Rey totally forgot about this.
So much time passed since she was last part of this event that when S ran inside the house to tell them the whole village gathered outside, her instincts were telling her to run.
Were they on the verge of another attack? Or something even worse was happening?
Well, something indeed was happening. But it wasn’t a bad thing.
It was an exchange day.
A tradition held inside her own pack for years, one Talon obviously decided to uphold even in his years as an Alpha.
As the name already implied, the rules of the exchange day were simple. Members of the pack were free to gather all the things they no longer found useful and bring them to one place, usually to the centre of the village. They were then free to exchange them between themselves.
Exchange days weren’t a once in the year occurrence, rather they were organized every-time a certain amount of people came after the alpha with a request to organize one. It was a lot easier than going from door to door and trying to find a buyer for the thing one no longer needed.
“Can we go too?” S practically beamed from all the excitement. While they were pretty content staying in the village, they were all getting more and more bored with each day that passed. Thanks to Brynn’s reputation as the best healer in the country, they always had hands full of work and this was the longest break they had in the past three years.
“Sure,” Brynn agreed, “we don’t really have anything we don’t need, except maybe you,” she joked and got one ugly stare back from him, “but yeah, we can go.”
Rey feared her answer would be that and now it was her turn to figure out how to get away with not going. She was still not in the mood to deal with large crowds of people and she regretted she didn’t sneak out in the morning.
Lia was somehow faster than Rey and Rey’s conscious was already guilt-tripping her for leaving Brynn and S on their own for the past few days, so she decided to spend some quality time with them. But she thought the quality time would be with the two of them, not with the entire village.
Apparently, Brynn was not only a healer but also a mind-reader because she said: “Don’t even think about that. You are coming too.”
“I really don’t want to,” Rey protested. She didn’t want to do it just yet, but she had some cards up her sleeve to use when necessary.
“I know, but I also know it can’t be good for a person to spend so much time inside their head, so we are going, and we are going to have fun!”
Rey made it a mental note to ask Brynn what her definition of fun was because this was anything but. The cards were not as strong as Rey hoped because Brynn remained hard as a rock and Rey was forced to go.
It wasn’t as much of a disaster as she anticipated. The villagers were so busy doing their things, they barely paid attention to any of them, and Rey was having a bit of fun discovering the various things people brought with them to exchange.
Some of the pieces were older than Rey herself, and she liked studying them from afar. She always found it very interesting to learn how the past generations lived and when she was younger, she would spend a lot of her time listening to the tales of older members of her pack.
She made sure to keep Brynn and S a safe distance from everyone because the exchange day could quickly turn to an almost attempted murder kind of day when more than one person wanted a certain thing.
And just as she was admiring a piece of furniture, Rey had no idea what the use of was, S yelled out food and dragged Brynn with him.
Rey tried to keep her eyes on them, but the crowd made it impossible and she was left on her own which turned her mood to sombre once again.
That darn little brat and his darn obsession with food, she cursed to herself as she pushed through the crowd of people, but with no sign of them.
Just as the thought that she could actually use this as a chance to disappear, occurred to her, another thing caught her attention.
A little bit away from the crowd, behind a small wooden table, sat an old lady. The main attention of an exchange day was always paid to stuff like old furniture or clothing since they weren’t exactly sufficient goods in Rey’s era of time, so the jewellery, the lady had on display, was kept in the shadows for now.
It would certainly get its turn because even from the distance Rey could see the pieces looked absolutely breath-taking, and she was lucky enough, they were only for her eyes for now.
She walked a little closer and examined every single piece from the top to the bottom. There was everything a young woman could dream about - necklaces, earrings, bracelets, even a couple of brooches and they played with all different colours.
Rey was no expert to know which one was made of which material, but all of them were beautiful to her. Her heart was especially taken by a delicate silver bracelet with a purple pendant in the shape of a small butterfly.
Oh, the irony.
Ever since her dream at the meadow and her conversation with Talon, butterflies seemed to chase after her. On top of everything, this one had the decency to be purple, which was Rey’s favourite colour.
“Do you like them?” The old woman kept quiet, while Rey was taking everything in, but it seemed that time was over.
Rey averted her gaze from the necklace to the woman with a small smile playing on her lips, but they slowly formed into an “o” shape as she recognised the old lady. She was the same woman that asked if Rey and S were siblings.
The old lady smiled at her to let her know, she still recognized her as well and Rey said: “Yes. They are all very beautiful. If I may know, why are you getting rid of them? I would certainly want to keep them forever.”
The old woman’s smile saddened as she confessed: “They all belonged to my mother. She was almost ninety-four years old when she was called back home a couple of months ago, and it is too painful for me to look at them. I kept the one, she liked to wear the most, but I don’t need them all.”
“Well, she certainly had a great taste in jewels,” Rey said. She played with the idea of saying sorry for your loss, but she was sure the old lady heard that phrase many times over the months and this seemed a lot more personal.
“It was actually my father that made most of them for her. They fell in love at first sight and he used to make her a different jewel for every year they spend together, but he died ten years after their marriage. She would hunt for jewels in the years to come, but she told me she never found anything as beautiful as the ones he made for her,” the old lady said.
“That’s beautiful,” Rey’s heart warmed hearing her words. And sad.
“I actually never had a chance to find my prince charming, but you have to have one. Right?”
The old lady didn’t look like she was making fun of her, but was it really possible, she didn’t know who Rey was?
Not that everyone needed to know who Rey was, but what was she supposed to tell her now?
She opened her mouth to answer, but her problem was solved by the one person that she seemed to see everywhere as well.
“Hey, Brigi, these are all very beautiful,” Talon greeted the old lady and turned to Rey to do the same, “hello, to you too.”
“Alpha,” both women said at the same time.
“Would you like to get one?” The old lady asked him. “I will even give it to you for free.”
“That’s very kind of you,” Talon smiled at her and busied himself by checking all the jewels.
Rey knew she should use this moment to leave, but she didn’t want it to look like she ran away just as soon as he came.
The old lady wasn’t much of help too because she quieted down. Rey pretended to do the same thing as Talon, even though her head was filled more by their closeness than by the beauty in front of her.
She swore to herself, she would avoid him as much as possible, while they still stayed here because it was the best thing to do and yet here he was.
Two times in two days.
“What do you think? Which one is the most beautiful?” His question startled her, and she took her time to answer because it took her time to understand he was asking her.
She didn’t tell him about the purple necklace. Instead, she said: “Well, if you plan to get one for Elaine, it doesn’t really matter, which one I find beautiful. But which one she would. What is her favourite colour?”
He thought about it for a second and said: “Green.”
“In that case,” the old lady joined in, “you should get this one.”
She brought their attention to a necklace holding a pendant with a palm-sized green heart covered with silver linings all around the edges. Talon nodded contently and Rey’s heart squeezed as she admitted: “It’s gorgeous.”
Coward no coward, her heart was no longer able to bear it and Rey blew the horn to retreat: “I am sure, she will love it,” she turned to the old lady, “I have to go now. Thank you for sharing a piece of your life with me.”
The old lady smiled at her once more and didn’t demand for Rey to buy anything as she feared. Instead, she simply said: “It was my pleasure.”
Rey smiled as well and said a quiet goodbye to Talon too before she practically ran away from the place. She didn’t pay much attention to where she was going and she would probably never stop walking if the decision was on her shoulders, but it wasn’t.
She was stopped by her mother’s resolute voice: “What do you think, you are doing?”