To Run With the Rising Sun
Celine smiled, standing beside Antonio at the stove. The two had been working together for the past half hour to 45 minutes, walking around the kitchen as they took care of things. Antonio, being the chef that he was, took care of the bacon, sausage, and eggs. He was a far better multitasker than Celine, given his years of experience, and he wanted to make sure that everything was cooked just right. While he did that, Celine took care of flipping the pancakes every few minutes, while also cutting up the ham. The ham in question was large, seated on a cutting block atop the old kitchen table. It was her job to slice it into manageable slices for everyone.
Taking the spatula in hand, Celine scooped up another round of pancakes, stacking the spongy patties on the large serving plate behind her. The silver glowed in the light of the kitchen fire, the light of the flames dancing off her exposed skin. She was more lively, comfortable even as she worked with Nicki's father. She enjoyed his company just as she did Nicki's. Antonio was a bit more silent though, taking to watching things around him. He had a kind heart though and was always the first to remind Celine that she belonged. It was almost like a second father. For a moment, that thought went through her mind and she paused, knife in hand as she stood ready to begin cutting into the ham once more. It'd been weeks since she'd thought of her parents.
"You and me, cheesecake," he told her, smiling as he pointed a wooden spoon at her and causing her to blink.
Over the last month, Antonio had been gathering different recipes for her in hopes of teaching her to cook. He figured that by doing that, it would give her an outlet, allowing her to relax and clear her mind. At the same time, the information would allow her to properly feed herself, satisfying her ever growing appetite.
"Do you really think I could make a cheesecake?" she asked, a little uncertain at the prospect of such a task.
To her knowledge, cheesecakes were a temperamental thing. They had to be treated just right, otherwise, they wouldn't come out. Plus, they normally had to have a 'water bath' in the oven. It was an odd concept for her and there was no doubt in her mind that she would likely botch the attempt all together. At the same time though, its not like it was a soufflé.
"Why not?" he offered, raising a brow in question.
Celine merely shrugged as she moved over to the cabinet and pulled a hand full of glasses down, the glass clinking together as she held them between her fingers, balancing their weight against one another perfectly. She was surprisingly well aware of their weight, but held no problem despite the odd positioning of her fingers as she placed them on the table, pouring a glass of juice for herself.
She turned her head at the voice, her smile returning full force.
"Jeremy," she grinned, stepping forward as she sat her glass to the side.
The male in question did the same, stepping forward in turn and wrapping his arms around her. He pulled her close as he pressed his lips to the crown of her head, enjoying the feel of her against him as he held her for just a moment. He then pulled away a moment later, looking her over.
"Did you sleep well?" he asked, walking toward the end of the table.
He allowed his hand to skim the surface, what was to be his plate already in its place, just like all the others. He noticed that milk and juice were setup at either end of the table, a glass at each spot. Antonio then placed a large platter of bacon before them, the smell wafting into the air. Most everything was in place.
"Alright, I guess," Celine shrugged.
They all knew that sleeping wasn't overly easy for her lately, her mind taking longer for it to wind down fully. Unlike before, she found that she wasn't living with what was considered ideal circumstances. Most things as it were, had been on the extreme end. There never seemed to be an even medium to compare things to at this point, not with what she was now.
"Hot tea works wonders," Antonio pointed out, calling over his shoulder as he pulled the cord for the bell in the corner of the room. "Or wine," he added.
The bell signaled to the others that breakfast was ready and Celine cringed. It had been so quiet.
"It's the Italian in you," Jeremy chuckled, ignoring the bell all together.
"You couldn't have waited just a little longer?" Celine whined. "It was actually quiet."
The eldest Sorrentino merely chuckled, bringing one of the cast-iron pans over to the table.
"Sausages?" he offered, a smile on his face as he ignored her complaint.
