(Mercy Thompson Series)
A/N - Sorry for the delay, everyone! Thanks for reading. Please let me know what you think!
DISCLAIMER: I do not own the Mercy Thompson series, nor do I receive compensation for this work.
Ch. 2 – The Answer
Tension. That's the word for the day, for every day since Jesse and Adam had their talk.
From the moment I woke up until I went to bed in the evening, there was this thick, impenetrable strain in the air. Our house had become a tinderbox, and I knew the wrong words out of the right mouth would set off an explosion.
At dinner I could see it. The determined, stubborn set to Jesse's mouth, Adam's tensed jaw and stiff shoulders. Father and daughter sorely needed to talk, but neither seemed able or willing to take the first step. It was getting stifling to me, but I didn't want to get between them.
Soon, it was too much for even me. The silence, the veiled hostility and anger…it was all I could do not to scream. I finished my food fast enough to impress any of our pack and excused myself. I could feel my mate's eyes on my back as I exited.
I didn't care. He was acting ridiculous. So was Jesse. I would leave them to it. Placing my dirty dishes in the dishwasher, I went upstairs. I needed a hot shower. It would relax my body and hopefully soothe my mind.
Our bedroom was silent as I disrobed, and I didn't hear anything from downstairs. Even left alone, the two wouldn't talk to each other. I shook my head. Whatever.
I loved the design of the shower. The water hit me perfectly, at just the right temperature and pressure. Soon, I was smiling softly to myself as I felt my muscles relax and grow pliant under the hot spray. It was wonderful.
Which was why I started when I felt my husband's hands brush my shoulders. My heart felt like it had stopped for a moment. Adam slid them down my arms until they rested on my hips.
I tried to turn around to face him, but his grip tightened, and he stepped forward, molding my back against his naked body, showing me how aroused he was. One of his hands flattened against my belly as the other came up to cup my breast. He placed an open-mouthed kiss along the side of my neck. I moaned softly.
He didn't talk. He just caressed, kissed, and loved me, right there in the large shower. There was so much weighing on him, on this family, but he needed me. I could feel it in the grip of his hands, in the intensity of his kisses, the deep thrusts of his hips. I kept him stable, grounded.
When we finished, when my legs were steady enough for me to stand again, we washed, still saying nothing. Where his hands had been near bruising moments ago, now they were tender, patient, careful.
He treated me like porcelain, like I needed to be handled with care. We both knew what he was capable of, what those hands could do. Perhaps he needed to do this to ensure himself that, despite the number of times his hands had been covered in blood, he could be gentle and loving. That he wasn't a monster.
Maybe Jesse wouldn't be one either.
We left the shower, and Adam ushered me into bed when I would have dressed in my usual tee and underwear. Sliding in, he spooned against me, skin to skin. Of course, it wasn't long before he was making love to me again, my cries soft against his ears.
So much for the shower.
After, we lay quietly, my ear against his chest, listening to his strong heartbeat. I could tell that he wanted to say something, but I waited. I knew he would do so when he was ready. I didn't have to wait too long.
"I don't know what to do, Mercy," he said miserably. "I don't want Jesse to hate me, but I don't want to face the possibility of losing her either." His hand squeezed my shoulder, and I felt his lips against my hair. "I can't lose her."
I thought for a moment, considering my words. "I know you don't want to risk it, but Jesse's a smart girl. I'm sure she thought this over long and hard before she made that decision." I sighed. "She knew you wouldn't like it. I could tell the moment I saw her that day."
I could feel him shake his head against my hair. "She's never seen the Change, how it's done. It's savage, bloody, and nearly always fatal. And she's a girl, Mercy. You know they're even more likely to die than the men."
"Yes, I know. But they have also survived too. Maybe she just needs you to believe in her, that she could do this. I don't want to lose her either, Adam. I was shocked too when you told me. But we both know the choices. You lose her now or later. But maybe you don't have to lose her at all."
I felt him stiffen. "No. I can't let her do it."
"No, Mercy. You're not a werewolf. I know you grew up with them, but it's still not the same. I laid there that day, seeing my guts open to the heavy, stinking air, thinking I was going to die in that damned jungle before I became wolf. It was grisly and painful. I can't let that happen to her. I can't."
"What about what she wants?"
His jaw stiffened. "I'm sorry, Mercy. But she's my daughter."
My mouth opened on a silent gasp. So that's how it was? Jesse meant just as much to me as Adam did. I loved her like she was my own. How could he shut me out?
