The Hunter

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Chapter 10 ~ Opening

...Ryder’s P.O.V...

The blood drained from my face, my vision blurred, sweat gathered on my forehead and under my armpits and my balance faltered. A few weeks? A few weeks?… He was arriving in a few weeks and there was nothing I could do about it. I was finally beginning to feel some form of happiness, I had allowed a drastic slip and karma came to smack me in the face.

Rushing up to my room, tears gathering in my eyes as I threw some clothes into a bag along with other essentials. The treaty document hung on my wall as a reminder by my parents of the duty I had to fulfil as a hunter. My eighteenth birthday was the day I found out my fate, other kids got cars and parties and I got a plaque, nailed to my wall, so I could look up and see my future or rather lack thereof.

Bile rose up the back of my throat and I struggled desperately to keep it down. If he was coming, that meant my entire unit would now be bound to my fate. Claire would have to leave Roland, Myka and William would join us and Arrow and his unit could choose between protecting me, their new Queen or stay on the ground.

But how could I leave him? He had confessed I was his future and I couldn’t see life without him. Gage was undeniably good looking but the thought of him touching me made my skin crawl, I doubted my ability to learn to love him. He would eventually want heirs and in no way in hell, were they coming from me.

I know that while I had lost all interest in men after Dimitri was turned, Gage would be off, sticking his dick in any hole that was presented to him, knowing how debauched and immoral most females could be in our order, it was highly unlikely he had sustained from that dissolute lifestyle.

I grabbed the treaty, ripping it from the wall and throwing it into the back of my - car along with everything else that I required for a mini getaway.

“You going somewhere?” I spun on my heels nearly jumping out of my skin.

“A friends, for a few days.”

“Girly, I know you got that letter, you better not be planning anything stupid.” My father, how fucking supportive.

“I am entitled to enjoy my last moments as a free person before I’m enslaved to the throne,” I snarled at him, slamming my boot closed.

“You are ungrateful, we did this for you, you get given a life we could only dream of,” he snaps back.

“ME? You are ludicrous. Do not insult my intelligence and pretend like any of this was done for anything other than your own selfish rise to power. Now, I have accepted my fate, so back the fuck off…” My words were cut off by father’s swift and precise backhand to my face.

“You dare speak to me like that again girly and I will cut you off from any freedom.” His eyes burned with hatred and his warning was clear.

“I hate you,” I replied through gritted teeth.

“Good, it makes you a better hunter.” I closed my eyes for just a second to gain control of my temper and he withdrew his fist, smashing me straight in the eye, splitting the skin just below my brow.

Arrow comes out of nowhere and tackles him to the ground.

“Leave Ryder, I will deal with this.” I scrambled to my feet and threw myself into the car, skidding the tires on my departure from the compound.

I could feel a light trickle of blood run down my face but I didn’t care, I had to get to Claire… to him, and away from that monster. I knew Arrow could handle him, he had been doing it my entire life, but these past few years, his hatred and evil heart had grown far bigger than his ego ever was. I prayed Arrow was alright, making a mental note to text him as soon as I was back at Ulric’s.

Speed dialling Claire, it rang twice before she answered, ...Afternoon Commander...

“Get the first aid kit, I’ll be arriving in ten.”

...Ryder what’s… I hung up on her.

Knocking it back into 3rd, I fanged it around the hills like a crazy person. Pulling into the long driveway to Ulric’s parent’s property, I see Claire gunning it at full speed, towards me - she was always a super-fast runner. I slammed on the brakes and stepped out, looking directly at him, his eyes widen as he sprints at full pelt in my direction.

“Shit,” Claire grabs my face, drawing my attention. “That bastard,” she had seen enough of his damage to know exactly who was responsible.

“What the fuck happened?” Ulric yells at me.

“Calm down, I’m fine.”

“Fine… FINE? Your face is bleeding,” his temper began to rise.

“Please Ulric, calm down.”

“WHO HURT YOU?” he screamed at me - like actually yelled.

“I’m not telling you shit until you calm the fuck down.” I spit back just as fiercely.

“Roland, please take Ulric away, I have to stitch her up,” Claire orders.

“Sure cutie, c’mon bro, you need to chill.”

The boys grabbed Ulric and cart him off, while Claire lays me down on the bonnet of my car. The heat rising from the engine calmed the tornado raging inside.

“What happened?” She inquired when they were out of earshot.

