Raiden doubled over and slapped his knee, pointing mockingly at Sol.
“Shut up, asshole!” Sol grit out. He tossed his notebook down and crossed his arms over his chest.
Artemis picked up the discarded book and fought a smile. “Raiden, don’t be mean. Sol is trying to...” she tripped over laughter.
Sol frowned. So what if he couldn’t speak Raiden’s mystery language? At least he was trying!
“I can steal your girl just fine with English,” he warned.
Raiden sobered up immediately. He pointed at Sol with his pencil. “Keep testing me and I’ll drag you into the forest. Trust me when I say that you won’t be coming back out of it.”
Artemis jumped to her feet and threw her arms over Raiden’s shoulders. “Professor, how can I say ‘I’m yours’?”
Raiden’s free hand settled on the small of her back. It took some effort to tear his eyes from Sol’s amused ones.
He smiled down at Artemis. “Ti va.”
Artemis licked her lips, unknowingly taunting him. “Ti ha,” she tried. The mistake earned her a frown.
“What’s wrong?” she asked immediately, desperate to bring back the lighthearted aura.
Sensing the need for privacy, Sol rose to his feet. “I’ve gotta go talk to Zena and Lukas about some investments... thanks for the lesson chief,” he nodded at Raiden before he collected his notebook and started walking away.
“Don’t forget to do your homework!” Artemis called after him.
“Fuck that,” Sol snorted as he exited the house.
“So?” Artemis urged as she leaned in closer. “What’s on your mind?”
Raiden looked at the nearest wall. There was still some anxiety attached to opening up but it was dwindling down with time.
“What you said translated to I miss you, not I’m yours,” he explained.
Artemis didn’t understand. “What’s so bad about I miss you?”
He tried to exhale the sadness in his gut. “This language I’m teaching you two belonged to my tribe. Everyone is long gone. I’m all that remains.”
Artemis sighed. She hated when his depression surged.
“I miss them,” Raiden admitted with a small, torn voice.
She rested her head on his shoulder. “I know and I don’t blame you. Just remember that you’re no longer alone. You have us now.”
“Yeah, we’re one big happy family, aren’t we? A mother-in-law that wants me to impregnate you, a father-in-law that wants to decapitate me, and I guess Sol can be the house pet.”
Artemis laughed. “Don’t be so mean to Sol. I know you missed him terribly.”
Raiden’s breath hitched. “Wipe that from your memory. We don’t need to inflate his ego. I mean it,” he ordered sternly.
She pulled away from his embrace. “Fine. Now, how do you say ‘I want to introduce you to the pack on Wednesday’?”
“What? Wednesday? That’s two days away,” Raiden hesitated. He had been wary of this moment because he knew that it would bring a package of rejection to their front porch.
Artemis nodded. “We can’t hide you forever. People will keep discovering you. You’ve been in the shadows for too long, Raiden. It’s time to step out to the frontline. You’ll be an alpha soon.”
He knew that. Damn it. He knew that he was supposed to rule the people that considered his kind to be a group of degenerates. But he wanted to evade the title and frustration that came along with it for as long as he could.
A growl poured out of him. “Fine,” he ground out.
If becoming Alpha and getting terrorized by his insecurities were needed to be with Artemis, he would oblige.
He would do anything to be with his raven.
The dreaded day was here.
Artemis was running around the house in a beautiful white sundress with her hair straightened and her face painted with light makeup. Her lips were free of lipstick since Raiden practically ate it off her when he kissed her.
“Ready?” she grinned at him from the kitchen.
He looked down at the white dress shirt that he stole from Sol and his black pants. The outfit was not accompanied by a tie or jacket. He hated how constructing the additional layers felt. Psychologically, he had an irrational fear of losing his newfound freedom.
“I guess,” he answered blandly.
Artemis sprinted to his side, trusting her heels to not snap under her speed. She bent down planted a kiss on his lips to erase his pout.
Raiden retaliated by pulling her to his lap, resting his palm over her thigh. The cotton material of her dress felt flimsy under his fingers. With a single slide, his hand could be under her skirt and past her panties.
If he brought her over the edge by simply playing with her breasts, he could only imagine how long she would last with his fingers flicking her clit.
“We need to go, Raiden,” Artemis mumbled but made no effort to pause their make-out session.
The only place Raiden wanted to go was inside her guts.
He licked her lip and pulled her closer to his chest, making sure that her ass stroked his excitement to let her know that meeting werewolves was the last thing in his mind.
Artemis had the daring nerve to rotate her hips. Raiden growled with contentment. His palm moved to her chest and squeezed one of the soft pieces of heaven. Artemis moaned, reminding him that her breasts were incredibly sensitive.
