A Slip Of Tongue
After the talk we had Ahote stopped avoiding me. He would stick around when I would approach him, all to the dismay of his brother. I did, however, notice he was a lot quieter — he was shy. I had gotten better at being around him too. I tried not to stare for too long or come off too strong. Him admitting he was a little afraid of me still had me conflicted.
A deep sigh left my lips as I shook my head and rolled to the side on my bed. I’ve been here for a while now. Things here seemed to repeat themselves on loop. Breakfast, garden, lunch, playtime with the children, dinner. Well, that was Ahote’s schedule and I still followed him around like a baby fowl.
The hunters left without me on their scheduled visit to the city. When I asked one of them told me that they couldn’t get me to wake up and that they just had to leave. I believed him but after a few more days of hearing the same thing after every hunting trip. I had my own reasons to feel Lupa was behind it. He was their leader after all and had the authority to ‘shadow ban’ me.
I tossed around in bed some more before deciding to sit up. My mouth was dry, and the lights peeping through the beaded curtains was starting to affect me. It was around three in the afternoon now. I’d taken a nap — or tried to take one. I was just too restless, and the kids were being noisy. I could hear running feet from the corridor and the screams and laughter that accompanied them. I wondered what they were doing. Chasing each other perhaps?
I got up when the sounds became louder, and one of the yelling voices was replaced by that of an adult. Brushing my hair with my fingers I walked over to my door, unlocking it before I looked out into the hallway. A child ran into the view, pausing when they realized that I was staring at them.
“Elan?” I asked, squinting into the hallway. The child blinked at me before biting his bottom lip. He took a step back, then forward. He seemed confused as if trying to decide if he should take his chances and walk over to me or turn and run back towards whatever was after him.
The little one made up his mind immediately the female voice rang through the hall again. He ran towards me, stunning me so much that I didn’t even know when he disappeared under me and ran into my bedroom. The voice kept calling his name, but it faded away soon. I looked into my room to find the boy hiding under my covers. A small smile graced my face before I closed the door and walked over to my bed. I sat at the edge, looking down at the small bump under the blanket.
“Elan?” My voice was soft as I reached out to pull the blanket away from his face. His head of dark hair popped out, and his brown eyes stared into blue ones. We looked at each other for a while before I let out a laugh and shook my head. Elan was very quiet and wouldn’t talk unless he assessed that he absolutely had to. A bit like Ahote I suppose.
“Hmm,” I hummed to myself wondering what to do with him. I got up, heading towards the dresser at the far end. Elan sat up on the bed, clenching the blankets as he watched me search the drawers. I didn’t have much there. My wallet, fake ID, some post stamps, my camera, some pictures and my phone that I couldn’t use because of bad reception. I’d emptied my backpack immediately I realized I’d be staying here for a while. I stared into the drawer before making a decision. I took out my camera and phone before closing it and walking back to my bed.
“Look.” Elan sat up on my bed when I turned on my phone and looked for a game. It was an alphabet game. I just had to change the language to English. It was something I had on my phone because of the kids back home. Phones weren’t something most werewolves living in secluded packs were in need of. It was mostly just a few landlines and a couple of high-ranking wolves that had cell phones. Kids would come up to us for phones, downloading all sorts of games to play.
My heart sank at the thought, only snapping back to reality when I noticed Elan was tugging at my phone. I gave it to him, giving in a small smile as I watched him press the screen and repeat the things the game said. I feel the number of children and families around me back in Siberia was one of the reasons I was pushed to leave. Looking at them just reminded me that I didn’t have a mate and would never have a family of my own.
Imagine having to give hunters a leave from work to attend to their wives, husbands, and family. Most hunting parties during holiday periods were scanty — the wolves few in number and young. It wasn’t as depressing when I was in my twenties but when I hit thirty I just felt old and out of place with the younger wolves that were left behind when the ones with families took time off. All my friends were getting married, dealing with kids.
I stuck out like a sore thumb.
It had hurt.
“Gosh, Elan I’ve been looking for you stop coming—” I looked up at the sound of the person that had just abruptly stopped talking. Ahote was at the door staring at us with wide eyes. He looked boyish in his work clothes. Loose pants and a big shirt that showed off how lean he was.
He opened his mouth like he wanted to say something, but he closed it again, deciding against it. “You were supposed to be having a siesta,” he said, looking away from me to focus on his child. Elan was sitting on my face red-faced as he held my phone on his lap with a tight grip.
“Sorry.” It was one of the few times I’ve heard the cub say anything. Most times he would just stay quiet and cling to his father or Len. The child looked like he was on the brink of tears, but that didn’t soften Ahote’s look at all.
