“I don’t know I’ve never met him.” My shoulders straightened as if a stronger backbone would keep me from breaking down at this line of questioning. Sore topic.
“It could be a fluke.” I backtracked quickly to hide my own nerves. Seth and Thia began to look at me with reverence. “I mean sure, maybe Davis could see the future but I can’t guarantee I can. Even if we both can it’s probably not as rare as everyone thinks! It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a coincidence.”
“Has your...mother talked about... him?” Thia asked tenderly.
“Mhm yup one hundred percent dead beat human.” My arms crossed as a final defense. “I can prove it and just ask my mom if you guys had a phone or you know electricity. Seriously how do you live like this?” I threw my arms into the air exasperated.
“We live in peace.” Seth’s words were hard.
Tension thickened Seth’s traps until he loomed almost larger than life. Neither one of us blinked in our stare down. Thia quickly became the peacemaker. “It is good here. We are happy.” Her dialect became sharper in tones. Seth replied in the same strange tongue. “We celebrate then.”
Seth gave me a pointed look. “We have two humans to welcome tonight.”
At my tilted head and uplifted eyebrow he chuckled. “Don’t you mean three? Or am I still a hostage?”
Thia gave Seth a sharp look. “No hostages here. But I smell no human either.” Seth commanded Thia in a short trill of syllables then turned on his heels back to the cabin.
“I’m not done talking with you!” I shook my fist in the air ready to chance after him.
Instead, Thia caught my arm in her gentle embrace. “Men.” She shrugged. Well that was the best explanation I’ve heard yet. Her look turned sheepish. “Could you, please...tell me about dream?”
I was hesitant to divulge her fantasy. While I contemplated, Thia rested a loving hand on her flat belly. “Even a dream I cherish.”
My palm rested atop hers. A shine misted in both our eyes. I had never thought about having children, but Thia was one of the last few females of her pack. The pressure, the consuming need, I couldn’t comprehend it. “The girl I saw when I first arrived.” Thia looked to me with questions brimming her eyes. Was there a language barrier? Could she not understand everything I said? Her English was choppy and hesitant but she spoke it.
A heartbeat later, her golden eyes widened in understanding. “She wolf from north. Mother Tuk and pup Taki.” She drew out the ‘i’ into a long e.
My eyes wondered to the steady flow of the water. How had Tuk become a widow. There was so much I didn’t know. “This one was so...different. I could see, hear, and feel every detail. And it didn’t have Nash.” Longing thrummed in my chest at his name. Missing him was like being homesick.
“Taki lead me to a cabin with a heavy pine door. It took both of us to push it open.”
Thia looked briefly confused before a wide smile split her face with joy. “I know that door.” Another spasm of confusion twisted her features. “But I have no pull to him.”
“Who?” As if I would recognize any name she threw at me.
What did I expect? “Well inside you were on a bed and three women were around you with cloths and a bowl. You were about to give birth.” A small smile twisted my lips. “I remember how happy I was not to miss it.”
She mirrored my expression. “Thank you.”
Two twinkling eyes caught my attention. I met them for a brief second before they ducked behind a tree. Thia followed my gaze and smiled mischievously. The small eyes peeked out again only to hide once again. I looked to my side but Thia was gone. She tiptoed silently and quickly through the trees rounding the very one I stared at with curiosity.
Thia made a yipping sound and jumped towards the figure. A girl popped out from behind the tree with a startled shout. Taki hid behind Thia in a blur of motion. Was everyone fast? Thia motioned for me to come closer. I did cautiously. The closer I got the less childlike the girl was. She was shorter than me and had a rounder face than Thai’s. With wide eyes and thin lips, I had made the same mistake I did with Nash. He seemed like a boy at first until I got closer. Thia too looked much younger at first. Was this a trait werewolves had or did they age slower than humans? Taki poked her head out from behind Thia with curiosity knitting her brows together.
“She is curious about you.” Thia chuckled at the whack a mole like behavior.
“I’m curious about you too Taki.” My hand stretched out to her as I squatted slightly to her level. “I’m Jessica.” Taki seemed to need translating as Thia began to speak their language. “What language is that?” Too many questions were unanswered already I felt like I would explode if I had one more.
Thia returned her attention to me with a friendly smile. “Nitaditi.”
“Nit-a-di-ti?” The syllables weren’t easy to connect.
“Human speak.” Thia translated further. “Nitaditi when we human. And Nitadoko wolf speak.”
“Wait, wolves can talk to each other?” I was dumbstruck.
Thia giggled which made her seem younger than Taki for a moment. “Yes like this.” Thia turned at the waist and began to snort and snuff with growls in between. I understood then. As wolves they did have their own dialect it was just as foreign to me as Nitaditi, human speak. Taki replied in the same rough snarling language.
Thia returned back to face me with a bright smile. “I can teach you.”
“Yes please!” My instant reply startled Taki but delighted Thia.
We spent the day carrying water first to Seth’s cabin then to Thia’s, last to Taki and Tuk’s. Tuk was a mother to her marrow. She fed us delicious fresh flat bread and stew for a late lunch. All the while Taki and Thia taught me their Nitaditi, human speak. After lunch I could say three sentences fluently. The language had basic sounds with no female or male discerning nouns. Tenses were at the beginning of the sentence rather than attached to the word. Anything future related had the word Ki in front of the sentence, while past tense was Ta.
“Ta kep ti sum!” I peed in a bush! All three woman peeled with laughter. “Seriously, I’m no plumber but I’m willing to try for all our sakes.” I wiped the joyous tears from my eyes.
“As wolf... we are natural...in all ways.” Thia held her stomach and hunched over in laughter.
As the laughter died down to occasional giggles we sighed in contentment. In one afternoon I had bonded with Tuk, Taki, and Thia. It felt natural to be here, like I fit in even though I was human. Then I remembered something Seth said as he walked away this morning.
“Thia why did Seth say I didn’t smell human?” It took a moment for recognition to light both Tuk’s and Thia’s eyes.
Thia sniffed with a flourish which started another round of giggles. Tuk rounded the chair I sat in and put her nose against my hair. “You smell human enough.” Tuk pat my shoulder gently.
“Odd but human.” Thia agreed with a nod.
“Human yes.” Taki added. She had picked up more English words as I learned her language.
Tuk held up my wrists and sniffed there as well. “Yes like wolf.”
“Wait are you saying I’m a wolf too?” I asked disbelieving.
Tuk shrugged. “New smell. We do not understand either.”
A shout outside caught all our attention. “We celebrate soon.”
“Celebrate my two kidnapping murderers?” I crossed my arms with bitter words souring my mouth.Tuk sat in her chair with a knowing look. “Depends who tells the story.” Tuk held up her empty bowl. The bottom faced me with a raised ring. “What do you see?” She nodded at my description. “But I see differently.” She flipped the bowl between her hands so I saw the inside of the bowl curve in. “Now we see the same.”