Fur vs Skin

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13.

Life always offers you a second chance. It’s called tomorrow.


My mind plays with the strings of my attention, pulled into the space that inhabits all my thoughts and worry. The walk back to the cabin was more silent than the first venture, neither Santha, Arsen, or I spoke during the walk; my mind replaying the events with Maarika. I couldn’t help the continuous cycle of hurt and sympathy for Arsen as we grow closer to the place I’ve been occupying for a while now.

This hurt stems from the own death of my mother and the absence of my father, our situations somewhat similar and intertwining. The single thought invites the memories I have tried too hard to bury, to forget and understand everything that’s slowly spiraling around me.

Soon enough, we were at the steps of the cabin, Santha moving forward to unlock the door. She widens it enough for both Arsen and me as the warmth that flooded from the fireplace instantly flushes my face just as I step over the threshold. I release a content sigh, finally escaping the harshness of winter that aimed for my soul; Arsen closes the door behind him with a soft thud.

“Lock the door, please,” Santha sounds from the upper level.

Shaking off the large coat from my shoulders, I turn to see Arsen staring at the handle of the door, face etched with confusion as his hand hovers near its structure. A small chuckle heaves from me as I toss the material in my hands onto the coatrack and move to his side.

“This is the lock,” I explain softly, reaching for the object above the knob, “turn it this way,” I twist my hand to the left, the clicking of the lock snapping in place, “and it locks.”

His stare burns the side of my face. I make the mistake of connecting our gazes, the richness of his eyes brings a deeper warmth to my body than the fire that exists not too far from us. The sizzling of electricity roars with newfound energy. The irises of his eyes gradually expand, his wide frame seeming to grow larger as he slowly stands to his full height, I will myself not to completely lose my sense of understanding the longer we hold our gazes, his features becoming more noticeable.

The betrayed image of my fingers running along the structure of his cheeks presses to the forefront, slowly caressing his chin with the small growth of stubble among it, and to trace the outline of his lips. . .

A pull anchors my stare from his eyes to said destination. I finally realize my situation, my back to the wall with Arsen towering over me. My breathing increases at his proximity, his state resembling my own. The world seemed to have faded away only leaving us as its inhabitants. My hands ached at my sides, curling to cease the trembling and urge to reach up and bring his face close to mine; to inhale his aroma and coat my body in his scent and let those around me know that he was mine and I was his and to bear a mark that tied my soul to his.

I jerk in place, the sudden animalistic turn of my thoughts striking me with shock. I blink away the haze and look up at Arsen with clear sight, his own taking on a darker shade that reminded me of night. His body bows, slowly closing the height difference between us.

“Wait. . .” I whisper, gulping and pressing my fingertips into the fabric of his shirt, heat gliding from the those of his body.

“I’m sorry. I. . I don’t know what – I don’t. .” I turn away from him and remove myself from his space, cheeks flaming with blood as I travel to the living room area.

As if on cue, Santha descends the stairs, the distant noise of the toilet flushing following her. She wipes her palms on the back of her jeans to rid of the remaining water that lingered. Raising her gaze, her eyes connect with mine before shifting to Arsen, his frame still standing near the small hallway of the front door.

Flickering between us two, registering my flushed cheeks and Arsen’s darkened orbs, realization lights her eyes with amusement, her feet slowly carrying her to the kitchen where she resided her frame behind the counter.

“Did I miss anything?” she asks slyly.

“No,” I answer.

She raises a brow, flicking her gaze toward Arsen again before sliding down the front of his body, the amusement that lingered growing with each second before she turns away.

“Suree. . .” she drawls, chuckling to herself as she turns, handle on the fridge, and scavenge through its content.

Curiosity gets the best of me as I turn toward Arsen, his complete focus on my being. It wasn’t until I let my eyes roam down the front of his body did I notice the tent in his jeans.

“Oh my god. .” I whisper into my hand as I quickly swivel around.

The image of his print embedded itself into my mind with no intention of leaving, the awareness bringing forth a heat to my body. Walking toward the sofa, I plop myself in the cushion and keep my eyes on the flames that swayed to an invisible breeze and brought an extra glow to the room.

“Arsen head upstairs and fix yourself,” Santha tells him, mirth laced in her words. “Food will be ready by the time you come down.”

I use my sense of hearing to dictate his movements, nothing happening for a short moment before the thud of his footfalls resonates and carries up the stairs: his stare continuing to burn the back of my neck. His steps grow distant and the squeak of the bathroom door opening and closing puts me at ease.

A short minute of silence follows before Santha speaks up again.

“You sure you don’t want to—”

“No!”

Santha’s laughter rings through the air, the clicking of her turning the stove on signaling there would not be any further questions. I finally unwind my taunt muscle from their coils, slouching further into the sofa.


My hand glides effortlessly across the page, pressing the pencil harder into the pad to create a darker shade for color. My mind creates an image before me, my hand translating what my mouth cannot describe into a drawing. The crackling of the fire brings a sense of nostalgia to my veins, my toes curling in the cushion of the chair: angled near the fireplace.

