I stretched my legs out before me one last time, relishing the feeling of the warm sun on my bare skin.
I knew it would be a matter of mere months before this freedom was taken away from me. I had changed into my wolf to run to my favourite spot by the lake, and had but moments to spare as a human to bask in the sun before I was called away again.
My wolf purred, sending vibrations running through my body. She had missed being able to feel the grass under her paws as she thundered across the ground.
My mother didn’t approve of allowing the wolves to have free rein.
My mother didn’t approve of a lot of things, least of all my reluctance to go along with her ridiculous charade.
“This will be good for you Violet, a chance to make some genuine connections amongst strong packs.” I visibly cringed as my mother’s voice reverberated through my mind.
In two days, she and I would make a trip to visit all the packs in Europe. Mother would dress me up so she could show me off - her beautiful porcelain doll.
I would smile at the Alphas and thank them for their hospitality, compliment the Lunas on their lovely homes and watch as my mother beamed with pride at the lavish praise they would give. I could picture it now.
“Isn’t she lovely Amanda; such beautiful manners!”
“You must be so proud; your daughter is stunning!”
My mother had big plans for me. I was her bargaining tool, her ace card. My mother was a social butterfly, she craved the attention and jealousy of all the other Lunas and through me, she was receiving it.
From the moment they conceived me, my parents had already written my story, my life planned out to the finest detail, and it was too late to put my foot down and put an end to it.
I was the golden-haired angel, with a face carved from the Moon Goddess herself.
Mother spent most of her time teaching me ways to enhance my beauty, supervising me as she made sure I brushed my hair morning, noon, and night, with at least one hundred strokes until it shone under the light. Nothing was more important to her than showing off how beautiful her daughter was.
My brother was the lucky one. Mother left him alone, believing that the men made this world a better place by proving their strength and intelligence.
I was destined to be a trophy wife.
It sickened me to see her at her vanity table, applying layer upon layer of her expensive creams and youth serums. She was a shell of a woman, barely even alive. She refused to do anything that would require any effort, repeating time and time again that anything that was physically straining was also ageing to the skin. She had never wanted to be anything more; she didn’t care if she achieved anything or made her mark on the world. In her eyes, her role was fulfilled. She was the reigning beauty of the Atlantis pack, second only to her daughter. I’d be lying if I said her eyes didn’t cloud with resentment and jealousy when she looked at me sometimes. It was no surprise she was ready to marry me off to the strongest, most successful mate she could find.
Only the best for “little Violet” as she would say.
It sickened me to see her at her vanity table, applying layer upon layer of her expensive creams and youth serums.
She couldn’t wait for our little trip so she could hand out the small silver cards she had spent months picking out – they had silk border and real pearl trim, nothing but the best!
This was her time to shine, her chance to show off years of training and preparation. For finally, the day had come, her precious daughter had turned eighteen! In celebration, a ball was to be held in her honour, a chance for wolves to come together and bask in the beauty of the only daughter of the Atlantis pack’s Alpha and Luna.
No trip was ever really a social call, and this one was no exception. It was a chance to brag, to show off, and to network. Mother had finely combed through all the packs through Europe, ready to hand out her invitations to the ball of the century.
Only the finest young wolves from the most prestigious packs were to be invited, for this was not just a coming of age celebration, oh no! I was in the market for a mate!
I would be paraded in front of the Alpha sons from the moment I arrived. They would circle me, taking deep breaths of my scent, ensuring we were a match, that I appealed to them. If I pleased them in this way, and they were happy with my looks, they would permit their fathers to accept the invitation my mother had offered.
I couldn’t help but mimic her voice in my head as I replayed our recent discussion regarding the awful ball. I often wondered if she realised just how ridiculous she sounded.
The whole thing had made me sick to my stomach, and I had given no opinion when it came to the no-expense-spared party.
