Chapter Twenty-One

Relationships… Relationships Everywhere

Elli's head was pounding when she woke up. It took her mind several moments to register the fact that she was lying in Blake's bed and when it did, everything from before she passed out flashed through her mind in all too vivid detail. She was going to kill Blake, if she hadn't already.

Sometime while she had been out, she had returned to her human form, which meant good things. At least, she hoped it did.

"You're alive. Good," Blake said, stepping out of the shadows. She let out a growl, sounding much more feral than usual. He held up his hands in a gesture of surrender.

"What the hell?" she snapped.

"I was thirsty. Went too long without blood. My bad," he replied with a shrug.

"You almost killed me!"

"I don't think I would have killed you."

"If Noah hadn't come home when he did, I would be dead."

"…maybe," he consented. "But he did and you're not, so I don't see the problem."

She moved to leap out of the bed and basically attack him, but that caused a wave of dizziness. "I hate you," she growled out.

"Really now? I actually find you rather amusing."



"Shut up."

He laughed, but didn't comment. She lay back down and shut her eyes, hoping the pulsing headache would fade. "What happened after I passed out?"

"Noah tried to kill me. Desmond came up here and used magic to break us up and then lectured us like we were six. Also, Richard went home for the holidays and Noah's been moping about the house since he found out."

She groaned. "Great. So we have an angry, sad werewolf on our hands. That sounds lovely."

"Sounds like your problem, since he's your brother."

"You're not making me less angry with you."

He chuckled. "I don't think I can. You've been out for twelve hours, by the way."

Her eyes snapped open so she could shoot a glare at him. "So I spent the night here?"

"Well, you couldn't very well go back to your own room in your wolf form since you're sharing it with Jasper, so we just left you here."

"When did I change back?" She had passed out as a werewolf but woken up human. During the full moon, she had no idea when she would shift back, so she was curious.

"A couple hours ago."

The headache was beginning to fade, so she sat up. "Why didn't you guys move me to my room after I was human again?"

"Well everyone's up and about now, so we were bound to run into someone and that seemed like much too much explaining."

Ah. That made sense. She looked him over and actually took in his appearance. Dark rings circled his eyes. Color had returned to his face at least, but he didn't look like a vampire who had just fed.

"You look like shit," she pointed out.

"Someone's been in my bed for the last twelve hours," he growled in response.

"Now whose fault is that?" was her retort.

He shrugged, neither admitting blame nor evading it. "Doesn't matter. Point is, I don't normally get much sleep and thanks to this mess, I haven't slept in like twenty seven hours. I'm tired."

"Well, take your bed back. I'm going to go downstairs and eat breakfast." She stood and stretched. No dizziness washed over her so she took that as a sign that breakfast was a good idea and left his room, heading downstairs.

The clock in the kitchen told her it was nine am. Aside from Blake, the house consisted of early risers, so she figured everyone else had already eaten. Addy and Noah had work today and apparently Richard was gone, so that left Desmond, Kate, Peter, Jasper, herself and Blake in the house. Peter usually worked the late shifts, so he would probably be leaving later. She had slept through most of Friday, which was annoying, but at least she had Saturday.

During her kitchen raid she found potatoes and decided she wanted hash browns for breakfast. As she was frying them, Jasper entered the room. His hair was cutely messy and he was still in his pajamas. Perhaps the humans were late sleepers…

He went straight to the fridge, grabbed the carton of orange juice and got a glass from the cupboard. He filled it up, turned to put the carton up, spotted her, and paused.

"Is that a hickey?"

Her fingers shot up and graced the bruised bite-mark on her neck. It hurt and she winced slightly.

"No. It's a… snake bite."

He stared at her. "A snake bite?"

She nodded. It might as well be…

He shook his head and resumed his mission of putting the OJ away. "You know, you spent the night in his room. You can admit it's a hickey."

Oh, Gods. She just wanted to die. The idea that she…and Blake… and… "No. Gods, no. Blake and I would never…"

He stared at her again, "Did you just say, 'Gods, no'?"

She stared back. "Is that the only thing you heard just now?"

He nodded. "I notice weird things."

"So I see. …it's not a hickey." She returned to her hash browns, which were slightly burnt. That didn't really matter, she wasn't hungry anymore. She would still eat them, but she didn't want them.

"That's not a hickey, the fireplace has always been marble. I feel like I'm losing my mind…" he murmured. He must really have believed he was going insane. She felt bad, but knew she couldn't change it without explaining things.

"Want some hash browns?" she questioned, changing the subject. He nodded and she plated them both some slightly burnt potatoes. They went to the dining room and enjoyed breakfast together, recovering from the awkward kitchen encounter. He was probably still convinced it was a hickey and she doubted she could change his mind, but it's not like it mattered. He could think anything about her, she couldn't have him.

They chatted happily together and she was amazed at how easily they clicked. Gods, she so understood why he was her mate and wondered, briefly before her mind returned to Jasper, if this was how things were for Noah with Richard. They finished their overcooked breakfast and entered the kitchen, pausing in the dining hall's doorway at the scene in front of them.

"Well, it's about time," Jasper muttered.

"Addy, I prep food on that!" Elli squeaked out. Addy sat on the island in the kitchen's center. Her legs and arms were wrapped firmly around Peter and they were in the midst of a passionate make out.

