Chapter 9 – Mute
She stepped out onto the broken balcony with a filthy mop buried into her chest, that just happened to have legs. The child was underweight and in extremely poor condition, my heart hurt. How had this pup been living on the edge of my borders unnoticed? My negligence had guilt coursing through my body, viciously wreaking havoc on my conscience.
“Hunter?” Drea whispered, “my cloak, please?” Her eyes were bloodshot - as if she had been crying but also they were… pink?
As I approached, my nose picked up a foul stench of excrement and urine - it made me want to vomit, the desperation in Drea’s eyes showed that she was struggling emotionally with the weight of her task. I handed her the cloak and she covered the tiny girl.
“Thank you, I need to get her to a stream?” Her eyes firmly locked on my own.
“That smell?” She shook her head and my mouth slammed shut.
“Wolves...” she spat angrily, “stream now.”
“Right. Oscar and Max, you’re behind Drea and I, Jeremy and Ryka take front position, we have a two-hour hike to the stream where we will set up camp, protect this girl with your life.”
I collected Drea’s sack and we continued to walk while our eyes scanned our surroundings.
“You okay?” I asked.
“Yes,” was all she replied and continued to forge forward.
“Drea, you can talk about it with me...”
“Please Hunter, not yet. I need to get her clean and then check her for injuries,” she didn’t once look at me but her face was disconcerting.
After two hours of steady walking, we finally reached the stream as the moon hung low in the dark sky. Drea didn’t even hesitate - she walked straight in, despite the growling that escaped from the putrid bundle in her arms.
“Ssshh,” she soothed. “I’m sorry precious, I know its cold but it will help, always help… shh, I’m sorry, shh. Hunter, in my bag, is a small bottle with a frangipani leaf on the front of it, can I have it please?”
I extracted the bottle from her bag and walked it over to her. “Thank you,” she said still not looking at me. “Shh, help only help my beautiful precious.”
I watched as she rubbed the liquid all over the child, gently and carefully, talking softly to her the whole time, reassuringly, making her feel loved while her phosphorescent pink eyes glowed brightly.
After about thirty minutes, we had managed to set up camp, complete with fire and even pulled out some food for dinner. I had set up Drea’s woven hammock and an extra bed made out of my tent.
They emerged from the stream with a considerably different looking young girl, she sees us and hides behind the beautiful Elven goddess. “Ssshh, it’s okay my precious, they are safe, they are help,” she cooed, walking her to the fire. At no stage of the whole process had Drea once thought of herself, no, her focus was solely on the wellbeing of this child.
“Turn.” She ordered breaking me from my inner reverie.
“Turn around, all of you.”
Realising now she wanted to undress the both of them, I snapped back into the present and ordered, “boys, turn around until advised otherwise.”
We could hear her movements and unfortunately, her natural scent of honeysuckle invaded my senses, wrapping around my heart and embedding into my soul, but there was another scent… very sweet like candy apples, faint but it was there. Must be the young girls. The only good thing about this whole ordeal was that Ryka and Max had finally learnt how to shut up. Guess, they all could feel my guilt too, of missing a pack member and leaving a child to fend for themselves for so long.
That was one of the bad things about being in a pack - if one felt such a strong emotion, we all felt it and carried the burden, but then again, sometimes a problem shared is a problem halved. Unless it’s two mates connecting for the first time. Sexual intercourse then becomes a frenzied orgy for the unmated and many pups are conceived by mated pairs - thanks to the pack connection of pure desire.
“Thank you, gentlemen.” She sat cross-legged as the child sat on her lap in Drea’s oversized clothes. It was only now, we could see bright purple eyes shining out from under pitch black hair.
“Drea… purple?” I blurted out.
“Yes Hunter,” she smiled and looked down lovingly at her. “Just like mine,” when she looked back up her eyes glowed pink.
“Drea… your eyes are pink,” her brows knitted together.
“Food?” She requested and I handed over a large plate of cured meats for the young girl and a smaller bowl of vegetable broth we had warmed on the fire. I watched as she slowly and gently soothed a ravenous purple eyed child, reassuring her that she can have the whole lot and when she had finished the meat, she spoon fed her the rest of the soup. Once the gorging was complete, she tucked the child into her hammock and calmed her fears.
The boys cleaned up the containers in the stream and we all sat rather silently while the girl slept soundly - trapped by our own musings. After about an hour she finally spoke. “I don’t know her name.”
“Maybe it’s violet?” Max snorted.
“Because she has purple eyes?” Ryka questioned.
“It’s a nice name,” he shrugged.
“Thank you, Hunter, a lesser man would have left me to deal with that on my own.”
I cleared my throat, “has she said anything?”
“No. While I was in that horrendous shack, she carved HELP into the floor with a knife. The state of the house was putrid - I don’t think I will ever get that out of my head.”
“I blame myself, I had no idea she was even there, she’s not actually linked to our pack. Where are her parents?” She moved closer to me, sensing my angry alarm.
“Don’t blame yourself - don’t even go there. Her parents obviously kept her hidden for a reason,” she consoled, grasping my hand.
“Night everyone, it’s time for bed boys,” Oscar announced as the others followed.
“Here Drea, you should get some rest. I’ve collapsed my tent to create a double if you don’t mind sharing? But of course, I could sleep on the ground.”
“No,” she whispered, “sharing is fine, thank you, Hunter.”
We lay down next to each other but face to face. “Drea?” I whispered with my eyes closed.
“Yes?” She murmured as my eyes opened wide.
“I will always be here for you,” her eyes swirled pink as she burned holes into my honey ambers before I closed them and internally kicked myself, for allowing such a personal slip.
We awoke just before sunrise to an intense moaning, not the good kind either, a continuous painful groan, which had Drea jump to her feet and at ‘Violets’ side in one second. Since we didn’t know her name, it seemed like the only logical name to call her.
“Shhh, my precious, you are safe, you are safe,” she comforted.
Drea’s eyes glowed pink, again. It was really niggling at me, the sudden shift in her eye colour - I needed to know more, but as I watched her soothe this innocent child, I realised something and my heart ached. She would never feel for me, what I feel for her. She was here for the child and after, she would leave and that would be the end of us.
“Here,” I handed her my hoodie. “It’s still cold out, we’ll get moving.”
“Aren’t you cold?” She asked.
I laughed, “no, wolves are naturally warm,” to this, she smiled.
Drea carried Violet all the way back to the pack house. We had spent many hours attempting to get her to talk but she wouldn’t. Drea put her down in her room and kissed her goodnight before coming down to the kitchen to see Val, Marcus and I stuffing our faces. She giggled.
“Here,” I flung her a blueberry muffin and noticed she still wore my hoodie.
“Yum!” She laughed as we continued to gorge.
“I don’t think she is mute,” Drea spat out causing us to stop eating.
“I agree, she made vocal noises in her sleep,” I offered.
“A siren’s main tool is their vocal cords but in all the history books I’ve scoured through in my youth, I’ve never come across a Wolf Siren.” She slumps and places her forehead on the kitchen bench defeatedly. I leaned forward in front of her as Val and Marcus casually slid out of the room.
“Drea, look at me?” I demanded and she slowly lifts her head to gaze up at me, sending my pulse racing. “We have got this, okay? Don’t worry, we will sort this out… together.” Her eyes flashed pink just for a moment.
“You really are amazing,” she exhales.