Lunas the world over were fighting for a place at the ball, and the last I had heard there was even a reserve list. Many times, I had tried to explain to my mother that my mate could be anyone, anywhere, and it wasn’t for us to decide, but that wouldn’t do for her.
Oh no, her lovely little Violet, who came from a long line of Alphas, would surely be mated to someone of equal importance and “pure blood”. She was immensely proud of her heritage - everyone in our family had been an Alpha son or daughter, from a very certain family of course. If by some chance none of these fine, elite young men proved to be my fated mate, my mother would pick the wolf she thought was best, based on their stats and credentials.
As though my mating were a job interview that only a select few could pass!
My mother applied cold, rational thinking to all her decisions. There was no room for feelings, we owed it to the packs to improve the social standing. We had to preserve the purity of the leaders, to ensure we were kept clean, remove it commoners. It was our “duty”.
I hated that word.
I cleared my mind as I tried to forget the whole charade, and my thoughts drifted towards the one wolf I had once upon a time hoped to be my mate.
Logan would never have met her expectations, regardless of how I had once felt about him.
He was too wrong for me, his rank too below my own.
Mother had found our relationship cute in the beginning and had encouraged us to show off our childish love. It had been a source of pride for her that her daughter had blossomed at such a young age.
There was no ugly duckling turned swan scenario with me. I had attracted the attention of the opposite sex the moment I hit puberty. It didn’t matter to her that the stares of the older wolves made me uncomfortable, my mother would tell me to proudly stick my chest out, to walk with my shoulders back and my gaze straight ahead, offering small, feminine smiles in response to their calls and whistles.
Logan had never been like that. He was interested in talking to me; he made the effort to ensure that I was comfortable in his company, and never pushed me to do anything I wasn’t ready for.
How mother had beamed at me, so proud that I had this man so well trained already. “Under the thumb,” she had laughed with a wink.
However, as my eighteenth crept closer, poor Logan seemed to have outstayed his welcome, and had well and truly fallen from her graces.
No longer was it acceptable for the future reigning Luna to fraternise with the son of a Delta, Goddess forbid! She had done all she could to ensure that we were kept separated, pulling on the puppet strings of my life, controlling all that I did and everyone I saw.
Or so she thought.
Logan and I had both agreed to let her have her fun and live in her pampered, snobby world. We had become masters of sneaking away to be together. I had no intentions of letting that slip away.
Logan provided me with a much-needed release, and I took full advantage. On days like today, when my mother was so overbearing that all I wanted to do was scream until my throat bled, Logan would be the one to make it all better.
The only niggle was that I suspected that Logan wanted more from me than I could give, and if I were honest with myself, it was more than I wanted to give. Which was exactly why I had snuck out alone, telling no one where I was going – least of all him.
I wished I could go back to the days where he was my world, where I wanted nothing more than to feel the call of the mates when I looked at him. Yet, as my birthday crept closer, I knew I wouldn’t find my soulmate in him. We had fun together, but it would never be a love match.
Now that I had turned eighteen, all wishes of a mate match with Logan were lost forever.
We would have felt the bond snap into place by now.
That didn’t stop Logan, though. Lately, he had tried to talk to me about choice mates and how I could not let my mother live my life for me.
To be honest, I barely paid attention to him. Recently, I had only wanted Logan for one thing and one thing only. So long as he kept that going, I had been happy to continue meeting him.
What can I say? I was a modern she-wolf who knew what she liked.
I slid a hand down my body and between my legs, running my finger along my pussy lips as I felt the wetness pool out of me.
Logan would bite down on my swollen clit if he were here, driving me crazy with the delicious mixture of pleasure and pain, his tongue sliding inside me, his hands under my ass so he could rock me against his face.
I circled my clit with one hand, the other tugging on my nipples. My stomach tightened as I felt my orgasm building and I pushed my fingers inside me, frantically fucking myself. My pussy was throbbing, and I threw my head back, knowing I was close.
