It was strange having Valen under my roof, awkward. Everything I usually did for Valarian, he suddenly asked his dad to do. Like cut up his food, I was suddenly no longer needed; he asked for his father when it was his bath time. Most of my afternoon was spent twiddling my thumbs since I only had to heat dinner up. Yet Valen never once complained and seemed to enjoy his son’s constant attention.
Even as I went to put Valarian to bed, he asked if his father could tuck him in, I know it was childish, but nights were the only time I got to spend with him, really, so it bothered me more than it should. I was so used to juggling things between Zoe and me that it felt unnatural having someone willingly helping us, ruining our usual routine, I suddenly had time on my hands, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.
Once Valarian was tucked in bed, Valen returned to the living room. He scratched the back of his neck before looking at the empty spot beside me on the couch.
I rolled my eyes before moving over, and he smiled before coming to sit next to me and draping his arm across the back of it.
“Finally, Casey is down for the night,” Zoe says, coming out in her pyjamas while braiding her hair. I had always been envious of how she could do that, I had tried and ended up only making a knotted mess, yet she did it so effortlessly.
Zoe comes over and sits down on one of the kids’
bean bags, the bag almost swallowing her petite frame as she sinks in it.
“I’m so d**n tired, ” she yawns, covering her mouth with her hand.
“Ah, and tomorrow will be worse. We are down three staff in the kitchens, one in the creche playgroup. Two waitresses and have a full house,” Zoe sighs.
“Emily must also have the bug. She never showed up for work tonight, ” I tell her, getting up off the couch and walking over to the bookcase for my folder.
“I already checked the rosters for tomorrow,” Zoe tells me. I sat back down with the folder going to the events diary.
“I know, we will have to manage. I can work the lunch and night rush if you can handle the kids in the morning, “
” Sounds like a plan. I will wake you at eleven. If we are still down the next day, we can swap. Macey already pulled doubles two days in a row, ” she says, and I nod.
Zoe glances at the diary, “What are you looking for?”
“We need to find a date to move the Alpha meeting forward, ” I tell her, but the earliest date I could make work would be one week head, so instead of three weeks, it would be two.
“The lzth?” I ask him, and he looks over my shoulder, flicking through the pages before scrubbing his hand down his face.
“What’s wrong with this coming Friday? ” he asks while looking at the empty slot.
“That’s six days away, it wouldn’t be enough notice, and I am not sure I can get supplies in early enough, ” I tell him.
“Get what you can in. The rest I will organize from one of my Hotels and have it sent over. You still want to announce it, right?” I nod best to get it over and done with.
“Then it has to be the sixth, I can go unseen for a few days, but two weeks, two weeks, the media will come looking for me, ” He tells me, and I sighed but nodded.
“Though I am a little shocked it has stayed under wraps already, I am surprised one of your staff haven’t sold the story yet,” He says, and Zoe glares at him.
“They aren’t staff; they are family, we are all family, we stick together, ” She says, and Valen sticks his hands up in the air in surrender.
“Settle down; you and Macey are the most aggressive rogues I have ever met, geez, ” he says.
“Sorry, I am just overtired, ” She rubbed her eyes before reaching over and grabbing Casey’s school jumper off the ground. I also yawned, my eyes feeling like sandpaper, and I regretted taking my pills earlier now that I had to do some planning.
“Sh*t, I forgot to wash it,” Zoe groans.
“Grab one of Valarian’s out for tomorrow,” I tell her, and she nods before sniffing it. Her brows pinch together before she suddenly buries her face in it.
“What is that? Gosh, it smells good. I want to eat it,”
she says to no one in particular. Valen raises an eyebrow at her and twirls his finger beside his head, and I chuckle when he mutters, “cuckoo.”
“What? You smell it then,” she snarls, tossing it at his head.
“I wouldn’t want to offend you by sniffing your daughter’s jumper,” he mocks, and she rolls her eyes.
Valen sniffs it before pulling a face. “Ah, yuck. I can’t smell anything but Marcus; thanks for making me get a whiff of my Beta, ” he says, shaking his head.
“You can’t smell it,” Zoe asks.
“Yeah, I can smell it. It bloody reeks of him, ” Valen says, rubbing his nose. I take it from him and sniff it.
“Yep, definitely your Beta, ” I tell him. Zoe rubs a hand down her face.
“I must be more tired than I thought. I thought I could smell vanilla bean and fudge,” she pouts for a second.
” Now I want vanilla bean and fudge, ” she mutters unhappily.
“Cravings, are you sure you are not pregnant?” Valen laughs. Zoe looks at him, appalled.
Not unless I am giving birth to baby batteries or a baby bunny v!brator, ” She spits at him. I chuckled at her while Valen just blinked, shocked at what she said.
“Go to bed. I will fill out the order forms, ” I tell her while laughing. She nods, yawning as she gets to her feet before moving off to her bedroom, muttering
about finding some vanilla fudge tomorrow.
Night, Zoe,” Valen chuckles, and she flips him off over her shoulder before disappearing down the hall.
” She is definitely my favorite out of your friends,”
“What’s wrong with Macey?”
“Ah, she threatened to castrate me and put me on an ants nest. Tell me what is right with that one. Who says that, let alone thinks of something like that?” I laugh before looking over at the table.
“Tatum dropped some clothes off for you while you put Valarian to bed. They are on the table,” I tell him before reaching over to the coffee and grabbing a pen from the drawer. I sit back, pulling the order forms out to fax off tomorrow. Valen gets up and rummages through the bag Tatum dropped off.
“Can I borrow your shower?”
“You can’t borrow it, but you can use it,” I tell him. I peeked up at him, and he had a silly grin on his face, and my l!ps tugged in the corners.
