I sat on the sofa without moving, reflecting on everything Tyra said. I buried my face in my hands and groaned. My face got hot, remembering I kept claiming that they were a couple, when in fact they were siblings. I didn’t know why I came to that conclusion. It’s not that they ever showed any kind of romantic gestures to each other besides showing they were close. I hadn’t seen them kissing or even hugging. I just thought because they were living in the same bungalow during their vacation with a couple of children, they must be a couple.
The poor family, though. It must be so hard on the little ones especially. They are still so young and probably miss their father a lot.
Gunnar did a good job taking care of them, and it was obvious he would do anything for them. His protective behavior also made a lot more sense now. But I still believe they didn’t know me well enough to go this far for me.
Wolves tend to act on instinct and chemistry, and I remembered a time when a few visiting peaceful wolves were strolling through our territory in the past and my parents treated them like long-lost friends because they seemed to like them. Being wary is still part of their instincts, but most of the time, they only need a short time to decide if they will trust someone or not. Which also depends on where the individual comes from. What kind of pack they are in or if they are a wolf or a human? That all plays into account. It shouldn’t be that foreign and surprising for me, but maybe I lived as a human for so many years, I wasn’t used to it anymore.
Especially the need to prove myself, strength, and standing in the hierarchy wasn’t something I missed. As a human, I’m free to walk out of almost any situation, and I didn’t need to be around people if I didn’t want to, but it was different for wolves.
There is an unwritten rule that you just need to be part of a pack. My parents used to say to me that complete freedom is something we give up to be magical - something more than human, and I never questioned that. Being a normal human seemed awfully boring to me. Not being able to turn into a wolf and feeling the wind in my fur? Impossible. Until it happened to me. Now I experienced all the advantages that come with being a normal human, too, and I had the chance to see both sides. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back.
A stinging headache made me fall back on the sofa. It wasn’t about choosing, anyway. If Tyra and Gunnar were right and my wolf was coming back, then I had no choice but to return to the wolf community.
But a huge if still remained in the air. Something happened last night, that is for sure, and can’t be denied. But the consequences were something I don’t dare to foresee at this point.
Maybe when the wolf pack will leave again, I will finally get some peace and normality. Maybe everything with me will return to normal again too. Until then, I had to do something about my eyes.
After brainstorming ideas for a while, I settled on an eye injury. I could get eye pads from the pharmacy and hope that no one suspects anything. My other idea was contact lenses, but I doubted to find colored contact lenses with the right color, without making it look fake. Not around here, anyway. And thinking about putting a foreign object into my eyes was terrifying too. Determined to go through with my new plan, I switched out my sweatpants with jeans and left my house quickly.
I didn’t walk far when a familiar voice called out for me. I stopped and looked around, seeing Gunnar strolling after me.
“Hello,” I greeted him.
“Where are you headed to?” He asked, coming straight to the point.
“Do I have to report back to you?”
His behavior made me feel as if I was going to lose my freedom already, and I wasn’t even a wolf yet. Or ever.
“Don’t be like this. I want to keep you safe.”
I crossed my arms. “Me or the other people, in case I surprisingly turn back into a wolf?”
“Both,” he said. At least he was honest.
“I am heading to the pharmacy,” I answered, hoping he would leave me alone.
He eyed me up and down.“Why? Are you hurt?”
I shook my head, pointing to my eye. “I still have to work, and people here know that I don’t run around with two different eye colors.”
Gunnar nodded. “Let me drive you, then.”
“It’s okay, I can take the bus.” I was worried about spending more time with him, because since he entered my life, too many surprising things happened. So many things had changed, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for more.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You can’t be in an enclosed space like that right now.”
“Oh, come on. You almost act like I wouldn’t be able to keep my hunting instinct under control,” I said, annoyed now. I couldn’t believe that he was expecting the worst of me. I was a very disciplined wolf. Why would that change if I would turn again?
“I know you think you have it all under control because you probably had it all under control before your wolf got locked away. Your wolf might not be too pleased about that. I have to expect the worst. So, please let me drive you.”
I stepped from one foot to the other. I didn’t want to give in, but I also had to get those pads as fast as possible. And discussing things with him here in the open might not be the best idea.
“Fine,” I said and gestured to him to lead the way.
A smile formed on his lips. “See how easy it could be?”
I glared at him, but stayed quiet. I already wasted too much time here. Gunnar shrugged and walked down the path. I followed him in silence. To my surprise, he led us to his bungalow.
“I thought you wanted to drive me?” I asked.
“I need to grab something real quick,” he said and vanished into the house. I stepped closer to the house and hid behind some trees so people wouldn’t see me standing here. It was very possible George was back too and him seeing me would not improve our conflict.
Thankfully, it didn’t take too long before Gunnar joined me again. He handed me a helmet, and excitement bubbled up inside me.
“We will take the motorcycle?” Excitement was ringing in my voice, and I didn’t bother to hide it. I haven’t been on a motorcycle for so long, I missed it. Gunnar grinned and nodded. This made the whole encounter a lot better.
I pushed him forward, playfully. “What are we waiting for, then?”
“Suddenly you’re so eager to have me along.”
I rolled my eyes at him, but couldn’t muster to be angry. Not when his eyes were sparkling with the same excitement.
We both hurried out of the park and towards the parking lot.
“It’s such a beauty,” I said when we reached his motorcycle.
