Four Days Later
We held the funerals yesterday, and today I couldn’t cope with work, so I started the mural at the homeless shelter. I designed the sign and sent it off last night to my manufacturer. So when I walked into work to find everything handled and for once the sky showed no sign of rain, I got a head start on the mural on either side of the door leading into the old school.
I had two days until the council meeting, and two days after that, I had the challenge for my father’s pack. I was a little nervous about exactly what it was I was getting myself into with his pack, especially if it was bankrupt like Ava believed. Yet if I could restore a hotel to its former glory, I had no doubts I could dig them out of the hole my father dug.
I forgot how much I enjoy drawing and painting, though the old rendered brickwork was making it a b***h to stencil out the design with my paintbrush. I had done the background white like a canvas, though standing on a ladder while it was windy wasn’t ideal. Hearing a car pull up along the road behind me, I glance over my shoulder to see Valen’s car. He hops out, walking over to me.
“Everly, the wind is hectic today. Get down before you fall off,” Valen scolds, coming over and holding the ladder. I shake my head but climb down, unclipping the harness as I reach each step on the ladder.
“I have a harness,” I tell him, but he shakes his head.
“Harness won’t do much if that unhooks from up top. It’s only hooked to the guttering. That’s not the sturdiest thing, especially those old crumbling ones. It would be best if you had told me you were doing such a gigantic mural; I would have had a cherry picker brought over. Don’t use the ladder. I will get one sent over tomorrow,” Valen scolds, and I shake my head.
He had a point, though, and the site supervisor also gave me a lecture about the same thing, making me wonder if he called Valen.
“The site supervisor called you, didn’t he?” I tell Valen, and he smirks.
“Of course,” he says, and I roll my eyes.
“I thought you had your meeting today with your father over pack business?” His eyes darken slightly, and he sighs.
“I sent my accountant instead,” he says while bending down to help pick up my supplies. I pack them into a box and put them in the cleaning closet just inside the school doors.
“You can’t just avoid your father,” I tell him, following him out to his car.
“Unless it has something to do about Valarian, I don’t want to hear it,” Valen growls, opening the driver’s door.
“Valen, he is your father, and he is a wonderful dad,” I tell him.
“He lied to me,” Valen states. I sigh, climbing into the car.
“Your mother wouldn’t want you to toss your father away. He f*cked up, but he is trying to make up for it. The petition got pushed through by him. He drops everything he is doing whenever we need his help with Valarian.”‘ I tell him, and he starts the car, nodding his head.
We head to school to pick Valarian up. When the bell rang, he came running out excitedly, jumping up and down to show the painting he had done.
“Wow!” Valen says, looking at it. Casey came over to show us her painting, which was covered with glitter and swirling scribble. Valerian, however, was all straight lines of paint that looked like he used a ruler to make sure he didn’t go out of the lines. I smiled down at him, and he grabbed his father’s hand as we crossed the road to the car. Once in the car, we headed home while listening to the radio talking about the upcoming council meeting. My attention turned to the news reporter as her nasally voice spoke about an upcoming war.
“It appears war is brewing between Alpha Nixon and Alpha Valen. Alpha Nixon was spotted today leaving the council chambers in a rage after learning Alpha Valen’s mate, Everly Summer’s, the infamous disgraced daughter of Alpha John from Shadow Pack, petitioned to have the laws involving the unfair treatment of rogues changed. Alpha Nixon refused to speak to the media today after he was spotted in an argument with Alpha John just in the front of the council chambers before reversing into Alpha John’s car. It appears tensions among the packs are high, and in the next few weeks, we will either see change within the city or war between packs,” Valen turns the radio off, glancing at me, and I sigh.
Great, the media was going to blow this right up, and if there wasn’t a war, they would ensure one starts with the hysteria they would cause.
“Would the City really go to war over mum’s petition?” Valarian asks, and Valen glances in the mirror at him.
“Hopefully not, but unfortunately, people don’t like change. Greed and entitlement start a lot of issues,” Valen tells him.
“But Rogues have nothing. They aren’t even allowed to own housing?” Valarian says.
“And that is why your mother is petitioning to have the laws changed.”
“So, Alpha Nixon wants to take more from the rogues when they already have nothing. What’s left to take?” Valarian asks.
“Their lives, that is all that’s left, and people like Nixon think they deserve to play G0d and dictate how people should live and what laws they should live by,” I answered with a sigh.
“But isn’t your dad on his side?”
“He is on the wrong side,” I agreed.
“Does that upset you?” Valarian asks, and I look at him over my shoulder.
“No, because that shows his character, not mine,” I tell him.
“But you’re his daughter?”
“Yes, that’s true, but I am not my father or my mother. I am my own person, just like you are your own person,” I tell him.
“So I shouldn’t be like you or dad when I am older?” he asks.
“No. Strive to be better, surpass us. One day be a better Alpha than me,” Valen says.
“What if I don’t want to be an Alpha?” Valarian asks.
“Then I will find someone else to take over the pack,”
“What if I want to be Luna like Mum?” Valarian asks.
“Then you will be Luna Valarian,” Valen chuckles.
“Doesn’t sound very cool, no offense, mum. I think I will stick with Alpha Valarian,” Valarian says, and Valen snickers.
“What? The Luna is more important than the Alpha,” Valarian says.
“Is that so?” Valen asks.
“Yep. The Alpha keeps the packs in line, the Luna keeps the Alpha in line,” Valarian shrugs, and I laugh, glancing at Valen.
“You think this is funny? Our son just de-manned me,” Valen chuckles.
