The Hunter

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Chapter 29 ~ Coming Clean

…Ulric’s P.O.V...

I was beyond furious, she was willing to put everyone in danger and marry herself off because Gage fed her some garbage. How dare she? Again and again, we take one step forward and ten fucking backwards, my life was tethered to hers, we shared an unbreakable bond, mated forever - what part of that does she not understand? My father knew something big was happening, we had the conversation in his office a few days ago and now, here it was plain as day. Even if what she was saying was true, what he was saying was true - I couldn’t risk our lives like that. I couldn’t be a murderer and slaughter misguided minds… there had to be another solution, a peaceful solution. She was not marrying anyone but me.

My wolf was angry - mixed unstoppable emotions ran rampant through every cell within us, fear, anxiety, confusion, hatred, self-loathing - were we not enough for her? How could she willingly want to throw herself under the bus, with no regard for anyone else?

She had blindsided me in the shower, she knew when it came to her and sex, I had no idea how to stay focused, she knew my mind was weak every time I was buried inside her and she had used that to her advantage. I was trying to make a connection and she was trying to break it, but it couldn’t be broken - never, if she did, I would die.

…ULRIC, SLOW DOWN… Roland’s voice came through strong in our mind link.

…GO AWAY ROLAND… I spat back through our link.

…NO, YOU NEED TO TALK…

…WHAT I NEED TO DO, IS CRUNCH DOWN ON GAGE…

…AS DELICIOUS AS THAT SOUNDS UL, WE STILL NEED TO TALK…

I halted, hearing my Beta. He was the only one that could come close to my speed, huffing and panting as he came from behind me.

…WHAT?… I snarled at him, revealing my razor sharp and dangerous jaws.

…ALRIGHT, CALM DOWN… He struggles to breathe.

…WHAT DO YOU WANT?… My patience wearing thin.

…FUCK, YOU ARE TWICE AS FAST WHEN YOU’RE ANGRY. SHE’S HIDING MORE ULRIC…

…ARE YOU TRYING TO MAKE THE SITUATION WORSE?...

…WHAT? NO, I MEAN - I THINK YOU NEED TO TALK TO HER BECAUSE I GET THE FEELING, YOU LEFT BEFORE SHE COULD FINISH. I FEEL SHE IS WITHHOLDING SOMETHING, A MASSIVE SOMETHING, THIS IS RYDER WE ARE TALKING ABOUT? SHE WOULDN’T GO TO WAR BECAUSE SHE WAS TOLD TOO…

…IT’S RYDER, EVERYTHING IS A GODDAM SECRET…

…SO GIVE HER A REASON TO TRUST YOU, GO BACK, TALK TO HER…

…BUT SHE IS DIFFICULT… I snapped my powerful jaws to make a point.

…YOU ARE BOTH FUCKEN DIFFICULT MAN…

…WATCH IT BETA…

…NO, YOU WATCH IT. WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE FULL WEIGHT OF THIS SITUATION AND UNFORTUNATELY, IT MAY MEAN WE HAVE TO MEET WITH GAGE, HOW HAPPY WILL HE BE WHEN HE SEE’S HE’S DRIVEN A WEDGE BETWEEN YOU TWO? WE ALL SMELT HIS LUST FOR HER…

…DAMMIT ROLAND… His wolf smiled at me, he knew he was right, hell, I knew he was right. …FINE, I’M HEADING HOME…

…BUNCH OF FUCKEN CHILDREN… His big paws flicked leaves at me before dashing off.

That little scrawny bastard better run, he had pissed me off with his logical sense. I was quite happy, running around, mulling over everything in my emotional state, then he comes along with his logical brain and can see the situation from a reasonable point of view - damn him.

I took off, following the familiar paths through the forest, to get back to my cabin. Instantly, her delectable and mouth-watering aroma invades my nasal passages - she was here. I shifted and strode in completely naked, uncaring about hiding myself as I headed down the hall and into the bathroom. Washing off the debris and dirt, wrapping a dark grey bath towel over me and drying off before wrapping it around my hips and meandered into the bedroom, where she waited.

She sat on my reading chaise, knees pulled up to her chest and staring at the blank wall.

“Are you hungry?” I asked. Her eyes snapped in my direction and she offered a small smile.

