“Daddy that hurts!”
A five-year-old Artemis gripped her hair and tried to pull the locks away from her father’s calloused hands.
“I’m almost done. Stay still,” a very agitated, very confused Lukas firmly ordered.
How did Zena braid this mane so easily? How could such a simple art render a man with an above average IQ useless?
The little girl sighed at his hopelessness. “Maybe you should get mom,” she wisely advised. Lukas had been trying to braid for months now and everyone except him had accepted that he would never master it.
Lukas groaned. For a second, he seemed like the child in the relationship. “I’m almost done,” he whined.
“Done doing what? Crafting the world’s tightest knot?” Zena asked once she graced her family with her presence. She plopped down on Artemis’ princess sheets and pulled her mate’s hands away from their child’s head.
Lukas watched with jealousy as she expertly combed Artemis’ hair. The girlflinched when the comb failed to run down a part of her hair. “Ouch,” she grumbled.
“Sorry kid but your useless dad did a number on your head. Didn’t I tell you to run if you ever saw him walking in your direction with a comb?” Zena chuckled.
“I did. But he caught me,” Artemis complained.
It was true. She had been peacefully watching Nickleodeon in the living room when Lukas appeared with a comb and a sly grin on his face which was usually an ominous sign.
She ran but was tucked under his arm a nanosecond later.
Zena felt Lukas’ hands pull her hair free from its constraining ponytail. He split the thick strands into three wide sections and tried to mimic what she was doing with Artemis’ hair.
She laughed. “Get off me. Go get dolls and try to practice on them,” she instructed.
“Daddy don’t use my dolls,” Artemis immediately cut in.
“I’m not using dolls. It wouldn’t be the same,” Lukas grumbled and kept his attention glued over Zena’s shoulder.
“You’re garbage,” his mate tells him.
“It’s not my fault that I have more experience pulling and fisting your hair than styling it.”
The innuendo flew straight over Artemis’ innocent head, but it slammed straight onto Zena’s cheeks, reddening them. She sent her elbow into his stomach but the attack only prompted a laugh which rippled through the pink room.
The family spent the next few minutes peacefully tending to each other’s hair.
Artemis’ childhood was abundant with love, laughs, and hair knots.
Unfortunately for her, none of these memories crossed her mind. Only endless questions. She remembered nothing. Where was she? Who was she?
She stumbled through a meadow, feeling itchy in her own skin because of the greenery that prickled her and her unfamiliarity with her body.
She tugged at her clothing in search of hints of her past. She found that her attire was monotone and loyal only to her amnesia. The plain lavender top and ripped skinny jeans stubbornly refused to give anything away.
Next, she twisted her arms in search of tattoos that told a story. She found nothing.
“Whose body is this?” a foreign, broken voice asked. It was hers. But the feminine sound was alien to her ears.
Her question was answered by a dark growl that was alarmingly close. She wasn’t sure what animal that was. All she knew that the only identity she was interested in discovering was her own.
Her feet shuffled in the direction of the road. The road which she didn’t recall steering away from.
She wasn’t given the chance to walk away. A bolt of flesh curved the corner and flicked her out of its trajectory without struggle.
The force that grazed her took her breath with it. Artemis’ already traumatized brain met all the corners of her skull and she lost all concept of balance.
She was on the ground now. So stunned and dizzy that she wasn’t sure if she would ever be able to get back up. She moaned and twisted around, testing to see if anything had broken. When she managed to sit up, her trembling palm moved her hair away from her face.
“No!” Wrath boomed.
The sound nearly knocked her back down. Her frantic eyes examined the wild, half-naked man standing before her. His dirty skin looked like it had seen better days. But the dirt and dried blood failed at cloaking his rugged handsomeness. Muscles coiled and rippled across his wide chest and long arms.
A modern tarzan. Or an attractive psychopath. She wasn’t sure which option he would bubble in.
The hair on his head was as dark as the eyes that were protruding out of his sharp face.
Wrath observed Artemis with equal bewilderment. The goddess gave him a mate? He was livid.
He couldn’t have her! He didn’t belong with normal people- even less with a beautiful, clearly vulnerable girl. She seemed to be in her young twenties; inexperienced in life and unprepared for his monstrosity. He’d ruin her.
He threw his head back and pulled air into his lungs. “Take her back!” he commanded the now cloudy sky in his native tongue.
The murderous power of the fuming being reached the heavens. Luna heard his order... but she wouldn’t listen.
Artemis had no idea what the man’s war cry was about. But she didn’t need a language to recognize his tone of voice. This man was angry.
Wrath felt her curious orbs digging into him. His eyes dropped back to hers, clogged with hostility. If that pretty head of hers had any sense in it, she would get the hell away from him.
She seemed to read his mind and took a step back. She then paused, almost as if checking if he’d follow her. The only reaction that came from him was eyes drifting into a deeper shade of brown.
Artemis noticed this change. How did he...
A rush of memories thundered through her. Alpha, lunas, packs. She was a werewolf. But that’s all the information her brain unlocked. Which pack did she belong to? What was her position? Could this man take her to the nearest pack?
Desperate, fearful, and with a thousand questions to offer, she rebutted the step she just took by taking another one in the opposite direction. Toward the dirty, bloodied, sweaty, beast of a man that stood tall and charged with energy.
Wrath watched the mystery woman close the distance between them; doing the opposite of what his glare was ordering.
A damsel in distress or a suicidal idiot. He wasn’t sure which option she would bubble in.