The she wolf merely rolled her eyes, pulling her plate forward as he dumped a few on her plate. He offered the same to Jeremy, the Alpha nodding his head in response and pushing his own forward slightly. When Antonio turned back to the stove, she caught Jeremy reaching over, snatching a piece of bacon from the platter. Normally, it was tradition to wait until everyone was at the table before even putting food on their plates or eating. Especially, before eating. Not to mention, they weren't allowed to eat until Jeremy finally gave the go ahead, having the first piece for himself. That was the role of Alpha.
"It's not polite to eat before the others are present," Antonio pointed out.
Celine watched as Jeremy nearly choked on the piece of bacon, placing a hand over his mouth as he tried to cover it up.
"I haven't the slightest clue to what you're suggesting," he said dismissively, grabbing the coffee pot from the counter and pouring a bit into his mug.
"Out of my way pipsqueak!"
Celine placed a hand to her mouth as she laughed, listening as Pete and Nicki made their way into the kitchen. They were pushing and shoving at one another like children, eager to get a decent seat at the table. Nicki was the first one to approach her once they were in the kitchen, a grin on his face as he came up behind her, wrapping his arms around her shoulders as he pressed his cheek to hers.
"Morning, beautiful," he greeted, pressing a kiss to her cheek and giving her a light squeeze.
She merely smiled, leaning back against his chest as she closed her eyes. He smelled clean, with a hint of lavender and honey. This meant that he must have taken a shower, meaning that he'd been up even longer than she had without her even realizing it.
"You smell good," she admitted.
This admittance was just another reason that she missed being able to roam around outside. Being outside allowed her to enjoy the fresh air, breathing in the scents of nature that she'd come to love. Quite frankly, she missed it.
"I'll take that as a compliment," he chuckled, pressing his nose into her hair. "Although," he paused momentarily. "I have to admit, you could use a bath."
"Nicki!" she scowled, smacking his arm.
"He's just doing it to get a rise out of you," Pete told her, coming up behind them as he put the culprit of the accusation in a headlock, before sniffing her hair for himself. "You smell fine."
"Knock it off you two," Jeremy told them, taking his place at the table.
Finally deciding to let Nicki go, Pete grabbed a glass from the table, pouring himself some juice.
"So, where's my hug?" he asked innocently, a grin on his face.
Outside of the obvious one being Elena, Pete and Celine were a little less familiar with one another than the others. Over the months that Celine had been with them, she'd spent most of her time with Jeremy, Clay, and Nicki. Logan had been their go to in initially getting her settled in after putting together her file. They didn't want any problems after the change. Her issues were also something that they knew Elena wouldn't take lightly, given Clay's normal opposition towards the subject. It was also a subject that Jeremy unfortunately knew was going to come up.
"Yes, of course, let me just stand from my seat," Celine said playfully.
Watching the exchange, Jeremy couldn't help, but to smile. Celine had come a long way in her ability to socialize after the turn. True, she still had a long way to go, but she was far better than she had been initially. The only thing that he had to worry about now, was when he eventually might have to reintegrate her back into the human world. Hopefully, that wouldn't be for some time.
"Has anyone seen Elena?" Jeremy asked, glancing around. "Or Clay, perhaps?" he added.
Unfortunately, he knew that wherever Elena was, Clay was likely to follow.
"I don't know about Clay, but Elena should have been right behind me," Nicki explained, causing his father to raise a brow in question.
"Hey, I was nice," he said defensively. "I knew that breakfast was nearly ready, so I decided to wake her up. That's all."
Celine rolled her eye at hearing this. Nicki could never keep to himself.
"What?" he scoffed, catching the look on her face.
"Oh, nothing," Celine shrugged innocently.
She was trying not to smile, knowing that he wasn't going to leave her alone. That fact was proven as he came back around the table, his hands coming to rest on her shoulders as he placed his face beside hers. It was like dealing with an over eager child at times instead of a grown man. In his case though, it was a grown wolf or pup in her opinion.
"Celine," he sang, a grin plastered on his face.
For a moment, she turned her head to look at him. She had a skeptical look on her face and then she saw a mischievous spark in his eye.
"Nicki," she warned, his hands moving down just below her arm pits.
