Rejected Mate and Following Fate - Awakening Book

Chapter 60: Remember

I inhale heavily to self-calm and level myself out, shake my head and give myself an internal rattle to
snap out of this. I haul out an oversized night shirt that Meadow gifted me in the manor, my all-time
favorite, and underwear, and quickly strip, loving the feel of fitted soft delicate lingerie and an actual
cozy and loose t-shirt, printed with delicate pastel florals, over grey sweats any day. It’s the little things
that can restore you in weird ways.

I yank out my toiletries bag and find my hairbrush, facial wipes, and all manner of self-grooming
products I left behind, as they were too heavy to lug around, and start to put myself to rights. There’s a
mirror over the mantle and it’s only now I can see how grubby and scruffy I look and decide to quickly
remedy it. I look like a hobo who hasn’t seen water in weeks, and my hair is a dull brown because it’s
so dirty.

Meadow was right though; I do look different. My hair is longer, my face slimmer, and I seem to have
aged a little in my time in the wilds. My green eyes seem brighter, the color more intense. My skin
tanned gently from being outside all the time, and I have a natural rosy glow to my cheeks, nose, and
forehead, that have brought out a few light freckles. I seem taller, but I think it’s because I stand
differently now. Upright, almost proud, and the small amount of growth my hair has had, makes all the
difference. Even dirty, the layers are softer and hang around my face and past my shoulders in a much
more flattering style than how the orphanage used to cut it. I like this look, and I might just let it grow
out fully.

I clean my skin, brush out my tugs as best I can and find all manner of debris and twigs in the knots. I
feel grubby now I have clean pastel clothes against my skin and try and make myself presentable while
contemplating linking Colton to ask if he has a bathtub close by. Although it’s late, and I am tired so
maybe I should just clean myself up, sleep, and worry about bathing in the morning.

It feels good to have the ability to cleanse some of the grime off with wipes and I look around for a
means to brush my teeth, as that in itself will make a huge difference to how gross I feel. I wander

around looking for a water jug, or something I could use, and stumble upon a door I previously missed
because it’s stained the exact color of the wood around it. A small door in the corner, next to the desk,
that was almost completely concealed, tucked in and narrow, right at the side of the last cupboard, that
I open in hopes of finding something useful. To my delight it slides open behind the wardrobe to reveal
a tiny bathroom.

There’s a shower that looks newly installed, with an array of toiletries in a basket sat within, some
towels hanging at the side, and a fluffy mat on the floor that hints this is where he gets ready most
days. The smell of sealant and paint are faint in the air, as though this was a recent conversion, and I
guess that makes sense if Colton had this room repurposed. He can get up, shower, and get ready
here without having to go find an available bathroom. There’s a small wash basin, and toilet, fitted into
the space snugly, but not so much that it’s crammed and I strip back off without hesitation, the urge to
jump right in, desire overtaking tiredness with a need to be clean and hygienic once more.

The outside living is great when you’re outside, but once you’re back among people, and cleanliness, it
really does make you feel all kinds of yuck. This right now, as I slide under hot water from powerful jets,
is as close to heaven as I’ve been in a while. I close my eyes and tilt my face up at the jet, and let it
wash over, cascading all my worries and aches away with the kind of goodness only a hot shower can

Hot water, soap, shampoo. It all feels amazing to be back in civilization with real home comforts. No
more river washes or using stones to scrub my clothes, and plain water to brush my teeth that always
had a faint tint of fishiness to it. I can lie to myself every day and say that I was doing great out there
and would happily have existed that way for an eternity, but one shower and it unravels all of it. The
bed calling to me, soft sheets, and springy mattresses, and being able to walk barefoot on soft
carpeted surfaces and not having to choke half to death on fire smoke to get any kind of lights in the
dark. I was never built to be truly off grid, and isolated, and being back here highlights all of it.

I spend a good forty-five minutes scrubbing every single little inch of me and lathering up the shower
products deliciously. They smell like Colton, but I don’t mind it at all. It’s comforting, familiar, much like
his presence always is. He always smells good; citrus fresh, with subtle undertones of musk, a luring
heady scent that ignites so many memories of being close to him at just smelling his products. On me
it’s maybe a little masculine, but it’s better than woodland damp, and stale river water. It makes me feel
human again, although it does kill any urge to sleep, and revives my energy levels which maybe I
shouldn’t have done.

