Chapter 27

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I take a deep breath as I run my hands back through my hair, rinsing the last traces of shampoo away as the warm water cascades down my body. Letting out a much needed sigh, I close my eyes and try to relax. I try to focus on the feel of the warm water as it slowly runs down from my head to my toes, try to focus on its soothing feel as it flows over every part of me. I try to will my body to relax, and to not freak out over what's most likely going to happen next.

I don't suceed.

Opening my eyes, I stare at the white tile directly across from me and attempt to organize my thoughts. After the little fairy tale, family moment with Adrian this morning, I had taken Sam downstairs and made him breakfast as I repeatedly apologized for leaving him alone the night before. He assured me that he didn't mind and had had a great time playing checkers with Brian, something I still had to thank Brian for profusely. After making sure Sam was happy and fed, I took off to explain to the pack. They, too, accepted my apology much too easily, in my opinion. Overall, everybody was glad I was back in control and was eager to return to training. Officially hammering out a schedule, I had decided that training would be from nine to twelve every morning, and one to four every afternoon. The pack is free to choose how they would like to spend the rest of the time, and they will also have Sundays free to do as they please.  

The rest of the day went much smoother than anticipated. I alternated between training, which went remarkably well given the inexperience of the group working together as a whole, and spending time with Sam. Thankfully, Adrian had been busy with his own pack business, and I had managed to go the entire rest of the day without seeing him. A fact that was about to change the minute I stepped out of the bathroom. 

Sam currently being fast asleep in the spare room, still on a bed of blankets on the floor as he repeatedly deems the bed "too squishy", I had decided to take a much needed shower. I could have been dressed and back in Adrian's room already, but I know, given the time, he'll be done with his work for the day by now, and I really am not looking forward to the conversation I'm sure we're about to have. Since we've both been busy with our packs all day, he obviously hasn't had time to question me about the scars covering my feet and ankles. Something I'm positive he's dying to find out about, and by the sound of his heartbeat through the walls I know he's waiting to ambush me the second I open the door.

I run my hands through my soaking hair again and try to squeeze out some of the liquid weight as the warm beads of water continue to gently beat down my back. Acknowledging that I'm going to have to face Adrian eventually, I figure it'll be easier to just get it over with. Shutting off the water, I step out and absentmindedly wrap myself in a towel as I think about the other reason I don't want to face Adrian again. 

As predicted, as soon as Sam and I had left his presence this morning, the humiliation and regret had slammed into me like a wrecking ball. As much as this made me ache to apologize for letting him get so close, to assure him that it was a mistake and I won't let something so stupid happen again, I refuse to. Because it wasn't a mistake; that would imply that I didn't realize I was doing something wrong at the time, and I knew absolutely that I would regret my actions later. So, in the end, it doesn't matter how much I hate that I probably gave him false hope, how much I hate that I let him get close to me and catch a glimpse behind my walls, how much I hate that I loved it, because, in the end, I had given him permission. I knew what I was doing, I knew that I would regret it, and I had still chosen to allow the entire interaction.

Now, I'm just going to have to live with that decision.

I dry off, but hesitate to get dressed immediately when I catch a brief glimpse of my reflection in the full length mirror attached to the back of the door. Given the course my life has taken, I tend to not think about what I really look like. It was never really important. But, suddenly, I'm struck by the unreasonable curiosity of what I really look like to others, or, rather, what I would look like if I let them see me. 

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