Jinx was still unsure of just what she had expected when she had entered the pack lands her Mother lived on. Being human she had lived unaware of the supernaturals in the world until the night six years ago when her Mother had come home sporting a bite that at first wouldn't stop bleeding. Then after Jinx had triaged it as best as she could it had healed overnight leaving a scar of unrelenting white on her shoulder. Though her mother had been moody it wasn't so far out of character that a medical opinion was sought.
With her tiny family already being on the run making going to hospitals a big no-no, a paper trail could be left for those that searched for them to find. Using false names and such was a flimsy shield when you would be remembered for paying cash for services in an age where everyone had insurance. Red flagging their visit for anyone knowing what to look for.
It was less than a month later for her Mother to make her first change and run. She had turned in their crowded little living room, because it had doubled as Jinx's room, breaking most of the furniture in her effort to escape the small space. She had come back a few days later looking younger and better then she had ever before.
Smiling she had told her shocked kids she was finally in the skin she had been meant to be born into. Claiming that the pack she had met had welcomed her, but her having human kids was something of a problem. Offering to change her two youngest as they were only eleven and twelve, she said they could move with her to the pack lands.
Her twelve year old brother had refused to leave Jinx's side and where Tommy went, Timmy followed. So both her younger brother opted to stay in with the sister who had been more mother to them then the woman who had given birth to them. That hadn't gone over well and probably would have been the last time they saw the selfish woman fate had tied them to, but pack couldn't understand a mother abandoning her family so easy. Making their biological Mother spend more time with them then she ever had before in visits thought were to make them more comfortable
A few times, different members of the pack had accompanied Kalina, Jinx's Mother preferred they called her by her first name now that she looked no older then her mid-twenties. Well that and since she actually had to converse with her children when pack members were around the snide way they called her Mom brought up questions she hated fielding. Her years as a con woman made it nothing she couldn't handle, but as she was annoyed enough being held back from immersing in her new life, she had almost slipped a time or dozen. Until Jinx covered her faux pas in hopes of alleviating what came when none accompanied Kalina on her forced visits.
It wasn't that Jinx wanted to help the womb barer, as she preferred to think of the woman, but her anger after she turned left bones poking out of skin. That meant spending meager funds on a hospital visit that was an already known danger for the trio of siblings. Luckily only Jinx roused her anger enough for that to happen. That gave Jinx hope as her escort aimed the car he had come to pick her up in towards a cute little cottage's driveway. Show time was almost here.
Pasting the smile of delight on her face she channeled all her anger at the unfairness of this into the deepest pit and slammed a steel door over it. She couldn't afford to let her true feeling be sensed, because hate and pain would have even the dullest of wolves growling for her blood. During the forced visitations Kalina had been kind enough to inform her offspring of her triggers, by example of course.
Waiting until the car stopped, Jinx looked to the wolf in human form for permission to disembark. She was in the center of men, women and children who could dismember or kill her for a slight she unknowingly gave on their soil. Caution was the name of this game and as she was here to save the life of one of her beloved brothers she would play by the rules, and do it with a smile on her face. At the nod of his dark head she stepped out of the car and held onto the door handle as nerves attacked at the worst of times.
"Have no worries. Kalina will be understand why you couldn't just call this in to her." The warm words from the beta, something she knew to mean important in the dangerous world she was now willingly walking into unarmed.
Beta Jiro had been nothing but kind and understanding since her frantic call to the compound late last night. Or was 3am early this morning? No matter, it wasn't what she needed to focus on now. Letting go of the door, she turned to the now open door and to the woman who was not happy to see her. Life sucks and then you accept the shitty hand you were given and deal.
"Kalina we need to talk." Jumping in with both feet Jinx tried to cull the pain that bloomed when all she got was ignored.
"Beta Jiro, please forgive me, I had no idea my child would come unannounced like this." The fawning voice of Kalina cut through anymore explanation Jinx was about to give, only to turn husky with an even more blatant offer. "I will be more than happy to make the slight up to you."