That’s when I heard the scream.
I scrambled to my feet as the sound of a man in absolute agony echoed around me. I scented the air and detected two wolves, none of which I recognised. That could only mean one of two things - that they were rogues, or intruders.
Neither would be good news for me.
Against my mother’s wishes, my father had taken the time to teach me about the dangers of being an Alpha female, how I would be hunted down and destroyed, or captured for power. My choices were to wait it out and hope they ran past without noticing me, or run whilst I had the chance, knowing full well I would leave a trail of my scent behind me. Especially considering what I had just been up to.
The smell of arousal was a heady mixture of temptation and a potential to dominate, neither of which was easy to resist for an unmated male.
Sure, I could fight, but not well.
Match me against any other wolf my size and build, and I had a good chance. Anyone else, and I was a fur blanket in the making.
Mother hated the thought of females fighting. That just wasn’t their job. My training had come from standard education, the type taught in all schools, and I had no special tricks or surprise attacks to catch an enemy off guard.
I held my breath as a wolf came into view. He was in a bad way, the wounds on his body slowing him down, the two huge claw marks running the length of his chest making him gasp for breath.
He held a mangled hand to his chest to stem the blood flow, but even from my distance I could see that it offered no help. The blood still spilled between his fingers and ran down his arm, leaving a noticeable track of droplets on the ground with every step he took. He was a lost cause. That trail would give him away no matter where he went.
My wolf growled as the delicious aroma of his blood hit us, calling to our wild side. It was all I could do to stay still and not give in to the urge to end what someone else had already started and taste that blood for myself.
I shifted slightly, unable to understand why, but I knew that I had to see everything that was about to happen. It was weird to hope that his attacker would show his face soon, but if he didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to hold back any longer. The Alpha in me demanded that I kill the wolf invading so close to our territory, and the predator in me, as weak as it was, wanted that blood on our tongue.
The wolf looked around frantically, seeking somewhere to hide but finding nowhere quick enough. Before he could decide which direction to take next, he was pounced on by the biggest wolf I had ever seen in my life.
I was an Alpha; I was used to seeing some of the largest warriors the world had to offer, but this wolf was something else.
He was well over double the size of mine, with jet black fur and claws like talons. I shivered, goosebumps running down my arms. Whether this was from fear or something else, I couldn’t say.
The smaller wolf submitted, visibly shaking, as he offered his neck to his attacker. The larger wolf just growled, his eyes growing dark with anger. He shook his head softly before he clamped down on the exposed throat.
It was ripped out without a moment’s hesitation.
A merciful end to what had been a bloody battle.
Who was this wolf? And why did he appeal to me so much?
I couldn’t take my eyes off him as he chewed through his victim’s neck, severing the head completely. Instead of being scared, I was intrigued, my wolf bright and alert. She whined softly, begging me to go closer.
The thought of my wolf calling out to him had me panicking more than the sight in front of me.
Why was he attacking a rogue? I knew from their scents only the dead wolf didn’t belong to a pack. Rogues had a very distinct, almost sour smell, that acted as a warning for any pack nearby. Usually, the rogues were killed if they treaded on pack property; it was strange to see one killed out in the open like this - unless they had staged an attack and then ran. But we were miles away from the nearest pack, not including my own, and there had definitely not been an attack there.
So what had this particular rogue done to piss off such a beast, to be followed all this way? Was he a member of this wolf’s pack at one point? Goddess have mercy on his soul if he had betrayed his pack. And Goddess have mercy on mine if his attacker was an Alpha.
Judging by his size and lethality, I didn’t doubt it. But for my sake, I had to hope he wasn’t.
I had no defence against an unknown Alpha.
The soft pads of paws had me focusing back on the scene in front of me, and once again I wondered what had happened to cause this murder.
