Honon Is Coming Back
I woke up the next morning with the space beside me empty. I blinked a few times, squinting anytime the sun rays coming from the window would increase in intensity. It took me a while to become fully away, and when I was, I realized what the empty space beside me meant.
Ahote was gone.
Where is he? I wondered, sitting up on the bed before looking around the room. He was nowhere in sight. I looked over at the wall clock — it was ten in the morning, and now that I thought about it, he must have gotten up to take care of things around the house. I could hear cub whines and the feet of kids walking past the door from time to time.
It was breakfast time, and the process of getting everyone fed before noon was a hefty task. Usually, I would be up and about following Ahote around, but since he left without me, I guessed he wanted some space.
A sigh left my lips when I remembered last night. I arched my back a bit, letting it crack before looking up ahead and pushing my hair back with my hands. Ahote had held on to me so with all his might last night, preventing me from moving around in case it disturbed or frightened him. He had slept off before me, but somewhere in the middle of the night, he started crying in his sleep like he was having a nightmare.
I wasn’t sure what to make of it, and I was starting to think that marking him, and asking him to mark him was a mistake, but despite that I couldn’t help the warm feeling that formed in my chest when I reached for my collar area and felt the raised flesh that was the healing pair of wounds.
After half an hour of sitting on the bed with no clothes on, I decided to take a shower. I spoke to some wolves on the way to my bath and back, and sometimes someone’s eyes would drift to the fresh marks under my collar bone. They didn’t say anything about it, but the way their composure and mannerisms changed told me that they were surprised, and maybe even confused. That, plus Ahote’s behavior at night made me nervous. I tried not to let the mixed reactions bother me. I got into new clothes — a loose top and a pair of khaki pants. Lapu had handed me some clothes that were his, and apart from being very comfortable, it made me fit into the aesthetic of the pack more.
I spent a few more minutes in the bedroom sorting out some things and writing a few texts to the one person I kept in contact with from home — Adrian — a wolf who was my second in command when I was still head of the pack hunters. I didn’t speak to him much, but now that I had Ahote and needed advice from time to time he was the one I asked. He didn’t know what I was living with a pack and he probably assumed most of the discussions we had were about a human girl I had met and wanted to settle down with. Despite his oblivion to the facts of the matter, it was still nice to have someone that didn’t interact with me like an outsider to talk to.
Around one in the afternoon I left the room I was staying in to find something to eat in the kitchen. I hadn’t expected it to be empty, but the fact that Aponi and Kaya were sitting across from each other on the kitchen island made me nervous. I walked past them like I didn’t notice them, hoping that the discussion they were having while the little girls armed with crayons attacked the large cardboard sheet, they had been given would distract them.
“Why are you here?” the thirty-year-old head housekeeper said as I approached the drawers in hopes of finding some bread.
Aponi really wasn’t a fan of me.
And our relationship only worsened any time Ahote and I moved forward with our relationship.
“To eat,” I said, raising the loaf of bread I had pulled out of the cupboard before walking over to the other side of the kitchen to get a plate from the rack. “You don’t sound like you’re in a good mood.” I’m not sure why I said that, and Aponi must have been shocked as well because she didn’t say anything for a while.
“Well, how could I be in a good mood when Ahote walks in this morning with fresh marks on his skin?” she asked, and I shuddered a bit. I knew she would find out. The purpose of the marks was so that everyone would see them. I knew that, so why did I feel exposed in a way?
Although my shoulders had gone stiff for a while, and I had paused, I didn’t answer her. With my plate of food in hand, I started walking towards the door, but Aponi’s voice stopped me.
“What are you playing at?”
“Kaya, no, stay out of this,” she said, causing the younger woman to sigh before getting off her stool
“Alright, I will,” she said, before switching to speak in a language I didn’t understand, but the cubs at the foot of the island seemed to understand. They had sensed a tension between Aponi and I and had been staring at u for a while. Kaya got them to get up. They packed up their crayons and roll up their cardboard before following Kaya out of the kitchen. When she and the girls were gone, it was just me and Aponi in the kitchen alone.
I stood by the door, not knowing what to do as Aponi just observed me.
“Come sit,” she said, gesturing to the space Kaya had left a while ago. She smiled a bit, but her passive-aggressive demeanor hadn’t left her eyes. I looked at the seat she was offering me, and then the door. I would have left, but something in me wanted to respect her and do as she wished. I walked over the kitchen island before dropping the plate and the mug I had with me on the smooth stone surface.