“Starved actually,” she breathed.

“I’ll link someone to bring some food over,” I suggested, leaning against the doorway, arms folded across my chest.

“Okay,” she answered before returning her gaze to the wall.

We sat in silence and ate our food, no one saying anything at all, Jesus, this was going great so far. I internally groaned at the awkwardness.

“Finished?” She enquired and I nodded yes. She grabbed my plate and went to the kitchen to wash up as I crawled into bed. Upon her re-entry, her eyes fell on me and her face wore a sadness I had never seen before, she headed into the bathroom, brushed her teeth, changed and then slipped in next to me - still silence reigned. We lay awake, deep inside our own heads until she removed the covers and planted her feet on the floor. She sat up straight, completely still on the edge of the bed breathing deeply. I could hear her heart beat faster and faster, almost like she was getting ready for something.

“Ryder, are you okay?” I questioned, worried about the heartbeat increase.

“I hate when you call me Ryder,” she murmured back, so softly and barely audible.

“It’s your name, isn’t it?” She sat there a long time in silence, the expiration becoming desperate as she tried to slow her heart rate to a normal pace before she hyperventilated.

“I think you marked the wrong person...” she whimpered, heaving heavily, I began to panic, no… no… no, my worst fear was about to unfold, she was going to leave me all alone to suffer without her.

“I didn’t mark the wrong person, you are my mate - I’m so in love with you it hurts.”

“You shouldn’t, I don’t deserve it.”

“Rocky… what did you do?” And just like that - she broke. She fell to the floor and cried - cried... like I’d never seen anyone cry. Ryder shook in pain as she curled into a ball at the side of the bed on the floor. Immediately I was at her side, I pulled her onto my lap, a delicate tiny bundle in my arms as her body imploded in agony and horror.

Could I be the cause of her pain and anguish? Did my behaviour cause the uncontrollable mess that was cradled in my arms? I had been careless in my own hurt and own feelings of betrayal that I had scarred the one and only thing that ever truly mattered to me - Ryder. How had I been so careless? Again? To be the reason for this episode of emotions which she never shared?

Fuck… I cursed myself. I was on a one-way train heading straight to hell and burning her in my decent, there must be a way to fix this? I cradled her tightly, shushing her as we rocked back and forth, my giant muscular biceps became her pillow as she finally allowed her dam to break and her sadness to overflow.

“Rocky baby, I can’t help you unless you talk to me.” I held my grip as tight and comforting as I could around her quivering body.

“I… h-have… t-to… help,” she sobbed, sucking in sharp breathes between each word.

“But why? How can you know he’s telling you the truth?” She sits up, frantically brushing away the tears on her cheeks, a fierce determination on her face.

“I haven’t t-told you everything, but when you find out Ulric, I’m so afraid you won’t l-love me anymore.”

“How could you think I would stop loving you?” I soothed, my arms wrapped comfortably around her waist.

“B-because once you hear the truth about my family, you will know just how broken and undesirable I am. You look at me as I’m you’re everything - as if the stars and moon were hung just for me - like I’m the only one you ever see. But with what I have to say, you may look at me as filth that needs to be removed.”

“I would never...” I cupped her rosy red cheeks in my hands. “You are my soul, I would never look at you any different.”

“I need you to not get angry, to listen until the end, can you do that?” Her chocolate browns swirl with hurt as she desperately waits for my agreement.

“I promise,” I nod as she moves off of me and pulls me onto the bed. Once we are relaxed and comfortable - she begins.

“Life was not easy for me - as you know. You’ve listened to only about twenty percent of what has actually happened, the most significant is my wings. Maverick, my bastard of a father, ran a hot blade across my back again and again because I had defied him and fought against his shooters. I was sixteen at the time and he offered them me… as a prize for a job well done. Three of them managed to rape me, two I killed. After they were done, I was left there, trying to pull my mind back together when he came to collect me. He sprayed me with a freezing cold hose and dragged me to the shed where he sliced at my back.

