If I was to have any hope of fulfilling my promise, the first thing I had to do was let go of Adelle. Holding on was stupid. It would only cause me pain and make me harbor ill feelings toward Eli. Eli deserved Adelle—he’d gotten to her first, after all. If I really cared for Adelle, I would feel happy for her and Eli.
I swallowed hard, determined to no longer feel resentment toward Eli. It felt like an impossible feat, but Eli hadn’t done anything wrong. Hell, he hadn’t even known I was pursuing Adelle.
It was my own damn fault for arriving late to the party. I should go and congratulate him, just to help myself get over this.
Adelle and I could still be friends, though I doubted that the awkwardness would ever disappear. And I knew that I would be inclined to seek her out less now, if for no reason other than self-preservation.
There was no denying that it was the end of an era for Adelle and me. Although it filled me with melancholy, I didn’t see how it could be avoided.
I stood up and started walking again, back toward my penthouse. But as I passed the boathouse, I stopped. My ears picked up on splashing, and the sound of scrubbing. Since it didn’t sound like the type of noise Eli and Adelle would make, I approached the door of the boathouse and peered inside.
A woman with her back turned to me was crouched down over the edge of the boathouse, dipping clothing into the water and scrubbing it against the floorboards. As I inched closer, I realized that she was a werewolf, for her features weren’t entirely human. She had curly blonde hair that touched the sides of her face and an athletic build, her arm muscles tensing as she beat her washing against the floorboards.
Now that my curiosity had been satisfied, I was about to back away unnoticed, but I took a misstep and ended up standing on a loose floorboard, which creaked. Her blue eyes shot toward me. Now that I saw her face fully, I realized that she was pretty. She had a slight splash of freckles, plump lips and thick eyelashes.
“Oh, hello,” she said, looking me over briefly before going on with her washing.
“Hi, I didn’t mean to disturb you.”
“That’s all right,” she said, clenching her jaw as she began beating her clothes furiously against the wood again. I was surprised that they hadn’t disintegrated already. It looked like she was trying to murder them. I stepped further back as drops of water sprayed everywhere. “My name’s Kailyn.”
“Oh, I know who you are.” She cast another glance back at me over her shoulder. “A word of advice. Never let Brett sit behind you while he’s eating. Or at any time really. He sprays all kinds of strange substances.”
I chuckled. “Thanks for the warning.”
“You’d have thought I’d have learned my lesson by now,” she grumbled, holding up a dress and examining it.
“We have washing machines, you know.”
She looked up at me, frowning. “Washing machines?”
“Yeah. I’m pretty sure the townhouses you’re staying in are already equipped with them.”
“Oh.” She stood up, straightening out her clothes over her arm. “I think I know what you’re talking about, actually. In the kitchen area, beneath the sink. No idea how to use it though, and neither does my sister. In fact, I doubt any of the wolves are using this human technology you’ve given us. We’re all too stuck in our ways of doing things. Unless you want to show me?”
She raised a brow at me. I was surprised by her forwardness. All I wanted was to return home. It had been a grueling day and I wanted to retire to begin afresh tomorrow. But it wouldn’t have been good manners to refuse to help her.
We left the boathouse and began walking toward the beaches northwest of the island.
I cleared my throat, trying to think of some small talk as we walked along. “So you have a sister?”
“A younger sister, yes. We share a house. Always have. I suppose you live in one of the treehouses?”
“You live alone?”
“What about Sofia’s mother?”
I let out a sigh. “Long story, Kailyn. One I’m not sure you’d be interested to hear. But simply put, she passed away almost two decades ago.”
Kailyn looked down at the ground. “I’m sorry to hear that… If Sofia’s anything to judge her by, she must have been a wonderful woman.”
My lips formed a bitter smile. “Everything my daughter is today is down to no one but herself,” I said. It was the politest way I could think to respond to her remark.
Kailyn looked at me curiously, but didn’t press. She was smart enough to sense that it was a sensitive subject.
By now we’d already reached the row of houses that the werewolves inhabited. Both of us were fast walkers, so it hadn’t taken as long as I might have suspected.
“Other than your sister,” I said, eager to change the subject, “do you have family here?”
“Nope.” She pointed to a house toward the middle of the row. “Well, that’s ours.”
We walked up the pathway through the front yard. She reached for the door and opened it, holding it so I could step inside after her.
“Kira,” she called out, “we have a guest.”
There was a creaking of floorboards overhead and a young woman descended the steps into the hall. She had the same athletic build and curly blonde hair, though it was slightly shorter than her sister’s. Kira also looked at least ten years younger than Kailyn, closer to the age of my own daughter.