Caught In Between
As that familiar, comforting howl joined mine, I felt my heart hammer in my chest. My eyes snapped over to the massive black wolf several strides away from me. As I looked at him with new realization and connection, my entire being felt drawn to him. His warm amber eyes stared at me with recognition and longing, and a slight whimper echoed from his throat.
My legs carried me towards him instinctively. My mate. I needed him. I had to touch him. As I came close to him, his black fur shined like obsidian in the afternoon sun, making my breath hitch in my chest. His muscles bulged from beneath his pelt, and I couldn’t help but stare in awe of this magnificent wolf. He was mine, and my body ached to feel him.
As I paced around him, our bodies slid against each other and the feeling it gave me was a warm, flooding jolt of electricity. I wanted to be close to him, to feel his weight against me, my mind was completely consumed with his spicy woodsy scent.
Ryker’s silky voice echoed in my head, shaking me from my instinctual courtship. I jumped to the side, snarling and snapping at his wolf. How could I have let myself get pulled into this? Ryker- the Prince Charming- of all people was my Goddess chosen mate. What kind of joke was this?
He jumped back, shock and bewilderment washing over his face before turning into pain and sadness. Every one of my instincts told me to go to him, but I refused. No way I was going to give myself to this spoiled, pompous, self-righteous, egotistical, pathetic excuse for an Alpha Prince. Besides, I had said I wasn’t ready for a mate, and I was standing by that. I preferred to be alone, didn’t I?
With a growl of frustration, I spun away from Ryker and tore off through the forest, back to Varcolac. I thought of taking off, running away from here, but he would surely follow me. I would have to plan my escape when he wasn’t expecting it to get a substantial head start. My legs were stiff as my mind willed them to run against my animal instincts. There was a war within me, ravaging my soul.
My soul cried out for him as my body ran.
Goddess, what have you done?
My heart had broken when I watched her flee from me. She had been so close, the feel of her fur against mine was maddening. I wanted more of her, I wanted to breath her scent in forever. But as soon as I had spoken to her it was as if she had woken from a dream, instantly turning on me. Didn’t she feel what I was feeling? The same magnetism? The same craving and intense need?
I could feel her turmoil through our mating bond. I could feel the clash of desire and revulsion within her, but I wished I knew where this refusal was coming from. I had been kind to her since she came here, hadn’t I? I wasn’t cruel to her, right?
My mind was going back and forth as I returned to Varcolac, trying to figure out why she denied our bond. I phased back into my human form as I entered the city naked, my clothes having been ripped to shreds. I wasn’t ashamed of my nudity. We had all seen each other naked after phasing and we accepted it as a fact of life that we would be caught without a stitch on us at one point or another.
When I got to my room, I threw on jeans and a t-shirt, my thoughts still clouded and chaotic.
“Hey, Ry!” Bryce boomed as he barged into my room. His burly body flopped down onto the couch in front of my flat screen. “Where have you been at, man? I’ve been looking all over for you.”
“I was, um…” I scratched the back of my head, trying to determine what exactly I should tell him. “I was just out for a run. Needed to blow some steam.”
“Sky still driving you up a wall, huh?” He laughed.
My gut clenched at the mention of her name. “I guess.” I said. “I don’t think that’s going to be a concern anymore.”
Bryce sat foreword, placing his elbows on his knees as if to brace himself. “Are you serious? You’re finally getting your balls back?”
I threw one of the pillows from my bed at his head. “Shut up, Bryce. I never lost my balls. I just know how to pick my battles and none of the battles with Skylar were worth fighting.”
“Yeah, whatever dude.” He joked. I sunk down onto the couch by him and heaved a stressful sigh. “What’s up with you? You’ve been out of it the last few days.”
I couldn’t bring myself to tell him everything. Bryce was my best friend, but he clearly had a thing for Asenna, and I didn’t want to hurt him.
“At the Howling, I heard my mate.” I confessed. His eyes got wide and he clapped me on the back.
“That’s awesome, man! Who is she?” He was excited for me. Of course, he was. Bryce was always the guy who bolstered everybody up. He was Mr. Good Time, always the partier, always the jokester.
“I don’t know.” The words were bitter in my mouth. Not only was I lying to my best friend, but I was denying the truth that Asenna was my mate. It went against every fiber of my being. “I didn’t find her.”
“Aw, shit.” Bryce said as he fell back against the couch. “That’s fucked up, man. Hey, at least you know she’s out there. Another uneventful Howling for me.” His hand reached up to rub his jaw, deep in thought. “Except for the ball… Asenna was something else. I mean, maybe I might never find my mate, but Asenna is amazing. She’s different from anyone I’ve ever met, Ry.”
Rage began to spring through my body. He was talking about my mate. My woman. My she-wolf. I strained to keep my claws and fangs in check. I couldn’t let him know just how much his words triggered the possessiveness of my mating instincts. He didn’t know her. She wasn’t his to think about.
I swallowed my anger, plastering a calm expression across my face. “Well, I guess it’s worth a shot.” Goddess, this was hard. “She said she wasn’t ready for a mate, but you’ll never know unless you try,” I shrugged, trying to play it cool. Now, to change the subject. “Where’s Soren at?”
“He’s been with his new mate ever since the Howling.” Bryce reported. “At least he’s taking time off from being a major stick in the mud.”
He stood from the couch, stretching out his arms and back with a groan.
“Where are you off to?” I asked.
“I think I’m going to go find Asenna.” He said as he walked to the door. Before he left, he turned to look at me with appreciation in his eyes. “Thanks for the support, Ry. It means a lot to have you in my corner.”
As he closed the door behind him, I sat in the lonesome silence of my room, mentally kicking myself for granting him the go ahead to pursue my mate. My best friend going after the woman whose soul was linked with mine. Whose touch I craved. Whose eyes I couldn’t stop picturing in my mind. Whose voice haunted my thoughts.