The barn door clanged shut on the motorized track and Will turned off his motorcycle. A soft glow came from a lamp in the corner of the mini-barn, where a desk stood with some papers and random stationery. Taking off the helmet, I studied the interior, noticing that while it functioned more as a garage than a traditional farm barn, it still had a musty hay smell.
I wasn’t really surprised when Will took the road North instead of South to the commune. He seemed like he was going through some inner turmoil when he picked me up, but then again, so was I. There was no talking, no signaling, no gestures. I just held on tight while he weaved around traffic like we were on the run. It was like he didn’t want to acknowledge I was clinging to his back.
Shit, I didn’t want to acknowledge it, or feel anything really. Throughout the ride, with nothing but the black sky to look at, I kept seeing the dead man’s face. Worse, I kept seeing it as his body jerked and twitched with his last breaths. Tears welled and I took off the borrowed helmet to try and breathe.
Will, in turn, removed his helmet to rub his face and scalp over after the long ride. I looked down at my hands, remembering how easy it was. I pulled my trigger finger and the material of his body and brain felt slightly denser than the air I had been practicing on, but still easy enough to push a mass through to the other side. It had been so fast.
Will had turned around and found me staring at my hands. Without saying a word, he slid a hand underneath my crotch, grabbed my leg, and hauled me around to straddle him. We dropped the helmets and he cupped my face with two hands.
“Kelly, it was him or you.” Will’s soft lips were moving, but I was past consolation.
“He was younger than me, maybe Jess’ age,” I said, looking at those lips.
“They were going to kill you.”
“Were they? Why not just kill me in the alley?” I shook my head. So many better ways I could have handled it, but I went for the most drastic first. Like it was instinct. I had even felt a shot of adrenaline or something similar after I had done, it almost felt enjoyable and I was sickened at the thought.
Will gripped my face harder and forced me to look into his eyes.
“Do not feel guilty about this. This is on them, like everything. I am so damn relieved that you are... okay.”
He brought my face closer and gently kissed me, rubbing my neck with his hands as if he needed to soothe me as well as himself. We continued to kiss without making motions for more. No frantic untucking of shirts or belts. No tongues down each other’s throats. No grinding each other down until we were both undone. Just soft, full kisses. I pulled away.
“Why did you leave?”
He knew what I was referring to. Our ‘round two’ the other night wasn’t some quick tumble. I wouldn’t have called it making love, but it wasn’t far off. It was two people giving each other something with tenderness, not lust. Sighing, he ran fingers through my hair and planted a small kiss on my chin before responding,
“I was overwhelmed. What we did was wonderful but... overwhelming. I needed to think and when I’m around you it seems very hard to do it clearly. You seemed better and in a dead sleep when I left.” I nodded, I was and I had been. But it was not great to wake up alone after the sweet whispers and touches that we had just given each other.
We touched foreheads and then I yawned right into his face. He smiled and shifted me so I could get off him and the bike.
“Speaking of, it is way too late for any type of conversation about anything important, Doctor Jones.” He gave me a sly grin and I blinked wide, remembering all that happened today.
Holy shit, that’s right. I finished essentially a decade of schooling today, and one part of my life. We walked hand in hand out the barn's side door and across to a fenced yard of a medium sized housed, a porch running across the front. I couldn’t see much in the dark, but it had a homey cottage feel for a couple or a small family. Will unlocked the front door, then gave me a signal to keep quiet, as if someone would be disturbed. Taking my hand, he led me down a wide hallway to the last door on the right, where a queen sized bed stood in the middle of the room next to an adjoining bathroom.
I sat down in the bed and slipped off my shoes. Will went to his drawers in a dresser underneath the window and handed me a folded pair of sweatpants and a long sleeve nightshirt.
“Slip into these and we will call it a night, yeah?” Accepting the clothes, I numbly nodded and went into his bathroom, shutting the door behind me. There was a tub shower combination, toilet, and a double sink with a huge mirror.
I stared at myself, looking for changes. Lines were present around my eyes with dark circles underneath. I killed a man today. I thought it, then I did it. It was easy, too easy. Fuck, what would my Gran say? Did they banish witches for this sort of thing? Those seven men on the night of the massacre were unintentional and out of my control, they were more like collateral damage against the brute forces of nature. But this guy today, I wanted him dead and then he died.
I couldn’t remember any of the members of my coven doing something like that, or any stories of it happening. As a rule, we always avoided conflicts, always used magic to stop it getting that far. I couldn’t remember why, but I am sure there was a rule somewhere in that book as to why we didn’t engage in fighting or killing, but I had skipped pages at a time.
I splashed water on my face and grabbed what I assumed was Will’s toothbrush. His sweatpants fit a little loose, but the shirt came to my thighs and it felt comfortable after the heavy riding jacket. Coming out of the bathroom, he was already in bed with the lights out and the image gave a clear feeling of coming home.
From what I could see, he also had a shirt and sweats on and looked close to passing out. I climbed in and settled down onto my stomach, facing him. He smiled at me and stroked my cheek down to my neck, before leaning across for a kiss. Closing my eyes, the last thing I remembered seeing was the dead hunter twitching below me, and my feeling of relief that I had murdered him.
Plates and forks clattered and the smell of bacon wafted into the bedroom. The room was bright, too bright and I squinted my eyes open to see sunlight shining down through the window at front of the bed, nearly at my toes. Will’s side of the bed was empty and I propped myself up to look around. No Will. I had a feeling he was probably an early riser, being the Chief and leader of a small nation.
