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Nine days later we were Mexico bound. We had to drive it because we couldn’t take any guns on the plane and we needed the vehicles to get around down there anyway. A lot of planning had taken place including coordinating this trip with my uncle who was instrumental in guaranteeing we’d be allowed to even drive through the gates. Part of the stipulation was an initial meeting with both the Mayor of Valle Del Lagarto and law enforcement. They had a lot of questions they wanted answered.
It had been hard to say goodbye to those we left behind, especially if we weren’t sure if we were ever going to see them again. I cried. I think about everyone cried and hugged. I left T.J. in the care of Emmagrace and she promised to take good care of him. I had even packed up all his favorite cat toys and some canned food in a small suitcase she’d loaned me. My heart was breaking and I was just equally terrified that something would happen to them while we were gone, or something would happen to us while we were gone. There were so many horrific possibilities I just had to turn my brain and feelings off by the end of the night and return to the olden days of the numb Mera while we shared what could’ve been a final meal together in The Big House before heading out that night.
It was decided that Gideon, Malachi, Josh, Ben, Luke, Ander, Mark, Claire, Talon and me would be making the trek to Mexico, on our goodwill mission to try and convince the 7,000 residents of Valle Del Lagarto to join us in the fight against a common enemy. I hadn’t realized that there were so many shifter’s living there until my uncle had enlightened us on this fact recently, and among that population was also 2,000 members of active military and law enforcement to protect the city. Most of their duties were home based, but occasionally the unit was deployed to help clean up from some natural disaster in Mexico, and less frequently to help combat some drug violence when a town was at the mercy of some drug cartels and pleading for help. Though technically a unit of The Mexican Armed Forces, the troops in Valle Del Lagarto were an independent unit of the Mexican army, and the army had no clue about their true identities obviously. Choosing to serve your country in a military capacity, was a risky, but brave maneuver, especially for a shifter.
We took two vehicles and Claire was determined to ride with me. She was now like some verbally abusive bodyguard to me or something. She seemed just as likely be to bite my head off as she was to bite someone else’s head off if they were giving me crap about something. Usually that person was Ben. It was a horribly long ride to Valle Del Lagarto that tested everyone’s patience and will power, and in the case of poor Josh who picked up a nasty stomach bug on the way, it also tested his gag reflex.
We had to stop earlier that first day then intended when Josh threw up in the van and the smell nearly triggered vomiting from a few others. And this incident came after a full day of obnoxious jokes and petty arguments. Imagine being in a hot van with the windows cracked because Ander insisted on saving fuel and “Not being spoiled whimps”, while Ben who knew his twin clearly didn’t feel well went on and on about greasy foods, and Claire bitched about something or other, Talon was arguing with Claire, then Josh threw up, and the smell of vomit overpowered the van and even Ander was gagging from the driver’s seat. He pulled that van over impressively fast and we all escaped pretty quickly.
Luke, Gideon, Malachi, and Mark were in the vehicle behind us and none of them offered any help to the current situation. Josh had made it out of the van and onto the shoulder before another round hit him. But the damage was already done by then and the van smelled God awful. Ben, Talon, and Claire argued over who was going to clean it up, while I stood by Josh and handed him some water when he was done spewing his guts up and dry heaving for a bit afterwards. He tossed his t-shirt on the side of the road and Ben graciously, or more accurately deviously, drenched his brother with bottled water. I took charge of the situation, healed Josh, and cleaned up the vomit like a pro. Josh came to help me sheepishly and even I turned my head away so he wouldn’t see me gag and make him feel even worse about the situation.
Afterwards we decided to stop for that night, and I delegated Talon to punch Ben on the shoulder for being so insensitive in his brother’s time of need and contributing to the vomiting episode. Then Ben graced us with vomiting jokes until we pulled into the motel and I was sure he stayed in the opposite room. Not the best or most private arrangements to have five people per room, but there was strength in numbers as the old saying goes. I was stuck sharing a bed with Claire, while Talon and Mal fought for space on the opposite double bed. Gideon was smart and chose the couch. Talon and Mal, fought, physically wrestled each other on their bed for half the nigh until their father got on them about it. Meanwhile I tried to lay ramrod straight, barely move and breathe, or risk bringing Claire’s wrath down upon me.
And the fun began again at dawn! This time Talon and I choose to ride with Gideon, Luke, Mark, and well Claire implanted herself in our vehicle. That left Ander, Mal, and Josh, to suffer from the disease known as Ben. But unjustly, from what I learned, that jerk slept most of the day after staying up all night texting Hailey.
Talon and Claire were at each other’s throats from the beginning and their arguments got increasingly more stupid because they both knew how to get under each other’s skin so well. I threatened to make them unconscious if they both didn’t shut up after they were in a full on argument over whether water was wet! Seriously, Talon said water couldn’t be wet because wet was a state of being, not a thing in itself, and Claire argued that he was stupid, and water was made up of molecules that created wetness. This came just after their fifteen minute go around when she said Lord Of The Rings (one of his favorites) was the stupidest movie ever made, and his rebuttal that Titanic ( apparently one of her secret favorites) was with its “shocking amount of historical inaccuracies”. I almost missed Ben.