Before she could get another word in, she was suddenly hoisted out of her seat, a shriek escaping her. Nicki had tossed her over his shoulders, her back pressed against his. He had his hands wrapped around her ankles, leaving her to hang as he kept them somewhat near his shoulders.
"Nicki, I'm going to kill you!" she cried, flailing her arms around in an attempt at finding purchase on something other than the floor.
When her hands came up empty she found herself gripping at the back of his sweatpants.
"Nicholas, please put her down?" Jeremy asked, sitting down in his chair.
"But I was just starting to have fun," the younger whined, tugging the woman up slightly by her ankles.
Blinking, Celine knew that she was already red in the face, the blood rushing down to her cheeks. For a moment, the fingers of her left hand pressed at the ground, the right wrapped behind her gripping at the muscle of his thigh. She could hear footsteps coming their way. She didn't want to be found in such an embarrassing situation and as such, she decided to get even.
"Nicholas, do as your told," his father told him.
Nicki nearly howled as he dropped her, a light stabbing pain residing in the crease of his knee. Celine had used her nails on him, digging the points into the soft skin. She didn't do anything damaging, merely leaving behind the feeling of a faintly pinched nerve. Still, she had gotten the desired effect, pushing herself up off of the floor.
"Was that really necessary?" Nicki whined, taking a seat as he rubbed the place behind his knee.
"Well, if you had listened," she pointed out, brushing herself off. "Then maybe I wouldn't have done it."
Jeremy didn't say a word, his head tilting to the side as Elena slowly made her way into the kitchen. The blonde was fully dressed, an almost cream colored outfit resting on her shoulders. Looking down, he caught sight of her 4 inch booted leather heels. Her boots were something that would never change about her. She had always worn them before coming to Stone Haven, while she was at Stone Haven, and apparently even after leaving Stone Haven.
"Elena," Jeremy greeted.
"Jeremy," she nodded.
"Elena," Pete sang, a grin plastered on his face.
She went over to him, wrapping her friend in a hug. It wasn't long after that, that Celine had decided to tune things out, her mind going else where for a bit as she ignored the all too personal banter between the group. It was Elena's personal realm at the moment apparently, not hers.
Nicki had asked her to watch, pulling the young she wolf to the side before he headed upstairs. He was planning on surprising Elena with a sudden entrance, hoping to catch her off guard as a means of testing her current awareness level. He'd even done something similar to Celine once, unfortunately, ending up on the ground with a throbbing jaw. Clay had been there when it had happened and he'd had a field day with it. The she wolf had planned on staying out of the way all together initially. She was more than willing to leave them to their own devices and hide away in the house. Nicki's pestering had proved otherwise, leaving her sitting out atop the roof with a full view of the ground below.
Blinking, Celine leaned back on her hands, closing her eyes as she allowed the wind to blow through her hair to its content. She'd honestly missed the feeling, wishing to stay outside and just run. She only opened them when she heard Nicki shift beside her, watching as he jumped down off the roof with a small salute.
She gripped the roofing in her hands as she leaned forward to watch. Despite Nicki's sudden appearance, Elena had no problem in dodging, tossing him into the grassy lawn. He was quick on his toes, falling forward in an attempt to sweep her legs out from under her. The blonde jumped out of the way, throwing out a kick of her own. Nicki blocked it and grabbed hold of her ankle, throwing her out against the side of the house. Unable to catch herself quick enough, Elena fell down into the section of crawl space that resided there, her face almost staring into the tiny window of the basement.
For a moment, Celine's nose twitched and she leaned out further, gripping the edge of the roof even harder than before. Her hair fell down along the side of her face as she caught sight of Elena. The blonde was trying to figure a way out as Pete stood there watching.
"I hope you're not letting him off easy?" Pete laughed, downing another gulp of his juice.
