How could I agree to such insanity? Was it to prove something to them? Was it for the money?
I never had the chance to see Aphrodite before today, and now I was agreeing to wrap my hands in chards of glass. I wondered if coach would allow me to agree to such terms.
Hiro nodded to one of his nearby men. “He will rewrap your hands in hemp rope, then we will coat your hands. Just remember, this doesn’t change anything. You will fight, you will bleed, and you WILL succeed. Just focus on what you are here for.”
“Yes Alpha…” I cleared my throat and glanced around the stadium, but I still haven’t spotted James, Marcus or Xanos.
“You know...” Hiro leaned in. “You sound like a werewolf,” he muttered in my ear.
I scoffed, “to be honest, I don’t know what I am…”
His face dropped as he looked to the small Japanese man holding thin white rope. “Speaking of which, how’s the tea working?”
“I’m not sure, I haven’t seen them yet.”
Hiro lightly patted his hand onto my shoulder and softly spoke again, “don’t forget what you are doing this for.”
I nodded my head and pushed my hands out for the man to re-wrap. “I won’t.”
Hiro gave a small bow before disappearing through the sea of bodyguards that followed him.
I managed to see where he was sitting. He had a whole section for his pack near the very front. I could only assume Marcus, Xanos, and James were in similar seating.
“Almost done.” The man wrapped my hands fairly quickly. It was tight, and slightly uncomfortable, but I suppose it had to be thick and bulky to stick to glass.
I brought my hands up and analyzed the strange looking rope. It was much thicker than traditional hand wraps, almost like rope you would find laying around in someone’s work shed. I wiggled my fingers around to adjust to the new sensations of the wraps.
“Ladies and gentle men, Aphrodite!” Suddenly, the announcer’s deep voice echoed through the stadium, prompting the entire audience to stand up. I was the obvious underdog. I didn’t get much applause like she was getting.
When the lights when out, I proceeded to step up into the ring. My heart was pounding, my breathing was heavy, but my eyes remained focused. I still wore the mask, and most of my body was covered by my baggy clothes, but I knew the time was approaching to take it all off.
I was going to fight in a black sports bra and rash guard shorts. Barely any skin would be covered, which meant everyone was going to see the hideous mark left by James, but this is what I had to wear. I couldn’t let anything slow me down. Especially when I looked to the beast of a woman walking down the aisle on the opposite end.
Her entrance music was a hard, fast, electronic tempo, and the audience roared louder the closer she got to the ring.
I analyzed every inch of her as she slowly approached. Her hands were already wrapped in white hemp rope. Her hair was jet black, and braided similarly to mine. We were dressed the same, but one thing was apparent… She was much bigger than me. Typically, in a human fight, we would fight in weight classes, but in a werewolf tournament, there was no weight class, only by which pack you were fighting for.
A large man that I assumed was her coach trailed closely behind her. He was a giant, burly, bald, pale man that was littered with tattoos. A large scar went across his face, and he wore an outfit I would usually see coach wear. Black sweater and sweatpants on top of a mean ass look to his face.
I wish Coach were here to see this now. I had to make him proud. This is what he would have wanted.
She climbed into the ring and the audience continued to roar with applause. The entrance she got compared to mine was bar to none, but it didn’t matter.
All I needed to do was win.
The referee standing on the edge on the ring wore all black. He was a short dark man with obvious signs of age from the wrinkles formed around his eyes and forehead.
As I got a better looked at Aphrodite, I realized she was a fucking giant compared to me. She was at least a foot taller, and by the looks of it, several kilograms heavier. She was breathing like a rapid dog, and her bushy eyebrows were sunken down as she continued to eye me down like prey.
“Pretty mask. Mind taking it off? I want to see the victim who is about to get murdered.” She smirked and gave a sly look back to her coach who was chuckling behind her.
“BRING IT ON BITCH,” I snapped back.
“You’ll regret saying that you masked freak.”
“Say’s the wanabe werewolf that follows an Alpha that is too much of a pussy to place a bet on your own fight. So, tell me, how much did he bet on you again? Does he even think you will win?”
Her face immediately deepened with anger. She obviously wasn’t used to someone talking back to her, but if she was going to dish it out, I was going to hand it right back to her.
“I’m going to kill you, in front of this whole damn stadium.” Aphrodite continued with her taunts, but I could care less at this point, I had to focus on why I was really here. She was only trying to intimidate me, and her words meant nothing.
Suddenly, the entire stadium went dark, then, the music shut off.
There was an eerie silence that followed, then the announcer spoke, “Parley!”
