❝Who we are and who we need to be to survive are two very different things.❞
It took a couple of days for my head to fully heal, the throb of it kind of being a reminder of where I was and how I have gotten here and what I know now, those days also consisted of me standing near the window and watching the storm pass by. Not a single moment helped settle my mind.
Questions took up most of my mind, most of them questioning myself; why am I still here? Why aren’t I running away? And I silence all with the same answer because I simply have nowhere else to go, the image of my mother flickering in and out of my mind. I shut my eyes and breathe out heavily.
There was a time Marcus asked what happened that lead up to me being lost in the woods, it didn’t take much for the memories to come pouring into my head, knocking the breath out of me, I physically could not get the words out nor did I want to; it would definitely take some time before I was able to even open my mouth about the matter.
The distant sound of thumping causes me to open my eyes and stare out the window, watching as Arsen places another tree stump on the board, he raises the ax above his head, his back bare as the muscles contracting with the movements.
That was another problem.
Something was up and I didn’t know what it was, whenever we were in a room together the temperature would rise and the air between us will zap and attack at my nerves; a force trying to bring me near his body. He never spoke, just simply stared with an intensity only the sun could give off. I continued to watch as he nudged the chopped wood off the board and placed another stump on top and drew the ax once more above his head.
I jump, startled, and turn around coming face to face with an unknown woman — who seemed startled by my sudden movements. Regaining her composure, she smiles at me, her brown eyes glimmering.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you, it wasn’t my intention. You’re Amelia, right?” she speaks, her tone soft as she steps a bit closer into the room.
I nod, my heart slowing down from its fright, “Yes, that’s me, and you are. .?”
“Ah, I’m Santha, Marcus’s wife,” she says. “I’m sure he’s told you about me.”
“He better,” she laughs to herself, “Are you hungry? I can make a little something for you.”
I cast a small glance behind me, to see Arsen still working the ax, turning back; I nod. “If you don’t mind?”
“Of course not! This way.”
Santha soon leads to the kitchen where she soon set up to makes dinner, pulling ingredients from the cabinets and more from the fridge, it seemed she knew her place around as she moved and shifted swiftly in the given space.
“I’m sorry it took me this long to introduce myself,” she starts to say, the pan on top of the stove sizzling as the grease began to pop, “I was away, visiting family when I heard of your arrival.”
She looks over her shoulder at me as I sat at the island counter, the white of her smiling standing out against her dark brown skin, she soon turns back around and focuses on the food she’s cooking, her hands moving around and grabbing for things. There was a short moment of silence as I drift off with my thoughts, my eyes focused on her back, it wasn’t long before she spoke again.
“Just before I came here, I heard a few whispers from my people that Arsen found you passed out in the snow not too far from where we are and carried you here, correct?” I slowly nod before verbally answering when she couldn’t see me.
“I see.” Santha mutters, “Marcus also mentioned that you know about us and what we are.”
“Yes,” I whisper, looking down at the counter, tracing lines and designs.
“Then I hope you can trust me when I say there is nothing to be afraid of,” she softly says, clicking the stove off. “We aren’t here to harm you but help you, whenever you’re ready to tell us what happened to you, we’ll still help. No need to be afraid.”
At her words, there was like a slight weight has been removed from my chest, I didn’t realize that a fear was feasting on my heart and has been harvesting there since Marcus revealed to me what he was, hearing her speak what she said made me also realize the truth behind it. Holding her gaze, I nod.
There was a motherly undertone to her smile, “You’re welcome. Eat up, don’t want the food to go to waste.”
I could only nod and take hold of the plate and dig into the steak and rice she fixed for me.
My time spent with Santha consisted of her telling me the things she knew, the people I had a glimpse of seeing my first day here were her, or in other words, her and Marcus’s pack. The pack was full of different people who seek refuge or had no place else to go, the people who sought refuge were the ones that have come from being banished from other packs — which I found out there was a name for them; rogues.
These people are also from fallen packs that had no family members in others or who have been rejected from others. She told me she and Marcus accept those that needed help, him being the Alpha, he gave each person a job to do to benefit the building pack he was creating.
She told me not to be afraid when the time comes, and I’m able to coexist with them, they’ll be nothing but welcoming. Santha also tells me a little about herself and Marcus, she’s Indian while Marcus is full American, they have been together for ten years, she’s been unable to conceive a child for the past six — at my sadden expression, she told me she accepted that she wasn’t meant to have a child.
