I pointed at the motorcycle. “Is this yours?”
Without dropping his gaze, he nodded. “Is there a problem?”
A warning rang in his voice, causing the small hairs on my neck to stand up. He shouldn’t affect me anymore, but I haven’t had contact with the likes of him for a long time, and the power in his voice was unnerving.
“It’s prohibited to have vehicles inside the compound during this time. I kindly ask you to remove it.”
I was surprised by how stable my voice was. A lot more stable than the shaking hands I had hidden behind my back.
He took one step forward, his arms loosely hanging by his sides, a forced smile on his face. For outsiders, he must appear relaxed, but there was a storm raging in his eyes. Something about this situation had him on edge, but I didn’t quite grasp why.
“And who are you to tell me to remove my vehicle?”
I straightened my back. “I’m working here. But if you rather want me to call security to deal with you, that’s an option, too.”
He eyed me for a moment, arching a brow. “Of course not. If it’s against the rules, I will remove it.”
“Thank you. I wish you a wonderful evening,” I said and turned around without looking back.
I clenched my phone in my hand, worrying I would break it, and loosened my grip. When the motorcycle roared alive and driving away in the opposite direction, I let out a puff of air. For a second, I was worried he would follow me. I shook my head and turned up the music again, continuing my run.
I stopped at the lake and sat down on a bench, looking at the water. The sun slowly went down, coloring the world in a reddish light. Yet again, I realized how beautiful this place was. But I wondered how long I should continue living here. I didn’t have much freedom staying in a bungalow, and George had offered me to move in with him a long time ago. But I still didn’t want to leave.
I stretched out my legs and pulled out my earphones to take in the sounds around me. Children playing, loud laughter, and dogs barking in the distance. The noise gave me a sense of comfort. Maybe those are the reasons I wanted to stay here. It made me feel less alone.
Before my pulse slowed down too much, I stood up to finish my run when someone approached me from behind.
The light perfume reached me before he did - a hint of mint and lemon - and I knew it was the man from before. I held my breath and waited for him to say something. I hoped he would have left me alone and that he didn’t pick up anything unusual, but apparently, he did.
“Who are you?”
I turned around to him slowly, bracing myself for the sheer power radiating from him. His dark eyes burned into mine. My mouth went dry as I stared at him, and I bit the inside of my cheeks. I knew he wanted me to drop my gaze, but I didn’t want to lose this fight. It was ridiculous. I had no reason to have this power play with him, but I still didn’t want to lose.
I put on my customer service smile, knowing it would rub him the wrong way. “I’m an employee here.”
He frowned. “I’m sure you know that’s not what I meant.”
I raised a brow. “I don’t know what else you mean.”
“You want to make this hard for both of us, don’t you?”
I would make this very easy, but it’s never easy with people like him.
“I’m sorry, but I really don’t know what you want from me.”
He ran a hand through his hair and let out a sigh. “Why is a foreign wolf in my territory?”
His question made my heart race, and I clenched my hands into fists, sucking in a breath. I didn’t expect him to be this blunt. Why could he be so sure I was more than a human? What if I was a regular human, not knowing about the wolves among us? Was he ready to risk exposing his secret?
I let out a shaky breath. “Excuse me, what?”
“Stop playing me for a fool. I realized you weren’t a mere human when I saw you running towards my bike,” he said, crossing his arms. “I wondered who this scent belonged to since we arrived. It’s all over the place.”
I dropped my gaze to his tattoo again, but I couldn’t make it out completely. I tried to remember if I had seen it somewhere before. The Nordic people usually have tattoos looking similar to his, but I don’t think we had met. It was my only explanation why he was able to pick something up from me. And even then, I was sure I had no scent since the incident. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have lived this peacefully until now.
When I looked up again, he was grinning. I cursed under my breath. I dropped my gaze before he did.
I smirked. “So, you knew I was an employee here?”
His eyes lit up dangerously, and I took a step back. I knew I shouldn’t push him too far. It would be too dangerous for him to lose control. He stepped so close to me I felt his breath on my skin. I stared at his chest, refusing to feel intimidated. But I did.
I cleared my throat and craned my neck to glare up at him. “Ever heard of personal space?”
His brows furrowed. “What is wrong with you?”
“The question is: what is wrong with you? You’re following me and asking me all these weird questions. I don’t even know you.”
I tried to keep my act as an innocent human up, but I’m pretty sure I failed.
He gripped my arms and stared at me, his eyes so dark and black, it made my skin crawl.
“Stop touching me,” I said through clenched teeth, trying to wiggle out of his touch, but he only held me more tightly.
He lowered his head to the crook of my neck and breathed in deeply. He jerked his head back, a confused look hushing over his face.
Anger rushed through me. Who was he to decide to step into my personal space and be this intimate with me?
I tried to push him away again, but I might as well try to move a mountain out of the way.
“Let go of me and leave me alone!”
His eyes dropped back to my face, his face pale. He looked like he had seen a ghost. “What is wrong with you? What happened?”
My heart ached, pictures of my past flashing up in front of my eyes. I shook my head. “I don’t know what you are talking about!”
“Your eyes are as weird as everything else about you,” he muttered.
I stiffened. I hated when people commented on my eyes. It’s what I hated most about myself, because it kept reminding me of what I had lost.
“Let go of me,” I whispered, feeling numb.
I knew if I was still the old me, I could hold my ground. But in this state, I was weak and helpless. It frustrated me beyond belief. When he didn’t listen, anger bubbled up in me, and a weird sensation rushed through my body, making me shiver. I glared at him, suddenly feeling confident. I was about to give him another piece of my mind when he started grinning and loosened his grip around me.
“I knew it.”
I felt the color leaving my face, exhaustion taking over. “What?”
“You are a wolf.”
It was like someone punched me in the gut, and I worried my legs would give up under me.
“You are spouting nonsense,” I said.
It was the last thing I wanted anyone to find out. The one secret I wanted to keep until the day I died.
He tilted his head to the side. “Why won’t you admit it?”
I stared into his now green eyes, the blackness from before nowhere to be seen. The storm had disappeared, and a soft smile covered his features. He actually looked friendly now. I knew if things would be different, I might have considered him an ally, his weird and rude behavior aside. Something about him told me he was trustworthy. But things weren’t different, and I won’t be able to reverse time. I also knew he wouldn’t let me live in peace if I didn’t explain myself.
“My wolf vanished,” I said, voice trembling. In the past eight years, I never said it out loud, and it physically hurt. “She won’t ever come back to me. All I have left is the human side of me. I’m not a wolf. Not anymore.”