“Alpha’s, so sensitive,” I tell him, patting Valen’s shoulder while shaking my head.
We headed home, and on the way, I texted Kalen to come over for dinner. It was time these two had a chat. Kalen was trying, but Valen had to put in some effort on his end. Dinner was awkward, and Valen and Kalen only spoke about Valarian until Kalen helped Valen do the dishes while I sat on the couch with Valarian, watching some kid’s show while I tried not to listen.
Around 8 PM, Valen got a call and walked outside to take it before returning, saying he had to head out. Kalen also said he should head home since it was a school night. Valen was gone for hours, and eventually, Valarian went to bed after reading to him and tucking him. I heard my phone ringing in the living room only after I closed the door.
Walking out, I noticed the call was from Zoe. I answered it, thinking it was unusual for her to call so late. When I answered and heard her frantic voice, I knew instantly something was wrong and the sirens in the background made my heart thump in my chest. All the air was sucked from my lungs as her following words left her.
“Everly,” she sobbed into the phone.
“Zoe? What is it?”
“Can you hear me?” she asked.
“It’s gone, Everly. It’s gone!” she sobbed into the phone.
“The hotel. It spread so fast. You need to get here,” she cried before the phone cut out. I tried calling her number again, but all I got was her voicemail. I instantly called Valen’s number.
I stood awkwardly in the elevator with my father. “So, where are you heading off to?”‘ he asked. Thanks to Everly, it was bad enough that I had to sit through an awkward dinner.
Though I knew, she was only thinking about mine and my father’s relationship. Yet I couldn’t complain to Everly about my problem, so I told him.
“Going to see Dion,”
“The jeweler?” he asked, and I nodded.
“Wait. Are you proposing to Everly?”
“Why else would I be going to see him?”
“Well, it’s about bloody time,” my father says, and I can’t help the tug of my lips. I knew if he had his way, I would have married her the day I met her.
“So the ring is ready. What sort of ring did you get her?”
“One of mum’s rings. Valarian picked out the stone.” I tell him, and my father nods and glances away. He swallows.
“So you are picking it up?”
“No, there is an issue, so I am stopping over there. Apparently, the engraver isn’t working,” I tell him. The doors finally open, and I step out, heading for my car, wanting to get this over with.
I pulled up out of the plaza walking to Dion’s jewelers. He had called, saying there was something wrong with the engraver. What I wasn’t expecting was for my father to follow me.
He pulled up behind me. “What are you doing?”
“Coming to see if I can help?” he says, though I know he was trying to spend more time with me. He was always extra clinging when I was upset with him, and this feud of ours had lasted weeks.
Though I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy his company a little.
We walked to the jewelers and knocked on the door. Dion comes over and unlocks it, locking it behind us and we follow him out to the back of his store.
“What’s wrong with it?” I ask him. Dion shrugs, picking up a rag and wiping his forehead, which was covered in sweat from the lights in here.
“No, idea. I’ve been pulling the d**n thing apart, but I am a jeweler, not a bloody technician, and the ring holder won’t spin,” he grumbles. My father shrugs his jacket off before pulling a stool over and sitting in front of the laser machine.
They spent hours trying to fix it before deciding it needed some part. Dion then spent a few hours on eBay and various sites trying to find the part for the specific engraver he had, only to tell me shipment would take another two weeks on top of the time it would take for the stone to arrive.
“What is with shipment these days?” I growl. I was already impatient to get the ring back, let alone now adding more time.
Dion shrugs apologetically. I sigh, knowing it isn’t his fault when my father speaks. “I can go pick it up?” he offers.
“It’s a four-day drive,” I tell him, and he shrugs. “Better than waiting. When does the stone arrive?” he asks Dion.
“Hopefully, next week, they were able to ship it off on the next flight, so it’s arriving early,” Dion says. Well, at least something good came of this.
“It’s settled then. I will go pick up the part and bring it back here, and you should have your ring earlier than expected,” my father tells me. He looks down at Dion’s computer, and Dion fills out something about picking it up. My father then jots down the address on a piece of paper.
Leaving, my father followed me out, and we walked back to the car. “You didn’t have to pick it up. I know you are only sucking up,” I tell him.
“Is it working?” he chuckled.
“Kind of,” I laugh. We stand there awkwardly when my father hugs me. After I stood there for a second, I wrapped my arms around him. “I miss you, son,” he says, his voice cracking. I rub his back before he lets go and nods, racing to his car. He leaves before I get in my car. The moment I did, the mind-link opened up, and Marcus’ voice was in my head.
“Hey, what’s up?”
“You need to get to Mountainview Hotel,”
“It’s not good, Valen. The whole place is gone. It’s just a shell,”
“Someone cut the water off and the power. We were trying to figure out what was going on when we heard an explosion in the kitchen, an hour after closing, and the entire place went up,”
“F**k! I’m on my way,” I tell him.
Hearing my phone ringing, I grab it from my jacket pocket. It was Everly. I was about to answer when I saw my father’s car come abruptly to a stop at the traffic lights before he turned the car around and drove back towards me on the opposite side of the road. He stops on the opposite side of the road just as I answer Everly’s phone call.
She was sobbing hysterically, and I told her I was on my way there when she said she was trying to get a hold of my father. “He is with me. We are on our way,” I tell her before hanging up. Dad winds his window down, and I do the same.
“Want me to take Valarian? It’s all over the radio,” he calls.
“Head to the Hotel. Everly is on her way there with him, ” I call back, and he nods before taking off. I rip a U-turn, following after him.