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Five

Judah

"You're smiling," Ace pointed out as he slipped into the seat next to mine. He sat his tray down on the round table. His eyes followed my line of vision to her.

The smile fell from my face. Irritated, I straightened up in my seat and grabbed for my glass of water. My eyes evasively flew back to her again.

"She's impressive," Ace complimented with a smirk.

She is. Even I must admit that. I have always known that she's a runner. I see her all the damn time back at home running day and night but that wasn't what impressed me. Without much practice, she's able to take simple commands, do a quick risk analysis, and compute her outcomes. Her logic and fast thinking are astounding but I'll fucking shoot myself in the head before I even admit that.

"She's ok," I muttered, setting my glass back on the table before picking up my sandwich to take a huge bite out of it.

"You're kidding. She carried our team to the finish line," Hunter said just as he sat down to my right. He picked up two pieces of bacon slices from his cheeseburger and munched on them.

"With the assistance of me," I added.

Ace smirked, "That's right. You two make a pretty good team. The way you two were able to communicate demands and locate each other within that mass of bodies is a little more than unique."

"Let's not forget how she saved you." Hunter just had to point it out.

"Did we all forget what I did?" I growled, "I took a ton of blows from Alpha Justine."

Ace and Hunter laughed just as another cheer burst in the conference room. Everyone in our pack is ecstatic about winning and congratulating Rosemary on her good work. The pink hue to her cheeks didn't go unnoticed. A small shy smile played at her pink lips. Her eyes were glistening with happiness. Fuck, what's wrong with me?

I tore my eyes away from her and grabbed the green apple from my tray. Bringing it to my lips I took a big bite out of it. Ace and Hunter both were looking at me.

"Stop being such a sourpuss." Hunter shoved me.

I shoved him back.

"I'm not," I growled.

"Can you at least congratulate her? She did help you," Ace said.

"Why are we friends?" I snapped.

Ace and Hunter chuckled just as Alpha Justine walked up and sat in our table. She set her tray down on the table and directed her eyes at Hunter who took pleasure in smirking at her.

"This isn't over," She said almost immediately to Hunter.

"It never will be," He replied, his smile growing.

"That's not what I meant, and you know it," She snapped. "I hear the ABG competition is next."

"Is that so?" Hunter raised an eyebrow, but I know this man for so long. I knew he was anything but surprised.

Alpha Justine's hands that were resting on the table curled into fists. She took a deep breath and met Alpha Hunter's eyes with her own.

"Your team was impressive today. The female that knocked me down—she's impressive." Alpha Justine mentioning Rosemary caught my attention. I looked up from my food and stared at her but she didn't even notice. Her eyes were trained on Hunter.

"I train them well," Hunter replied.

"I want to make a proposal," Alpha Justine ignored his smug response.

"Is that so?" He leaned closer to her and propped his chin on palm.

She coughed and shifted in her seat. A faint uneasiness ambiance seeped from her to us before she snuffed it.

"Will you accept?" She tore her eyes away from Hunter for a second and looked down at her tray.

"Depends on what it is," Hunter answered her.

"The ABG competition is coming up. I want to make another bet with you," Alpha Justine proposed.

"You are a little quick in offering another bet when I haven't even taken my prize yet for the one that you just lost."

Her cheeks turned a shade redder. A flash of annoyance appeared in her eyes before she lifted them to look at Hunter.

"I stand by my words, Alpha Hunter. You get whatever you want. However, I want to talk about the ABG competition."

"What is it that you want, Justine?" Hunter's eyes narrowed and his demeanor changed. His eyes were wary now.

"It's Alpha Justine to you."

"What is it, Justine?" He tossed back at her.

She huffed, "My pack is well trained. I will stand by them no matter what. However, we lack a strategist. If you and I make it to the finalists either with us, our betas, or gammas, and one of us win—I want your pack member."

"Fuck that!" I growled, slamming my hands onto the table, I stood up. The trays flew a good inch or two before gravity pulled them back to the table.

Everyone's eyes settled on me. Hunter and Ace wore a surprised look and Alpha Justine's eyes narrowed at me.

I sat back down. The rage that burned inside of me was barely reigned in. I can still feel the urge to shift and kill the threat in front of me. The power and heat that flood my veins and warmed my muscles for a shift are like lava—burning through my body.

Hunter returned his attention to Alpha Justine.

"It's a deal," Hunter agreed.

"What the fuck?" I growled, directing my rage towards my leader, my boss, my friend.

"Jude, remember your place," he warned me.

"What if you don't win? We are just going to hand her over? She has a family—a mother!" I snapped.

"I'll take her mother in as well," Alpha Justine offered.

"That's not what I fucking meant," I snarled in her direction.

