Late next morning, Iona came into my bedroom, wondering where I was hiding out. I sat up in bed to greet her and she frowned at the sight.
I looked terrible. I surely had gotten a little sunburned yesterday along with some dehydration, and paired with some of the unwelcome shivers and fevers of the full moon approaching, I probably looked like I should be taken to the doctor.
“Kelly?” Concern filling her voice.
“Don’t worry, Iona. Just normal new-Were stuff, or so I’m told. Apparently feeling like I’m going to jerk out of my body is totally normal.”
My grandmother frowned, “Right, yes, I guess it might be even worse since you are so old for this to be your first time.” She leaned down over the bed and felt my head. After a moment she stood, satisfied.
“Well then, there’s only one thing for it. You need to go for a run.” I stared up at her like she was crazy while she turned to the doorway, calling out, “Omar!”
“Iona, I feel like shit, I don’t think…”
She cut me off with the strong voice of a matriarch,
“Language, Kelly. And nonsense. Put that wolf in its place, tire your body out enough and she’ll let up soon enough.”
Omar appeared at the door, leaning in, “Yes?”
Iona turned back to him,
“Kelly needs to go for a run, a hard run. Can you accompany her?”
His eyebrows peaked in surprise, before looking to me.
“Do you think she could keep up?”
I pursed my lips at humor at the older man, I knew what he was doing,
“If you think you can goad me into strenuous activity with that challenge...then you are absolutely right. I’ll be down in five.”
Omar gave another grin before leaving, and Iona looked to me,
“Ewan was too competitive also. He was always starting races, bikes, running, swimming. Lad always wanted to be first.”
I stood up from the bed and went over to my clothes, pulling out the sneakers I never thought I would be using. She turned to the window while I changed and I watched her for a moment while she was staring at something down in her garden.
“Do you ever wish he had stayed, not run away?”
She glanced back to me, knowing what I was thinking. If Ewan never left, he never would have met Jolene and I would never have come around.
“Never, he did what he had to. The Jones’ line is too beautiful to not continue but to see it handed over to a Maddock, well, I guess he…” she didn’t finish but turned back to the window. Iona didn’t need to finish the thought. Ewan Jones didn’t want to hand over his daughter to homicidal trailer park trash like the Maddocks. And here I was, going exactly against my father’s wishes.
I pulled on the sneakers and went over to her, hugging her into my side. “Don’t worry, Nain, everything is going to be okay. I swear it.” The older woman smiled at my use of the Welsh expression for grandmother, and leaned into my shoulder. I shivered again, and she leaned out and physically shooed me towards the door.
“Now, go! And don’t be too upset if Omar beats you. Even your Da with his long gait couldn’t best the man.”
I gave her a final smile before bounding down the stairs.
Thirty minutes later I huffed a final breath and crested the top of the hill. Not caring about how wet the grass was, I gratefully fell onto it right at Omar’s resting feet. He looked down at me with a smile, barely winded.
Through puffs, I exhaled up to him,
“Okay….how?” More heavy breathing.
“How what?” Omar replied with even breath.
He chuckled up to the sky.
“You ever hear of the Medjay of Egypt?”
“Like, the guys that guarded the Pharaohs?”
Omar smiled and sat down next to me, and I propped up onto an elbow.
“Maybe a long time ago, but in the last hundred years, it refers more to the race out of Sudan. But yes, we were a well known part of the Egyptian army in the twentieth Century, known for running long distances in the sand.”
I sat up, a little more calm, and mimicked his posture to hug my knees.
“Is that how you met Devon? While you were in the army? I know he traveled before he met Iona.”
Omar shook his head and looked up to the fast moving clouds above.
“No, it was here that we met. I was traveling, on a long leave of sorts from the army as a young twenty year old. I didn’t know much about the place, and was just overwhelmed by how much ...green there was.” The older man sighed and pointed in the direction of the ocean, where a cluster of woods sat.
“Over there, behind those woods is the most idyllic little camping spot you could ever imagine. Flat, sheltered, hidden, looks right out over the channel. I just didn’t know that you weren’t allowed to camp wherever, and you definitely shouldn’t do it where wolves roam.” He paused and lifted up his shirt to show two or three old, faded scars in his brown skin, looking much like bite marks. There was a large indent around his waist, like a piece was missing
“Your grandfather found me halfway through their meal when he stopped his pack. After that, he took me in and helped me through my first change, made me family if I chose, sent me to school and college, treated me more or less like his other son.”
