Chapter 6: Right & Wrong
1:46 PM MST
Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I haven’t cried for an hour straight and somehow, it’s an accomplishment.
I’ve never been such a crybaby in all of my life; maybe because I never had anything to cry about. I’m not sure if it’s post-trauma, chronic pain, stress, Wyatt, or the general nature of my situation that has me constantly on the brink of tears but whatever it is I’m trying to get it under control – or in Wyatt’s crude words, trying to “grow a pair”.
There’s something to be said about being in a life or death situation with someone – especially when that someone is a dominating recluse who easily resorts to violence.
I can’t blame Wyatt though. In the heat of the moment, I did, but now, reflecting on the way he gripped my hair and tossed my head back and forth – I realize I was playing with fire. He’s warned me numerous times he’s not used to it – not used to being nice – not used to people.
So I’m thankful that there’s some distance between us now as launders the blood-soaked rags; no further incidents of snapping or hair pulling.
As Wyatt steps outside the cabin to hang them to dry, Canuck stays behind and stares at me from across the room. Our formal introduction – as I call it – has done nothing to take the sharp mistrust and loathing out of his eyes. It’s a good thing I’m feeling the alcohol fully metabolised, otherwise I would probably be whimpering out loud for Wyatt to return.
The more I stare at the grey wolf in front of me, the more ridiculous my situation seems.
2:01 PM MST
When Wyatt returns, he stretches in the doorway and grabs his rifle.
“Where are you going?” I ask, thankful that the bone-crushing anxiety of being left behind isn’t as bad anymore. Yeah, that vodka packed a punch straight to my gut and is making each minute tolerable.
“To look around for your brother,” Wyatt says. He offers a smile but it doesn’t reach his dark blue eyes – it’s just his beard lifting slightly. Before I can attempt to figure it out he turns and whistles for Canuck.
“Wait – when are you coming back?” He shrugs with his back to me like it’s not important, but I need to know how long it’ll take so I don’t worry until it’s necessary. “An hour?”
Wyatt’s laugh is short and gruff. “I don’t know, Calix… depends on how hard you want me to search for him. Can’t really go far in an hour...”
What he’s saying makes sense, but I’m not sure why this is left up to me. I don’t have the slightest clue what’s the appropriate amount of time to search. The area is mysterious to me; I’m not even sure how far we are from the spot that Wyatt found me. Besides all these facts, there’s a gnawing need for Wyatt not to go out at all and to just stay by my side.
“Okay, well… just come back,” I mutter, defeated.
He doesn’t turn around or say goodbye, he just leaves unceremoniously and takes his wolf with him.
2:32 PM MST
I’m so completely bored and my leg hurts way too much.
3:02 PM MST
As I lay on his bed – silent and unmoving – I wonder if Wyatt’s found Dax.
Maybe that’s why he’s taking so long.
3:28 PM MST
A budding hope grows in my chest.
3:58 PM MST
How would Daxton react to staying in this cabin? I know he wouldn’t like Wyatt very much. My brother is too hard-headed to deal with Wyatt’s alpha nonsense. He’d probably get on Wyatt’s nerves ten times worse than me and I let out a semi-hysterical laugh at the absurd idea.
4:23 PM MST
The cabin is getting darker.
The sun is no longer streaming in through the windows like it did this morning and I’m seriously debating starting a fire before I realize I don’t even know the first thing to doing so without matches.
But it’s fine.
It’s only a matter of time until Wyatt and Dax arrive and then we can warm up together.
4:37 PM MST
Wyatt finally returns and I lift off the bed eagerly, looking to see if he has Daxton on his shoulders. The anticipation makes my heart beat faster than ever, but it’s a chaotic, disappointing feeling when he closes the door behind him – no brother in sight.
He reads the defeated look on my face like an expert and pulls off his jacket before deciding against it and keeping it on.
“It’s kind of cold in here huh? How about I start a fire?”