Shaking her head at how adding a wolf to the woman's psyche had done nothing to increase her morals. Even Jinx was aware the beta who escorted was taken, the three phone calls assuring his mate all was fine had been a dead giveaway. Yet here Kalina stood, offering what had gotten her almost killed by a she-wolf when she had been human, poaching was not ignored and Jinx needed her alive to help. Damn it.
Judging by the tense posture of the man next to her that was looking a little iffy right now. Breaking away from the man who had shown her nothing but kindness she prepared to take the brunt of what Kalina's massive ego was about to unleash. Standing in front of the woman who would think nothing of taking her head if she became an impediment to her desires or plans, she communicated with her eyes just how close violence was to erupting in Kalina direction if she didn't dial it down.
"Kalina, I am sure Beta Jiro would usually enjoy your offer of a cup of coffee, but he is exhausted. He has been driving for the last six hours and would love nothing more than to settle in next to the mate who has been waiting up for him." A false smile of misunderstanding at just what Kalina was offering allowed the good-natured beta to return. "Beta Jiro, once again I thank you for offering to bring me to tell Kalina in person. You are literally a life saver. If you don't think it would offend your mate, tell her I thank her for her understanding. We will find a way to repay both of you for such kindness to my family."
"It has been an honor finally meeting you Jinx. And it was nothing, that is what pack does." Leaning forward he surprised them all by placing a chaste kiss on Jinx's forehead, one a father might bestow on a beloved child, "You have my direct line. Call should you need anything more."
Watching the man who had listened to her frantic call for help all those hours ago, an urge to go and hug him in thanks came blowing through the barren landscape of her emotions. Jinx had no idea how she was to respond to the dichotomy he represented. Acceptance and helpfulness, not to mention being kind while doing it, was as alien as if a spaceship had landed in the middle of her life. Coming in peace to better the life here on Earth.
All this experience did was cement the ugly suspicion that the pack had not refused to take in Kalina's children as she had claimed. It was not so far out of the realm of possibility for the woman who looked at becoming a werewolf as a clean slate for her life. The only thing surprising about it was that she had once offered to take the boys with her. That was a good thing considering why Jinx had just breached her mother's new life.
"Well come in." The open door was empty within seconds of the car leaving the driveway.
By now Jinx should be used to being seen as little more than a curse to her birth mother. After all she had been named after that belief. Walking slowly in, she let her eyes become adjusted to the dimmer interior, finding Kalina sitting at the wooden kitchen table to the right of the entrance. Closing the door and moving further inside a home she was never meant to see, reminding herself that this was more important than petty hurt feelings.
Even accepting the idea she had never been wanted, this house that was cozy and warm drove a heated spike through her already battered heart. Scar tissue would form and make it hurt less, eventually. Time had shown Jinx nothing Kalina did would kill her desire to be accepted just once by the woman who would never see beyond her own hopes and fears.
"So how did you get the big guy on your side? I may need it after over playing my hand when you guys arrived." The smirk that graced the plump red lips any normal porn star would pay doctors to give them, was so normal for Kalina. "I keep forgetting these mated males take insult when offered a little fun on the side. Well not all or I wouldn't be here now would I?"
Laughter at her own twisted history was another sign of just how wrapped Kalina was in her own self. No questions to why the daughter she had abandoned was here, more importantly here alone. Jinx who had never left the boys for longer than a work shift, or two when she was lucky enough to be offered more hours, was three hours away from them on a school day. Arriving at 9 meant she had to leave before they were off to school. But then again only a mother would know her children's schedule and the one needed to take care of them so well.
"Timmy and Tommy are in the hospital." While she wanted to beg what she had come here for the anger that had Kalina's other side peeking out at her kept her from continuing on till she vented or got control.
