(‘Scent’ Excerpt Chapter 4)
After we pulled up into a free car space by the store, I hopped out before Mum. With my new strength and energy, I started to notice she moved slower than I did. She closed the door behind herself, locked it and dropped her keys into her handbag as she pulled out her shopping list.
Whilst Mum spent a few seconds doing all of this, my head turned towards the garage beside the store.
I could hear music playing loudly, as ‘The Cult’ belted out of the speakers of the portable stereo that I had once seen on a shelf inside the garage. I could see a pick up truck was parked halfway inside of the garage, with its front half out in the open air. I guessed it was parked as such so the mechanics could use the sunlight to see into the motor’s dark crevices. I saw that a mechanic who looked to be Ben, was lying underneath the truck and somebody was leaning over the top of it, with the bonnet propped up.
My heart picked up speed, as I recognized the familiar male body wearing scuffed black boots, dirty jeans and a tight grey t-shirt, also covered in dirt and grease. My breath almost caught in my throat, when I recognized the large muscles straining underneath the fabric. I think I stopped breathing as if by sensing me, Declan’s head rose and he turned my way. As quickly as his eyes widened by the sight of me, they next narrowed into a glare.
“OK, let’s get this over and done with.” Mum sung, with the shopping list now in her hand. “This shouldn’t take long and besides, your father is probably timing us on his watch!”
Quickly, I ducked my head as I followed her into the Store, with Declan’s eyes following us.
I picked up a carry basket from beside the door and held it for her as she walked ahead. She was almost speed shopping as she didn’t stop, she just simply grabbed as she passed. The basket quickly began to fill up. I started to appreciate my extra Werewolf muscle, as the basket began to strain under the load.
“Bread…milk…butter…eggs…cheese…juice…toothpaste.” Mum read out the list under her breath, as she breezed down the small aisles.
As I walked behind her, I noticed how we attracted a lot of looks from passersby. But then I realized that people weren’t looking at her, they were looking at me. They were all watching with curiosity in their eyes.
Frickin’ hell, word travels fast in this tribe! Does everybody know that I’m a Werewolf? It looked like it, as I ducked my head to walk quickly after.
As we passed a group of teenaged boys who were hanging around the sweets shelf, their eyes widened as they took me in. I think I even overheard one of them inhale deeply as I walked past. I stopped and turned to give the youth a peculiar look, whose eyes bulged because I looked in his direction.
“Oh, hi B!” the 14 year old raised his hand to give a small wave.
“How’s it goin’?” his 13 year old friend asked next.
“That’s a nice er, top that you’re wearing.” The other 14 year old boy standing with them, fumbled out.
I looked on the kids as if they were nuts! I was wearing a two year old, faded and stretched, red woolen jumper that Grandpa had made as a Christmas present. Not to degrade Grandpa’s workmanship, but there was no way that this jumper looked ‘nice’ anymore, especially with all of the holes I accidentally put in it.
“Come on B.” Mum grabbed hold of my arm to pull me after her.
Just as I was yanked away, I overheard one of the youths critique the one who remarked on my top; “you don’t say nice top you dumb-ass! You’re supposed to compliment women on their shoes!”
When I turned my head back around to give the three a funny look, they instantly stood to attention and waved back. I continued on, shaking my head to myself as I followed Mum to the counter.
I placed the basket on top and began to pile everything onto the surface. This way, the elderly Mr. Barley who owned the general store could mark it off in his book what we were ‘purchasing’. He would put it on our family account for us to make up in a future barter or trade. Since the War, no-one in the tribe used money anymore, as the majority of our money went to trading with outsiders.
“How are you, B?” He asked politely.
“Good thanks Mr. Barley.”
“I suppose with your change, carrying this load isn’t a problem anymore.” He joked, meaning the large amount that Mum was shopping for today.
“Um, no.” I answered awkwardly.
“B’s been stronger than me since she passed her sixteenth birthday. After she turned sixteen, I was getting her to take lids off jars whenever her father wasn’t around.” Mum laughed jovially.
Mr. Barley laughed along with her, before he looked on me closely. “I swear you look taller, as it usually happens to a Lokoti who goes through the change.”
“I think you might be right.” Mum agreed. “I swear she used to be my height, now she’s ten centimeters taller.”
Mr. Barley nodded in acknowledgement as he finished up writing a tally of what we were ‘purchasing’ today. “Here.” He threw in a bonus chocolate bar as he gave a wink. “A new Werewolf needs to keep up their strength.”
