Warning for Adult language.
Rae ran upstairs to the bedroom to get dressed. She still had a few things from the last time she was here. Rummaging through a dresser, she found a dress and was half way in it before she remembered how cold it had gotten in the last 24 hours. She pulled out a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved shirt and put on a pair of sneakers. She threw on a jacket and gloves for good measure; she was almost out the door when she felt her.
Stopping in the middle of the room, she turned around and said, “Rebecca?”
“Hello Rae Rose.” The apparition standing in front of her was almost solid. This was clearly the other Becca. “I haven’t seen you in a while.”
“What do you mean?” Rae wondered if she should call for Brian. The way he and Siobhan were talking earlier made it sound like this Rebecca was dangerous. But she had so many questions and the ghost didn’t seem to want to harm her. Yet.
“The last time I saw you, you were making a wish in the park. You accosted me, do you remember?” She inched closer and Rae could see markings on her body that looked like runes.
“Yes, I remember. I’m sorry about that; I confused you with someone else.”
“Yes, you had. It was fortunate for me because up until then, I’d had no idea that a different me was roaming around…outside this little town. Imagine my shock when I learned it was because of you!”
Rae frowned, “I don’t think I understand.”
She was just a few feet away now. “You stole a piece of me and dragged it around with you for years. Did it never occur to you to find out who I was, what I was still doing in this realm, WHY I DIED?!” She was screaming now, enraged.
“I – I’m sorry. I guess I never thought about that.” Rae was truly afraid now. She had to keep reminding herself that this wasn’t her Becca.
“Of course you didn’t. No one ever does. Not even my own blood. They all just want my help, never just me.” She turned away from Rae and paced across the room. “But I can’t leave. I made a promise to David and it’s kept me on this plane and in this town even after he died.”
“What promise?” Rae asked softly. Who was David?
“I would help them. All of them. I would stay and keep them safe until the curse was broken. I thought he’d changed. I thought seeing his father die had made him a better man, but he was still the selfish little boy he’d always been. I made a promise…I made a promise…I made a…”
Rebecca vanished as suddenly as she’d appeared. Rae stood there, staring at the empty space where she’d stood and jerked when she heard a car horn. Damn, that was probably Caleb. She turned around and ran out, down the stairs and out the front door. She didn’t have time to deal with Rebecca right now, she had to go help Connor.
“Caleb, I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t – now isn’t a good time for this. Don’t worry about the house.”
“But I’ve destroyed your home. I’ve caused all kinds of panic and chaos.” She couldn’t look at him and so she turned to look out the window. “I didn’t know I was that dangerous.”
Caleb grunted. “I wouldn’t call you dangerous, just untrained. And seriously, don’t worry about the house. They are…fixing it.”
She turned to look at him, confused. “What does that mean? Who’s fixing it?”
“Town council and Siobhan. By tomorrow morning it will be like it never happened.” He looked in the rearview mirror before making a left turn onto his block. She sat silently and digested the new piece of information. If it was so easy to fix, why all the fuss and the anger?
“Why is everyone so upset if the house can be fixed?”
Caleb pulled to a stop in front of his home and turned off the ignition before staring at her, a frown firmly in place. “Are you kidding me, Rae? You almost killed my family, you destroyed the very fabric of the magic that protects this town and you don’t know what the big deal is?”
“And I let Rebecca free.” She said quietly. Yeah, people had every right to be upset, especially him.
“What are you talking about?”
“Rebecca. I set her free.”
“I don’t follow.” He pulled on his jacket and got out the car, talking as he moved. “What does Rebecca have to do with my home?”
She followed him out and walked with him towards the garage. “You don’t know? Siobhan tethered Rebecca to your house. She’s free to roam now though, and Siobhan says that’s a bad thing.”
“Rebecca was connected to MY house?” He looked incredulous. Guess she wasn’t the only one being kept in the dark about things.
“Yeah, that’s what they said.”
“What the hell!” He was pissed and she felt just a bit better knowing his anger was now directed at someone else. Caleb angry was not pleasant. Caleb angry with you was downright scary.
He yanked open the garage door and all happy thoughts were left outside in the cold. Connor looked awful. Rae stood right inside the doorway, afraid to move closer. He was huddled in a ball at the far corner of the room. Hair had grown all over his body, covering his arms and his face, which was all that she could see of him.
