Finding Truth Behind Legends
A/N: Sorry, but it’s back to Bella’s POV for now. Enjoy, my lovelies.
I think about Will’s cryptic statement as we all eat breakfast, but can’t help checking on Taha several times. He seems to be sleeping, and his temp doesn’t seem any higher than Zander or Greg’s by touch, so let him rest in peace as I go back to my meal.
After breakfast, a couple of the younger pack members take on the cleanup while I sit and relax for a few minutes. I choose to sit on the floor with my back against the wall leading to the entry, but Zander shakes his head at me before picking up a chair from the living room like it weighs nothing. “You need to rest. If you insist on staying close, the least you can do is be comfortable while doing it.”
I nod gratefully, then move so he can place the chair in my previous spot. I curl up in the chair, resting my cheek against the back cushion, just watching Taha sleep. I must have dozed off, because the next thing I know, I feel something warm and fuzzy placing itself on my curled legs. My eyes spring open, only to see Taha’s eyes staring back at me.
He whines slightly, so I ask as I furrow my eyebrows, my fingers finding and caressing his fur, “What are you doing up? You aren’t in any condition to be up walking around yet. Have your bandages been changed recently?”
Aiden answers from the living room couch, sounding almost as tired as I feel, “He won’t let anyone else touch him, even Will. He said you would do it, when the time was right. He wants to make sure you’re okay, though. When I phased and tried to keep him laying down, he almost bit me in his determination to check on you.”
I scowl, but can understand, I guess. I won’t let anyone keep me from him right now, which is why I tried to rest next to him. I hum, then let my caressing fingers find his ears, “Why don’t we check your bandages now, to see how well this new salve is working. Just promise me you won’t push your recovery, or do something your body isn’t ready to handle. I’ll make sure you can see me as much as possible.”
Taha nods, then slowly limps his way back to the pile of blankets he’d been laying on. He stretches out as much as possible, then I clip away the bandages wrapped around his torso. I gasp in confusion when I see the salve has turned from an opaque black to a clear pearlescent blackish-green, calling quickly, “Will?”
Aiden’s head shoots up from the couch to look at me, then he says suddenly, “He stepped outside with his pipe. I’ll get him.”
He’s up off the couch and out the door in a flash. Only seconds later, I hear Will calling as his shuffling steps come closer, “Bella? What is it?”
I point to the salve as he comes into view, asking, “What do you make of this?”
He smiles as he lets out a relieved breath, “That, little coyote, means that it’s working. The infection is being drawn out and trapped in the salve. It’s only been about 2 hours since you replaced his bandages last, so let’s keep with this schedule for the next several hours, until we can see that the salve stops changing color. We must make sure to compress the salve as deeply as possible into each wound, to give it the best shot and not let the wounds close before it is finished. If the wounds close before the salve stops turning colors, I fear that Taha may still be in grave danger. Make sure you use gloves every single time, so you don’t inadvertently become infected yourself.”
As Will starts speaking to Taha in an ancient language, I pull on gloves, carefully scrape out all of the salve, clean each wound with the antiseptic liquid, pat them dry with fresh gauze, then start the process of repacking the wounds with new salve.
Every once in awhile as I work, I can see Taha nodding or shaking his head. He even whines once or twice, and I can see his facial features changing in answer to whatever Will is saying.
When I’m done, I call for Zander, who is nearby. He hands me several rolls of new gauze before moving into place. Before I begin wrapping Taha, I ask, “Will, is he alright?”
He nods with a bright smile, “Yes, little coyote. I was just helping to keep him calm as you worked. He is still in much pain, but your wolf is slowly starting to gain strength again.”
I let out a breath in relief, then smile at Taha before starting to wrap his torso with the new gauze. The process moves quickly, and soon I hear Taha’s stomach growling. I chuckle while tying off the last gauze strip, “Looks like you’re regaining your appetite. I need to clean up a bit now, so I won’t be far, if they place your meal on my bedroom porch again.”
Taha looks deep into my eyes for a long moment before nodding, then turns his head toward Zander. Out of instinct, I kiss the top of Taha’s large wolf head before going directly to my room.
It’s about 15 minutes later that I leave the bathroom, only to hear a bit of shuffling out on my bedroom porch area. Taha looks to be just settling into his meal of a large elk, so I smile before bending down enough to scratch behind his ear, “You must really be hungry. Good. I think I’m going to fix something for myself while you eat.”
He leans his big head into my attention, so I laugh, “As soon as you’re done, I promise to continue. Eat now. You need the strength.”
One of Zander’s younger pups, Shiloh, smiles from the seat he’s taken nearby. It hits me that I never asked how all of the others were with the commotion, so I ask seriously, “Shiloh? Did everyone else come through the fight? It’s been so crazy that I haven’t thought to ask.”
He nods seriously, “Yes, Miss Bella. A couple of us had minor injuries, but we healed on our own quickly. Only Taha was seriously hurt.”
I let out a breath in relief, then look to see Taha digging into his meal before I make my way back inside.
