It is already late. I still have a few more papers to grade. I need to add to my research once I finish grading. Glancing up at the clock, I notice it is already past two in the morning. Rachel will be home soon. At least there are only three more essays to grade.
I close my eyes and run my figure through my dirty blonde hair. It is just past my shoulders and has a slight wave if I don't straighten it. Taking another moment to rest my eyes, I let out a deep sigh. I am sure I look exhausted. My eyes are probably a dull grey instead of their typical bright hue. Some have told me that my eyes sparkle like silver when I am happy. But that doesn't happen much anymore. I go back to grading the essays and wonder what this lack of sleep will do to me in five years.
The door swings open. Rachel comes in with a massive smile on her face.
"Goodnight at the club, I take it."
She nods. "What are you doing up to so late? Shouldn't you be in bed? It's a school night, young lady." She places her hands on her hips and gives me a fake stern look. We both start laughing.
"Dr. Wells gave me fifty essays to grade this afternoon. He wants them first thing in the morning." Dr. Wells despised me ever since I started at university. I think the only reason he picked me as his graduate assistant was to make my life hell.
"That man needs to get a girlfriend." Rachel said, shaking her head.
"Are you volunteering to take one for the team?" I give her a sideways look. She rolls her eyes.
"I love you, but that is a hard pass." She makes a face of disgust. After a moment, she asks, "How many more papers do you have left?"
"I am on the last one."
"Great, I'll make us some coffee." With that, she is off to the kitchen. Rachel is stunning. She has curly red hair, yet her locks always look managed. She stands at 5'5", so a bit shorter than me at 5'10". Rachel also has a very athletic build. In contrast, I have a womanly shape. I am not overweight, but I do have wide hips and a larger bust than average.
I just finished grading the last essay and placed it back into the folder when Rachel came back. She is holding a tray with two cups and a plate of sliced fruit. "I figured you were hungry." I give her a nod and take a fruit slice along with my cup. "Have you heard from you, mom?"
I wince. "Yeah, my mom needs rent money. I haven't sent any yet. I’m trying to figure out where I am going to get it. If I give her the money, I will be fifty bucks short this month. That is if nothing else comes up."
I sit back on the couch and close my eyes. My mother is a special kind of person. She feels that it is my job to support her and my three younger siblings. When Sam was alive, it was never this hard. We split everything and had money to save each month. Now I struggle month to month.
"You can't keep supporting her. She is a grown woman. A mother shouldn't rely on her kids to support her. It isn't right."
I nod, "It feels like I am in too deep to quit. Jason, Jan, and Clay will be the ones to suffer if I stop".
Rachel gives me a sympathetic look that makes me cringe. "I get that, Mel, but your life hasn't even started yet because you keep helping her. You're almost 26 and haven’t had a boyfriend in years. Very rarely do you go out and do anything fun."
She is right. My last boyfriend was in high school. I’ve been on dates, but never anything more than two. I just did not like anyone. No one held my interests. I tried directly hooking up, but it didn't feel right.
"I just haven't found anyone worth my time." I shrug off her comment.
Rachel quickly changes the subject, "What are you doing this weekend?"
I shrug, "Probably just writing. I am close to being done with the methods section. Then I can send it to Dr. J to review." Dr. Jacobs, who I call Dr. J, is my dissertation chair. She and I are very close. I meet with her weekly to discuss the progress of my research. However, in most of the meetings, we talk about other random things.
"Let's take a road trip and go see Sam. We can even see your younger siblings. I miss hanging out with you."
"It's a three-hour drive, are you sure?"
"Mel, you are my best friend. Of course, I am sure. I miss Sam too. We all got along so well." Tears start forming in my eyes. "I can't imagine what you are going through" Rachel sits next to me and hugs me. "Let's go down there this weekend. But, let's not stay at your mom's house for too long. How you and Sam came from that woman, I will never understand."
I laugh. Sam often said our mother kidnapped us at birth.
Rachel and I talk a while longer before she calls it a night.
Pulling out my laptop, I set a timer on my phone for two hours. Flipping through my notes, I find where I left off and get to writing.