I brush my teeth when I get out, oddly obsessed with peppermint toothpaste now I get to use it again
and redo my teeth four times just because I can. Running my tongue over shiny smooth enamel and
the breathy fresh taste when I inhale. I brush out my damp hair after I rub it almost dry with the soft
towels hanging nearby, and cover my body head to foot in the lotion from my bag that smells like
tropical fruit, in a bid to smell female again. It does a great job of blending with Colton’s scents and I
end up sort of pineapple tinted and smelling rather edible. I redress in my underwear and night dress
quickly, and revel in how good clean feels. There’s no comparison to this kind of sensation.

I feel a thousand times better and scoot back to my cupboard to find thick fluffy bed socks for my now
soft and supple feet, and climb on the bed to plait out the front of my hair to keep it off my face. The
layers are long enough now, and always falling in front of my eyes so I French plait across the front and
finish it off down one side of my face with a little elastic from my bag.

I hop up to admire myself in the mirror once more, and the difference it makes is amazing. Radiant and
squeaky clean; my skin flawless in its sun kissed beauty, and glowing. My hair is lighter, and shinier
once more, now the filth is stripped out and the natural highlights of my blonde are softly shining
through. The style framing my face and drawing attention to my now slimmer cheek bones and long

I look less child, and way more woman, and I can’t help the little confidence boost it gives me. My
green eyes shining brightly back at me, despite hints of dark circles under my eyes, but overall, I look

pretty. I never used to think I was anything of the sort, but now I see it. Like finally seeing what Colton
sees, and it’s not a girl anymore, or a shy feeble little no one who used to cower away from all Santos. I
now stand tall, with my chin tilted up, and there’s more presence to my posture than before. A look in
my eyes that says fierce because I’ve lived through some amount of shit so far already, and no one is
going to push me back in the shadows. I have fuller lips, defined bone structure, and a better length of
hair that suits my face shape. I could give Carmen a run for her money looking like this, and honestly,
side by side, I put my bets on me. It’s weird to finally appreciate myself this way.

I scan the room, aware that now I have this boost I no longer want to lie on the bed and the restless fire
in me is up and revving inside. I don’t want to lie down until my hair dries anyway, and I now have the
urge to go check on Sierra and see how she’s settled. Colton looked tired, so maybe I should offer to
swap. Sit by his mom while he sleeps in here and gets some much-needed rest. I mean, we are
sharing, sort of, so maybe we could alternate and when one uses it the other stays with Sierra, until we
figure something else out.

I’m sure the only thing to sleep on in there is a couch, unless they have more beds on wheels to give
him, and I make up my mind that it’s the only thing to do. He’s important to the pack and I’m not really,
not right now anyway. He should rest well, in a real bed, in his own room, and I think I want to sit by
Sierra for a little while, surrounded by noise, and movement, like I was in the forest, until I feel calmer
about being back among everyday life. I need a transition period.

I check myself over once more as my night shirt slides off one shoulder, exposing soft peachy skin, and
try to figure out if this is modest enough attire to go walking around the homestead. I’m covered, and
the shirt is almost to my knees, not thin enough to see through. It’s baggy, and pretty shapeless, but it
does cling to my breasts as it keeps sliding down off my left shoulder so that I don’t look frumpy in it.
There’s a peek of shadow from my navy underwear, but overall, it’s just a shirt, I don’t need to get
dressed. Not really.

With my mind made up, I pad out into the hall, clicking the door closed quietly behind me and realize t
how quiet this place is for the hour. It must be after midnight for sure, but I can’t be certain, and tiptoe
down the dimly lit hall towards the door we took Sierra through earlier, so as not to make any noise and
disturb people who may be close by down here.

I know where the infirmary is, and I don’t hesitate in clicking open the door and sliding into the extra
hallway that shields the infirmary from people walking in, the airy white painted box area with vinyl grey
floor. I make my way through that second door too, to the double doors with windows, and through the
glass I can see Colton sat by her side, reading a book to her. His back to me, and tilted down towards
her at his side, so I can make out his profile and the book perched on the side of her bed.

The Doctor is asleep on a bed in the corner, looking completely comatose with a blanket thrown over
him, and the femme medic is standing off to one side at a counter and doing something. I guess she’s
on night duty while Doc sleeps. There’s no one else there, and the lights have been set to low, so the
only illuminations of any brightness come from the medic at her workspace. The rest is dim, even
where Colton sits, and I can barely make out the low hum of his voice as he talks to her.

