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14. How to Properly Greet an Alpha

The imagination of a child is always praised upon.

Children believe in what’s usually considered impossible. A giant rabbit that hops around the world hiding chocolate around your house. A man in a bright red suit that soars through the sky in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. A fairy that sneaks into your bedroom at night to buy your lost teeth.

But, not once, have I ever heard a child say that they believe in the supernatural. It’s like the impossibilities of dog-man hybrids, magic-wielders, and immortal, animate corpses are programmed into their minds at birth.

In elementary school, a child is usually asked what they want to be when they grow up. The answers are standard. A doctor. A firefighter. An actor. An Olympic athlete. A princess. A teacher. A police officer.

None of them ever say that they want to run through the city at night killing supernatural beings.

Even me.

I was seven when I was asked this very question. My answer, like every other child, was standard. A no-brainer. A basic career that popped into my head, because children at that age have no idea what they want to do with their life. They have the luxury of being young. Of not having to worry about their future. Of having another decade to decide.

My answer? I wanted to be a cop. Just like my Daddy, I had said.

I guess what I actually ended up doing was close enough. I patrolled through the streets of Toronto, getting justice for us humans, the oppressed. Even if it was outside the law.

I was asked that same question when I was fourteen. By then, I had a better answer. I wanted to be a surgeon. I was going to apply to the University of Toronto, my dream school. I wanted to save lives, make the lives of others easier.

I never thought I’d end up taking lives.

Even six years ago, a year after the Takeover, I still wouldn’t have thought I’d be where I was today. I’d never killed anyone, though I’d witnessed death.

If every time I was asked what I wanted to be, and I was told when I’d end up doing, I would have laughed in their faces. Even if I was shown a portal to the future, I wouldn’t have believed it. That’s not me, I would have said. That’s not who I am.

I was going to be a savior. Study human anatomy. Cut them open and save their lives. Know that I was doing a good thing. I was going to have a long, full happy life, with a family of my own, and my parents would be around to spend time with their grandchildren. My brothers would be uncles. I would never have taken a life.

But things change. People can, too.

Instead, I was being paraded down a long hallway, covered in wounds, living in a world where the impossible ruled over everything. I’d taken so many lives, I didn’t bother to keep count anymore. I was surrounded by four werewolves, creatures that even children didn’t believe were real. I craved the presence of a dagger, the only weapon that could kill them. Though I still wanted to cut them open, it wasn’t to save their lives.

It was to end them.

My leg throbbed with every step. My arm burned with pain. My eye was swollen, tender, and probably badly bruised. Wonderful.

I tripped. Evangeline, who was walking behind me on the right, reflexively shot out an arm to keep me from falling.

“Watch it, Hunter,” she growled. I jerked away from her, continuing the silent stroll down the corridor.

Laurie, ahead of me, glanced back. “What happened?”

“The Hunter’s being clumsy,” Evangeline said.

“You should have let her fall,” Keith grumbled from beside the interrogator. I rolled my eyes, wanted nothing more than to slit his throat. But, unfortunately, my dagger was confiscated, and I had no idea where to find it.

In fact, I barely even knew where I was.

Obviously, the general location was known to everybody. The Toronto packhouse was what was once the University of Toronto, but over the past seven years, it’s been transformed into something nearly unrecognizable. If I didn’t know any better, I wouldn’t have been able to guess we were on the grounds of the school I was once desperate to get into.

As for where in the packhouse I was, well, that’s a bit harder to discern. From what I gathered, I was in some kind of prison area - there was a door every few feet, made of a heavy metal, possibly silver. This was where the pack kept their most dangerous prisoners - which, I guessed, normally consisted of other supernatural beings. Not humans. Humans aren’t supposed to be dangerous.

“Quiet, all of you,” Luca said, his voice slipping back into the carefully structured calm he usually sported. He stopped moving, just outside of another door - though this door looked somewhat normal.

Not a cell, then. My apprehension grew. I knew where the Beta was taking me.

He wants to see her. The Alpha’s not in a patient mood.

I clasped my hands together to keep them from shaking.

Show no weakness, Reese Hearne, whispered the voice in my head. Show no fear.

Perhaps it was a good thing I was about to come face-to-face with my enemy. Maybe it would help me figure out just how difficult he’d be to kill.

You thought Ryker Marcel would be difficult, too. You thought you weren’t ready to face Nicholas Randon, the voice purred.

Yes, but they underestimated me, I argued back. I sense this target won’t make that same mistake.

My head stayed silent.

“Luca, wait,” Laurie grabbed her mate’s arm before he could open the door. “Before we go in... do you know what he’ll do to her?”

Surprise rushed through me. Was that concern I heard in her voice? Why is the Beta Female concerned about the safety of a human, and a Hunter, at that?

“Yes,” the Beta responded. “Don’t worry, love, he only wants to talk to her.”

