My upper lip curls, a deep growl building in the pit of my stomach. Louis doesn't listen. Part of me thinks he'll never listen. Our eyes lock onto each other and we stare. A month earlier I'd lose this challenge. But today I hold my own, glaring a hole into that pigheaded gray wolf. I notice the hesitancy in his eyes. The wavering worry and realization that I may not be as weak as he thinks. The realization that I might be Kat's second half. He's about to submit, but I get distracted as someone calls my name and spinning on my heals to look at that intruder, I lose my focus on Louis' challenge, unintentionally causing submission.
"I would've thought you'd have headed back by now." I tell Nick who stands naked against a tree watching, arms crossed over his chest and bare to the world. With a slight shrug of the shoulders, he turns away, looking deep into the woods, where Eric no doubtedly waits for us.
"Do you think you can beat him?" There's a twinge of worry in Nick's voice. A question that he's clearly never voiced aloud before. He's as scared as I am, I realize. He abandoned the pack to follow me to another's land. For whatever reason, I may never know. Part of me wants to lie to him.
"I don't know."
"Are you going to challenge him?"
"I don't know." Nick turns back to me.
"What do you know, Cameron?" I'm quiet as I contemplate.
"I know I don't trust any of them." This conversation doesn't involve Louis but I make no move to shoo him, knowing he'll full well ignore me. Nick works his jaw.
"You can trust Bogey." He says quickly. "And Samson. Alaric won't interfere."
"They both attacked us." Nick shakes his head.
"There's a lot you don't understand Cam,"
"Then explain it to me."
"There isn't time." Again, he glances back towards Eric's home. "We need to go."
"He's talking to you, isn't he?" Nick sighs.
"He's threatening to come here." So Eric's close to us. I look at Louis.
"You need to stay here."
"To hell with that."
"Stay. With. Kat." He shakes his head. "Please." With a roll of his eyes, he sighs.
"Fine." With one last glare at the both of us, Louis turns and heads back towards the pack house. Kat needs him.
I shed my shorts, and finally shift. Nick follows me.
I find myself throwing things. First it happens to be my makeup mirror. Then my white picture frame of my friends and I.
I'm scared, frightened, worried.
It's amazing how much one guy can change my mindset. The door to my room opens but I heed it no mind. I already know who it is and I have no interest in conversing.
It isn't until Louis' arms are wrapped around mine, pinning them at my sides, and bringing me to my knees that I stop my tantrum. He buries his head in my neck, where Cameron's mark is.
We say nothing to each other. He just holds me. My chest heaves. My anger turns to sadness. I'm sobbing.
"Are you okay?" Louis says quietly. I don't answer him. "Kat,"
"It hurts." I answer. My lungs seem to constrict; my breaths come out more and more ragged. My wolf wants to run but if I shift, I'm not sure I'll come back. She wants Cameron just as I do but unlike me, she'll go chasing after him.
"What hurts?" Louis whispers. I can't lose him. I can't lose my mate. His Alpha could sweep him away. Take him to another state, another country. He could keep him locked far away. My wolf is winning this fight. If Louis were to look at me, he'd see glowing eyes.
"My heart hurts." I spit, shaking. Louis holds me tighter, as if knowing what my wolf is doing. But he can't. He's never witnessed this. I don't let anyone see this side of me. Ever. Not my father. Not my mother. Not my best friend.
And I can't tell Louis. Because if he realizes what's happening he'll let me outside. I can't go outside. She cannot get outside. My leg snaps.
"Talk to me." I order. He doesn't question. He doesn't argue. Instead he starts talking.
"I remember when we were five, our parents decided to take us North, to the lake. We were still learning how to shift and my father was worried we'd cause a riot. But your mother insisted that we needed the vacation. So we got in the car and traveled north. I remember running on the beach with you. We built sandcastles. Not once did we shift. At the end of the day we were so exhausted we fell asleep in the sand. When we woke up it was the next morning. Your mom was cooking bacon in the next room of the cabin. It was our first time to the beach." My shaking is getting worse.
"I've got you Kat." Louis whispers into my ear. He tells me story after story of our childhood. Each one, an experience we had together as Beta and Alpha. None of it helps as my wolf pushes through but it helps me. It helps me to think away from the pain and the anger coursing through my wolf. It's at the last second, as my vision starts to blur that I realize something drastically important.
The door to my room is open.
I don't have time to warn him, as my back snaps, and I fade to nothing, my wolf pushing through with vigor.
