Daniel and I sat under the tree in his backyard. It is the first time Dad has ever allowed me to go to Daniel's house, formerly Maryanne's, but I have to stay outside the whole time. I was by no means allowed to go in Daniel's house alone. I was not planning on pushing it since it was my first time over and I didn't want my privileges to be banned. Plus, ever since Jude left, Mom and Dad have been on a grounding rampage. Miss a call—grounded. Came home late—grounded. The worst was when I had to stay after school once and couldn't call them because we received extended time on a test. Mom made the teacher write an apology letter to her for making her worry about her daughter so much. It was incredibly embarrassing.
Technically, I am grounded right now for forgetting to do the laundry one night earlier this week. Dad let today be an exception for my grounding since I am at Daniel's house for his studies. In art class, we were told by Mr. Barlow that we had to draw something/someone that we love. Naturally, I chose to draw my family including Jude. I knew it would break Mom's heart if I did not keep him in the picture. At the same time I knew that I would feel guilty if I took him out. After all, he is my brother. Unfortunately, Daniel doesn't have a loving family that he can draw. Even if he did pull up an old picture of his parents, he would have torn it up and thrown it into the trash—not cherish it forever. Daniel told me that I was his true love because I saved him, so drawing me seemed natural to him. I just did not enjoy the idea of being drawn. I almost convinced Daniel out of it and to draw The Garden of Angels instead. He agreed saying that the fog element would have a good place on the artwork, but then he realized that would mean I would not be in the picture. He ended up winning that argument.
As a punishment for loosing, I am standing next to the tree in Daniel's yard trying to look natural so that he can draw me. If he is going to draw me, I want to look at least pretty. Looking good is hard to do when I am worried about slouching too much or looking overweight.
"Just relax. Sit down, lean against the tree, read, nap, do homework. Just, please, look more ordinary," Daniel begged. I glared at him for his comment.
"It's a bit hard when I am feeling self-conscience about how you are drawing me," I retorted. I tried to make myself more presentable this afternoon, but the weather prevented me from putting on make-up. Now that I am being drawn, it seemed silly to get dressed up. Daniel wanted 'the usual'—not 'about to go on a date.'
"Don't worry love," Daniel joked. "I will take some of the weight from your as—butt out of the picture." His voice screamed sarcasm, but it just made me feel worse about my thunder thighs and big butt. Today just wasn't my day. Daniel's eyes caught my uneasiness and guilt filled his eyes. He came over to me and gave me a kiss on the forehead. "You know that I was just joking," he whispered. "You are beautiful in every shape and form—both inside and out."
Daniel made sure to put extra emphasis on 'every shape and form' and 'inside.' He knows what I am and what I want to be. How can someone like me be beautiful on the inside? I am programmed to kill and eternally damned. I want to be a Hound of Heaven. Better yet, I know that I can be a Hound of Heaven. The question is does the good inside of me conquer the evil? Am I strong enough to fight the wolf? Will I already be a Hound of Heaven due to saving Daniel? These questions buzzed in my head all the time, but I never get any answers. I sighed at all the complications that await me in the future. Daniel sighed with me and put his arms around me in a hug.
"It's going to be okay," he promised. "You're strong; I know you can take all of this. Just give it time." I nodded my head in his chest because I did not feel like speaking. Words seemed to fail me at the moment, and Daniel didn't seem to complain. I didn't want to break our moment. His arms felt so warm against the slight breeze, and even though he isn't a wolf anymore, his arms still felt strong and protective. "Alright," he said breaking our hug. "I need to get to work. I was thinking—do you just want to sketch while I draw you? It will show you in your element and has more emotion than just doing a portrait. I think you should just stand here…" Daniel drowned on about where to sit, how to look, and how he was going to draw me. I followed every order he gave me, and I ended up under his tree on my stomach with a paper and pencil in my hand. "I am going to start now. You just take your time and enjoy yourself. Think of this as a Sunday lazy day with the beautiful weather," Daniel encouraged.
"I got this. You just do what you have to do. Love you," I smiled.
