I know many of you have been looking forward to this interview, as Palani has a lot of fans. My PA, Vicki, for example, is one hundred percent #TeamPalani, haha. But I was excited myself as well, if also a little apprehensive since interviewing a reporter is always an interesting experience. But Palani was in the mood to chat, and we ended up having an amazing conversation. Make sure to read the amazing story of Palani and the Hayes Pack in the Irresistible Omegas series.
Palani, thanks so much for making the time to talk to me. I know how busy you are.
You know, I thought that once the country would calm down, things would get less hectic in the pack, but alas. Even though we have fewer members now that the Hightower pack has been established, I still have a full to do list every day.
What’s your least favorite thing to do?
I don’t mind any of it, to be honest. Sure, there are jobs I definitely like more than others, but overall, I can’t think of anything I really hate. If I had to pick, I’d say the food logistics, like estimating needed quantities and doing orders and stuff. That shit gives me a headache because it involves a lot of moving pieces, like how much Lars can harvest in produce, if we’re slaughtering any livestock, etc. I get it done every week, but that part is definitely not my hobby.
What part do you love?
The planning. Once a week, I sit down with Kean, Lars, and Servas, and we discuss where we’re at with the animals, the crops we grow, and the construction and maintenance. Those meetings are always inspiring because it’s so cool to see we’re becoming more and more self-sufficient. The necessity is a little less now that things have calmed down politically, but we all agree that we still want to strive to be as self-sufficient as possible.
How has the pack recovered from everything that has happened over the last two years?
[takes a deep breath] I think we’ve recovered well, but the scars remain. They’ll fade a little more over time, but we’ll never be able to forget and live on as if nothing happened.
What cut the deepest?
Losing Jawon. Lidon rarely talks about it because he’s not a talker, but I know losing his cousin has left deep wounds. The guilt is hard for him to get rid of. Rationally, he knows that it wasn’t his fault, but emotionally, it’s a lot harder to process. He still mourns and grieves him. Every now and then I catch him sitting by Jawon’s grave, especially just before full moon. It’s become a special place for him where he reconnects with the Earth and the Moon, thanking them for the power they’ve given him and promising he’ll honor his place as the True Alpha.
Kean still struggles with this as well. He still has nightmares on occasion where he’ll wake up screaming and crying because he wasn’t able to save Jawon. It’s gotten better, and he’s talked a lot with Delton, the psychologist who joined the Hightower pack. Bray is not a talker and offering emotional support is not his forte, and Kean doesn’t want to burden Ruari too much either, so he mostly talks to Delton…and to me.
You two are still close?
[smiles] Like twins. I love having him in the pack and I know he feels the same. We lean on each other, and it’s amazing to have this connection with him where I don’t need to explain anything. He just knows, and he’ll be there.
I’d imagine he has not only a trauma from losing Jawon, but from your brush with death as well…
I don’t think anyone walked away unaffected from that, me included, but Kean and Enar definitely suffered the most. Of course Lidon and Vieno were hit hard, but they process differently. Vieno may seem like this sweet, weak little omega, but he’s so strong. In that sense, Enar is much more vulnerable. His heart is so wide open, so gentle… He’s still overly worried every time I have a headache or am not feeling well, and I let him fuss about me because I understand where it’s coming from.
One of the things that really impressed me as I was writing your stories is how much you’ve all grown and changed.
[nods] We have. All of us, though I still maintain that no one changed more than Lidon. Seeing him transform from an arrogant alpha who might have been aware of his privilege but wasn’t above using it to a man deeply committed to equal rights for all has been nothing short of a miracle. He’s so open to corrections now, to feedback. It’s still hard for him because he’s a perfectionist, but he listens and he tries so hard to do the right thing. But I see that change in all the alphas. Take Bray. He truly was a bit of an alpha asshole, but if you see him now… God, no one is a more doting father than him. If you see him with Jax, taking him by his little hand and proudly walking around the farm with him while carrying Kekona in a sling, it’s just the most beautiful thing. The other day, he and Grayson were both out with their kids, and I swear my eyes just grew wet watching them. Three generations of love.
You and Kean became biological fathers as well.
I was blown away when we got the DNA results back on Mahina. We all thought she’d be Lidon’s or maybe with mixed genes again–and not even Sando has been able to explain that one–but she’s mine and Vieno’s biologically. For me, that was already a wonderful surprise, but for kean even more. He always wanted kids, and the pain of not being able to father them was deep and real. A lot of emotional healing took place when he found out Kekona was his. And if I hadn’t loved Bray already, his reaction sealed the deal because he cried even harder than Kean, if possible. He was so freaking happy for him, and how can you not love him for that? But the notion that betas can now father children again has been an incredible boost for the packs.
How does Enar feel about it?
For him, it’s all even more complicated, of course. I know he struggles with his alpha body at times, but it’s gotten better and easier for him. He loves being a dad, but I know that he’s all but counting down until Vieno is ready for baby number three. Vieno has said it will be a boy, Enar’s beta son, and by now, I’m not doubting him anymore. I think that it will be a healing experience for Enar, to see himself in his son. I hope he’ll look just like him, especially his beautiful blue eyes…but even more than he has his heart. That man’s capacity for love is beyond anything.
And to think that once upon a time, you literally had to slap sense into him.
[rolls his eyes] He still likes to remind me of that, no matter how often I’ve apologized. But say what you want: it did get his attention and it sure as fuck left enough of an impression that he’s still talking about it, haha.
How’s the Hightower pack doing? Has Sivney killed Rhene yet?
[laughs out loud] No, but he just might today or tomorrow. Watching those two is like ping pong at times, a constant back and forth, but they work surprisingly well together. Rhene does really understand and embrace Sivney’s strengths, and in return, Sivney fully respects Rhene’s authority. He’s still learning, of course, which makes sense considering how young he is, but they’re doing well. He’s lucky to have mature men in the pack who help him with advice, like Naran, Maz, and Lucan. In the beginning, he had some issues leaning on them for support, but he’s getting better at it. Being pack alpha is no joke.
Neither is being the second in command…
No, it’s not, and I’ll always be grateful and proud that Lidon chose me as his beta, his second in command. It’s easy now to say that I was and am the best man for that job, but when he picked me, I wasn’t the most logical choice. By all accounts, he should’ve picked Bray or Grayson or even Enar, and he didn’t. His faith and trust in me meant the world to me then, and they still do now.
What does the future hold for the Hayes Pack?
[his eyes grow dreamy] Peace. Love. Lots of babies. Just…happiness. We fucking earned it.