We talk some more and I slowly start to see her calm down and relax. We both make it a promise to find each other before the festival is done.
It is time for us to be released and we are ushered out of the bunker. The light is blinding as we are lined up on the far side of the field. The males are about 200 meters away and standing downwind of us. This makes it incredibly difficult for the females to pick out our mates but easy for the males to pick out theirs.
I eye up these males as much as I can from this distance and try to pick out my mate. Many were already shifted and seeing the display of fur colors was actually sort of beautiful.
As I stand next to Hailey she tightly grips my hand. We both know there is little chance of escaping with out a mate but we won’t go down with out a fight. I squeeze back to let her know it will be okay and whisper to her to run fast and not stop.
The gun is shot off and I give Hailey one last look before I release her hand and run for my life. I zigzag through the trees to make it harder to track my sent. Already I can hear the thumps of shifted males nearing but I don’t look back or slow down.
I hear girls shriek as they are being caught and the occasional scream as some are marked by force. This fuels me to run harder and faster. I hear steps in the distance and know it will be impossible to out run most males because I don’t have the connection to my wolf like they do.
I stop catching my breath and survey the area. I find the tallest tree I can and immediately start to climb. I get to a safe height from the ground and take off through the trees.
I hear three shots go off in sequence signaling there are 30 minutes left of this hell. My hands are raw and bloody from gripping the trees so I drop onto the forest floor.
I land as gently as possible and listen. Silence. I turn to make my way further from the field and I’m caught off guard when I bump into something. A chest is the first thing that registers in my mind. A naked chest I might add. I feel sparks and immediately feel relaxed for a split second until I realize what this means.
I look up at the male to study him. His hair is a dirty blond color that suits his tanned skin. He has a sharp jaw line and his lips look soft. I make my way down his body to his muscular chest and stop at his navel with wide eyes. He’s naked!
My blue eyes snap to his dark brown ones. He looks me in the eyes but doesn’t say anything. His face remains stoic and he takes his time looking me over.
I feel his eyes drag up and down my body and I feel my face flush. He looks in my eyes again and I see a hint of a smirk form on his lips.
“Name, age, and rank pup.”
It takes me a moment to take in what he says but the second I do I immediately scowl at him.
“Cordelia Adams, 18, Alpha’s daughter. And I’m not a pup.” I bite the last part out between clenched teeth and stand up straighter.
He leans down to get eye level with me. He’s maybe 6 inches taller than me, not enough to warrant this action. He seemed to be deciding his next move when he straightened up and suddenly walked away.
“Hey, where are you going? I don’t even know your name.” I shouted from my spot refusing to move. He turned around and looked me like I was an idiot.
“I’m going back to my cabin and you are to follow me.” He turned back around and continued to walk.
“Not a chance. I’m not going anywhere with you until you tell me your name. For all I know, you could be a mass murderer!”
Without a word he calmly turned back to me and grabbed my arm in a death grip. With his other hand, he gripped my chin and tilted my head to look at him.
“You will do as you are told or you will be punished accordingly. Don’t test me, girl, I am not one to go back on my word. What I choose to do in my personal time is none of your concern, whether that be killing or not. Do you understand me?”
I didn’t respond immediately and his hold on my arm tightened successfully replacing any tingles with sparks of pain. “Do you understand me, Cordelia!?” His calm demeanor was gone and replaced by a rage I’ve never seen before.
I nod hastily and try to pull away. He releases my chin but the grip on my arm remained. He pulled me along and I struggled to keep up with his quick pace.
I don’t dare speak or open my mouth to ask any questions. I may have a big mouth but even I know when to shut up.
We reach the clearing and I see all the other girls with their mates. Each couple seems to be happier than the last and I feel a tinge of sadness in my heart. My mate seems unaffected by me, unlike these other males.
I continue to scan the crowd and spot Christian with a short red head. He looks at her with loving eyes and I’m truly happy for him. I didn’t recognize her from my cabin but she looks like she would be a strong Luna.
I am dragged further into the field relieved when I see no one paying attention to us. What a sight we must be. A naked male dragging a frightened female through a crowd of happy mates.
As I follow along he releases his grip on me sensing I won’t flee and I try to rub the tingles away. I notice we are walking towards another mated pair and the second I see the mess of blond hair I sprint over to them.
I hear my, still to be named, mate growl at me but I don’t stop. Hailey turns when she hears the growl and sees me running to her. She meets me half way and we crush each other in tight hugs.
“Thank goddess you’re okay! When I didn’t see you here when I got here I feared you were hurt. Where is your mate? Is he nice? I see he hasn’t marked you yet, that’s a plus right?” Hailey rambles and only stops when she sees the look on my face. “What’s wrong? What did he do? I’ll kill him.”
As soon as she threatens his life I hear an earth shattering growl and I’m ripped away from her. The fear in her eyes is obvious as she looks to the male I’m pressed against.
Hailey’s mate pulls her behind him and stares down my mate. They are both silent and I take this time to briefly study him. His features are similar to my mates and I assume they are related.
“Take control of your mate, Jackson. I will not have my life threatened by that pup again without repercussions. I do not care that you are my Beta or my brother.” My theory is confirmed and take notice that people are watching us.
This undoubtedly makes my mate an Alpha and feel relieved when I realize Hailey will be coming to the same pack as me. I may have just met her but I don’t think I would be able to handle the transitions with out her.
The man who I assume is Jackson nods at my mate and I freeze when he speaks the words that shocked me to my core.
“I assure you it will not happen again, Alpha Westwood. I will take care of it.”
Westwood. This can not be happening. I struggle to get away from him but he just holds me tighter. He looks down at me with a sadistic smile. “Well little mate, now you know. Welcome to the Westwood Pack, Cordelia.”