I’m glad he doesn’t mention Dax, or his unsuccessful search. My heart is already breaking enough as it is without verbal confirmation.
And those fucking tears are stinging again.
5:03 PM MST
Wyatt doesn’t seem up for conversation, and neither do I – despite the intense boredom I suffered through and my general talkative nature.
I sit on the mattress as heat and light flood the small cabin, staring at my bad leg and the bandages wrapped there. I battle with thoughts that I’m stupid for getting my hopes up. It’s very likely that it’s too late for Dax if he hasn’t been found by now…
On top of this, I can’t help but feel guilty – like somehow it’s my fault that he went missing, never returned, and is out there by himself…
5:25 PM MST
My saviour is acting weird.
He’s barely looked over at me since coming back, and at the moment, he’s sitting on the makeshift couch with his head in his hands.
I’m reminded that it’s a lot for him too, and I feel sorry that he’s going through this with me. It takes several minutes of gathering my courage – and my voice – before I stand up and shuffle over to him.
Even though my leg is throbbing – even though Canuck is at his feet – I sit in the space next to him and he looks up, startled at my appearance. There’s a low growl coming from his wolf but we both ignore it.
“What’re you doing up?” he asks.
“I don’t know,” I admit. “Making sure you’re okay?”
His beard twitches in another non-smile. “That’s my job,” he returns. “Don’t worry about me; you’ve got plenty of other things to deal with, alright?”
I give him a blank look, not really sure why he’s brushing me off so bad. “I thought you trusted your pack?” I remind. “You have to tell me what’s making you cry.”
“Cry?” he repeats, and then Wyatt’s laugh is immediate and real. I can just tell by looking at the way his eyes light and even Canuck is interested enough to sit up and stare at us. The idea of Wyatt shedding a tear is so outrageous that we’re both cracking huge smiles. He leans against me; shoulder dipping to brush against mine and there’s no need for any further encouragement – accident or not – because I find myself twisting under his arm so it’s around me.
He tries to move it, but gives up when he realizes he’ll have to pry me away from him; and I think he knows me enough by now to understand I’m practically oozing with a fear of abandonment.
“Did I do something wrong?” I ask. When Wyatt doesn’t immediately say otherwise, I continue in a rush. “I know it was stupid getting excited about maybe finding Dax…”
“What’d I say huh? Don’t worry,” he repeats in such a firm tone I can hear his chest rumbling. “You can’t be worrying so much when you need to get better. Besides, nothing’s wrong - I’m just thinking.” His arm finally relaxes around me but his brows are still creased and he’s staring at a spot on the log wall opposite us.
I want to ask what he’s thinking about so badly. I need him to include me.
After a small silence, Wyatt’s eyes flick back to mine and he notices I’ve been staring at him as if sending telepathic signals to just tell me. He grins, using the arm around my shoulder to squeeze too tight. “What about you?” he asks, changing topics. “How’re you feeling?”
Normally I wouldn’t let it go so easily – but he looks happier now, and he’s definitely not angry with me. So all things considered, it’s not worth it starting a fight.
“Miserable,” I admit with a sigh. “Everything feels so heavy and unreal. It was really hard when you came back without Dax…”
I adjust my bad leg over Wyatt’s but Canuck seems to think this means war; he hops up to the other side of his master and growls sharply at me, yellow eyes challenging.
“What’s his problem when he just spent a million years with you?” I bite out, pulling my leg off and stretching it to the floor instead.
Wyatt doesn’t answer but after a huff I consider I shouldn’t expect him to. Badmouthing Canuck probably feels just as shitty as when Wyatt was badmouthing Dax...
So I glance back at the wolf and he inches forward with a sniff. I’m almost offering Canuck my hand until Wyatt grabs it mid-air with a shout.
“Don’t fucking do that, Calix!”
“Huh!?” I say, shocked and wincing at the strength of his grip. “Why not?”
“What’s with you?”
