Tuesday, September 1, 2015

“You won’t be able to trade in dead moose or caribou to pay your way through.”

  (‘Scent’ Excerpt Chapter 2)

Suddenly there was a loud knock and Declan’s voice suddenly boomed out, “hey, pipsqueaks!”  He had knocked once and then walked into the bedroom.

“DECLAN!”  My best friend yelled as he quickly released my waist.

I jumped up from the bed embarrassed!  It was almost in light speed, I leapt to my feet with my face burning bright red.

“Dinner’s ready.” Declan gave a steely-glare, before he turned around and walked out again.

Has it been half an hour already?  I had lost my appetite, but I was the first to walk out of the bedroom as I went straight into the bathroom and shut the door behind.  I used their sink to wash my hands as I suddenly felt really unhygienic.  I even washed my face and neck where Derik’s mouth had been.  Then I dried off using the hand towel before I took a deep breath and opened the bathroom door again.

Frickin’ hell, I wish Declan hadn’t sprung us… the worst person in the world who could have seen that, would be him.

When I walked out to the dining table, I saw he was sitting on one side of the table glaring at Derik who was sitting on the other, glaring back.  Aunt Susan sat at the head of the table as the matriarch of the family.  I sat at the place setting beside my best friend where my plate of spaghetti bolognaise was waiting.

Derik and Aunt Susan hadn’t started eating yet, as they were waiting for me to sit down but my enemy was already shoveling food into his mouth.

“Declan.” She glared at her eldest. “It’s polite to wait until everybody is seated before we begin our meals.”

He threw his mother a tired look, but he dropped his fork and sat back into his seat as he chewed on his mouthful.  Er, I was sitting down now so can’t he eat?  Aunt Susan smiled at Derik and I and then she picked up her cutlery which prompted us to follow suit.  Declan glared my way next, as he picked up his fork and continued on feeding his face, not even stopping for air! 

Whereas the humans politely cut up the spaghetti, the European Werewolf was merely swiveling his fork through it, picking up a huge amount and shoveling it into his oversized mouth.  I looked on in disgust… and Mandy finds THAT attractive?  He noticed my unimpressed look as he raised his eyebrows.  I shook my head as I looked down at my plate.

“B’s got a point, Declan.”  His mother commented.

“Oh yeah, like B’s the picture of politeness and morality in this tribe.” He sneered.

Derik dropped his cutlery loudly onto his plate as his objection whilst he sent his older brother the look of death.

I quickly changed the subject.  “Aunt Susan, do you still make your own pasta? I noticed that the Store never has any.”

“Ah yes I do B.” She answered. “Speaking of which, I’ve got some extra lasagna sheets you can take home to your mother. She told me that she wanted to try making lasagna soon.”

“Cool.” I gave a nod.

“Your Mom said your Gran has an old family recipe of lasagna.  But when she was telling me about the method, I didn’t think there was enough cheese in it.  Now, I know we can’t get any parmesan cheese around here, as the only cheese that this tribe makes is tasty.  However I recommend that you put extra cheese into the béchamel sauce as well as on the top of the dish.” Aunt Susan instructed.

“OK.” I nodded, before I turned quiet for a minute or two as I thought on how Aunt Susan and Great Grandma were alike.  “You know, you and Great Grandma are the only two women I know who has a list of old family recipes.  I mean, Gran has the recipe for lasagna and toss salad dressing from her Australian family, but that’s it.  I don’t think the Worthall’s passed down any recipes to Gran, as before the War the family had Housekeepers or Cooks and chose from different menus.”

“Cooking is an important tradition in many Italian families.” Aunt Susan pronounced. “When my family as well as Anthony’s left Italy after World War Two, they brought the recipes with them.  In the old culture, cooking was a family activity as well as social ritual.”

“Mom told me that in the old days, they would let the bolognaise sauce stew all day, whilst they made the pasta by hand.” Derik turned my way.

“Really?” I looked on in surprise.

“It’s true.” She verified then she smiled on her sons.  “Derik isn’t really interested in that part of his heritage, but Declan’s got a gift for it.  Declan and I can sit at this table for hours, making spaghetti, fettuccine, lasagna sheets or pasta spirals.”

“Declan?” I looked on the great oaf sitting across in further surprise.

“How do you like your pasta tonight, B?”  He returned smugly.  Then he shot off a look to his little brother.  “If Mom, heaven forbid, dropped dead tomorrow… Derik would be screwed.  He can barely boil an egg!”

