Forever in the Past and Forever in the Future by Neener Beener chapter 25
The first few days, I let myself wallow in my own misery, moping around the apartment. I don’t even shower. I spend a lot of time on the balcony, letting cigarette butts pile up in the ashtray. When I can’t stand the silence anymore, I throw myself into work. I get to the office by seven in the morning and leave after eleven at night every day. After three days, I realize Carly is working the same hours to try to keep up and looks exhausted. I let her know she doesn’t need to stay the long hours I do, she can work her regular hours. She seems relieved and grateful. Milo and Lenora distract me over the weekend with movies and shopping. I don’t need anything for myself but I picked up some kitchen gadgets for Kas as winter solstice gifts. On day eleven, I woke up ready to train. Saint has the itch to spar, which is bad news for my sparring partners.
I get to the training grounds and let the trainers know to queue warriors up so I can burn some energy. They already know what to do when I’m in a mood like this. They pair up experienced warriors and triple up new trainees to spar against me.
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I burn through all the pairs until I get to Milo and Reggie. They’re the only warriors that are an actual challenge for me, the others are just warm-ups.
“Ready or not, here we come! ” Milo teases.
They lunge at me simultaneously. Milo to my upper body, Reggie to my lower body. I lean back and roll, bringing both of them with me as I fall. I hop up from the roll, facing them. They pop up ready to lunge again.
I hear a little bell. No one around me seems to acknowledge the sound. I stand up from my defensive stance, looking around confused, just as Milo throws a vicious right hook.
I fall to the ground like a ton of bricks. I can hear gasps around the ring.
“Bronx, are you okay, man? You didn’t even defend yourself! ” Milo runs over, picking me up off the ground.
“I -I got distracted, ” I say, more to myself than Milo. “Saint, did you hear a bell?”
“Yeah, but where did it come from?” he sounds a bit dazed.
The sound chimes again but this time it feels like it vibrates my bones making me feel dizzy. The smell of fresh rain and lilacs fills my nose.
“Kas?” A sharp pain rips through my head. I press my palms to my temples and grimace, “Kas is that you, Baby?”
“Bronx, Kas isn’t here, she’s in France, ” Reggie’s face appears in front of me looking worried.
The bell is so loud that I can’t concentrate on anything else. I start to feel disoriented and nauseous. Oh Goddess, I’m gonna puke. I lean forward as my stomach churns, dry heaving from the sensation.
The sound shakes me so hard that I fall to my knees. “You guys don’t hear that bell?”
“There’s no bell, Alpha, ” the trainer is looking into my eye now, “follow my fingers.”
My vision is spinning wildly now. I fall forward onto my hands before my vision fades and I black out.
I wake up in the middle of the night in the hospital wing. My head is throbbing. Nothing a little aspirin won’t fix. Otherwise, I feel fine.
Milo is in a chair on the other side of the room with Lenora in his lap. They’re both sound asleep. The clock on the wall says one-thirty.
Damn, I was out all day? “Saint what happened?”
“That bell sound did something to us.” “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Just a little confused. We’ve been through worse. Time to get up, buddy. You know the drill.”
Saint and I have an agreement. When either of us is injured, we get up as soon as we are able. Staying down is dangerous. That’s when you’re most
vulnerable. That’s when body parts disappear. We need to assess the treatment we need and keep moving. Right now, I need a running faucet, enough water to hydrate an elephant, and aspirin. I could also go for a cigarette.
I swing my legs over the side of the bed and stand up. My legs are a little shaky, but a couple of steps gets them back to normal. I walk over to Lenora and Milo.
“Leni, Milo,” I use Lenora’s childhood nickname as I pat her cheek.
Lenora’s eyes open slowly, then widen when she sees me.
“Oh! Bronx!” She cries as she launchs herself at me for a crushing hug. I easily catch her and set her down.
Milo rubs his eyes awake with a big yawn, “See Sugar, I told you he’d be okay. He just needed a nap, like little pups do.”
“I can’t believe I was out all day! That was a Hell of a punch, Milo. But don’t worry, payback’s a bitch, ” I chuckle. Milo stands up and claps my back.
“Bronx, you weren’t out for a day you-“
Just then the doctor and a nurse come in, “Alpha Bronx, please sit down so we can give you a look over.