Daniel smiled back at me. "I love you, too. Now start sketching and look pretty. Although, the latter is something that comes naturally to you," he flirted. I rolled my eyes at his comment and looked down at my paper. I didn't know what to draw, so I just started drawing lines all over the paper. I couldn't help but let my mind wander back to be a Hound of Heaven. I could save the world from evils, but I haven't even tapped into my powers, yet. Daniel and I started training in my backyard, but I have gotten nothing yet. Considering Daniel is the only Urbat I know and he happened to get his powers fairly easily, I feel bummed. But, Daniel has also said that sometimes it takes time, and some people in the pack had issues with their powers at first. I don't know if he is telling me the truth or telling me that to make me feel better. I wouldn't mind if Daniel was lying about wolves having issues tapping into their powers. He knows it wouldn't bother me. I have been so scared about becoming a werewolf that his words comfort me somewhat. I just want everything to be okay. Both Daniel and I know everything won't be okay, but it's nice to think that one day we will be at Trenton together or get married or have kids. But no matter what we will do, there will always be something in the way.
Then there is this whole Jude issue. I miss him so much. Daniel has learned to keep his mouth shut when it comes to his opinion on my brother. But, that also makes the whole situation worse since he and my dad are the only two people who know the real situation. I can't go to Daniel to talk about it because he dislikes my brother, and I feel guilty talking to Dad since it is my entire fault that he left. The worse part about his absence is my family's reactions. Baby James is oblivious to everything and sees Daniel as his replacement, and Charity is extremely upset by it. Overall, Mom has taken this situation the worse. She has turned into a zombie mom. Some days she is completely fine and can take care of herself. Other times she won't even get out of bed because of depression. Most of the time she is in between being depressed and fine. She will obsess over finding Jude and making everything perfect, but she can't take care of herself. She won't eat or shower. Charity and I have taken up so many responsibilities for Mom that Dad decided to higher a maid for mom. Her mental health is even starting to be questioned.
I don't know how long I sat there deep in thought. It wasn't until Daniel started talking did I snap out of my thoughts.
"Grace, I am done. Don't you want to see?" he smirked.
"Help me up," I begged. I may be a wolf now, but that didn't mean I felt like getting up myself. He came over and grabbed my hands before he dropped them and picked up the paper I was doodling on. I tried to grab it out of his hand, but he snatched it away.
"This is beautiful for a sketch," he said. He traced his pinkie over my drawing and handed the paper back to me, still mesmerized by my work. I looked down at the page and saw that I had subconsciously drew a wolf. My thoughts were so consumed with being a Hound of Heaven that I must have drawn one. The details were so precise that I was shocked that I had not realized I was drawing it. It doesn't look like something I generally draw, but it did look amazing. Daniel took his hand in mine and said, "Come on, I want to show you mine."
I let Daniel drag me to his drawing station. The picture was turned around so I wouldn't be able to see it. He grabbed the painting held it against his chest. Anticipation started to prickle my skin.
"Come on," I asked. "Let me see!"
"You have to say the magic word," Daniel teased.
"Can I see it, please?"
"Not the magic word." I raised an eyebrow at him and he just smirked. I groaned because I realized what his magic words really were.
"Oh wonderful handsome smart Daniel," I joked.
"Yes, Gracie?" Daniel was milking it and enjoying my compliments towards him.
"May I please see your masterpiece?" I begged.
"Yes," he smiled. "Yes you may."
He turned his picture around and showed a picture of me looking up into the sky with a pencil and paper in front of me. He didn't draw the scenery yet, but just me. He made me look a lot better than I do today. I didn't have bags under my eyes and my hair was a lot tamer than it usually is. And, my eyes. He made them look beautiful. It's not the color, but the intensity in them. Like I was deep in thought, but that I am intelligent and more than meets the eye. I looked up at him, and he was staring down at me with a crooked grin.
"Do you like it?" he asked. Did I like it? I loved it! I couldn't believe he would draw a picture and make me look nice. I stood on my tippy toes and gave him a kiss to express how much I loved him and the picture. I put my arms around his neck, and he put his hands on my hips. Our lips parted and I put my head on his chest. "I'll take that as a yes." He murmured. He started to stroke my hair lightly while we hugged each other. "You know, I drew that picture from my heart. You are gorgeous even if you don't see it yourself. You may not be a supermodel, but if you were then you wouldn't be the Gracie I know and love. You are beautiful on the inside and out, and I want you to see that." He grasped my face and looked deep into my eyes. "I love you."
"I love you, too" I replied before kissing him once again. We were soon interrupted by the sound of my ring tone. I groaned, "They do this every time!"
Daniel ran to go get my phone and answered. "Mhm, mhm, yes. She will be home soon. I promise, sir." He hung up the phone and came back to help me up again.
"You know," I said. "I could have gotten it myself."
"Oh no you wouldn't. You would miss it and become grounded again. I don't know how much longer I can take you being away." I hugged him while the sun set in the background. Maybe the picture wasn't a bad idea after all.