“I don’t know!” he bellows, enraged for some reason I don’t understand and tossing my hand aside. Then after he takes a deep breath he tries again. “I’m not sure why I want you staying away... it’s just a hunch...”
In this case, probably instinct. “Tell me,” I beg. He ignores me but it’s hard to drop it after such an explosion; after knowing he’shiding something and clearly angry about it. “Please Wyatt... why can’t I know?”
He groans, pulling at his beard.
“I’ll try better,” I offer, voice getting weaker. “I really... want to get along.”
Apparently it’s the right thing to say because Wyatt turns to me with soft expression. “There’s no point worrying you,” he dismisses. “It’s nothing.”
“You’re just going to make me worry ten times more if you keep it from me...” I insist - but arguing sets him off; Wyatt gets up off the couch and brings Canuck with him, hands balled in fists. It’s like he’s calling me names when he does it. Stupid, weak, bottom of the pack; injured and useless… ungrateful… needy...
The urge to cry wells up in me and I squeeze one of the handmade cushions against my chest tightly - feeling as hopeless and self-pitying as ever. Don’t cry. Don’t. Even as I play this on repeat, it doesn’t help. I’m sniffling as I battle anguish like I’ve never known.
6:25 PM MST
With a rough shake, I’m pulled out of a tough dream about trees.
Wyatt stares down at me with a cup of water in his hands. “Drink it.”
I must have drifted off sometime crying. In fact, I still feel tired and I blink groggily while accepting the cup. I sip slowly - eyes avoiding Wyatt’s until he crouches down and forces me to look into those blue orbs with a pull of my chin.
“You’re still doing this?” he asks, referring to my silent treatments.
Before my brows can even crease with attitude he snaps his fingers. There is a pause before I realize he’s done it to me, not Canuck and it’s hard not to be offended.
“What can I do? Huh Calix? Tell me how to deal with you.”
“For starters, not like I’m a dog,” I fume but he snaps his fucking fingers again and I cross my arms.
“You’re either in the pack or you’re not.” Wyatt delivers the ultimatum like it’s simple. Like I have a choice. “So what is it?” Dark blue eyes are really something else as he convinces me to decide on the spot.
“I - I wanna be in it,” I begin.
“Okay,” he allows with a rough nod. “In this pack, who’s the leader?”
Puzzled by his stupid question, I think maybe it’s a trick and answer in a very unsure kind of voice. “You are…?”
Even if I hadn’t already guessed it by the way he has Canuck trained, Wyatt himself demonstrated this fact with his hand above his head only yesterday; how could I forget where he notched my place on an invisible totem of ranking…
“Because you said so?” He prompts me to continue with a stir of his hand so I dive deep for another guess. “Because you do everything for us…”
“I take care of you and Canuck, don’t I?”
That’s the right word and I nod as Wyatt stands up – probably wary of any more attempts to throw my arms around him like the last time he was on his knees in front of me.
“So I’ll treat you how I want to,” he says finally with an absolution that rings clearly through the cabin. “If you keep testing me, I’ll keep getting angry, and you’ll keep crying. You want that?”
As he says it, I’m filled with so much shame at the fact I’ve been crying so often that – ridiculously – I’m almost starting again. Wyatt offers me his hand to help me to my feet but I’m not ready to take it and instead I lower my eyes to the floor.
“Huh? You want that, Calix? I’m asking you a question.”
His hand curls around my upper arm and he pulls me up to standing before helping steer me back to the mattress. “Neither do I, alright? I’m not trying to be mean; I’m just trying to keep things from getting worse. And if you think I’m treating you like a dog, you better believe that if my dog was injured like you are I’d probably shoot it and put it out of its misery.”
My bad leg stops dead and almost gives way at this comment. I’m thankful Wyatt still has a strong grip on me because he basically carries me the rest of the way and tosses me to the bed like he did when I first arrived.
