Home > Haven (Relentless #5)(3)

Haven (Relentless #5)(3)
Author: Karen Lynch

I turned from the window and looked around the kitchen again. It was a nice room, warm and sunny, and I could see why Sara loved it. I pictured me cooking meals and eating at the small table, and I smiled. Yes, I could do this.

A sheet of paper on the counter caught my eye, and I picked it up, knowing it was from Sara before I read it.

Emma,

Welcome to your new home! I hope you’ll love it as much as I do. I can’t believe you’re living in my old apartment and I’m on my way to Russia of all places. Life is full of surprises, isn’t it?

I know you said you wanted to do everything for yourself, but I couldn’t help myself. I stocked the kitchen with some of your favorite foods to help you feel at home on your first day. I also bought a few other things I hope you’ll like, such as the cool new espresso machine in front of you. I know how much you love your mocha lattes. They told me at the store it was pretty easy to figure out. The manual is in the drawer by the fridge.

I left a number on the fridge in case something in the building breaks. Brendan is a friend of mine, and he can fix anything. He’ll send the bills for any repairs to me. No argument. It’s my responsibility to fix things. Brendan is part of the pack, but don’t worry. I didn’t tell them about you. I also left Roland’s number in case you change your mind about meeting him. I hope you do. He’s a great guy and a lot of fun.

Okay, I have to go before Nikolas throws me over his shoulder again. That’s becoming a bad habit with him. I’ll call you in a few days to see how you’re settling in. Bye!

Love, Sara

I chuckled, feeling lighter after reading Sara’s letter. She was the best friend I’d ever had. I wished she was here, but she and Nikolas were on a plane right now, flying to Russia to visit his family.

I’d never seen two people as crazy about each other as she and Nikolas were. I’d thought that kind of love existed only in romance novels until I met the two of them. Before I was taken from my old life, I used to dream of a love like theirs. Those dreams had died long ago, along with the girl I used to be. Now, I only wanted some semblance of a normal life and a chance for a little happiness.

I shook off the sadness stealing over me again and went to explore the rest of the apartment. On the first floor, I found a cozy living room, the master suite, a bathroom, a laundry room, and Nate’s old office. I shook my head when I saw the shiny new laptop sitting on the desk. A few things, indeed.

At the end of the hall was a flight of stairs to the loft where Sara’s bedroom used to be. I ran up the stairs, eager to see it for myself. At the top, I stopped, unable to believe my eyes.

“Oh, Sara.”

Tears blurred my vision, and I blinked them away as I walked over to the large easel set up in the middle of the room that had been transformed into an artist’s studio. Around me were canvases, paints, brushes, easels, and everything I would need, including all my stuff that had been sent ahead from Westhorne. It was perfect.

I walked around the room, touching the supplies and fighting the growing tightness in my chest. I didn’t deserve all this generosity and kindness.

Leaving the studio, I opened the door to the attic to peer inside. It was empty except for a narrow flight of stairs to the roof. I closed the door, making a note to check out the roof later. Right now, it was time to settle in and start my new life.

A sense of anticipation filled me as I descended the stairs to the main floor. The bed in the master bedroom was stripped, so I took a few minutes to make it up with fresh sheets and a quilt from the hall linen closet. The next hour was spent unpacking my suitcases and putting away my things in the closet and adjoining bathroom. As I worked, I made a mental list of things I needed to buy.

I planned to get a job once I found my way around here, even though Tristan had told me it wasn’t necessary. He’d wanted me to stay at Westhorne, but I couldn’t hide among the Mohiri forever. When I’d insisted on leaving, he’d set me up with a bank account and some “getting started” money. I had no idea how much was there, but knowing him it was a generous amount.

It took me a while to realize my stomach was rumbling. After all these months, I still wasn’t used to listening to the demands of my body, and I had to remind myself to eat regularly. Not that I didn’t like to eat. I’d discovered so many wonderful foods since I’d been healed. It was hard sometimes to remember my body needed a different kind of sustenance now, and more frequent feedings.

I went into the kitchen to check the fridge, and a laugh bubbled from me at the sight of the full shelves. How on earth did Sara think I was going to eat all of this food?

Shaking my head, I pulled out some meats and cheese and everything else I needed to make a sandwich. In my old life, my cooking skills consisted of French toast, grilled cheese, and scrambled eggs – Marie’s favorite foods. I needed to learn how to make real meals now that I was on my own. Sandwiches would serve my needs until then. I’d also rediscovered my love of pizza. Sara had told me about her favorite pizza place in town, and they delivered, which was perfect since I had no car yet. One thing at a time.

I ate my sandwich slowly, barely noticing the taste as I tried not to be overwhelmed by the fact that I was truly on my own. Tristan and Sara had done what they could to make it easier for me. I had health insurance, a new driver’s license, and a social security number, compliments of the security people at Westhorne. There wasn’t much those guys couldn’t do.

Dax, their head of security, had even found my family for me. My parents had retired and moved to Charleston, and my sister, Marie, lived in DC. She was a children’s writer now, and an activist for Child Find of America. She also lobbied the government for tougher child laws. It was all because of me, and I wished I could tell her I was alive and well. But there was no way to explain how I looked the same after all these years. As much as it killed me, I had to stay away from everyone from my past, especially my sister and parents. It was best for everyone.

That was why I’d given up my last name. I was no longer Emma Chase from Raleigh, North Carolina. I was Emma Grey from Syracuse, New York, and second cousin to Sara. When Sara had offered me her name, it only seemed right to take the last name of the person who had given me my new life. It also gave me the perfect cover story for why I was staying in her apartment.

I cleaned up after my meal and stood in the kitchen, not sure what to do next. I looked out at the sunny waterfront and thought about taking a short walk, but I quickly dismissed it. I wasn’t ready to go out yet. Maybe tomorrow.

A phone rang, startling me from my thoughts, and I ran to find my cell phone, which was still in my bag. My mouth curved into a wide smile when I saw the name on the screen.

“Hey, chica! How’s life in the sticks?” Jordan asked as soon as I answered.

“So far, so good. I only got here two hours ago, though.”

“Are you bored out of your tree yet?” she joked. She put her hand over the phone and yelled at someone before she came back on the line. “Sorry about that. So, how do you like your new place?”

I walked into the living room and sat in the chair by the fireplace. “It’s nice. Feels weird to have a whole building to myself, and it’s a lot quieter than Westhorne.”

“Yeah, it takes a little getting used to, but it’s a nice place if you go for the small-town life. Don’t forget to check out Gino’s. Best pepperoni pizza you’ll ever eat.”

I laughed and stretched my legs across the ottoman. “Yeah, Sara already drilled that into my head.”

A police siren sounded in the background. Jordan paused until it went past.

“I was only there for three days, but the people seem pretty decent. And Wolf Boy is cool. Just don’t tell him I said that.”

“Wolf Boy?”

She snickered. “That’s Roland. You know, the werewolf.”

“Oh, yes. Sara’s friend.”

My body tensed, and my insides recoiled. I’d spent the last two decades thinking of werewolves as my mortal enemies whose main purpose in life was to hunt and kill my kind. It was going to take a little while to get past that.

“I guess you haven’t had time to meet him and Peter yet with it being your first day there.” She was quiet for a moment. “Sara told me you don’t want them to know about your past. I get why you feel that way. But I think they’ll surprise you once you get to know them. I didn’t care for them at first either, but they kind of grow on you.”

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