“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.“- James Baldwin
Time had begun to slip faster through her fingers the more she focused on her anger. She burned with a rage to prevail above her pack, and show she was better than them all. Her hate for her pack burned in her chest like the strong embers of a bonfire.
If some sticks were thrown in, the fire would grow and consume those sticks and return to those embers.
She’d taken to being more public. It was time that her pack faced what they had done to her. Faced the betrayal they had delivered to her in her weakest times.
From the corner of her eye she spotted Grace among a small group of plain looking females watching her. Good she thought, watch me. With a few beeps, the pace of the treadmill picked up until she was in a full blown sprint. Smalls beads of sweat rolled down her spine, saturating the thin fabric of her shirt.
Her feet created a rhythm on the treadmill, listening to her breathing to keep it in tune. Grace narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest, scoffing. Her small group of followers repeated this movement. Raven could feel their glares like small targets on her back.
She rolled and flexed her shoulders, imagining she was shaking off those targets.
Raven remained at that pace for a solid hour, ignoring her burning lungs and the cramps that developed in her ribs. Ezekiel sighed and came over to her treadmill, slowly clicking until the treadmill slowed to a halt. Raven was too out of breath to even give him a glare.
“That’s enough of cardio.” He spoke lowly to her.
Raven snatched a dry towel on a table not far from the treadmills, wiping at her face and around her neck and chest. Ezekiel watched these movements with a strange glimmer in his eyes. “Are you still determined to ignore me?” He began.
“Yes.” She managed out through her sharp pants. She stood straight and shut her mouth, deliberating her panting to slow. Her eyes dilated and pinpointed Ezekiel.
“It’s been two months since. . .” He was obviously referring to when she had held Grace by her neck at dinner. “When are you going to forgive me?”
“Are you done fucking the maid?” Raven’s voice was loud enough for some to listen in on.
Raven picked up on the small flicker of his eyes; where Grace stood in the same room and watched them from a distance. Her breasts were held on obvious display, blatantly having no shame. He didn’t respond.
She snorted and took a step closer to him until she was toe to toe. Facing down the male that was supposed to be her mate. A fire burned in her eyes, those embers sparking up as the sticks were added. She lowered her voice not to embarrass her Alpha, “I’m not some silly teenage girl. I don’t have a school-girl crush on you. And I’m certainly not going to play your games. I don’t have to be your mate, and I’m certainly going down the route of forgetting you and finding someone else.”
“Raven. . .” He looked conflicted.
“Shut up. My name should not be on your lips when her lips have been on them. I don’t have to be here in this pack, and I don’t have to be their Luna.” The fire was growing. “A pack follows their Alpha. He leads by example. A Luna is their guide of reason. Without that Luna, there would be no direction for that Alpha to go in and the pack to follow.
If you want a disgraced maid as your Luna, then so be it. But I swear to the Moon, I will have my vengeance upon you both.” Raven bared her teeth to him, her eyes ablaze with her fury. Her wolf clawed at the surface of her skin, wanting to bring her wraith down upon them.
She was a wounded soul. Her pride lay in pieces, and her supposed-to-be rock was sleeping around with low females. It was a low blow that her pride couldn’t handle. She was a she wolf with an agenda, and no blame could be placed on her.
She shoved the dirtied towel into his chest before storming away, leaving him to fumble and catch it before it drifted to the floor. Even her towel smelt of her burning rage. He made no move to follow her and accepted the judgement she had laid on him.
On her way out of the training room, Grace’s group of friends and her sat outside of the building, leaning on its wooden side like terrible antagonists from an 80′s film. The air outside the cramped training room was fresh, smelling of dew.
The wind blew softly, making the grass tickle her ankles. Raven rolled her shoulders, feeling the absence of a pulling sensation on her skin.
Upon realizing Raven had come outside, Grace dipped her head to avoid looking into her eyes. Her little group of followers bristled, their hackles raised, yet they too looked down. Internally, Raven snorted, her head raised. Her wolf loved the acknowledgment she was being given.
From far off, she could feel the Beta’s gaze fixating on her. She tilted her head to the side, meeting his icy eyes. The tall brute was propped against a tree, his muscled arms crossed over his torso. A silent knowledge passed between them.
As far as she knew, he hadn’t told anyone of their night in her room.
Each time she saw the Beta, she was flooded with memories of Abigale’s death. A part of Raven pitied the male, she knew all too well what it was like to lose someone close to you.
He turned his head from her, looking off into the sand pits where wolves were training. Raven followed his look, angling her body to watch them.
Raven easily recognized who the Beta was watching. His brother had strikingly similar appearances to Colton. He looked like Colton had the day Abigale introduced them to each other.
Sand flung as his brother struggled to pin his opponent. They were a good match for each other, the juveniles easily the same size. Raven lowered herself to the grassy slop that dropped into the pits, watching the match.
Dew still clung to the grass despite the sun hanging overhead, practically sizzling against Raven’s heated skin.
Raven took a deep breath in, savoring the scent of the coming winter. Her lungs still ached from the heavy exercise, but were beginning to relax.