He looks that much taller – that much more menacing – as he looms over me; but it must be a trick of the light because as we share a serious silence he starts to look softer and softer. “Let’s both try our best to keep fucking sane,” he offers. “I’m not saying it’ll be easy but one thing at a time okay?”
I have no clue what Wyatt’s going on about. His sanity has surely been gone for at least a year or more – but he seems concerned and I just want his lecture to be over with so I nod agreeably.
“Remember when I said I’d give you something even better later?”
6:40 PM MST
Wyatt approaches a closet that I’d missed during my initial snooping. I thought it had been full of rags and other linens but with a stretch of my neck I’m sadly mistaken. “What’s in there?” I ask, pointing to two large duffle bags.
“Supplies,” Wyatt answers – distracted as he digs around for what he’s looking for.
“What kind of supplies?”
I get a deep sigh in response, but Wyatt answers anyway. “Cans, spare hooks, reloading equipment, soap, toothpaste, vitamins…”
“Where’d you get all that?” I ask, slightly confused.
“Brought it up with me, obviously,” he says. “You’d have to be a real moron to come out here without at least a few things. Even if I really didn’t plan to stay this long.” He stops talking as he reaches his hand far back and grabs at something. “Just an extended vacation… but I must’a done a good job packing because I haven’t had to stop into Fernie for a re-supply or anything.”
Wyatt produces a shiny, sealed bag and brings it over. As he takes a seat next to me on the mattress I’m able to read the contents as freeze-dried ice cream. The package shows a square bar with sections of different flavours – it’s Neapolitan with strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. The brand is familiar… similar to the backpacking food that Dax and I stock up on except I’ve never seen a dessert before.
“Wow, what is – is it really ice cream?”
Maybe it’s my complete fascination that has Wyatt smiling, but he’s opening the bag so I can see for myself. It certainly doesn’tlook like ice cream, but rather, a colorful Styrofoam block.
As I inspect it, I feel Wyatt’s hand in my hair – nails scratching somehow exactly where I need them and it sends goosebumps down the nape of my neck.
“See Calix?” Wyatt’s scratching hand turns my head and his eyes sparkle as mine meet them. “This is something that you can have, but Canuck can’t. It’s my job to make the decisions that will keep us all happy. Canuck feels threatened with you here – it’s different and stressful for him too. Giving him extra grouse doesn’t mean I hate you more or less. It just means I’ll find a different time to treat you.”
It’s a combination of a lot of things that make me bury my face into Wyatt’s arm. I’m feeling on the brink of tears; so extremely overwhelmed at this feeling rising in me. I’m not hated… I’m not worthless…
“Thanks,” I breathe out so quietly it’s a wonder if he even hears me. I squeeze my eyes tight against his jacket and then turn back to the ice cream and take a bite of the strawberry side.
The texture is so incredible, I can barely describe it; brittle at first and then immediately soft and melting on my tongue with a burst of flavour. I’m wide-eyed with fascination as Wyatt watches me swallow back the resulting creamy taste.
“It’s so good!” I say immediately. I offer Wyatt a bit of the chocolate side and he takes the bite while scratching at my head rewardingly.
“You like it then?”
I give him a look like it should be obvious, but nod my head anyway and take another bite. I’m feeling so elated that it’s easy to forget about my leg, Dax, Canuck and every other problem. It’s as if Wyatt’s treatment of me was the most important thing in the world and now that he’s no longer ignoring me… no longer punishing me… I can finally feel a little bit normal.
“You’re going to stop arguing with me now, and start being part of the pack, right?”
It’s weird how I don’t even think about it; I just agree with a nod while taking a bigger bite of the ice cream, now getting to the middle vanilla.
Wyatt also notices how easily I give in, and maybe he doesn’t think I’m serious because he puts a hand on my wrist to lower the ice cream for two seconds. There are no more edible distractions as he chastises me.
“Don’t just nod along eating like a happy little chipmunk, answer me properly.”