I explained everything to her and showed her the letter I had received while she sutured the open cut on my face, wiping away the blood like she always did for me. Once, my ‘father’ had decided to take a hot blade to my back, a dozen times before Arrow found us and beat him black and blue. The real reason for my wings being tattooed there - to cover the scars of his torturous abuse and to represent my survival of his hatred. Clay had cared for me, cleaned up my back and spoon fed me back to health, she was my angel.

“We can run? Ryder, I will be behind you whatever you want to do,” she offered.

“I will fulfil my obligation Clay, you know that. You, Myka and William all pledged an oath as my unit and my brothers and sister but I release you. I can’t ask you to leave the one thing that finally makes you happy behind and follow me to Emerson. So you are free, to marry him, to have a giant family and to live a long and happy life.”

“You know that’s not going to happen Ry, we’ll think of something...” she linked our arms and lay her head on my shoulder. “You are the only real family I actually have Ryder, I’m not letting you go, where you go, I go.” I sniffled at her words. “Are you crying?” She asks surprised.

“Of course not, Clay,” I brushed it off.

“Thank god, I know how to handle you in every other situation but even I have only ever seen you cry twice.”

“Shut up,” I shouldered her hard. The poor tiny thing slides straight off the bonnet as I burst into laughter.

“Fuck you,” she snaps, storming off.

“Clay? Clay? I’m sorry.” But she refuses to turn around.

I took her silence as my cue to go and face a very angry Ulric. I wish I could have told Claire exactly what her support meant to me. How I have underappreciated her all these years and that she was my, everything… but I couldn’t, I didn’t know how too.

Walking into his cabin, I see him sitting in the lounge surrounded by his friends.

“Hey,” I said. His head hung low as he watched me through his long thick black lashes with a dangerous glint in his eyes, “can we talk now, without you getting angry?”

“We’ll leave you to it,” Roland ordered everyone out and gave me a sympathetic look before closing the door behind us.

“TELL ME WHO HIT YOU?” His temper clearly had not dissipated.

“Ulric, you have to calm down or I will leave. I left behind a bad temper and I can’t handle another one.” Just then, my phone rings and I see it’s Arrow and slide to answer.

“Arrow are you alright?”

...Fine, fine, are you?... His concern was touching.

“I am thanks to you, his punch made my eyesight blur.”

...That bastard, don’t worry I got him...

“Thank you, for always protecting me.”

...I will always protect you. Where are you?...

“I’m safe Arrow.”

...Alright, care bear with you?...

“Would she be anywhere else?”

...True, I love you, sis. Call me if you need me...

I always envied how open Arrow was with his feelings. We hang up just as I feel his arms wrap around me.

“I’m sorry, I got angry,” he whispered into my ear. “I want to kill whoever hurt you,” I pull him by his hands to the couch.

“I know, but I need a level head because I’m about to share a deep dark secret with you, but you can’t get mad and do something stupid okay?” He nods his head as I cuddle into him. “I need you to swear Ulric, you want me to open up? We have to do this my way.”

“I swear Rocky, I will listen to everything and not get angry,” he swore through gritted teeth. I guess that was as good as I was going to get.

I took a deep breath and began from the beginning. “The first beating I can remember was when I was five years old, I had dropped the cup I was carrying and the water spilt across…”

We continued for an hour or two and true to his word - he listened with patience - despite tensing every now and again when certain parts got pretty graphic. It was painful to relive those memories and I had absolutely no idea why I felt I needed to share them with him. Part of me thought that when it came time to disappear, he might think I had offed myself due to my past, mourn and move on - but the other part of me wanted to bare my soul to him, truthfully and completely and I had no idea what to do about that part of me. How strong or dominant would that part be when Gage and I had to marry? This was the type of situation any normal girl would break down and cry, but I had not properly cried in years, I thought that part of me had broken.

“You can’t go back,” he exclaimed when I’d finished.

“Well, I can’t stay here.” I scoffed back as if he were insane, I had just slept with him that morning - man, a lot happens in a day.

“Yes you can and you will,” he orders with strong authority as my eyebrow arches. “I mean, if you would like to, I’d love for you to stay.”

His quirky personality pleased my heart and his masculinity pureed my body to mush in his strong hands. “It’s been a long day,” I bit my lip, “how about we head to bed?”

He grunted with a knowing look in his eye as he picked me up and threw me over his shoulder, giving me prime ogling time of his sexy muscular arse. “You’re cute,” I purred seductively.

“You are insatiable.” I shrugged as I hung upside down.

“Can you blame me?”

Gage Mikahil Landerson

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