At last Colton’s brother won, howling out his victory. His opponent lay in the sand, his chest heaving. Colton’s brother reached down, offering his hand to the male, helping him to his feet.
A proud smile crossed Colton’s face, watching his brother’s victory.
His smile quickly slipped from his face as his brother’s head snapped to Raven’s direction. Raven’s eyebrow lifted as the juvenile began walking in her direction.
The intention was clear. Raven slowly rose to her feet, wiping her back and ass from the dirt and dew.
“Raven.” Colton took his weight off the tree, his hands coming to fists at his sides. “Would you like to train with me?” Similar to his brother, he smothered his feelings with a calm appearance, but Raven could see underneath the front. She knew what he wanted to do.
“And you are?”
“Morgan.” Morgan made no show to impress Raven. In his eyes, she was nothing.
“Morgan.” Raven tested his name in her mouth, looking him over. She glanced over at Colton again, and he shook his head at her. “I’d love to,” Raven grinned.
Morgan only nodded and spun back around, heading towards the same sand pit. Too similar to Colton, Raven thought to herself as she followed him.
Raven removed her shirt, tossing it to the side of the pit. Morgan spat on the ground, diverting his eyes from her exposed skin. It was too much to look at.
Raven could feel many eyes on her back as she rolled her shoulders, her heels bouncing in the sand as she prepared herself. Even Colton turned away, the mess of raised, bright pink skin too much to bear.
“You realize what you’re doing?” Raven cautiously asked Morgan, wanting to be sure he knew what he was asking for.
“Let’s go then,” Raven smiled at him, her wolf grinning with her at the prospect of a fight.
Immediately, Morgan charged at her. His arms came out as if to wrap around her middle. Raven dodged to the side, still bouncing on her heels. Morgan grumbled to himself.
The two circled each other for a moment, assessing the next move. Morgan stayed crouched while Raven stood, staying light on her feet. Quickly, Raven swept her foot out, knocking him to the sand. Morgan growled and stood, Raven had already stepped back like nothing had happened.
He charged at her again, missing once more.
“Stop evading him, otherwise this will go nowhere,” Colton called from the side.
Fine, Raven thought to herself.
When Morgan came at her once more, she allowed him to wrap his arms around her. She grunted with the impact, his shoulder slamming into her stomach. He lifted her into the air, easily holding her above him.
Cursing to herself, Raven struggled in his grip. A male like him relied entirely on his strength, she couldn’t allow him to pin her, otherwise it was over for her. As she was swung down, Raven wrapped her legs around his neck, the world spinning in the corners of her eyes as her back crashed into the sand.
Raven coughed and sputtered, the air knocked from her lungs.
Morgan squirmed between her thighs, trying to get his head free from her grasp. Raven squeezed tighter, his face flushing with anger and the lack of air.
Raven snarled, tightening even more. His hands came to her thighs, trying to pry them apart. His nails dug into her skin, ripping them. Raven gripped his arm and swiftly threw him into the sand, straddling his back.
Morgan growled beneath her, his mouth full of sand. Raven twisted his arm, hearing a few pops emit from his shoulder. She heard him whimper slightly, only fueling her to tighten her grip.
At last he gave in, staying still. For good measure she stayed atop him for another moment before rising to her feet.
“Murderer.” Morgan whispered, though Raven caught what he said.
“We’re all murderers,” was all Raven replied with.
Raven lifted her head, her black hair falling out of her face. She was met with a circle of wolves that had gathered to watch. They said nothing to her.
Raven sniffed and shouldered her way through them, a sudden need to escape their eyes consuming her. She snatched her soiled shirt from the ground, shaking the sand out of it before heading towards the pack house.
“Do you feel good?”
Raven spun to confront the voice behind her. It was Dmitri.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Sweat glimmered on her olive skin, sparkling in the sunlight.
“You broke his arm, Raven.” A smile played on his features, always finding something amusing about Raven.
“So?” She panted.
“He’s sixteen, you didn’t have to shame him like that.”
“He deserved it for challenging me. He knew what he was asking for, and he got it. Speaking of. . .” She trailed off, thinking off Grace and where she’d run off to.
As if he knew what she was thinking, Dmitri sighed. “Don’t. Leave her be.”
“Why should I? Is that how this pack runs? Someone needs to instill the idea of respect, Dmitri, since your brother can’t seem to do that.”
“Easy there. Not everything is as one sided as you think. I don’t know what goes on in that pretty head of yours, but I can tell you now you’re too guided by hate. It’ll consume you if you aren’t careful.”
“What, are you my fucking counselor now?” Raven bristled defensively.
Dmitri chuckled, shaking his head. “Just looking out for you, since no one else is, including you. As for my brother, let him play his games. He has some things to think over. It’s not as you think.”
“I don’t need you to look out for me, and I don’t need your stupid cryptic bullshit.” Raven shrugged her shirt on, aggressively pulling the hem down over her stomach.
“Shame, then. I’ll still be here, Raven.”
Raven stormed off, mulling in her anger.