Izabella (The Bloodstone, #1) ✓

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7. Bonding

“He didn’t try anything on you, did he?” I detected concern in dad’s tone.

Absentmindedly, my fingers drifted to the scar on the curve of my neck. I rubbed it, my lips twisting in frustration. At least it didn’t hurt anymore. “No, he didn’t do anything. He’s got duties keeping him busy.”

A week passed since I arrived at The Bloodstone, the pack members were at ease with my presence, no longer regarding me as a stranger. From the way they looked at me, I would’ve thought I was an alien to them. Although, something told me Basil had something to do with it. It was clear outsiders rarely entered their safe haven.

“Everyone here is kind but nothing like home,” In fact, it was very different from home. In the eyes of The Nobles, they were seen as tribal and from their living, I could see that they were. “How’s everybody else?”

I heard him sigh. “Hailey and the baby are fine, your brother wouldn’t allow her around without guards and Phoenix, well... she’s Phoenix. Your mother misses you, she can’t stop going through your baby album and clothes-”

“I’ve only been gone for a week,” I groaned, tilting my head back.

“Yeah, well, those two days only felt like a second. Let’s not forget, you’ve been gone for years,” Silence travelled through the other end of the receiver. I don’t think they would ever truly let it go. Going outside the norms of the pack – considering since we lived as a community – was weird. In their eyes, I abandoned them but all I needed was a break, to figure out where my life was heading. “Theodore is heading over to see Basil. He’ll be checking up on you.”

I couldn’t contain excitement bubbling in me as the thought of having a little piece of home comforted me. A question crossed my mind and I frowned. “Why’s he seeing Basil?”

Another round of silence passed through the receiver. For a second, I thought he hung up but his deep voice startled me, especially the news he delivered. “There’s been an alert from The Wild-Wolves. Hunters are near and not only is your uncle passing on the message, we need to hear his answer whether or not he’s joining The Nobles.”

I cancelled out everything else but the word hunters. Hunters. Worry slithered up my spine, curling around my heart in a vice grip and it fought to beat for space, for oxygen. He sensed my emotion, my head beating loudly through the receiver to his sensitive ears.

“Calm down, Bell,” He breathed through my fear. “Everything’s going to be alright. We just have to keep on the down low, not get their attention, you know?”

Footsteps approaching caught my attention and I turned to see Katherina leaning against the doorframe patiently. Folding her arms, she eyed me questioningly and I held up my finger in a ‘one-second’ gesture. I didn’t need to whisper; she could hear our conversation even if I went to the other room.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked, hurt etched in my tone.

“Didn’t want to worry you,”

Running my fingers through my hair, I released an exasperated sigh. “Dad, I’ve got to go.”

“Alright, baby girl. Love you,”

I answered with ‘love you too’ and ended the call, turning to Katherina with a smile. “I’m sorry, my-”

“It’s fine we should get going before noon hits. The pups can get a little crazy during that time,”

I laughed, one that was genuine for the first time this week. We grew to know each other during that time, along with her mate Cassandra who was a trainer for the new upcoming warriors. Her story may not the same as many but they had the same concept: she was abandoned due to her sexuality. Unfortunately, not every pack held the same tolerance for same-sex mates but Basil found her near the borders of his territory, bloody and on the brink of death. Awe shone through her eyes when she spoke of him as if he was some kind of white knight in shining armour. I, however, could say otherwise.

We left out back, walking into the fields where some kids playing around. My lips quirked upwards and Katherina caught me observing them. I arched a quizzical brow.

“You want one of your own?”

“Not now,” I breathed deeply. “They’re cute, though.”

“They’re wolves in sheep’s clothing,”

“Ha, ha that’s hilarious,” I said in a flat tone, rolling my eyes.

She was kind enough to show me around the pack and keenly, my eyes wandered around with interest. In this new light, I was in awe of Basil and admired the job he’d done. He built an empire from the ashes of the dark history carried in the pack and promised a better life for his people. Now, the Bloodstone was recognised as one of The Nobles, soon to become one with the most powerful packs known internationally, Ivy Leagues of the werewolf culture. Other packs that weren’t a part of The Nobles were tribes, officially known as rogues.

