I lightly sipped my beer as I sat behind Derek. He was quick with his handling of the rifle, and his aim was near perfect. It was fun to watch. I kept envisioning James as the paper target, all the while, seeing Derek holding the gun was stirring me up inside.
I wasn’t sure why, there was something about him that made me feel safe, and not only that, but he was also easy to talk to.
I didn’t want to let my mind wonder, but after all the shit that happened today: all the lies, all of the violence, the anxiety of my missing brother, the unknown of what was going to happen tomorrow, and now, watching him shoot was keeping my mind at bay.
I had my plan already. I just had to pass the time until tomorrow. I was being played by everyone in my life, and if I was going to ogle at Derek for a few minutes while I sipped on a beer, I WAS GOING TO FUCKING DO IT.
He wore a white t-shirt, revealing a set of tattoos I failed to notice before. Derek worked out by the looks of his defined muscles, and he had a regime with everything he touched. He was well organized, and his shop was top of the line. To be honest, I was questionable how the shop was so nice, but then again, it seemed like everyone was buying a gun in Elysium.
Business was booming, I was sure of it.
We spent the first hour talking, I told him everything. He was understanding, but still taken back of how messed up my life.
He wanted to find Troy as soon as I told him, but I insisted to leave it to Andrew. He knew his way around the packs and warehouses. Plus, the parley didn’t take effect until morning, he just needed to find him before it began.
The parley was a peace agreement for all packs, it could either range over the entire city, or a specific building, but every year, the day of the fight, the parley covered the entire city. If one pack broke it, like if someone were murdered by another pack, they would be ousted. Their pack would hold no more power, regardless of how much territory the Alpha owned.
Parley was a golden rule, and it has never been broken. An Alpha would never risk losing everything over it.
Humans didn’t take it seriously, but it was only until you became part of a pack that you followed it. It was a rule you could die over. I wasn’t part of a pack officially, neither was my brother, but Andrew was, and if he caught during the parley, sneaking around warehouses on James’s turf, it would mean Marcus could get into trouble.
I was mad at Marcus, but I couldn’t let that happen.
It was a solid 20 minutes of Derek shooting. His aim was next to perfect. It was his life, it was something he trained to do, and now, he was training me. I wanted to practice.
“Your turn.” He turned back as he took the orange foam protectors out of his ear.
I felt warm, I probably shouldn’t drink the night before a fight, but it helped subside my doubts. I was confident in my plan, but at the same time, anything could happen. I shouldn’t be so naïve to think otherwise.
“I’m enjoying the show.” I replied as I finished my beer.
“You shouldn’t drink before shooting.” He looked to me with a smirk.
“I don’t know Derek, I’m feeling good today,” I stood from my chair and approached him. Everything was clear.
My eyesight, better then it has ever been.
I was being cocky, but I’ve always trusted my body. I knew what I was capable of.
“You definitely look ready.” He looked to me as he took a step back. It reminded me of the other day when we first met.
“I am.” I smiled back.
I couldn’t help to look at him in the same way. There was something about him that I liked. His face, rather rugged, but defined with striking eyebrows, and chiseled chin. His crew cut, how ever short, was always styled to perfection.
He looked to the side after a brief moment of awkwardness, “Alright, back to business.”
I held my hand out, “Give me the gun.”
“Which one?” He looked to the table full of a variety of weapons; pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, you name it.
“I’ll try all of them.”
“You know I’ll be the one shooting tomorrow, right?”
“I wish I was in your place.”
“So, are you sure this is the day you want to do it? There will be a parley in the city. If they catch wind that you are the cause to a shooting of an Alpha, EVERYONE will be after you.”
“You know that applies to you as well?”
“I’m the shooter, but I’ll be a ghost, all the while, you will be center stage. Besides...” He tapped on my shoulder as he muttered under his breath, “You are technically part of a pack.”
“No I’m not!” I glared back.
“Yes you are.” He smirked, “Who are you fighting under again? Marcus’s pack?”
