Saturday, January 1, 2011

“Next thing we know, Bianca will start running away and hiding from Grant.”

(‘Scent’ Excerpt Chapter 6)

“We can make the Joining Ceremony at 10 o’clock in the morning and then at midday the Housewarming can begin.” Aunt Beth said. “We’ll have all afternoon to celebrate as we set up the new couple’s home.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Uncle Ian agreed. “Grant, Hunter, Em and I will have the place spick and span, repaired and ready by Saturday.”

“We certainly will.” Dad said confidently.

I sucked on my bleeding lip as my fingers madly plaited away the tassels on the square cushion; I had plaited two sides already. Then there was a pause in the conversation as I sensed Grandfather and everyone else look over in my direction.

“I could show you the house this afternoon if you like, B.” Grant offered.

Frickin’ hell, I felt the clothes around my underarms become drenched in a cold sweat. I turned the cushion around and began plaiting the third side as I literally felt like I was unable to speak.

“That sounds like a great idea, Grant.” My mother spoke for me again. “That way B can get an idea of the lay out of the place, so when the furniture and household goods start arriving, she’ll know where to put it all.”

Dad frowned; “B, can you please come and sit at the table and involve yourself in the conversation?”

“Hunter.” Grandpa said softly and shook his head at him to back off.

“A Housewarming this Saturday may be a bit too soon. Is it enough warning for the tribe to scrape together the furniture for the couple’s new place?” Mum wondered.

“It should be fine, Jess.” Grandfather smiled on his daughter. “The Lokoti are a resourceful people.”

“I’ve just finished building the couple’s dining table and chairs and they’ll have two rocking chairs for their lounge room.” Uncle Ian boasted about his furniture construction business.

“You build good furniture, Ian.” Aunt Beth said in approval. “That tallboy and two bedside tables that I gave to my granddaughter for her Housewarming look great.”

“Grant made the two bedside tables.” He said proudly.

He did? I listened in with mild interest to keep my temper at bay. It was almost working too…

“Good work Grant.” Aunt Beth said warmly. “So have you decided to permanently work with your brother in his furniture construction business? Or do you just help out occasionally with the other odd jobs you do around the tribe?”

“I’ve been helping Ian with the furniture or Hunter with house repairs around the community.” Grant told her.

“Talking about construction.” Dad spoke up. “I’ve now scraped up enough glass for us to start the greenhouse repairs at your new place.”

“Cool.” He gave a nod and then he threw a sideways glance my way before he spoke again. “I guess we’ll have the greenhouse fixed before Saturday. B and I could start potting and planting as soon as we move in.”

“Oh and B?” Mum spoke again. “I’ve bought new packets of seed for you. I’ve bought something like ten different kinds of vegetables to get you started in your new place.”

I turned the cushion around as I began to plait the last side.

“Thanks Jess.” Grant said appreciatively for the both of us.

Grandpa cleared his throat. “You certainly seem to be good with your hands, B. Have you thought about taking up knitting or something like it?”

I didn’t answer as I just kept working. My hands twisted and moved as I plaited and plaited. The plaits on the cushion looked like they’d always been like that.

“It’s a nervous habit.” Dad said quietly. “She used to do the same to her ribbons or shoelaces.”

I couldn’t take much more of this; I had run out of tassels to plait and I tossed the cushion aside as I stood up.

“Excuse me.” I bit out, before I turned to head out the front door.

“Good idea B.” Grandpa spoke up. Huh, what was that? I paused in the doorway to give a funny look. He said calmly, “now would be a good time for Grant to show you the new place.”

“What?” Grant looked on Grandpa in surprise, when his older brother nudged him sharply. “Oh yeah,” he quickly stood up.

This is getting beyond a joke! I rolled my eyes as I violently pushed open the door to stomp down the veranda steps.

“That girl is just as skittish as Jess was, when she was growing up.” I overheard Uncle Ian chuckle. “Next thing we know, Bianca will start running away and hiding from Grant.”

“Shut up Ian.” Mum moaned. “That joke is so old.”