He'd come outside to watch the ordeal, Clay following shortly after. The latter glanced up the moment he was outside, his eyes locking with Celine's for a few short seconds. It was enough to pull her from the edge of the roof, hiding back and out of the way as her face heated up in embarrassment. She still didn't know why she agreed to come out here, carefully biting down on her lip. She blamed Nicki. It'd be just as easy to slip back inside the window of Jeremy's studio room and forget about the whole thing. In fact, she'd almost done just that, until she heard the sound of Elena's boots scaling the bricked wall.
Turning her gaze back toward the ground, she watched as Elena threw punch after punch, kick after kick. Nicki, due to her fierce comeback was now left on the defensive as he tried to keep up. He was doing a decent job at it too, blocking her hits and countering every now and then. He'd always been quick on his feet with an attention to detail. Although, it was normally that 'attention' that dug him into trouble. He wanted to get his nose in on everything.
"Come on, you can do better than that," Nicki goaded, dodging a blow to the side of the head.
He grabbed hold of her leg and twisted, spinning her in mid air. Unfortunately, his arrogance got the better of him. Elena had used his momentum and stance against him, using her other leg to knock out his own as she placed her hands on the ground behind her. With in the span of several seconds, Nicki found himself on the ground, foot at his throat and his arm twisted painfully.
"And I'm done," Celine stretched out, a grin on her face as she swung back into Jeremy's painting room.
She nearly stumbled back though when she came face to face with said Alpha, her face red as she found herself standing not two feet away from him.
"Spectating?" he presumed.
The question was a simple one, a look of neutrality on his face. Antonio was stood about three feet behind him. No doubt the two had also been watching from above. Still, the proximity almost had Celine climbing right back out the window.
"I, um…" she stammered. "It was Nicki's idea," she told him, wringing her hands.
She felt so awkwardly out of place standing there, her eyes flitting around the room.
"Look, I'm gonna…" she made a gesture to leave as she skirted around the Alpha, nearly bumping into Antonio.
She was almost out the door when he called her attention back.
"Tonight, when we go out in search of the mutt, I want you with me," he told her.
His words made her pause, confusion washing over her. Did this mean that he didn't trust her with Nicki or Clay? Pete or Logan? They were all responsible and capable wolves. She'd just as soon stay home.
"I want you where I can see you," he said. "I'm not taking any chances."
Nodding her head, Celine felt her shoulders relax slightly. He was worried about her, despite the fact that she could more than likely take care of herself. She assumed that it had to do with the previous attack against them; against her. The memory caused her to wince. She wanted the image gone from her mind.
"I'll keep within sight," she nodded.
A slap echoed through the living room, followed by a curse. Celine was laughing.
"Damn that hurt," Nicki grumbled, rubbing the back of his hand. "Can't I have just one?" he whined.
"You might if you'd actually pay attention," Celine countered, racking the cards toward herself.
They were playing Slap Jack, something that Celine was having too much fun at. In all honesty, the idea of cards was Nicki's idea. Celine had merely been the one to suggest the specific game, one of the few that she actually knew how to play. Nicki promised that he'd teach her others, like poker for instance. Now, that was a game that Nicki was good at. Granted, it got him in trouble on occasion.
"But you already have most of my cards!"
He was like a child with his whining.
"Fine," she shrugged, laying down her next card.
It was a ten of clubs. Nicki's three of diamonds was next, then a six of spades, a king of diamonds, and a nine hearts. Three cards later he found himself beat again, Celine dragging the cards away.
"It's not my fault I have quicker reflexes," she snickered.
"You know what? That's it!" he proclaimed, tossing his cards down.
In four steps he had crossed the space of the living room, a look of determination on his face. Celine's eyes were suddenly wide as she shot up from her seat, tripping on the leg of the table. She scrambled against the mat, nails digging into the fabric as she launched out of the way, fingers grabbing at the back of her ankles.
"Nicki, no!" she squealed, falling against the floor as he pulled at her ankles. "Shit!"
Hearing a large thump upstairs, Jeremy turned his eyes to the ceiling. Elena was beside him, a look of confusion on her face as she watched Jeremy shake his head.
