The Hunter

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Chapter 13 ~ Too Many Secrets

…Ulric’s P.O.V…

I had followed her, again. I know I had said I wouldn’t ask her questions if she disappeared suddenly but technically I’m sticking to that, only, for her to receive a phone call at four in the morning, I had to make sure she was safe. Normally she disappears with Claire but this time she went alone.

I heard everything, her story about how Dimitri had turned and why she protected him so fiercely. Yes, I was jealous, I was seething at the thought of him touching her but she already admitted that while she was no longer loved with him, she still cared for him.

She had once again felt my energy, which made it impossible to sneak up on her. I had marked her without her knowledge and on my end completely mated, however, because she was human, the mate bond clearly did not work the same. She must accept me fully, in order for our connection to be completed, which included telling her who I really was. She hunted Vampires, not werewolves, it would be alright… right?

Once Ryder was inside the big house that reeked of dead people, I watched her through the windows, ready to pounce into action should she need it. She was angry that they had disobeyed her direct orders but something was definitely wrong. The thick acres of ripe forest, should have provided the area with a plentiful and continuously replenishing amount of food, so, what was causing the sudden drain on the ecosystem?

She followed Dimitri down the halls and into a room. As I snuck around the back of the large house, I was happy to be rewarded with a window I would be able to eavesdrop in on their conversation with.

“Mi Amore...” my top lip curls in disgust at him calling her his love when clearly, she was MINE. “We are unsure why the animals have moved on, this is not the firrrst time we’ve had to hunt outside your borderline, which is how we got the hunters attention in the first place. I’m sorry, we thought we could handle it, we voted to stay on limited supply until we could find a solution.”

“You should have informed me straight away,” she slammed her fist into the desk.

“And what, have you prrrrotect me again?!” His temper was flaring but he managed to keep it under control. “This is no way to live your life mi amorrre. You can’t put everrrything on hold because you feel bad about me,” he moves forward and collects her hands.

“Gage is coming, he will be here in maybe a week. Then what happens, Dimitri? I can no longer see you, for the rest of my life.” Gage… Gage? who the fuck is Gage? See him for the rest of her life? What the fuck, is going on now?

“He cannot contrrrol your hearrrt mi amore, you are strrronger than you know.” This Gage controls her heart? Dimitri cups her face and tilts it towards him. He’s touching my love, my woman. Why is she not pushing him away? In my head, I screamed with fury, get your filthy dead hands off my mate!

I snarled, losing control and broke through the glass window. Shattered pieces disperse in every direction, my teeth latch onto him and with a yank of my powerful head - I ripped him away from her. He stumbles but comes forward to attack, silly young Vampire should know not to mess with an Alpha. I was excited at the prospect of fighting him but she jumps in front of me.

“Don’t hurt the Were.” Hurt? Did I hear her correctly? I would wipe the floor with him. Hurt the Were? I grumbled, does she really not understand how magnificently powerful we are? Oh little Luna, you will learn. “The sun Dimitri, go, I will get this window fixed.” She orders him to leave before the sun rises, casting its deadly rays of shine, no comeback bloodsucker, please let the rays kill you, I chuckled to myself but she then squared in on me. “You know who I am, so, who are you? Why have you been following me?”

I take it she wanted me to shift, fat chance in that happening.

“You need to answer some questions? Are you the reason Dimitri’s food source is gone?” I shake my large head from side to side to indicate no, then huffed.

“Please, show me who you are, they maybe Vampires but they will not hurt anyone.” Again, I huffed in irritation and instead of communicating further, I turned around and exited the way I came in.

I knew she had to get back for training at 10 am, I was rather intrigued to see if she would explain herself or if she would choose just to say nothing. Either way, time was running out, she had to be told about who we are and the fact that our fates are now tethered together.

____________

I waited… and waited… and waited - she did not come back. I cornered Clay in the training yard as she set up. “Claire, where is she?” I snapped.

“She had some personal stuff she had to take care of today,” Claire recites without batting an eyelid.

