adapt, and rebuild ourselves.
We would morph into the next phase of life because life would continue, and we would continue showing it we weren’t to be beaten.
We would show life that all our flaws and scars, the peeling paint and cracked crumpling pieces, didn’t mean we were broken or condemned.
No, those broken pieces, once put together again, restored, strengthened us, and just added character.
Showed the rough edges, and still, it came together beautifully, just like I know we would again. Only this time, we had our mates behind us to help. We relied only on each other and the routines we had built for so long.
We lived and breathed each other. Leaned on each other or ourselves so much that it felt good to let go of some of the weight on our shoulders and breathe without restraint. And by the looks on the girl’s faces, as our mates walked in, they felt the same.
Gone was the fear of loneliness, burden, and responsibility because we once had others willing to share it. And not out of obligation or expectation, but because they wanted to.
“Did you sort everything?” I asked Valen as he came over to me. He leans down, k!ssing my forehead and brushing bubs cheek.
Marcus was trying to steal the baby from Zoe’s arms while Tatum watched Macey hold Baby , resting his head on her shoulder as he sat on her other side.
“Yes,” Valen whispers. “What about Carter?” Macey whispers, her glistening eyes flicking to Zoe and then Tatum. He pecks her cheek.
“I’ll help you organize the funeral,” Zoe says, and Macey chokes. “I’m sorry, I know ….” “He was your mate,” Zoe says, simply glancing at Tatum. “And as much as I wish I was your fated mate, I understand you need to put this behind you,” Tatum whispers to her.
“I doubt anyone will go, but it didn’t feel right leaving him there to rot,” Macey states, looking down at my daughter. “You don’t have to explain yourself, Macey.
You know this,” Zoe tells her. “I know it’s just,” “It’s because you’re not a monster like he was. And I don’t expect you to pretend not to care, Macey, just because of what happened.
We will be standing right beside you.” Zoe tells her with finality to her voice. “That leads to another question I have for you, Zoe?” Valen says beside me.
Marcus growls, the sound threatening, and he presses his l!ps in a line. Zoe looks at Valen questionably before sighing loudly. “Let’s hear it then?” she states. I see her walls go up as if she was about to take a blow. I had hoped Valen held off, but I would support her decision. ·
“Amber handed over the location her new mate was hiding out. Derrick has him in the cells. He is the last one. We found out Carter killed the other. But–“. “Amber and he marked each other when she left, Micah.”
Zoe finishes for him, and Valen nods his head. “We want to know what you want to do? The council supports any decision you make. Well, what is left of the council?” Valen tells her, and she sucks in a breath.
“Amber?” “She wasn’t in on the plans, but she was made rogue. And obviously, she was the motivator for her father.” Zoe nods her head at his words.
“I let you kill him, and Amber dies.” she sighs. “It’s your decision, Valen tells her, but what Marcus wanted her to say is clear.
“There’s been enough death. Please ensure he isn’t jailed in the city,” Zoe answers. “Zoe?” Marcus says. “No, it’s my decision, and I won’t kill her because of what he did.
She can live with it just like he will have to live with his mistake the same way I have to live with the memory of it,” she says.
Marcus nods to Valen, his free arm slipping around her waist as he pulls her to his side.
“What about Nixon’s Pack?” I ask “It will be dismantled. Those still alive and pack members can decide where they go or remain and live as a rogue.” Valen states, and I nod.
“We still have no idea of Nixon’s whereabouts. His mate is being questioned, but the werewolf council is trying to find something to charge her with. Besides her trying to get us arrested, we don’t really have any charges against her.”
Valen tells us. “And if they can’t charge with her anything?” “She’ll be made rogue and watched until she slips up,” Valen states.
Well, it was better than nothing, but I did not like the idea of her being in the city, but she can only be charged with what we can prove.
Valen holds his hands out, wanting to take baby A from my arms, and I hand her over to him, my arms suddenly feeling empty.
“She’ll need burping,” I tell him, and he nods, placing her over his shoulder while I tuck my boob away. “Though of any names yet?” Macey asks.
“Yeah, I wanted to ask about that actually,” Valen states, and I was glad he had names because I had nothing “So let’s hear them,” Macey says. “I’m still stuck on one, and if it’s okay with you, I was wondering if I could pick the names?” “You want to name all three?” I ask him worriedly.
What if he names them something strange or if all their names start with V? “I promise I won’t fill out the paperwork until you agree,” he states. I chew my l!p but sigh.
“I swear if you name them after a car or something strange that they won’t be able to pronounce, I will kick your ass and don’t name any Everly! I tell him. “Promise, but you have to wait until tomorrow.
Dion is engraving their bracelets,” “Wait, you already went ahead?” I chuckled.
“I knew you would say yes. He just waiting for the last name.” he shrugs. “What if I said no?” “You could have named the last one but would need to make it match my middle name.
That is what I am having trouble with, a name to go with the middle name.” Valen tells me, and I narrow my eyes at him accusingly. “You’ll like the names, I promise,” he says, smiling slyly.