The next morning I woke to a knee in the kidney, causing me to grunt as Valarian climbed into the bed; he weasels his way in between us before ripping Valen’s pillow out from under his head as he stole it. Valen lurches upright, and I chuckle as Valarian wiggles closer to me, and I close my eyes.
“Ah, good. You’re up. Can I have pancakes, please?” Valerian whines at his father, who was awoken by the pillow thief.
“I am thanks to you!” Valen says, rubbing his eyes.
I open my eyes to see Valen groan and scrub a hand down his face, trying to wake up.
“Please, dad, please dad,” Valarian repeats, shaking his father’s shoulder.
“What time is it?” Valen yawns.
“Isn’t your mother up?”‘ Valen yawns, and I quickly close my eyes, pretending to be asleep. I did not want to get out of bed. Valarian rolls beside me, his fingers prying my eyes open, and I try not to smile as I fake sleep but notice his l!ps covered in chocolate.
“Leave her, let her sleep,” Valen says, hauling his a*s out of bed while tapping Valarian’s leg. Valarian stands on the bed before jumping off it and clinging to his father’s back like a spider monkey, causing him to groan.
“Geez, what’s got into you?”‘ Valen whines.
“I want pancakes, but we need more chocolate chips.”
“There is a packet in the fridge.”
I chuckle, knowing the evidence is on Valarian’s face. Valen turns, hearing me, and I quickly close my eyes again.
I snuggled back under the blanket, trying to dive back into sleep. I was awoken from snuggling beneath the blankets when Valen’s voice whispered in my ear.
“Faker, I know you’re awake; you just didn’t want to get up,” he says, jamming his fingers in my ribs, making me jump. “Make sure you take an umbrella too. I heard on the radio a storm is headed our way,” Valen tells me and I groan.
“I am not going,” I tell him, adding some fake coughs for dramatics. He tickles me, gripping the tops of my thighs through the blanket.
“Stop, stop. Okay, I am awake, I will go to work!” I laughed when I heard feet rushing up the hall. Valarian called out for his father. I giggle, and Valen rips the blanket up, climbing under and hiding behind me.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Hiding from the hypo demon spawn, he ate an entire bag of chocolate chips, and he made me iron his shirt twice. He is like OCD on stero!ds.” Valen growls, trying to lie as flat as possible behind me and failing. Valarian wanders into the room and peered around.
“Have you seen dad?”‘ I point to the mound under the blanket beside me. I watch as he walks around the edge of the bed to my side before ripping the blanket back and looking at his father.
“My shoelaces don’t match?” Valarian says, looking down at his shoes. Valen peering over the edge of the bed.
“They look fine to me,” Valen says, but Valarian looks at him expectantly, and I chuckle.
“Your mother will fix them,”
“But mum ties them funny, can you fix them?” he says, pulling on his father’s arm, and Valen groans but climbs back out of bed. He bends down, fixing his shoelaces.
“No. that string is long now,” Valen’s frustration came through the bond after the third attempt to fix his shoes before Valarian was finally happy enough about them. I glance at the alarm clock on the bedside table, knowing he would have to run him to school soon. Valen lays back down and sighs.
“Ah, you gotta run him to school,” I tell him.
“We still have half an hour; it’s like a five-minute drive at most, and don’t you have work?” he asks.
“I’m faking sick,”
“Well, you better fake it better than your lame fake sleeping; you know it doesn’t look good when the boss fakes sick, right,” he mocks.
“Don’t you have work to do?” I ask him.
“Nope, Dad is handling it,”
“You know it doesn’t look good when the boss sends daddy in to do his work for him, right?”‘ I asked, laughing to myself.
“I said I didn’t have work to do; I never said I would not work,” Valen retorts before getting up and walking into the closet. I hear Valen moving around in the closet before he walks out dressed in his suit and throws my uniform on the bed.
“Up, if I am working, so are you,”
“I nearly died. Cut me some slack,”
“Nearly died, now up.” I roll my eyes but haul myself out of bed before hopping in the shower.
Halfway through washing my hair, Valen comes in telling me he was running Valarian to school and he would see me tonight. I nod when he opens up the shower screen, the cold draft making me shiver as I try to wash the shampoo from my eyes. He grips my wrist, yanking me to him and pecking my l!ps.
“Dad! We are going to be late!” Valarian calls out. Valen laughs, letting me go while I blink through the soap before stepping back under the shower spray.
“Hold your horses, I am coming, and don’t forget your raincoat, it is supposed to rain today,” I hear him yell back as he walks out of the bathroom. I chuckle to myself and finish my shower before hopping out and drying myself. I had things I needed to do today or at least look into, so my first mission was stopping by the council chambers to see if I could petition to be heard in court, and then I needed to check up on Emily at the hospital.