"Does this happen often?" Elena asked, raising a brow question.
"It varies," he replied, looking over the map in front of him. "Sometimes it's Clay, sometimes its Nicki."
His statement surprised her, a slight knot forming in the pit of her stomach as she thought about Clay. It was hard for her to imagine Clay being playful with another individual.
Jeremy seemed to pick up on her thoughts, turning back to face her.
"Elena, you must remember, you've been gone for over a year," he told her. "Clay and Nicki played a large role in getting Celine through the first few months," he explained.
"Jeremy, this is Clay that we're talking about," she reminded him. "He's not a Sorrentino."
"No, he's not, but he is my son," he pointed out.
She was quiet for a moment, listening to the noise upstairs. She could hear the two rolling around and laughing. She could understand this with Nicki, despite the oddity of another wolf. Nicki had always been a fun loving individual. It was in his nature. He was laid back, rarely taking things seriously. In a way, he was like a comic relief. He was the goof of the group.
"Clay's not as cold as you might think, Elena."
"You never explained why she has a problem changing," Elena said, sidestepping the topic of Clay.
Letting out a sigh, Jeremy ran a hand through his hair. For a moment, he merely stood there as he weighed his options. He knew that he'd have to explain, otherwise she'd manage to find out on her own. With this in mind he walked over to the side of the room. He let his hands brush over the books on the shelf. He stopped when he caught the tab of the folder he was looking for. Pulling it free, he gazed down at it, gripping it in his hands.
"I believe it'd be best if you read this first," he told her. "Though keep an open mind and remember how far she has come."
Confused, Elena pulled the file from his hand. It was thick and could easily be mistaken for a book with the number of pages that were incased inside. Laying it down on the table she flipped it open. The first thing she saw was the murder article in bold text.
The young blonde felt her mouth go dry as she stood there, her eyes skimming over the first of many articles in front of her.
Witness testimony verifies a man in his 40's was seen leaving an apartment complex down town after shots were fired at around 7 in the evening. Was last seen in a black hoodie, jeans, and white converse. Height around 5' 7". Suspect is Caucasian. Suspect on the run and at large. Man leaves behind two dead and one wounded. Officials have yet to release the names of these individuals, but no doubt carry condolences to the family.
Elena moved on to the next article, laying the previous clipping to the side.
Twenty-two year old Celine Hamilton found alive in her apartment after violent shooting. Gunshot wound to the neck and shoulder. Parents, Charles and Erica Hamilton pronounced dead on the scene. Female transported to Townsen General Hospital, New York.
Again, she moved to another article, brows furrowed as she continued to read. For nearly two weeks, Celine was the focus of the press, her photo showing up in nearly every paper. Three weeks later, another article was published.
Almost a month later and victim Celine Hamilton is still without answers. Sources say that after the funeral, Hamilton has remained locked inside her apartment without a sound. When we asked investigator Eric Rizzo, his statement was this, "My team has been searching the city high and low for this man. The fact that he'd managed to evade us this long is a miracle in itself, but I promise you this, we will find this man and bring him to justice for the lives he's taken and the damage he's done to that woman. I can only imagine what she'd going through right now. If by any chance you're reading this right now, we will catch you!"
The obituary was the next thing that she looked at. It was to be a chilly Fall day. Erica Hamilton, Celine's mother, hers was to remain a closed casket. Charles, her father, he was undamaged enough to have an open viewing. Flipping through the folder, Elena nearly gagged. They'd dug up some of the crime scene photos. She had to bypass them in order to keep from cringing. A single glance was enough to know that the real images would haunt Celine until her death.
As Elena looked into the medical records of the file, she finally found her answer. It should have been obvious to start with, the trauma that she'd suffered. All it took was a gun shot to send her back to that night.
"She has PTSD," Jeremy confirmed.
Alright everyone, that was chapter 16. I hope that you all liked it? Please let me know what you think? I'd love to hear any FEEDBACK or IDEAs. It helps keep me writing. Hope to hear from you guys soon and... HAPPY READING!