I considered talking to Claire about Ace, but I valued my life too much. I knew at some point I would gush about his amazingness, but it wasn’t my place to try and force something to happen. Claire was still very much hurt and broken, I didn’t know if Ace was even single, and the chances of Claire’s first relationship post losing the love of her life, was improbable to be with a shifter. She wasn’t ready, maybe she would never be, and besides I also feared for Ace’s life. Okay and I didn’t want to see Claire get hurt because she wasn’t as tough as she pretended to be. And I didn’t think the world could handle Claire even more moody and miserable then she already was.
We returned to Diablo Street for a few more hours of interviews. Those this time, Talon and I didn’t have to be in the bunker the whole time. The other’s also had their interviews, and Tal and I only came and went as we were needed. Though he was needed more than I was because he was obviously here the entire time the night of the raid. To pass the time I played games on my phone, sent texts, and struck up conversations with mostly my family members, and even Officer Sparks.
Finally, we called it a day just after six p.m. We were due at my grandparents for dinner by six-thirty and were already set to be late as it was. My uncle called ahead to let them know we were running behind. It was decided that tonight’s dinner would only include Talon, Malachi, and Gideon from my Theron side of the family, because it would be a bit overwhelming to host all the hunters in their home at one time. Even though the invitation had been for us all, they figured it would be an intrusion for all our crew to attend.
We loaded into a single van and headed straight to my grandparent’s house, this time my uncle behind the wheel. I had never been to my grandparent’s house before. It was not that far from the heart of Valle DeL Lagarto. It was a two story white stucco house with a brown slate roof. The front section of the house extended near the street and peaked with a triangular roof. Adjacent to it was a square entry way on the left that opened into a courtyard. The main part of the house was square shaped set off behind the front section. Large windows were on each side on the upper floor, and on the right side of the house a balcony came off above the garage.
For a moment I was overcome. This was the house my mother had grown up in. The driveway she rode her bike in. The yard she and my uncle ran around, getting grass stains. Slumber parties. Birthday Parties. The place I had visited when I was baby too young to remember it. I sucked in a breath. Talon noticed and grabbed my hand. Everyone looked at me.
“I’m okay,” I said to them all. “It’s just weird knowing this place was a part of my life once. Where my Mom grew up.”
“It has to be hard,” said Talon sympathetically.
I nodded and wiped at my eyes. Harder than I thought it was going to be. But at the same time, I needed to do this. I needed to feel closer to my mother and this place could help do that.
My uncle pulled into the driveway and looked back at me. “Take all the time you need Kiddo.”
But I only gave myself a few seconds to compose myself. I was as ready as I would ever be. Talon held my hand as my uncle walked us through the courtyard and to the main door. My eyes took in the details around me. I wanted to remember every detail. The flowers in the garden, the little fountain full of goldfish. The swing hanging from the tree that reached over the stone wall down into the yard. Even the mess of soccer equipment that Landon probably had left lying in the side yard. This seemed like an amazing place to grow up and I tried to imagine it. Imagined my mother here. I could feel her here.
My uncle didn’t knock. This was still just as much as his home, I guess. My grandmother came down the hall and greeted us all cheerfully, and in the case of everyone save Gideon also with a hug. She smelled like flowers and looked so pretty and happy I almost wanted to cry all-over again. Grandfather came walking down the hallway soon afterwards. With him things were still a bit awkward but he invited us into his home, and even offered Gideon a drink.
My eyes couldn’t help but take in the photos lining the walls. My eyes stayed moist but I also smiled as I glanced at my families’ past. My mother and uncle as plump toddlers in a red wagon, smiling in the sunlight. Those sometimes awkward school photos from various ages of their life’s, though my mother was always beautiful. Even in the photo of her about six years old with very short bangs that my uncle explained with a smile she’d given herself a haircut, and I laughed when he confessed his head was shaved in his photo that same year because she’s also given him a haircut. He said my mother hated her first grade photo, but it was endearing and probably my favorite on that wall.
Landon started appearing in the lineup about halfway down the hallway. He had gone through a long chubby phase apparently, but he pulled it off well looking cherubic. He appeared in the flesh soon afterwards, cell phone in hand. He inserted himself in the thick of things and graced us with commentary on various photos.
My grandmother suggested that my grandfather give us a tour of the house. While my grandfather stuck to details like architecture and the year the house was built, Landon gave us the backlot version full of stories. Like in the white living with textured walls, high beamed ceilings, and old stone fireplace, Landon pointed to a wall that to be repaired after his Dad and my mother had thrown a party their Senior year of high school. Two drunk boys got into a fight and one pushed the other nearly through the wall. Our parents got grounded for two weeks afterwards, and Alden confessed it had been his idea and he’d talked my mother into it.