Chapter 2. Not Here
It was the first thing that Brie thought when she moved into the clearing and had let her wolf come out a bit, sniffing the evening’s fragrances. Wolves, many of them, but none were hers. Brie felt her wolf droop a little, but Brie herself was conflicted. She may have not found her mate, but maybe somehow she could avoid being claimed and stay at home with her father for another year. Her wolf whimpered and Brie ignored her. She would remain vigilant.
The Claiming was a relatively silent affair until the women shifted. Howls would be heard and grunts as the male unmated readied themselves for the chase. The unmated and were set in a circle, women on the outside and the boundaries of the circle were lit by torchlight. Men moved in the center of the circle, letting the scents of the female she-wolves wash over them. If they found a scent they liked, they may pursue it after their shift.
Brie caught sight of a large male in the corner of her eye. There was something menacing in his stature. She slowly gazed over at him and stared into his eyes in the dim light. Even with the flickering torches as background, his eyes were black as coal and cold- so cold. His returning look made her shiver and she looked away, hoping he was not as fierce and powerful as he seemed.
She tried to ignore him and his scrutinizing stare and her wolf whimpered. He wants to claim us. I can practically hear his wolf. Brie closed her eyes and looked anywhere but at the wolf who sat staring at her. She looked over at her father and his concern was apparent. Roland had seen the hungry look in the large wolf’s eyes. He looked between the two and was conflicted.
He knew the wolf to be the son of an Alpha of a pack a few states to the east of his territory. His infamy had reached as far as the Pacific North West. He was brutal and strong, yet cruel. His name was Gabriel Stride and his reputation preceded him.
And he was eyeing Roland’s daughter like she was a meal he could lap up.
Roland eyed Gabriel, barely concealing a growl. He would be a strong Alpha to his daughter’s Luna, but his brutality knew no bounds. His wolf itched to come out and mangle the savage.
Roland nodded slightly to himself and knew what had to be done.
As if the full moon had been eclipsed, the torch lights were snuffed out, signaling that the unmated women should shift and flee to the woods. As if on some silent cue, the females undressed and tossed aside their clothing. Most wore shifts like Brie and the separate pieces of fabric hit the dirt inside the circle almost in tandem.
Brie herself, was naked for only a split second before she shifted to her silvery white wolf and ran headlong into the woods directly in front of her. She was exhilarated to be letting her wolf run free, but her anxiety over the man who eyed her in the clearing was dominant in her mind, making her run faster and harder than she ever had. She hoped he would not scent her.
Brie had always been a fast runner, but the fact that the woods were dark and her fur so pale worked against her. She hoped that the unmated female’s 10 minute head start and the Alpha blood flowing in her veins would assist her in a quick getaway. She planned to flee to the edge of her pack’s territory and hopefully into the unclaimed land just to the west of it. She knew it was a good 20 miles to the end of her pack’s land and even if she were to fly like the wind, it would be a mean feat that she should remain unclaimed after tonight.
She urged her wolf faster and faster and panted heavily, having pushed her wolf harder than she had ever asked of her before. Brie could hear the precise moment ten minutes after shifting when the male unmated stripped themselves of their clothing to shift themselves. Howls filled the air for the first time that night and she panicked a bit. Brie didn’t know how, but she pushed herself and her wolf even faster as she heard the howls coming ever closer.
She was five miles from the border when a large russet wolf caught the periphery of her eye. Her wolf whimpered in the back of her mind again and started on a path to the northwest away from the tawny colored wolf.
It’s him. A small whimper broke from the back of her throat and Brie’s suspicions of the large man with the black eyes was confirmed when she saw his coal orbs. He was coming for her. Brie let out a brief pained yowl and turned even more northward, hoping for reprieve from this man’s hunt.
A flash of black coming from the north startled her and she instantly felt cornered. Brie tried to run parallel to the two wolves and was only two miles away from being free when she noticed that the chestnut colored wolf had increased his speed and was catching up to her quickly. She looked to her right slightly as the outline of a black wolf pulled ahead and was coming straight towards her.
She had nowhere to go and cringed onto the ground as the two headed straight towards her. Wishing she could scramble up the nearest tree, she was now frozen between the two large wolves as their paws padded loudly on the ground towards her.
When they were just feet away from her, something astonishing happened. The large black wolf jumped over her with a snarl and caught the chestnut colored wolf’s neck in its jaws. Brie had never gotten a good look at either wolf and she didn’t care to now. She tried creeping away slowing since her fur was so apparent in the dark night and the russet colored wolf made a pointless leap towards her. Brie yelped and the black wolf snapped his teeth at the him, turning the cool night’s air coppery in scent.
Hearing the russet wolf yip in pain and the sounds of the black wolf shifting made her pause. Her fur was pressed up against a large conifer tree with the black wolf between her and the now injured russet wolf. She was caught and could now be claimed by the black wolf. He had won.
At least it’s not the other, Brie thought to herself. There was something menacing in the eyes of that one that caused her veins to turn to ice.
The black wolf huffed out roughly and growled at the cowering and battered brown wolf.
“Gabriel!” Roland roared. Brie was so shocked at this unexpected voice that she unexpectedly shifted back to human form. Her eyes, like saucers, look up at her father’s bare back, aghast. What the hell is he doing? Brie thought. He needed to claim his Luna, not play knight in shining armor to his daughter.
“Back away boy,” Roland bit out, a steady growl echoing in his chest cavity. “She’s mine. I claim her as mine. She will never be yours.”
Brie knew that she must be dreaming. Her father cannot claim her truly, can he? She is his daughter. Claiming would entail marking and eventually- mating.
Oh God, Brie thought as she came to the realization that this was happening. Truly happening. Her father had somehow claimed her and she would be expected to be marked and mated within a week.
Brie was strong. Alpha blood ran within her through and through, but this was more than her mind could handle at the moment. Her head swam as she forgot to breathe. The last thing she saw before the darkness came was the profile of her father’s face as he turned towards her to claim what was his.