“She always watched; you just didn’t know. She watched you your entire life. Don’t let her down by
having to watch you destroy yourself, ” I tell him before thrusting the letter at him.
He takes it, reading his name on the front. “What’s this?”
“From Valarie, it arrived in the mail a couple of weeks after her funeral along with a few others,” I told
him, and he turned it over between his fingers. After shaking my head, I grabbed my bag from the
counter and headed for the door.
“She’s dead, Everly. He kept her from me, and now she’s dead,” he said, and I stopped. Tears burned m
y eyes as I stopped and turned to face him.
“She is only dead if you believe she is. That hotel is her legacy, hers. All those women and the rogues?
She helped build that. I hated your father for so long and what he did to her; I may never forgive him for
that, but if he hadn’t, none of that would exist. All those people, she gave them their lives back, that hotel
gave them their lives back. She isn’t dead, Valen. Everything I am, Zoe is, Macey, your son, is her. Gone,
yes, but she is not dead because no one will forget what she has given to us.” I told him. Valen shook his
head before falling back onto the stool. He clutched his head in his hands, and his shoulders shook as
he broke down.
“He lied; all those years he lied to me,” Valen cried, and I chewed my lip to stop it quivering before
walking over to him. I ran my fingers through his hair before taking the letter from him. He looked at me,
and I placed it in my handbag.
“What are you doing?”
“Come with me?” I told him, and he shook his head.
“I want to show you something, ” I tell him, pulling on his hand.
“But first, you need to get dressed; you stink,” I tell him, groaning as I pull him to his feet, and he
chuckles. He sniffles and tries to kiss me, but I pull away.
“Did you make out with an ashtray?” I asked him.
“That bad?” he asked, and I nodded, pushing him toward the bathroom. I turned the shower on, and he
pulled his clothes off. After retrieving him a towel and fresh clothes, I sat next to the sink basin.
I messaged Kalen and checked on Valarian, who he said was asleep. When Valen got out, he changed,
smelling and looking like the man I loved.
“So, where are we going?” he asked as I retrieved my bag and keys.
“You’ll see,” I told him, leading him down to my car, his mother’s old car.
“This was hers, wasn’t it?” he asked, stepping aside and staring at it. Biting the inside of my lip, I nodded
“She taught Zoe how to drive in this thing. It’s why it has a dent in the back,” I chuckled, pointing it out.
He looked at the back tailgate at the pole mark, where she reversed into it.
“I almost crushed it,” he whispered.
“But you didn’t. Good thing too. All the letters were in the glove compartment,” I told him before climbing
in. Valen hopped in beside me as I started her up. He stared vacantly out the window for most of the
“What was she like?” he asked as we pulled up at my hotel.
“I’ll show you,” I told him, climbing out of the car. Valen’s brows furrowed, but he reluctantly got out.
Grabbing his hand, I walked him around to the storage sheds at the far back of the property closest to
Digging through my bag, I retrieved the keys I got earlier when I went home to grab the letter. I unlocked
the padlock and kicked the slide lock.
“It wasn’t until after she passed and I was going through her things that I realized why your father was so
afraid to have her by his side. This, this is who your mother was, ” I told him, lifting the roller door. The
shudder groaned as it rolled and banged open. Leaning in, I flicked on the lights. The fluorescent lights
blinked before buzzing, staying on, lighting up the huge shed. Valen gasped and stepped inside, and I
followed behind him.
The room was not only filled with all her belongings but her past. “Your mother came from a wealthy
family. This hotel was the first one built in Mountainview City. The City was built around it. Valarie’s father
refused to join any packs as they formed around the City.” I told him as he looked around the place.
“All this is hers,” he asked, looking back at me, and I nodded. Valarie had a lot of secrets, most I kept
close to me, ones I never knew, but she trusted me with after her death.
“After her parents passed, they left her this place, your father discovered her, and they had you, but
because of all this, and the uproar she caused in her younger years, your father worried about it
damaging his reputation, ” I told him, glancing at all the banners that hang from the walls. The posters
and huge blown pictures of all the rallies she attended.
“She wasn’t a rogue-whore like everyone thought. I believed she was like me. It wasn’t until she died that
I understood what she meant when she said me and her were the same. She was mislabeled like me.
She allowed everyone to see her that way, but she wasn’t. Your mother was an activist. An Activist for
the Rogues, and all this and the hotel were all hers. Her legacy and what she fought for.” I told him,
grabbing a picture off the wall.
I handed it to him; it was a blown-up newspaper clipping, Valarie front and center leading the protest with
her banner held high, passing him another. It was of her standing on the roof of a cop car to rally her
“She stopped when she fell pregnant with you. Everyone eventually forgot. Then I met her, and she met
her grandson, and she started fighting all over again, only this time instead of fighting in the streets, she
gave the rogues a home, and she asked me to continue it, ” I told him, looking around at the memories
that were once hers.
Moving to the back, I grabbed an old scrapbook. It was old and heavy, filled with every news clipping of
her son, and at the back were photos of every event he attended that she snuck into. Grabbing the other
down, it was of him growing up. I handed it to him, and he looked down at them before moving to clear
off a box. I stood off to the side and watched him open it.
“She always watched Valen. She was there; you just didn’t know it. ” Valen nodded, turning the pages. I
handed him back his letter before giving him the key.
“I will let you look. Just lock up when you’re done.” I tell him before pressing my lips to his shoulder.
“You kept it all these years?” he asked, and I looked over at him. My lips quivered, and I cleared my
throat. This place always reminded me of her.
“Yes, because she wasn’t just your mother, Valen. For a while, she was also mine,” Valen nodded and
turned back to the scrapbook. I smiled sadly before turning and walking back to my apartment, wiping my
tears as I went.