I folded my arms across my chest. Just hearing him say that I was part of a pack irked me. I never chose any pack, or anyone, and I was free to do as I saw fit, which included not being part of this parley.
“I’m not part of anything.”
He chuckled lightly, “If you say so, Huntress.”
“Just make sure my brother is safe. Don’t worry about me. Andrew said he can get Troy out before morning, and by then, I can fight without worrying about him. This is the only way to get close enough to James.”
“You call walking into the stadium, jam packed full of werewolves with a gun safe?”
“He will be dead tomorrow, that’s all that needs to happen. You will make sure of it, and I will have a front row seat.”
“There must be a safer way for you to do this don’t you think? We are also relying on Andrew. Are you sure you can trust him?”
“Can I trust you?”
“Have I given you a reason not to trust me?”
“Good question,” I turned around and looked to the table. There was a silver desert eagle sitting close to me. It suited how I felt right now. I was going to be the silver that pierced James’s skin. He would never expect it.
I picked up the gun in my hand.
Derek raised his arms, “Whoa now, didn’t you say you’ve only shot a few times?”
I kept analyzing the gun, admiring the curves, the colour, and the material. It felt powerful, it felt like me.
“Yeah, so you say.” I continued looking, not giving care to his concern.
“It has quite the punch for a beginner.”
I turned to the aim board. It was 25 yards away. I held it steady, looking down the iron sight. I kept my breath still, and my eye, focused on the target.
I was aiming directly for the head.
I held my breath.
I put slight pressure on the trigger then…
I slowly exhaled as I lowered the gun.
It did have quite the punch, but that’s what I liked most about it.
“Good aim,” He pressed the button that controlled the target lever and pulled it back.
As it got closer, I realized I hit it, right between the eyes of the silhouette figure.
“You sure you haven’t been to the gun range in secrecy?” He smirked as he sent the target back out.
I let out a small smile, then I realized the circumstances I was in.
I was doing this for Troy. I had to keep my head focused.
“Go 50 Yards.” I said as I aimed the gun.
He sighed heavily, “You know, you look…”
“Excuse me?” I turned my head over and we both locked eyes.
We were caught in a staring match, and it was hard to look away.
“You look good holding the gun, that’s all.” He returned his focus on the range, like I didn’t just witness him flirting with me.
I paused for a moment.
My heart was for Xanos and Marcus, but I couldn’t help to feel the flattery from Derek.
We both sat in the basement where he had a staff lounge. It was basic, nothing extravagant. There was a mini kitchen, several couches surrounding a small coffee table, and the walls were littered with military memorabilia, such as flags, awards, ribbons, and older looking guns. You name it, Derek probably had it.
It wasn’t an ideal place to sleep the day before a big fight, but it was good enough to rest my head.
Derek lent me one of his extra shirts he kept here. It was several sizes too large, but it was comfy. Coach dropped off my gym stuff earlier, and it was tough for him to agree to the plan, but I eventually talked him into it.
“You suit it.” Derek peeked over to me as he poured a more coffee from the machine in the kitchen.
Ever since I put his t-shirt on, he couldn’t take his eyes off me. I felt guilty, but at the same time, our conversations and exchanges were natural, and I felt comfortable around him. If I weren’t involved in this werewolf shit, I probably would go for a guy like him.
He was my type. He served his country. He was strong, not just physically, but mentally. He was a family man. He was loyal, and he wanted to help the people of Elysium.
“Thanks again.” I tugged lightly on the shirt as I fell into the couch.
“You can take my bed if you want. You need it more then me.” He took a sip of coffee as he leaned back against the counter. His eyes were digging into me, and I realized why. My legs were poking out a little more from sitting down. The shirt was big, but it wasn’t big enough to cover my entire thigh.
I adjusted myself and tried to pull the shirt down further onto my leg, but it didn’t help much.
“No.” I replied.
I looked into his eyes and gave him a smirk. “You know why.”
He chuckled lightly, “I would sleep on the couch.”