With a sharp gulp, I swallow the remaining ice cream in my mouth and turn sarcastic at the intensely solemn face Wyatt is pulling. “I’m not going to argue, Master.”
He gives his head a tiny, unbelievable shake before removing his hand and letting me take another bite of my treat. I offer him one, bringing it close to his beard with a smile, and before I know it, the ice cream is gone and I’m feeling a thousand times better.
My good mood is reflected in Wyatt, who also brightens at my side. It feels like ages since I could look at him with a genuine happiness, although I know that’s not the case because it’s still not been a full day since he found me. It’s completely mind-boggling, but Wyatt is my entire world right now. I don’t have Dax, or my family, or any concrete plan of surviving on my own. It’s best to leave it to the capable, bearded lumberjack and not cause any more problems between us.
Our comfortable silence is broken by a rough growl. Canuck has drawn closer, unbeknownst to Wyatt and I, and his snout is inching towards my bandaged leg.
It’s strange, though. Wyatt put a spell on me… ingrained the idea that as long as he’s close, Canuck won’t hurt me. Therefore, even though my heartbeat quickens at the sight of the wolf, I don’t shriek, squeal, or pull my leg up. A hand grips Wyatt’s jacket as I take a deep breath but otherwise I remain completely still.
And even stranger is the way that Canuck’s ears aren’t pressed back. He may be growling but it’s not aggressive. His yellow eyes reflect something I can’t understand but I know for sure that at least it’s not imminent murder.
As he sniffs me, his tail sticks straight up and he offers a low whine. Only then does Wyatt snap his fingers – instructing the wolf to get lost.
“He didn’t bite me!” I say, turning to Wyatt and brimming with excitement.
He doesn’t look near as enthusiastic. Wyatt twists his beard thoughtfully and then offers me a pitiful look. “I’m not worried about him biting you,” he says frankly. The cryptic nature of his comment isn’t lost on me but when I shoot him a mystified look he gives in. “Remember when I tickled you today?” he asks.
My palm presses into the exact spot that Wyatt pressed his beard earlier and I nod. “Yeah…”
“It’s also the same spot Canuck licked right?”
I hadn’t made that connection, but now that Wyatt points it out…
He shrugs, blue eye snapping to where Canuck is yawning in the kitchen. “I don’t know… I might just be crazy…” Wyatt iscompletely crazy, but I shake my head anyway and it encourages him to continue. “It just seemed like he was claiming you or something. And when I really think about it, it makes more and more sense.”
The words are hard to absorb. I’m not sure what Wyatt’s saying, but if it has him concerned then I know I should be too. “Wh-what does that mean?” I ask quietly. “Claiming me?”
“As his bitch,” Wyatt shrugs.
My mouth drops in horror. “A bitch?!” I repeat, slightly hysterical. “Wh-why! What did I do?”
“I don’t know, maybe you’re giving off a weird scent – then again… it is springtime…”
He says it all very thoughtfully… like he’s not even sure himself and suddenly our argument from earlier has some light shed to it.
“Anyway… there’s a bigger problem,” he continues, waving off any more hysterical questions. “If he claims you like that, he’s going for alpha.” I don’t understand how it’s more important than me being turned into some beast’s fucktoy, but Wyatt’s still talking. “Going for alpha means I’m the one he’ll attack… and it’s weird to say but it’s like I can feel this crazy tension… it makes me feel out of control. So the last thing I need is you testing me, Calix.”
Even though I’m thankful he’s finally explained it, it doesn’t do anything to ease the dread stirring in the pit of my stomach.
I can understand Wyatt’s hesitation to tell me in the first place.
“Okay,” I accept reasonably. Wyatt’s not freaking out, after all, so that means he must have some kind of idea on how to handle the issue. “Okay, so then what do we do? How do we fix it?”
He says the next words so casually, it’s astounds me.
“I just have to dominate you.”