Using the bathroom first, I came out to find a sweatshirt on the end of the bed and shucked it on. Lord, it was cold in this house. I wandered down the same wide hall we snuck down last night and followed the sounds of breakfast. Moving through a cozy living room, I eventually came into a bright sun-lit kitchen with a round table in the middle and a fireplace to the side.
Three men around the table stopped talking and turned. Will, on the side, rose to meet me.
“Hey, how are you feeling?” Kissing my cheek and laying a hand at my waist, I leaned into him and shuddered.
“Honestly, I am starving and freezing. I can’t remember eating much of anything yesterday in between... you know.” He grimaced and one of the men at the table stood up and announced,
“Here, darling, please take my seat by the fire,” and he moved to another seat while Will went to the stove to get some breakfast.
“Hai cho,” I replied in the Halq’emeylem language, a common tongue of the Native Americans in the North. Taking his seat, I cringed at my pronunciation while the men raised their eyebrows in surprise and I had to laugh.
“Don’t think too much of it, I had to take a class in my senior year at high school and only the easy words stuck. I think the hardest thing I can say is something like ‘the bear is walking’, and I definitely can’t read or write.”
Will returned back to the table with a plate of eggs, bacon, and toast, wearing a smile.
“Well, it’s still impressive after 10 years. We speak another branch of Salish down here, but we still understand the North. Kelly, this is my father, Chief Donald Achran and his friend, Elder Swiftfoot. Dad, Joe, this is Kelly Jones from the Hunter Valley Coven.” I nodded to both men and tried to ignore the feeling that this was the equivalent of meeting the parents on a first date while the two men studied me. Picking up my fork, I did my best to aim my body toward the fire while I ate. Holy shit, my toes were freezing. I had gotten so used to apartment living and central heating that I had forgotten what people did without it.
I studied Will’s father while they talked over plans for farming in the spring. He had long hair in tribal style and it had gone salt and pepper. Though his skin had aged well and he had only a few deep wrinkles around his eyes and mouth when he wasn’t smiling. He would have been a looker when he was young, just like Will was now I guessed. His friend, Joe, dressed and groomed in the same manner, but had darker skin as if he had spent more time outside or had more Native American ancestry than his friend. Holding a hot cup of coffee to warm my hands, I saw Don staring at me. Catching my gaze, his eyes focused.
“You know, you look familiar. Did I know your father?”
I was dumbfounded for a moment, as usual whenever anyone mentioned my parents. But I quickly returned a sad smile to show he was mistaken.
“Probably not, he wasn’t from around here, or the States even. You probably know my Grandmother though, Margaret Wardwell, or my great grandmother, Cynthia Wardwell. She was head of the council, so you probably saw her a few times for the treaty signings.” His lips pursed in thought and he looked my face over, finishing at my bleached hair.
“No, your right, the hair isn’t the same. What did you say your name was?” I looked to Will, who looked a little concerned.
“Kelly Jones, my father was Ewan Jones, but he wasn’t from around these parts and he died some time ago.”
“Jones, good strong name from the old land,” he stated and Joe grunted in agreement and added.
“Ewan Jones, Warrior Son”
I looked to Will, “The old land?”
“Wales, where the strain of werewolf comes from. Said to come from the dark moors. The Pack elders can speak some Welsh, but for the life of me, I have never been able to keep all those F and Y sounds in my head.” I nodded in understanding.
“My father did come from the UK, but said he had a falling out with the one or two family he had left, so we never really heard anything from that side.”
Don nodded and stated, “Families are complicated. But you look familiar, what did you say your name was again?” My eyes shifted to Will’s in confusion. Joe suddenly stood up and motioned to Don.
“Come on partner, it's 11 am, time for the morning walk to check the fences.”
Don looked up and then down to his watch.
“Already? Didn’t we do that yesterday?”
“Gotta do it everyday, friend!” And together, the two left the table and over to the mudroom at the side to put on their coats and boots, Joe giving a small wave goodbye.
Hearing them leave and walk out of the yard, I held my cup close to my chest, trying to steal its warmth and looked down into the fire for the same. After a minute Will spoke.
“So, my dad is...has the beginnings of Alzheimers,” I nodded, having guessed something like that.
“And having a new person or thing added to his routine is disruptive. I’m sorry, I would have suggested we go back to the commune if you had told me.” Will shook his head.
“Nope, this went well actually. He didn’t get upset or confused, so this was a win.” I smiled back at him and then down to the fire again, staring into the flames. Will scooted his chair next to mine and copied my posture. Reaching my hand to his, I held it tight, reveling in his warmth.
“What is the plan?” I asked. He scrunched his face, thinking,
“Can’t I just hide you here forever?” I snuck a glance at him, his face now quite serious. After a moment he looked over to me.
“Honestly, I have no plan. When was your Gran expecting you back?”
“Well, it’s Tuesday, so that gives us a few days to think of something.” I leaned my head back. This man was playing with fire, trying to hide something like an attempted kidnapping of a granddaughter and then hiding out on the Were reservation? I am sure my Gran had put a pox on more important people for less.
“Will, we have to tell her. At least tell her where I am. You might have known hard-ass Wardwell for a few weeks, but I have known her my entire life, and she will have me on bread and water if she finds out.” He grunted,
“She doesn’t exactly love me, Kelly. Just give me a day to think this over before calling, okay? Can we do that? Just turn your phone off, spend a day here, and recover. I’m not ready for the next part. No one knows you’re here, let’s try to keep everyone out for a little while, please?” His face looked so sincere and somber, all I could do was assent with a nod. He gave a small grin with his lips and looked back to the fire, gripping my hand tightly.