A Wind of Change(A Shade of Vampire,Book 17)(6) by Bella Forrest
“Who were you visiting, honey?” she asked.
I wasn’t in any mood to talk, but this woman had kind eyes and I didn’t want to be rude.
“My father,” I said quietly.
“Oh.” Her face fell. “I’m so sorry, sweetie.”
“I came to visit my son,” she said. She reached out and squeezed my hand gently. “Sometimes people just don’t think through the consequences of their actions. It doesn’t always mean they’re bad people. Often they’re just stupid… Like my dumbass boy. Smashing up a police car. What the heck was he thinking?” She shook her head.
I gave her a weak smile, then looked down at my feet.
If all my father had done was trash a vehicle, I would be sitting here now with a much lighter heart.
The woman seemed to take the hint and didn’t attempt to strike up another conversation. I fumbled in my bag for my iPod, unwound the headphones from it and placed them in my ears. I brushed a finger against the cracked screen and navigated toward the files I had copied from the Spanish-learning CD my teacher had given me. I turned the volume right up, letting the soothing female voice fill my ears. It helped to drown out the thoughts going through my head.
We waited ten more minutes before a bus pulled up. After the elderly lady and the rest of the crowd had boarded, I climbed inside. I chose a seat that was furthest away from everyone and replaced my earbuds in my ears.
The bus revved and moved forward. Soon, we had started along the bridge that led back toward Long Island City. A strong gust of wind blew in through the window of the bus, catching my hair. I stared out at the river flowing beneath us. As we finished crossing the bridge, I looked behind us toward the prison one last time. I wiped my eyes against the back of my jacket sleeve as my vision blurred. Then I forced myself to focus on the Spanish in my ears once again.
I looked up again only when I sensed my stop was nearing. I thanked the driver and left the bus, stepping out onto the sidewalk. I had to wait for another fifteen minutes before the bus arrived that would take me to my next destination. I took a seat closer to the front this time, where I could get a clearer view of my surroundings. I enjoyed looking out of the window at this part of town. The pretty buildings, the fancy shops, the people wearing beautiful clothes…
I debarked again as we arrived on a particularly swanky road. Stepping out, I removed the buds from my ears and placed my iPod back in my bag. Then I straightened out my jacket and jeans so I looked a little less scruffy. I walked up to the chocolatier directly opposite the bus stop and looked at my reflection in the window. My long brown hair had gotten messy from the river wind, so I attempted to tame it a little. Once I was satisfied that I looked at least semi-presentable, I walked another hundred feet and stopped outside a gorgeous five-star hotel. Walking through the entrance, I took a left and entered the restaurant.
It was closed still, but I could see some of my colleagues milling about the tables preparing for dinner. I knocked and caught the attention of a co-worker I particularly liked—Trisha, a short young woman with curly black hair. She gave me a smile and walked over to the door. Pulling out a key from her pocket, she opened it for me.
“I didn’t know you were working today,” she said.
“I’m not. But I need to speak to Rachel. Is she around?”
“Yeah. She’s in the kitchen doing inventory.”
“Great.” I hurried along the restaurant’s trendy beechwood floors and entered the kitchen area round the back. Sure enough, Rachel was standing in the center of it, leaning against one of the metal counters with a tablet in her hands. As I approached, she raised her blue eyes to me, brushing aside her blonde-highlighted hair.
“River. What are you doing here?”
“Do you have a moment?” I asked, setting my heavy bag down on one of the tabletops.
“Sure,” she said.
“As I told you, I won’t be able to work next week. But when I return, I wanted to ask if there are any extra slots you could give me, say… starting Monday the twenty-fourth?”
She furrowed her brows. “You’re already scheduled to work lunch and dinner, five days a week. You really want to work on weekends too? It’s the summer holidays.”
Exactly. I had to work as much as I could before school started up again.
“Yes. I’d like to take as many extra days as you have available. Can you fit me in?”
“Hm. I s’pose I could schedule you on Saturdays too.”
“Thank you,” I said.
“Was that all you came to see me about?”
“Yes.” I picked up my bag and flung it back over my shoulder. “Have a good evening.”
“You too, hon,” she said, giving me another smile before looking back down at her tablet.
I headed back out onto the street and hopped onto another bus. The prospect of a day of extra income per week had lightened my mood a little. I plugged myself back into the calm voice of the Spanish woman. As the last leg of my journey progressed, I became increasingly grateful for her calm, because the bus got delayed a number of times before reaching my neighborhood. My mother would be worrying and wondering why I was late. And my phone battery had died, which meant I couldn’t call her. The thought of my mother worrying always made me tense.
When the elegant roads gave way to shabbier, rougher-looking ones, I knew I was nearing home. It was dark by the time the bus finally pulled up at my stop. I took a moment to tuck my bag beneath my jacket and pull up the hood over my head before racing along the shadowy sidewalk toward our apartment block. Only lost tourists were out after dark on these streets. When I had a late shift cleaning up in the restaurant kitchen, Trisha usually let me crash at her place and return home in the morning so I didn’t have to make the journey at night.