Rogues were known for their relentless attacks, their wolves half-mad from lack of leadership - we needed to be around an Alpha to maintain sanity. Maybe the attacker was killing the rogue before he went feral? That seemed doubtful after the brief glimpse I had gotten. The wolf didn’t look as though he had an ounce of decency or compassion in him.
I looked once more at the gruesome sight in front of me. I should have been sickened by the savage attack, but something about this wolf had me mesmerised.
I raised my eyebrows as I saw him shift and straighten to his full height, his brow furrowed. Just merely looking at him sent my wolf crazy - she was bursting to go free, to lie on her back and offer herself up to him.
She always was a little hussy.
My wolf was very much living up to her nature - she wanted to find a mate, and she wanted pups; it was my human side constantly at war with this, craving nothing but our freedom.
I remained rooted to the spot, refusing to give in to my wolf. The chances of him being our mate were slim anyway.
Holy shit, he was gorgeous though; I had to agree with my wolf on that. Jet black hair, a hard, chiselled jaw, eyes so dark they appeared almost black. He made me weak at the knees.
My mouth watered at the sight of his bare muscled arms and my canines elongated in anticipation. My entire body called to him, begging for his touch.
Suddenly his head snapped in my direction, and he scented the air. I held my breath again as I tried to be as still as possible. An emotion I couldn’t quite decipher flared up in his eyes, his lips pulling back into a small smile.
“I know you’re hiding behind there, little one, don’t you want to come and play with your mate?”
“Mate? Mate!” my wolf yelled happily in my mind, my heart racing. We had no control over who we were destined to be mated to. Sure, we could take a chosen mate, but we would never feel as whole or as satisfied with our lot in life without the one who had been made especially for us.
Goddess, mother would kill me if she found out!
I felt sick as his scent floated across the distance to me, confirming what he said. My chest tightened as my wolf screamed her euphoria. There was no denying it, he was my mate.
Maybe I should have stopped to think a bit more, but at that moment in time, I didn’t care. Wolves could spend decades searching for their mates, yet here mine was, out of the blue. It was complete serendipity.
He’s here! I repeated to myself, my eyes closing for a split second as I allowed a brief moment of ecstasy to sweep over me before I squashed it entirely.
I couldn’t let this happen.
Plans were already in motion, a huge ball already planned. Alphas across Europe were expecting me to be there in a matter of days, their sons planning the best way to score my affection and win my heart. I would have to let my mate go before I even got to know him. I may have hated the word “duty”, but that didn’t make me stupid. To refuse the ball, to back out this late, would be a slap in the face. I had to go with my mother and hand out these invitations – the Atlantis pack would be attacked until it was obliterated if I showed blatant disrespect by running off with this unknown wolf.
My wolf growled out her warning, but I shushed her. We couldn’t miss what we never had, and it was better to let him go now.
Before we had the chance to develop feelings.
Before we had the chance to fall in love.
This wasn’t a choice. I had to do this.
I had come to terms with never finding my fated mate. I knew deep down that my mother would inevitably choose the family that she thought would raise her social standing the most, and so it should be easy to let him go. I had accepted my fate long before this moment.
So then why did I suddenly feel as though my very soul was being ripped out of me at the thought of being apart from this wolf a moment longer than necessary?
I jumped as I heard the twigs snap under his feet as he approached me slowly, cautiously.
“I never expected to have such a shy mate. Let me see you, or do you want me to come and find you?” his voice was mesmerising. Deep and hypnotic. Oh, Goddess, I was in real trouble.
“Go get him! Mate! Pups! Go!” my wolf purred.
“Three seconds, little one, and I assure you, you do not want me to come and get you.” From the corner of my eye, I saw him as he raised his arm, three fingers extended.
“Three.... Two...” shit.
I jumped out of my hiding spot and instantly he had me slammed against a tree; his naked body pressed against mine. His arms were at either side of my head and his nose pressed into my neck. He pulled back and looked at my face, his eyes scanning every detail. I noticed the way his gaze lingered on my lips and my stomach was filled with butterflies at the lust that flared up behind his eyes. I couldn’t help but respond to him, running my tongue along my lips in an effort to please him.
