Heart of a Beast

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Chapter 5 - Crystal (Part 1)

Mate?

It wasn’t possible. Crystal couldn’t believe it. She’d be able to feel the matebond and she didn’t. She didn’t feel anything for him except fear.

His odor was also repulsive. Mates were supposed to find each other’s natural musk alluring, but his triggered her gag reflexes.

The way he tried to claim her… It gave her chills. Mates were supposed to court each other for a period of time, not show up out of the blue and immediately sink their teeth into each other.

Instinct told her to run. As soon as she relieved herself in the bushes, the word repeated over and over in her head.

Run.

Run.

Run.

Adrenaline spiked and gave her the strength to bolt, but of course, she didn’t get far.

The sight of him barreling after her when she looked over her shoulder…

He was horrific. A beast ready to kill. To take her down and have his way with her whether she liked it or not.

She’d never been so scared in her life.

He couldn’t be her mate. Soulmates didn’t hurt each other like this.

He picked her up and carried her under an arm as if she were a stuffed animal—a dog’s favorite humping toy—and with her limited strength now spent, she was powerless to fight him off.

Pain dug into the side of her stomach, but it was nothing compared to the ache in her heart.

As a werewolf without a wolf, she was an outcast of the pack, an omega, alienated and ostracized by her werewolf peers at school. Laughed at for being a late bloomer. Mocked for not having a wolf.

Until she started having her episodes at school.

At first, no one knew what was happening or what to do. They stood back and watched as her body convulsed on the hallway floor with wide eyes.

She remembered them staring at her. Staring at her and doing nothing.

Only her two best friends—humans—stayed by her side. They helped her up from the floor. They carried her to the nurse’s station. They wiped the tears from her face and comforted her. They waited with her for one of her parents to come and pick her up and take her home.

Her packmates did nothing.

They stopped teasing her then, but they also turned their backs on her. They gaped at her from afar, whispered, avoided eye-contact—they were embarrassed to have someone like her in their pack.

The first time she had a seizure at school, she thought it was the worst day of her life. Nothing could top that.

Until now.

After returning to the forest, the beast set her down and tried to touch her. She recoiled, the bile jumping up her throat despite the whines and whimpers that came from him.

He groveled at her feet and it only made her feel sicker.

He hurt her, forced himself on her, and now he was begging her forgiveness?

She squeezed her eyes shut—shutting out the sight of him—as she pulled her legs up to her chest and held herself tightly.

He continued to whine and whimper profusely for several minutes, nudging her with his nose and licking her hands.

The muscles in her stomach only knotted tighter and she refused to move. Refused to look at him or acknowledge him.

And the more he whimpered, the more her heart hurt.

When he finally settled down and everything became quiet, she continued to hold herself but started listening to the world around her.

Time passed and all she could hear was the soft babble of water over rocks in the river ahead, birds singing in the trees, and the hum of insects flying around her.

Gradually, the knot in her stomach lessened and it began to growl obnoxiously.

She’d calmed down, but she still didn’t want to face the beast. It hurt too much to even look at him.

She couldn’t be his mate. What possibly gave him that idea? What made him think she’d believe such a lie, for it had to be a lie. She didn’t feel any connection with him. Everyone knew their mates when they saw them.

The matebond was a connection like no other. A pull that tugged from within. A mate’s scent was said to allure you, not repel you. A mate’s touch was electric desire.

She felt none of that.

Moreover, he was a lycan and she was a werewolf. How was that even possible?

Lies. It was all a lie.

It had to be.

But why lie? What did he want from her?

Her stomach growled again and she forced herself to look up over her knees.

The beast stared back at her. Curled up on the ground ten feet away, he had the look of a dog on time-out. He knew he had done something wrong. Pain etched across his face and it only gripped her heart tighter.

Why did it hurt her so much to see him in pain?

She knew why. She knew what it felt like to hurt. To be rejected by those around you. To be ignored. To feel inferior.

To feel alone.

“I want to go home,” she finally murmured.

Those gray eyes looked away.

Dismissed.

Emotion crept up her throat. “Please. I want to go home.”

His ears flicked toward her, then away. Now, he wouldn’t look at her.

She hung her head, took a deep breath, and released it.

“I can’t be your mate. I’m sorry.”

Why did it ache so much to say that?

His throat rumbled in disagreement before he pushed himself up on all fours and stalked away, head low and tail slightly curled between his legs.

Was he leaving her now?

Uncertain, she lowered her legs to the earth and slowly moved to her hands and knees when he whirled around and pushed her down to the ground. Massive jaws snapped only inches away from her face before clamping together, lips pulled back and teeth bared. He growled harshly, nostrils flaring, his heavy breathing blowing loose strands of hair from her face.

Fear gripped her as she stared into stormy gray eyes as his growls subsided and his heavy breathing lessened.

Blinking, the anger disappeared as his ears flattened. Sadness returned as he looked away and climbed off her.

Sniffing, he looked down at his paws and then back at her.

New gashes on both of her shoulders had his tail tucking underneath him and his head hanging low to the ground.

She touched the sting on her left shoulder and saw blood on her fingertips.

He hurt her again. Whether intentional or not, he was a lycan and he was out of control, as the rumors said.

If she didn’t get away soon, he could take her by force and claim her, or kill her.

She’d never get away if he never let her out of his sight. She had to give him a reason to leave.

That didn’t seem possible. He was determined to stay near her. She already blew her chance at running away, there was no way he’d risk her taking off again.

She had to get him to trust her. To make him think she had submitted to her mate like a good little she-wolf and do whatever he asked.

A shudder crept up her spine.

Whatever he asks within reason.

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