“Yeah well Declan, there are more important things to life than just thinking with your stomach.” Derik said coldly.

“You and your books,” he sneered, “like THAT’S going to get you anywhere!”

“How about Cambridge?” Derik said smugly.

Declan paused in his eating to look on in surprise.  “Say what?”

“Derik?” Aunt Susan gave her youngest an inquiring look.

“Cambridge University is open again and B will be applying to study History there.”  He boasted, causing Declan to throw me a shocked look next.

“You’re leaving?”

Huh? Why is he taken aback by this? I was expecting a smartass retort like, ‘good riddance’ or something from him.

“B says I could go with her and do an Undergraduate’s course in Medicine.” Derik told his mother.  “I don’t need to do a Masters or a PhD because Grandpa Wisetail said he’ll take me on as an apprentice Medicine Man.”

“Say what?” Declan’s mouth fell open as he looked back at his little brother.

“Derik!”  My Aunt beamed proudly on her youngest son.

“Since the War, not many schools are open so kids like us, can complete their High School Certificates.  But we’re able to submit assignments with our application papers to be reviewed on a case by case basis.”  He went on.

“I’ll help you pick your best work to put together.” She quickly agreed. “Your biology essays were always the best in the tribe, especially your last on the immune system.  I don’t think we can submit them in your handwriting, but we could borrow Arabella’s laptop and portable printer and type them up -”

“Hang on hang on hang on!” Declan interrupted before he strangely laughed to himself, “Mom, I’m sorry to be the slap of reality here, but how exactly are we going to pay for all of this?”

She looked on her eldest as if his words really were a slap and her face fell.

“No problem.” Derik said coolly.

“No problem?” He arched his eyebrows.  “I don’t think the University operates on a barter system like we have here in the tribe, Derik.  You won’t be able to trade in dead moose or caribou to pay your way through.”  He looked coldly my way before he looked back on his brother.  “B as I understand, has English relatives that live in a castle full of rich and expensive old things that can pay her way.  But what have you got, Derik? What has this family got which will pay for all of this?”

His little brother looked away to tell their mother, “B showed me this website for a company called Hodge Endeavor which will pay my way.”

“Hodge Endeavor?” Her eyes widened with recognition. “They will pay for your tuition, like a scholarship or some such?”

“We came to Alaska to live because a letter from our Great, Great Grand Uncle told us to.  He was a Circulator in the Circulate.  The Circulate run Hodge Endeavor.  Because of Mike Sabre, B was telling me that we have access to Hodge Endeavor money.  They’ll pay for Cambridge.” Derik explained.

“Who’s Hodge Endeavor?” Declan asked skeptically.

“They’re one of the few multinational companies which survived the War.” Aunt Susan said, before she looked my way in confusion.  “B, I understand that with you being a Circulator in the Circulate along with your Mom and your Gran that Hodge Endeavor will pay for you.  But why will they pay for Derik?”

“Because of who you are.” I told her. “Your late husband Anthony was Mike Sabre’s Great Grand Nephew.  Because you’re related, you have his access to Circulate funds through Hodge Endeavor.”

Declan dropped his fork loudly onto his plate and pushed it away, looking cranky for some reason.

“So, my brother is a millionaire because of a distant relation?” He asked in disbelief.  “Well, I don’t need my job at the Garage anymore!”

“You have access to that money too Declan, if you should ever need it or even if you had some kind of inkling towards bettering yourself!” I snapped.

He stood up in a rage so suddenly, his chair fell backwards onto the floor!  I blanched as his blue eyes flashed glowing green, with his circular pupils turning into narrow slits.  Then he growled under his breath before he turned around and stalked out of the room…

… BAM!  I think he slammed his bedroom door behind him so hard that the wood started to split!  I looked guiltily to Aunt Susan, who actually didn’t seem surprised by her eldest’s temper tantrum, but just a little sad instead.

“Sorry.” I said uneasily, then I looked to Derik. “I just thought he was wrong to put you and your dreams down like that.”

He smiled appreciatively as he put his hand over mine.

“No B, it’s alright.” She sighed. “I think Declan is jealous.  Not about Derik’s education, since  he’s never been one for school or homework.  But he can’t leave Lokoti tribal lands, like Derik is being offered the chance to.  Being a Werewolf, there aren’t many places he can go where he can change and hunt freely like he can here.”

Now I really felt bad.  I pulled my hand out of Derik’s grasp to stare down at my plate as I lost my appetite.

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