“Parley!” Hiro called out from his seat, then the white spotlight went on him, followed by the rest of the Alphas in the Stadium. They were all stating their parleys. This was my chance to spot out the ones I wanted to see.
That’s when I heard his voice.
It brought goosebumps to my skin. It was chilling, cold, dark, cynical, and no matter what I was doing, the memories would always surface. The sleep less nights, the nightmares, the constant anxiety that haunted my mind, and the sheer… FEAR.
I turned around. He was sitting only a few rows next to the ring, opposite side to Hiro. He was surrounded by an army of men. His face was always the same, dark eyes, pale complexion, and a crazed smile. He looked like all the other Alphas. Black suit, gorgeous woman wrapped around his arm, a polished watch, and a complex that wouldn’t deteriorate. His confidence, and his ego, all soring in the sky above me, but tonight, I was going to catch him off guard.
For once, I was going to be one step a head of him.
“PARLEY.” My head turned when I heard Marcus. He was on the opposite side to James. He was standing from his seat, looking directly at me. His eyes were burning through me. I was wearing the mask, but in this instant, I knew.
He knew about my fight, James, EVERYTHING.
My heart dropped when I saw his face. Why was I feeling guilt?
I hadn’t realized I was clenching my jaw until Xanos stood up beside him. Butterflies were swirling around in my stomach as I gazed at the sight.
They were sitting next to each other.
“PARLEY.” His face was calm, his emotion not as obvious as Marcus, but then I began to question if he knew about the mark James left.
Did Marcus tell him?
This entire time, I thought it would be an impossibility to entertain the idea of them working together, let alone, sharing me, but just seeing them stand next to each other made my head spin. They looked good tonight, like they always did, both wearing suits, and their hair neatly pulled back. Their entourage of men and the section that filled in the stadium was the biggest out of all the packs, but one thing still stuck out.
It was Marcus.
His face from what I could see was darkened. There were obvious bags under his eyes from stress. It looked like he hadn’t slept in days.
At least the tea was working, I didn’t feel dizzy or crazed, but I still felt jittery seeing them so close.
Xanos was lasered focused on me, as well as Marcus. My heart sped up when I set my eyes on them. I was still pissed, and I wanted to kill them for what they did, but something felt wrong in my feelings towards them.
Was the tea really working?
I had to shake my head to recompose myself. They didn’t deserve me, hell, no one did.
“I’ll fucking kill them all Troy.” I looked to the edge of the ring to see Troy standing there, watching over me like a guardian angel. He was the only one in my corner tonight.
“Ladies in gentlemen,” the announcer started again, “stakes will be doubled, as both contenders agreed to fight in the old ways.”
As soon as I heard the audience roar my adrenaline started to trend upwards. My body began to warm, and I started moving my feet, maintaining a good sweat. I was ready for anything. They could devour my entire body with glass, I was fucking ready for this.
I peeked over to Marcus and Xanos, and their eyes looked to me like nothing else in the world existed. Fucking assholes were going to get a run for their money.
“Alright ladies, dip in.” A man holding a bucket came forward, first to Aphrodite.
“With pleasure.” She dipped her hands in and slowly pulled back out, keeping her eyes on me the entire time.
While everyone was distracted, I looked up to the rafters to see where Derek was. He said he found a perfect spot to take the shot.
“Ok Huntress. Your turn.” The bucket was placed in front of me by the small man.
I dipped the top of my hands inside the container. The substance felt like like a tacky glue. I pulled out to look to my hands. I couldn’t see the tacky substance, but it had a strong sour odour.
“Ok, bring the glass.” The referee waved in another man with a similar bucket, but this was much heavier. I could hear the glass clinking around as the other small man carried it forward.
“You may need to keep that mask for future, especially after this fight.” Aphrodite dipped her hands in slowly, crushing the glass into smaller pieces by ramming her knuckles in as hard as she could.
She pulled her hands out to reveal her newly coated death mitts. The glass was multicoloured, and they majestically twinkled against the lighting of the stadium.
I decided I wasn’t going to banter with her. What the hell was the point. I was only here for them. I looked back to see James. He was smiling as he looked to me. His eyes blackened as he had his arm wrapped around some skinny blonde woman wearing a short red dress.
I smiled behind my mask. I wanted him to be relaxed. The more unexpecting this entire plan was.
“Ok, that’s enough.” I pushed down one more time before pulling back away. I brought my hands in front of my face to analyze the chards of glass that coated them.
This was perfect.
All I sought was violence. It was the only thing keeping me calm now. It was the only thing keeping me distracted from my brother’s death. I was running away from the grief and there was no turning back now. I was on a suicide mission, and I was ready to die, but not until I killed James.
