(‘Scent’ Excerpt Chapter 5)
When I returned home from my walk, I saw Dad’s truck parked in its usual spot, by the side of the house. Then I slowed my steps when I saw several more trucks and one familiar black jeep, parked out the front. I recognized that the vehicles belonged to Grandpa, Grandfather and one of the other Tribal Elders, but I wasn’t sure about the jeep. I had seen it around the community center before, but I couldn’t remember who drove it.
Why were the Tribal Elders at my house? They only convened at the meeting hall or on the Holy Grounds for ceremonies. What business did they have here? As I came closer to the house I heard a heated discussion, so heated it sounded like arguing. I picked up Mum’s voice first and she didn’t sound happy about something.
“She’s not even 18 years old!” She said angrily.
“But she’ll be 18 in a month.” Aunt Beth, one of the Tribal Elders spoke calmly.
“She’s talking about going to University!” She exclaimed.
“Jess, you know that B can never leave our lands now. She’s tied to her hunting grounds, the place of her ancestors. It’s in her blood.” Grandpa stated.
“Bianca’s future changed the moment she did.” Aunt Beth declared.
“But she’s a Circulator too! She’s going to live longer than 200 years like the other Lokoti Werewolves. She can’t stay here for the next 1,000 years or until she evolves, it’s unfair to expect that.” Mum debated.
“Right now, it’s too dangerous for her to leave our land. The first night she changed, she went hunting for human. With her speed as a Circulator coupled with her Werewolf bloodlust, we nearly couldn’t catch her before she reached town. She needs to be trained, to curb her bloodlust towards animal and not human.” Dad said matter-of-factly.
“It took Declan, who is stronger and faster than us, to catch her when she escaped.” Grandfather noted unhappily.
“By B taking a mate and an older Werewolf at that? One who has experience and training, he would help her contain her bloodlust.” Grandpa explained. “By B bonding to an older Werewolf, it would help her learn control and give her peace.”
What the…? Did they just say that they wanted me to take a MATE?! I froze, as I was dumbfounded by the very idea!
“How is an early marriage supposed to bring her peace?!” Mum retorted. “And an ARRANGED marriage at that?!”
There was an awkward moment of silence, before Dad tried to explain it to her. “Jess, when a Lokoti Werewolf takes a mate, it brings out more of their protector instincts which in turn lessens their predator inclinations. Since the mating process is very much a biological and empathic bonding ritual, if B took another Werewolf as a mate? They would become attuned to each other. B’s mate would help her crave animal flesh because that’s what he would crave. Then the older Werewolf would be able to sense when B is about to change and be there for her to take her hunting.”
“Hunter you’re talking about marrying off our 17 year old daughter!” Mum cried out in frustration.
“Jess, do you really think that I would be in support of this if this was a bad idea? Do you think that I would allow the Elders or even the pack tell me what to do with my daughter, if what they were recommending would hurt B? You know I only want the best for my daughter, my little one…and what the pack and the Elders are advising is the right thing.” Dad sounded frustrated too.
Mum moaned as I heard the floor boards creak, indicating that she was doing her customary pacing up and down which she always did, when she was unhappy about something.
My mouth turned dry as my stomach churned in a sickening way. My parents, as in my very own Mum and Dad; were letting the pack and the Elders try to marry me off? Just who am I expected to marry…?
“Jess, think back to the day that Hunter saved you from those strangers.” Grandfather spoke. “Do you remember when he was gravely injured and I told you that you had to make your decision? Do you remember when I told you that I knew Hunter would make a good mate? I wasn’t wrong, was I? You and he have been very happy together. Now we are telling you the same thing about your daughter. I know that this is the right decision for B.”
“So you’re saying that you’re 100% certain that this person here is going to make my little girl happy?” Mum asked in disbelief. “But what about Derik?”
I heard Dad sigh in resignation. “Derik would have made a good mate for B…if she had remained human. But he can’t help her with controlling the bloodlust or take her hunting.”
Then who are they talking about MATING me to? Oh no, they’re not talking about Declan, are they?
