Artemis stalked around the woods. It had been hours since he’d left the dining hall. He’d shifted and had run, scoring his territory.
He was ready to talk to her about it and yet at the same time he wasn’t.
How do you reopen the wound that never truly closed? How do you place everything that is wrong with you on someone else’s shoulders?
Artemis curled up on the small front porch of his home and shuddered as the scent of his dead mate and pup filled his senses. He knew he needed to tell Angel, she deserved to know.
He didn’t want her to look at him differently, he didn’t want to see that pitied, sorrowful look in her eye. The same look everyone in the pack gave him.
He also didn’t want her staying with him because she felt she had to. Females had a mothering instinct, when they found a broken soul they were intent on fixing it, making it right. He didn’t want her staying simply because she wanted to fix him.
He wanted her to stay because she loved him.
The thought of asking her to be his mate had crossed his mind. Was he truly ready for that step though?
Honestly, he wasn’t sure.
His wolf had been joyous as the thought of making Angel his forever had crossed his mind. It seemed his wolf was ready to move on, he wasn’t forgetting about Emily but he was ready to have that mate bond again.
Laying his head on his paws he watched the early morning sky lighten. The dark blue blending with the light, creating the early morning shift. The stars were beginning to vanish, melting away as the light of a new day came forth. A light breeze ruffled his fur and his nose twitched as he caught the scent of a warm walking morning meal.
He couldn’t find it in himself to go hunting. Not without Angel.
He’d head back in a few, is what he told himself before his eyes drifted shut and he fell asleep on the front porch of his old home.
The dining hall was filled with laughter and heavy chatter as everyone cheered and boasted about Alpha Artemis’s win.
The challenge hadn’t been difficult. Alpha Normus had been a lazy wolf, it was a wonder as to why nobody had challenged him before.
Artemis walked towards the food table with a peaceful smile on his face, his shoulders back as he stood proud and tall.
He had everything going for him, he was young, handsome with a great caring personality. The only thing missing was his mate.
Taking his tray to his usual table he sat beside Malcolm and a was soon surrounded by more pack members. Artemis gave them all a radiant smile, his eyes shining.
After sending the previous alpha tucking tail into the woods and out of the territory, Artemis reigned with peace and understanding from then on.
“Alpha Artemis ” a female purred coming to place her hands on his broad shoulders. Her heart shaped face and fiery gold locks coming into view.
“Good afternoon Sophie, what can I assist you with today?” He asked giving her a sinful smirk.
“I have a very big problem” she drawled sounding sickly sweet, she leaned in close to his ear “I think I need your assistance in taking care of it for me”
He eyed his pack mates who were too busy chatting away to notice their interaction. Sophie was someone he’d dallied with before he became alpha, they’d grown up together and as their teen years had come around they’d become lovers.
They both knew nothing would come of it, as they both had mates out in the world but until then they simply helped each other out.
Nodding he finished the last of his food before coming to a stand. Tossing his tray away he began to lead the way to his office until Malcolm stepped in front of him.
“Alpha” he said appearing startled which wasn’t like him at all. Immediately Artemis went on alert, his body tensed and he stepped forward, ready to protect his pack, ” We have a problem in the woods. A trespasser.”
Sophie stepped away knowing the alpha was needed elsewhere.
Artemis didn’t glance back as he followed Malcolm out of the pack house and into the woods. The smell of flowers blooming and pine cones was strong, but the sweet smell of Honeysuckle overcame them all. His wolf purred and preened, his tail fluffed as he pranced around in the back of his mind.
Artemis picked up his pace knowing what that smell meant.
Two of his guardians were watching over the small curled up bundle of light black fur. The scent had led him to her. She was finally here.
Her ears twitched and she swiveled her head to look up at him. Her forest green eyes focusing on him before her body began to change.Malcolm and the guardians turned their backs as the blonde haired female stood on the forest soil completely naked.
She was beautiful. Her smile lit up her entire face, her eyes slightly squinted and her small little nose was as adorable as she was.
She let out a squeal and threw herself into his arms.
Artemis grinned and laughed joylessly, easily catching her and pulling her small body into his.
He cupped her face and they stood there, gazing into each other’s eyes for what felt like hours.
“I’ve searched for you” he said, his smile never dimming. He now had everything he’d ever hoped for, he wanted for nothing.
“As I have for you” she said, her voice smooth as milk. A wicked dark blush stole into her cheeks as Artemis bent down and captured her lips with his.
His soul reached for her as hers reached for him. His heart beat for hers as hers did for him. Their souls entwined, merging together.
He lived for her.
“My mate” he said.
“My mate” she replied kissing him back.
Artemis bolted up and ran headlong away from the house.
The sweet loving memories of his mate causing his stomach to churn.
His paws sunk into the mid morning soil. Artemis passed by trees, stepping over sticks and avoided snagging his fur onto large bushes. He followed the familiar path back to the pack house knowing what he had to do.
Artemis found Angel in the library. Of all places, he least expected to find her here. If he was honest, it was a place he’d never really ventured into. After this he probably wouldn’t ever again.