The referee pulled both of our hands up and assessed them. “Ok, back to your corners, one minute to fight.” I looked at Aphrodite one last time before she headed back to her coach waiting on her side of the ring.
As I headed to my side of the ring, I began mentally preparing myself to unsheathe my body for everyone to see. My mark, and my face was all on display. I deeply inhaled, then exhaled. This was it. The audience was roaring, and it was hard to hear anything, but maybe it was exactly what I needed.
I held my breath, then took off the mask. I kept my eyes to the floor as I did it. I reached to the bottom of my sweater, then pulled it over my head, fully exposing myself in just a sports bra and a mere rash guard.
I dropped my sweater to the ground.
Part of the audience simmered down, and I had a feeling I knew why. The werewolves were all looking at the hideous mark that stained my skin.
They all knew it was James.
Every wolf in the city was bearing witness to the spectacle. The daughter of Kane was marked by Alpha James. This was exactly why I registered as a rogue. To prove a point.
I would rather die then be claimed by one of them.
I turned around. Everything was out in the open. James, Marcus and Xanos were now standing from their seats, but I kept my focus only on Xanos and Marcus.
Their expressions told me everything.
Xanos was most noticeable. His face turned to James who was sitting opposite to their section. I’ve never seen him make a face like he did.
It was fucking scary.
He wasn’t a man of much emotion, but the way he was looking at James sent chills down my spine. There was no way they would let their beasts out here tonight, and this was why it was the perfect moment to show them everything.
They both looked to James with darkened expressions. They were both clenching onto nearby seats, practically squeezing the plastic chair until it snapped.
James just sat there, with his arm still wrapped around the blonde girl, smiling, like he was watching a dramatic film at the movie theatre.
Then he caught eyes with me.
He lightly waved and blew me a kiss. I didn’t respond, I didn’t give in to his taunts, I just kept my eyes on him. I had a job to do, and I wasn’t going to let my emotions take over.
Marcus stood up and started walking towards the ring followed by Xanos. There was no time. I had no time to talk to them. They killed him. They all deserved to die.
“30 seconds.” The referee looked to his watch.
I jumped back and forth on my feet and shadowboxed, lightly throwing punches in the air to keep my arms and legs warm.
Aphrodite was the largest woman I ever fought, and on top of that, this was my first official fight, I had no one in my corner, and now, my hands were doused in glass.
I was nervous, but I wasn’t scared. I kept thinking of Troy. How they all took him from me, and now, this was my time to take back my power. Even if it were a brief moment of glory, it was going to be the ending I could only dream of.
Aphrodite was warming up just as I was, throwing her arms at incredible speed. Her eyes were focused in on me the entire time. Her coach hovered over the fence behind her, whispering in her ear, giving her the same motivation coach would have given me tonight.
I felt a strong hand grab my arm and I looked down to see Marcus. His eyes were red and puffed up. His mind was eating up his sanity, and it was all because of me.
“Why didn’t you tell us about your mark, and James?! EVERYTHING!?” His hand squeezed my arm, but I remained focused. There were no more sparks. There was nothing to distract me anymore.
“You will pay for what you’ve done...” I whipped my arm back and refocused on Aphrodite. I could see the timer overhead of the ring. There was 20 seconds left until I started.
“WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY ANYTHING ABOUT JAMES?!” Marcus raised his voice, and Xanos immediately pulled on his shoulder to calm him down.
I turned around and looked to them. “You think I care about this mark now? My brother is dead, everyone in my life is dead, and you’re only worried about James fucking me. Your pathetic. You BOTH are dead to me. NOW LEAVE!” I brought my focus back forward to Aphrodite. “You’re going to lose ten million tonight Marcus,” I muttered under my breath.
Marcus tried reaching for me again over the fence, but Xanos pulled him back. “TROY’S DEAD?!”
His comment made me stop dead in my tracks. Why was he acting like he didn’t know anything?
“Leave her be Marcus, we will deal with this after...” Xanos pulled him back, but there was a change of tone in his voice, like what I said struck a chord.
I was still surprised how contained Xanos was, but I suppose he had more control on his emotions. He was probably just as angry as Marcus, but he knew now was not the time for confrontation with James. That’s how him and Marcus were so different.
“I love you… Don’t forget it.” Marcus’s eyes were blazing full of emotion as I looked to him one last time. He then whipped himself out of Xanos’s grasp and headed back to where he was seated.
My head was spinning from his comment. Why was he confused about Troy being dead? Was I missing something? I wanted to further question him, but there was literally no time left.