Grant came down the veranda steps as he unlocked his jeep with his remote key ring, before he hopped in first. Darn it! I didn’t know how to get out of this so I would have to go along. I let out a frustrated sigh as I opened the door on the passengers’ side and climbed in last.

He didn’t say anything as he turned on the ignition. Whilst barely looking behind, he reversed past the surrounding trucks. Grant drove fast, without looking over his shoulder but instead through his rear-vision mirror. He skillfully reversed out onto the dirt road, before he drove up the hill. I have to admit, the way he just made it look so easy then, was impressive.

We drove half a kilometer up to the cull de sac at the end of the dirt road. There we pulled into another dirt driveway of a small, two-story, brown wooden house with a stone chimney. I had seen the old place before, but it was long ago. Old Mr. and Mrs. Windchime lived in the house before they passed away last year. Grant must have bought the house off their children, who had houses of their own in the community centre.

“How did you buy it?” I wondered aloud as I looked through the windscreen. “I mean, since the War the only time we use money in the tribe is when we transact with the outside world.”

Grant smiled as he said mysteriously; “a transaction for this property did take place but you don’t have to concern yourself with the details.”

Next, he hopped out of the jeep and walked around the front of the vehicle to wait for me. I hopped out, shut the door behind and then I walked over to where Grant stood.

“What do you mean that I don’t have to concern myself with the details? Either that’s a jibe at my sex or my age, like you don’t want me to worry about the cost of living. That’s stupid because I’m being thrust into adulthood by this marriage.” I griped.

“B, this house is my wedding gift to you.” He said simply.

My eyes widened as my mouth dropped, as I looked from Grant to the house in shock…this is his present to ME? A house?!

“Come on, I’ll show you inside.” He laughed at my stunned expression.

He took hold of my hand to lead me up the veranda steps. He only released it to search for the keys in his jacket. I stood back as I watched Grant unlock the front door and then he stepped aside to let me go in first.

I walked into the old, empty place which smelled of freshly sawn wood and lacquer from the repair work currently going on. I even saw a couple of hammers, boxes of nails and sandpaper lying around. The house had a very similar lay out to my home, with the same open-planned living area for the lounge and dining room combined, with a walk-in kitchen. There was a staircase next to the downstairs bathroom-combined-laundry. Next, I headed up the stairs to the second story where I found two bedrooms and another bathroom.

Grant followed me up and retook hold of my hand. Like this, he walked us inside the master bedroom which looked fairly spacious.

“This is our bedroom.” He waved his free arm. “The windows face the front of the house. And this…” he next led us out of that room and into the second, smaller room, “…will be the kids’ bedroom.”

Kids? He’s already talking about kids? I’m still a kid!

This made me feel uncomfortable and I pulled back my hand from his. I walked a little away as I folded my arms in front. Like this, I looked at the woods at the back of the house from one of the windows.

“As you can see, there are blinds on the windows which will give us our privacy. But to make it less bare and more homey, my sisters Vine and Hannah are currently making curtains for us.” He said chirpily. “Plus we’ll be getting my grandparents old rugs to put in the lounge area as well as in the main bedroom, so it will add some coziness.”

I nodded, trying to appear enthusiastic when I really felt the exact opposite. Not only did I feel forced into this situation, but I still felt guilty that Grant was doing this for me and not the woman he was meant to be with. I certainly didn’t feel like a woman, as I still felt like a teenager.

When he walked up behind to wrap his arms around my waist, it made me feel more nervous. He said good-naturedly, “it will all work out B, you’ll see.”

I didn’t know what to say or do. I mean, sure it was sweet the effort he was making for our future. But I was still unsure if I wanted a future with Grant? I guess there was still some small part of me that was still hoping that I could be an actual University student, attending Cambridge. I didn’t want to study by correspondence! I wanted to physically attend class. I wanted to study with other people like me.

But then, I’ll never be able to study with people LIKE me, because now I’m a Lokoti Werewolf. I stopped being like everybody else the first moment I changed. I’m not even like the other Lokoti Werewolves, being the only female amongst all males!

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