It felt like no time had passed when the timer went off. I save my progress, pack up my bag for the day, and head off to take a shower. Maybe a shower can hide the fact I didn't sleep.
Since today was a lecture day, I dress some-what professionally. I put on a black dress that came down to the end of my knee with a white blazer jacket. My hair goes into a tight bun, and I did light make-up. I put on tennis shoes to walk to school and stick a pair of black sandals in my bag. Then I grab my phone, keys, and an apple. I shut the door behind me and head off to school.
The university is a short walk from the apartment. It is always my time to think. When I arrive at the university, the first thing I do is get coffee. Since I am a graduate assistant, I can go into the instructor breakroom and use the coffee machine. After I get coffee, I head to my small graduate assistant office. Placing my bag down, I get out the graded essays and put them in Dr. Wells' box. Pulling out the note for today's lecture, I quickly go over them. Then I look through the notes for the class I need to attend later.
When the classes are over, there is about an hour before I met with Dr. Jacobs. I decide to go back to my office and check if there are any emails from students. After responding to a few emails, my phone starts to ring. I check to see who it is, 'Mother,' with an eye roll, I answer.
"Have you sent the rent money yet?" My mother sounds almost panicked.
"No, mom, I haven't. I don't have enough to pay your rent this month."
"What do you mean? I was counting on you!"
"Mom, I am sorry. You needed extra money last month, and it took what little savings I had. I can give you most of the rent, but I am about fifty dollars short."
"You need to figure out a way to get it." She pauses for a moment before continuing. "Oh, Jason and Jan need shoes. So, I will need a little extra for that."
I don't know why I am surprised. Lately, my mother always needs extra. "How much extra?"
"About two hundred. You should be willing to help your family. Or is it because you are getting a Ph.D. that you're better than us?" I can tell she has already started drinking just by her tone.
"Not at all what I said. But two hundred for kids' shoes seems like a lot."
"My kids deserve the best. Don't you want them to have a good childhood? I am being the best mom I can and getting them the best. Why do you want them to have the out-of-style things? They will get picked on in school. Is that what you want? You blame me for your bad childhood, and you're taking it out on your siblings! What would Sam say? Put the money in my account today before the bank closes."
"I don't have the money to-." My mother hung up on me. I put the phone down and look at the clock. It is time to head towards Dr. J's office. My stomach starts to growl as I walk over to her office. I don't have time or the money to eat today. At least this is the last thing on my list, and then I can head home.
"Mel, you can't give mom money. It's not our job to support her!"
"I know Sam. I just wanted to make sure Jan, Jason, and Clay get Christmas presents."
"They are not your kids. She chose to have kids without a job or any source of income."
"They shouldn't suffer for her being an idiot. They don't have a Grams and Gramps to save the day."
"You're too nice; that's why she went to you and not me. But you're right. Let's agree to pay necessities and not give her cash."
That lasts a couple of months. Then we agreed to give our mother a hundred dollars a month; later, it became a hundred dollars each, then two hundred each. Soon we began splitting the cost of our mother's rent.
End of Flashback'
I walk into Dr. J's office. "There you are. Look, I got us soup and sandwiches!" She hands me a cup of soup and a sandwich. "I knew you would skip lunch today, and you probably only had an orange for breakfast." Dr. J looks like a college professor. She has an 'A' line haircut and caramel highlights in her dark brown hair. Dr. J also has big brown eyes and always has a smile.
"Well, guess you don't know me as well as you thought because it was an apple," I give her a huge smile and act smug.
Dr. J laughs, "I stand corrected."
"Thank you for lunch. I am starving." I start drinking the soup; it is delicious. The soup is a tomato and roasted red pepper soup. There is a sweet-savory flavor to it.
"I had a meeting and walked by the café. The food smelled so good I had to get some." Dr. Jacobs responds with a smile.
After lunch, we talk about the upcoming week and what I hope to get accomplished. We discuss the survey and how many participants I have so far. Dr. J then looks at me with sympathy. "Mel, I need to talk to you about your writing." My heart sank. Am I doing a bad job?