“If Arrow hadn’t of come to my rescue, it would have been much worse. For some reason, Arrow was treated differently, I guess because it was assumed he would rule as Head Commander. When they ran the trials and I won by a mere foot, my father was furious, I had all of a sudden become untouchable. He tried to convince the brethren that I had cheated but Arrow swore, through and through, that he gave it everything he had - I was simply better. My father came that night, along with others and held my face into the pillows, only this time - I was stronger. They couldn’t even get my pants off, despite the amount of tainted blood they had flowing through their system.

“I fought with everything I had and won. Maverick knew he couldn’t touch me, he knew because I was now as highly ranked as him and one word from me - his entire unit would be held accountable. So he sent me away, only it was more of a relief and benefit that he did, I was free of the constant fear and abuse…”

I was shaking I was so angry, she continued on and on, about the different accounts she had suffered at the hands of Hunters - Hunters sworn to protect innocent humans, yet ran rife with heinous crimes against their children. She allowed her tears to dry as she spoke, almost relieving her soul of the burden of silence it carried for so many years. But I, I was livid, fuming from the inside out, her story ripped at my very heart, shredding it to pieces. How could someone so beautiful and caring, come from such a monster?

“When Gage told me about all of this, I was sceptical. To wage war against them is a hard feat and people will die in horrible ways - I have no doubt. But then he began to reveal his reasons why he has chosen to take this path, his story is a mirrored image of my own. These wings on my back hide my scars - scars inflicted by my father and his need to brutally punish me. The sad reality is, I believe everything he says because that’s what I’ve lived through. If we lose against the King, they will lock up all vampires to use as donators to their addiction, continue their lives of debauchery and depraved sadistic abuse and all supernatural beings will be wiped from the face of the earth. I will not let that happen to you.”

“Your father has always been violent with you and you blame the blood ingestion? I feel like there’s way more than you are revealing?” I watched as she flinched at my words.

“That’s because there is. It’s not just you, I’m choosing to battle for - it’s any other Hunter offspring that enter this world under their tyrannical reign. Gage is willing to do anything to prove he will not make the same mistakes, including the eradication of blood ingestion. He wants the world I want, one of peace, harmony and rather than innocents being fed from, Vampires are free to live off animal blood - as his do - or they will be given human criminals to feed off, lord knows there is no shortage of those. You’re going to have to talk to him, I know for now it sounds like a distant utopia but I can’t risk anymore suffering.”

“But what if you do lose?” I pleaded for her to understand my hesitation, “I lose you and the world falls anyway?”

“At least we tried Ulric. I’m going to share with your father my reasons why I need his help and the help of any and all his alliances, even if it means sharing my darkest secrets, again and again, because your mother helped me to see that I am stronger than my pain and what I’m fighting for - is truth and freedom.”

“My mother knew?” I was immediately jaded.

“No, I have not shared with her any specifics. She overheard a conversation between my Lieutenant and I, besides Claire, who has healed me back to health numerous times and those who inflicted the torment - you are the first I have ever fully told. Not even Clay asked for details as she could see the evidence.”

Fuck, I really was an ass. I wanted a meeting with Gage, I knew my answer. I would have followed her to battle anyway but now, now I’m choosing to fight alongside the woman I love.

“So then we convince everyone we can… including my father, he has a lot of pack alliances, including allies from other realms. But I need to speak with Gage, I need to hear his ticks, to see if he’s telling the truth, before anything else - and I have stipulations of my own.” She nodded at me in shock of my reaction, I looked out at the sun beginning to rise outside my bedroom window. “Fuck, we’ve talked all night...” I cursed, feeling my adrenalin dissipate and tiredness creep in. “We will contact him soon, right now, you and I both need rest.”

“Wait… so does that mean?”

I growled at her question, “when will you learn Rocky? I love you, even if I didn’t agree with your decisions - I still would have followed you, because you are my everything. I didn’t mark the wrong person… I just never expected to be this lucky, to be gifted with such a strong and inspiring mate. You are beyond exceptional in every way,” I smashed my lips down on her plump blossom shaped ones, praying that she understood just how much she meant to me. She responded immediately, leaning in to deepen our tongue wrestle, forcing me onto my back as she lay atop of me.

“Ulric?” She pulled back to gaze deeply into my eyes, a sparkling sheen crosses her irises and something else - fear maybe? Insecurity? Vulnerability? “I-I... I love you.”

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