I obediently sit in the chair next to the bed while the nurse checks my vitals and the doctor asks some general questions.
“A bell and your mate’s scent?” He looks concerned, “Alpha, with your medical history, I want to do a brain scan before you leave. Phantom sounds and smells are symptoms of a stroke. As is, you slept for thirty—six hours.”
“Thirty-six hours! What the f*ck are you talking about?” I jump up from the seat, startling the nurse, “I have to leave to see Kas! You can scan my brain when I get back, doc.”
“Now Alpha, you still have five hours before your flight leaves. I will have you out of the hospital wing in forty-five minutes. Still plenty of time to pack and get to the airport. I promise. I won’t feel comfortable having you fly until we do the test, ” the doctor insists.
I grumble and growl as he makes me sit in a wheelchair. I feel like an invalid. I can walk just fine. As soon as the scan is done Lenora is waiting for me with fresh clothes, my suitcase already packed, and all my travel documents.
“Be safe, Bronx. You’re the only big brother I have and you scared the crap out of us, ” she says softly.
“Thank you, Leni. You’re the best,” I praise her and give her a kiss on the cheek.
Milo and I salute each other and I leave for the airport. A headache is not keeping me from my mate.
By the time I get to the airport, my headache has subsided but now I ‘m anxious about getting to see Kas. The flight seems like it’s taking an eternity. All I can think about is her. Even Saint, who has given me the silent treatment for the past two weeks, is starting to stir. Henri left a Maserati with keys at the airport so I don’t have to wait for a driver. I have to remember to thank him.
I race like the wind down the country roads until I reach the gate to the witches’ realm. An older woman is standing in front of the gate. I park the car in the grass next to the road and grab my knapsack.
“Hello Alpha Regent Bronx Mason, Lady Camille, Mother of this coven. I ‘m sure you’re ready to see your mate,” she smiles, “but before we go, let’s sit and discuss her progress so far.”
“Alpha Bronx is fine, Lady Camille. I save the formal vernacular for ceremonies and public events.”
She nods in confirmation. In all honesty, I don’t want her using my full name and title because I know it will give her power over me.
She motions behind me with her hand. I turn around to find a bench behind me that was not there a moment before. I stare at it tentatively until Lady Camille gently takes my elbow and leads me to it. I stiffen at her touch.
“I understand your hesitation based on your history with witches, Alpha Bronx, but I assure you, everyone within our borders has nothing but good intentions for you, your mate, and your guards.”
Something about her voice is so soothing, like a lullaby, that I begin to relax as I listen to her. In the back of my mind, I’m certain it must be some sort of magic, but I can’t be sure. We speak for the next hour about Kas and how quickly she is learning. She is impressed with how quickly Kas is harnessing control of her abilities and how strong she has become.
” Lady Camille, is there any possibility what Kas is learning here could have affected me?” I tell her about the bell incident.
” Interesting. I believe yes, that is a possibility. She has been working on meditation and searching the universe with her spirit. None of us realized she was powerful enough to make contact from half the world away. We have been using a bell to hone her focus, ” she taps her fingers on her chin as she thinks, ” Somehow that concentrated energy must have reached you. I truly apologize. The good news is, this information helps us craft the next stage of her training and we can take your safety into better consideration.”
“Alright, anything else?” I ask. I just want to see Kas but I don’t want to be disrespectful of the leader of the coven.
“Ah, yes actually. You and I are going to have a decision to make,” she says in a serious tone, “Your guard James has found his mate. We have time to decide what will be best for our coven and your pack, but I thought you should know.”
“James’s mate is a witch?” I ask skeptically.
“It seems that way. We can discuss the matter in more detail later. Now, are you ready to see your mate?”
“Lady Camille, ready is an understatement,” I smile as I stand, smoothing my clothes.
I look at her outstretched hand, hesitant for just a moment, before I place my hand in hers and we’re in the entryway of a French estate home. Before I can object, one of the sisters takes my bag for me and I’m led to a sitting room. Everything is colonial French decor. Light and airy, with lots of wide open double doors looking out onto gardens. The fresh air smells intoxicating.
I get the sense that seasons don’t exist here. Outside the gate, a November chill is in the air, and leaves on trees are falling. Everything here looks lush and green as if spring is ending and summer is just beginning.
I take a deep breath and the smell of fresh rain and lilacs fills my nose.