Wordlessly, I turned over, moving away from his embrace. Though he could have stopped me, he let me go. I had to turn away before he saw how he'd hurt me, before he saw the tears. No doubt he knew from our bond. He wasn't stupid. Callous sometimes, but not stupid.
He didn't try to apologize or touch me. I wondered at that as I drifted off to a restless sleep.
The next morning, I woke up early and quickly slipped out of bed to make breakfast. I had to make this right, and food would help. Things were always easier on a full stomach. We were going to talk today.
I made French toast, biscuits with gravy, eggs, and bacon. I had the coffee machine going, and the table set when Jesse came down, following her nose.
"Man, Mercy," she commented when she got a look at all the food. "You went all out today."
I shrugged. "What can I say? I like to feed my family."
Jesse gave me a look that said she wasn't buying it. "You also tend to cook a lot when you're stressed."
"Quiet, you," I gave her a small smile. "Eat."
Jesse sat down just as her father walked in, his eyes on mine. I held his gaze for a moment before lowering my eyes, turning back to preparing plates. "Good morning, Adam."
"Good morning. Hey, Jesse."
"Dad." Jesse immediately went back to eating.
Well, this would be difficult. But at least they were on speaking terms…a little bit.
I sat down and ate alongside my family in companionable silence until Adam finally broke it with his smooth, deep voice.
"I've been thinking," he began reluctantly. "Maybe we can compromise."
Jesse looked up, knowing exactly to what he was referring. He met her eyes and continued.
"Finish school," Adam elaborated. "And get with each and every one of my wolves as well as me so you can find out just what it's like to be a werewolf. You will listen to all our stories, especially the ones about the Change, and learn what that means for you. When that's all over, if you still want this life…"
He sighed heavily. "I'll let you try."
Jesse squealed, jumping up from her seat to run to her dad. Giving him a hard hug and a big kiss, she smiled down at him. "That's all I wanted, Daddy." With that, she scampered (yes, scampered), out of the kitchen, totally forgetting about her plate.
Adam watched her go before turning to me with eyes heavy with unspoken words. I looked away and got to my feet to collect Jesse's plate and mine. I wasn't sure if I was quite ready to forgive him yet, though I knew I would.
I decided to wash the plates by hand. The dishwasher was getting too full anyway. Plus, I had to keep my hands busy. I didn't want to feel awkward, and the room was getting a little stuffy with my husband who'd hurt me last night staring at me like he was.
I heard him get up as the water filled the sink. Heard him walk around the table toward me. Then I felt his strong arms slide around my waist. Adam set his cheek against the side of my head, nuzzling me.
"I'm sorry, baby," he said softly. "I know I hurt you, and I'm sorry. You've been more of a mother to Jesse than Christie ever was. I shouldn't have said what I said. I was upset, stressed, and I took it out on you. I apologize."
"Hmm," I muttered in response.
He let out a breath in laughter. "You're going to make me suffer, aren't you?"
I shrugged. "I guess not. It was a big deal, so I guess you get a free pass this time." I shifted around in his arms, my expression turning serious. "Don't shut me out like that again."
He shook his head. "I won't. I promise."
"Were you serious about what you said to Jesse? You're really going to let her try to Change?"
Adam sighed as he nodded. "Yes. If, after all she hears and learns, she still wants to go through with it, I won't stop her. But it won't be me who does it. I couldn't bear to do that to my little girl." He shook his head. "I'll have to inform her mother. That should be fun."
We both cringed. Christie would not be thrilled about this, and it would be Adam's fault, as all their problems seemed to be in her eyes. I certainly couldn't blame him for his reluctance. "Who will you let do it?"
"I think I trust either Warren, Bran, or one of the Marroksons to do it. They're dominant enough not to lose control during." His shoulders sagged a little. "I can't lie. I wish so much she would change her mind, Mercy."
I hugged him close, my heart hurting for him. I could totally understand. "Maybe she will," I reassured. Some of the wolves would no doubt have horrible stories of their transformations. Jesse could very well hear those tales and give up on this whole idea.
I started to suggest Adam speak with Samuel about how if felt to lose a child who died for not being a wolf, but this was not the time.
"We'll just have to see," I told him instead.
He nodded. "Yeah." His arms squeezed me just before he pulled back to look me in the eye, his expression taking on a playful edge.
"So how 'bout it? Up for a shower?"
The next chapter will be the last, and will be entitled "The Endgame." Thanks for reading!