"Okay," my voice is shaky, but I try to look at her without emotion.
"I have noticed a decline. It is still on the doctoral level of writing, but it is not your level anymore. When was the last time you did anything fun?" I give her a shrug. I don't remember the last time I did anything fun. "I was afraid of that. I want to change how much you will write this weekend. I want you to take the weekend off."
I stare at her with a blank expression. "Mel, you need to practice self-care. You are overworking yourself. You need to find joy, not just work. Go to the movies, go dancing, get a pedicure or anything you consider fun." I know Dr. J is right. I need to take care of myself, but now with my mother always needing money, how can I afford to do anything fun?
I shake my head and tell her about my mother. Dr. J became my surrogate mother when I started school. Sam and I had her our freshman year for General Psychology, and we hit it off. Of course, I went into psychology, and Sam went into applied mathematics.
When Sam died, Dr. J was there; she helped me clean out Sam's office, make funeral arrangements, and filled out paperwork to give me three weeks off from class and work. We ended our meeting, and I headed home. I need to talk to Rachel about what I was going to do about my mother. But once I arrived at the apartment, I collapsed on the couch and fell asleep.
“Hey, Rach, I am so glad you are here. We need to talk.”“What’s up? Nothing good ever comes out of a ‘we need to talk’ talk.” She giggles at her joke.I take a deep breath before I tell her, “My mom asked me for an additional two hundred dollars.”“What? When does she need it?”“I need to send it within the hour.”“What are you going to do?”“I wanted to ask you what you thought about me taking another job?”Rachel looks sad, then her face lights up, “Oh, I can ask Owen. He probably has something available.”“I don’t think I’m experienced enough for that level of work.”“Hm… Well, how good of a dancer are you?”I roll my eyes at her, “I have two left feet, you know this. Remember your brother’s wedding. That was a bad day for everyone.”She starts laughing. “Yeah, I just like messing with you. There are waitresses, bartenders, and other things.” Her laugh is even more laborious.I roll my eyes and shake my head. “What time do you want to leave?”“We can leave now. I just woke up, so I
Owen"Hey, Owen, I need this weekend off."It's Rachel asking for time off, again. I roll my eyes. "Why do you need time off?""Because it has been a rough few days, and I think I deserve it. Don't you think so, daddy?" She looks at me through her lashes and gives me the dumbest pouty face. I shake my head. "Fine, I want to hang out with my roommate. We are going to go visit her twins grave.""You want me to let you off work so you can go with your roommate to visit a grave?""Owen, it's three hours away.""You're a wolf. Just run. It won't take you any time.""She's human.” Rachel makes a pleading face, “Come on. I won't ask again for the rest of the month.""It's almost the end of the month, Rachel.""Please, Owen… I’ll take back half the mean things I say about you." She gives me a silly smile. I know she is joking.With a sigh, I say, "fine." Rachel hugs me and runs out of my office to start her shift"Why didn't you say yes the first time she asked? She would have gone away quicke
The weekend is over, and it’s time to go back to my daily writing and work. I have the interview tonight. To say I am nervous is an understatement. I don’t remember ever being at this level of nervousness. Maybe it is because this is the first change I am making without my twin. I am not sure, but it is time to head off to school. When I walk into my office, Dr. Wells is there. "Good morning Dr. Wells. Would you like me to get you some coffee?""Why are you here so late?""I am not supposed to be here until eight. It's eight right now." Great, he is in a mood today."Yes, get me a coffee. Make it right this time." I give a quick nod and head down the hall. He usually isn't here in the mornings. I made my schedule this semester to be here when he isn't. Dr. Wells's office is connected to mine. Students walk through my office to get to his. My job is to greet students and assist with anything he needs."Here is your coffee, one packet of sugar, one packet of artificial sugar, and a splas
