In The Shadows

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Eleven

Water was trying to force its way into my lungs. My hands slapped at the ice beneath them. My head was ripped from the ice cold water and his lips were close to my ear, his warm breath fanning my neck as he said, "stop fighting Cleo. Just give in. Accept it."

"Get your fifthly hands off me." I growled, my vision blurring with anger. I spit out the last of the water from my lungs onto the ice around me that was streaked with blood from my bruised and bleeding fists where I had banged and smashed the surface to get free and lift my head above the arctic water.

My head was shoved back under water. I thrashed around trying to throw him off, but his grip was too tight. When I felt myself loosing consciousness I was pulled back up. His lips were by my ear again. "Give it up Cleo."

"Never you bastard, I will never stop!" I screamed, fighting against him.

He sighed, "Cleo, Cleo, Cleo. When will you learn to accept that our mating bond isn't something you can fight?"

My coughing subsided enough for me to say, "I'll accept it after I bury a knife in your neck and watch the life drain from your eyes!"

Back into the ice cold water I was thrown.

I woke up with a start, sitting up straight, my heart beating rapidly in my chest. I ran a hand down my face, and my fingers came away slick with sweat. It was just another nightmare. The third one this week. They had started on the summer solstice each one reminding me that my time was slipping out.

Two months. I had two months before he came from me.

I tossed my blanket aside and padded down the stairs to my fridge. I blinked, adjusting my eyes to the light of the fridge. I pulled a beef stick from the drawer and leaned against the counter as I tore off a piece with my teeth. I exhaled a breath. I had to be ready by then. I had to prove to my father that I could do it. I had to show him that I could kill my mate or he wouldn't let me go. He would fight for me and force me to hide away.

Our plan was to let Hakota take me. It had taken many fights with my father to convince him it was best to let me go with him. To do it by myself, my way. He wanted to just kill the lycan and be done with it, but I knew that's what Hakota would expect and he'd be ready for it. He would be ready for a fight, or to find me gone, so we had to give him what he wanted.

"I thought I heard you up." My father said, standing in the archway between the living room and kitchen. He was standing in nothing but a pair of sweatpants, his arms crossed over his bare chest as he leaned against the wall.

"Nightmare." I said and he nodded. He didn't know they were about Hakota. I felt that if he knew he would never let me walk out of here with Hakota. I hadn't even told Grey, he would flip out and tell my father. So I had only confided in Coda. He told me that dreams were sometimes premonitions and that I needed to be careful in what lay ahead. That had only made the nightmares worse.

"It's not too late, you know." He told me quietly.

I pointed my beef stick at him. "Don't." I warned before ripping off another piece with my teeth.

"I don't think you're ready." He told me honestly, pushing off the wall and opening the fridge to pull out the jug of chocolate milk. I opened the cupboard above me and handed him a glass.

"I'll beat Coda soon dad. I am so close. Once I can do that, I can do anything."

My dad shook his head as he poured the milk into the cup. "I don't think you need to beat Coda to prove you're ready, I think you would be able to do it now."

I shoved the rest of the beef stick in my mouth and crossed my arms. "Really?" I asked with my mouth full. My father gave me a disapproving look for my lack of manners. I swallowed and then swiped the glass of milk from his hand and drained it before handing it back to him. "I don't believe you."

The alpha took the glass form my hand and poured another cup which he drank himself. "I think you could have all of the battle skills training in the world and still not be ready." I frowned and was about to protest but he held up a hand, "I am not saying that you are weak, Cleo, but you underestimate the mating bond. With werewolves there's a pull, that can be ignored, but not for very long. For lycans though..." He set the glass in the sink and put the milk carton back. "It is more than just the need to..."

"Fornicate." I supplied him, seeing that he didn't really want to just say what it was.

"Reproduce." He corrected me. "Don't be crude, Cleo."

"That was hardly crude. If I was crude I would have just said f—"

"It's more than that." He cut me off. "With lycans the pull is to connect two halves of a whole. A lycan's mate is the other half of their soul, to withstand the pull can be very painful. You will get swallowed by lustful hazes, and you might be able to snap yourself out of it, but it could be too late by then."

"So you don't trust me to carry this through." I accused him, hurt and anger creeping into my tone.

My father bristled at my accusation. "It's not your fault Cleo, I'm not saying it is, its just part of your nature."

"But I'm not a lycan dad! Who's to say that it will affect me in the same way?" I slapped my hand down on the countertop. He couldn't be doing this to me now.