Raiden’s hand slid down her waist. He had every intention of finding out if her ass was as soft as her tits.
A knock on the door destroyed his agenda.
With a gasp, Artemis squirmed off his lap.
“One second!” she called out to the visitor that Raiden was considering burying.
She ran into the nearest bathroom and wiped the evidence of her arousal. After fixing her dress, and perfuming herself, she walked back to the living room.
Raiden stood by the door looking more sullen than usual. She chuckled giddily before opening the door.
“Hey Artemis,” the beta of the pack greeted.
Artemis grinned at him. “Hi Gerald, this is Raiden.”
Gerald smiled at Raiden. He had been prepared for the news of his identity by Zena so he wasn’t blown away by the fact that he was a lycan. “Lovely to meet you, Raiden.”
“Likewise,” Raiden replied curtly.
Gerald turned back to Artemis. “I know I’m early but Zena is... she’s being Zena.”
Artemis sighed, picturing Zena running around like a madwoman. “I think we can start early. We’re ready,” she assured.
Raiden grumbled. He didn’t want to start early. He wanted to use their spare minutes to dive under her skirt.
Artemis smirked at his obvious frustration before tugging his hand into her own and beginning the walk to the gathering.
The sound of chatter got louder as they neared the middle of the territory. The territory consisted of four pack houses. Most of the 400 pack members resided in it, but a stray few lived among humans. All pack members over the age of 26 were expected to work and pay taxes to their alphas.
Raiden read all about the pack’s history. Zena and Lukas had forged their packs into one when they mated, making them one of the most prosperous on the continent. All of their assets would pass to Artemis when she got crowned as the new alpha.
To Artemis and to Raiden.
He was a smart man; he knew what was coming his way. So why did he feel cringe-worthy nervousness when he started spotting the pack members that he would soon rule?
His hands began to clam up as he began predicting their reactions.
They will hate Artemis.
I will ruin her reputation.
She is my blessing but I am her curse.
His breathing began to struggle, but his legs refused to stop. He was tired of stopping. As his body tore itself apart, he recalled Artemis’ words of encouragement.
“We’ve made it so far. Keep walking forward. I’ll be right beside you.”
Right, left, right, left. He will never cave into fear again.
Heads turned as people recognized his distinct scent. Werewolf parents clutched their children to their sides to protect them from the evil in the area. Mutters began buzzing as people began retelling the infamous legends, tales, stories, and myths of lycans.
But Raiden kept walking.
“Remain calm, please,” Zena called out from the platform in front of the crowd. Lukas stood beside her with arms crossed and lips pursed.
Artemis rounded the corner and walked up the small steps, smiling at a few friends that she recognized. Raiden followed after her, more vigilant than usual.
He saw hate everywhere. Hate from the old, from the young, from the weak, from the strong.
“Thank you all for coming,” Zena began. “We summoned you here today to make a very important announcement. A few months ago, your soon-to-be-alpha found the greatest gift a werewolf can receive... her mate.”
That’s all that was needed for Raiden’s bubble of expectations to pop. The pack members connected the dots and started to spew so much anger and fear that it was impossible to decipher what they were specifically saying. The gist of their message was clear, though: Raiden was not welcome.
“Alpha Zena, he is a lycan!” a middle-aged werewolf in the front screamed out the obvious.
“Calm down,” Zena ordered, but the command bounced right off the shield of hate that the crowd built up.
“Settle down!” Zena tried again with more force.
“Lycans are psychopaths!”
“He will never be my alpha!”
“Go back to hell, demon!”
Raiden remained stoic as the insults, threats, and demands that he had heard a thousand times before attempted to run him off.
His calm became a storm when an unidentifiable item was spewed out of the mass of fury. It was meant for Raiden, but ended up bouncing off Artemis’ face instead.
The cut it left on her skin was insignificant but the dent it left on Raiden’s control was monumental. With the roar of a murderous god, he exploded into his lycan form and prepared to plunge into the crowd.
Gasps of horror evaporated the crowd’s anger. Artemis latched onto his arm tightly before he became the monster that they accused him of being.
“Raiden, it’s nothing,” Artemis said firmly.
His ear twitched with recognition of her voice but his scowl didn’t falter. He made eye contact with Sol who shook his head slowly, warning him that he was about to make a mistake.
“I’m right here,” Artemis whispered.
He turned to face her. There was blood on her cheek but the small cut had already healed. He looked down at his monstrous claws and then back at her injury. Wanting to caress her, he shifted back to man and sank to his knees.
With her hips in his hands, he buried his face in her stomach, wordlessly asking for forgiveness.
Artemis placed a hand on his shoulder and the other stroked his hair.
With silence, the crowd watched the dangerous lycan become nothingness under Artemis’ care.