The two friends- couple?- broke apart and gave their housemates sheepish smiles.

"Sorry, Elli. We, uh, well… it just sort of… and yeah…" Addy muttered, hopping down off the countertop.

"Yeah… I'm going to go…elsewhere," she replied, tossing her dishes into the sink to wash later. She and Jasper quickly escaped the kitchen, only to stumble into an almost equally awkward scenario. Kate had Desmond up against one of the living room walls and they too were mid make out.

"Is everyone in this house hooking up?" Jasper mumbled. Elli snorted a laugh. It was a valid question, although she knew the answer was no.

"Not everyone, but it would seem about half the house is."

He sighed, before checking the time. "Well, I have to go to work, so I'll be able to escape the make out fest for a little while."

"Lucky," she retorted. He awkwardly returned to the kitchen, where the truck keys were apparently hidden, before heading out. She was so envious.

She turned and began heading up to her room, where no one would be making out. Her ears picked up on Kate's voice.

"I've got to head out, too. Group project down at the library. I'll see you later."

"Yep," he answered and she exited.

"Elli?" he called behind her.

She turned around, still on the stairs. "Hm?"

"You up for coffee?"

She really wasn't, but she figured that Noah would want to know she was okay, so she agreed. Besides, she had yet to mock her brother at work, so she had all the more reason to go. Desmond probably wanted to talk about something with her anyways.

They walked to the coffee shop, despite the chilly November weather. There hadn't been any fresh snow in a few days, so the white powder was icy and packed tightly instead of light and fluffy. It probably wasn't smart to be walking in it, but it was too late for that.

The coffee shop was surprisingly busy for eleven am, but the weather probably had something to do with it. The cold had a tendency to drive people towards warm food and drive.

Noah worked the register and was so overwhelmed, for a moment he didn't realize his sister was standing in front of him until she ordered a cup of black coffee. No one ever ordered that from a coffee shop and it dawned on him that she was there.

"Thank the gods you're okay."

She smiled. "I'm always okay. Nice uniform."

He glanced down at the red apron, but then realized she was most likely referencing the light grey beanie and rolled his eyes.

"I can't decide if you look like a hipster or if you look like you're attracted to men," she teased.

"I only have eyes for one man," he retorted.

One person, really, but she didn't correct him. Desmond ordered his crappuccino and they found a table in the back to sit at while they waited for the drinks to be made.

"Does it weird you out that Noah mated with Richard?" he asked.

"What do you mean?"

"Like… Has Noah dated other guys or no?"

She shook her head. "Noah's always had girlfriends, but it's not strange that Richard is his mate. Werewolves are pansexual. We don't mate with someone because of their appearance or their gender. We mate because we're perfect for each other, regardless of all the barriers."

"So if your mate had been a girl?"

"Would not have fazed me. Mating is only a problem if they're not a werewolf and then if sucks."

The barista called out their order and Desmond got up, grabbing both drinks. He handed her the simple cup of joe and took his seat again.

"So what did you want to talk about?"

"Kate and I are hooking up."

"So I noticed," she replied, giving him an expression of disdain. Too much PDA among her friends in one day.

"Sorry," he answered with a shrug, but she could tell he wasn't. "But you're missing the point. We're just hooking up. No relationship, just sex."

She stared at him for a moment before responding, "Oh, that can't possibly go wrong at all."

"I'm aware, but she said she didn't want anything else, so this is what it came down to."

Elli sighed, shaking her head sadly. "You're going to regret this decision."

He stared into his cup. "Probably. But I'll survive, regardless of how things go."

Her heart broke a little for him, because she knew he would get hurt. She was certain that he knew it, too, but he really liked Kate. There was nothing to be done now. It would play out however it went and it was that simple.

"Try to be careful."

"Of course we'll be careful," he replied with a laugh.

She fought back the smile that tugged at her lips. "Did you really just go there?"

"I already did," he answered, smirking.

She groaned. "Gods damnit, Desmond. Do you need to flaunt your sex life in front of my nonexistent one?"

"It doesn't have to be nonexistent. You could always ask him out," he pointed out, suddenly serious.

"No," was her firm response.

"You'd be much happier if you did."

She shook her head. "I just…can't, okay? Let's not talk about it."

He sighed. "Fine. How's the job hunt going?"

"I got called for an interview at the thrift store the other morning, so I guess it's going well," she informed him, relieved by the change in subject. She asked him how his search was going and he told her he had actually been hired at the hardware store that morning. They continued their 'friend date,' chatting happily and staying away from subjects that were too personal. When Noah got off his shift, the three walked back to the house and thawed in front of the fireplace for the remainder of the evening.

A/N: College sucks. No, seriously. I haven't had a free moment to write a chapter in weeks and I'm so sorry. Especially because I know this isn't the best chapter after the cliffhanger of the previous one. I promise, though, the next chapter addresses Richard and stuff. At least there was some comedy in this chapter? I don't know...

Anyways, I have a paper due this Sunday and I haven't started it, so I probably won't update this weekend. I'll be done with my online English class so, though, so I'll be back to a more regular updating schedule in a few weeks.

Again, I'm deeply sorry that this chapter took so long. I'll try to get the next one out soon, but we'll see. Happy reading!