Hi everyone! I'm back to my series on the stages of grief. This one passed with one of my awesome OWG Rebel friends, so I figured I should post it before I started second-guessing myself. Unlike the rest of the pieces, this one comes from a character in the YA urban fantasy novel (Pretty Souls) I have coming out soon under my other name. This story actually takes place right around the beginning of what would be book 4 in that series (and might even end up included in the manuscript when I get that far). I had to be really careful not to include stuff that would be spoilery for the novel. I hope you enjoy this taste of Elle, my favorite teenage werewolf :)
Anger: Over You
I clicked the phone off and threw it on my bed hard enough it bounced twice before landing.
“Still no answer?” my foster sister Cass asked from the desk as she poked at keys on the laptop.
“No. He isn’t picking up. Isn’t responding to texts. It’s been two weeks.” I stalked across the room, wanting to throw something else.
Cass lobbed a stuffed rabbit at me, and I snatched it out of the air. “I get that you miss him, Elle, but he warned you he’d be off the grid for a while.”
I wanted to rip the damn bunny’s ears off. Instead I chucked it at the wall with all my strength. It hit our striped wallpaper with an unsatisfying thump and slid to the floor, still grinning. Mocking me. “He’s been gone for almost two months, Cass. Two months! All that time I got vague phone calls and texts that said nothing. He’s fine. He’ll be back soon. Of course he misses me. Maybe it’d be different if we’d been in a great spot when he left, but he wasn’t exactly all here then either.”
“Stop it.” She shoved the chair back, legs rubbing against the carpet, like nails on a chalkboard to my werewolf hearing. The next thing I knew, five-foot-nothing of platinum blonde cheerleader was right in my face. “He’s loves you. He just needs time to deal with—”
Still wanting to lash out, I balled my hands into fists to keep from shoving her out of my way. “I gave him time, Cass. I gave him three months. And then he left. He walked out.”
She laughed and her lips twisted into a sneer. “His grandmother was dying. Of course he left. You need to stop this. You’re being stupid. He loves you.” Like it would do any good, she reached out and ran her hand up and down my arm.
My voice came out tight and quiet. “Then why doesn’t he say it?”
I bit my lip, trying to keep from crying. I didn’t want to cry over him anymore. I was done with that. “In all this time he’s been gone, not once, Cass. Not in a call, or a text, or an email. Hugs and kisses maybe. If I’m lucky. But love? I think he stopped loving me a long time ago. I’ve just been too blind to see it and holding onto him anyway.”
Cass dropped her hand and took a step back, tipping her head up like she needed to see me clearer. “Elle, what did you do?”
As I stared at the phone on my bed, all I could think was that people who said breaking up long-distance was easy were full of shit. Unless they’d never cared at all. Then maybe it wouldn’t hurt. “I decided to see again.”
Her fingers brushed my arm as I turned and headed out the door of our bedroom, but she didn’t try to stop me.
The beast inside me howled a mournful song as she guided me out of our neighborhood. I didn’t fight her; I was still too hurt to see straight. All this time I’d believed in him, believed in us. That we were strong enough to move past the stupid roadblock thrown our way. But he didn’t want to. He’d made that abundantly clear by taking off. For all I knew, he’d already moved on to someone else out west and was just waiting to come back and break it to me. Maybe making plans to go to college out there. I squeezed my eyes shut against the image of his face and crooked smile.
When I opened them, I found the beast had led me to the park. With a sigh, I sat down on one of the swings. The chains creaked overhead, the sound an angry screeching in the calm spring air.
“Need a push?”
I almost jumped at the voice behind me. Neither the beast nor I had heard him approach, but the guy I’d seen pounding up the court during basketball season stood right there, all sandy brown hair and green eyes. Cass had introduced us once, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember his name. Kane. Lane…
“Hello? Earth to Elle. We met after regionals? I’m Zane.”
That was it. “Hi, Zane. Sorry, you just spooked me.” I twisted the swing around to see him better, tugging long strands of hair from my face. Like me, he wore only a t-shirt and jeans, even though it was definitely chilly enough for a jacket, his muscles long and lean as they held the chains over my head. For some reason that made me shiver.
He smiled and it lit up his face. “Don’t get spooked often, do you?”
A laugh bubbled up inside me. “No, I don’t.” Then the wind shifted, and his scent hit the beast and me full force. My nostrils flared and eyes went wide as I met his unblinking gaze.
Rosemary. Grass. Trees. Dirt.
He leaned down, his face hovering an inch away from mine. “Got you again.”
And he had too. I was frozen under the weight of his twinkling eyes and the headiness of his scent.
I gave my now ex-boyfriend a fleeting thought but clenched my jaw tight against it. If he was moving on, then damn it so could I. Screw him. And screw the tears the tried to spring up in my eyes.
With the beast already straining toward his scent, I closed the distance separating me from Zane.