“Towels are in the hallway, “
“Valarian showed me earlier,” He says and walks off down the hall while I turn my attention back to my task.
Her shower was tiny, and every time I turned or moved, I was knocking crap down off the shower caddy or smashing my elbows on the walls. Getting in, I nearly knocked myself out of the showerhead; it
was that low, and why was everything pink? Pink shampoo, pink soap, pink shower curtain, and floor mats; it was like a pink explosion in here. I didn’t pick her for a girlie girl.
I should have used the kid’s bathroom, not the joint one between Zoe and Everly’s room. Turning back to the task at hand, I grab the pink loofa and sniff it. It smelt of Everly, so the fluffy pom-pom pink thing must be Zoe’s.
I was bending down under the showerhead trying to wash the shampoo out when I heard the door open and thought at first it was Everly until I listened to the mention of fudge mumbled, and I froze. That wasn’t Everly.
“Remind me to ring Emily tomorrow to check on her, ” she sings out. I froze, wondering what she was doing before I heard that she was peeing. Were they that comfortable peeing in front of each other? Then again, Marcus and I were close, and he had no care about taking a leak in front of me.
“Everly?” She asked. I said nothing before suddenly the shower curtain was ripped back, and we made eye contact.
Her weary gaze goes to my shocked one, and her eyes widen when she screams, scaring the crap out of me, and I grasp the shower curtain, trying to shut it while she tries to cover herself where she was sitting on the toilet peeing.
The shower curtain was flimsy as I yanked it closed only for it to rip off, and the motion caught me off guard. I lost my footing on the slippery surface. I somehow ended up sprawled out on the floor, my legs spread in a very inappropriate manner, exposing me to a very horrified Zoe, and my head bent awkwardly in the corner of the shower.
“Sh*t, f*ck. I thought you, ah I can see your pen!s and b*lls I can see it all, I want to unsee it,” Zoe shrieks, covering her eyes.
“Everly! ” She calls out.
“Shh, shh, stop, don’t call her in here, ” I choke out, trying to un-wedge myself. Bloody, how embarrassing and awkward. We made eye contact, eye contact, while both of us were in a very vulnerable state.
“What, are you alright? Oh my g*d, you’re bleeding, I will get Everly,” She gushes, about to run from the room, but I moved, grabbing her ankle as she went to dart out.
“I’m fine, let’s just never speak of this moment again,” I gasp, my back k!lling, and I reach behind me before pulling out a pink back scrubber that was digging into my rear. I dropped it on the floor before looking up at Zoe who was staring at the ceiling.
“You good dude, alive?”
“Just great,” I tell her, covering myself with the torn shower curtain.
“Nice chat,” she says, quickly closing the door. I stumble out of her death trap shower and over to the mirror. The corner of my ear was bleeding and running down the side of my face. I clean it up before drying and putting on some boxers. Will add that memory to the most awkward situation file in my head. Man, I can never look that girl in the eye again.
Walking out, Everly is passed out on the couch. Her mouth was wide open and her head bent back awkwardly, and I sighed, relieved when I realized we hadn’t woke her.
Scooping her up, she didn’t even wake, making me wonder how much she actually works since she could sleep through all that noise I just made and Zoe screaming. Walking up the hall, I stopped when Valarian called out as I passed his door.
“Are you sleeping in here, dad?” He asks, rubbing his eyes.
“Go back to sleep. I will be here in the morning when you wake up,” his eyes move to his mother in my arms.
“Can I sleep with you and mum?” he asks, suddenly brightening up excitedly and I look down at Everly. I was planning on sleeping on the couch because Valarian’s bed was way too small, but if Valarian is in there, maybe she won’t mind?
” Please? ” he whispers, but he is already climbing out of bed.
“Okay, but be quiet, we don’t to wake your mother, “
“Mum could sleep through a tornado. The only thing that wakes her is her alarm once she is asleep, Aunty Macey let off an air horn once, and she didn’t even move, yet her alarm wakes her, ” He shrugs, walking ahead and pushing the door open.
“Really?” I asked him.
“Yep, probably the mn that Grandma Val gave her. She takes them sometimes when she can’t sleep. She took them just before dinner, ” Valerian says as I place her down on the bed. I thought she took panadol, so this was news to me, yet she did give me a funny look when I caught her popping pills
like she was caught doing something she shouldn’t be doing.
“Valerian climbs in the middle, ” tugging the blankets up.
Grandma Val works here?” I ask him, climbing in beside him.
“No, she died when I was a baby. She gave us the hotel to build our village, ” Valarian says, yawning. He places his head on my chest and snuggles closer.
“If you were a baby, how do you know she gave them to your mum, “
“Because I heard Aunty Zoe and Aunty Macey arguing with mum over her taking them, something about them making her infertile. They said Grandma told her to take them only sometimes if the pain is too bad because they have wolfsbane in them, and she shouldn’t spend her life numb, ” I stared up at the ceiling feeling guilty. Wolfsbane was poison to werewolves, but it also had medicinal properties in low doses, like pain relief because it k!lled the nerves and paralyzed you temporarily, yet too much could k!ll you.
“What does infertile mean? ” Valarian asks. I don’t answer and just ask another question.
“And your mum doesn’t take them all the time?” I ask him, and he shakes his head.
“No, Aunty Zoe banned them from the house, but she has a secret stash in the pantry. I saw her grab them out earlier while Zoe wasn’t looking. She keeps them in the sultana’s box. Zoe hates sultanas, and so does Casey, “
I glance over at Everly passed out cold. “Get some sleep, ” I tell Valarian k!ssing his head.
“Love you, Dad, ” Valarian mumbles. “Love you too, ” I tell him.
Tomorrow I would find that stash and confront her, I thought to myself as my eyes closed.