"Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth," Jake demonstrates how to breathe like I haven't been doing it my entire life.
"With every inhale, defense. Every exhale, offense," he gets into a defensive stance, telling me to mimic him.
It's weird to have my little brother training me, but I'm relieved a little that I'm not training with the warriors yet.
Those guys are intense and have been training for years.
My plan is to learn from Jake and then integrate into training with the warriors.
I haven't told my dad yet though. His only stipulation about my training is that I stay with Jake or him.
Jake lands a punch to my side and I grunt in pain. I grip my side, shaking my head and chastising myself for losing focus.
Sweat beads drip down my forehead as I take a defensive crouch facing Jake again.
We circle each other like predators. I study his steps, looking for a tell as to when he'll strike. I worry if I strike first, I'll expose my weakness and I know I have a few to learn from.
"Remember when you exhale, exhale with short pants. Each strike is a quick breath out." with each word our circle gets smaller and smaller until he launches himself at me.
I easily dodge his attack, sticking my leg out to trip him. He stumbles slightly and I turn quickly throwing a punch to his face.
My fist connects with his cheek and I want to smile in satisfaction that I actually landed a punch. Even if it was on my little brother.
Jake springs back with a smirk plastered on his face.
"Good, you got a hit. That means you're learning and I don't need to go easy anymore," he rolls his shoulders and my eyes widen.
"That was you going easy?" Jake just laughs at my incredulous look before launching at me again.
I knew I wouldn't be an excellent fighter on my first day of actual training. But I did kind of think that as the daughter of an Alpha, it would come somewhat naturally.
I guess I shouldn't really complain though. Fighting might take some time to learn but at least defending myself came pretty easily.
Jake taught me how to break a choke hold and how to get out from being grabbed from behind. I guess that success went to my head.
A few hours and a lot of bruises later and I can nearly hold my own with Jake. He still seems to know when I am going to strike but he says I have speed.
I had just pinned Jake down and was going to celebrate my triumph when he grabbed my wrist from the sie of his head and lifted his chest, throwing me off balance.
My back hit the ground with a thud as Jake's smug face entered my vision, his forearm pressing firmly against my throat.
"Can't get cocky before it's over, Hails," he says before holding his hand out to help me stand.
"Mom probably has lunch ready. Go on and I'll get dad," he dusts off my shoulders before he takes off running to where the other warriors are training.
"Hey there, Babycakes, How's training?" my mom smiles as I walk in all sweaty.
I move to the table and she shakes her head, pointing at the sink with her nose wrinkled.
"Good. I had Jake pinned." I can't help the smug tone in my voice as I dry my hands and move to sit at the table next to mom.
"That's my girl," She winks, sliding a plate towards me with a sandwich and some chips.
My dad and Jake come racing into the kitchen and just like with me, mom shoots them a glare and points to the sink.
I stare at my food while I wait for them to sit, my mind running back to training. Every strike I learned, every breathing technique that will help me.
I can feel myself strengthening, but it's just my human side. If I ever want to be able to take on that rogue, I need to strengthen the wolf too.
"Hey Jake, after lunch can we train in our wolf forms?" I ask as they sit at the table.
My dad stops leaning towards my mom and answers before Jake can even swallow his water.
"No." his voice is firm as he kisses mom and sits down,
"What? why?" I know I shouldn't whine to get what I want, but he didn't even think about it.
Jake looks between me and dad and I can see the wheels in his head turning. He clears his throat before looking at my dad.
"Hailey is doing really good, Dad. I think she can handle it." He plays with his glass of water, but looks straight at my dad, just like an Alpha would.
"She was a force shift. Hailey, your wolf is unstable and you can lose control at the drop of a hat."
"That's what training is for! She's never gonna learn to control the wolf if she doesn't train and strengthen her!" Jake's fist slams against the table and my eyes widen at the stare down between father and son.
But like a true brother, Jake is sticking up for me and I appreciate it.
"I am her father, Jake and I said No." Dad clenches his jaw and takes a deep breath to calm himself.
"Well, I'm her mother and I say yes." all eyes snap to mom as she takes a bite of her sandwich as if she didn't just defy the Alpha.
No one says anything as we stare at her. I could almost laugh as she just continues to eat while the rest of us are frozen.
"Hailey. Jake. Will you please go outside so I can speak to your father?" mom says, breaking the silence and pushing her plate away.
Jake and I share a glance before looking at Dad. His mouth is hung open as he stares at mom like she just said the sky is purple. It would be funny if I wasn't concerned for the fight that I inadvertently started.
With a pointed look from my mom, Jake and I scurry from our seats towards the backyard. All the doors are soundproof, so all we can do is stare at them through the glass.
The second the door slides shut, my dad is red in the face and shouting at my eerily calm mother.
His fist slams on the table and even though I can't hear it, I still jumped at the action. My mom just speaks calmly while dad continues to flail his arms around.
Finally, she stands right in his face and points a finger at him. I can see that whatever she is saying cuts through my dad like a knife and he drops his head.
Jake and I share another look as my dad nods his head once before reaching out for my mom. She steps away and walks towards the stairs, with my dad watching her sadly.
I watch my dad approach the glass warily before he slides it open and crosses his arms over his chest.
"Alex will keep wolfsbane nearby in case she loses control," he grunts before turning on his heel and heading where my mom went.
I can't help but stare in shock after his retreating form, nervousness coursing through my veins.
He feels that wolfsbane is necessary if I'm going to be in wolf form? I can't be that unstable, right?
I mean sure, I accidentally shifted once and attacked Jake when he ate the last pop tart that I had just made.
Then there was that one time Alex changed the channel when I was in the middle of a Friends binge on Netflix.
Doubt wormed its way into my mind as Jake said something about mind linking Alex.
Maybe I should just work in human form for a while. I could work on strengthening my human form to better control the wolf.
The last thing I want is to hurt someone by accident.
"Ready, Hails?" Jake jumps up and down, rolling his neck from side to side.
My eyes connect with his and he must be able to read my expression because he stops to look at me with sympathy.
"Is my wolf really that unstable?" I can see Jake contemplating the question.
Or is he thinking about the best way to answer it so that I won't wolf out in anger and attack him?
"I think you can learn to control her," he says carefully and my stomach drops.
I nod slowly but can't help feeling so naive. How could I not realize that I shifted uncontrollably?
I knew we could shift when our emotions got the best of us, but I didn't realize that I shifted over little things.
"Let's just stay in human forms," I walk towards where we were training, feeling Jake's eyes on me every step of the way.
"Hailey, we can control -"
"No, Jake, it's fine. I want to work on my kicks anyway."