A bowl full of cereal sat mockingly in front of Titania. Not a slice of meat or root vegetable to be found.
Her pack adorned similar expressions. Playing with their supermarket-bought food in wonder, for nothing tasted as fresh or traditional as an early morning plate of hunted rabbit, fish or potato. Instead, forcing a mouthful of the cardboard into her mouth, she swallowed and cursed the Elders. Her pack had made an effort to dilute their meat-based diets. So attempting to blend in with the city packs, despite their disgusted appearances, they wolfed it down. Not one word of complaint as challenges came easily to the pack and something as small as food would not best them.
Wolves conversed around her and the morning atmosphere was lively. Morning light streamed through the open plan dining room matching the heightened spirits from the barbeque the night before. Alphas were scattered with their packs and new mates were all over each other, falling into the temptation the bond gave. Titania’s eyes landed on two gay couples sat on the closest table to her and she felt an empty twinge in her chest. Her mate sat tables away and ignored her, not that that was news to her.
Eating with Angus, Garth and Eóghan she rushed her cereal without thought while they barely touched their food. From the subtle glances they sent each other and still rumbling stomachs it was clear the Duskfall wolves would go on a hunt later, as this Human food was just not enough.
Garth pulled a face at the cereal in front of him, “This will take some getting used to.”
“Pinch your nose then you can’t taste it, does the trick.” Muttered Angus who replied through mouthfuls of his third bowl.
Females responded to the rugged handsomeness of the Highlanders. The males had many sets of hungry female eyes on them, eating them instead of their breakfasts. Nodding to the female wolves to their left, Eóghan nudged his packmate who had no reverence for tableside manners.
“You’re not going to attract anyone with behaviour like that. Slow down.”
Angus’s attention swung to the giggling she-wolves around him. He shrugged a nonchalant shoulder before looking back at Titania, “Maybe I don’t need to attract. I’ve got all I want right here.” He sent a flirtatious wink to Titania that instantly sent the mate bond, although deflated, into a frenzy.
She caught Nathan tense, as did she. Before the moment passed and the bond remained glimmering in the background. She breathed out a strangled breath and sent Angus a pointed look. To which he gave her a cheeky smile.
“Peabrain she has a mate.”
To Garth’s statement, Angus spluttered on his cereal. Quickly wiping the milk that had females swooning as it dribbled down his chest, he focused his attention on Titania.
“The rogue? I thought you were joking.” Her face remained stoic and she could sense Nathan listening in, “Wow, that’s unexpected.... no more late night tangos then?”
Titania rolled her eyes at him while he wiggled his bushy brows. A low warning growl sounded in the direction of her mate but she disregarded it, fixating her gaze on a cocky head warrior.
“Do I need to give you a reminder of why I dislike arrogant wolves?”
He blushed. Pink tinting his high cheekbones. The memory of his takedown wouldn’t be disappearing anytime soon. “Of course not Alpha.”
Garth and Eóghan couldn’t help but laugh, only their Alpha could reduce the most pompous wolf in the pack to a cherry faced schoolgirl.
“Good. Be a shame to bruise your face so early in the morning.”
The males continued laughing while Angus huffed, not liking to be the centre of attention when his Alpha made fun of him. A price to pay for assumption.
Training was held at eight sharp. With help from Angus, Titania had split her top rankers in terms of training groups. Garth was to take the teenagers, Eóghan the females, Angus the children and Titania the males. Finishing their meals the wolves met outside. Despite the rays of the sun, the air was cold, promising what lay in store for the winter months.
After splitting into groups and starting with some basic stretching, Titania informed the males of their two-hour training morning session. Every morning. No questions. At her demanding demeanour, none challenged the Alpha. Even Alfonso managed to keep his snide remarks to himself. Maybe he had come to the realisation that in order to survive, one must listen to the Alpha of the Mountains.
“We start by running the East side of the territory.” She pulled her hair into a tight ponytail, “It’s a good basis to get you used to the terrain, there are some inclines and you will need to watch your footing. We will start in our Human forms but halfway through, at my signal, we change.”
The Duskfall wolves, who now found the East-side runs straightforward, nodded their understanding. The land in their minds, memorised. Assisting their Alpha, they had been told to keep an eye out for these wolves who would surely find this a challenging run.
Nathan stood with some newly found male friends. Unknownst to many, Nathan was in fact related to Alpha Alfonso of the Sed de Sangre pack located in the South of Spain. He kept that piece of knowledge to himself, as requested by his previous Alpha. His former packmates kept close, morning their losses alongside Nathan while keeping a sharp eye on the Female Alpha in front.
"Tha sinn a ’ruith!” Titania growled, the old Gaelic words signalling the start of the run.
Her wolves howled alongside her before sprinting into the pine forests. Nathan shivered at the fluency of words that exited her mouth but forced the need back. He shook himself before following. Stampeding through the woodland, Titania breathed in the fresh wilderness that surrounded her as did the wolves. She could hear the awe as they passed Loch filled valleys, carved coastlines and towering trees.
To begin with, they all kept up. The males not wanting to show weakness, especially not in front of each other. The Alphas kept close to Titania proving their own worth. She smirked and upped the pace, if they thought that it was easy as this then they were in for a rude awakening, she thought.
