The next morning Ahote went about his day like any other. He cleaned around the kitchen, did the pre-cooking for the day, and spoke to all the other wolves he worked with like they couldn’t smell us from a mile away. Since Ahote opened the packhouse, most of the morning just consisted of other omegas walking into the kitchen and halting as their eye widened in realization. They didn’t bring it up because Ahote didn’t bring it up, and the awkwardness lasted only for a few minutes because Ahote was quick to diverge their attention to something else.
To say the least, I was impressed.
Ahote had a strong will to him, and he wasn’t going to let anyone talk down at him for his decision or tease him. The fact that we had been together in that way couldn’t be hidden, so everyone knew before the end of the morning. Sometimes I would hear people whispering as I walked by, and it seemed like the other wolves didn’t know what to make of me now.
“They’ll get over it,” Ahote had said while he worked in the garden. The spring was fully here now, and all the garden plants had awakened from their hibernation and needed tending to.
“I hope,” I said. Ahote just smiled at me, leaning forward to press a kiss to my cheek before walking to the other end of the garden. He wouldn’t let me work since I still couldn’t figure out the difference between actual garden plants and weeds yet.
“Besides,” he had said to me when he and the others were getting ready to tend the garden. “You’re going to be a Lambda here.” He had told me that with such an assured smile that I was quick to believe him without any doubt. His brother was now my friend, even though the news of us being together had shaken him a bit he was okay with it, and one of the hunters had invited me for a run later in the day. I could see that Ahote was putting in a lot of work into getting me integrated with his people by pulling strings here and there. Even the Alpha seemed to be warming up to me and wasn’t asking me when I was leaving anymore. I appreciated that, but it also scared me in — in a good way that is. I wondered if I could live up to be the mate Honon couldn’t be for Ahote, and as the day went by, I kept wondering if everything would remain just as calm as they were now.
What if Ahote’s pack couldn’t come to an agreement with the Canadian government? What if Honon showed up out of nowhere and decided that he wanted to be with Ahote? Would Ahote just leave me? Was I just a stand-in for his actual mate? I didn’t know, and I was starting to weigh myself down with senseless worry.
“You look terrible.”
I looked up at the sound of someone walking into the veranda.
“What are you doing here. You didn’t go for a run?” I asked when I spotted Len walking over to me. The teenager didn’t answer me he just took a sit on the ground next to the stool I was sitting on.
Not a lot of people were around. Most of them had gone out to take a run. It was unnaturally sunny for an early spring day, which meant the muddy grounds had gone dry and it was a nice day to run a few miles and play around. I had ended up refusing to go out with the other wolves and decided to stay back with the few omegas taking care of children. I had gone outside since I could sense that I was making some of them uncomfortable. It looked like they wanted to gossip, and I was getting in their way because it was probably about me.
“You and Ahote,” Len started, making me look down at him. He had a frown on his face and his lips were pulled together in a thin line. “You’re together now?” he said, almost like he was asking a question. Which was odd, seeing that he could smell it — everyone could smell it. Did he want me to lie to him about it?
“Yes,” I said after a while, and I watched as the youngster’s shoulder’s slacked. He looked like he was about to cry, but in the space of a few seconds, he blinked back his tears and put on a smug face.
“Alright,” he muttered under his breath, reaching out for the stone beside his feet. He rolled it between his fingers, and the patio fell into silence again.
“Are you upset about it?” I asked, even though I had been restraining myself from doing so.
A sigh left Len’s lips. He dropped the stone he had been holding before pulling his knees to his chest and hugging his legs to himself. “Y-yes,” he said in a small voice that I could barely pick up. I let his words settle in my mind. I didn’t know what to say to that. Sorry? I sat up, turning to look out into the compound that belonged to the Peace River pack. It looked a lot different from the pack grounds I grew up as a child, but because of Ahote, it was starting to feel like home.
“I was going to wait until I was eighteen before telling him how I felt about him.” Len’s words made me turn to look down at him. He was staring ahead with a blank look on his face. “Then you came, and now you’re all he talks and thinks about. It’s annoying,” the teen confessed, sucking in his lips before sighing.
“But at eighteen you’ll feel the mate-pull,” I said, making Len look up at me. His brown eyes held my blue ones. He looked away, shrugging.
“I doubt I’ll like anyone as much as I like Ahote.”
“Even your mate?” I asked, frowning a bit.
The boy smiled a bit. “Yeah.”