“Personal stuff?” I requested, prompting her to explain further.

“Yep, personal stuff.” Clay continued to set up without even so much as eye contact.

“I know you’re both lying - to me - to Roland - to everyone…” My temper was at the forefront and unfortunately, she was my target.

“Back off Ulric.” Roland came around the corner, sensing my wolf ready to phase.

“Look, Ulric, I don’t know what you want me to say…” but I cut her off.

“I want to know the truth!” I bellowed in her face.

“You said you didn’t require it, that you could trust her. Are you now telling me you lied?” Roland stood in front of Claire, I could taste the slight tang of blood as my canines attempted to pierce through my gums - I was ready to shift out of anger.

I couldn’t risk putting everyone in danger by losing control, so I bolted into the forest as fast as I could. As I made it just past the tree line, I couldn’t hold my wolf back any longer - he came through - morphing from humanoid form into my primal animal. I tilted my ears, honing in to hear if Claire had seen anything.

“Jesus, what’s Ulric’s problem?”

“Can’t you see Claire? He’s in love with her but it feels like she… no, both of you, are always hiding things from us. Is it really that hard to understand we just want to build a loving life with the both of you without feeling like, at any moment, it could be the last time we ever see you? You run off with no explanation, secret conversations, secret phone calls - almost like you’re just filling in time till something better comes along.” He stomps off, heading in my direction.

“Roland, Roland please?” I hear his footsteps quicken, knew the turmoil he felt inside.

It was true though, everything he said. We couldn’t reveal ourselves until they revealed themselves - we needed reassurance, they needed confirmation they could trust us - it was going to be a struggle.

The day passed with still no word from Ryder. Claire packed up after class and despite both of them staying on the reserve lately, I guess they had decided it was best to stay away.

Roland and I were slouching on the sofas in the pack house, mopping about being disconnected from our mates, when the call came through to Alpha’s phone.

“Yes?” Dad answered without so much as a ‘hello’. “Understood,” he growled before hanging up.

“Ulric, Roland, Vampires have been spotted.” He scribbles down something on paper, “here are your coordinates, apparently, it’s a rather large horde with human slaves - you’ll need your team plus more.” Alpha Leonardo looked worried, human slaves meant bad news - these were the Vampires from horror stories.

“On it,” we both replied and leapt into action.

_________

We arrived in wolf form, on the outskirts of town, immediately spotting our targets. Just as we were about to strike, I see Ryder running in, stake pistols in hand, with Claire, William and that Myka. There were only four of them, four up against thirty Vampires and ten compelled human slaves.

I watched Ryder maneuver with ease, she looked incredible. I was so immersed in her sexiness that I had completely forgotten why we were even there. Roland rams me with his head, reminding me of our mind link and the fact that every wolf with us just got aroused by my mates sexiness… shit.

Somewhere, in amongst the fight, Ryder is thrown back to the middle of the road and rolls across the hard bitumen. The blood drained from my face and I instinctively leapt in front of her. Roland charged the Vampire attacking Claire, while the others stalked out from the forest edge, snarling and snapping threateningly.

A dangerously low warning growl slithered out from me as I bared my canines before swinging my head around to assess her condition. She gapes up at me, I could hear her heart beating fast and her short panicked breaths. I released a sharp bark at her, curt and penetrating - she knew I was disappointed. She’d be able to feel it through my mark. She raises her hand to my mate imprint with furrowed brows. I could see the sheen of confusion cover her face as to why there, in particular, made her feel certain things.

I turned back, focusing on the wolves as they moved closer to the leaches and with a strict howl - we all leapt into action. Snarling, chomping and ripping erupted, within mere minutes the bloodsuckers were shredded and piled up in pieces ready to burn while Ryder just lay there stunned, staring wide-eyed at me.

I walked over, letting out a short snappy bark and pulled her by her jacket cuff to the pile of death, so she could burn it. She must have gotten the hint and pulled matches from her pocket, setting the bodies ablaze.

