Breathing heavily, I regained vision and control over my body. Everything around me focused in. Immediately, I realized I am still in the woods with a bloodied dead deer beneath me. My body soaked with its blood. Knowing that I am alone, my shoulder sagged and I dropped to my knees.
This was becoming too much. The blackouts are frequent now. Closing my eyes, I tried to focus on regaining my composure and strength but then I heard people talking.
My eyes shot open when I realized I am not alone. That there were signs of human life here; so close to me. The stench of humans invaded my senses and I looked ahead over the slightly elevated ground. The two humans were a mile ahead of me. I stood up slowly getting ready to return home before they see me but then the voice grew louder and reached my ears again. My ears twitched and I listened closer.
"I followed it out here. I swear it is somewhere around here," one man said quietly.
"Dude, I told you to go get your eyes checked. I didn't see anything," the other one argued.
Their footsteps are loud even though they were trying to walk as quietly as possible through the dark woods.
"I heard it, Wayne. I aimed the rifle at it. I was ready to shoot and all but then I-I heard a growl---"
"There you go again with that kind of talk. I swear, man, this is the last time I'll come out here with you. You're always fucking around."
"I'm serious, Wayne. I heard a growl but it wasn't anything like I heard before. It was in-in-inhumane," he stumbled at the end and I stiffened.
Hunters. Normal hunters who hunt small game. No threat.
They must have been hunting the deer that I was also hunting. Loud footsteps approaching where I am forced me to take quick action. I jumped to grab the nearest branch and climbed to the top where I knew I was hidden from their views.
The hunters wearing camouflage gears stood underneath me. They looked at the deer carcass.
"Aw shit, what the fuck happened?" Wayne covered his lower face with the back of his glove in revulsion.
"I told you! No animal or predator that I have hunted would kill like this! I told you I heard that growl and you wouldn't believe me," the man said adamantly and shoved his friend.
"What the hell could it be? What can eat a complete deer like this?"
They both looked around them for signs of life. Anything that could indicate what killed the dead deer on the ground before them. I waited, my heart beating against my chest like a fast-beating drum.
"I don't know, man. All I know is I don't want to be here when that thing comes back. It tore this deer apart and left nothing behind." Wayne shook his head while looking around him.
"What do we do?"
"Let's get back home first then we will report this to the professionals. They would know what to do."
The man took out his phone and took a picture before stuffing it back into his camouflage coat. This wasn't good. I can't come back here. It will be too risky. Humans are erratic in nature.
Once they were a mile or two away, I jumped back down from the tree and headed back home.
It was early in the morning by the time I reached my cabin. I showered and pulled on a pair of boxers, dark denim jeans, and threw on a black fitted t-shirt.
I thought about Sage and what she said. Although I am afraid of the future, deep inside of me I wanted this to work. I wanted a place to call home. I wanted the company of a mate. That leads me to her question.
What did I want?
I know the answer but I am afraid to answer it.
I walked out of my bedroom to the kitchen and found a note sitting on my counter. To find a note from my sister. She must have come by last night after I left. The note stated specifically for me to meet her at the packhouse.
I made myself a quick breakfast before heading out. Getting on my bike, I drove all the way to the packhouse. I parked in front before getting off my bike. Rubbing the back of my neck, I glanced awkwardly at a group of juvenile girls who were giggling and looking my way.
I walked inside to find the foyer empty with only a few pack members. I made my way to the stairs that led to the second-floor landing when I heard laughter. I stopped when I heard my mate's laugh.
I followed her laugh to the music room. Peeking inside the slightly opened door, I caught sight of my mate wearing a pair of black leggings that hugged her body like a glove and again a short-cropped top that reached below her belly button. Her unruly hair falling in waves down her back.
I wondered what made her laugh but realized she was by herself. She began shaking her ass and rocking to the music. Her hair flying all over. I smiled when I saw how carefree she was. I am sure she meant to have the door closed but I am glad to see this side of her.
Taking out my phone, I zoomed in on her face. When she looked my way with her eyes closed to the music I snapped a picture. I looked at the picture that I had captured and saved it.
I saw a flash of movement again and my eyes slid back to my mate to find her breathing hard and looking at me.
She removed her headphones and ran a hand through her burnt umber tresses. I opened the door, stepped inside before closing it behind me. We were alone now.
"Do you have a habit of spying?" she questioned, breathless from her dancing.
Being alone in the same room as her is a dangerous game that I am playing. Standing close to her, I can see that she developed some sweat from her dancing. Her cheeks were flushed with heat and I found myself instinctively drawn to her every breath and move. My eyes dipping down to her pouty lips.