At the sound of Caleb’s voice, he looked up and she had to stifle a gasp. His eyes were glowing and his canines were protruding from his mouth. She felt a shiver run up her spine and her mouth had a bitter taste in it. Fear. She was afraid of her own husband. Looking away from him, she noticed Caleb beckoning her to come closer. No way.
“You must come to him. He won’t hurt you, not unless you give him a reason,” Caleb said, visibly trying to calm down. She was in a locked room with two potentially dangerous creatures. There was no one else on the lot because of the fire – no one to hear her screams.
At that though, she felt the hum spread throughout her body and she remembered, she wasn’t as helpless as she seemed. She’d started a fire earlier today and she could definitely do it again if need be – she hoped.
“Is he alright?” She asked, walking closer to both men. She would not show her fear. They could smell it, or something. Werewolves were supposed to be good at smelling stuff, right?
Once she got as close as she dared, she looked at Connor. He was scared and with good reason. “Connor?” She cleared her throat, “baby, can you hear me?”
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Caleb step back, away from the pair of them and she tensed. But then Connor gave a soft growl, unhappy with that little show of uncertainty in her and she remembered Lucky Palms and his last hiccup. She would just treat this like another one, albeit ten times worse. She stood up a little straighter and took a step toward him. She couldn’t back down, they’d played this game before and she knew the rules. Never show weakness, never show fear.
“Connor, what are you doing baby? We need to go help Andrei, but you’ll scare him in this form. Can you change back for me?”
As she talked, she kept talking small steps forward until she was right in front of him. The feeling of electricity was so strong she could almost taste it in the air. Trying to tamp it down took her focus for a minute and Connor took that moment to get in her personal space. He sniffed her, growling softly, but he didn’t touch her, so she reached out a hand and gently touched him. When his body shook, she cast a glance at Caleb. He was nodding in approval.
Connor leaned into her and started to nibble on her earlobe. Nothing dangerous, just love bites – from a freaking werewolf! When she leaned back and away he growled again.
“I wouldn’t do anything rash, if I were you,” Caleb said. He didn’t look worried though and she took that as a good sign.
Connor glanced at Caleb and bared his fangs, clearly, he was not happy with the audience but there was no way she was asking Caleb to leave. If something went wrong, she would need his muscle.
“Shhh, baby. Look at me. I’m the only thing you need to focus on right now. I love you Connor and I accept you as you are. In all your forms, man or beast.” Caleb had told her what she needed to say on their way over. “I accept you as my mate, as my other half. As my protector and provider. I accept you as you have accepted me.”
Except, she didn’t know if he accepted her or not. Granted, the human version of Connor loved her and was her husband, so she was fairly certain that counted. But the wolf? He’d never really had a say in all this. What if he didn’t like her? She almost laughed at that thought. Clearly she was going crazy.
Connor stared at her for a long moment and then pushed into her, his clawed hand came up and started to push down on her shoulder. She glanced at Caleb and saw him frowning. Which was not a good sign.
“What? Did I do something wrong?” She was close to panicking.
“No, I think he wants you to submit.”
It was her turn to frown. “Submit how?”
“Like on bended knee kind of submit. You don’t have to, it’s just a dominance thing. He’s just testing you. I think.”
“You think. You – this is unbelievable. I’m not going to get on my hands and knees like some kind of…” She trailed off when he raised an eyebrow at her. Sighing, she let Connor push her down, but she refused to look away from his eyes. She would do this, because she needed him to snap out of whatever she’d done to him but that didn’t mean she had to like it or cower from him. This was utterly ridiculous!
When she was sitting in front of him, Connor gave one last glare at Caleb and started to back away. He stopped several feet from them and curled in on himself, whimpering. She quickly stood up and took a step back.
“Holy shit, I think it worked!” Caleb sounded distinctly relieved and Rae shot him a glare of her own. He had her in a room with Connor as a werewolf and he hadn’t even known if it would work? She stood up and opened her mouth to yell at him, but stopped when Connor said her name.
“Rosie? What – what happened?”
“Connor? Oh thank the Goddess!”
He was human again. A little worse for wear and he seemed tired, but he looked unharmed. She went to him and he pulled her into a hug. She’d never been happier to be in his arms. She could still feel power coursing through her body but that was just the adrenaline – she hoped. She buried her face in his neck and just held on.
After a few minutes, Caleb cleared his throat. “I’m sorry to cut this short, but we have to get going. The moon is almost down. We have to get to Andrei.”
Connor pulled back from Rae and frowned. “What’s wrong with Dre?”
“He’s changing,” she said. “He needs us.”
