“Liz, you’re slowing us down,” Derik frowned, turning my way again. “What’s the matter?” The sun was setting, and we were miles away from the packhouse. And the Hunter--- was tired!
“I’m--- out of--- shape,” I panted, barely being able to keep up. Sure, I was still fit, but going from a fucking marathon running bodybuilder to a pole-dancer--- let’s just say they didn’t required the same kind of muscles!
Derik sighed and for the millionth time sniffed the air. He growled in frustration and had that look on his face: the trail was getting cold. I’d just opened my mouth, telling him to leave me behind and find the rogue, when he beat me to it.
“I’m going to shift,” he said, peeling off his shirt. “You can ride on me.”
I was too tired to answer and just held up my thumb, letting him know I agreed, before turning around, giving him privacy to shift.
I heard his bone shift and when I turned around, a horse sized wolf was standing in front of me. Because he was an alpha, he was of course bigger – way bigger – than the average wolf, but I’d never really stopped and appreciate Derik’s massive black wolf. His piercing blue eyes in a sea of black, that looked almost supernatural. Ok, my brother’s wolf was a beauty--- but I bet he had nothing on Xyen!
His wolf stood in front of me, demanding that I submitted to him, before he let me anywhere close to him. I wasn’t really in the mood, but we didn’t really have time for a powerplay.
“You already know, I’m not stupid enough to pick a fight with you,” I muttered, bending down to pick up his cloths. And I could have sworn the wolf flashed a satisfied smirk, before crunching down, so I could climb on top of him.
And just for that…
“Not without my weapons,” I snickered, earning myself a low growl from the wolf under me. “Oh, get over yourself, Alpha, and giddy-up!” His wolf didn’t appreciate that and I’m sure he made me pay by taking the most bumpy and unpleasant route possible!
Or at least that’s what it felt like…
As we were soaring over the fields with superhuman speed, my insides felt like they were being hammered by molders and when he stopped abruptly, I nearly fell off. My face was pushed into his fur and the thick, woolen substance instantly stuck to my open mouth. I scoffed and spit, trying to get rid of the hair, when I noticed his wolf giving me a questionable look.
“Fur in my mouth,” I replied, still spitting out hair. He replied with a wolf-y grin. I frowned. “You just made a joke about hairballs, didn’t you?”
Suddenly his demeanor changed, and he lowered himself closer to the ground. I understood the gesture. He was hunting.
We were close…
I climbed off and without him having to tell me, I crouched down. Waiting and trying to mask my scent as much as possible. Derik’s wolf gave me an approving nod, before he disappeared between the trees.
My heart was beating out of my chest, while I waited. I just hope I was right. Both for the sake of Oscar and for the sake of Luna Fray. If my hunch was right, they needed help. REAL help…
A second later the silence of the night was cut though with a piercing howl.
I jumped up and with everything I had, ran toward the sound. It didn’t take me long to spot them: They were growling menacingly at each other. Derik’s wolf almost twice the size as the rogue, but unable to attack, because the rogue had a small boy tied to his back.
Without thinking, I jumped between the two huge wolves – and for once, hoping I didn’t get killed by the most powerful supernatural creature on the planet…
“We’re not here to fight,” I breathed, facing the rogue, who didn’t hesitate to bare his teeth at me. “Please?” I pleated, as calmly as possible, with my heart still pounding in my chest. “Shift back so we can talk.”
The rogue seemed to eye me up and down, sizing me up as a threat. Finding me quite harmless he focused his attention back on Derik.
“Please,” I begged again. “We only want what’s best for Oscar.”
Finally, I reached him. His eyes shifted from us to the little boy on his back. Then he turned back to us, giving me a small nod. I approached him carefully--- much to Derik’s dismay. His wolf growled at my actions and didn’t stop, until I shot him a glare that could put ordinary men six feet under, daring him to interfere. He scowled but backed off.
