Link hung up the phone and turned toward his wife. "She'll be here - save her some pie." He said with a chuckle.
"Are you going to tell her?" Jenny asked, putting aside the bowl she'd been mixing in to give him her attention. The kitchen was perfectly neat despite all the cooking she'd done this morning. She hated a messy kitchen more than anything.
Link didn't meet her eyes. He turned away and grabbed his coat off the hook on the door. "I'm going out to the garage to do a little work before the guys get here." He knew he wouldn't make it out of the house but he tried. He didn't want to have this argument with her again.
"Lincoln Xavier Price!" Jenny's voice, in that moment, reminded him of his mother's when he'd gotten in trouble as a child.
"Jenny..." Link could feel his eye twitching slightly as emotion trembled inside him. He slowly turned back toward her, "No, I'm not." He'd already fought with the others about this issue, he'd been overruled. He didn't want to fight his wife on it as well, especially as he had no control over the matter.
"She has a right to know!" Jenny exclaimed, her hands were resting on her hips; her face was set with a deep frown.
"I agree!" Link said loudly, louder than he meant. He cringed as Jenny's usually sweet face fell even more; he hated to see her look upset in any way. "I know she does Jenny." he said softly. "But it's not my call." He walked over to her and put his hands gently on her shoulders.
"She's your sister...or as near as you have to one..." Jenny said, a small pout on her face. "Link, she needs to know what she is."
"The pack master has decided Jenny, I can't go against the pack." he said as firmly as possible, though it was almost as difficult to refuse that pout as it would be to disobey pack law. "Now, I'll be in the garage." He turned away from her quickly and threw on his coat.
The coat was more for the neighbors' sake than anything else. It was a chilly November day but Link didn't feel the cold bite into his skin the way others did. He waved at Mr. Johnson, the older man across the street. He was raking up a pile of leaves and waved back.
Link saw the curtain stir at their living room window and saw the outline of Mrs. Johnson through the glass. She was a nosy old woman but grew some of the best tomatoes in her garden. He tried not to smile at her, lest he give her something new to think and gossip about.
Once safely away from snooping eyes, he shucked the coat and popped the hood on the old beast. As he grabbed a few tools, he turned on some music. The music poured out the speakers and Link got lost in the mechanics of the car.
He didn't hear the door open and close or hear her clear her throat as a result. "Link!" Jenny snapped finally, dragging his attention around to her. He narrowly avoided cracking his head on the metal body of the beast.
She was frowning slightly but there was a twinkle in her eye that he knew all too well. She had a plan and had already made up her mind about it, telling him about it before hand was merely a courtesy she was affording him. "What?" he asked, trying to keep his face neutral.
"I'll tell her, then you're off the hook." she said with a confident grin. "I'm not pack and you told me before the pack law so I'm not bound..."
"Jenny..." Link said carefully. He gave her ill-conceived plan thought for a moment before dismissing it. The pack didn't see things the way most people did and they certainly wouldn't agree with Jenny's logic in this matter. "You know it won't work that way Jenny." he said finally.
"Why not?" she asked, the sweet pout returning to her face. "Why is he so afraid of her knowing anyway?! Wouldn't it be better for her to hear from family?"
Link considered his words carefully, "You know how she is..."
"Fearless." Jenny said, awe in her voice. She'd always admired Lex for her bravery and confidence - traits she'd never felt she possessed.
"Reckless is more like it." Link corrected. "He's afraid of what she'd do if she knew, she might throw herself into their world for answers and get herself killed in the process."
Jenny acted like she wasn't concerned about such an outcome but he knew her better than that. Jenny worried about everyone, all the time. "Well I'm still telling her - it's better she knows instead of one of them finding her and...well.." She shuddered for a second as the thoughts cascaded through her mind and then steeled herself. Resolved once again, she turned and left the garage before he could argue with her.
"Oh no you don't!" Link called, tossing the tools on the work table and running after her. "Jenny! You can't do this!"
"I can!" her voice was upbeat and almost lyrical as it floated back to him. "And I will!" she said, stopping and spinning abruptly to face him.
"And what do you think she's going to say Jenny?" Link pointed out, feeling briefly triumphant. "She's not part of this world, she doesn't know about any of this!"
Jenny looked deflated for a second, it was a fair point. Lex would laugh in her face as if it were all a horrible joke. With a heavy sigh and a shrug, "I still have to try." she said, but not as confident as she had been before.
There was a car door shutting nearby that distracted them. Jenny smiled broadly as a half dozen men poured out of the small car. They were laughing and shoving each other playfully as soon as they got out of the car and none of them were wearing jackets.
Link grimaced and looked past them to where Mrs. Johnson was peering out her window. Resigned to the battery of questions he would face about his friends the next time he happened across her, he went to greet them and as a group they went inside.
The discussion about Lex was temporarily suspended but not over as far as Link was concerned.
Link kept a casual eye on Lex and Jenny anytime they seemed to have a moment alone but if Jenny said anything, Lex made no indication. A momentary freak out or a deep belly laugh would be warranted in this case at least.
