I managed breakfast. I managed not to get sick. I even managed to talk to my mother for the first real time. Without my dad sitting across from her she actually paid attention to the things I said. She kept looking at Michaela then back at me, but I didn’t say anything and I wondered what Michaela had told her.
Jesse was off taking the boys to school. Rather taking them to the bus stop down the road. They went to a normal school. Were normal teenage boys – fully human but they knew about their mother’s hunting. When they were gone I asked, “How much do the boys know about what you do?” I quickly added. “I’m not judging, I’m just curious how much wiggle room I have.”
Leanne looked at me with a frown. “They know what you are. I never hid it from him, or Jesse.”
I dropped my gaze. I didn’t want my mother to see the hurt and anger that were likely flashing through my eyes. “So they know the monster that you believe me to be.” I stood up with little effort and walked out the door. I could have slammed it. I wanted to slam the door closed behind me. I wanted to rattle the windows and maybe even know a few of those precious pictures off the wall. But I didn’t. I just closed it behind me. I was the bigger person.
I readied the gear. We were going hiking in the cool October air. I hated October. I hated everything about it. It meant colder weather was on the way and this was the month that my mother started to hate me. Now here I was up in the same house, with her and her new family and where was I? Brooding in my own mind. I just wanted this over with.
The door opened and Michaela stood in the doorway pushing my mother in my direction. “Talk to him. He’s not going to hate you any less unless you tell him.” I heard her whisper.
I watched as my mother turned around and glared at the much younger woman. But I saw the sag in her shoulders and the triumph in Michaela’s eyes as my mother turned around and headed my direction.
I busied myself with checking the gear for a third time since I’d gotten out there.
By the time my mother said anything I was done repacking my gear bag.
“Nox,” my mother said quietly. “I don’t think you are a monster.”
I looked up and met her eyes. “You could have fooled me. Those are the words that I remember coming out of your mouth. I remember the fire extinguisher you threw at my head. I remember rather clearly the pointed finger, the yelling voice telling me to go to my room. I remember you packing a small bag of things for me and then grabbing me by the elbow and dragging me out of my bedroom. I barely had time to grab Mushu before you took me to the airport. Then you drugged me, and left me with a complete stranger after yelling at him for being late. Dorian told me that you gave him the wrong time. He showed me the itinerary years later cause he’s a paper hoarder like everyone in the Venatori. And then I never saw you, or heard from you again until I was 18 years old. And then you have the audacity to get on to me about the way my fucking brain is wired and how it’s all Dorian’s fault I like men.” I rolled my eyes. “Let’s just do this so I can get out of your hair and you can go back to your happy little life without me.”
Leanne listened to my rant. She didn’t interrupt and she didn’t say anything for a long while after I closed my mouth for the final word. She sighed. “I was afraid Nox. I’m still afraid. I watched as wolves killed my family. I watched them get torn apart. I was afraid you’d do the same thing.”
“I was your fucking son. You should have loved me. You should have helped me. Instead I got stuck with a fucking man who got into my head. He beat me every fucking day for a year in my head. There was no proof, no scars no harm done but what he did to me in my head. The control, I learned it through beatings I received every fucking day. And after that I beat myself at night. My own fucking power fueled by the same fucking nightmare in my head. And still no one believes that he did it. That he was the one or is the one still hurting me. Even if they did there is no fucking proof. So why the hell should I bother.”
I didn’t bother showing her my back, I expected Jesse had told her. I heard the small gasp of horror as I had told my story. And then when I was done she moved to step into me, her around out stretched, “Oh Nox.” The pity and sorrow in her voice made me angry.
I stepped away from her. “Don’t Oh, Nox me now. I don’t need a mother now. You don’t have that right to comfort me.”
I stepped away from her and slammed the Jeep’s gate closed. “Michaela are you ready to go?”
She sighed and nodded. “Yeah, let me grab my bag from inside.”
I turned to my mother. “Get your things, we are leaving now.”