I loved the scenery of the pack, reminisces of the old south ingrained in the intricate designs of the buildings and the greenery around me. Katherina led me towards the juvenile training centre where young wolves were learning self-defence. One rule The Nobles held was the custom of males and females learning how to defend themselves. Folding my arms, leaning against the threshold as I watched them train attentively. One of the trainers was Keith, the guy Basil punched the night of the party.

“Do they have the same quality training as the upcoming warriors?” I asked distractedly.

“Yes, but they run through it briefly. Those who are highly capable are auditioned for the warrior training. It looks like Michael will be heading in that direction,”

She pointed her finger at a kid that stood next to Keith, Michael. He was tall, with a lean and slender, showing his early stages of adolescence. Keith held onto his arm and demonstrated an effective punch in the air. Slowly, with Michael’s clenched fists, he twisted his arms before murmuring something to him. I’d been on the receiving end of those punches and they hurt like a bitch. As if sensing our presence, Keith glanced at me and nodded. I did the same. I didn’t talk to him as I feared Basil would beat the living shit out of him. So, I kept my distance.

“I see potential in him,” I smiled and we left.

For the next thirty, we’d been through most areas of the pack. We were heading back to the pack-house before I sensed his presence, the hairs on my skin standing to attention in response to his close proximity. Before I got the chance to see him, he spoke.

“I’ll take it from here,” Basil said gruffly and I glanced over my shoulder to see him standing behind us, watching me.

It was a habit of his to be observant, too observant, especially whenever I was near. His gaze was sharp with those light irises; to avoid his them was inevitable. There were times when I would go for a run and I’d feel his eyes on me. I tried feigned ignorance yet the prickles on my skin made it difficult. His mood swings were volatile. Ever since I came to The Bloodstone, it felt like he was avoiding me. We hadn’t talked since that night he’d marked me but he would be near like he was some kind of potent force watching over me. My fingers skimmed my scar and his nostrils flared just as pleasure seeped into my system. Through my mark, my pleasure was his. I couldn’t read his thoughts but he could read mine and regardless of my body submitting to his every touch, I wasn’t very fond of him. He stole my independence and that was one thing I couldn’t forgive.

“Alpha,” With slight surprise, Katherina bowed her head respectful.

“Go back to your duties, I’ll continue on,”

“She doesn’t have to,” I said. “I’m sure you’re busy.”

With an outstretched hand, Basil motioned for me to come closer, ignoring my words, and sent one look at Katherina. That was enough for her to say her goodbyes and rush away. His large fingers skimmed my arm before snaking down to clasp my hand in a tight grip. Magnitudes of electric shocks coursed through me and I took in a shaky breath as my frizzled brain took in the connection between us. I tugged but his death grip wouldn’t let go of me.

“Come,” he said, tugging at my arm.

“Where are we going?”

“You’ll see,”

He didn’t talk much except when in meetings or he was busy with Alpha duties. His last meeting was yesterday and out of habit, I listened in, wanting desperately to be a part of their gathering. Due to my heightened senses, I was able to hear everything they spoke of, the logistics, possible threats of rogues and much more. The wolf inside stirred the longer we held skin to skin contact. I contained the growl threatening to break free. Basil sensed her and he stopped in his tracks, tossing a glance over his shoulder at me with furrowed brows. He stepped closer to me, his musk cocooning me in a blanket of warmth, leaving me dazed. Tucking my finger under my chin, he tilted my head back and my wolf ascended to the surface at the sight of him, his wolf. I could see my reflection in his eyes, and the whisky pool of my irises burned brightly under his scrutiny.

He gripped my neck.

“She wants to see me,”

“She’s looking at you right now,” I said sardonically, wincing as he tightened his fingers further, his chest heaving as he growled in a warning tone.

“She wants to see the other me,”

We continued our journey to god knows where. The sun glaring down blended with my unusual body temperature and a light sheen of sweat coated my skin. We bypassed the training sessions and the children’s’ playing around, heading towards the fringe of the trees. The calmness of the forest muted any noise from the outside, keeping my mind at peace, making me more aware of him. Specks of rays escaped through the gaps of the trees, kissing the earth while providing a path for us. Basil’s formidable form seemed out of place in the gentle forest; his animalistic stride contrasting against its purity. We made an abrupt stop and he pivoted to face me, his brooding eyes watching intently before he took a step back.