The day flew by quickly. It was overcast, and I thought the rain was coming. What I wasn’t expecting was stepping out of the City council to a storm brewing and coming over fast. We hardly got storms here, but when we did, they were always terrible.
Thick dark clouds rolled across the sky, the thunder rumbled loudly, and streaks of lightning lit up the heavy clouds above. Walking back to the car, the wind howled, whipping my hair across my face. Reaching my truck, it took nearly all my strength to close the door; the wind pushing against it.
This storm was going to be a doozy, and I had to get back to the hotel; I needed to double-check the backup generators just in case and prepare to lock it down. Trees bent over with the wind as I drove toward work. The drive took longer when rain and hail belted down halfway home, the road barely visible, and the windscreen wipers struggled to clear the windscreen with the downpour.
Pulling into the staff car park, a pool umbrella was flying across the car park. “Sh!**t!” I mutter to myself while ripping the keys out of the ignition. I force my door shut before chasing after the d**amn thing, only to slip on the slick ground.
Macey, I see, comes running out after the umbrella, and I got back to my feet soaking wet, my hair dripping.
“Go secure the pool area; I will get this!” Macey called over her shoulder. Her blouse had turned see-through from the rain, her normally curly hair straight and dripping. I chuckled as she cursed the umbrella, chasing it down while I raced to the pool air, tossing the lightweight stuff in the garden shed behind the fence where we kept the pool supplies. Rushing back out of the pool area, I lock the fence. You never when someone would be stupid enough to try to go for a swim during a storm, and I didn’t feel like scooping out a cooked werewolf in the morning. Locking the chain and padlock, I raced toward the restaurant. Macey came up behind me.
“Did you catch it?” I asked.
“Nope, gave up after it tried to whisk me away like Mary Poppins,” she says, wringing her out under the awning. I swing the door open and step inside, the warm welcoming.
Macey shivers behind me. “Geez, it came out of nowhere,” she says, shaking her head. One cleaner comes over to us, handing us some towels, and I try to dry myself as best I can. Walking out the back to the kitchen, I looked for Zoe, but she wasn’t anywhere to be found. Turning to the head chef, she was chopping potatoes.
“Amy, have you seen Zoe?” I ask her. She looks up from her station, her red hair in a hairnet and her chef hat sagging to one side.
“She said she wasn’t feeling well and went to lay down before the afternoon rush.” I look at Macey behind me, and she shrugs; she was in here before I went out there.
“I will go check on her. You alright to check the generators, or do you want me to on my way back?” I ask her.
“I’ll do the generators; you can check the functions room door is locked,” she laughs, and I glare at her. That was a 30-meter dash with no shelter. She laughs, sauntering out, and I shake my head, heading for the restaurant’s rear exit. Trying to force myself to brave the storm, I s*ck in a breath and run like mad for the functions room, cutting through the gardens and making a beeline for the building at the end of the property.
All the doors were wide open, and I quickly raced around and shut them before flicking the lights off. The wind had carried leaves and debris inside the place, and it would need to be cleaned tomorrow. After checking everything was secure, I raced back to the main building before detouring for my and Zoe’s apartment.
I climbed the stairs two at a time and burst through the door. Well, that’s my cardio for the day, I thought. My shoes squelched and screeched on the floors. I could hear a groaning sound coming from somewhere up the hall, and I quickly kicked my shoes off, searching for Zoe and the strange noise. Stepping into the hallway, I turned toward her room, but her door was open and the room empty. Sniffing the air, I picked up her scent, but gosh, it was strong. Approaching the bathroom door, I knock softly, hearing a whimper on the other side.
“Zoe?” I murmur, listening. She didn’t answer, but she sounded like she was in pain.
“Zoe, I am coming in,” I tell her, gripping the doorknob. I twist and push the door open to find Zoe laying on the cold tiles, a towel wrapped around her like she just climbed out of the shower. Stepping in, I rush to her side and kneel next to her.
“Zoe?” I ask, gripping her arms and rolling her on her back. Her skin was hot to touch, her face flushed and cheeks rosy red like she had a fever, and her scent was sickly sweet.
“Everly, I don’t feel too good. Get Marcus,” she murmured, her eyes fluttering before she jolted upright and scrambled for the toilet. Zoe threw up before hugging the toilet bowl.
“Ah, I feel like s**t; I think I may have that stomach bug,” Zoe whines. I touch her head; her skin is sweltering hot.
“No, I don’t think you have a bug, Zoe. I think you’re in heat!” I tell her. Pulling my phone from my pocket, I dial Marcus’s number when the lights flickered before the power suddenly goes out. Great, Just great!