Wild Claim

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26

SAGE

Growing up, I lived a life that I would say was fair. My parents loved me and gave me everything I wanted. I never had to suffer through any hardship or pain. I never had the opportunity to experience heartache or real concern because I lived a pretty sheltered yet humble life.

I never dated. I never experienced love. I lived my life like how a leaf floating on top of the water. I went in whatever directions it took me and never took anything for granted.

I should have known though that even if I lived a sheltered life, there was no way to evade emotions like love, heartache, and pain. They were new to me and lately, I found myself hurting more than I have ever done before. I had sacrificed more of myself than I have before the mate bond. Did it mean I regret it? I don't because these feelings would make me a better person. Experiencing hardship, pain, heartache—they were natural obstacles in life.

This was why I loved him even with all his imperfections.

I had woken up to him gone. I had walked all over the cabin searching for him. I had even checked in the backyard where his woodshed was. There was no sign of him. He had disappeared.

He didn't come for the next two days and I had refused to leave the cabin in case he decided to return. There was no doubt that I was worried about him. At first, it was questions involving my insecurities. I was afraid he had left me because he didn't want me.

Did he leave me because he didn't want me? Was it over? Will he ever come back? These were questions that floated through my mind as the hours grow late and the day grew longer.

Then I started thinking about all the things that might have possibly happen.

Did he shift unexpectantly? Was it his beast? Was he hurt?

Finally, I ended up calling Katya to ask her if she had heard anything from Liam. I told her what happened. She reassured me that it may be nothing at all. Liam tends to leave but he always returns.

I hung up not feeling any better. I didn't want to think about all the 'what ifs'. I just wanted him back. I just wanted him safe.

Stepping outside once again, I pulled up his hood on his hoodie and crossed my arms to ward off the cold. His clothes were the only thing left of him and it provided me some comfort. My eyes scanned the area. It was getting late again. There was barely any light out at this point.

"Liam," I whispered. "Where are you?"

I moved down the steps and sat down on the porch. Every night I waited for him outside. Hoping and waiting for him to return. At the sound of animal footsteps or a breeze, I would think it was him.

My parents have visited every day for the last two days. Surprisingly, they also said the same thing that Katya said. For me not to worry that he would return but I felt something was wrong. My gut was telling me that there was something wrong. He wouldn't have left me abruptly like this. He wouldn't have abandoned me.

Another cold, harsh breeze blew past me. Shivering, I pulled my knees closer and propped my chin on them while I looked out into the woods. I waited forever, listening to every noise until I had fallen asleep.

I jolted awake though when I heard a howl. My eyes flew opened. It was long and filled with anguish. The loneliness that entwined within that one howl felt like a silver blade to my heart. Suddenly, I heard a branch snapping from underneath a weight. Standing up, looking toward the sound.

A second later, a shadow emerged until it appeared underneath the moonlight. The midnight fur glistened and its yellow eyes glowed menacingly. The wolf bristles his pelts. His eyes were angry—wild with his lips curled back to expose his canines, gums, and his tongue. He was on guard, ambivalence, and looked dangerous.

I knew who it was.

"Beast," I said almost inaudibly. My hand flew to my throat as if I wasn't sure if I had spoken the word out loud or not.

He growled lowly, took a few steps towards me but kept enough distance. There was no recognition in his eyes. He didn't know who I was. Yet he was here. He was standing before me which means he was driven to come here even when he didn't understand why.

I had only seen him faintly in human form and he recognized me as his mate then. Could it be because he was in human form? Now that he was in full predator mode, he must be confused.

I took a step down and onto the ground. His eyes followed my footsteps. Another warning rumbled from him. I have never seen anything like him. He was the biggest wolf I have ever seen. He was even bigger than my dad's and Alpha Hunter's. The muscular stature on this wolf seemed as if he had worked and fought hard to earn all that muscle on his body.

I swallowed the fear that was quickly rising inside of me. If I was going to gain Liam back, I needed to approach carefully.

"It's me," I started. "Everything will be okay."

I kept my voice calm and neutral. My face was impassive to keep him from attacking. He was growling and pacing in front of me. With each step closer to him, he grew more and more agitated.

When I was within a yard from him, he pivoted on his paws and ran back into the woods. He didn't attack me. He could have attacked me but he ran. A little bit of hope filled me but I was quick to brush it off. The only thing that was running through my mind was that I needed to catch up to him.