Connor stepped away from her and almost stumbled, catching himself at the last minute. “Where are my shoes?”
“I have a pair in the car,” Caleb answered. He looked at his brother with a relieved grin on his face.
On their way to Dre, Rae watched Connor and tried to catch him up on all that had happened. When she mentioned the fire, she expected him to have many questions, but all he asked was, “Did anyone get hurt?” She reassured him everyone was fine and he didn’t seem interested after that. She figured he was exhausted and remained quiet, deciding to let him rest.
When they got to Brian’s house, it was like walking into chaos. Siobhan and Kaylynn were arguing, and Brian was hunched over something lying on the floor. Rae gasped when she realized it was Andrei.
“What happened?” She demanded, running over to her child, Connor, unsteady, but right at her heels. Caleb stalked over to Siobhan and Kaylynn, growling.
Sliding to her knees, Rae looked down at Andrei’s body and froze. He wasn’t moving, he was too still. She felt Connor wrap his arms around her, but couldn’t move her gaze from her son. No, she thought. This was not happening – she was not going to lose her child, not like this, not so soon.
“No. No no no no nononononono…” She kept repeating that one word and picked him up. There was no way. She shrugged Connor off violently. He was preventing her from holding her baby.
No. This was too much. Fate was asking too much of her. When would it end? When would enough be enough? She looked down at Dre’s precious face and felt the tears start to slide down her cheeks. She knew, in her soul, that this wasn’t right. This was not the way it was supposed to end. She was supposed to save him. That was what mother’s did; it was what her own mother had done.
Someone knelt next to her and thinking it was Connor she turned around. But it wasn’t; it was Rebecca. The sorrow that she saw in Becca’s eyes matched what she was feeling in her heart. “Help me, Becca. Please.”
Rebecca looked up, over Rae’s shoulder and her eyes widened. Rae couldn’t gather the strength to turn and see what she was looking at but then Rebecca’s eyes were on hers again. “Put the child down, Rosie.”
She started to shake her head. If she let him go, he would be gone. She just knew it. But Rebecca took Dre from her and placed him on the ground.
“You have to listen to me very carefully, Rae Rose. We cannot make any mistakes. I want you to place your hand on him, on his chest, like this. Rebecca took Rae’s hand, numb from shock, and placed it over the boy’s body. I want you to think of Andrei the last time you saw him healthy and happy. I want you to keep that image in your head.”
Rae just stared at her, not understanding.
“Focus! If you want to save him, you don’t have a lot of time. Do as I tell you!”
Rae’s eyes snapped down to her son and she did as she was told. She imagined Andrei, laughing in his playpen with his brother. That was the last time she could truly remember him being happy and normal.
“Good, that’s good. Now just keep that image in your head.” Rebecca placed her own hand over Rae’s and closed her eyes.
Nothing happened. Andrei still lay there, unmoving and Rae almost lost the image but then she felt the hum. She felt it racing from inside of her, through her veins and out of her fingertips into Dre’s body. She closed her eyes and relaxed her body, forcing more of the electricity that coursed through her out and into him.
She didn’t know how long she sat there, eyes closed, but eventually the hum died down and she felt hands on her shoulders, pulling her away from Andrei.
“Did it work? Did she save him?” She turned frantically, trying to get away from the grip on her arms, trying to get back and see if her son was still alive.
“Who, Rae? We have to take him to the hospital. We have to –” Connor stopped mid-sentence when he heard a cry.
Both of them stopped their struggling to turn and look towards the sound. And there he was, sitting up, looking for all the world as if he’d just woken from a nap.
With a cry of joy, Rae wrenched out of Connor’s arms and scooped up her child, holding him close to her chest, assuring herself that he was alive and breathing and well.
The rest of the day went by in a blur. They brought Andrei to the hospital and he was given a clean bill of health and so was Connor. He felt fine, but Rae had insisted. He still didn’t quite understand what happened. Rae said that Rebecca helped her save their son’s life and Siobhan confirmed that but neither of them knew or would say how they had saved him.
In the end, he didn’t really care. His family was intact, everyone was alive and well and Andrei was back to his normal happy self. When Connor heard him laughing for the first time in what felt like months, he cried. His son was going to be fine.
He looked down at his wife and child snuggled in his arms and gave a silent thank you to whatever that might be out there in the universe. Anthony and Eva would arrive in a couple of days and they would celebrate the twin’s first birthday in their new home. Until then, he would just be grateful that he was still here for them and the rest of his family.