“Where are the kids?” Jo-Anne looks at her watch. The last train to Chicago Central leaves in less than two hours.
She sighs and a tear rolls quietly down her cheek. She wipes it away with irritation. She stomps her feet to get them warm again. This has been a horrible winter for her and she cannot wait to get away.
She saw Paul’s car turning into the parking area. Paul was the last person she wanted to see, but before she could do anything Jake parked the car in front of the building and jumped out.
“Hi Mom, why do you look like this?”
“Its cold, where is your sister and why are you driving Paul’s car, what if the Sherrif sees you?”
“Don’t nag Mom, Dad and Paul have gone to see Uncle Declan, so he gave me his car to drive. He actually taught me to drive during the holidays.” He told her proudly.
Jo-Anne clenched her fists in her coat pocket so hard that she could feel her nails digging into her palms. She will not have the last time she has with her son, ending in a fight.
She again shrugged the Carlson shrug, rolling her shoulders, took a deep breath, and asked again,
“Where is your sister? I wanted to see both of you.”
“Dad said she can go and say hello to Sheila. He said you won’t mind if she is late, as you can always see her tomorrow.” Jakes said looking down and he kicked at the gravel while he was talking.
Jo-Anne sighed, “Oh, okay.”
“Can I buy you a hot chocolate inside? Frieda’s shop is nice and warm and you used to like to sit and watch the trains going by and while drinking the chocolate.”
Jake looked over his shoulder as if he was hoping somebody will come and save him. It’s so sad that their relationship deteriorated to this awkwardness.
“Come, let’s go inside, my feet are frozen”. She did not want to say her feet was cold from waiting outside for two hours for him to come.
Luckily the shop was empty and Frieda took their order as they entered the shop. They both ordered a cup of hot chocolate topped with cream and marshmallows and the fragrant of cinnamon, apples and sugar of the apple pies baking in the oven enveloped them as they sat down.
Jo-Anne pinched her hands between her legs, to prevent herself from touching Jake.
“So, you learned to drive? I am sure it was not too difficult for you, as you are so good with mechanical things”
“Oh, Mom” and Jake’s eyes glowed with pride “I aced it the first time. It was just here in town that I forgot to gear down at the stop signs.” And he laughed shyly at her.
No wonder he no longer needs a mother, he has grown up so fast.
She looked at her watch. Another hour to go that’s all before she will never see him again. Her throat closes and she coughed to clear it.
Just then Frieda brought the chocolate. “You must be careful not to get a cold, ja,” she said as she put the hot chocolate in front of them, in her thick German accent. “But my chocolate will cure a cold.” Laughing at her own joke she walks away.
“Why did you move us out of the house? We all had to sleep at Paul’s old flat last night,” he grumbled. “Dad said you were not allowed to do that.”
“Do you remember about a month before you guys left to stay as Paul’s parents for the holidays, I lost my job at the estate agency?”
Jake nodded his head “Dad said you must have cocked up big time.” He looked at her enquiringly.
“Nope, I was fired because Silas’ wife did not want a woman who turned her husband gay, working for him, but that’s not important anymore.” She lifted her hand to stop him from saying anything.
“Jakie,” she reverted to her pet name for him, “I do not have any income anymore, and the house and some other stuff were left to me by your granddad. When your dad and I got married, we signed a contract, in the contract it says that if he cheats on me he has lost the right to any of Grandpa Jake’s property.”
“Paul, said Dad must contest the contract.” Jake looked at her expectantly while he drank his hot chocolate, expecting her the get mad.
Jo-Anne pretended to drink the nasty stuff in front of her, but it will curdle in her stomach if she does. “When is that man’s destructive influence going to stop,” She asked herself, she breathed deeply to calm down.
“No, my darling, Uncle Declan drafted the contract himself and had it checked for loopholes by the head lawyer at Shifter Council.”
“Anyway, I rented out the house to the new guy that Uncle Declan gave hibernation permission to.”
Jake knew that it was significant to the Wolfville pack to offer hibernation protection to other shifters. The town is so far off the beaten track and is surrounded by woodlands and large nature reserve and with the lake at the far end of the settlement, it creates the ideal secluded area. It gives shifters safety to hibernate for a few years in the area before they assume their next identity. This was crucial to shifters as they live for several hundred years and they have to keep their longevity a secret.
Jo-Anne heard the train whistle, “Oh no, the train is nearly here” she sighed and she has so much more to say.
“Jake, I got a job near Chicago, so I will be leaving on this train. Please tell your sister I am saying goodbye and I’m not mad that she did not come.”
Jo-Anne pushed her chair back, and walked to the Frieda, cleaning something behind the counter that’s probably already clean.
“Thanks for the chocolate and everything Frieda,” Jo-Anne said as she paid for the chocolate. She grabbed the two suitcases by the and turned to Jake.
She smiled half-heartedly at Jake “Walk with me?”
“I am going to say to you what my granddad said to me when I first started driving, come to think of it, he said it about every time I got behind the wheel.” She smiled at Jake “Anticipate what the car in front of you will be doing and have at least two exit plans.”
“Its cool Mom, Paul’s dad already showed me how to do that.”
Just then the train rolled into the station and the screech of the brakes made it impossible to speak.
“I have got to go now, Jake. I am sorry I cannot stay, but believe me, I love you and your sister with all my heart, but to stay will destroy what little respect you guys have for me.” While she said it her heart pounded, and it felt as if it was going to burst. Her hands started to sweat and her feet felt as if she had lead in her shoes.
It was as if it was the first time, since Charle’s deceit, that Jake understood that things will never be the same again. His face turned white as a sheet.
“Oh, my boy, don’t be upset. This is the best for everybody. You and your shifter family can be happy here in Wolfville without any reminders of past hurts. All I ask of you is to be an honorable man, like your grandfather Jake, don’t hurt people unnecessary and do the best you can. Being mediocre sucks, people just don’t respect you if you are. Take me as an example, everything I did was average not to create waves and that in the end did not prevent the pack from turning against me.”
She lifted her suitcases onto the train and looked at him, “May I have a hug.”
He gave a step towards her and she hugged him tightly towards her, his arms wrapped around her back, giving a hug back as if he did not want her to leave. The conductor blew his whistle and she got onto the train. As the train rolled slowly out of the station, she waved at him while the tears flowed down her cheeks.
“So Jake, what did your mother want?” asked Charles, Jake’s father as he stormed into the apartment.
“At the station of all places”, commented Paul, while raising his eyebrows at Charles.
“She left, are you happy now” he shouted at his father. He turned to his sister and shouted, “Mom’s gone, did you hear, she is gone and you did not even come to say goodbye.”
Jake rushed to the corner of the lounge where his sleeping bag lay on the ground, grabbed his earphones, put them in his ears and turned his back on his family. They just sat there staring at him, it was the first time ever, that Jake lost his temper.