He grinned at me, following my every movement with his amazing, dark eyes, “and she’s a beautiful little mate as well. I must have done something to please the Moon Goddess...”
I stood completely still, caught under the spell he was casting with his words, and the hungry way he looked at me. I reached my arms up to curl them around his neck, pressing my body further against his, completely forgetting my earlier promise to myself that I would let him go. My skin was on fire, every inch that was in contact with his feeling as though it was burning up.
He took a deep breath, seeming to pause for a second before he grabbed my fingers and brought them to his nose, inhaling deeply. His eyes sparkled with interest, a smirk playing on his lips.
“Been busy, little one?”
“Maybe,” I shot back coyly, my breath catching in my throat at the alarming way his eyes glinted.
“Need a hand?” His cock grew hard against my stomach a moment before he dropped to his knees in front of me, lifting one of my legs over his shoulder. He ran his nose up my thigh, groaning when he reached my core.
“Mine,” he snarled.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, steady on Casanova.” I desperately tried to keep my legs shut, pushing at his shoulders to move him. He looked puzzled, but allowed me to sit down before him.
He raised his eyebrows at me, waiting for an explanation. I knew he expected me to mate with him here and now, it was pretty much a sealed deal in our world - we would have no-one else but each other from this moment on, so why not get it over with?
Yet something held me back, something more than my mother’s disappointment in me. It was almost as if some gut instinct were warning me that this was too soon, that mating with this wolf would be walking the line between Heaven and Hell.
I could say no.
I could choose a mate.
I didn’t have to accept him.
But, I would become like my mother, a shell of a woman, both of us broken in our own way.
She was broken with the inevitability of age; I would be broken through the loss of a love that could never be replicated.
“Can I at least know your name?” I asked with a laugh as I scanned his face, memorising every perfect detail.
“Khaos,” he replied in that deep, sexy rumble and my heart stopped. I struggled to breathe as I spat out; “Khaos? Of the Dragonheart Pack? That Khaos?”
He grinned at me and grabbed hold of my waist to hoist me up against him, “I’m flattered, little one. You’ve heard of me?”
“Heard of you?” I responded in a faint whisper. Of course I had fucking heard of him! He was half-mad! He had killed his father in cold blood with a surprise attack in the middle of the night and here I was, naked in front of him, my chest pressed against his!
My mind was racing and slowly I realised just how big of a mistake I had made.
No matter what I did, his scent would stay on me. He was a part of me as much as I was a part of him. Any other potential mate mother had in mind would be able to tell I had met my true mate, my fated other half. Mother will die when she hears about this. All her years of planning had been completely wasted!
I couldn’t hide this for long, meeting my mate would trigger The Heat in me. I had around ten days before this hit. The Goddess designed it to help with the first litter of pups, however, it would happen regardless of whether we finished the mating process or not.
“You smell so good, little one, your body is so fucking sexy.” Khaos dragged my attention back to him as he pulled me down to the floor with him, laying me on my back, covering my body with his own.
He pressed kisses along my body - the curve of my neck, the dip under my rib cage, nibbled on my hip bone. My back arched - I knew I shouldn’t be doing this, but it didn’t stop how I felt, how I was programmed to feel.
This man was my mate!
He settled himself between my legs and blew on my soaking pussy with his hot breath. He pressed his lips to me, his tongue ever so gently running down the length of my core.
“Violet! Do not make me come looking for you!” Mother screamed over the mind-link.
My legs jerked in an attempt to cover my nudity – I knew she wasn’t here, but that didn’t stop me from feeling exposed to her. Khaos grunted as my knee shot into his chest, knocking the wind out of him.
I shot to my feet, Khaos following me with lightning-fast reflexes that both surprised and shocked me. Moon Goddess, the man was fast! Especially considering that I had winded him seconds ago.