“But – but – but can we at least give her a bit more say of who she would like to marry in the pack?” Mum started to argue again. “Since the pack is her only option in the choice of husband material?”
“There are only two males in the pack who are unmarried and they are both older than Bianca. But we have decided on this particular Werewolf because we think it would be risky if she were mated to the other.” Grandpa said.
“So basically she only has the one alternative? That’s not much in the range of choice!” Mum scoffed.
“She can’t consider Declan as a mate for two very obvious reasons.” Grandpa spoke as the tribe’s Medicine Man. “One, it would cause a rift in his family between he and his brother. Two, is because he isn’t a Lokoti Werewolf, he’s a European Werewolf. Declan is still battling to keep his bloodlust under control and we aren’t sure of the mating habits of his breed. As far as we know, his species isn’t designed for long-term mating. His breed of Werewolf doesn’t live in packs and his species has never been sighted with a long-term mate. His Werewolf gene may or may not be passed genetically from him to his children? But more importantly, he could harm the woman who is not of his breed when he mates with her.”
My eyes fell as my hands clenched into fists. Hang on a sec…I don’t feel disappointed that they’re not talking about mating me with Declan, am I? I should be happy about this! Even if I don’t want to take a mate, at least it wouldn’t be him. Then who the hell were they talking about fixing me up with?!
“Fine, I can see that Declan would be a bad choice because of Derik…but still. Isn’t there some way of giving my daughter a bit more of a choice? Or what about you, wouldn’t you prefer to choose who you would like to be your mate?” Mum asked somebody.
“Who me?” a familiar male voice asked back. “It’s OK, Jess. I’m unmarried because I don’t have anyone in mind.”
“Then wouldn’t you prefer to remain single a bit longer?” Mum asked this person. “Until you make up your mind yourself on whom you would like to spend the rest of your life with?”
“Um, I don’t mind really.” I heard this person say bashfully. “I respect the advice of the pack and the Elders although I’ve never seen B that way before, I guess because she’s much younger than me. But she’s friendly, polite and pretty. I know what the mating process entails, so I don’t imagine myself being unhappy or B either.”
Is this person inside the house, now? The voice was so familiar, I could almost picture whoever it was that’s speaking. Right, that’s it! My curiosity got the better of me, I have to find out who this person is!
“Bianca’s home.” Grandfather spoke, hearing my approach.
This silenced everybody as I reached the veranda steps. I threw open the front door and as I walked in, I immediately spotted Mum who was pacing up and down. Dad was sitting down next to Grandfather on one couch and on our second couch, sat Grandpa and Aunt Beth who were on the council of Tribal Elders… and Grant Elm stood by himself in front of our fireplace.
My eyes widened as I looked on Grant...of course! It was his voice that I heard talking and it’s his black jeep parked on our drive way. He’s the younger brother of Uncle Ian, Dad’s best friend so he’s like a cousin or something. He’s the one I’m expected to MATE with?!
“B…” Dad began.
“Grant is 10 years older than me!” I said indignantly. “He babysat me once when I was 13 years old when you, Mum, Gran and Grandfather went to
for a night!” Australia
“B…” Grandfather began.
“What’s his hourly rate going to be as my husband, the same when he was babysitting me?!” I exhorted, hurt. “But it seems like he’s still going to be babysitting me, isn’t he? And that’s why you picked him!”
“B…” Grandpa began.
“No way!” I cried out. “I’m going to
to get a Bachelor of Arts in History! I’m NOT getting MARRIED!” Cambridge
“B…” Mum began.
But I didn’t hang around to hear what they had to say, instead I turned around and took off through the front door! I leapt from the veranda, down onto the drive way and I high-tailed it back into the forest. Everyone else in the room looked to each other uncomfortably, as Grant frowned thoughtfully.
“At least she’s a good runner.” Grandfather tried to look on the bright side.
“She must make a good hunter, being able to outrun her prey.” Aunt Beth agreed.
“Is she wearing a new perfume?” Grant mused.
“No, those were the pheromones you could smell.” Grandpa smirked.
“Oh.” He pondered this. “She smells good.”
“All of the young available men of the tribe would agree with you.” Dad sighed wearily as he rubbed his face.