He waits for me in the clearing, his eyes narrowed as he watches me approach. His red wolf is large. Not as large as mine, I note. We've never shifted together. In fact I see it on the other wolves' faces that they've never witnessed us together before.
I'm an Alpha.
And he's just a runt.
'Are we done with these childish games?' He says to me and only me. I respond with a growl. Kat isn't a game. Abuse isn't a game.
'You need to let me go.' I say through the mind link, a low growl escaping my muzzle. 'I don't belong to you. I don't belong here.' Eric cocks his head to the side.
'No.' He looks past me at Nick. When he speaks he broadcasts it.
'What have you told him.' Eric snaps. 'Maya?' I have no clue what Eric's going on about but Nick tenses, a low growl forming in the pit of his something. I can hear it building. His front paw twitches. He's itching for a fight. I turn back to Eric.
'This isn't about him.' I snap. 'Let us leave and we can move on from this.' Eric laughs.
'Both of you? None of you are going anywhere. You belong to this pack-'
'You are not the rightful Alpha.' Nick cuts in. He knows this is my fight. He knows I need to finish this. But Nick needs to vent. I can tell by his clenched body that there are unresolved issues here. He knows Eric caused the fire. He knows he's responsible for the death of his family.
'And who is, Nicolai? This little shit? He's an Omega-'
'No?' Eric's body haunches. He wants me to say it. He wants a reason to kill me.
'No.' My body mimics his. 'I'm not your pet. I'm not your property. I'm not an Omega.' Eric takes slow and agonizing steps towards me.
'I want you to think before you speak again Cameron.' He says. 'Think very carefully.' I walk forward, past Nick and towards the center of the group. I meet Eric halfway. I am in fact larger than him. The male is wider than me, a normal weight, and heavy muscle tone. I'm leaner, due to my poor diet, and lacking much definition, but I'm taller and if he'd treated me properly, I'd look as I'm supposed to.
'You're not my Alpha.' I snarl. Before I have a chance to react, he charges me, knocking me off my feet. I roll, landing a few yards away. Shaking my fur, my eyes meet those of my master, before falling to his white canines bared at my throat. For a split second I'm frozen.
Get up get up get up get up. Eric doesn't charge. He's playing with me just as we would a rabbit.
He thinks I don't know how to hunt. But I do.
He thinks I'm weak. I'm not.
I lift myself back onto my feet.
'I don't want to fight you Eric.' I say one last time. 'I just want to leave.' Come on. Get closer.
'You're not going anywhere Dog.' He doesn't think I'm going to attack him. He thinks I'm going to back down. We circle each other slowly. I let myself looks scared, ready to retreat. I can tell a few of the guys think I'm going to. I zone them out. They aren't the threat. They won't interfere until Eric tells them otherwise.
At last Eric dives for me, trying to feint an attack but I see it coming, jumping to the side instead of backwards, and clamp my jaw around his front foot, causing him to crash over me.
I know I'm bleeding. There's blood on me, both of ours. And as Eric shakes himself off me, I notice his limping.
'I'm not an Omega.' I tell him again. The pack can hear me. I'm not trying to project but I'm not trying to direct either.
'Cameron' The voice makes me pause. It enters my head, loud and clear and I know for a fact, almost instantly that it's Kat. She knows better than to distract me.
Unless it's not Kat.
Eric notices my pause and uses it to his advantage again lunging for my neck. I don't have time to block him as he tackles me to the ground. I feel the blood gushing from my neck as he clamps down. My wolf lets out a yip. My hind legs kick at him. I'd injured his right paw. If I can just get under his left...
I go slack in his jaw, just long enough for him to lighten his grip, and kick him hard in the groin with my back leg. He yelps, a high pitched sound never before uttered from his muzzle. He recovers in a moment, shaking his head and lunging. I dodge him.
We do this dance for who knows how long.
Kat comes running through the clearing. Eric pauses to turn towards her. Louis's grey wolf juts out of the other side of the woods, sprinting towards her. Nick is the one to successfully cut her off. I can tell just by briefly glancing at my mate that she's not in there.
It's just the wolf.
Using the distraction to my advantage I lunge for Eric's neck, clamping down with all my might on his throat. Blood gushes into my mouth as he bucks. Together we roll.
'I'm not you're pet. I'm not you're omega. My parents were Alpha and Luna. I'm an Alpha. I'm the Alpha.' Eric growls, trying his best to get at me but I'm not having it.
I don't want the pack. They're all murderers. I just want freedom. But if Eric runs them, I'll never be free. Without my family's inheritance he has nothing.
So I clamp down on his red stained neck, and I don't let go.