“Do you know where Ahote is?” I asked as I looked out of the kitchen window and into the garden. No one seemed to be up and about, and I couldn’t figure out where else Ahote would be at this time.
“He went for a walk with Lapu.”
“Oh,” I said, remembering his brother who was now good friends with me. I couldn’t help wondering what they were talking about.
“So, what do you want out of this?” Aponi asked, repeating her question from before and bringing me out of my thoughts as I settled down on the high stool. I looked at her, cocking my head to the side as my lips bent down in a little frown. “What do you think having a relationship with Ahote will achieve?”
“I’m not sure what to say. I think it’s insulting that you’re suggesting that I want something out of this,” I replied, and she rolled her eyes, licking her lips before bringing the mug of tea she had in her hands to her lips.
“I love him,” I said after a while, and that seemed to throw her off. Her eyes went wide, and her hands shook when she pushed her mug aside even though she tried to disguise that by drumming a bit on the table with them.
“You’re not his mate.” Those were her words, but it felt like she was saying ‘that’s not possible’, and it stung a bit.
“I’m not pretending to be his mate. I said I love him,” I said, trying to make her see the shakiness of her stance.
“You can’t love him if you’re not his mate,” she insisted.
“Well I do,” I said with equal conviction.
“He has a mate,” Aponi said in a small voice like she was trying to break things down for me as she would do for a child. She leaned forward, making her long dark hair fall around her long face as she gave me a blank look. “And his mate’s a little lost right now, but that won’t last very long—”
“It’s been five years,” I said with a frustrated groan, cutting her off. “Sorry,” I muttered when I realized I had been rude and had surprised her.
“What I’m trying to say is,” Aponi went on, picking at the bracelet made of string that she had on her hand. “He has someone for him, and I know it can be confusing and depressing for someone who’s in your situation—” I lowered my eyes, just knowing she was referring to the fact that I was mateless.
“Ahote’s hurt right now, and like you’ve mentioned it’s been a while, but I’m sure Honon will come to his senses sooner or later,” she said, and I raised my eyes to meet her dark ones. “And I think he has in a way,” she said, shifting her weight on her stool. The kitchen went silent for a while. A lot was on my mind, but I was holding my tongue. As much as I disliked how I was being treated by her I still wanted her to like me. I still wanted the person Ahote saw as a sister figure to accept me.
“I wrote to him a few weeks ago about what’s been happening, and I mentioned Elan. He didn’t know about him. I’m not sure if Ahote ever told you that,” she said.
“He has,” I said in a small voice, and Aponi seemed a little shocked that he told me. Ahote and I had talked about it and I think even though it seemed shocking that Elan’s father didn’t even know he existed, Ahote had good reason to keep that information from him. My eye moved to watch as Aponi reached out for a rag to dab her lips.
She told Honon. I said in my head, realizing the gravity of her words. I wondered if Ahote knew about it. No, he possibly couldn’t. If he did, he and Aponi would be having a match at this moment.
“Anyway,” Aponi started again. “He wrote back to me, and he said he’s coming as soon as he can. He gave me a time frame. He should be here in a few days.”
The blood in my face drained when I heard her words. Honon was coming back? She asked him to come back. Why would she do that without asking Ahote?
“I know why you’re here, and why you’re doing all this,” she said after a while.
Did she really?
“You want to belong somewhere. The intercourse, the markings — they’re not going to make you Ahote’s mate.” Her facial features softened. It looked like she seemed sorry for what she just said. “You don’t need a pack, a mate or cubs,” she went on. “You don’t need any of that, and I’m sure you’d know that having been living without all those things for a long time. Find a human girl, have kids, I don’t know—” she groaned, shrugging her shoulders as her thick brows formed a little frown.
“What are you trying to say?” I asked. My voice shook a bit and came out a bit raspy like I was holding in a cry.
“What I’m saying is. You can have a life. A great life without a mate,” she said. “Just not with Ahote.”
“Does Ahote know that Honon is coming?” I asked, refusing to address the last few strings of words she had said to me. She was indirectly asking me to cut things off with Ahote. I wasn’t going to — as much as I wanted to be in her good books, I wouldn’t even think of it. My mind was more on what she had done in the name of making sure things didn’t work out with us.
Her frown deepened, but she answered me, “no he doesn’t.”
“Alright,” I said before getting off the stool and staring down at her from across the kitchen island. “That’s all I needed to know,” I said, picking up my mug and plate before leaving the room. The calm composure I had displayed broke down immediately after I closed the door of the room I was staying in. I dropped my food on the dresser and started panicking.
Honon was coming back.