I blame the warm, comforting scent of my mate that filled this room. It clouded my mind and rational thinking. I am hypnotized while staring at her lips with an overpowering urge to possess them.
I took a step forward already knowing she would meet me head on in exerting dominance. What I didn't expect was her taking the initiative. Her left hand shot out and slid to the back of my neck. She eliminated the space between us and slammed her lips against mine.
It was at this precise moment, I knew I was done for. She had me irreversibly under her spell. Growling, I met her kisses head on. Her tongue swiped across the seam of my lips. I parted them enough for our tongues to intertwine in the middle. She tasted sweeter than honey and as divine as the finest wine.
Growling, I fought her. The kiss was brutal and demanding. My fingers tangling in her hair. Her hands threaded through mine. I could feel every curve of her body hotly pressed against mine.
The mate bond dampened the air, flexing its power and strengthening by the second. It was intoxicating. A drug that I have quickly earned an addiction too.
Kissing her felt right in every single way.
She was the first to pull away. My eyes opened to see Sage's heavy passionate ones.
"We can't do this," she whispered angrily. "Why would you kiss me?"
She slapped my arm. She snapped out of her stupor. Sage was pissed.
"I believe you kissed me first." I pointed out, still eyeing those pouty swollen lips like sweet candy.
The door opened to reveal my sister. Katya looked between Sage and me.
"I wondered where you went."
Sage looked away as soon as Katya entered the room. Katya walked over to us and touched my arm to get my attention back. I am positive that Katya knows what just happened. The room must reek with both Sage and my scent. It gets stronger as our intimate emotions grow. I am just glad she is choosing to ignore the big elephant in the room.
"Thank you for coming here. Gamma Judah had come to me yesterday to ask for your presence in today's warriors' selection and ranking assessment," Katya said.
I wrinkled my eyebrows together in confusion.
"Why?" Both Sage and I asked at once.
In Alpha Hunter's pack, they conduct yearly exams for juveniles who are hoping to become warriors within the pack. These pack members will be selected by Alpha Hunter, Beta Ace, and Gamma Judah. However, training will all come from Gamma Judah as he handles all training sessions. I didn't take the exam but I have trained under Gamma Judah for a long time.
"Why would my dad ask for Liam?" Sage asked suspiciously.
Katya smirked when Sage asked that question.
"You don't have to be suspicious of your dad, Sage. It isn't because your dad wanted to punish your mate. Your dad selected Liam because Liam is a very good fighter. Your dad was disappointed when Liam didn't go for the Warriors' selection seven years ago," Katya assured Sage.
"So he wants me to fight the juvies?" I questioned further.
She nodded with a smile plastered on her face. I shook my head. I didn't want to be bothered by juveniles. I would rather sit in my cabin, alone and away.
Sage scoffed from behind me when she saw my reaction. I looked at her with a quizzical expression. She jutted her chin out and hid her hands behind her back. I tried to ignore the fact that that little movement made her breasts stick out prominently.
"Are you afraid of getting hurt?" Sage batted her eyelashes.
I narrowed my eyes. "You are going to be in on the selection?"
"Of course. It is only natural for the Gamma's daughter to join in on the selection when she is going to be the future Gamma of the pack," Sage replied.
One corner of my lips lifted. "I am not afraid."
"Then fight," Sage taunted.
"I don't need to spend useless hours in the day fighting juveniles," I retorted.
She scoffed again. "It is fine."
Removing one hand from behind her back she patted my chest. Sparks ignited from that one touch and our eyes zoned in on where she was touching me. Immediately, she started to pull back but I wrapped my hands around her wrist. Alarmed, she tugged on her arm but I kept a tight hold on it.
"I'll do it. I am not afraid, Sage, but be aware that I won't go easy on you even if you are my mate," I warned.
She smiled then and I almost lost my composure for a second there. She is stunning while smiling at me. She took a step closer but I fucking refuse to move. No way will my mate win in this standoff. She placed a palm on my right chest before sliding it up and cupping the back of my neck. Leaning forward, she whispered in my ear.
"You don't have to worry about me, babe. I can take care of myself." She pulled back enough for me to see her daring eyes leveled with mine and a silent challenge flexed between us.
She is competitive and rebellious. I can't decide if I hate it or I love it. My sister's lingering presence long forgotten as we had a little silent standoff.
I thought when you find your mate, it should be some yin and yang shit but with her, we are always dancing on each other toes. She is always pushing my boundaries and driving me to the point of madness.
She blinked and a warm teasing glimmer appeared in those olive eyes. God, she is fucking beautiful and she got me so fucked up in the head I don't know what I am doing.
All I know is I will enjoy challenging her every step of the way.
Question: What do you do to relax or clear your mind?