Answers to Questions Asked:
Luvtiffbaby: I know that this isn't the answer you're looking for, but just wait until
the third book. All will be revealed…
long have I been in this storm? If I could just see you And I will walk on water
So overwhelmed by the ocean's shapeless form…
Water's getting harder to tread
with these waves crashing over my head…
everything will be alright…
If I'd see you
the storminess will turn to light.
and you will catch me if I fall
and I will get lost into your eyes
and everything will be alright
and everything will be alright…
If I could just see you
And I will walk on water
Storm by Lifehouse
Three months later…
Mackenzie sat in her room, staring out the window, with her legs drawn up to her chest and a forgotten book lying beside her. Dark circles still surrounded her eyes and marks from the last battle, nearly healed, covered most of her body.
The large rose garden outside her window was filled with leaves, a sign of the changing seasons. Her gold-green eyes locked on the stone bench, hidden in one corner of a grove. It was where she and Jarred had talked, that one day so many moons ago before she was nearly killed. That bench, along with so many other places in the estate, held traces and memories of him. No matter where she looked, it felt as though Jarred was right next to her, just out of eyesight. The remembrance of everything that had happened since that day made her stomach clench and tears prickle at her eyes; but no longer would they fall, she had run out of tears.
Ryan entered the room, silently pushing the door open. His eyes glanced to the bed; it had remained untouched since that fateful day. Stacks of photos littered the room, remnants of Mackenzie's loss and past. Memories uncovered and refused to be forgotten.
He spotted her sitting in her chair, how she was nearly every day, the metal chips from some chain grasped in her fingers. She had gotten better; she could leave the room and would eat independently; but she would not visit the garage or the hangar anymore. It was even a challenge to get her into the strategy room.
Everyday, she sat there, a ghost of her former self. The girl he had fallen in love with, the spitfire who had gotten into trouble with him, and the former headstrong leader was gone. Replaced by this woman who felt nothing…not anymore.
Crossing the room, he dropped into a chair beside her. "Mackenzie, I know that it hurts, but you should try to move one. He was just a boy…" As her puffy and red eyes turned on him, he cursed the words that had slipped from his lips.
"…Just a boy?" she repeated, her voice harsh and so unlike her. "Ryan, he wasn't just some boy, he…he," her voice caught, but she forced out the words, "he proposed to me. On the night before you all left. He…we were going to make it official when he came back. And now…" …He's not coming back…
"Mackenzie," the man started, his voice cracking. "I'm sorry, I didn't know…" Now he knew what those things on the chain around her neck were; his dog tags. They were the only thing in his possession; the only thing of emotional value.
He watched her for several minutes in silence. What he had said had hurt her, but not as much as the pain she was pushing herself into. Speaking again, he tried to make amends with her. "You should go outside before it gets too cold..."
"I can't, Ryan," was her hoarse reply. But, he knew what that meant. The garden was too close to the past, too close in memory to him. Ryan bit his lip; she was in so much pain.
"He could still be alive…"
"No he can't be! He isn't," she snapped, facing him. "You searched for him yourself. We looked for days, weeks even." Teams of werewolves had scanned the cliffs beneath the compound, scanned the river too, for miles around the area. Only Jakobson's mutilated body and the torn liquid body armor had been found.
"Yes, but his body was never found. He might have escaped."
"No, Ryan," she spoke, rubbing her forehead. "He is not alive. I have to give up hope of that. He's not coming back…"
The two sat in a brooding silence for a long time, watching the golden leaves fall from the trees.
Sighing, Mackenzie started again, her voice softer than before and filled with decision. "But, I need to see Jarred's parents. They need to know what happened. No doubt they'll hate me, but they deserve to know. All of it. Besides, they should learn about Jarred's child."
Eyes widening, Ryan faced her. "You don't mean…you're pregnant?" She nodded. "What? When?"
"About three months ago, the night before the attack."