“Let’s go ladies,” the referee announced.
By the time I turned my attention back to them, they were both walking back to their seats in the stands. Their attention was fully focused on James who still held the same expression as before, all the while he ate fucking popcorn.
They wouldn’t break the parley tonight, but I would, and I was going to beat them to the punch.
I looked to Hiro one last time and nodded my head. Out of all the chaos in the jam-packed stadium, Hiro and his entire pack remained still, focused on the fight, which worried me. He knew he was being betrayed, his life was at risk now, and I wasn’t sure if he had an alternative plan for tonight.
“Take one last look at them, it’s the last time they will see your pretty little face.” Aphrodite smiled as she pushed her mouth guard in place. Out of all the carnage that went on in this ring, I found it strange that the only thing we were protecting were our teeth, but then again, we didn’t heal like a werewolf.
“Once the bell goes ladies, it’s the start to your one of four rounds. When there is a yield, or a tap from the opposing fighter, you must stop, and the winner will be declared. Agreed on both sides?”
He looked to me first and I nodded my head, then he turned to Aphrodite, and she nodded back.
“Hands forward.” The referee looked over our hands to ensure there was no concealed weapons, then nodded to us both. “Ok, good to go.”
I had my plan for James. I was fucking ready, and he wasn’t going to expect a damn thing. No one will because it was a death sentence. I was going to die for breaking this parley, but I was going to make my death count.
I was going to show everyone how James the Alpha, died to a human.
My hands were up, blocking my face, but I left just enough room to see her. I stepped in closer, maintaining my widened stance, and studying the way she moved. She was much larger than me, so I would have to use my speed to beat her.
She was strong, but this was all a mind game. I had to make the right moves to win. Anyone could be stronger than me, but if I played my cards right, I knew I could beat her.
It was something coach always drilled into my mind. Everyday, every training session, telling me to use my brain and not to rely on impulsive action. Sometimes it paid off, and sometimes it wouldn’t, but this woman was huge. I had to trust my body, and I had to react fast enough to avoid her hits.
On top of all of this, our hands were covered in glass.
Things were about to get bloody.
The bell rung and I rested back against the fence as I caught my breath. It was the end of the first round, and I had a minute to regain my composure.
I took a few hard shots to her face in the first round, but she also traded with me. I had a few small cuts on my face and abdomen, but overall I was the faster competitor. I had to repeat what I did the last round again.
She probably had never been hit like this before, and I was starting to see cracks forming in her confidence. The entire first round the audience cheered hard for her, but after a few hits, they were starting to simmer down.
As I rested, I began having flashbacks. That day back in my old apartment.
It was me who broke it in half. I couldn’t explain it, but I was fucking strong, and I always denied it.
But today, I’ll show this bitch what it means to be strong.
“Get up Hunter! You got this.” Was that Troy’s voice or was I hallucinating?
I slouched over in the corner, the bell went off to begin the third round, but I remained hunched over, trying to catch my breath, holding my head firmly with my hand to slow the bleeding.
“She’s not human Hunter! This was a set up!” Troy’s voice kept echoing in my head, like he was right with me every step of the way.
Is that really you Troy?
I looked around the stands, but he wasn’t there. Was this from the concussion?
The previous round went great, until the end. She got a cheap shot after the bell when I turned my back. Her fist pounded into the back of my head when I wasn’t looking and now I was suffering for it. She would never get penalized. This fight was dirty, and there were no rules that were going to be enforced.
Not only did her punch affect my sight and vision, but there was also a river of blood dripping from the back of my skull. I didn’t have a coach in my corner to clean up the wound, only the pressure from my hand could slow the bleed.
“You can do this!” Troy yelled out again.
I turned around to see Aphrodite slowly pacing towards me. Her hands were held high, and her eyes were zeroed in on me.
“She’s not Human Troy...” I panted.
Suddenly, I felt his familiar hand come onto my shoulder. It was Troy, hovering over me like Coach would.
“You aren’t either,” he whispered in my ear.
He kept his eyes on Aphrodite who was slowly approaching. In this instant, I felt a new surge of energy. It was like his words entered my body, lifting me up, mentally and physically.
My arms and legs held new life as I tightened my fists and paced forward towards her.
“You were never human Hunter.”
We were finally here. This was the final round.
I sat in my corner and wiped the drips of sweat with the spare towel sitting close by. My head was pounding, but I still remained focused on Aphrodite.
I was going to fucking kill this bitch.
She had a team of trainers and coaches, all wiping her clean of her cuts and gashes. I didn’t realize how dirty this fight was going to get. She fought hard, as expected, but the level of brutality of this woman was unlike I’ve ever seen.