They played some ball in the backyard and hung out like they did on many weekends. Lex was pretty much one of the guys when she joined them and they all knew it. None of them tried to curb their language or pull any punches with her because she was just one of them.
It was near dusk when Link headed into the kitchen, intending to plate up a setting for his dad. Jenny smiled at him, as she always did, and held out a plate already covered with saran wrap. “For your dad.”
Link took it gratefully. “Thanks. I’ll be back in a bit okay….” he thought about Jenny’s plan again, feeling anxious about leaving Lex with her. He faked a smile and poked his head out the kitchen door. “Hey Lex!” he called over the noise from the living room. “I’m gonna take some food over to dad at the store – come with me.”
“Sure.” Lex called back, she was in the midst of beating one of the guys at a video game. In a matter of seconds she dealt the final blow and a round of cheers and laughter rose from the collected group. Jake received some good natured ribbing about being beat at his ‘best game’ by a girl.
Jenny looked annoyed for only a fraction before she shrugged off the event and returned to cleaning the kitchen.
“Why has Jenny been staring at me like I have three heads today?” Lex asked as they walked into the outdoor supply store.
“Hmm?” Link stalled, pretending as if he didn’t notice. “Hey pop!” he called out over the counter to the back room where his dad was probably working.
An older man with just a touch of gray in his hair came out. Older though he may be; he was not in the least bit frail. “Is that Jenny’s cooking?” he asked.
“Yeah, she won’t let me near the stove after the incident a couple months back.” Link replied, pushing the plate over to his father.
“Hey Alan.” Lex said. Link couldn’t help but notice his dad grimace just a little at the use of his first name. No matter how many times he’d asked Lex to call him ‘Dad’, she just couldn’t do it. Or wouldn’t more like Link figured.
“Why do you do that?” he whispered once his dad was distracted with his dinner. “You know he’d like it if you called him Dad or Pop or something…”
“I don’t know Link…I just can’t.” Lex said, a tiny blush on her cheeks. “Y’all are as near to family as I have but…I don’t know.” She tried to shrug it off as if it was no big deal but they both knew how much it hurt him.
“You know he considers you a daughter…you may not be blood but you’re a part of this family whether you wanna be or not Lex…” Link felt a little bad to be scolding her like he was but he hated to see the hurt in his father’s eyes every day she unknowingly shoved their love away.
“I know Link! I get it! I suck at being a daughter and a sister!” she rolled her eyes and stomped away from him.
“Lex…I didn’t mean…” Link sighed and thought he saw his dad just shaking his head. He walked away from the counter and started perusing the shelves while they waited for Alan to finish his dinner. He knew the entire inventory of the store of course but staring at tents and sleeping bags had to be better than trying to patch things over with Lex when she was like this.
“Um…excuse me…” an unfamiliar female voice pulled him from his thoughts. She smiled at him as he turned his attention to her. “Do you work here?”
“No.” Link said. “But I may as well, my family owns this place.” He added the last quickly once her face started to fall.
“Oh then maybe you can help.” She smiled again. “My friends and I are looking to go...” she seemed to be considering the appropriate word choice before settling, “camping. And we’re looking for a spot that’s out of the way, won’t be disturbed and all. Do you know of such a place? Around here I mean. We’d like to stay within thirty to forty miles or so.”
Link nodded. “I do know a place I think – when are you all looking to go?”
“This weekend hopefully – if it doesn’t rain too horribly.” She looked a little anxious at the thought of a heavy rain ruining their trip.
“Well there’s a place – out past the Lookout, it’s a bit of a hike in but very secluded most of the time.” Link motioned for her to follow him to the front where he pulled out a map for her and pointed it out.
“Excellent…and you think it will be secluded this weekend?” she was really nervous about them being interrupted.
“Oh yes, there’s a group of…hunters…that go out there, but only once a month and they were just out there. I think you’ll be fine.” Link explained.
“Well, wonderful then. Thanks…” she tried to remember if he’d mentioned his name at all.
“Link. Link Price.” He stuck out his hand to shake.
“Thanks Link.” She said shaking his hand in the process. “I’m Symphony. But I go by Sy mostly.”
“Pretty name.” He folded up the map and held it out to her. “You might need this. Have a good trip Sy.”
Lex didn’t come around the corner until just after Sy had left the shop but she looked at Link suspiciously. She didn’t say anything though and went on with reading the newspaper she must have picked up from the bin outside.
He caught her watching him from over the paper a couple times though. “What?” he snapped after the third time.
She shrugged. “Nothin’.” Another minute passed in awkward silence until she spoke up again. “Hey did you see this?” she held the paper up for him to see the headline but not long enough for him to read it. “’Large wolf spotted near Thompson’s Lookout, residents urged to use caution…isn’t that where you just sent little Miss ‘Pretty Name’?”
Link snatched the paper away from her to read the article himself. “Hey! I was reading that!” she protested but he ignored her. He didn’t even say anything as he took it back to the office to show his father. “Rude much,” she muttered to his back