"Wow," was all the tall man could say. "So, do I get to be the uncle?"
She gave him a small smile, the first in a long time to not be pained. "I would love for you to be."
It was several days after that conversation that the private jet landed in the States. It had taken time to plan for her venture; the plane had to be readied, Tristan forewarned, and things packed.
As the plane circled, slowly descending onto the tarmac, Mackenzie sat, pondering, in the luxurious interior. This discussion was going to be one of the hardest of her life. Not only was she going to tell Jarred's parents that he was no longer human, but that he had been killed and that she carried his child. His last remainder…
Mackenzie felt the tears prickle at the back of her eyes. She had promised herself not to cry, she had meant to stay business like, but the memories flooding her mind were too much.
He had left her, died for her, and it was too much for one person to bear. Perhaps that was why she had asked Ryan to come along, why she had to be near people now. She needed something to make her feel human, something to make the pain numb.
Unclenching her hands, she looked at the framed picture in her lap. Jarred was leaning against his truck, aviator glasses on, grinning toward the camera. His shaggy hair was nearly in his eyes, simple worn jeans and a T-shirt covered him. A soft, golden light highlighted the mirrors and his face. Mackenzie remembered the day; it was after graduation. The two of them had packed up and gone driving for the day. She had been playing with the camera, and some slight teasing and flirting had convinced him to pose for her.
A single tear trickled down her face and onto the glass. She wished she could see him smile one more time, see him hold his child, feel his arms around her; but it could not be, he was gone. Forever…
Taking a deep breath, Mackenzie steeled herself, preparing for the emotional turmoil she was about to encounter.
As the plane jerked to a halt, Ryan woke with a snort. Glancing toward Mackenzie, he spotted her staring out the window, her eyes bright with unshed tears. He knew how hard this was for her, and that was why he had to be with her, to keep her sane.
Ryan clambered to his feet. "Shall we go," he asked, lowering a hand to her.
Clenching her fist, she chewed her lower lip. Giving one last look out the window, she sighed, raising her hand to his.
"It'll be okay. We'll get through this." Words were all the comfort he could give her, and they could never help her. She gave him a small smile, for his sake, as they exited the plane.
Once on the ground, the pair headed to the car they had prearranged. Mackenzie slid behind the driver's seat as Ryan paid for the rental. After the passenger door had clicked shut, Mackenzie punched the gas, sending the car roaring toward the interstate, and Jarred's parents.
The car's engine growled softly as it was turned up the rutted, curving country road. White exhaust filled the cold air, marking the vehicle's path. It came to a slow halt in front of a simple faded, white house.
Mackenzie stepped from the car, slipping the keys into her pocket. Inhaling the crisp mountain air, she could sense the snow waiting to coat the ground. Turning in a slow circle, she glanced around the property. Everything was the same; from the barn and horses, to the creaky front porch and dented wooden door.
Shaking her head, she stepped back towards the car. "I can't do this, Ryan."
"What? Mac, you have to. Like you said they need to know…"
"No, not just talking to them," her eyes were rimmed with red as she looked at him, "Being a mom. I…I can't do it. I…"
Then, Ryan was there, wrapping his arms around her and pulling the woman against his solid frame. "Yes, you can, Mackenzie," he murmured into her hair. "And, you won't be alone. I'll be there, and so will Tristan and Vilmos. And…if you ever feel as though you'll break, just tell me and I can support you. I…I'll always be there, Mac. Besides, you'll be the best mom ever."
Mackenzie let out a watery chuckle from the confines of his arms, her fingers wiping the tears from her eyes. "Thank you, Ryan. For everything."
"I'm your best friend. And, I'll always be there," Ryan grinned at her, his arms slipping from her slim frame.
Exhaling through her parted lips, Mackenzie faced the house. "Let's get this over with."
Her boots crunched on the old snow as she walked toward the front door with Ryan trailing her. Knocking on the door, she waited as she heard the scrape of chairs inside the house. A slender, graying-blonde woman opened the door.