"Because its what happened to your mother and I." He replied frustratedly.

I froze, the words dying on my tongue. "What?"

My dad squeezed his eyes shut and exhaled a breath. "Your mother was a lycan, Cleo. We met in a battle, our families killing each other." He leaned back against the counter, his hands gripping the granite. "We wanted nothing to do with each other and maybe if we had never seen each other again it would have been fine, just like you now. But my pack took her as a prisoner, as leverage against them if they ever attacked us again. She was locked in the cages outside and I would pass her a hundred times a day. She would curse at me and spit out her hatred, demanding to know how I could be so heartless as to leave my own mate locked up and starved." He must have seen the horror in my eyes because he grimaced. "I am not proud of that, Cleo, it was just easier at the time to pretend that I didn't care." He sighed heavily. "My whole being knew it was wrong. I was taught and trained to kill them, not love them." He looked up at me, through guilt filled eyes. "It was hard to accept she was my mate."

"Dad, I understand." I reached out and placed a comforting hand on his arm but he shrugged it off.

"I don't think you do, Cleo. The lycans were—are," he corrected himself, "powerful creatures. Centuries ago they were royalty. They were kings among the werewolves, and the King of Lycans was like a god. They were tyrants, terrorizing humans and werewolves, killing anyone who stepped out of line." He ran a hand down his face. "I didn't want to be mated to a creature like that."

"So how did you to fall in love? If you did at all?" I realized then that I knew nothing about my mother and my father. I didn't know if my mother had stood by my father's side, leading the pack or if I had been a mistake.

"My father didn't approve of the bond either, but my mother did. She thought our bond was sacred and she and I would always fight about it. Finally she told my father that she was letting the poor girl out and that if he had anything to say he could keep his mouth shut unless he wanted her to chop his balls off." He smiled at the memory. "She said it in front of the whole pack too. Needless to say, there wasn't really anything he could do, so he let her do as she wished. Irene always had people watching her, so she couldn't run and go back to her pack. Besides, the lycans were nomadic, they didn't stay in one spot too long."

"Your mother went against your father for a mate you didn't even want?"

My father frowned at me, "She didn't do it for me. She did it for Irene. My mother didn't think that anyone should be caged like an animal, lycan or not. She made fast friends with Irene and was always trying to push us together. She understood what we didn't. We needed each other, more than either of us knew. So she tried to get us to see that. We would be skinning animals together, or somehow seated next to each other at the bonfires and pack meals. The bond was always pulling us towards each other and even though all we ever did was fight and say hateful things, we were really just trying to disguise how we were really feeling. Your mother and I couldn't always keep it together and we had several heated sessions each one harder to pull away from. It became so painful to even look at each other that we got in a fight telling the other to just say the rejection. Neither of us wanted to do it and then it finally just happened. I marked her and she marked me. We hadn't even known what we were doing but it was done. After that we were able to tolerate each other, then we became friends and we fell in love. The lycans came back for her, even had the chance to take her back but she refused to go. Six months after you were born they came back and killed her for being a traitor to her kind."

"Dad." I breathed and enveloped him in a hug. "Why didn't you ever tell me?"

"Because I didn't want you to think any less of me." He glanced down at me holding me out at arms length, "And from the look on your face, I think that you do."

I quickly cleared whatever expression was on my face. "No dad, I would never think less of you. I just wish you had told me sooner."

He pushed me back gently. "I told you about your mother so now I need to tell you about Hakota."

"Hakota? Dad, what does he have to do with this?" There was exhaustion in my voice, everything always seemed to come back to him.

"He has everything to do with your mother's death." He growled, his eyes flickering black as his wolf took over for a second. "He pulled her heart from her chest, he's the one who sentenced her to death. Hakota said an example had to be made of her. He said that she was a traitor to her kind to rather bring another hunter in the world than her own dying breed. He convinced the lycans that she needed to die, he sent them after her. He's the reason you grew up without a mother."

And I had been pared with him? The White Goddess had given me a mate that had killed my mother? How could I possibly be the other half of his soul! Our families killed each other, it was in our genes to hate each other! I had to have done something terrible in a past life and was making up for it now because there was simply no other explanation for this match. The Goddess had messed up and now I was going to correct her mistake.

I placed my fist over my chest, "I will make Hakota pay for what he did to Irene, I promise you father I will destroy him." I had two months until he arrived, I had two months to prove to myself that I could complete this task. I had to months to show my father that I would avenge my mother.

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