Gunnar laughed and sat down on it, patting on the spot behind him. “Hop on. The weather is glorious too. Maybe we can take a detour and just enjoy the ride a bit.”
I had to stop myself from jumping on the spot behind him. I quickly put the helmet on and sat down.
“Ready?” He asked.
I nodded. “Can’t be more ready!”
He chuckled. It had been a while since I felt so excited about something.
His motorcycle roared alive, and we slowly exited the parking lot and then the park itself. Gunnar had a slow pace at first until we headed towards the highway, and he finally got to speed.
The wind soared over my body, and the other cars were flying past us. I wish I could take off my helmet and feel the wind in my hair. But I was a human, and I didn’t want to hurt myself once again or probably even die this time. A motorcycle accident without a helmet would most likely end up deathly for a sturdy wolf as well, though.
I grabbed Gunnar tighter to make sure I wouldn’t fall off the bike. I peeked over his shoulder. I laughed, and for a moment, I even forgot what the purpose of this journey was. For a moment, I felt like myself. It all ended a bit too quickly when Gunnar took the next exit and stopped at the side of the road when it was safe to do so.
“I don’t know where the next pharmacy is around here. A beta takes care of this area,” he said.
I straightened my back to create distance between us again. Thinking about it now, it felt pretty awkward to be plastered on the back of a stranger.
“You should have said that before we started the ride.”
He shrugged and threw me an innocent glance over the shoulder. “But this was fun, right?”
I couldn’t help but laugh. It for sure was fun, but was I in any position to be this carefree right now? And what would happen if George saw me like this?
I quickly explained the way to the pharmacy, and then we were on the road again. But this time, I didn’t enjoy it as much anymore. The thought of confronting George wasn’t sitting well with me. It almost felt like I had eaten stones that were weighing heavy in my stomach. We never went more than a few hours without contact before, especially not during an argument.
“I can go inside and grab you those eye pads,” Gunnar offered.
“That would be nice, actually.” I handed him some money, most likely more than enough to buy those.
“Don’t drive off without me,” he said and winked before heading towards the pharmacy. I shook my head and grinned. He was such a joker. I appreciated the effort he made to make me feel more relaxed, though. I can imagine that my stress was very obvious.
While I waited for him to return, I took out my phone to check it for missed calls or messages. But also this time George didn’t contact me. I wasn't sure how to fix this. I can’t run around with an eye pad forever, but who knows if my different eye colors ever disappear again? How should I explain this?
Our relationship was built on a big lie already and now I added more lies I won’t be able to explain to him because he was a human. Did he truly deserve that? He will never get to know my real self.
“Are you waiting for a call from your fiancé?” Gunnar asked.
I raised a brow and took the bag out of his hand. “What if I do?”
“The change is inside. And nothing wrong with waiting for a call.” The way he was looking at me was telling me otherwise, though.
“Why can’t you accept I stayed with George?”
He sighed. “Amalia, if you were a human, believe me, I would have nothing against you choosing George as your partner. I wouldn’t see a single problem with that. But I can’t see it going well, for neither of you, in this situation.”
“It has been going fine for years,” I said, not even sure why I was adamant about defending my decision to be with George. It was my life, and I didn’t need to explain myself, yet I always tried to make him understand that, too.
“But was it really fine? I told you this before, but you won’t be able to give him what he wants. What you want. Babies are out of your reach for both of you at this rate.”
I dropped my gaze to the floor to hide the tears that were sneaking up on me. “You almost act like it isn’t possible to have a hybrid baby at all.”
“But that’s usually with a female human and a male wolf, and even that is rare. You know how the pregnancies of female wolves are. How do you think George would react if you would turn into a wolf the last four weeks before you conceive? How would he react if his babies would be little puppies which would turn into humans later? You can’t explain that unless he knows what you are.”
“I know! But I lost my wolf a long time ago, and I didn’t feel like a wolf anymore. I thought since she left, I would be a normal human now!” A single tear rolled down my cheek, and I quickly wiped it away. I didn’t want him to see me this weak.
“I know you believe you had lost your wolf, but she was never gone. I promise you, I am not lying. You have always been a wolf."
I looked at him again. I didn’t want to believe him, but it got harder to deny it. Especially after the many times he had repeated this already. But knowing that, would I be able to leave George and my life behind to return to the wolf community?
“Come on, let’s bring you home. I don’t want to stir you up more than this,” Gunnar said and put his helmet on again. I did the same and in a blink of an eye, we were back at the park again.
“Thank you,” I said when he dropped me off at my door.
I fumbled with my keys, unsure of what to say to him.
“Our vacation will end soon, and we will have another little celebration planned, but it only includes a small BBQ. Why don’t you join us?”
I nearly dropped the bag in surprise. “Remember the other night when you invited me to a party?”
He laughed. “There won’t be bonfires involved this time, I promise. I think you should have one last encounter with us to think this through. Not to mention we still have to figure out what to do with you. Technically, I can’t let you wander around in my territory anymore.”
“You will kick me out of here, won’t you?” I asked.
“We will think about something. But I have to talk to others before I decide anything. Make sure you rest a bit more,” Gunnar said, and without letting me say another word, he turned around and walked away.
I stared after him for a bit before shaking my head and entering my bungalow. A BBQ party with a wolf pack. Once again, I would be the outcast, just worse this time. They all saw my freaky incident yesterday. Could I risk going there again?