Stay (Page 46)

Georgina shook her head. “Helen is in a complete state of shock and denial. I need to get back to her, but my first priority is getting you ready. That is where Hailey will come in when she pulls herself together.”

“With all due respect, the girl just lost her best friend.” Toby seemed to regret the words immediately, but they were out. He couldn’t take them back.

“I lost my grandson, a child that is like a granddaughter, and very likely my son. Yet here I am taking care of business. Hailey took an oath as Allie’s chief advisor. Levi’s chief advisor is off with the so-called head of security somewhere. Those of us here need to do our part.”

“Do you really think Robert’s…” I couldn’t finish the sentence.

“I don’t know what to think. It’s like he disappeared into thin air when we needed him most.”

“I’m sure there’s an explanation,” I started. I refused to believe he was gone too. If they actually expected me to take a leadership role, I was going to need all the support I could get.

“Stop looking for explanations. That’s just another word for an excuse. You’re not getting any right now. Pull yourself together. You are a Laurent, and you will act like one.”

I took a few deep breaths. I needed to pretend to be okay, even if only for Georgina’s sake. She must have been so broken, but she refused to let that get in the way of what needed to be done. I needed to do my part. “So what do we do?”

“Right now you get cleaned up, changed, and prepared to make a public statement.”

“Where should I do that?” I didn’t have a place in New Orleans unless Georgina had gotten me one without telling me.

“There’s a suite for you upstairs.” She turned to Toby. “There’s stuff for you up there too. I guessed on your measurements, but it should be close enough.”

“Okay. Just tell us where we need to be.” He took my hand.

Georgina nodded stoically. “I’ll call up when we’re ready for you.”

I nodded. There are times when you ask questions and there are other times when you don’t. This was the latter.

“Casey?” Georgina called as I headed to the door.

“Yes?” I stopped.

“I’m proud of you.”

“For?”

“I know what you did with the bears. That kind of strength isn’t something everyone has. Don’t forget you have it.”

I tried to smile, but I’m sure it came out forced. “I’ll try to remember that.”

Toby put a hand on my lower back and led me out the door. He didn’t say anything as we headed to the elevator. I purposely avoided looking for Hailey. I knew she was going through a lot, and I didn’t want her to have to delay her grief. I could do this without her help. I felt badly enough that Toby had to stay strong for me. Despite everything, he’d loved Allie. None of this could have been easy for him to take. Plus he was now being pretty much forced to be my mate. He may have played it off as cool, but he couldn’t be. We hadn’t even known each other that long. I sighed. What the heck was going on? When had things gotten so unbelievably out of control? The day you saw the wolf, I answered for myself. Nothing had been remotely normal since then.

As soon as we found the room, I tried calling Jared again, but I got nothing. The lack of communication made everything so much harder. I tossed my phone aside and got ready for my shower. I needed to pull myself together. The hot shower helped some, but that didn’t mean I felt ready.

“Georgina is right.” Toby came to stand next to me while I hastily tried to apply some makeup. I usually went without it, but I looked just about as good as I felt—which was terrible.

“Right about what?”

“Come on. You know exactly what I mean.” He ran a hand through his still damp hair. He’d taken a shower after I had. There was no showering together this time.

“The part about me being able to lead The Society?”

“Yes, that part.” He put his arms around my waist while standing behind me.

I leaned into his comforting embrace. “I wish I believed it.” I watched our reflection in the mirror. I loved that reflection.

“You will eventually.”

“Hopefully sometime in the next few hours.”

“Preferably in the next few minutes. You are getting ready to make a speech.”

“Thanks for the reminder.”

“I’m going to be with you the whole time.”

“And I really, really appreciate that.”

“But…”

“But I’m still the one who has to sound like I actually know what I’m doing.”

“Look at me.” Toby turned me in his arms. “Just go with your heart. You can’t go wrong.”

“But my heart hurts. It’s full of grief and anger and fear.”

“No.” He shook his head. “It’s not full of any of those things. Those are all in your head. Your heart is full of love and hope.”

“You are so much better at words than me. You’re the one who should be making this speech.”

“No. It’s yours to make. I’m just the eye candy on your arm.”

I pushed him. “I don’t know how you can make jokes right now.”

He shrugged. “What’s the alternative? Is there any?”

“None that are going to help us.”

“Exactly. We can do this. You can do this.”

“You were right the first time. It’s we.”

He kissed me lightly on the lips. “You look beautiful.”

“Thanks.”

“I mean that.”

“I know, and you look as handsome as always.”

“You mean I’m not beautiful?” he teased.

“No, but your heart and soul are.”

“Ohhh now you’re the sappy one.” He pulled me into his arms. “Glad I’m rubbing off on you.”

“You are more than you’d think.”

“Yeah? Well you’re rubbing off on me too.”

“Hopefully it’s in a good way.”

“Of course. Could there be another way coming from you?”

I swatted at him. “Now you’re going too far. I’m not perfect.”

“Yet you’re perfect for me.”

“I’m distracted enough. You can stop.”

“Let’s get through the speech. Afterward we can finally let ourselves feel what we really do. How does that sound?”