What Is She Planning
Weeks had passed, and with each week the weather grew warmer meaning that there was a lot more time to work on the gardens and go on hunting trips. Alek followed the pack’s hunting team out most of the time, but he still spared a few minutes here and there to help in the garden. I noticed him and Len seemed to be on good terms, but the teenager was still hesitant to talk to me, but it was better than before.
More hunting trips also meant more time spent in the kitchen and the patio sorting the meet. The younger omegas did most of the skinning and smoking, while older Omegas like me and Aponi did most of the final cutting and washing for the bits we stored for future use. We were doing just that now in the kitchen—draining blood from meat in the sink before rinsing them in cold water. We were standing side by side—I and Aponi, and as I watched the water run through the flesh, and wash off the blood, I thought about how to say what I wanted to tall her without getting her upset.
I haven’t spoken to Aponi properly for a long time. We were still fighting in a sense, but I needed to tell her something important. We might not be on good terms now, but I still saw her as an older sister and felt a little bad for telling Kaya and my brother about what I planned to do before telling her.
My face grew warm as I thought about things. I couldn’t help myself from imagining Alek and me as bound couples. Yes, I was planning to essentially marry him. I haven’t brought it up to Alek yet, but my gut feeling told me that he would be up for it. My heart kept pounding, and I felt as if Aponi could hear it. A sigh left my lips, as I turned to look at her. Aponi worked as usual—fast, concentrated, and she didn’t even spare me a glance.
“Aponi,” I called, making her pause what she was doing. Her hair was tied back, as was the norm when doing housework. “I want to tell you something,” I continued in a low voice. I wasn’t sure why I was whispering. We were next to each other, and we were the only two people in the kitchen.
“Well?” she said after a while of me not saying anything. I blinked, realizing that I had spaced out, out of nervousness.
“Well,” I started, biting down on my lower lip. “It’s about Alek.”
She sighed, rolling her eyes before looking away. A frown formed on my face as I observed here. What in the world did she have against him? He was a good hunter, and he helped around with the children—which wasn’t something a lot of wolves that held themselves to high regards would do. My brother had even asked me if Alek had plans to stay because the pack hunting team wanted him as a Lambda.
Everyone was making space for him in one way of the other. If they were wary of him, they still couldn’t deny that he was useful, so why was Aponi still like this? She was like a big sister to me. Of all people, she should understand and accept this not on the grounds of Alek’s usefulness, but on the grounds that he made me happy.
“I don’t understand why you’re being like this,” I said, and Aponi just shook her head.
“Ignore me. Tell me what you wanted to say,” she said in a choppy voice—it was coarse and nonchalant. I looked away, sighing before shaking my head.
“I’m thinking of getting bound to him,” I said, looking from the side of my eyes to see that Aponi had frozen in place. She stared down at the meat in the sink. She looked like she was thinking deeply about something and was trying to find a way to put her thoughts into speech.
“Why are you doing this?” she said after a while. Her voice was low and cold, and if felt like she was scolding me.
“Because I want to,” I replied, watching as she stood up straight.
“Because you want to?” she chuckled. “Look, Ahote, I know that Honon hurt you, but this is taking this too far. You want a family, we all want that. I told you to be happy. Sleep with someone, think about something else, but you’ve taken this too far—”
“I love Alek,” I said, cutting her off. We stared at each other in silence as water dripped from the badly closed tap.
“You love him?” she asked, not sounding like she believed me in the slightest.
“Yes, I love him,” I replied, feeling my heart beat quicken as I said the words again. It was the first time I was saying it out loud, and I couldn’t believe how much the weight of the emotion felt until now.
Aponi seemed to be holding herself back. She looked away from me, grabbing a wool cloth to clean the bloody water off her hands before wandering to the kitchen island a little distance away.
“Do you love him, or do you wish you loved him?” she asked, taking a sit on one of the high stools before folding her hands. I think that question deterred me a bit because it was a question, I used to ask myself. Sometimes I’d sit in the prayer room and stare up at the shrine and wonder the same thing. Was I just yearning for something I couldn’t have with Honon because he didn’t want me, or did I really and truly loved Alek? Maybe once upon a time, I would have agreed with how Aponi was looking at things but as the weeks and months have passed by, the more I’ve been able to figure out my feelings.
As the fated bond with Honon fades, the chosen one I have with Alek grows. I can’t look into the future without seeing him in it anymore.
I needed him in my future.
“I love him,” I went on, repeating the words I was so sure of. “And I know he feels the same way,” I added. Aponi didn’t seem convinced. She narrowed her eyes at me as the lips she had painted black curled into a small frown.
“Love? Alek doesn’t have a mate. He doesn’t know what that’s supposed to feel like, so how could he tell?” she went on.
“Honon’s your mate. He’s designed to love you. You’re designed to love him,” she said. “He hurt you, but if you would just call him and tell him about Elan—”
“Stop,” I said in a loud shout, making her eyes go wide. My eyes were stinging with tears. I couldn’t understand why she was being so difficult. “Stop trying to make me do that, I don’t want to,” I added. She opened her mouth to say something, but she closed it, shaking her head before covering her face with her hands.
“I just want you to be happy, you know that,” Aponi muttered. “It’s not uncommon Ahote. A rouge finds a pack and tries to find a way to remain in it. Maybe that’s what’s happening, I don’t know...”
I laughed before pulling out some paper towels to clean my hands. “We’re not even sure if we’ll be allowed to stay here in the next year. The elders are still arguing about it with government officials,” I said, referring to the constant back and forth nagging that’s been going on regarding our territory.
“What’s your point?” Aponi asked.
“If Alek just wanted to find a place to stay this isn’t the best choice,” I said, walking over to the kitchen island before taking a seat on the stool across from her. “I don’t even think he wants to a new pack per se. He used to be a Kappa in his former one Aponi,” I muttered in a low tone, watching her reach out to play with the small plastic container that held toothpicks.
“If you believe what he says about deciding to leave on his own is the truth that is,” she mumbled, and I sighed. It was as if she was looking for straws to grasp to make Alek out as a bad person. I knew she didn’t think he was. She was just looking for how to muddy my perception of him.
“Anyway,” I started, looking past her. “I’m just telling you because you mean a lot to me as a guardian. Since my mum passed it’s been just you and my brother...” I mumbled, finding my voice to shake and eyes water at the mention of my mother. I hadn’t known my father well. He had died young from an odd few days of a coughing fit when I was younger, and my mother had died from a long-term illness before I turned eighteen. It was one of the reasons Lupa was so protective. He felt he had to look out for me.
“I just thought you should know,” I summarized, not finding the energy in me to detail my reasons. I shrugged my shoulders as I looked into her dark eyes. “I’ve already spoken to my brother about it, and I’m telling the elders once I discuss it properly with Alek,” I added as I got off the stool and headed back to the sink to finish the work we had abandoned.
“I won’t let you make a mistake, Ahote.” Aponi’s voice was chill and cold, and for a moment I was worried about what she had planned.
I found the courage to push the thought to the back of my mind, continuing to do the work. Aponi came to join me after a while, and we didn’t mention Alek or Honon again. The kitchen had gone pin-drop silent, and it was as if we pretended the discussion we just had never happened.