The door to the cabin opens and Marcus walks inside, his eyes immediately cut over in our direction as his gaze zones in on Santha. A smile breaks across his face, his feet moving our way. I can only watch as he towers over her smaller form, leaning down to place a gentle, lingering, kiss on her lips before pulling away but not completely — his face stuffed in the crook of her neck.
The way her dark skin contrasted with his lighter toned one was like a canvas painting the rising sun as colors clashed over the horizon.
“What were you both talking about?” Marcus asks, lifting his head.
Santha smiles up at him, eyes lighter than ever, “Not much, feeding Amelia here information about the pack.” her hand runs down the length of his forearm, caressing the skin.
He hums, “I see,” he then turns to me, “I brought a few of your things that were found on your person, the first night you were here.”
He reaches from his back pocket and pulls out a wallet that seemed too feminine for his touch and handed it to me, I took it from his hands, hesitating to open it. The wallet cracks as I flip it, the first thing in sight being my driver’s license and soon followed my credit cards and other important things.
“This is the small information we found out about you,” I hear Marcus say.
I continue to go through the wallet, I find a few bills inside and soon come across something folded that’s hidden behind the money, I pull it out and unfold it only to have all air leave my lungs; it was a picture of my parents. The snapped memory of them in their early years, but still the same, my eyes naturally shift to gaze at my mother— her smile blinding through the photo, quick images of her bloodied body on the floor of our home flashes to the frontier of my mind. I felt my eyes stinging with the presence of tears as the images plague my thoughts and haunt my whole being, I release a shuddering breath and place the photo down.
“What’s the matter?”
I shake my head, “It’s. . it’s a photo,” I swallow thickly, “of my parents.”
Santha shifts forward. “May I?”
A swift bob of my head is all she needed as I fixate my gaze on the counter, watching the picture was slid from my view. The kitchen was silent as they both gaze at the photo, keeping their questions to themselves.
“You look a lot like your mother,” Santha whispers, I could only nod.
“Well,” Marcus exhales causing me to look up, he takes the photo from his wife’s fingers and hands it back to me. “We are here if you need to speak about something or ask questions.”
I look at the picture in my hand once more, my lips forming around the word. “Okay.”
Later in the day, I move to the living room near the fireplace as the night brings colder air, thunder rattled the air and lightning lit up the sky in strips, following along like veins as a storm threatened to bring down hell upon this cabin. The front door opened with an audible thud, I whip around to see Arsen large frame walking through the door and filling out the threshold, his hazel eyes flicker around the inside before they land on me and stay there, again, I find myself being sucked into the warm pools that invade his eyes.
“Is that Arsen?” Santha calls from the top of the stairs causing his eyes to snap away, releasing me.
“Are you done chopping all the wood?” she asks him, moving down the steps.
He nods, strands of hair falling over his eyes, she smiles at him as she makes it to the last step and immediately moves to the kitchen, “Good job! I know you’re hungry so go take a shower and when you come back down the food will be ready.”
He doesn’t say anything only looks in my direction and I quickly look away, focusing on the flames that produce heat my body needs, a moment later the door is shut and Arsen’s heavy steps thud against the wooden planks and up the stairs and to the bathroom where the door then is heard being shut from there.
I look away from the coffee table and toward Santha who was busy cutting vegetables on a cutting board.
“Does he. . talk?” I couldn’t help but question.
She lifts her eyes for a second, “No,” she says, gathering the chopped onions and turning to throw them in the pan she placed on the stove. “I’m not sure, I’ve never heard him talk to be completely honest.”
“Really?” I whisper, surprised.
“Yup! He’s been like that ever since he was little, I’m sure you have seen his wolf side, right?”
“He rarely shifted back then because of something that happened in his childhood, this is one of the few times that I would see him fully shifted back.”
I nod, pressing my lips together to keep myself from asking about something that I had no business asking when I haven’t told the reason I left home yet. I sigh, leaving those words floating in my head, briefly looking out the window — that brief moment giving me enough time to catch bright yellow eyes looking through the window, focused directly on me. I sit frozen, staring and watching as white flashes beneath the eyes.
Fear slams against my lungs but leaving enough air for me to inhale and soon I find myself screaming. Within the cabin, a roar is sounded through the air.