“We should get up,” I whispered into Alek’s shoulder as he pulled me closer. He groaned in reply to me, ignoring my words and throwing his leg over my thigh. I scoffed, closing my eyes a bit before opening them again to look over his shoulder. Beams of light were pouring into the room through the little holes in the shades. It was late in the morning. Alek and I had woken up sometime around five in the morning and I had left Elan with the other kids before dragging Alek with me to the praying room.
I was a little worried that he felt that the whole thing was a chore, but he joined me and didn’t seem phased by me pouring my heart out on my knees while I spoke to the spirits. He had tagged along with me while I did some of my chores before we both headed to my room to take a shower. We didn’t end up taking that shower. We just got naked and curled up to each other in bed.
Alek’s body was starting to weigh on me a little. I guess when I had started looking at him ‘that way’ I had always wondered what he would look like naked, and I got a glimpse before we took walks around the territory in our wolf forms, but I got the full experience whenever we just decided it was a nice weather to lie around naked in. Alek had broad shoulders, developed muscles, and an even skin tone. Expected, he used to be a Kappa and I guess all that traveling on foot for miles on end gave someone the body equivalent to that of a marathon runner. I was lean, slender, tall, and a little less tanned than the pack members that worked outside for the most part. I looked like what anyone would expect me to look like — like someone who didn’t do much physically.
My plainness wasn’t something that bothered me. Well, not until recently. With a mate bond, someone was compelled to find you attractive no matter what. With relationships not based on that, it was purely what you grew to think about each other. Alek was attracted to me. That much I know, but I guess my pheromones did all the pulling in our first meeting. Did he find me attractive physically? If he didn’t was that why he wasn’t bothered and was letting things between us progress so slowly?
I shut my eyes, counting down to five in my head before opening them again. I didn’t need thoughts like that. Alek’s hand moved to squeeze my shoulder as he adjusted his position on the bed and drew closer to me with a hint of a smile on his lips. “In less than three hours you’ll have to be out with the rest of the hunters,” I muttered making Alek snort. I swallowed my spit, holding the gaze I had with his icy blue eyes. Just looking at him had my mind doing weird things in my chest.
“It’s not going to be as bad as you think,” I said, my voice shaky as I ran my hand down his arm. I looked away from him, humming as Alek moved to kiss my forehead. I let out a small sigh as he moved to kiss the side of my eyes and them my jaw before bending to nibble at my collar bone. A little part of me was scared that he was going to mark me, but he didn’t do that, and just moved to trailing kisses up my neck as he cupped my bum before moving a hand between us. A sigh left my lips as he touched me. I closed my eyes as my toes curled, trying my best not to grind against him too much.
We were doing everything but having sex, and I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. It was obvious he was waiting for me to cross the line but having to do that made me anxious.
Sometimes I felt like I was on a dead-end mission to integrate him into the pack, but I was going to give it a shot. I wanted him here with me, and I’d do everything to make sure of that.
“If you take a shower with me, I’ll be more enthusiastic about going,” he said in a low tone, running his hand up and down my stomach as he breathed against my face. I felt a little dizzy and excited. I hadn’t been physically close to someone in so long — since Honon. And while Honon lusted after me with anger and confusion, Alek cherished me in a way I didn’t know was possible.
“Hmm?” he said after a while of me just staring down at his teasing hand. “What do you say?” he asked, and I turned my head enough to lock eyes with him.
“Okay,” I muttered under my breath and I watched as Alek’s smile grew wide. He pulled away from before getting off the bed. I followed him when I realized he wanted to take a shower now, which made sense since he didn’t have much time left.
The pack house had shared bathrooms in each hallway. The bathrooms had an old style to them. They had no showers or bathtubs — just a running faucet plopped next to a drain, so we were standing up and staring at each other, catching each other’s eyes between washing our bodies and getting a bowl of water to pour over ourselves. My heartbeat had quickened, and the sound of it and that of Alek’s sweet voice rung in my ears as he chatted about every and anything.
I had talked to a Pi about how I felt about Alek. There was a lot to explain because I wondered why the feelings, I had for him were so intense, and growing in their intensity. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. Maybe I wanted to hear that I was part of the small percentage that was presented with two mates or that my wolf had somehow to choose another. I didn’t know the details of exceptions, but I knew there were some. Sadly, nothing of that seemed likely, and the Pi just told me that I simply just liked him very much.