My breath paused, now understanding how close Omar was to the Jones’. He had been here through it all. Devon’s heart attack, Ewan’s maturation, Ewan’s accident and the subsequent fallout. In another life I might have called him Uncle. He was more of a Welsh Jones than I.
“So, I just stayed…” he sighed, “Never did get used to all this green though.”
I smiled at him and looked around, feeling the wind whip up and inland.
“How do you feel now?”
I held my hand flat up to our eye levels. No shakes.
He clapped a hand on my shoulder, using it for himself to push up.
“Right then, the run back should be easy then.” I accepted his proffered hand and helped me up,
“Come on, Jones, let see if you can do better than your dad.”
I came out of the bathroom with Rhys’ dress on. Iona sitting on the bed flared her eyes open.
“Well, he certainly has good taste, if not dramatic seeing as you’ll only be wearing it for literally a few minutes.”
I turned around to face the full length mirror of the closet. Holy hell, sexy and mature, the dress could have been used for a ball or seduction in the bedroom. Rhys was definitely making a statement by asking me to wear this dress to my initiation tonight. I frowned at Iona.
“Should I wear something else?”
“No, it’s definitely worthy, but just...alluring. I have no idea what that young man thinks sometimes.”
There it was again, Iona speaking of Rhys in an intimate and close manner. Most certainly friends. I shimmied out of the dress. There were still a few hours to go until Aaron picked us up, and I hung it back up on the closet door. I threw on a shirt and jeans and sat on the bed with my grandmother while she sewed a patch on one of my jeans.
“Iona… did you ever want... revenge on the Maddocks?”
I held my breath and couldn’t look her in the eye. This might be a make or break for me. I vowed to never see her cry again. I couldn’t guarantee it, but I didn’t want to hurt her or take something from her that had become important.
After some silence, I looked over to her face, now slightly puzzled.
“You know, for what they made Ewan give up? Give everything and leave.”
She placed my jeans on her lap, and looked concerned.
“Kelly, they lost their mother and daughter. Now Celene wasn’t the best driver, but Ewan had no doubts that it was him. The roadworks made her come another way, the rain made the road slippery, the river was overflowing because of the storm, but it is still the same in the end. They died, Ewan was the catalyst, and giving them restitution was right.”
She paused in thought and looked out the window.
“But after all the transfers had been made, Deian seemed to remember what made the Jones pack special. You couldn’t give that away, so he demanded it and played on your father’s guilt. A daughter for a daughter. Yes, maybe I do resent them a little for what they did to Ewan, but I understand it.”
She turned back to me, now suspicious.
“Why do you ask?”
I huffed a breath out,
“I just...wonder...if you would be upset if it didn’t work out between Rhys and I. If I was around and Rhys was...gone. I mean, I know you two are friends, are close-ish.”
Her old lips pursed, deep and perceptive wrinkles forming around her mouth.
“No, I think I would be fine if the Maddocks had never come to town and I got you in the deal instead.”
I smiled at the ease of her acceptance but paused when she reached over and held my hands, causing me to look at her now concerned face.
“Kelly, don’t do anything stupid. The Maddocks, they might not seem not all there sometimes. But they know the business of revenge, and they are good at it.”
I blanched for a split second, thinking back to Rhys ripping the heart out of a wolf who dared to cross onto his lands and look at what was ‘his’. Tore his heart out for it, his family would only get his body back in parts. Yes, the Maddocks were definitely vengeful. But then again, so was I. For some reason I didn’t yet understand, this seemed important to me. To make restitution for all my father and grandmother had lost.
The only difference between Rhys and I was that I had a plan. I forced myself to chuckle at her concern, making it seem like she was being a little crazy herself.
“Iona, don’t be like that. I just mentioned it because Rhys claimed that if I wasn’t happy, we could break it off.” Her face showed a little surprise,
“Anyway, we have two hours before Aaron picks us up for the meeting. I have not eaten anything since lunch, the painkillers are ready to be taken soon. Now, what else do I have to do before this long awaited red bitch comes out?”