I spat out more blood to the ground as I wiped my mouth clean. I’ve never had such an ass kicking in my life. Even she put James to shame, but I was just getting started. I was ready for more.
And all that kept flowing through my mind was Troy.
My hatred towards them….Towards, ALL OF THEM.
I looked into the stands and saw the same glowing red eyes that I saw at the very beginning. They were all demons, looking to me, watching me closely, howling for more blood.
It was the only thing pushing me through this fight right now. I had several good hits on her, but she was still standing strong.
I had to end this next round. I had to win this fight, or at least get to the end…
The bell went off, and the audience erupted in cheering. At first, most of the cheers were for whenever Aphrodite landed a hit on me, but now, they were all chanting the Huntress.
“HUNTRESS, HUNTRESSS, HUNTRESS!”
It was pleasant to here, but I wasn’t here for the glory. I was only here for revenge.
HUNTRESS, HUNTRESSS, HUNTRESS!”
I walked back to the center of the ring. I kept my hands high to protect my face. This was the final round. Aphrodite was looking how I felt.
To the edge.
But both of us were hungry for the win.
Her mouth guard was lost, just as mine, and her smile revealed her bloodied teeth and gums. I looked down to the floor for a moment. It was stained like someone painted the floor red.
And as I looked to my hands, the multicolour pieces of glass that once glimmered in the bright stadium lights were now stained with blood.
We didn’t speak words, but we knew exactly what we were thinking.
This was the finale.
As she drew in closer, I saw something in her eyes that changed. It was like she was near her breaking point, or maybe I was completely wrong…
We paced each other, our hands both up, studying each other’s foot work and anticipating our next move.
She kicked and I caught her leg with my arm, swiftly whipping it to the side. I went in for a clinch on her weaker leg with my arms to attempt to take her to the floor. My ground game was much stronger than my range, and I was going to use it to my advantage. I had to use the rest of my energy to put an end to her.
But that’s when the unexpected happen, she countered the clinch I had on her leg, and pushed me back with her foot, jamming it as hard as she could into my chest.
It fucking hurt.
She knocked the wind out of me because I didn’t expect it. My lungs were trying to catch up to my breathing, and I had no choice but to stumble back to regain my composure.
The audience got to their feet. They were cheering, yelling, but none of it mattered to me.
I had to finish this.
She was coming towards me as I regained my breathing. I stood up but was slightly slouched over. I was still winded from the previous hit. She came in again, but this time, it was a low kick to my shin, followed by a hard jab to my face.
She kept swinging too fast at me to avoid.
I was exhausted, but I kept my arms up to block her. I even attempted to trade a few jab-crosses, but nothing was going through, and the more I missed, the louder the audience cheered.
She punched me in the face, but much harder than ever before. I was growing numb to the pain, but there was still a constant sting. She was coming at me harder because she knew I was buckling, but I was never going to yield to her.
The audience got louder, and my vision got blurrier.
The taste of my own blood got stronger, and my eyes stung like a bitch. I was so drenched in sweat and blood that I wasn’t sure where I was bleeding from anymore.
I heard my name being chanted, but the audience could clearly see I was getting my ass kicked.
She had me on the ground now.
I thought I would make it to the end. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to kill James.
I had to make it through.
I had to push through to the end.
Her large muscular arms tightened around my neck as she simultaneously wrapped herself around my body.
“Yield bitch.” She grunted.
“Fuck you.” I muttered back.
She immediately tightened her grip on my neck.
I glanced up at the overhead timer counting down. There was only several seconds left.
She was panting hard as I resisted her clinch. “I’m going to kill you,” she groaned.
I was putting up a fight, but she was at least fifty pounds heavier than me, and now that I let her have my back, it was near impossible to get out of the clinch.
She punched me a couple more times, one by one, allowing her fist to blow back into my head, jamming it into the floor with such force that I was beginning to see stars.
My eardrums were ringing, and my vision was too blurred from the blood dripping down my face. But out of all the pain and exhaustion, I still had hope that I could win and make it to the end.
“Yield now or I’ll fucking kill you, your time is almost up.”
I tried to pry her arms off my neck, but there was no use. She had me locked tight in her grip.
“Fuck you,” I muttered again.
She quickly loosened her grip, catching me off guard. I wasn’t fast enough to figure out what she was doing until she already placed her hands in position.
“No FUCK YOU.” She was quick, and I was too dazed. Her sharp glassed hands tightened like a crack of a whip, and that’s when….
It all went dark.