"I suggest you watch your tone, Gamma," Alpha Justine warned me.

"Take a walk, Jude," Ace leaned over to whisper in my ear.

I curled my hands into fists before shoving back my chair and taking off. Out of the room. My body was heating up. I can feel it in my body. I am losing control.

I ran out of the building. Down the nicely mowed lawn. My feet pounding against the ground. I needed to get away. Once I was far enough, I shifted. The lava that burned through my veins turned ice cold. A relief.

My muscles bulked out and my bones cracked. In the next second, I was fully shifted before I ran into the woods. Everything around me is so much sharper. I can hear, smell, and see better but the burning rage in my chest didn't stop. My wolf is expressing how much he disliked this idea but at the same time, we both just as confused at our outburst.

Why was I pissed off?

It's fucking Rosemary we are talking about.

I don't give a fuck what happens to her—yet seeing that man crawling on top of her at the games earlier today, it pissed me off so badly, I nearly shifted.

I know she's not my mate. I would know. I would feel the connection even if she's a juvenile, right? What was it that I was feeling?

Hate?

Or am I just protective of her because she's been a long-time pack member of ours?

I don't know what it is.

I just know that I didn't like this idea.

I don't know how long I was out in the woods but by the time I returned, it was nearly dark. I trotted out of the woods and out into the opening. I made my way up the hill slowly. My head down and the rage in my chest was now simmering. Huffing one last time, I looked up and saw Rosemary standing at the top of the hill. She was looking at me.

I ignored her and walked right past her.

"Hey!" She shouted.

I stopped. This was the first time she has ever stopped me or initiated conversation. Her little tiny feet touching the grass and moving closer to me until she stood in front of me.

"We are partners, you don't get to run without telling me where you are," she snapped, glaring right into my eyes.

I huffed and looked away, but her palms stopped me. Its warmth touched my furry cheek and turned me back to look at her.

"You don't get to walk away and ignore me, Gamma. You said that I needed to inform you wherever I went. That means the same goes with you. What if you got killed?"

Oh, so now she cares? I blinked and stared at her.

"Don't give me that look," she narrowed her eyes at me and suddenly I forgot that I was angry. Call me mad because I like the way she was talking to me. I like that she is talking to me. I stood there like an idiot and allowed her to touch me. Her fingers slowly caressed my fur and I fought with everything inside of me to not purr with happiness. She doesn't even know she was doing it.

What the fuck is wrong with me?

Huffing, I took one step back. Her hand dropped back to her side and I honestly regret stepping back. I liked the way she was touching me.

"You didn't do anything stupid, did you?" she asked.

I snorted and she rolled her eyes.

"Why do I even bother? I'm going to bed." She turned and headed back inside.

I turned to look at her walk inside. She was outside waiting for me. She was worried about me. It felt weird. It felt good.

Once she was inside, I gave her another good hour to settle into bed and fall asleep before I shifted outside and grabbed extra clothes sitting in an outdoor storage chest. Pulling on a pair of shorts, I made my way back inside the resort.

Grabbing an extra key from the front desk, I took the elevator to my floor. Opening the door, I glanced inside to see that it was dark. The curtains on the window were open. The moonlight shined through the window. My eyes found her sleeping in her bed, rolled up like a cigar. Honestly, I wondered how she sleeps like that. If I slept like that, I will be sweating madly because of the extra heat. Every single part of her body was buried underneath clothes and blankets only her face was out.

Shaking my head, I walked to the bathroom and took a quick shower before crawling into bed. I didn't even bother pulling the blanket over me. Instead, I rested my arm over my forehead and stared at the ceiling.

ABG competition was a competition for Alphas, Betas, and Gammas. It's a battle of the best in fighting skills. No shifting. Human skins. All skills.

Hunter and Ace are excellent fighters. There is no doubt about it. We trained each other and learned from the very best but the nagging feeling in my chest just wouldn't go away. What if we don't win?

Will Hunter really be willing to give up Rosemary and her mother? To him, they were just regular pack members. It won't hurt him.

Turning onto my side, I looked at her. She's sleeping peacefully, with no care to what happens in the world. Quite honestly, she's pretty cute if she wasn't such a pain in my fucking ass.

Shouldn't I be happy that she is the prize that Alpha Justine wanted? I mean, if we lost, she will be gone, and all my life, she's been a thorn in my side.

I can't even begin to understand what I am feeling towards her. My emotions are a mess right now and it's giving me migraines. Shaking my head, I turned onto my back and stared at the ceiling.

It doesn't matter what the outcome is for tomorrow's competition. All that matters is that I win the competition. I don't like losing at all. Rosemary appeared in my mind once again.

And maybe, I don't want to lose her...

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