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Beloved Runt: Part I

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2- Artemis

Today was just like any other day, or so it seemed. I had more energy than usual, and I was taking full advantage of it.

After making breakfast for the men I’d gone straight into full housekeeping mode. I didn’t mind it. Made me feel useful especially when there are many ways I could not be.

Most of the women in our pack lived with their families. Only the Alpha’s family and male bachelors lived in the pack house. Since there were no women around regularly, it was up to the young men to keep up with the daily housework. Which meant it didn’t get done.

I was technically a member of the Alpha’s family, even if only by adoption, so I was allowed to live here. I loved being around the hustle and bustle of the pack. It felt like I was at the heart of everything that was going on. All the warriors were always respectful and willing to lend a helping hand with the heavy lifting when I needed it.

I took pride in the upkeep of everything. It gave me a purpose, contributing to the pack in my own way. It may not be glamorous but the warriors were always thankful to come back to a clean space after a day or hard training and patrols.

Today started with some laundry that had been neglected. I swear boys were nose blind to the smell their own stench. As I was collecting the various items left about, I came to a stop in front of one of the guest rooms. Our pack house was filled with many, but they were never used as we never had any guests. Still my wolf urged me to enter the room.

It was the largest room in the house, besides the Alpha’s quarters, and was covered with a layer of dust from it’s lack of use. I had been in here many times. Usually it’s just to put away some extra linens or to open a window to air out the house. This time standing in the room I felt uneasy, as if it was unfinished.

I looked around the room pausing at a dresser on one side. Curious I put down the basket of clothes and rummaged through the dresser drawers. Inside were some abandoned items of clothing. Whoever they belonged too must of been a giant. Even Dalton didn’t wear sizes this big. Seemed a shame to let them sit abandoned. Before I thought of it more, I collected all the clothes and threw them in the basket. It wouldn’t hurt to wash them.

Looking around the guest room it seemed almost sad how musty it had gotten. Without thinking I went and grabbed some cleaning supplies and began sweeping and dusting everything. I opened the windows to air out the rooms then changed all the bedding and fluffed the pillows. I even found a vase to put on the desk table. I would have to have Edwin get some flowers from the green house to fill it.

After three hours of straitening, polishing, and cleaning, the room looked warm and welcoming. I still had to finish the clothes I found in the dresser, but it was otherwise done. I felt proud in my accomplishment but a little sad knowing no one would enjoy it. No one ever traveled this far north to visit. Taking one last look around the room, I gave a small smile before turning off the light and leaving.

I spent the better part of my day in the laundry room washing load after load. Alpha Langston was thoughtful enough to buy a large energy efficient washer and dryer to use. Since the modern power grid did not reach us, most of our electricity came from solar panels and when needed, we used generators. Still it made our power limited in it’s capacity. This made the washer and dryer seem like a luxury as it meant everything didn’t have to be washed and dried by hand.

After folding each load I would place piles of clothes organized out on the various laundry tables. It was up to each individual warrior to come and collect them.

As I walked down the hallway from the laundry room, I saw a clock read 5:30. Dalton would be back from his patrol soon with the rest of his crew. They would be hungry and most likely only have enough energy to make a pile of sandwiches before climbing up to their rooms leaving the kitchen a mess. We can do better than that.

Walking out of the back of the pack house, I went to the meat locker we kept stocked. Most of it was deer and wild boar but when cooked properly it made a warm meal. I settled on grabbing some chunks of deer. Back in the kitchen I looked through the pantry and saw potatoes, celery, all the workings for a great stew.

I didn’t mind doing housework here and there, but the kitchen was where I was in my element. That or the garden. I loved putting together different combinations of ingredients to make a complete dish. Being so remote my ingredients were limited but that didn’t stop my enthusiasm. Winter food was my favorite. The thought of a warm stew or soup warming up your bones on a cold day was comforting.

Everything seemed to be going my way. The roux I made didn’t burn and the vegetables caramelized perfectly. I zoned into my work not paying attention to how much of each ingredient I really put in. Soon the kitchen was filled with the aroma of the hearty stew I was making. I went a little overboard this time with how much I made, but knew it wouldn’t go to waste. Whatever wasn’t eaten tonight would be polished off tomorrow. Strong warriors were made with large appetites.

I was pulling loaves of bread out of the oven when I heard the kitchen door open and turned to see Dalton rushing in.

