The frustration builds and I give in to it, letting my
wolf emerge. I race across the forest floor. The leaves on the trees are dead and I feel a winter storm coming. The pack tries to push their way into my head but I block them out.
When I make it to my destination I see my mother is already waiting on the porch. She knew I was coming. She waits for me with a pair of dark jeans and a black button down. I throw them on and sit on the porch swing.
She is wearing her black funeral dress made with white woven tribal designs at the bottom. Her braids fall perfectly behind her. I notice she is starting to go gray. I’m in no mood for a lecture but my mom has always had the best advice. I brace myself for this conversation.
“So, she wants to leave after all?” She’s filtering through my thoughts. Stupid alpha perks. Can’t wait till I can do that instead of her and father. I shake my head.
“Why can’t she see I’ve done all these things to make her happy?”
“I think she sees and that’s the problem.” She raises a brow at me and I sigh.
“What do you mean?”
“You know she’s right you just are afraid to admit it. You have been so caught up in being your own person that you’ve not given us any credit.”
“You live in fear.” I scoff and she smacks my head. I laugh at the gesture.
“We know how the real world works. You’ve yet to experience it. Our ways may be inconvenient for you but they are necessary. Outsiders tend to hate what they can’t understand my boy.”
“Not Ellie. She was wholeheartedly trying to be what I needed and I didn’t help her. Why does everything have to be that way? Why can’t we embrace change?”
“We can. And we will with you as alpha and chief. I believe you’ll do good things for us but there must be balance. That’s something we never had. It’s always been one way or the other. Now is a time to learn balance.”
“It’s too late. Maybe father was right all this time.” I sigh and run my fingers through my hair, messing it up all over again.
“It’s not too late son.” Father comes outside and sits beside me in a chair.
“Our people have suffered much pain and I have allowed that pain to control me. You don’t and that’s why you’ll be better than me. If you listen to your mother and find balance.”
“Just like that you’re suddenly willing to adapt?” I laugh humorlessly.
“No, it’s taken quite a bit of time actually. Why do you think I entertained your little thanksgiving charade? Or your avoiding duties to be with her? Or the countless other shenanigans you manage to get into?”
I laugh and for the first time in weeks he smiles at me. He grabs me by the shoulder and I feel that familial warmth coursing through me.
“It’s because I was giving her a chance to prove me wrong. She’s one of the rare ones you know? An outsider who easily accepted us, accepted your wolf and your ways. I watched her reading to those children and I knew she cared enough to do what’s right and I realized I should too. When she wanted to help Robert I knew I had been wrong about her. I still believe outsiders can be dangerous to our tribe but she alone is not.”
“She mourns the loss of life for the one she killed. You have to see that.” Mom speaks up.
I nod in agreement. It’s hard not to see the irony at this point. I’ve killed men from other tribes. Men who are supposed to be brothers and yet Ellie is the one regretting their loss of life. I can feel them filter through those thoughts and they nod. They grieve for our brothers too. What a selfish man I’ve been.
“You are young. These lessons come in time. Don’t be angry. Learn from it and decide to fix it.” Mom says as she pats my cheek. I hug her tight.
“I love you mom.”
“I love you my boy. There’s still hope. Fate sent her to you and fate is never wrong.”
“I need to let her decide. I have to stop shielding her don’t I?” Father nods and I sigh.
“The people accept her now it’s time to let her walk into her destiny.”
“How do you know they accept her?”
“For starters they’ve gone along with your silly ideas.” Mom says and I laugh.
“You would feel their rejection. It would overwhelm you. They know she has protected them and they trust she will continue to. They trust fate so I suppose we should too.” I smile at him.
I can’t believe he actually wants me to fight for her. I haven’t given him enough credit. I was so afraid of her slipping away again that I lost sight of the big picture.
“Dad, can I ask a favor?”
“Your wheels are always spinning aren’t they?” Dad laughs and I do too.
These past few weeks have been difficult to say the least. I’m glad we are finding a moment of peace in the pain. Maybe this is the beginning of something even better than I imagined. Maybe when the past and present collide we can build something extraordinary; hope.