The air was fresh and tingly out here as it filters into my wolf’s sensitive nostrils. I’m slinking my way up a steep path into Moon Territory. I hop over a few rocks and eventually make it up to a flat ferny area. In my small white wolf form, my head barely reaches above the low lying ferns. I have to lower my snout and breathe in the spicy brunt of Alpha Baden.
Then, like a sniffer dog, I hurry forward to track his scent.
This in itself, is torture. I hated his smell. Of course, I had to be stuck with a mate that smelt like crap. How could I ever get used to something so rabid? I hated the spice that coated his scent, it was too strong and too triggering for my poor nose.
I sneeze at least ten times in a row as the scent gets stronger.
I’m following off the main trail, heading towards an isolated pitch black jungle. There were parts of Moon Territory that were so thick with foliage, no wolf bothered to navigate the terrain. Of course Baden had come through the more dense part of the greenery with the roughest inclines.
I raise my head as I see a steep mossy incline to a look out above.
I see Baden sitting in black pants, chest bare as he leans his elbows on his knees, dangles his long legs and frowns at my appearance.
“There’s no way you can get up here, little wolf,” Baden scoffs on that last insult and I happily growl to accept the challenge.
I back up a couple of paces, assess the terrain... and then I lunge forward. In a few quick pounces, I manage to reach the top - my drooled on dress in my mouth the whole time.
I spit it out at the top and Baden shrugs and looks away as I shift.
I slip behind a thick tree trunk and slip on my red dress as I quickly pull my hair up into a messy bun.
In a few seconds, I storm out from the tree and I sit down right next to him, so my leg brushes his. When he shuffles over in disgust, I shuffle closer to him.
"What the -?" Baden starts to ask with a feigned shocked tone, just like an arrogant jock straight out of the Moon Football team. I boldly put my hand on his knee but I can’t look him in the eye.
“Shut up,” I snap, my anger getting the better of me, “I’m making a point. This is practically how close I need to be at your side - to keep my life. Six months. Baden. After that, you can allow me to live... and I will go my seperate way and you’ll never see me again. So, deal with it now and -”
"First off, you told me to shut up. Unacceptable,” Baden slowly puts his hand over my hand, gripping my palm before shoving it off his knee, “Then you proceed to tell me what to decide.”
“Admit to me that I’m your mate,” I look at Baden now and he glances at me.
“...no,” he murmurs, “Just because Judge Ivory said so and my father bought into it - doesn’t mean it’s true.”
“Why would they lie?” I ask.
“Because the Prime Alpha hates me. My father hates me. This way, he has something extra to laugh about over pack dinners,” Alpha Baden smiles so fake I want to punch some real emotion into his damn stupid handsome face, “Are you happy with that answer, Maia? You won’t be getting anymore out of me.”
“Maybe your father would lie but I don’t think Judge Ivory did... but Baden, I’m sorry the Prime Alpha isn’t nice to you,” I say this truthfully as I pull away from him, ready to jump to my feet. I was sick of this negative conversation. I try to flip the tone of it for the sake of my sanity these next six moths, “...and I’m sorry your ex was flirting with Chase.”
Alpha Baden doesn’t deserve the kindness but I was simply tired of hating him for the moment.
Now, alone with him, the hate was fading to tolerance. Naturally, I was usually kind... and I couldn’t help but be myself in this moment. I wasn’t going to be someone else - but that didn’t mean I was going to take his crap either.
“Stay,” Baden reaches out and grabs my elbow before I can stand. He jerks me down so rough, I almost topple over the edge of the mossy cliff. However, Baden jerks me back, “Shit, I’m sorry,” he whispers, truly apologetic as he slips an arm around my waist and pulls me back firmly away from the edge.
“You are bipolar for sure,” I whisper because I can’t help myself.
“If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all,” Baden murmurs while taking his arm away from my waist, removing all contact quickly.
“You’re a hypocrite too,” I snap too quickly... so much for flipping the tone.
“...and you’re nobody,” plus, to top it off, Baden can’t help but buy into it.