“He was with me,” I said, making the two of them look at me with similar expressions. “I gave him my phone and he lost track of time,” I said, looking over at Ahote with a smile. The man’s expression softened before he looked back at his confused son.
With a sigh, he shook his head, letting the free strands fly back to expose the braided chunks he had underneath them. “It’s time for supper,” he said as he approached the bed before picking his son up. My phone fell t the bed with a small thump. I picked it up, putting it away. “Are you coming?” he asked me as he cradled his child in his arms. I smiled, nodding my head.
We left the room together and walked side by side in silence for a while. Ahote dropped Elan on his feet when we came to the end of the hallway. I watched the kid run over to Len who was waiting for him. The teenager looked over at me, and then at Ahote. I couldn’t read his expression properly, but he seemed both jealous and suspicious. He hesitated to leave, but he eventually did, leaving me and Ahote in the small room that connected all the hallways. It was also a little prayer room, with ornaments of mood goddesses decorating re red brick walls and elevated shelves. There were also rolled mats piled at the corner. I didn’t know what those were for until I saw someone with their heads bowed down sitting on it as incense burned from a small plate.
“How did you know Elan was going to be in my room?” I asked, piercing the silence with my question. Ahote leaned against the wall, looking straight ahead and not at me.
“That was his dad’s room,” he mumbled just high enough for me to pick up. It seemed like he had thought about telling me this before because his hands were shaking, and he tried to hide them by pulling his sleeves over his hands.
“He doesn’t know what his dad looks like, but there’s this lingering familiar scent even though he doesn’t know what it is, you know?” Ahote said with a small chuckle, but his voice seemed choked. He looked conflicted — his brown doe eyes darting about the room as he licked his lips. It looked like he wanted to confide in someone but was unsure I should be the one.
“I—” he started before pausing. “I just thought I should tell you since he’ll be a little annoying going to your room without no reason...” he trailed as I tucked my hands into the pockets of my trousers.
“It’s fine,” I said, and Ahote looked over at me before looking away and sighing.
“Is Lapu still giving you a hard time?” the man asked, looking at me with a concerned look.
“It’s fine,” I said and Ahote shook his head.
“It’s not, I’ll talk to him,” he insisted looking away from me again. I smiled, deciding not the drag it out with him. I’ve seen him argue with other wolves in the pack. He made it a point to always have the last word. “You wanted to go out to town, right? I’ll make sure they take you out with them next time.”
“Thank you,” I mumbled, edging a bit closer to Ahote. As long as I didn’t get too close I wouldn’t startle him. Being so close to him and my wolf stirring and jabbing at my chest. Edging a bit closer did soothe the scratching feeling in my chest. Ahote was going on about something, but I’d zoned out on his voice, my gaze focused on him as his body moved and expressions changed. I don’t remember when I reached out to grab a bit of his hair, but I now had a chunk of his hair in my hand. I let go when I realized what I was doing, apologizing as I distanced myself from him.
Ahote’s face was red. My face was red. And I guess we both didn’t know how to react since none of us made the first move to speak.
“I want to kiss you.” My eyes went wide at Ahote’s words. Never in a million years would I have expected him to say that. He was frowning now, but he didn’t seem to be angry at me, but at himself. He looked conflicted with his hands folded over his chest and his gaze falling on everything but me.
“Isn’t that strange since I have a mate somewhere out there?” he seemed to be asking me a rhetorical question, so I didn’t answer it. He looked away from me, pushing stray strands of his dark long hair behind his ears as he muttered something under his breath.
“Give me time,” he simply said before gathering himself and walking in the direction of the kitchen. I was left in the prayer room alone and unsure of what to do. I used the knuckles of my balled fist to rub the area on my chest that was suffering from pangs due to my unstable heartbeat.
What was that? I wondered before deciding to head to the kitchen for supper as well.
When I was done eating the first thing I did was make a beeline for the room I was staying in. I searched the drawers, under the bed — everywhere, but the only things I earthed were a few clothes and some books — school books.
That was the name written across the line for it. I flipped through the book, noticing he had a nice handwriting.
It’s math. I thought, nothing another irrelevant thing. I went through all the books stuffed at the top of the drawer, and I was flipping through one some pictures fell out. None of them were pictures of pack members. None of the pictures were even take in any place I could recognize from around. I could guess who Honan was by zeroing in on the person that shared the same traits with the peace river pack members. Tall, lean, strong-jawed and tanned. It seemed the people with him were classmates from college, and one girl stood out in the bunch. She was in every photo, sticking close to him with a big grin. Sometimes she had braids, and sometimes she had an afro or straight hair.
She was beautiful, and I was starting to realize this was who Ahote’s mate left him for.