10 months later
Weeks turned into months, and the Hotel was nearly unrecognizable. It was just four rogue women and three babies doing what I thought was impossible when we started. At times we saw no end in sight, and all of us wanted to give up. Fix one thing, find another issue, yet we managed it. We had four days before the health and safety inspector came out to check our progress, the first time he came out. He gave us a list of issues and snorted his laugh at us when we told him it was only us fixing it up. He shook his head and said it was impossible and that the place should be bulldozed.
Nearly a year had passed, in that time , we had fixed all the hotel rooms into immaculate rooms that simply matched or surpassed the other Hotels in the City. Macey and I went hotel shopping, as we called it, and sussed out the other Hotels in the City. We hired a room for a night to see the services and check out the rooms and decoration to develop our own ideas. The function room was one thing most of the Hotels didn’t have, whereas ours was big enough to hold weddings and formal functions.
Walking into the function room, it looked like something out of a fairytale wedding. Twinkling fairy lights hung from the ceiling joining in the center to a crystal chandelier which was one the most expensive thing Valarie paid for but the centerpiece of the room. We had done it up as a winter wonderland inside, elegant yet also sophisticated if needed, depending on the function.
All the hotel rooms were transformed, the pool area was restored, and the property’s gardens were trimmed and well maintained. In the rear gardens, we found four water fountains that still worked. After a good tidy up, it had a tropical oasis feel.
The restaurant in the main building was fully functional, and all appliances have been removed and replaced with better stainless steel and energy- efficient ones. It had a children’s play area that was fully enclosed and would eventually offer child minding services for employees and those staying in the Hotel. We still had so much to do, but our most challenging task was passing the health and safety inspection and finding people to help run the place.
We had made do with just fixing it up with little help from Zoe’s child’s father and Macey’s brother. We still needed more workers to run this place. Four women couldn’t be everywhere at once. Solar panels had been placed on every building to save money on the power for running the place when it eventually opened.
All that was left was the front gardens and painting the exterior, which was nearly done, but we had just run out of paint. Macey’s brother was currently trimming the front hedges, and Macey was mowing the lawn with the ride-on mower she borrowed from her neighbor. Then on top of all the renovations.
Three nights a week, I went to the community college on the street behind us, and Valarie paid for my business courses, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I attended campus.
I only had one month left, and I will have finished my studies in accounting, business management, and admin, I just hoped I lived up to Valerie’s expectations. Since meeting Valarie and her taking us in, for the first time I was hopeful for the future and excited for what it would bring.
”You ready, Everly? I want to get back quickly. Hopefully, we will have enough daylight to finish that last side, ” Zoe calls out to me.
”Yeah, I am ready when you are, ” I call back to her while climbing in Valarie’s truck. Zoe climbs in the passenger side, and I start the old beast up. Valerie waves from the top balcony with Valerian and Caasey in her arms, smiling and babbling happily as we turn onto the road head for the hardware store.
”I am beginning to worry about Valerie, ” Zoe says, and I hum in agreement. She had become so illlately.
”Yeah, me too, I tried to convince her to go see the doctor last week, but she refused as always, ” I tell her. Zoe shakes her head and sighs. Last week I walked in on Valerie during one of her coughing fits, only this time it was much different as she wiped her mouth with her tissue covered in blood. When I confronted her about it and urged her to seek medical help, she said it had been happening for over a year now and not to worry.
I worried, and it was all made worse each time her mate stopped in to see her. I had been there nearly a year, and he was like a ghost. I saw his car come and go, but I was yet to see the man’s face even after a year. Zoe and I called him the faceless Alpha. That was the only thing we figured out about him, and that was only by the apparent Alpha vibes he gave off.
”Do you worry that he is slowly killing her, that all this time coining and going is killing her? ” Zoe asks. I say nothing because I know her mate was the reason she was so sick; I had already noticed it with myself. So going decades without your mate must be pure agony because I felt it with Valen already, and it had been months, not years.
I felt every time he was with a woman, each time it killed me a little more. Each time I shifted, my wolf form was weaker, a little smaller. My health deteriorated; I was always sick with the flu or stomach issues, and no matter how much I ate, I could never put on weight. My hair fell out in clumps sometimes, especially when he had been busy fooling around with women. Other times I felt drunk, making me question if he was an alcoholic. So I could only imagine how badly Valarie suffered after decades of this torture.
The more time went on, the more I felt him, and it was horrible. It was like the mate-bond was pulling me toward him, and resisting took its toll on me. He had no idea; I tried to reach out to him, fear of him taking Valerian stopped me each time. Valerian is mine; I raised him, I looked after him, and I would be damned if I let him take him from me like Valarie’s mate did to her.
Pulling into the car park of the hardware store, Zoe and I hop out of the car, paint code in hand and the cash for the paint. ”We need a new paint tray too ; I cracked the other one by accident, ” Zoe says as we step into the store.
“You grab the paint; I will grab the tray, “ I tell her, and we split off down different aisles. Walking down the paint section, I looked for the correct paint tray. It needed to be big enough for the roller brushes, finding it. I grab a spare just in case. Heading back to the front of the store, I see Zoe waiting in line; she smiles at me, and I step over next to her.
“Four Litres should be enough?“ She asks.
“Yes, plenty and should have some spare, not much left to do now,“ I tell her, turning to the front.
My heart skips a beat when his scent wafts to me. My heart thumps erratically, and I swallow as I stare at the man’s frame in front of me. Tall and intimidating as ever. I would recognize that scent anywhere as I stared at the back of his head. Emotion choked me as I observed him. Zoe was talking away, completely oblivious to me, trying to keep myself together.
I watch as he steps up to the counter to be served. Talking casually to the man behind the counter and he pays for his things before turning around and noticing me. He stops looking me up and down.
I gulp, looking up to meet the eyes of my father. We kind of stood there for a second, and I waited for him to say something. My mouth was suddenly so dry I couldn’t say a word.
I hadn’t seen him since the night I found out the blood Alpha was my mate, since the night he made me sit out in the rain before kicking me off his
territory and telling me to never come back. Despite all that, I missed my father, but the look of indifference on his face was enough to say he didn’t miss me.
He snarls, his top lip lifting over his teeth as he looks me over before looking at Zoe, who had finally noticed Alpha John. The 2nd most intimidating man in the City and also my father. I opened my mouth to try to say something, to ask how mum is but before I could say anything, he turned and walked out the door.
Not one word, nothing. The look of disgust on his face was the same as when he found out I was pregnant. I blink back tears before regathering myself and stepping up to the counter with Zoe. She doesn’t bother saying anything. What could she say? It would change nothing.
It was one thing when any of us went out, and we got the stares for being “Rogue-Whores“ from everyone else, but my own father, my own flesh and blood, it hurt more. I just wanted him to care, maybe ask how his grandson is or how his daughter is. Instead, I got nothing but a look of disgust, like I was a piece of gum that stuck on his shoe and that stung. I was nobody to him.
Getting in the car, I look out the windshield to see his car. Refusing to let it get to me, I drive off, not even glancing back. The car is silent when Zoe reaches over and squeezes my knee gently, letting me know I am not alone. Pulling up at the Hotel, I let out a breath. I was home. This was home and all I needed.
All I needed was Valerian and our small village family. A family we made, not blood, my father proved there is more to family than just blood. Family is those that are there for you when the rest of the world turns their back on you. That is family. Unclipping my seatbelt, we got back to work, and I was more determined to prove I could do this without his help.