#Chapter 76: Mother Knows Best
I got home that night after Enzo drove me home and stashed the strange photograph in my bedside table. I was kept awake for a long time as I puzzled over the photograph and the events of the past day, Veronica’s untimely and unnecessary death, Ronan’s wolf form, and the history of the Crescents and the Fullmoons. Enzo’s father had not only informed me that some war between werewolf factions was looming over this small town, but Enzo also told me that he thought I was a werewolf
myself Between all of those things + and the strangely familiar pattern in the photograph, it felt as though my entire world had been turned upside down for the millionth time since the beginning of the semester
Eventually, I managed to fall asleep. I woke up early the next morning and rushed to get ready for class, midterms
were starting next week, and I had hardly prepared at all with everything going on lately. I would have to spend. every spare minute I had studying this week.
After classes, I headed home to gather my things before I would be going to the library to spend the rest of the day studying. My legs felt tired and heavy as I walked up the stairs to my suite, and I was just considering laying down for a brief nap when I walked into my kitchen to see Jessica and Lori both standing there looking confused and worried.
“What happened to you two?” I asked, setting my bag down on the counter
“Um, you might want to see for yourself,” Jessica replied under her breath, pointing to my room with a shaking hand.
I narrowed my eyes and walked past them toward my room, as I approached, it became obvious to me
that my door was wide open. and there was someone inside
My mother spun around from where she stood in front of my closet, an almost cheeky grin spread across her face “Darling!” she said, stretching her arms out as she walked toward me. I stiffened as she wrapped me in a tight hug
“What are you doing here?” I said over her shoulder 1 pried myself free and took a few steps back, folding my arms as I looked around the room. “And what were you doing in my room?”
“I got a call that you got injured a couple days ago,” she said in a sing- song voice. “I had to check on my baby”
I could feel my heart leap up into my throat as anger bubbled up inside of me My adoptive mother and I never had the best relationship; as soon as I graduated high school, I couldn’t wait to move out and go to college Going home for the summer and winter break was always a challenge We never saw eye-to-eye on anything, and her dismissal of Taylor’s chronic pain only made me resent her even more
“Why didn’t you just call me like a normal person?” I asked.
My mother tsked and shook her head. ” You know, you could be happy that your mother went out of her way to check on you,” she replied. “There’s no need to be nasty.”
I let out a sigh. “I’m sorry. I’m not trying to be nasty. It’s just…. unexpected.” I wanted to yell at her, to tell her that I was sick of her crossing my boundaries and sticking her nose where it didn’t belong, but at this point I just wanted to not cause a scene and hope that she would just leave soon. without an altercation.
“Well,” my mother said with a huff, folding her arms and looking around my room. “I must say, you’ve decorated this shabby little place quite well. Although, I could’ve sworn I raised you to be a bit neater than this.” She gestured to the side of my bed, where there was a pile of dirty clothes on the floor, and the side table was covered in books and coffee cups.
“I’ve been busy,” I replied curtly.” Medical school and all.”
I watched with narrowed eyes as my mother wandered over to the window. and peered out.
“How are Taylor and dad?” I asked.
My mother merely shrugged, not even bothering to look at me. “Same old, same old,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand. “You know how they are. Your father can’t seem to accept the fact that his book will never get published, and, well… Taylor is Taylor.
“Did you take Taylor to a doctor yet?” I said, my voice almost a snarl.
“Hah!” my mother exclaimed, turning around finally to face me It was bright enough outside that she was
silhouetted against the window, turning her into a dark blob as I glared at her Her features came into focus as she sauntered up to me, revealing her cold eyes and aging face
“I take that at a no, then,” I said,
“Sweetheart, there’s nothing wrong with Taylor,” she said, reaching out to touch my shoulder I moved out of the way, causing her to drop her hand back to her side and frown before she turned on her heel and headed toward the door “I’m not sure when you’re going to realize that he’s clearly just faking
his symptoms for attention. Whatever
hovel you two came out of seems to
continue to haunt you to this day.”
At this point, the anger began to overflow, and the string of words that came out of my mouth felt unavoidable.
“I’m not sure when you will realize that my brother is in pain, and that your dismissiveness only makes it worse. Maybe if you had been a mother just once during all the years we lived under your roof, you would know that.”
I watched as my mother stood in the doorway, ber tense back turned to me as she clenched and unclenched her fists at her sides. Then, like a puppet on a string, she simply relaxed and walked away.
When I heard the front door open and close, 1, too, felt the tension slip away. I walked back out into the kitchen to see Lori and Jessica still standing there, speechless.
“I’m so sorry,” Lori said. “She just squeezed her way in. She said she was your mom and she was just coming to surprise you.”
“It’s alright,” I replied, rubbing my tired eyes. “She’s just manipulative.” I turned around to head back to my room, but as I did, Lori called after me.
“Oh, and Nina?” she said, her voice sounding sheepish. “I’m sorry for saying those awful things yesterday. I didn’t mean it.”
A slight smile stretched across my lips, and I walked over to pull my friend into a hug. “It’s okay. Just know that the stalker won’t bother us any more.”
As I held my friend, choking down my pain over what truly happened to the stalker, my mind flickered next to something darker, more sinister… The looming war that would rage right here, on this very campus, and potentially put my friends’ lives in serious danger.
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