She kept eyeing me suspiciously while the rest of her unit took care of the human slaves. Thank god, they were compelled because no doubt some or all of them, have been raped and fed from. Vampires are vile disgusting creatures.

“Thank you...” I heard as I went to walk away. “I could have handled it. Hey? I know you...” she shouted, causing me to turn and our eyes to connect. “I know your eyes...” she whispered in shock, “I feel you... I feel your heart… I know you.”

Ryder was beautiful, the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, her innocence and vulnerability shone through her tough exterior whether she realised it or not. The first time I had seen that look on her face was the night of my birthday - she had sat in my arms, watching me through glassy, delicate chocolate browns, attempting to decipher if I was real? If I could be trusted? If she could possibly love me?

I turned my back on my mate, howled, calling back the wolves and following them home.

If she knew my eyes, it wouldn’t take long for her to figure out who I was, but would she be able to handle it?

Ryder never came that night, she never called and she never texted - it was like I had already lost her. My heart ached as though I was missing the other half of me - I needed her there, I needed her to feel complete but she simply didn’t care.

I lay awake that night, my thoughts going crazy inside my head - I linked Roland and Claire never came either. Why would she do that? She didn’t know the wolf was me, as far as she knew, we spent an incredible date together, then she leaves without so much as a goodbye and hides from me?

I was beginning to question why I had been damned with a human mate. If she were a wolf, we would know and be completely bonded and in love by now. What if she rejects me? What would I do?

____________

The wretched morning came and as I gawked at myself in the mirror, heavy bags under my eyes greeted me - I looked like a mere shell of my former self. Disgusted by my weak and hollowed appearance, I pulled back my fist and slammed it straight into the reflection, smashing the mirror and slicing my knuckles. I needed to see her - she is my mate and she simply doesn’t give a fuck about me.

Furious thoughts of rejection swirled like poison in my head as I stomped toward the training yard. “Where have you been?” I snarled, my temper clearly unrestrained. She wore her hair up in a messy bun and adorned a black singlet. Yes, it was a particularly hot day but she had always hidden my mark, not today, today it was visible.

“What do you mean Ulric?” She threw back at me, dumbfounded by my reaction.

“You just disappear in the middle of the night and then refuse to answer my calls or texts?”

“I had stuff to do… we talked about this…”

“You said you’d come back?” I stepped forward as she stepped back.

“Yes, and I’m back. But I also have a class to teach in a few minutes, so if…”

“Jesus Ry, what the hell is that?” We both snap to Claire watching us with intense curiosity.

“Nothing.” She immediately reaches for her hair tie, allowing her hair to fall.

“Nothing? That ain’t nothing. Looks like a mark or a werewolf bite from that movie we watched the other night.”

My eyes went wide as Ryder froze on the spot. “What did just say?” She croaked out.

“The movie…” Claire’s brows knitted together.

“Before that clay,” her voice rising harshly.

“A mark… or… or a… bite?” Claire stumbled as Roland and I glanced at each other warily.

Ryder’s head snapped left and right as if noticing everything for the first time. She eyed us suspiciously, her heart picked up rhythm, her breathing became ragged, her eyes wandered over everything as if it had finally dawned on her and then her eyes flew open, wider than I’ve ever seen before.

“Ryder, it’s not what you think.” I advanced towards her with my arms stretched out.

“Clay!” A high pitched scream ripped from her throat as she burst to a sprint.

I grabbed her around the waist but she threw her head back collecting my nose and breaking it. Blood gushed out and I lost my grip on her. Using my super speed, I tackled her to the ground but she managed to flip me, jumped slightly before coming down and kneeing me straight in the balls.

Floundering on the ground in pain, I watched through salty wet eyes as she drove away from me, not even once, did she look back. Roland crawls over to me with a silver blade sticking out of his side, whimpering like a wounded animal. “My mate Ul, my mate...” his tears ran thick and hot down his face. Desperation and rejection covered his soul like a suffocating blanket, wrapping tighter and tighter.

Our mates had gone.

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