After shifting he had found Clayton and Malcolm who had informed him of Angels where abouts. He was surprised that he’d had to drag the information from Clayton as he didn’t seem to accept giving it to him.
He was becoming protective of her.
Although Artemis didn’t see or sense Clayton as a threat, he didn’t seem to view Angel romantically, still he’d have to keep a watchful eye on his beta. Angel was his, and should Clayton sniff his nose in her direction, Artemis wouldn’t hesitate to kill his beta.
So he found her tucked away in a small corner on the floor. Her back was pressed against the wall, her knees drawn up close to her chest as the book she read was being supported by her thighs.
She was so drawn into whatever fantasy land she’d escaped to she hadn’t smelt nor heard him approach.
“What are you doing hiding back here?” he asked before he let out a booming laugh as she screamed, her book flying from her hands as she clutched at her chest.
“Shhhh” an old senior female wolf stressed from the next level below, unknowing that the alpha was present.
Angel glared at him, his oversized t shirt and running shorts making her look ridiculous, “You’re going to get me in trouble” she whispered angrily as she leaned forward to pick up her book.
“You can’t get into trouble” he said not bothering to lower his voice.
“Yes I can now get out before the librarian comes back and yells at me” she said shooing him with her free hand.
He smirked, leaning against the rickety bookshelf. He watched her eyes flicker over it as it wobbles slightly from his weight.
“I’m your get out of jail free card. She won’t yell at you while I’m here” he said.
Rolling her eyes she glanced back down at her page.
Artemis watched her with heavy eyes. She was so breathtaking. Her entire personality was what he loved the most. He also liked that she no longer tiptoed around him, or took his crap.
“Angel, I came to find you to apologize,” he said.
She made a small sound in the back of her throat as she continued to read. Her attention and focus obviously elsewhere. Scowling as he walked over, squatted down next to her and plucked the book from her grasp.
“Hey!” She yelled, completely outraged.
“Shhh!!” The old librarian scolded again.
Running a tired hand across her face, she faced him and held out her hand, “give it back”
He shrugged, flipping through a few pages, catching a few key words before slamming it shut. He watched her flinch at the misuse of her book and wanted to laugh, but thought better of it.
“Not until you listen to me”
She crossed her arms across her chest and sighed dramatically, “ok?” She snapped. He stood up from his crouched position. Angel followed suite, coming to a stand.
His wolf was loving this fierce side of her. Something she’d never shown him before.
“I said, I’m sorry”
" I accept your apology, now can I have my book back?” She asked impatiently.
He scowled and held it behind his back, shaking his head he said, “No, I don’t think so. I’m trying to apologize and all you seem to care about is reading your story”
Angel threw her head back and let out a frustrated moan, “Of course I want to get back to reading it! I can’t just start to read a book and stop, especially when I’ve been left with a cliffhanger!” She cried stepping forward, trying to grab the book.
Her body pressed against his as she tried to reach behind him. He chuckled and continued to keep it out of her reach. He was actually enjoying this.
“Artemis . Pleeeaaasseee. I promise to listen to you once I’m done” she begged.
His gray eyes watched her and then widened as she stood on her tip toes and planted an open mouthed kiss on his neck.
She was playing dirty.
She planted another and then another until his body tightened with need and want.
He growled and pulled his arms from behind his back to wrap around her. His mouth met hers and they shared a passionate sensual kiss.
He pulled back first and he nodded, “Fine. But you have to read to me” he said.
She smiled, her green eyes shining at him, “deal” she said grabbing the book from his hand and settling back down.
Artemis ended up laying on the floor, his head in her lap as she read to him. Her voice was so calming and light.
His body relaxed, despite the uncomfortable floor. She told a story about adventure and love. The heroine knew she was dying of cancer and continued to lead a wonderous life. She met someone and they traveled together, until the cancer began to take her and she became very ill. Her lover took care of her until she passed.
Angel was in tears by the time she finished the book.
“Why do you cry over characters that aren’t real?” He asked.
“Because they’re real to me. I put my heart and soul into reading my books, I become emotionally involved and should a death or heart break happen then it affects me as well” she said wiping her eyes.
“It shouldn’t. They’re fake Angel. It’s not real” he argued.
“You May think that way but I don’t” She sniffled before scooting his head off of her and coming to a stand. He came to his feet and followed her as she reinserted her book where she’d found it.
She turned to him and smiled, holding out her hand.
His heart quickened and he found himself smiling as he put his hand in hers and followed her out of the library.
“So what is it that you wanted to talk to me about?” She asked
He sighed, his earlier speech long forgotten, “i, um, I wanted to apologize for being so rude yesterday. I shouldn’t have snapped at you or stormed away. It’s just a sensitive topic” he said his eyes sweeping across the vacant hallway.
She tugged slightly on his hand, “you know you can tell me anything”
He nodded, grateful that he’d come across a female like her, “I know but in this case. I’d like to show you if that’s alright”
He had to take this step. If he was ever going to move forward, this was the move he’d have to make.
He wasn’t fully ready but he had a feeling he would never truly be.