“You should get a shirt that says ‘I’m with nobody’ for the next six months then. That way you won’t have to introduce me and you can pretend I don’t exist,” I answer with humour, hoping he lightens up even as I degrade my own self worth.
Yep, I was getting desperate here.
“Sounds great,” Baden murmurs.
“Six months, Baden. Please don’t make half a year torture for me,” I murmur.
Baden is silent but he won’t look at me as he gazes over the forest.
After a few minutes of intense silence, he finally answers.
“It’s true I won’t be able to shake you... so I think -” he mutters and I cut him off.
“Wait. Remember you’re talking about your mate before you continue,” I whisper back.
“You’re not my mate.”
“Prove it to me,” I growl, “They said it’s... it’s...”
“Our smell? No, the best way to tell... is a kiss,” Baden turns to me, smirking, “You want a kiss? Tasting each other’s saliva is the best way... you know this.”
“I do but that’s not going to happen, asshole. You have to be joking,” I shuffle a little further away from him and Baden shrugs at the corner of my eye.
“Alright, Maia - don’t you dare tell anyone that I’m offering you this. But... I think we should make this a date,” Baden suggests, almost instantly igniting my stupid hopes once more that we can work through this. Until, of course, he formalises it by adding, “I’ll ask a few questions about you, you ask a couple about me and then you can taste my spit and I’ll taste yours. At the end, once you’ve heard, aloud, how unsuited you are to me and after you don’t recognise the connection through our saliva - you can drop this mate business.”
“Whatever, but I want to ask questions first,” I slowly turn to look at him and he raises a hand with three fingers.
“Three,” he mouths it, winking as his brown shoulder length hair sways in the light breeze. The moonlight shines across his handsome face, sparkling through his black orbed eyes. I almost forget I have to think of questions.
I’m a bit flustered so I think of really stupid responses.
“O-okay, uh... what’s your favourite colour, your favourite food and your favourite hobby?” I ask, awkwardly.
“Wow, you’ve been on plenty of dates, haven’t you?” Alpha Baden asks this so mockingly - I blush a bright red in both embarrassment and humiliation, “Wait... you’ve seriously never been on a date?”
“Please answer,” I growl quietly, gulping down my rising anger.
“Fine. I like the colour blue, I like to eat meat and I like art,” Baden answers my questions in under two seconds, “My turn. Firstly, why did you want to come to Half-Moon Academy so badly? Secondly... hmmm... let’s see... have you ever peed on a tree like a wolf... but as a human... when no one was looking? And thirdly... heh... just for laughs, are you a virgin?”
“Wow,” when I glance at Baden, I see how proud he is of his stupid questions. He also looks proud of my reaction. I see it now... he truly thinks I’m not his mate and that’s why he’s playing with me. He couldn’t care less about me, “After I answer these questions - with complete honesty... we’re trading saliva asap, okay? I need to settle this once and for all.”
“Deal,” Baden winks and I look away.
“I wanted to come to this academy because you can live on campus full time and my pack were impossible to live with in Cave City - surrounded by vampires. Okay... I can’t believe I’m answering this next one. No, I have not peed on a tree like a wolf or a dog whilst human. As for my virginity, it’s still intact and I’m proud of it,” I wait for him to laugh but Baden pauses and seems shaken by my response.
“Oh, I didn’t expect that last answer,” he murmurs.
It wasn’t exactly something I wanted to discuss further, either.
“Spit,” I hold out my hand, not wasting any time, “Now.”
Baden leans over, spitting into my palm while he holds out his hand for me. As I spit on him in return, I watch him instantly raise his hand and boldly watch me as he licks his palm clean.
I watch with wide eyes... confused why I find that sexy... confused again as he seems unaffected by it.
As I raise my saliva covered palm, I scrunch my nose in disgust as I take a tiny lick of his spit.
I expect a huge reaction.
Instead, I feel nothing.
“Cute,” Baden purses his lips before chuckling, “I knew you’d forget because you’re nervous.”