Yes, I did, but as someone who used to be so invested in mating, mating rituals and the sentimental importance and ‘specialness’ of it all, I was a little scared of ‘choosing’ who I wanted to be with. If the gods couldn’t even choose right for me, what made me feel like I would be better at picking a mate for myself? I liked Alek. I liked him a lot, and I wanted to choose him — I’ve already chosen him for the most part, but as the snippets I had of Honon began to recede further to the back of my mind and become dull throbs and wishful memories I was starting to get a little afraid. Why was I afraid? Honon didn’t want me. It’s not like I would upset him by breaking off everything officially. If anything, he would be happy that I found someone.
Thinking about Honon made me realize that the pack would be getting mail soon, and letters from him would probably arrive for his friends and family he had back here. I dreaded it, and it was not because he didn’t send me anything, but because the next few days after the mail got to the pack the people, he kept in contact with would be avoiding my gaze or trying to give me updates on him because they felt I deserved to know.
“Are you alright?” I heard him ask. I blinked, realizing that I had just been standing and staring at nothing in particular. Alek rose a brow at me when I shook my head. “Are you sure?” he added, pouring the water from the plastic bowl over my head. I looked at him through the stream of water, parting my lips to say something before closing them and deciding against it.
“I’m sure,” I muttered, reaching out to hold on to his face. He had a nice jaw that blended well with his turned-up nose and well-defined eyebrow ridge. Alek’s expression changed for a bit as he reached out to hold my face with his hands. He traced my cheeks with the base of his thumbs before leaning forward and pressing our lips together.
We kissed a lot. We did it so often now that I shouldn’t be phased by it, but every time it sent ripples down my body, and I found myself pressing up against Alek as we kissed. There was something Honon used to tell me when he was still part of the pack — that I was explicitly sexual and tempting — that I was going to ruin his relationship by simply existing. Those weren’t compliments. They were accusations that I was sexually desperate and slutty. It was also one of the reasons I’ve kept to myself for long. I wondered if Alek felt the same way. Did he think I was desperate? Those few weeks where my wolf and Honon’s played a push and pull game with each other were the most eventful and painful weeks of my life, and they had simultaneously given and taken something away from me.
Honon rejecting me almost killed me. I’m only alive because I was pregnant and had a piece of him. If Honon didn’t care about the fact that vanishing out of the blue after rejecting me could kill me, why I still letting his shadow rule over my decisions?
“Ah,” I gasped when I felt his hands wrap around my waist and pull me up. He walked forward until my back was pressed against the brick wall.
“You know you can talk to me, right?” he said when he pulled away from the kiss. My face felt warm, and I was breathing hard. Just looking at him had me on edge, and it made my lower stomach twist with nerves. I was aroused, and he was too, but we just stood there. “When you’re ready, alright?” he muttered, letting go of my waist.
We looked at each other for a while until I looked away, staring down at the tiled bathroom floor. “I was just — I was just thinking,” I started, suddenly feeling the urge to talk to him. “We haven’t...” I trailed, hoping he understood what I was talking about. He seemed to, because when I looked up at him his face was red, and he was avoiding my gaze.
“I’m waiting for you,” he said, reaching his hand out between us to touch my chest with his fingertips. “No rush.”
“What if I make you wait forever?” I asked. I wasn’t trying to be cheeky. I was being honest. Even when I had made up my mind, I was still hesitant and waiting for the gods to know what would one hundred percent convince me.
“Then I’ll wait forever,” Alek mumbled, taking a step closer to close the gap between us. “I’ll keep waiting for you because I want this,” he added, kissing my cheek and then my forehead as he ran a hand down my arm.
“Growing up all I’ve ever wanted was someone to love and a family.” The way Alek said the last bit made me a bit nervous. Family? Like my pack or kids? “I didn’t get that back home, but I think I can have those here.”
“Wait ’till he puts a baby in you.” The words Kaya had said while we were working in the garden together that made me roughly shove her were now ringing in the back of my head. I swallowed the spit that had collected in my mouth before heaving as I tried to remain calm.
“I want this, but you have everything to lose and I have everything to gain if you decide to be with me that way and seal things,” he went on. “So, all I can do is be patient. I don’t mind so don’t overthink things.”
I didn’t know what to say and in the end, all I could do was nod my head, making Alek’s smile grow wide as he went on to push back strands of my wet air behind my ears. We finished cleaning up before leaving the bathroom together.
Alek left with my brother and the rest of the pack that day, while I tended to the garden and helped out with the kids, hoping that Alek got along with the rest on the two-day trip.