"Mackenzie? What do you want?" She spoke harshly, holding the door close to her body.
"I need to speak to you. It…" She glanced to Ryan for reassurance. "…It's about Jarred."
A puzzled look crossed the woman's face. Obviously, her dislike for Mackenzie was less than her need for news of her son. "…Oh…uh, come in…" Opening the door further, she led the pair into the small kitchen.
At the table a brown haired man sat, his hair just as thick as Jarred's was. He glanced up, frowning, as the young blonde entered the room.
"She has news, Stan. About Jarred," the older woman spoke, stopping her husband from a confrontation. "Please, sit the two of you."
As the two werewolves sat, the woman, Nancy, set mugs of black coffee in front of them.
"What is it you have to say," Stan spoke roughly.
Mackenzie took a deep breath. "Well, um, is Cole here?"
"No, he's still in Portland, at the college." Both Starks were giving her a scrutinizing glare.
"Oh. So, about Jarred, I have several things to tell you…" Swallowing, Mackenzie readied herself for this, for the heartbreak to begin anew.
The sun had just vanished behind the mountains as Mackenzie finished her tale. Inside the house, broken sobs escaped from one woman as her husband held her close. Silent tears flowed down Mackenzie's cheeks as she saw the realization dawn on the faces of Jarred's parents.
Whether it was to held over four years ago or now, this conversation was written in the stars to happen. Mackenzie realized that all she had really done was prolong his life, give her some time with him and give him a chance to reach his dreams.
Watching them, she realized that they should be left alone to mourn. "We should be going," she spoke, standing. As the werewolves grabbed their coats, and headed for the door, a hand grabbed Mackenzie's arm.
"No. You two should stay," Nancy said her face and eyes red from tears. She inhaled, giving strength to her words. "Jarred would have wanted you to stay, here, with us. And…if he decided that it was going to be you, then-then you're part of the family now."
Mackenzie could see the unspoken worry held in her eyes. While they could not completely accept her, she was their closest and last link to their son. And she would bear his child. To lose her, would be to lose him again.
"Thank you," Mackenzie whispered almost inaudibly.
Ryan had prepared dinner for the four of them. It was his answer to the sadness filling the house. After the meal, Mackenzie had stayed behind to help him with dishes. The pair worked in silence, rapidly washing and drying the utensils and plates.
Once finished, Mackenzie sent him a sad smile as they parted to sleep. As Mackenzie wandered the hall, she traced her fingers along the faded wallpaper. Reaching a familiar door, she stopped. Padding forward silently on her bare feet, the woman pushed the wooden door open. Jarred…
Flicking on a light, she entered the room, silently shutting the door behind her. Jarred's stuff was lying exactly as it was, the day he left with her. Crossing the room, she dropped onto the bed. She had always planned for him to return here; with or without her.
Grabbing his pillow, she pulled it to her chest, breathing in his scent; musky, slightly sweet, with a tinge of car oil to it. Her throat clenched. Burying her face into the pillow, she let the sobs escape her, muffled by the pillow.
Why Jarred? Why, did you have to leave me? You said you would never leave me. I can't do this; I can't stay here without you. Your parents…I shouldn't have had to bring the news to them. You should have lived, come home bearing them the news of your child.
She remembered his last words; 'Remember, I have always and will always love you.'
I love you too, Jarred. So much.
With a heavy heart, she lay down on the bed, imagining his arms wrapped around her, as they had been and should be. I love you…
Outside, a frigid breeze blew across the land, bringing the first flakes of snow with it. A lone wolf howled, somewhere out in the cold.
And thus ends Wolf Moon. I'll get a teaser and synopsis written for the third book and have it posted in a few days. It may take a bit to get the story posted, since I decided to change Mackenzie's kid's age to about two, rather than four and still need to divide the chapters up.