She gave the call to shift and sped up. She had warriors stationed at all parts of the group as one slip could result in a deathly fall: especially when covering the higher ground. Now she led the group. Wolves not used to the daily runs found the constant inclines and change in terrain difficult to scale. Slowing down, she came to a stop in a clearing, allowing the rest of the males to catch up and have a drink.
Ten seconds later and the Alphas came barreling in. Their wolves red-faced and panting from exertion. She looked up leisurely from the small stream she was taking a drink from. Amused at the agitation coming from the Alphas. They did not like being beaten, that was clear as day from their current expressions.
They’d just have to get used to it, Titania murmured, turning back to the crisp water.
Nathan’s tan wolf, with a dark undercoat, a chestnut brown much like his hair, brushed purposely against Titania. After contact, he simply ignored her and dipped his snout down to take a drink. She growled at him. Certainly not pleased at the forced contact. She did not permit him to show any sort of claim over her when he had rejected her, but that did not stop the light brush of tingles that shot through her fur. She grimaced at the empty feeling that spread within her and signalled to start the run again. Nothing helped a wolf more than a good run.
Two hours later, the Wolves slumped outside the packhouse. Covered in sweat and struggling to hold back the grumbles at such a strenuous run, the newcomer’s obvious dislike for the exercise amazed Duskfall. They had found that less than challenging and had started to spar amongst themselves, not satisfied.
The others simply watched in bewilderment at the excess stamina these wild wolves had. Even some of the Alphas straightened and went up to spar, refusing to look weak in front of their packs. Titania joined in. And as the other groups trickled in, most left to recover from the harsh training.
Finishing her last spar, Titania went to sort out the ever-growing mass of papers that littered her desk. By dinner time, the documentation had been mostly completed. As a direct result of the lack of sleep, Titania found herself sat in her office chair barely able to open her eyelids. But her body remained aware as the tell-tale signs of her mate flickered through her like an alarm. She snarled as she sprinted out the packhouse, giving chase to her disobedient mate.
Nathan could feel the Alpha hot on his tail but he refused to just give in. If anything, he charged onwards, pushing his body as far as it could go. The slip up from earlier made him ever more aware that he needed to get away; as far away as he could from her. And now here he was, thinking that the head start would allow him to escape Duskfall lands. How wrong had he been, for no one escapes from the Alpha of the Mountains.
With a growl, her body impacted his and sent them tumbling. He heaved a strangled breath. The dull shocks causing a moment of pleasure to surge between the wolves. Nathan was the first to retract, shuffling his caged body away from hers, who seeming was struggling for control.
With her teeth so close to his neck and his scent filling her nostrils, she shifted. Eyes a pitch black. He struggled against her but she held him in place.
Nathan ignored her and wiggled his wolf form in an attempt to break free. “I said stop moving.” Her dark eyes held his, “Unless you want to be marked that is.”
He gulped and let his body go flax. She held onto him a moment longer before pushing back, her bare skin calling to Nathan. He shifted back into Human form but stayed sitting. His dislike for the Alpha shone through his next words, “Why don’t you save us both the bother and let me go? I’ve rejected you and want nothing more to do with you.”
She ground her teeth, turning slowly to face the wolf. “I will do no such thing.”
“But I don’t want you!” The fire doubled within his eyes. He pulled out a twig that lodged itself within the scuff of his jaw before staring her down.
“Keep talking and you’ll find yourself marked, mate.” She turned her back to him, hoping that he got the message to follow. For her primal instincts were compelling her to take what was hers, no matter what stood in her way. The past week of lost sleep had taken its toll and the Alpha was struggling to hold on to the control she had perfected over the years.
Nathan stood up definantly, “No. You can’t force me to do anything.”
That one word had Nathan pushed back against a tree staring into Titania’s lost eyes. Eyes that spiralled with such intensity that he fell, and fell deep within their Arctic depths.
Her canines poked out her gums and Nathans eyes locked onto them, realising that maybe he had shoved too hard. He inhaled deeply, secretly liking how her body fit into the curves of his. Their skin leaping at the sensations flowing between them. The bond was greedily licking its lips, wanting desperately for Titania to sink her teeth into her males neck.
Her mouth made its way to his throat. Pink tongue darting out to taste the sweetness of his olive skin. She revelled in it and by the shivers running through Nathan’s body, he was too.
Lost in the haze of lust. She swirled her tongue around the soft spot between his neck and shoulder. Her teeth pressed gently against his skin. Testing. Teasing.
Nathan shivered, not from arousal but from fear. “Titania, don’t do this.” His voice lowered and he bowed his neck, ”Please.”
Titania’s eyes returned to their sapphire blue as reminders of her helplessness in the past made itself known. She took a step back. Hating how she would have forced him, just like she had been forced herself.
She let go of him but held his startled eyes with hers. “Do not run again. This is your last warning.” She walked away from the shuddering male, “I’m not sure I can control myself next time.”
He nodded in defeat. She turned and strode away, leaving him behind without so much as remorse for potentially marking him by force.
His fate had been decided by the Moon Goddess, who had cruelly paired him with a female who was as barren and devoid as the rumours said. As he watched the retreating flesh of his mate, he wondered to himself, what on Earth had she experienced to become this way?