I hear a knock on the front door, but as I reach the entry, Zander is already opening it. He swoops the female into his arms, nuzzles her neck, and I can see the tension leaving his muscles as his chest rises and falls in an even pattern.
It’s clear to see this is his imprint and wife, Lily. The love they have for each other literally saturates the air around them. Not wanting to disturb their moment, I start making my way to the kitchen, but Zander lifts his head enough to ask before I reach my destination, “Bella? I hope you don’t mind, but the separation was becoming difficult, with us all keeping your place on lockdown.”
I turn and walk several steps into the entry while shaking my head, “Never apologize for needing your heart close to you, Zander. My house will always be a pack and imprint safe zone. Your imprints and families are just as welcome in my home as you are.”
They both relax, but I prop my hand on my hip as I say, “Now… I’m going to give the two of you a few minutes to reconnect, but then I expect you to bring Lily to the kitchen, so I can finally meet her properly.”
Lily tries to hide her giggle at Zander’s eyes widening into his chest, but he tickles his fingers along her side as he chuckles, “Yes, ma’am. You have my word.”
I can only shake my head with a laugh as I make my way to my original destination. I find Will sitting at the bar, pouring over Gran Hurit’s healing recipe journal. I smile as I pat his shoulder, making my way to the refrigerator for a bottle of water. He looks up, offering, “I thought I would help you out a bit. I have been making notations for you, like the ones you made earlier. I am using your wolf’s sensitivity when calculating what strengths to use. The salves and ointments will not need to be reduced if used for the coyotes. I talked to Zander, and the dose for tinctures and teas would need to be reduced by half.”
I let out a breath in relief, “Oh, thank you. I appreciate the help more than you know, Will. I really would like to sit down with you soon. I’ve only been flying blind with Taha, and I don’t want that to be the case again, if the pack ever needs me.”
Will smiles as he pats the seat next to him, then offers sincerely, “We will take a day to work together soon, little coyote… once your wolf is healed fully. Until then, concentrate on him and his needs. I will stay until the salve is free of poison, to make sure he is still progressing well, then I will return home for a rest. I live a few doors down, so if you need me, you only need to call, and I will come back.”
My heart fills with gratitude, so I take both his hands in mine, whispering sincerely, “Thank you, so very much. I promise to come see you when Taha is well again. In the meantime, can I get you anything?”
He chuckles, shakes his head, then motions to a steaming cup of tea, “I am fine for now, thank you. You need nourishment, though.”
That’s when I notice my stomach growling, and remember that I came in here to fix myself something to eat. With a chuckle of my own, I turn to the cupboard, but Zander and Lily come in, with Zander offering, “No cooking for you, little coyote. Sit back down. Lily brought you lunch, thinking you might forget to eat with everything going on.”
I turn in surprise, only to see Lily blushing slightly as she holds out a covered dish. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Bella. It’s nothing special, just a small chicken pot pie. One of the very few things I make well.”
After pulling a fork from the drawer, I greet Lily and thank her, then sit back down at the bar. The scent that greets me -when I lift the lid to the dish- reminds me so much of my Gran Marie. I grin widely, then quickly take a bite, only to moan happily as the flavors melt on my tongue.
Will and Zander both chuckle, but after swallowing, I look to Lily seriously, “If you teach me this recipe, I’ll teach you 3 recipes of your choice in return. This reminds me so much of my Gran Marie’s pot pie, but I’ve searched every recipe I have of hers, and could never find it.”
Lily beams at me as she relaxes in Zander’s arms, “Really? Of course, I’d be happy to. Just just let me know when.”
I dig my fork in for another bite, promising, “When things calm down a bit, I’ll be sure to hold you to that. This is so much like Gran’s. I can almost picture her in the kitchen making it. I’ve never tasted another that compares.”
I’m happily savoring the last of my meal while talking to the others when I hear a noise behind me. I turn in time to see Aiden and Shiloh placing Taha gently down on his pallet of blankets near the dining room table. I smile at him; in return I see the tension in his muscles relax as he settles on the blankets.
Quickly excusing myself as I set my fork down, I make my way over to kneel next to Taha. I gently stroke his muzzle, taking the chance to check that his gauze wrap is still in place, then whisper while looking into his eyes, “Rest. Please. You need to save your energy, so you can heal.”
He tilts his muzzle further against my hand as his eyes slowly close. I continue to stroke his face for a minute, but quickly notice that his breathing has morphed to a slow and steady rhythm. I go to stand, only to hear Taha whimper slightly when my hand leaves his fur.
I don’t want his rest disturbed, and since Taha seems to feel comfort from my presence, I change my plan. Instead of going to rest in the chair, I turn to curl up near his head, my hand resting back on his muzzle. Zander must understand what I’m doing, because seconds later, he hands me a pillow for my head with an understanding smile.
Taha’s body heat is soothing, so it isn’t long before that and the soft murmur of conversation around me causes my eyes to drift closed.