I helped the rogue get Oscar off his back and luckily the child was sleeping like a rock. The wolf then gestured a bag, that was tied to his leg and I understood that it must be his cloths. I untied it and gave it to him. The second he shifted, so did Derik and they both dressed.
And I found myself caught between and angry alpha and a highly suspicious rogue.
Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place…
“What do you want?” I heard from behind and turned to see, that the rogue had actually shifted into quite a handsome man. Skinny and in serious need of some basic hygiene products, but still handsome.
“I saw you at the ball,” I explained taking a careful step forward. “You were fighting with Luna Fray...” But even before I had finished talking, he was already helplessly shaking his head.
“You wouldn’t understand!” he sighed, pushing his hand though his untamed hair. I could see it in his eyes: the frustration and anxiety they held. He was scared…
“I’ll willing to listen,” I said softly, placing my hand gently on his shoulder, giving him a reassuring smile. He looked at me, and I realized, that sometimes the greatest weapons to bring down walls, lies in the gentles of gestures.
He took a deep breath, giving the child a last glance before turning to me.
“Alpha Cade is a monster,” he said, hate and contempt woven into every syllable. “He’s abusing her…”
“Impossible,” Derik interfered--- and I wanted to strangle him! “They’re mates…”
“She’s MY mate!” the rogue surprisingly hissed, his eyes turning black with rage, by the mere mention of Fray belonging to anybody else. I tried to calm the waters again, by gently stroking his arms, giving him time to breath. “He’s her choice mate, but not by free will,” he continued, when he’d calm down. I frowned. And the plot thickens… Choice mates?! Never heard of it! Not that anyone ever told me much about mates, seeing that ‘I wouldn’t have one’.
“He is abusing her, but she doesn’t want to risk leaving. She thinks that if she stays behind, she can protect us from him.” He gestured to Oscar and himself. “That’s’ what the fight was about,” he continued, looking at me. “I wanted to take Oscar AND her away from him.”
“Why don’t you tell us the whole story?” I suggested, beginning to understand the situation better and better. “Start with your name?”
“My name is Fredric Bass,” the rogue stated. “And I’m Fray’s true mate!”
“Her true mate?” Derik echoed, his brows furrowed in surprise while he dared to come closer. “She-she rejected you?”
“No,” Bass sighed, shaking his head. “It all started before Cade was made alpha,” he began his story. “His mate died, and he became obsessed with Fray, but she didn’t want him. Then we met,” he continued and automatically a smile spread across his lips. A smiled I couldn’t help but replicate. Happiness and love beamed from the memory alone. He truly loved her… “It was love at first sight and we mated quickly. I hesitated with marking her, because she was the Beta’s daughter and I a mere worrier. We didn’t know how her parents would react.” He paused, shifting nervously and probably regretting his actions now. “When she found out she was pregnant…” He frowned. “Alpha Cade threatened her! He put me in jail and told her he’d kill me and the pup if she didn’t accept him as her mate.” He was practically shaking in anger, just thinking about it. “She did and I was banished.” He took a calming breath, before turning to me again. “We kept in touch over the years. Oscar knows I’m his father, but he’s so old now, he easily blurs things out. We didn’t want to risk Alpha Cade finding out about us still seeing each other…”
“So, you wanted to take them away,” I concluded the story. He nodded, once again eyeing his sleeping son. Although my heart ached for him, it unfortunately made sense. To take drastic measures to keep an innocent boy away from a mad man like Alpha Cade. But… “But wouldn’t it be safest if you were accepted into a pack? Isn’t living like a rogue dangerous?”
“It is, but what other choice do we have?” he frowned. “I can’t risk my son!”
“I think I can do you one better,” I said, pulling out my phone out. A plan already taking form in my brain, but--- I kind of needed help with completing it. So, I quickly dialed Xyen…
“What are you doing?” Bass frowned and along with Derik, eyed my actions.
“I’m calling Xyen,” I replied, earning me a gasp from both men.
“You need to get your mate, right?” I reminded him and instantly Bass looked like a scolded puppy. “Well, he’s our best shot of that actually happening!”