“Forget what?” I ask, rushed, “Oh,” now I remember, “We have to... right...” I look away as Baden holds out his palm and I spit on it again.
We had to mix our spit.
Which meant this date was quickly becoming the grossest date ever.
“Better,” Baden clasps my hand in a hand shake and we both pull our palms back at the same time, “You ready? On the count of three...” Baden was enjoying this way too much, “1,” he couldn’t wait to prove me wrong, “2,” like the prick that he was, “3!”
I close my eyes and raise my palm as he does.
I stick out my tongue - I feel the wet mixed saliva... and the moment my tongue makes contact, a strange... warm... hot feeling - runs from my lips, along my cheeks, down my throat... and then seems to pass through all my nerve endings. When I blink open my eyes, I see Baden’s expression completely changed.
“Oh, shit,” Baden whispers, all his humour gone.
When my gaze flicks down... there is a prominent tent staring at me from his pants.
“Oh, shit!” I scramble to my feet, turning away from him as I put up my hands in surrender, “Let’s never do that again!”
Baden doesn’t answer me and I get worried.
I’m assuming he’ll make fun of me.
Or at least this situation.
Any moment now - he’d find a way to cope with our revelation.
Our mating bond was true.
“...Maia...” Baden’s voice is right behind me and I spin in a flurry, confused about how quickly he has stood and closed the distance. When I almost slip too close to the edge again, I stumble away and he closes the distance with me as I move back... almost like we’re in a contactless dance.
This time, I raise my hands to stop his ridiculously perfect chest getting too close to me.
I don’t touch Baden, however, I just hover my hands in the air between us as I look up into his eyes and he gazes down at me with concern.
“I told you so,” I murmur, confused about what else to say.
“I’m...” Baden is finding it hard to think of the right words. I think he’s about to apologise, until he pauses too long. I look away, feeling rejected... until he abruptly snakes out a hand and his fingers grasp my chin, jerking my head back forward... forcing me to look up into his face, “I’m sorry,” he growls, glaring down into my soul, ”I’m sorry.”
“You say that a-a lot,” I try to stumble back but he holds my chin a bit firmer.
“Don’t back off,” he growls the order, lightly, “Please. I made a mistake.”
“You...” I breathe out a shaky breath, almost getting lost into his warm touch and his close proximity... and his words. However - everything he had said previously, was too much, “Don’t touch me,” I jerk out of his hold.
"Maia. Don’t leave,” Baden doesn’t reach out for me again but this time I’m tilting my head in curiosity.
He was speaking to me like an Alpha now - his instincts had seemed to take over.
“Excuse me?” I whisper, “Where am I going to go? If I leave your side and the Prime Alpha’s Guardians spot me straying... I”m dead.”
“Then don’t get that look in your eye,” Baden snarls this, right before closing his eyes and shaking his head - as if he is shaking off his Alpha’s instincts, “...stay,” this is far more light and casual as he looks away, “...it’s not like you have a choice.”
I do not answer. I simply turn and walk a few paces away, choosing to sit on top of a flat boulder away from him.
I have nothing to say as I wipe my wet hand onto the stone of the boulder.
In the last few moments, I saw what Corey had told me.
Baden was everything a prick was - but there was more underneath.
I had almost seen it.
When I sneak a glance at Baden now, I watch him sit back down on the ledge. As his feet dangle, he lies back onto the moss and crosses his arms behind his head, closing his eyes.
Baden’s trying to look like he doesn’t care.
But, I know better.
Now... now I am curious to find out more of that other side of him.
His Alpha side.
If I was correct in my thinking - Alpha Baden was soo much more than just a spoilt rich son of the Prime Alpha.
I had seen and heard him... Baden’s real identity.
Which meant there was more to him than I had first allowed myself to see... correction... than he had allowed me to see.
And now, I wanted to satisfy my new found curiosity. I wanted to see that other side of him again.
Hmmm... I think I’d call it... pure Alpha mode.
Whatever it was - it wasn’t just sexy... it made me feel like I belonged.