Making a Decision
The next few days were tense and filled with discussion. Every other night the higher-ranking wolves would gather in the living room of the packhouse, and the omegas who worked night shifts in the main house listened in from behind the doors or picked up bits and pieces of their discussion any time they went out to serve drinks or snacks. I hung around the kitchen with Ahote and Kaya on most days. Kaya wasn’t as talkative as she normally was. She kept silent for the most part and only talked in an unusual low tone if you talked to her directly.
Ahote told me in private that the issue mattered to her a lot because moving would mean being further from her mate. She had even been the one to suggest moving on our way back, so I didn’t understand why she would be sad, maybe it was one of those situations where your heart wanted something even if your mind disagreed.
I stole a look at Kaya, watching as she worked at the sink with a blank look on her face. It didn’t seem like she was on good terms with her mate at all and they were in two different towns, but I guess the pull to each other was still stronger compared to being states apart for instance. I knew Ahote still had a sort of connection to Honan, and I wondered if Honon was living as far away as possible to make the feelings deeper.
“We need wine.” I rose my head a bit higher when I heard Lapu’s voice accompany the creaking of the kitchen door. I was sitting at the kitchen island with Ahote while Kaya and a few other omegas cleaned around.
“I’ll bring some over,” Ahote said, looking over at his brother whose frown softened when he made eye contact with him. It didn’t last long though, turning his head a little to find me sitting beside him made the man’s frown return. He opened his mouth like he was going to say something, but Ahote’s silent pleading made him close his mouth and shake his head. I’ve noticed that — the way Ahote would just look on at his brother with a thinned-out frown and a non-threatening stare.
Lapu left the kitchen without another word, and Ahote let out a small sigh, shaking his head when his brother was out of sight.
“He still isn’t over it, is he?” he said in a small whisper so that I was the only person who could hear him. I shrugged my shoulders, and Ahote smiled at me before resting his head on my shoulder. Werewolves had a very keen sense of smell, so even though we hadn’t done anything worth his brother’s alarm people could sense that we were closer in some way. It wasn’t sex, but the similar smell we now gave us was enough to have people limping to the conclusion that we must kiss or touch in some way, and of course, Lapu wasn’t very happy about that. I wondered if there was even a chance that I would get to befriend him. My mere presence alone seemed to make him angry.
“He’ll get over it,” Ahote assured me, reaching out to take my hand in his. I blinked, a little shocked by the contact, but I squeezed his hand, looking down at the tiled floor as the kitchen went mostly quiet.
“You can’t just stay snuggled to your boyfriend while the rest of us are working,” Aponi said, making the other wolves laugh as Ahote raised his head. He gave them a playful smile before getting up and heading over to pour the wine he had promised to take out.
I watched him talk to his pack members as he poured out the wine. There was just something about him that held my attention, and I couldn’t stop seeking him in a crowd if I tried. My eyes followed him as he moved — deriving a soothing feeling from watching his lean figure move around. When he was done setting things up, he picked up the tray before making his way for the kitchen door. My eyes were fixed on the door for a few seconds after he left, but I eventually turned to look at the omegas moving about the kitchen. Aponi was giving me a stare that made me raise a brow at her. She looked away, cleaning the bowl in her had with a towel before walking to the other end of the kitchen.
With time the crowd of people in the kitchen thinned out and so did the crowd in the living room, everyone, was heading to bed, but Kaya and Aponi remained with a few other wolves. At a point, it was just me and Aponi in the room, and the silence made me grind my teeth so that I could at least listen to something.
“What do you plan to do?” Aponi’s voice made me look over to her. She was on the kitchen island too, resting her folded hands on the smooth surface as she stared at me with a little frown.
I blinked, not saying anything in response. She let out a small sigh, nibbling her lips before she started talking.
“What happens now. Are you planning to become Ahote’s mate, is that it, or...?” she trailed, seemly waiting for me to fill in the blank. I stared at her, not knowing what to say.
“I don’t know,” I said after a while of thinking about it. I really didn’t. I’ve thought about that from time to time. Ahote and I had something now, but I didn’t want to be the person to make the final push. I was the one with nothing to lose here. I didn’t have a mate. Ahote had to think very hard about whether he wanted to do away with the bond he had with Honon.
“Look,” Aponi started walking over to me. She stood by my seat, resting her back on the kitchen island as she looked down at me. “Don’t take this as me being critical about what you two have. I’m just looking out for Ahote, you know?” she explained, and I smiled a little, nodding. I understood that. She seemed like a mother figure to all the omegas. She was more or less the ‘head’ of them being in charge of everything concerning housework and caretaking.
“He’s very happy now, and that’s great, but I can’t help being pessimistic.” Aponi looked at the dream catcher by the window. It crackled as the winds from the open window pushed its charms. “It’s one thing to get over being rejected by a mate, and I think it’s another thing to be stranded when someone you looked to as a replacement leaves you too—”
“I won’t leave him,” I said, cutting in. There were many things I didn’t like about what she was implying, but suggesting that I was just a replacement hurt, but I didn’t bring it up. “I won’t leave him,” I repeated in a deep firm tone, and I noticed how Aponi’s shoulders slumped as if my voice had shaken her. Sometimes I forget that even though I’ve left my pack I was born into a high rank. My tone, gestures, and voice still held their effects. I opened my mouth to apologize, but she waved me off, letting out a little sigh.