I shifted and ran after him. He was extremely fast. Even with my quick speed, I was falling behind. We ran out of the territory, past the guards easily because they recognized our pack scent. There was nothing abnormal about it.

Further and further we ran. We past hills, valleys, and mud. I heard thunder and the sky rumbling. A few minutes later, rain began pounding the ground but I refused to lose sight of him. Blinking furiously, my wolf chased after him. Our muscles ached and cried out with the overwhelming change in exercise. Our tongue was lagging from exhaustion.

Finally, he stopped. He turned around and launched himself at us. Angry with our insistent pursuit, he peeled his lips back and revealed his gums and fangs in a warning. He released an irate snarl. He had us pinned down with his paws. His mouth was dangerously close to our face. My wolf was panting.

We tried kicking him off but he was doubled our size. He was a lot muscular than we were. It was expected with what Liam had told me. His wolf was wild and have explored many terrains in comparison to us who have lived most of our sheltered life in a remote pack.

Even so, I struggled to push him off me. Using my hind legs, I kicked his underbelly but it only served to irritate him further. He snapped. His mouth coming down to my throat. Low and furious growls vibrating from him. Feral and threatening. I felt him puncture my skin. Pain shoots through me and I released a tearful whimper.

He stopped.

His muscles tightened and his grip loosened. Pulling back from his attack, he looked down at me with a tilt of his head. Blinking several times as if he was trying to remember something. A long minute passed, my body stilling underneath him while I whimper and howl sorrowfully at his attack.

Then his snarling died down to a whimper. I felt his muzzle brush up against my wound. His tongue darting out to lick it as if he was apologizing for hurting me. I shoved him away from me. He did allow me to push him off but he followed closely behind me.

Still exhausted from the chase, I hobbled away from him. He butted me with his head. Another whimper leaving him. He was begging me to not walk away.

I stopped. Turning I looked at him with sad eyes. He trotted closer and ran his head and muzzle along my neck. His tongue coming back out to lick the wound. He was apologizing all over again.

There was no longer a dangerous glint to his eyes. In its place was regret and guilt. He looked broken and extremely upset. He brushed his body against mine in comfort. The rain pounding heavily on our furs, drenching us both completely.

I was upset with him but at the same time, my heart loved this male wolf with no regrets. Slowly, I turned and ran my head and cheeks against his neck and cheeks too. Silently, telling him I was okay. He seemed to have realized I had accepted his apology because he burst into a run ahead of me. He stopped about five yards to see if I followed him. I blinked several times and wondered what he wanted. Then he ran back to me and then ran back in the direction he had run towards. I realized he wanted me to follow him.

Our run this time wasn't a wild chase. He must have realized I was exhausted because my pace was a lot slower than before. So, he slowed down his pace for me to catch up easily.

We ran for another five miles before he stopped before a cave. He walked inside while I stood outside the cave looking in.

Was this where he had been staying?

He appeared back at the entrance of the cave and stood there watching me. Slowly, I made my way down the rocky plates toward the cave entrance. Once I was inside and away from the wind and rain, I watched him go deeper into the cave. It grew warmer and my eyes began adjusting to the darkness.

He walked in circles on a rock plane that looked smooth enough to sleep on. Then he sat down and watched me like he wanted me to follow him. I have never slept in the wilderness before but I knew I needed to stay warm and dry. So, I didn't argue with him. I trotted over and sat near him.

The wound on my neck was not deep but he dug his fangs deep enough to warn me. It seemed that my whimpering had made him recognize who I was because the wild, menacing look in his gold eyes disappeared. They looked like how they looked back in the cabin when he had me on top of him.

My distance wasn't welcome. He growled his displeasure, grabbed me by the back of my neck as if I was a pup and dragged me over to sit next to him. I growled, unpleased with his action but felt immediate body warmth with his warm body next to mine. It felt nice and so my growl quickly went away. He placed his head over my upper body protectively. It also warmed my body nicely.

Together, we listened to the rain outside. I knew he wasn't asleep yet with him moving every now and then to cover another part of my body with his body. However, sleep was quickly catching up. Exhaustion from all the chasing was hitting me hard and my heavy eyelids clamped close.

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