Chapter 1: The Claiming
Chapter 1: The Claiming (Izzy’s POV)
Once I finished, the house was spotless. All of the laundry and dishes were all washed. There were four full meals set in separate containers that just needed to be placed in the toaster oven for about 10 minutes each. My father would be set for about two days. I really had no plans on returning to eat the food.
I was being picked up for the Claiming at 9 pm. It was now 8:30. I went into our small bathroom to shower. Once scrubbed clean, I dried my body and my hair. Knowing I didn't have time left to blow dry it, I just ran my brush through my hair. Then I twisted the front of each side out of my face and clipped it in place. Gathering the rest of my long main of hair into a loose ponytail at the base of my neck and pulled it over my right shoulder. I slipped on the mandated white cotton eyelet dress. The dress has about a one-inch strap and scoops low in the front. It hugs my chest and is tight till it reaches my hips, where it flairs out and stops high on my thigh. It's revealing, to say the least. I dusted my face with a little highlighter, put on some eyeliner, mascara and finished my look with some peach lip-gloss.
I finished with five minutes to spare. I sprayed on some of my favorite perfume and leaped down the stairs. I was met by my father at the door.
"Well don't you look like the perfect little whore. Don't get your hopes up I will be seeing you in the morning." Father said as he landed a punch to my gut and brushed by me heading deeper into the house.
My eyes watered and I bent over holding my stomach. I finally made it to the door as the limo pulled up in front of the house. I ran to it as if my life depended on it because I felt it did. I was barefoot as per the rules and the grass under my feet felt like the path to freedom. A very large man came around and opened the door for me. As I scooted my way in I saw that there were six other girls all ranging in age from 18 to 25.
As our driver got in he let us know,
"Last stop ladies until we reach the Claiming Grounds. It will take us about an hour and a half to reach the grounds. So sit back and relax. Also if I forget to tell you later. Happy hunting!" This caused us all to giggle. As we pulled away from my house, I sat back in my seat, leaning my head against the door, and listened to the girls' chatter.
"So this is my fifth year coming and still no mate. Don't get yourself down if you don't find a man. Be careful of the creepers, they are old assholes that use The Claiming to stalk pretty young girls that aren't with their mates. They have been known to do very bad things to those that don't have proper training and are easy targets. I thankfully am no easy target, but I do hope that this will be my last year. My mate has to be here." One said to the group.
Another cut in "I heard that we have a few heavy hitters coming this year. Two new Betas are coming from friendly packs in Georgia, as well as their Gammas and Deltas. Pity both of their Alphas already found their mates in each other. But we do have Alpha Blake from Tennessee, Alpha Ryan from Texas & Alpha Roman is flying all the way to the Everglades from Oregon."
One more piped up saying "My dad's an Alpha and I heard that Alpha Devon from Elders' Island is also coming. It will be the first claiming he has ever attended and he is 23."
"What's Elders' Island?" I asked with my eyes still closed.
"It is this totally protected island. That is a sanctuary for retired Alphas, Lunas, and other high-level officials. It is on a small island that is in the Gulf of Mexico. It is very hard for invaders or rouges to access, so it is a safe haven for the Elders. Alpha Devon has been Alpha since he turned 14 when he shifted after his parents died in a horrible storm. From what I hear he doesn't want a mate, but the Elders are making him look for one anyway. He needs an heir and he needs someone to rule at his side. I doubt he's coming through they have been trying to get him to come for the last 5 years. I met him once when I went to an Alpha meeting with my father and let me tell you he looks good enough to eat." The Alphas daughter proclaimed. It caused us all to giggle.
After that everyone seemed to retreat into their thoughts. I must have drifted to sleep because it felt like only minutes later the driver was stating that we had arrived.
There was a large party tent set up that we had to walk through so that they could approve of us before we head out onto the Claiming Grounds. The lady, that overlooked me, smiled approvingly and let me pass through.
"Announcements," The same lady said above everyone else. You could tell she was a Luna but I'm not sure from where. "Hello and thank you for joining The Annual Claiming for the she-wolves of Florida. I am Luna Grace of the Palm Moon Pack of Pensacola. I am going to go over the rules of The Claiming and then we will have you take your place on the grounds."
"Rule One: Do not gather in groups, you would not like your mate to mistake someone else for you."
"Rule Two: Do not leave with anyone who is not your mate."
"Rule Three: When you do find your mate, you are required to leave with him or reject him. Those are the only 2 choices you have."
Someone raised their hand at this and Grace just waved them off. "I will answer all questions in just one moment. Those are the she-wolf rules. The guys have a much longer list of rules to follow. It is now 10:45. At 11:00 we will allow you to go find your place to meet your mate, and they will follow into the woods at midnight. You will be provided with a water bottle, a rubber mat to sit on, and a few snacks. You will have a bag to carry with you. Now, are there any questions?"
The same girl as before raised her hand. "What if our mate rejects us?"
Grace smiled sadly and answered "You will still have the same choices. You can still choose to go to their pack or accept their rejection and go home to your pack. I will lessen your worries by saying, that a rejection during The Claiming is rare. In the one hundred thirty-seven years that we have been holding The Claiming, we have only had three rejections. We will now be handing out supplies and then you will go find your place."
I grabbed my supplies and headed to my right since the last two people went straight and to the left. I walked for about a half-hour to make sure I was far enough away from everyone else. I had just walked into the clearing that was almost identical to my dream. It was a clearing around a large oak tree that has light-colored bark, low hanging branches, with Spanish moss hanging all over it. I pulled out my rubber mat and unfolded it and laid it at the base of the tree. I sat as lady-like as I could in my attire using the tree to lean back on. I sat and stared at the stars praying that my mate will find me quickly and that we will be all that mates should be.
After a while, flairs and fireworks were shot up into the sky and the sound of distant howls could be heard. That was the signal that the males had entered the hunt. I was about three-fourths of a mile out, it seems, from the start. I opened my water bottle and took a sip while I sat and listened to the sound of the woods. Every now and then you would hear a distant growl, moan, shriek, squeal or groan.
After about an hour I heard a rustling behind me, and also one to the front of me. The sound in front of me increased while the sound behind me stopped completely. I saw eyes shine at me through the brush and I stood up slowly keeping the tree at my back as protection. A grey wolf stalked out into the opening. This was not my mate.
He was circling in closer when I heard a distant howl from behind me, that had taken my attention away from the grey wolf. My mistake, because he took that instance to pounce on me and shift into his human form. He was probably nearing the age limit of thirty-five and was completely naked. The grey wolf had sandy blonde hair, was still well built, and was now hovering over top of me. As his hands tried to roam all over my body, I tried to fight my way from under him. This only enticed him more, since every time I squirmed, I was inadvertently rubbing myself against his manhood. In the distance, I heard a loud menacing roar. You could tell that the growl held authority and the grey wolfman stilled in his actions.
In the blink of an eye, he was pulled off of me and thrown very harshly out of the clearing. That's when I smelled him. He smelled amazing, he smelled like Nautica cologne, mixed with fresh rainwater and blueberries. Since he had shifted he was naked as the day he was born.
He was more perfect than in my dream. As he walked towards me, you could see every muscle in his legs flex. He rolled his shoulders back, and his broad chest rippled towards his sculpted eight-pack that continued down into a perfect V. I lowered my eye and caught a glimpse of what lay between those powerful legs. Just as in my dream it was long and thick and standing at full attention. I was already wet with want.
As he approached me he said just one word. "MINE!"
I replied just as I did in the dream "YOURS!"
That is where the dream ended and my new nightmare started.