I click open the door as quietly as I can and move in quickly, and silently, but he seems to know and
immediately looks my way, catching my eye and then sliding his vision up and down my with an
appreciative half smile as he does so.

You look knock out and much like the old you. Although why are you not in bed? He mind links me and
despite myself I blush and make my way to him to stand beside him at the bed. Trying to ignore the rise
in heart rate, and how overly aware I seem to be now I’m back beside him yet wearing noticeably
thinner clothing, so his body heat warms me by being close.

I couldn’t sleep and figured you might want the bed and I could stay with her.

Colton shifts in his seat and turns so he faces my way and hauls over another stool off to the side to
beside him and pats it for me to sit.

“I don’t want to leave her just yet, sit with me. Keep me company.” He locks a look on my face, that half
smile, the one that melts me, with those excruciating dimples which set my belly alight. I slide onto the
seat immediately, too swayed by that face, and hating myself for the obedience, knowing it’s probably
stupid to cozy beside him in the middle of the night given the last time we got so close in here, but
something inside of me is urging me to stay with him. The desire is stronger than my will, and even
though I try to sit away slightly, once he turns back to his mom, his shoulder and arm fit snugly against
me and make me tremble with the effects of his touch. That hyperawareness zooming back in, and
every inch of my skin tingles in recognition of his body heat, betraying me.

“What are you reading her?” I ask to push focus on something else, pushing him out of my mind,
ignoring my traitorous body, and trying so desperately to breathe normally as my breaths shallow out. I
hush my voice so as not to disturb the sleeping Doc, and it covers how breathless I’ve become in near
proximity to him in such an intimate setting.

“Lady Chatterley. It was her favorite book when I was young, always used to read it in the garden while
she watched me play, so I figured maybe she might like it. The Doc says she might be able to hear us,
so I don’t know… it’s stupid.” Colton reverts to that boy once more, the one I met and knew all these
years, and it tugs at my heart strings so deeply I just have to touch him.

“It’s not stupid. It’s sweet and shows her you love her. If she is aware then it’s probably nice to hear
your voice, and something like a story, instead of noise, and chaos, and feeling ignored. I can’t imagine
what she’s gone through.” The tugging of my heart pushes me to lean against him and lay my head on
his shoulder impulsively, seeking to be soothed. Fitting like he was made to have me curl up beside
him, and he readjusts his position, so I slot right in at him, resting his cheek against the top of my head.
Much like me, it seems anytime I’m close or touch him, Colton too has to respond to the pull and
always touches me back. I hate that even when we’re no longer allowed or able to be together, the

need to be this way overpowers everything else. It stirs up so much ache inside of me and brings that
awful choking sensation back to my throat.

I’m torn in my sadness for Sierra and driven by the force of his pull whenever he’s close. I know I’m
betraying myself by initiating the touch and I’m trying so hard to fight it. Colton is too easy, and too
inviting, like a safe harbor that calls to me, to come shelter from the cruel world, especially when I’m
feeling vulnerable, and tonight this was probably a bad idea. I haven’t had any real sleep, my emotions
are all over the place, and I’m too tired to really fight any of it.

“Maybe we can stay here like this until she wakes up, and I can stop thinking or feeling and just take a
minute…” Colton’s voice is as soft as mine, hushed, and his breath tickles my forehead as he utters the
words. Igniting goosebumps and all manner of crazy feelings, and thoughts, at his suggestion. To sit
here with him like this for two days and ignore everything, pretend for a little while, that this is all we
need to care about. Cuddling up doesn’t sound wholly awful. It sounds like stealing last moments
before reality sets in and I can’t say I’m against it. Pretending for a little while that we’re okay and
there’s nothing wrong with his touch.

Colton takes my silence as an agreement and reaches out and flips over the page of the book as
though he intends to start reading to her again, it just pushes me to curl up against him all the more,
settling in to listen, and mentally chastising myself to pretend this is a frozen moment. Where nothing
matters except listening to him read and watching her sleep.

“My two favorite girls…. What more could I want?” Colton slides his arm from between us and instead
lassoes it around me and pulls me in against his chest, fully igniting that sense of safe and secure. I
melt and give up completely, sinking into his embrace and blot out all the noise coming from my brain,
all the words of warning, and refusals. I want to be held by him and cherish this moment if I need to get
through the rest of my life watching him bonded to someone else.