“Oh, isn’t that nice!” Mum smiled on his gesture. “Thanks Mr. Barley!”
“A Circulator for a mother and a Lokoti Werewolf for a father; now we have our tribe’s first female Lokoti Werewolf who’s a Circulator.” Mr. Barley said proudly.
Just then I noticed that the other people in the store smiled and nodded in agreement, as they were watching this transaction take place. The three teenaged boys by the sweets shelf waved at me again.
I could feel my cheeks start to burn as I ducked my head in embarrassment at being the centre of such attention. I was relieved to pick up the shopping in the cotton carry bags Mum brought, as I walked out of the store first. But because my head was lowered, I didn’t see where I was going and I walked into somebody who was coming in as I was going out.
“B!” Roger’s eyes widened and I caught him suck in his breath and hold it as he looked me over. He stood almost stuck to the spot whilst he stared, as we were standing outside of the store.
Mum passed by and she took one look at Roger’s face and I caught her snicker, before she walked over to Dad’s truck.
“Um, how are you?” He asked, reaching out his hand to place on my arm. “I heard what happened, are you alright?”
I passed him a look that questioned his sanity, as I moved away from his touch.
“I’m fine thanks Roger, how are you?” I forced out to be polite.
“Me? Oh, I’m fine.” He gulped nervously. “But I’ve been thinking about you a lot, especially now that I’ve heard what’s happened.”
“I’m a Werewolf Roger, I’m not dying from rabies.” I said uncomfortably.
“Oh yeah, I know that. But um, is there anything I can do to help? I mean, can I get you anything? I guess what I’m trying to say is, is there anything you need?” He prattled off.
“No thank you Roger, I’m fine.” I stood there holding four carry bags of groceries. I thought he was being a bit rude, making me stand here and talk to him when he saw my hands were full.
“Oh, can I get those for you?” He started to reach out for my bags of food but I quickly pulled back.
“No thank you Roger, they’re not heavy but my Mum’s waiting for me -”
“Oh, that’s right.” He nodded quickly. “Lokoti Werewolves are a lot stronger than humans and I guess so are you, now that you’re one and all.” I opened my mouth about to excuse myself, when he interrupted again. “I know that when a Werewolf goes through their first change and all, they’re supposed to be in training or whatever and you can’t socialize much. But um, I could come over if you like? I could bring a couple of movies over to your house and -”
However he was interrupted from a low, dangerous growl coming from the garage. Our heads quickly turned, to see Declan standing beside the truck he was meant to be fixing. His head was lowered but a fierce look was directed right at Roger. His teeth were bared and I swear they were looking sharper and I guess so thought Roger.
“See you later B.” He almost flew through the glass door of the Store as he quickly darted inside.
A laugh escaped as I watched him take off and then I turned back around to look on Declan in amusement.
“Did you forget that you already have a boyfriend, B?” He asked sulkily. Then he turned back around to continue his work on the engine of the truck.
I knew he was inferring his little brother but it pissed me off by him saying this. He just acted like Roger’s behavior was my fault! I shook my head in disbelief at his primitive behavior as I marched over to Dad’s truck where Mum was waiting inside.
After I placed the shopping bags in the back, I walked over to the passenger’s side door to climb in. Mum turned the key, started the ignition and she reversed out onto the road. However as she pulled out, I caught Declan watch us leave. I quickly turned my head away to glare out the windscreen, as Mum drove back around the sports field and headed towards the hill we lived on.
She abruptly laughed, “I haven’t noticed that much attention to Werewolf pheromones since I married your father.”
“Shut up Mum.” I said darkly as I felt myself blush, which made her laugh again.
As I stared out at the trees whizzing past, I couldn’t get Declan out of my mind. He was the one who put his hand over mine that morning he drove me home. He was the one who kissed me on the borders of Lokoti land when he stopped me from running into town. And HE has the hide to remind me of MY loyalty to Derik…?
Mum was still laughing about what happened when we arrived home. As I put away the groceries in the kitchen, I had to relive the experience as she told Dad all about it. Whereas she could laugh about it, I noticed he didn’t. In fact, this just made him look more unhappy.
“B, I don’t think you should go out again where people will be, not for a while at least.” He frowned.
“Hunter.” She looked on unimpressed. “What’s that going to prove? B didn’t try to EAT anybody while she was away.”
Dad frowned even deeper, “THAT’S not what I’m worried about.”
“Hunter - ” She began to object, but I interrupted.
“It’s fine with me!” I huffed as I turned away.
Speedily, I left the kitchen to run upstairs to my room to hide underneath the cover of another history book.