I couldn’t help but think if he were equally as fast at regaining his stamina and recovering quickly during other activities.
Stupid mate bond and its stupid call. I was turning into a woman who was obsessed with sex!
Who could blame me after looking at Khaos though? The man was a walking sex God!
“Where are you going?” He demanded, his anger pouring from every syllable. I opened and closed my mouth, for the first time in my life completely at a loss for words. He grew frustrated with me, and I saw his hands curl into fists by his side.
Refusing to be intimidated, I threw my head back and flicked my hair over my shoulder, “I answer to no one.”
“Wrong. You answer to me from now on.”
“You?!” I scoffed with a bravery I didn’t really feel. “Not in this lifetime, buddy. I’ll stay unmated my entire life before I ever--” I was cut off by his hand covering my mouth, roughly knocking my head back against the tree with the force of it.
“Be incredibly careful with your next words, mate. You will be my mate; you will submit to me. Even now your body’s calling out to me, little one. Do you think I can’t feel you trembling? That I haven’t noticed the way your eyes are glued to me, the way your nipples hardened the second I pulled you into my arms? I think my pretty young mate enjoys the thought of being dominated by me, taken by--” I bit down on his hand with all my might, delivering a hard blow to his groin with my knee. He doubled over and I wasted no time hurtling myself away from him, and took off toward my pack as fast as my legs would carry me.
I heard his roar behind me and knew he would be following within seconds.
I shifted into my wolf, cursing the noise of my bones breaking and realigning - why was it so fucking loud?
I heard the rustling behind me and knew I was fast losing my lead. He would find me any moment if I didn’t do something, and quick! My only saving grace was that it sounded as though he remained as a human, rather than shifting. Which meant I had a small advantage over him.
With my heart pounding, I took a deep breath and made a split decision.
Thanking my teenage rebellion and all the years of hiding from my parents, I pulled all my knowledge of hiding and covering my scent. The sound of his approach slowly quietened, and after a couple of miles, it disappeared completely, along with his scent.
The only sound was the beating of my own heart as it pounded out a terrified rhythm. He may be taking a moment to shift into his wolf, but I doubted it. No doubt he realised that he couldn’t take me alone. He needed reinforcements.
I decided not to dwell on that thought.
I shifted back to my human form and sank to my knees, pulling in deep breaths to calm myself. He was gone, I was safe. For now.
I made my way back to the pack, almost fainting with relief when I saw the guards patrolling the border. I quickly pulled on some clothes from one of the many wicker baskets surrounding the borders and gave the guards a shaky smile as I passed them.
My dishevelled appearance didn’t surprise them. They were used to wolves coming back in a worse state than I was in. It was the reason for the baskets. Each one contained a supply of food and water, as well as a change of clothes. This had been my idea after seeing the same thing in place at the pack of one of our allies, and so far, it had been widely approved by all that used them.
I entered the packhouse and remained in the shadows, hoping that no one saw me as I made my way to my room. So long as no one got close enough to smell me, they would be none the wiser. I could explain it. I was panicking for nothing.
I knew the reputation Khaos had, but he couldn’t take me from my pack, not today. My sense of smell was good, and I had detected no one with him. No one but the dead rogue, and dead people weren’t going to land me in the shit by revealing where I had spent my afternoon.
From all that I had heard, I knew Khaos was a strong fighter, but he couldn’t take on an entire pack by himself just for me, surely? Besides, he didn’t even know my name, he couldn’t possibly know my pack. I was safe.
I just had to pray that I stayed off his radar for the next two days, and I would be out of here, travelling from pack to pack, putting thousands of miles of distance between us. The ball was scheduled the day of our return, and I had to hope my mother found someone suitable so that I could leave with them there and then. It wasn’t the best of plans, but it was all I had.
As for The Heat… I’d figure out how to hide that later. How bad could it really be?