“Thanks, but I will be fine on this. I’ve slept in much worse, trust me.” I leaned back into the couch and crossed my legs, hoping it would be less distracting.
He kept his eyes on me as placed his arms against the counter. “I’m sorry Hunter, I don’t mean to act like this, I mean – ” He looked away for a moment and adjusted himself, “You deserve someone better, you are so…”
I couldn’t help to widen my eyes. I looked away. I didn’t know what to say.
“Look, I mean – ” He was lost for words, did he really mean to say it?
“Derek,” I nodded my head towards him. “My brother.”
“We aren’t acting like it.”
“Acting like what? Acting like your dick head Alpha brothers who treat you like an object? Treat you like some territory of theirs?” He stepped forward as he raised his voice, “I would never treat you like that.”
“Look, its not like that…”
“I’m just telling you what I see, look what has happened in your life since hooking up with Marcus. Look where you are now.”
I hesitated as I leaned back, staring at my fight equipment in the corner of the room. “I love them,” I sighed.
His eyebrows raised at my response, “How can you love them?!”
“What do you care anyways?!” I was breathing heavily, and I wasn’t sure why I was getting heated. Maybe it was because it was true. I loved them and there was no denying it.
“Because you deserve better then this!” He stepped in closer as his eyes widened. Why was he getting so damn heated? We only meet a couple days ago.
I paused, my throat tightened, and I felt myself falling in emotions. I was swirling around again inside my mind. Why was I justifying my feelings to this man?
I felt the tears coming through. This was the first time crying since I saw Kendra. Since I held her dead, lifeless body in my arms.
Derek came forward quickly as he saw me bursting with emotion. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you.” He sat beside me and held my hands tightly. I didn't pull away, I was too far gone to push him away now.
I needed to let it out.
“I can’t lose myself. I can’t lose him. I already failed Kendra; I can’t lose anyone else.” I was choking up, it was so hard to keep it all bottled up. It was slowly pouring out, all onto Derek.
“Don’t worry, we’ll save Troy, and I will have your back, just trust me, and when its all over, you can heal. You can move on. You don’t need to be with them. You don’t need anyone, or any mating pull to tell you who you need to be with.”
I kept my eyes onto his hands. They were warm, callused, and they felt good as they touched mine.
“I can’t leave them. I’m going to go insane.” Derek wiped the tear from my face as I kept my gaze down. I couldn’t look at him now.
I was ashamed of how I felt.
I was ashamed of James’s mark.
I was ashamed of what happened that night.
I hadn’t fully healed from what happened since James, and I was never the same after it.
“I lost everything, I almost killed myself afterwards, but don’t let yourself down that path Hunter, you’re better than that.” He pulled my hair behind my ear and we made eye contact.
It felt good to let it out. It felt good to cry.
I was still human, and Derek made me feel better about it. I had to accept it and move on.
We kept our eyes on each other for a moment as he tightly grasped onto my hands.
“You’re the strongest bad ass I know. You will win tomorrow. You will save him, and you will move on. You can do it.”
It was encouragement, mere words, but it was actually making me feel better. I couldn’t help to let out a small smile. Although I was still crying, I felt like I was being lifted. Like a helping hand to a door that I couldn’t quite reach.
His hand suddenly came onto my thigh. I looked down to it and held my breath. His hand lightly sat on my lower thigh, I couldn’t help to feel the warmth pulsing through my body, but it was wrong.
This was wrong.
I stood up, “Look I can’t – “
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to, it’s just - ”
“JUST WHAT?” Suddenly, a deep, low voice erupted from the top of the stairs.
It sent goosebumps to my skin and shivers down my spine. It couldn’t be him.
My mind was trying to convince itself that it wasn’t real, but I could smell him. All the way from where I was standing, and it was only getting more intense.
My heart started to race as his footsteps got louder, slowly stepping down the stairs towards us.
The doors were locked, how could he get in with out setting off the security system?
Derek pulled out his gun from under the coffee table and stood from the couch, pushing me behind his large body, “Do you have a death wish motherfucker?!”