“I’m right here, you know,” I interjected. “No need to talk about me like I’m invisible.”

They ignored me. Of course.

Laurie reluctantly released Luca, who in turn grasped the doorknob. My fear rose again. I let Luca’s words fly through my head.

He only wants to talk to her.

Ah, how reassuring.

Though, if he was going to kill you, he probably would have done it by now, went my inner voice, ever the optimist.

Unless he wanted to kill me himself.

The door opened, much too quickly. I’d rather stay out here and chill in the hall for the rest of my days.

Luca and Laurie stepped into the room, Keith and Evangeline forcing me to follow. Swallowing back a chill, I entered.

The first thing I noticed was the darkness. The room was gloomy, the kind of midday gloom you get when you’re holed up in your bedroom with the curtains drawn. That was the second thing I noticed - there was a window in this room, the blinds closed in such a way that I couldn’t even catch a glimpse of what might lie on the other side of the window.

How long was I unconscious for?

The third thing I noticed was the figure standing in front of said window, facing away from me, arms folded across their chest.

That’s when the smell hit me.

It was intoxicating, surrounding me, and I could have gotten drunk on the scent alone. It wasn’t the type of smell that made your mouth water, like fresh-baked cookies, but rather the kind that made you feel like the world was perfect and pure. The smell was almost comforting, though the force of it sent a shiver racing up my spine - and not a fearful shiver.

It was a familiar scent, too.

I’d smelt it twice before.

The first time was on my way back from Riverdale Park, when I was racing home to pack up and leave, immediately after I murdered Nicholas Randon. I’d thought I was going crazy.

The second time was when I was driving past Riverdale Park with Opal and Kyle. It had been faint, the slightest hint of it, enough to make me think that I was imagining things.

Pine trees and springtime.

Immediately after the smell registered in my brain, the figure stiffened. They rolled their shoulders back, sending another wave of the deliciously wonderful smell rolling over me.

It was coming from them.

The figure turned.

My breath caught in my chest.

I thought I’d seen attractive men before. Hell, the city is full of them. But, because of my line of work, I’ve become immune to the charm of simple human men. I’ve even brushed off the god-like complexions of most supernatural beings. It’s surprisingly easy to kill a hot werewolf after you find out just how stupid they really are.

But this one...

I don’t know if was simply because he was one of the few men who actually smelled somewhat-decent - all right, downright wonderful - but he was definitely, without a single doubt, the most attractive man I’d ever laid eyes on.

He was clearly a werewolf - though he was beautiful, god-like, there was still humanness to his features. His height, too, was enough to give him away. By human standards, I’m considered relatively tall, at five-foot-eight. But I could tell, even from this slight distance, that he would tower over me.

His hair was dark, blending into the shadows filling the room. It was tousled, wavy, and somewhat short. It also looked soft. Very soft. My hand itched to touch it. No. Bad. No petting the dog. Dog bad. Very bad dog.

His eyes, though - his eyes are what drew me in the most.

They were green, a brilliant, luminous green that seemed to sparkle with thousands of tiny emeralds.

His gaze bore into mine, staring into what felt like my very soul. I fought the urge to shift my weight. Though I was wearing clothes, I suddenly felt like I was standing there stark-naked.

He chuckled then, a sound that sent goosebumps racing across my skin. I didn’t move, though. I didn’t let a single facial muscle twitch. I stared him down, wondering why the hell I was so attracted to this... this thing.

“Something funny?” Luca murmured from my right.

He didn’t respond right away, but his eyes never left mine when he finally said, “Just the irony,” he said. His voice, like before, sent a wave of pleasure washing over me. Pull it together, Reese.

Keith shoved me forward then, and my leg, barely cooperating as it was, collapsed again under the new wave of pain that shot through the gashes. I found myself back on the floor, though I still didn’t break eye contact with the specimen standing only a few feet away from where I now knelt. Without missing a beat, I scrambled back onto my feet, ignoring the scream of protest echoing from my thigh.

Luca, without another word, spun around and left the room, his mate, the interrogator, and whatever Keith was trailing after him.

Leaving me alone.

With him.

He studied me for a long moment, his eyes narrowing as he took me in. My fist clenched, sensing danger.

My Hunter instinct stayed dormant, though.

Come on, come on! Can’t you sense there’s a dangerous supernatural being nearby?

It didn’t stir.


He broke into a grin, then, one that sent another chill down my spine - this one of fear, though I refused to let it show.

“Reese Hearne,” he said, taking a step towards me. I stood my ground, making a silent promise to myself.

I would not move.

I would not bend.

I would not allow this creature to control me.

I would not lose myself.

I would not stop fighting.

I would escape.

I would kill him.

I would kill them all.

A grin spread across my face, an exact replica of the one he wore.

“Elijah Randon. I’d say I’m pleased to finally meet you, but that would be a lie. Now, what do you want?”

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