I had the urge to tell Len that he possibly couldn’t mean that, but what would I know? I didn’t have a mate of my own. The sixteen-year-old seemed to really believe what he was saying, and maybe he was right. Mate bonds were guides, not a final verdict and anyone who knew Len knew how much he adored Ahote.
We both sat in silence for the period, and when Len got up and left, I was left by myself again. It was late noon now, and the sky had taken a deep orange color.
I started thinking of how long I’ve traveled, and the friends I had made along the way. Since I got here, I haven’t called anyone. Elan had been the one playing puzzle games on my phone for the most part. I didn’t do much with it. The service here was bad here, but I had the urge to call the few people I kept in contact with from my pack in the past, but I didn’t know what I wanted That I had found a place to stay? That I had someone?
As I thought about these things I wondered if Ahote’s pack had a bonding ritual. Would I get bond to Ahote? Would his pack elders allow it even though I wasn’t his mate? I don’t know. Ahote hasn’t really talked to me about any of that yet.
I remained in my thoughts and was only pulled out from them when I heard the door creak open.
“You’re here.” I looked over at the main door as it opened. Kaya stepped out of the house and walked over to me. Her hands were tucked in the pockets of her brown dress, and her hair was shorter — cropped at her ears. She must have recently cut it.
“I wanted to ask you for a favor,” she muttered, and I looked up at her, waiting for her to tell me what she wanted.
“You have a phone on you, right? I want to call someone,” she said in a small voice even though we were the only ones outside. I noticed that had face had gained a redness to it, and she looked nervous. Who was she trying to call?
“Zeke. I’m trying to call Zeke,” she said, answering the question I had asked myself. I remembered that name. It was the name of her mate from the pack in the next town. “I’m trying to get some info from him. It’s nothing serious,” she added when I didn’t say anything. She looked like she was ready to be questioned, but I didn’t have any questions to ask her.
“Sure,” I answered, getting up from the stool I had been sitting on. “But we’ll have to take a walk to get a signal,” I informed her, and she nodded.
“Wait for me,” I said before disappearing into the packhouse to get my phone. When I got out Kaya was still waiting for me. I climbed down the stairs, meeting her before we started walking. As I checked my phone to see if I picked up any signal, Kaya just hummed beside me as we walked around the pack territory.
“Here,” I said, handing her the phone when I got two bars. She smiled at me, taking my phone before dialing a number. The person at the other end picked up, and Kaya strolled away to have a chat with Zeke. As I watched her converse with him, I tried to put a mental image of the man she had been talking to all those weeks ago when we drove into the town nearby. He hadn’t been too tall, and if I remembered correctly, he was blond.
Kaya walked back to me when she was done, thanking me as she handed me back my phone. She turned, walking back towards the packhouse.
“Wait,” I called out to her, making her stop in her tracks. She turned to look at me with a raised brow.
“Why don’t you just bring him here?” I asked, making the expression on her face go sore. She knew I was asking about Zeke. I hadn’t wanted to ask her about something that seemed so personal, but the question had been bouncing around in my mind when I watched her talk to him from a distance. She looked happy and excited to hear his voice. I didn’t see a reason why she didn’t want to do anything about their bond as Ahote had put it. Was it because he was a stranger? I was a stranger and Ahote wasn’t letting that stop him.
“He doesn’t want to be here,” she said after a while, folding her hands over her chest. “He says he wants me to come with him, and I don’t want to leave,” she explained, and I just stared at her.
“Zeke’s pack... is not a pack,” she said. “They’re rogues that decided to organize themselves like one. It’s one thing to leave your family. It’s another thing to walk right into danger, “she explained.
“Also, do you know that people are worried?” she asked, walking closer to me. “About you — about Ahote?” she asked, and I just stared down at her.
“Sure, the hunters now somewhat like you, but you’ll have to do more than that to remain here,” she said, and when I didn’t say anything in return, she turned away from me and walked back to the packhouse, the sound of her shoes crunching the sand filling the air.
I stood in the middle of the compound, staring at the packhouse until Kaya disappeared inside it. Kaya had said something factual and obvious just to stir me up for the question I had asked her, and it made my chest ache a bit. I knew. It was obvious. It was written on everyone’s face. Especially Aponi’s, but I tried my best not to think about it too much.
But her jab had reminded me that I didn’t belong here and that even though I remained here people might still be wary of me.
A sigh left my lips as I put my hands into the pocket of my jeans. I stared down at the ground, feeling that I should give it some more time before I went inside. Kaya was probably still upset with me.
Maybe I should have minded my business.