“Hey!” I called out upon seeing him. “I didn’t expect you for another hour. You’re back early today.” Closing the oven I set the loaves of bread on the rack to cool before wiping the flower off my hands and turning back to Dalton. “I hope you’re hungry. I made a lot.” Dalton looked at the bread and giant pot of stew.

“It smells amazing in here,” he sighed. “You must have been in here for hours.”

I shrugged one shoulder at him “No. Not too long. I wanted to have it ready by the time everyone got back. Better than cold sandwiches,” I smiled at Dalton. I have known him all my life and he is one of the dearest people to me. We were raised together and although we aren’t related by blood, he was still family.

Dalton smiled back but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. Something is bothering him. “What’s going on? Everything alright?”

“Yeah,” Dalton replied back, almost a little too quickly. “I’m just worried about you. I hope all this didn’t wear you out. Maybe you should go take a rest.” Dalton was always fussing over me. Telling me to rest or lay down. I wanted to do my part. I didn’t want the pack to think I was lazy.

“Dalton I’m fine. In fact, today was a good day. Haven’t felt this good in a while.” I turned to see Dalton narrowing his eyes inspecting me.

“Are you sure you aren’t tired?” he questioned further.


“No headaches?”

“No.” Dalton’s eyebrows scrunched together giving him worry wrinkles on his forehead. He wasn’t going to let it go. I dropped the towel I was holding with a sigh and crossed my arms before facing him dead on.

“If I go downstairs to sit in my room will you stop worrying and relax?” Dalton’s face changed immediately into a heart melting grin. That was exactly what he wanted. “Fine I give up. Let me just grab the clean laundry and I will disappear.”

“You did laundry too?” he cried out surprised. “Are you sure you aren’t over doing it?” I walked away from him in a huff.

“Good night Dalton,” I called out instead of responding. I walked down the hallway to the washroom and gathered the laundry basket filled with the folded items I needed to return. I could already see some piles of clothes had been claimed and were now missing.

Propping the basket on my good hip, I hobbled up the flights of stairs to the guest room I had cleaned. Without a thought I opened the door and walked in only to see a large older man in his 40’s sitting at the desk table. The man sprung to stand as I entered. He wore his face in a scowl obviously upset at my intrusion.

Registering his presence, I let out a small shriek dropping the basket.

“Oh my, I’m so sorry. I had no idea anyone was in here.” I wanted to dart and run from that spot but in my panic, I couldn’t make a decision to do so. It took a few minutes before I could even look at the man I walked in on.

The man had dark hair and a short beard to match. He was huge! I would say even bigger the Dalton. His stance exuded power. The clothes he wore however, were snug on him. The sweats stopped 5 inches too high and the t-shirt looked like it was about the split at the seams. The clothes were obviously borrowed. I wonder which poor pack member they were from.

“Forgive me sir.” I tried to keep my voice steady and quickly readjusted myself so my good side was faced towards him. “Had I known I would have definitely knocked.”

“What’s your name?” The man had a deep voice to match his huge frame.

“Artemis sir. Most people around here call me Artie.” I tried smiling to cover up my awkwardness. I think it only made it worse.

“What were you doing in here Artemis?” The man sounded annoyed and suspicious.

“I was just putting away some clothes I had found and washed.” I quickly picked and raised the laundry basket as proof. See? Totally normal, not weird behavior. The man nodded seemingly satisfied with that answer

Now that my attention had somewhat returned to the clothes it gave me and idea.

“Actually sir, I think I might have something in here that would fit you better.” I set the basket down on the dresser and turned away hiding my right side more before rummaging through the folded clothes. I could hear the man walk closer to peer over my right shoulder. That made me a little nervous. I didn’t like people standing on my right side for obvious reasons. It made me self concious. Finding what I thought could work I pulled out a pair of drawstring cotton pants and a linen shirt.

“Here we go.” I said holding out the garments. “They’re a little older in style but I think they would work out a lot better than what you’ve got on.” The man grabbed the shirt and held it out looking at it thoughtfully.

“Thank you, Artemis. I appreciate it.” I just nodded my head in response.

“I’ll just leave the rest here. You can see if there anything else that would work for you.” The man looked at me and smiled softly nodding again.

“I will thank you.” With that I darted out of the room not wanting to be there a moment more. Once in the hallway I took a deep breath swallowing down my embarrassment. Dalton would kill me if he saw me now. Better if he didn’t know.

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