Dread filled my body when he unzipped his pants and with heat rising on my cheeks, I turned away, completely flustered.

“What are you doing?” I exclaimed.

“Getting undressed, isn’t that obvious?”

“It is but-”

“You have every right to see me bare just as I have every right to see you,”

Bones cracking attacked my sensitive ears. I was familiar with that noise, along with the snarl resonating through the atmosphere. He was shifting. Quickly, I swirled around and my eyes landed on his wolf, watching his lean muscles ripple beneath his fur with each step, showing his power and authority as Alpha. He was a beautiful beast, possessing light grey fur that matched those wintry eyes. His chest vibrated with the continuous growls humming deep within and I took a step back nervously. I was attracted to him no matter how much I tried to stay away, my wolf clawed at the brink of my humanity, desperate to touch him. She was more eager to complete our bond, more than I. He huffed and his snout nudged my stomach. I knew what he wanted, what he was asking.

He wanted me to shift.

But in front of him? I made an attempt to hide behind the tree but in a nanosecond, he blocked my path. He nudged my stomach again, a little harder, and I folded my arms as a cool chill travelled down my arm. Eventually, I gave in and undressed under his keen eyes, bare for his eyes only and his chest rumbled, completely satisfied. Shifting into my brown furred wolf, my humanity receded into my wolf’s consciousness as I allowed her to spend time with her mate. She was infatuated with him, rubbing her fur on his flirtatiously, licking his snout, behind his ears and another wave of growls reached me. My wolf was relatively large yet he was somewhat bigger. She liked that and it only fuelled our attraction. She believed we had the best of the bests, the Alpha of all Alphas. She wanted the best and in her mind, she was entitled to one. Basil rubbed his fur against her, saturating his feral scent on her body, sniffing whilst licking her snout, her ears and then her behind in return.

The full moon was approaching, and my heat was near. Licking her hind legs, he urged her body forward before sprinting off. Instinctively, she followed after him, her excitement sparking in all directions once she caught up to his incredible speed. To my surprise, Basil was a playful wolf. He would nip her paw then run off, glancing behind to see if my wolf was chasing after him. She did the same in return and he seemed to enjoy chasing after her.

Time went by when he hunted down a rabbit. Through my wolf’s eyes, I watched in complete fascination. Basil wasn’t like any other wolf; the brute inside separated him from any other Alpha I’d known. The muscle in his leg flexed as he pounced on his prey and with the satisfying snap of bones, he tore the flesh apart. Basil pranced over to her, offering the meal with his bloody snout. Males were seen as the providers and Basil has shown he was capable of that. He is worthy

He motioned for me to eat and out of hunger - not obedience - I did.

A couple hours passed when we shifted back into our flesh and I tried to cover my body but Basil pushed my hands away. Avoiding his eyes, I refused to look at his naked form. His fingers glided along the curve of my breast, tweaking my nipple and I shivered at his cold touch.

“Don’t hide from me,” he murmured calmly and our eyes met. Unable to stand the intensity of his gaze, I looked away.

He turned to collect our clothes and my eyes widened at the hideous scars on his back. I winced at the gruesome sight, controlling myself before I did something stupid like touching it or asking questions. I didn’t know how he’d react but surely, it wouldn’t be a problem since he didn’t cover it up? Either way, I didn’t take my chances but I couldn’t deny my interest. What stories laid beneath those scars? I remembered Elizabeth’s words ringing like a distant memory, how everyone in the pack had gone through the hardest times as a rogue. His scar revealed a glimpse of his haunting past. What happened to him? I kept quiet, dressing in front of his watchful eyes as he did the same and his eyes glazed over like he was looking into the distance. He turned his head to look at me, the skin around his eyes taut, any sign of gentleness nature vanished.

The Alpha rogue was back.

“I need to return, something urgent has risen,”

“The hunters,” his eyes narrowed into slits. Clearing my throat, I elaborated. “My dad... um… he told me.”

He took long strides away, his back facing me and his scar glaring at me the further he went. Cocking my head to the side, realisation dawned on me as I stumbled back, shocked at what I’d suspected.

Someone tried to kill Basil.

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