Please note: I did not proofread this scene.
This is a scene that never made it into Restoring Hope. It takes place right after Woape realized Gary was alive, so her engagement to Citlali was broken (for a second time). At the time I wrote Restoring Hope, I didn’t want to give away what Citlali thought of the situation because I wanted him to remain a mystery. Now that Bound by Honor, Bound by Love is done and will be published next month, I figure it’s safe to let everyone know what he was thinking. 😀
News that Gary was alive had spread through tribe, and with it came Citlali’s broken engagement. Citlali wasn’t sure how he felt about the situation. He understood Woape had no interest in him. If she had, she wouldn’t have run away to avoid marrying him. And to make matters worse, everyone in the tribe knew happened. In fact, he had to admit that was the hardest part of the whole ordeal. Wherever he went, he noticed the way people snickered or shot him pitying glances. The only thing he could do was what he always did: pretend it didn’t bother him.
He was relieved when the chief let him go to his lodge so he could get away from everyone. Ignoring the stares from his aunts and mother, he sat down in the spot reserved for men who didn’t want to be disturbed. He already knew what they’d say. They sympathized with him but thought he could have put forth some effort into talking to Woape. But he did try talking to her in the past, and it seemed that she was either avoiding him so he had to chase her down. And when he finally caught up to her, he got the impression she didn’t want him around. How was he supposed to talk to someone like that?
Frustrated because no one appreciated the fact that he had tried to make things work with Woape, he picked up the knife and one of the tree branches his father made it a habit of leaving there. His father said carving wood helped to clear his mind, but Citlali thought it would help him forget the past year. It wasn’t that he loved Woape, but he thought she was pleasant enough and would be a good wife. Her opinion of him, however, had been disappointing. He cut into the wood, willing his emotions to slide off of him with the same ease he was able to remove the bark. Despite what she thought, he could feel. Despite what everyone thought, he could feel. But as the chief said, it was better if they didn’t know their words or actions could affect him. After a few minutes, he began to feel better.
To his surprise, his father and the chief walked into the lodge and asked the women to leave. His father motioned for Citlali to join him and the chief. Setting the knife and wood down, he nodded and joined them at the fire pit.
His father smiled at him. “We have talked to Woape’s father, and he said Woape is willing to let Onawa possess their lodge’s sacred bundle.”
Citlali glanced at the chief who said, “It is good that her father has two daughters. We can still arrange for your clan to take possession of their lodge’s bundle if you marry Onawa. You will be pleased to know her father has agreed to the arrangement.”
“Has she agreed as well?” Citlali asked.
“We did not ask her. We asked her father,” his father replied.
Citlali hesitated to say anything in case he displeased his father or the chief, but after a moment, he decided to might as well say what was on his mind. “What if Onawa doesn’t want to marry me?”
“It doesn’t matter what she wants,” the chief replied.
“But Woape ran away from the tribe because she didn’t want to marry me. We should at least see if Onawa’s willing to marry me.”
“Woape doesn’t appreciate our traditions,” the chief said. “She didn’t run away from you. She ran away from her heritage. She ran away from all of us.”
No, she didn’t. She ran away from him. Citlali could insist on it, but the chief wouldn’t agree. Citlali took a deep breath and ventured, “Perhaps we should talk to Onawa.”
“The marriage is already arranged,” the chief argued.
“You have nothing to worry about,” his father assured him with a pat on his shoulder. “Her father assured us that Onawa isn’t like Woape. Onawa values the way we live. She understands how important it is to marry within our tribe.”
The two had made up their minds, and the marriage was arranged. Time would tell if Onawa would find a way to avoid marrying him like Woape did.