Whack! Thump! Guess she was going for venting, as usual. Shaking her head to clear the fog that wanted to take her in and cover her in unconsciousness. Jinx pulled herself up to sit against the half-wall that had stunted her flight through the house. Popping her jaw she was pleased to note it wasn't broken. Meaning she was being given leave to explain.
"You know better than to let them in those institutions. Are you trying to get them killed?" Burning red eyes told of the rage the wolf on two legs was ready to visit upon her more fragile human form.
"Timmy will die if I remove him. He's in ICU on more machines than his beloved space shuttle sports." Holding up a hand to try and get the time she needed to explain why she had dared to come to the one person she had never asked a thing from. "Tommy was downgraded from critical before Beta Jiro picked me up. Though he is still in an induced coma till the swelling in his brain reduces."
"What did you do? I told you to let me have the boys so you couldn't harm then." The kill shot didn't go wide like it had the many times before Kalina had made that accusation. "If either one of them dies nothing will stay my hand to end what should never been allowed to be."
"A semi clipped my car last night when he swerved over the lines. It sent us into a spin that only ended up against an oak partway down an incline. Once we hit the incline the car went for a roll that slammed Timmy's door into the tree upside down." Tears flowing freely as she remembered waking to the cries of her brother in the backseat and no way to get to them. "They got me and Tommy out pretty easy, but Timmy took longer and meant cutting the car into pieces to get it done. Tommy was awake until he got to the ambulance, Timmy hasn't been awake since the accident."
Her failure to keep her brothers, who she thought of as her very own sons. No matter that they were sixteen and seventeen. Making her at twenty-two an obscene age to claim the teens as her very own. She worked two to three jobs and scraped every penny she could to make their lives as normal as possible.
It had been one of her over the top indulges that had led to the accident. The boys being MVP on the varsity and junior varsity baseball teams had been invited to a county wide dinner in honor of athletes who had also been honored in the spring season across the county wide school system. A speeding spree of gas and clothes had depleted the meager savings Jinx had been hoarding to try and take a few night classes.
Taking time off work and outfitting the boys in the nicest clothes she could find at Goodwill, she had sat in the car as they spent a night with the spotlight. Coaches and principals rewarding their star athletes for their great plays during the season. It wasn't that she didn't want to be in the rented hall with them, it was just that all she had was work uniforms and holey jeans. Their budget couldn't be stretched for her to buy even the ugliest of dresses being discounted at the thrift store. But their smiles when they had exited had been enough, the bonus of the food they had wrapped in napkins was just the type of sweet thing they did to take care of her too.
That sweet memory of their beaming faces would forever be dimmed if she couldn't convince the woman before her to step up and do her duty to the children she had dumped on her daughter just days after each were born. The fact that all three children had been nothing but part of one of her many ruses to get money. An age old con to gauge men who had finally seen pass her sex kitten visage and were ready to cut the sugar daddy routine. SO she got pregnant and taunted them with the evidence until the payed her off. The fact that she had taken too long to fix the problem three times told how inept she was at follow through. That and that she was never one to admit she was wrong.
Timmy didn't have time for her selfish ways this time around. How Jinx wished she had saved some of the money she had stupidly spent. Then she may have something to at least spark interest in the mercenary heart that beat in Kalina's breast.
"I need you to turn Timmy." Nothing like just getting to the point with someone who was sure to make this as painful as possible to make happen. "His prognosis is beyond bad even if he does miraculously wake-up. Too much damage was done to his spine and brain in the accident."
A smile was not the expected answer to her request. Things had just went from doable at any cost to this is gonna hurt like a bitch. Kalina never smiled at the daughter she wished had never been born, not unless she figured out a new way to make her life hell. Jinx sat and waited for the price she was going to have to pay, knowing it would be something beyond painful for the joy that danced in the now sapphire blue eyes.
"Fine." The one word answer was accompanied by fingers rubbing together to mime payment was due, someone must be worried about eavesdroppers. "We can leave as soon as I get dressed and borrow a car."