OwenI am working on the payroll when a knock on my office door gets my attention. "Come in." The door opens, and it is like time stops."Mate, that's her. She's here. Run to her, touch her, sniff her, we need her." I can hear the urgency in my wolf’s voice. “Get up and go to her. I need her to be mine! Move human! That's our mate. Push her onto the desk so we can mark her.” He sounds excited. We both have wanted to meet our mate for a long time, and now she's here."Calm down. She’s human; we will freak her out if we pounce on her. Plus, you heard Rachel; she's had a hard life. It might be best if we stay out of the drama. I think we have been through enough.""No! The moon goddess mated her to us. Her body, her mind, and her soul, all designed for us. Maybe she had to go through that life so she could be ready for us." I watch her. As she walks towards me, and I push myself closer to my desk. It will not make a good impression if she sees how turned on I am by looking at her."Hi, I
It is finally Friday, and I am excited. When I told Rachel what Owen said, she was shocked. "He has never personally trained anyone. Typically, he requires experience.""Maybe he felt sorry for me?” I give a little shrug. “I have no idea. But he is paying me two thousand dollars for a weekend.""Are you nervous?" "Yes, very, but I am also really excited.""Just don't get attached. To my knowledge, Owen has never had a girlfriend. I think it has something to do with his dad being gone.”“What happened to him?”“His dad died before he was born, and his mom had to leave her home.""Why was she forced to leave her home?""It's a long story, but she lived with his family. After his death, they forced her to leave. I know they had to move around a lot, and it never was easy for them.""Wow. That's awful. Maybe that is why Owen agreed to do this. He and I have some similarities when it comes to family. Maybe he is helping himself by helping me."She rolls her eyes. "Okay, Dr. Mel."I scoff.
Owen asks, "Have you eaten dinner?" "No, I was too nervous to eat. The last thing I wanted to do was eat then get sick in front of you." Ugh, what is wrong with me? Why did I say that? "Do you think you could eat now?""That depends. Are you hungry too?" He gives me a nod and smiles. "Then, yes, I could eat.""What time is it?" He glances at the clock. "Ten, there is this amazing Italian place down the road. Do you like Italian food?" I give him a nod. "Great, grab your shirt and shoes, and wellhead out."When we are both ready, he takes my hand. The second our skin touches, I want more. Tingles shoot from my hand to the rest of my body. "Drive or walk?""What?" I am so focused on the tingling sensation I can barely hear what he says."We can drive if you don't want to walk. It will be about a ten-minute drive or a fifteen-minute walk.""It's a nice night, let's walk." I don't want to tell him that I want to walk so we can keep holding hands. We walk in comfortable silence. He holds
OwenIt's a quarter until six. Mel will be here soon. I feel anxious, pacing back and forth in my office. I try and calm my nerves.‘Relax, she is made for us. She needs us just as much as we need her.’ My wolf seems calm."Yeah, I know. It's just I don't want to frighten Mel, but I want to take care of her."‘She's here. I smell her.’"Why is she just standing in front of the door?" I go to my desk and pull out some papers, trying to look busy. Still, she doesn't seem to move.‘Go to the door.’I debate on if I should answer or not. After about a minute, I rush to the door. Once I have a chance to catch my breath, I open the door. She is standing there looking like she is just about to knock."Please come in.”I sit on a chair across from the couch. I can't keep my eyes off, Melony. She is wearing an oversize grey graphic t-shirt, black leggings, and pink sneakers—her hair in a bun, and she has a little make-up on her eyes.‘Our mate is so naturally beautiful.’She truly is beautiful.
I am just about asleep when the door slowly opens. I am not sure how, but I know it’s Owen. He is calm and seems concerned."Mel, are you okay?"I sit up in bed quickly and look at him. The room is so dark I can't see his face, but I can make out his silhouette.How do I answer that? No, I am not okay, but I don't understand why I'm not okay. I am trying to protect myself and keep my personal feelings to the side, but every time I'm near you, my heart skips a beat. No, I can't say that. Maybe telling him the truth is the best course of action, you know what they say, ‘honesty is the best policy.’"Owen. I should apologize to you. I didn't mean to be rude. It's just that I know you don't date. When we were at dinner, it felt like a date. That scared me. I don't want to get to know someone only to have them walk out of my life in three months.""I don't plan on leaving in three months. I need you to trust me, Mel. We build trust by answering and asking questions.""You gave me the shorte