His hand on the book slides away from it, and places it on his moms forehead instead, gently stroking
her hair back, and then resting lightly on her hairline as he leans in to be able to see the words on the
pages. I pull my feet up on the bar of the stool and drop my knees against his, drawing warmth in every
area of my body now, sliding one arm behind him and making the most of allowing myself to be
immersed in his body. I reach out gently and touch Sierra’s hand as instinct takes over, the need to let
her know I’m here too is all consuming for some unknown reason. The sudden compulsion to connect
to her and somehow complete this little circle we have going on.

“She’s so very beautiful. You look like your….”

My words die on my lips as my fingers slide fully over hers and I capture her hand in mine, a warming
sensation travels up from my fingertips, and something crazy happens to me. My mind almost jolts with
the force of an electric zap, that yanks me closer to the bed and I almost tumble out of Colton’s arms,
but he catches me, hauling me tight to him.

I gasp out loud as my brain somehow loses all control of all faculties, my vision whites, out blinding me
insanely, so that I grab hold of his leg with my one free hand to steady myself and lose all ability to
hear, feel, or see. The only sensation I’m aware of is the burning connection from Sierra’s hand to
mine, and the same burn coming through Colton’s arm around my waist. We’re connected all three of
us, by touch, and it consumes me until I can’t fight it in any way.

I completely blank out, losing sense of everything. Him, her, the room, it all slips away, like trying to
hold water with your fingertips, and all I can do is ride with it. I can’t open my eyes, or feel my limbs, or
my body at all, like I’m a mass of unconnected thoughts with no physical form.

I try and take a breath but even that seems futile as I’m a nothingness, lingering in airless space,
finding myself in a darkness that’s so eerie, yet familiar, as sounds and smells start to filter through and
jog little moments of time. Distant at first, as though travelling along a tunnel, and they’re at the other

end battling through a fog. They’re not the infirmary, they’re something else that tugs at my memory
banks, and draws me back in time as I seem to start to fall into a memory that I never knew I had.

The smells of summer push me into a brighter place, and I blink and slowly manage to open my eyes,
suddenly aware of touch, and sensation, as I regain full control of my limbs, but there’s no one here
with me. Colton isn’t here, I can’t feel him, or sense him, and I seem to be in another space entirely. In
a room, lying down, one that haunts me from the past. I lift my hand to touch my face and gauge the
reality of what I’m seeing, and I’m startled to see it’s so small and childlike, and blink some more to
clear the fogginess so I can look again.

Everything comes into slow focus, like a fade back in, and I know immediately where I am. The small
attic makeshift room, hastily painted pink by the family that took on a child whose own had gone to
battle. I’m back in the temporary room of my carer family, back when my parents went to war. The cozy
bed, the painted dressers, and my ragdoll, Annie, sits on the side of my bed, watching me in my
slumber. It brings back so many mixed feelings and memories, but none that I can ever recall like this.
This seems new, and yet everything is here and exactly as I remember.

It's dull, night, although it’s not darkness so it must be summer, and I know I’m supposed to be asleep,
but something stirred me from my dreams of my mother and father running through our meadow in a
game of tag. My senses alerting me to the window in the far corner, and I watch in terrified silence, of a
vulnerable child, as something begins climbing in with precise movements and silent intent. My heart
hitches, racing, and pulsing so profoundly I feel it may rip from my chest. Frozen in terror, unable to cry
out for fear the monster climbing in may see me if I make a noise.

The dark shadowy figure, wearing a large, heavy, black cloak, with the hood pulled up to veil their
identity, slides up the unlocked panel of glass and slowly and carefully climbs inside, pulling their heavy
robes with them, and almost soundlessly lands on the space in front of my window. I resist the urge to
pull the covers over my face, my blood running cold with the terror of what is here, panic overtaking
me, and I go to call out for my caretaker in youthful hysteria.

“Don’t be afraid, little one…. Hush now!” The female voice comes from under the hood, silencing me
mid open mouth gasp with the familiarity of that sound, and a raised palm. I’m startled into quiet,
because I know her. I recognize her smell, her sound, her presence, as it calms me and as she turns
fully towards me. All I can see are two electric blue, glowing orbs, from the dark shadow of her hood as
she looks at me directly. Her eyes mesmerizing and I’ve never seen such a color before.

“You know me, Alora. I’m here to protect you. I’m Luna Sierra Santo, I come as a friend of your
mother’s…. Be still. I have much to do.”