The following morning was a rat race, as we tried to get the kids dressed and ready for the day. Pulling a shirt over Valarian’s head, he instantly whined as I crinkled the collar.
“Valarian, I haven’t got time, not today,” I told him. Of all the days he wanted to have a meltdown, it had to be the day of the Alpha meeting. It would be held at 3 PM, and I was a nervous wreck already. Valarian chucks a full-on meltdown, tugging at his shirt and crying. Valen came over from making his and Casey’s cereal. The shirt looked acceptable to me before gripping the hem and lifting it off him.
“Calm down, the Hotel is fine, Everly. You’re stressing for no reason,” Valen says while wandering off to get him a new shirt. Valen returns with a button-up one and carefully does the buttons, making sure not to wrinkle his shirt before sitting Valarian at the table.
My brain felt fried with the list of things I had to check once back to the Hotel and help set up, though Valen assured me he would help . How I wasn’t sure because I needed him to watch both kids since Zoe and I would be helping set up.
“I have to duck down to the council really quick, then I will head to the hotel to help you,” Valen tells me.
“Well, you need to take the kids with you. Zoe and Marcus are already setting up, and I need to check the restaurant and check off the catering supplies,” I tell him.
“No, my father is watching them for us, and I already asked Zoe who was fine with him taking Casey too, you just have to meet him downstairs in the wine garden. There is a kid play area,” Valen says, coming over and pecking my l!ps.
“Wait, what time,” I called after him.
“Just head down after they finish eating. Dad’s taking them to the movies and to lunch and will meet us at the Hotel,” Valen called over his shoulder before walking out the door. I sighed, looking over at the kids who were happily eating their fruit loops. Thank god Kalen was taking them. I don’t think I could handle their sugar rush today.
The wine gardens were lovely, though the stares I received from everybody were beginning to annoy me. I couldn’t wait until it was out just so people would f**k off with their glares.
Casey and Valarian were climbing on the climbing frames and swinging on the frames when I got a text message from Kalen saying he was running a little late. Though I was surprised he had my phone number, Valen must have given it to him.
“Ah Casey, don’t eat that,” I tell her, racing over as she was about to eat a snail.
“But why, that lady is,” Casey says, pointing to the woman at the table who was eating Escargot snails. Valarian pulls a face at the woman as she eats one that was on her lettuce.
“Still don’t eat it. Snail slime is poisonous,” I tell her, wiping her hands free of the handful of snails she had collected from the garden.
“Then why is she eating them?” Argh, come on Kalen, then you can answer these questions, I internally groaned.
“Because they are a delicacy, and they are cooked, not fresh from the garden,” I tell her.
“Gross, if you ask me, why would anyone eat a slug?” Valarian asked, plucking a snail from the garden where I just made Casey drop them. It came out of its shell, and he drops it, pulling a face, and I chuckle at him when a voice from another table reaches my ears.
“Seems AIpha Valen needs to up his standard, especially for the price we pay, letting rogues in here, such a shame,” the middle aged woman says, turning her gaze to me.
Valarian growls at her, shocking me, and goes to say something, I grip his shoulder gently, and he looks up at me and I shake my head.
“Mind your place, boy, rogue-wh0*es and their mutts shouldn’t be allowed in the presence of the elite,” she sneered, and I glared at her. Biting my tongue. I was not about to cause a scene.
“I will have to put in a complaint. Looks like the AIpha is letting in all kinds of riff-raff in here,”
“It appears so, ma’am because he let you through his doors, ” I tell her, sick of whining voice, she seemed appalled that I would even talk back to her, let alone call her the riff-raff.
“How dare you? Do you have any idea who I am?”
“No, and I don’t care to. I have standards, and you don’t meet them,” I tell her, and she huffs, tossing her napkin on the floor before stomping off just as Kalen steps into the child’s play area.
“Sorry, I am late, I got caught in traffic,” he turned to where I was staring after the woman.
“Everything alright?” He asked.
“Fine, I need to go,” Kalen nods, and I turn to the kids, and Casey is stuffing her pockets full of snails. I click my tongue, leaving Kalen to deal with it before pecking them both on the cheek and telling them to behave.
“I will find you later, dear,” Kalen says, pecking my cheek and hugging me much to the disgust of those around us. Somehow I don’t think I will get used to his sudden
affections toward me. I roll my eyes before leaving and looking for Tatum, who was supposed to take me back to the Hotel. Only when I walked out the front doors, I stopped, seeing Valarie’s truck. I blinked and took a step back, and Tatum climbs out of the driver’s seat and shuts the door. My hands went to my eyes, and I rubbed my eyes, holding back the tears. I thought he crushed it.
“Is it?” I couldn’t believe my eyes. Tatum smiles before tossing me the keys, her old key chains still attached along with the pendants of four steel cut-out girls and three babies. The three key chain pictures of Valarian, Casey, and Taylor were also still attached. I kissed the keys, trying not to become emotional over an old truck.
“He didn’t destroy it?” I choked.
” Nope, kept it in the garage. I filled it up for you, but she needs a good clean, pretty dusty down there,” Tatum says, and I nod.
“Valen said you were stressed this morning. He was going to give it back tonight, but then rang and asked me to give it to you, to help cheer you up,” Tatum laughs. It definitely did that. I hugged him quickly.
“Thank you,” I tell him before jumping into my truck. I reach over to the glove compartment and unlock it.
Relief floods me when I see the letters from Valarie inside; I pull them out, making sure they were all there, including the one for Valen, which was still sealed. I swallowed before placing it back.
It had arrived a few weeks after her passing along with the others for when the kids grew older. I was so devastated about the car because I thought they would never find out what was in them. Placing them in my handbag, I would put them in the safe back at the Hotel. Why I didn’t in the first place was beyond me. I also grabbed out her storage
locker key where all her belongings were and chucked that in my bag along with them.
Starting my baby up, she roared to life. I smiled before pulling 0ut heading home.