“You say that, but time.” She paused, giving me a sad look. “You never know what time decides,” she muttered before leaning off the kitchen island and walking away.
“Think to the future a bit,” she muttered moving to stand right in front of me. “Do you plan to stay here? Will the elders let you stay here? What if we had to move, will you still stay with us?” she asked each question after the other, not giving me room to answer.
“Think about it,” she added after a pause, reaching out to pat my shoulder before walking away. I didn’t have time to reply to her because some other pack members walked into the kitchen at that exact moment. As people muttered and whispered amongst each other about the coming problems they would have the government, I kept thinking about what Aponi said.
Would it be selfish of me to stay in the background and hope that Ahote would make the decision to do away with his bond with Honon? Would my mere presence serve as pressure on him to do that?
A groan left my lips and I shut my eyes close, but little fingers pried my eyelids open and soon I was staring at Elan. I smiled, chuckling when the little boy gave me a happy chuckle. He seemed pleased with himself. Elan still didn’t say much to me. The other caretakers told me he was a shy kid, but I was looking forward to when he opened up to me.
“Sleep,” I simply said, pulling him from my side before resting him on the bed to face me. His beady eyes stared at me for a bit before they started looking behind me, probably scanning the place out of curiosity. Ahote has been leaving Elan with me more often now. I wasn’t sure what the boy thought I was. An uncle? A pack member? His nanny? Whatever he thought I was I didn’t mind. Getting to take care of a child was a nice experience. I’ve always wanted kids — a family, and sometimes my mind would wander too far, and I’d imagine Elan being my kid. I’d imagine giving Elan little siblings and my face would flush from mild embarrassment and shame.
The door to my room creaked open, and how fast Elan’s attention was drawn to it made me conclude it was Ahote. I caught his head of long dark hair as he edged his way into the room. He looked tired, but his eyes became bright when he locked eyes with me. He smiled, and I smiled back, making to seat up before he reached the bed.
“The elders sent out a petition,” Ahote started when he took a seat beside me and reached out for his son. “There’ll be a hearing, hopefully,” he muttered, licking his lips as he stared at me. I nodded, not knowing what to say to that. I liked that Ahote treated me like I needed to know these things. He kept me updated. He talked a lot about clan politics when I helped him out in the garden or when we just held each other. Maybe there was a part of him that was wishing I became a part of his world. I wanted that too, but it seemed even the friendliest people in his pack were skeptical about it becoming reality.
Somehow, we ended up cuddled up in bed with Elan in-between us fast asleep. He held on to his father, his little lips moving as he snored. Ahote always said Elan looked like Honon, and I could see it. Since that day I came across Honon’s things in my room, I’ve been looking through them and trying to piece together the man Ahote had been — or might still be — in love with.
“Are you worried?”
“Hmm?” I replied, blinking. Ahote gave me a worried look, reaching out a hand to push hair away from my face.
“Were you thinking of something?” he asked, and I shook my head, not wanting to bring up Honon. Ahote didn’t know I had an idea of what the man even looked like. Ahote smiled a little, but it wasn’t a sincere one. He was still worried.
“It’s nothing serious,” I whispered, trying to ease his nerves. Ahote chuckled, his smile widened as he nodded into the feather-stuffed pillow under his head.
“The hunters are going out tomorrow,” Ahote whispered, reaching out to hold my hand. I frowned a little, wondering where he was going with this. “I know you think my brother doesn’t like you — he doesn’t, but it’s not hatred. He’s just a bit tense,” Ahote rambled on, and I wondered when he was going to get to the point. “I convinced him to let you go with them, so go, alright?” he muttered, and I was barely able to make out his words. I opened my mouth to say something, but Ahote gave me a pleading looked making me stay silent.
“I really want you to stay here with me,” he said, looking down at his son’s head of hair. “With him.” he looked straight at me before edging forward to press his lips against mine.
“I’ve made my decision,” he said, pulling away from the kiss before making to run a hand down my arm.
“I want to be with you so much,” he went on. My heart rate had picked up, and I could swear that I was on the verge of happy tears. “And a big part of that is making sure you’re no longer a stranger here...” Ahote paused. The way his eyes went wide and his jaw hung made it seem like had just pieced together something.
“I’m sorry,” he chuckled. “I never really asked you if you wanted to stay here—”
“I do,” I said, cutting him off. Ahote blinked, seeming surprised. He stared at me blankly for a while before a grin took form on his face.
“Pray with me tomorrow?” I hesitated a bit, not knowing how to reply to that. I was just about fie with everything in this pack. I liked how they were organized, and how they ran, but something that still rubbed off on me the wrong way was the religiosity here. I looked away from Ahote a bit, thinking about it deeply before turning back to him and nodded. His grin grew wider and he edged closer to me, squeezing Elan between us like the lettuce in a sandwich.
“I’m so happy Alek,” he said, and I just hummed, resting my head on top of his. I was just as happy, but I felt if I expressed it outwardly, I would burst into tears and freak him out.
This was what I always wanted. I was getting it with patience. I didn’t want to make a wrong move now.