As the sun dips below the horizon, a golden hue illuminates the surrounding area, bouncing from objects and presenting my drawing with a realistic appearance as I place the last finishing touches.

“Are you done?”

Shifting my attention, Santha closes the distance between, pushing a few pieces of strands that escaped from her ponytail behind her ear. She steps into a single ray of the fading sun, the glow heightening the melanin in her skin, her steps bring her to the back of the chair, her eyes cast to the sketchpad on my thighs; the object borrowed from one of the drawers in the bedroom.

“Wow, that’s an amazing drawing Amelia.”

My heart stutters at the praise, shyness getting the best of me as I look down at the said drawing. A rose filled the middle of the page, sketched in a 3D format. Its stem was littered with thorns, some small and some big as two petals peeled off to the side in a motion of falling from the core.

“Is there a meaning behind it?”

She reaches for the pad and I had it to her, mulling the question into my consciousness with a frown. Does it? Now that the question was being asked, I wasn’t sure, my hand was in charge of the movements while my mind played as the fuel for something I did not have the answer for.

“I’m not sure,” I answer.

“You wouldn’t draw this for nothing if your mind wasn’t trying to portray something to you,” she tells me, her words ringing in my ears as she pulls the page upward to glance at another.

“This is honestly really good,” she mumbles, returning to the previous once she realizes the others are blank.

Handing me back the sketchpad, she places her hand on my shoulders and squeezes them gently before moving them away.

“You hungry? Food is just about done; I can also make you a plate.”

Swinging my legs around and placing them on the ground, I set the pad on the coffee. She moves away from my space and crosses the path between the kitchen and living just as the front door swings open. It thuds loudly against the wall, my body snapping into alertness at the aggression behind it. Santha stands in the semi-hallway just before the stairs as she stares with furrowed brows in the direction of the figure.

“What have I told?” she questions with a stern voice. “ہمارے پاس ان سوراخوں کو ٹھیک کرنے کے ہمارے پاس پیسے نہیں ہیں کہ آپ جو سوراخ بناتے ہو اسے ٹھیک کریں!" her voice clips angrily in her language, something that I could not understand.

“I’m sorry honey,” Marcus’s voice flows evenly from the entryway.

My body settles as he closes the door and steps into my line of sight. I notice the difference in his posture, his shoulders stiff and broad with coiled muscles that rippled beneath his shirt, the features of his face no longer holding the familiar smile he always withholds; Santha notices as well, moving forward and grabbing ahold of his hand.

Her previously annoyed expression relaxes once she notices his changed demeanor as well. She glides her hand from his to stroke his forearm, her actions visibly coaxing his body to a relaxed state, they lock eyes, speaking to one another through their eyes, and leveling their breathing together. I shift my gaze away from them, their intimacy making me feel as if I was intruding.

The thuds of footfalls from the stairs distract me and reel my attention to Arsen as he descends the last step and accesses the scene before him, he looks them up and down with alert eyes before turning to look over my frame.

I standoff between the coffee table and large couch, wiggling my toes in the rug as I return his gaze. My mind tries to stray down a darker path to no avail as Marcus makes a move to sit at one of the bar stools at the counter.

“What’s wrong?” Santha asks.

Marcus holds his nose and heaves a sigh. “It’s the elders.”

“What about them?”

Arsen crosses the room and rounds the couch from the opposite side of where I stood and positioned his body in the middle; not too close to me and not too far. Watching him for a second, I mimic his action, giving rest to my legs as sit on the edge of the armrest.

“They wanted to speak to me about Amelia. .”

The organ caged inside the contraption of my ribs alerts me of its pace, thudding loudly in my ears and rushing blood quickly throughout my veins, the appearance of anxiety not too far behind.

“What did they say?” I question this time.

Marcus lifts his head, Santha moves from his view and shifts to stand at his side.

“A couple of them expressed their disinterest in your stay here, and the only way you could stay longer is if you participated in the pack’s activities.”

“What?”

Santha cranes her neck toward him with an incredulous expression, the thought far from her mind as the sentence hangs in the air.

“What made them make that decision?!”

“I’m not sure, they can also sense wolf genes in her blood, that’s the only possible guess,” he explains, looking at me with sad eyes, “I tried but there’s only so much I can do in my position.”

I nod slowly, still stricken at the facts.

“Although,” Marcus straightens his back and looks me in the eyes, “I won’t let you walk there blinded, I will inform you about our customs.”

Santha sighs as well, her fight to defend my stay at the cabin diminishing and will only fall to deaf ears. Turning her body, she catches my eyes, sharing her gentle aura and sympathy.

“There’s nothing to worry about, you’re in good hands. Nothing wicked will happen to you.”


a/n:

ہمارے پاس ان سوراخوں کو ٹھیک کرنے کے ہمارے پاس پیسے نہیں ہیں کہ آپ جو سوراخ بناتے ہو اسے ٹھیک کریں! = We don’t have the money to fix the hole you keep making!

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