Chapter 23 - Olivia (Part 2)
Cameron was instructed to stand slowly and enter the shower but to avoid getting his ear wet. The older man went in with him to clean the encrusted blood and dirt from his body and Olivia was asked to wait outside.
She paced between the kitchenette and living room, straining her ears for more information being exchanged between the men, but most of their conversation revolved around telling Cameron to move this way or that way while he groaned in pain. Ten minutes trickled by before the water was turned off and the doctor stepped out to retrieve the duffel bag on the floor near the door.
She peered into the bathroom as Cameron sat on the toilet again, naked, with deep scratches across his arms, neck, shoulders, back, chest, and legs. Blood seeped from each one as the doctor opened up his duffel bag to retrieve bandages and a bottle of cleaning fluid and set to work cleaning and dressing each wound before examining his ear. In the meantime, the older man stepped out of the bathroom and introduced himself as Blair, Cameron’s father.
“Let’s take a seat. We won’t be of much use in there and will only get in Doctor Waaban’s way. Would you like a cup of tea?”
Olivia nodded and they turned to the kitchenette. She offered to make the tea for him, but he urged her to sit down and relax.
“I’m sure you must be exhausted from stressing all evening. I’m fine, I’ll make it,” he told her as he reached for the electric kettle and filled it with water from the tap.
She didn’t argue and sat down at the little table as he fetched two mugs from the cupboard over the small oven and looked at the assortment of tea provided by the hotel.
“Black, green, peppermint, or chamomile?” he asked.
“Peppermint,” she replied. “Chamomile will just make me sleepy and I need to be calm but still alert.”
“Don’t worry. Cam has suffered worse. But if you want peppermint, we’ll have that.” He opened two individual peppermint tea packets and set the bags in the mugs before joining her at the table and waiting for the water to boil.
Silence hung between them for a moment as Cameron and the doctor murmured between themselves in the bathroom.
Olivia studied Blair’s large, rough, weathered hands as her eyes gradually looked up to his face. His arms looked stronger than any man she’d seen his age. He looked like he should be retired from years of hard labor in the sun that made him strong and tough with a dark tan. He had a black muscle shirt and black cargo shorts on. His graying black hair was tied back in a tight braid that trailed down his back. His face was clean of facial hair and she could see every wrinkle, deep and shallow, etched in time. He had the look of a traditional Ojibwa elder compared to Cameron, except for his eyes.
As if reading her mind, Blair smiled. “He gets his looks from his mother but he has my eyes.”
She looked away, embarrassed for staring even though she knew he was doing the same.
The kettle began to whistle and Blair rose to fetch it and pour the water. He brought the steaming mugs to the table and set hers in front of her.
Wrapping her fingers around the warm ceramic, she closed her eyes and inhaled the strong minty aroma, her mind unwinding and her body following suit.
“You’ve been hard on him,” Blair said, breaking the silence, “but he still hasn’t given up on you.”
Warmth flooded her cheeks and she hung her head. “Yeah.”
She couldn’t deny it. A part of her felt terrible for the way she had treated him these past few weeks, but another part of her reminded her that in the beginning, she didn’t know who he was. She had every right to be cautious and skeptical of his motives. She had to protect Chloe from getting hurt in case Cameron turned his back on them again. Then another part of her pressed that had she given him a chance to clear things up earlier instead of continuously pushing him away and making excuses, most of their struggles and fighting could have been avoided.
In hindsight, she knew she should have given him a chance and listened, but fear and anger took over. Cameron’s patience and persistence were the only things that combated against it, pushing her and drawing her out of her comfort-zone—for their sake and Chloe’s.
After all these years, she had harbored her pain and anger. Unable to come to terms with it as her own father had up and left without warning and without saying goodbye. He hadn’t even tried to contact her. He had no reason to completely discard her from his life, whereas Cameron nearly died and suffered amnesia—and despite that, he still managed to find her.
“Do you still question his loyalty and affections for you and Chloe now?”
“Dad!” Cameron bellowed from the bathroom before hissing as the doctor applied pain.
More heat rushed to her face as she shook her head, no.
“Good,” Blair said, “because he has suffered enough. He’s stronger than he was and now that he knows he has you and Chloe on his side, he will never slip into the abyss of despair again. And as his father, I cannot bear to see my pups in that state of mind. Ever.”
Swallowing, she nodded her head. She couldn’t bear the thought of Chloe suffering in any way either. She couldn’t imagine Chloe resorting to alcohol to drown away her sorrows like Cameron or cutting herself to distract from the pain in her heart like Sam.
Chloe wanted Cameron in her life as much as he wanted to be in hers. Now that Olivia knew the truth about Cameron’s nature and that he passed on that trait to Chloe, Chloe needed him in her life. She needed him to show her and guide her through their world.
Where did Olivia fit in their world?
That realization hit her like a freight train.
She didn’t know anything about their world except that it was dangerous. Yet, they all looked out for each other and protected each other from threats. Where would she, a human, fit in the middle of it?
“When will Chloe… change?” she asked timidly.
“As with humans, her body will change when she hits puberty. Before she starts to grow into her womanly figure and get her menses, she will shift for the first time—around the age of ten or eleven.”
Six or seven years. She swallowed. Time was flying by and Chloe would turn for the first time before she knew it.
It was too soon for her baby to grow up and… change.
“When she reaches the age of maturity at eighteen, she will be able to find her soulmate, like you and Cam,” Blair said as she chewed on her thoughts. “He could be human or wolf, but he will exist and the Moon Goddess—our deity—will make it so that they cross paths at some point so they can find each other and lead happy, fulfilled lives.”
Olivia sipped her tea. “What happens if she doesn’t find him?”
“A part of her will feel empty and she will grow increasingly restless. Her soul will yearn for him. It’s a miserable state of existence.”
Cameron had mentioned that last week. That yearning, empty feeling that she had felt the moment she woke up alone five years ago.
“I’m not sure what the extent of the human experience is with soulmates, I can only speak from wolf experience and knowledge,” Blair added, “but I assume the human experience would be similar. It’s the power of the soul that compels our physical bodies. A soul-bond union is stronger than blood. When you seal the bond, you will see. Nothing will be the same after.”
Blair sipped his tea with closed eyes, savoring the flavor in the silence that followed.
“And what…” she hesitated, her face growing warm with embarrassment. “What does that entail? Sealing the bond?”
“Well,” he took another sip of tea before setting his mug down, “you’re already halfway there. You’ve done the mating, all that’s left is the marking. Marking involves biting, leaving a mark on each other’s flesh. For you both to seal the bond, he would bite you and that would turn you into one of us and you, in turn, would bite him.”
Become one of them. She didn’t have to stay human, an outsider in a world of wolves, if she wanted. Cameron had mentioned that hastily before he ran off to battle.
But did she want to? It looked painful to see him transform into a wolf, even if it only took a few seconds.
“Ow!” Cameron hollered from the bathroom and causing Olivia to jump in her seat.
“Please, your first shift was worse than this,” Doctor Waaban grumbled.
“Don’t remind me, but that still hurt.”
Olivia clenched her hands together in her lap, chewing on her bottom lip as her eyes wandered to the bathroom. The door was open, but Cameron and the doctor were out of sight from where she was sitting.
Blair cleared his throat and nodded his head to the bathroom, granting her permission to excuse herself without uttering a word.
Rising to her feet, she ambled to the bathroom and peered inside.