In The Shadows

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Thirteen

The wind whipped at my fur. My paws pounded across the forest floor, the snow biting at my eyes and nose, raining down in icy shards, the wind and my fast pace making them sting. I shook my head to try and clear the icicles that were collecting on my fur.

He wasn't far behind. My wolf could feel it and not for the first time I was beginning to think running hadn't been such a good idea. It wasn't like my father would be able to protect me from him if I reached the main center of the pack. I was probably better off heading for a patrol, but I didn't want them involved. Now I had given him a chase, exciting both of our wolfish natures.

My ears flicked and turned, trying to pick up any unusual sounds. I looked over my shoulder to see if he was close behind me. There was nothing, which only made me more uptight, wondering where he could have gone. I threw back my head and howled, sending a signal to all of my pack. I was cut off in the middle of my howl as a huge body slammed into my ribs. I was knocked off my paws and went rolling, the wolf that tackled me going down with me.

I twisted my neck and sank my teeth into a leg. Blood filled my mouth as I pulled, ripping the flesh and head butted my assailant in the chest. The weight lifted off of me for a split second, just enough for me to untangle myself from the wolf on top of me. However, his paws slammed back down on the ground beside my head. With him standing above me, I on my back in a submissive gesture, he dipped his large head into my face and growled, his eyes alight with humor. I let out a snarl of my own and bared my teeth at him.

The black wolf above me nipped at my ear, much to my annoyance. I barked at him and thrashed around under him, flattening myself to the ground and tried to army crawl away from him. I didn't get very far before his teeth clamped onto my scruff and he picked me up like newborn pup. It was pretty easy for him too because he was twice my size.

I shifted into my human form for no more than a second, leaving him holding nothing but air. The moment I hit the ground, I was back in my wolf form and running as fast as I could away from him. I howled again to warn my pack that they were here and felt teeth snapping at my tail trying to silence me. I picked up my pace and felt the fur rip from my tail as I yanked it from his mouth. An answering howl sounded not too far away, alerting me they were close.

I ran with everything I had, scenting my pack mates and ran towards them. When I saw the patrol I ran through them as they parted for me and then closed like a gate. Grey stood at the head of the patrol, his white and grey wolf glaring at the huge black wolf that had been chasing me.

The black wolf slowed and came to a stop before the thin line of six wolves, barring him from me. From our left a brown and black colored wolf shot past us, a white wolf with a dusty coloring tinting the white not far behind it. They swerved around to the back of the black wolf. The second patrol that had been chasing them slowed, seeing us. They joined our ranks and formed another row of protection in front of me. From the right two more lycans skidded to where we were, running around the back of our defensive line and around to the other two lycans. All three patrols were now facing off against the five lycans present. Enraged howls and barking rang through the small clearing as four more lycans came from the direction of our main camp. My father stepped from the trees, the rest of the pack warriors behind him. I wanted to scream in frustration. We had been lured here, to a place he had picked and now we were ready for a fight if need be.

My father spotted me and tossed the clothes he had brought at me. I shifted and quickly pulled on the jeans and the sweater. The black wolf in front of me shifted into a smirking Hakota. I wanted to slap that smug look off his face. He was in nothing but a black pair of jeans, his feet and chest bare. Lycans had the ability to shift back into clothes, through the little magic that still ran through their veins.

I maneuvered my way through the wall of hunters to stand beside my father who was facing off against Hakota. When the alpha of the lycans turned his attention to me, his smirk transformed into a lazy grin. "Hello, mate of mine, I did truly enjoy our little game of cat and mouse."

"Funny, I pegged you as a sore loser, and considering you failed to catch me I'm surprised to see you in such high spirits." My mouth ran it's course, but instead of making him angry I only amused him.

"Who said the chase was over? I've got you right where I want you, cornered with nowhere to go."

My father stepped in front of me, pushing me back. "You are bold to bring my whole pack here."

The lycan shrugged and trained his eyes on me while saying to my father, "I have my mate with me, I am at my strongest."

"I wouldn't be so certain about that!" I snapped at him.

"Oh, so you are not going to come willingly then? Is a fight to be had?"

I ground my teeth together, regretting for the first time that we wouldn't be fighting. "I'll be going willingly," I gritted out, "but do not assume that means there will be no fight. I will fight you every minute I am with you." I told him, unable to hold my tongue.

"Cleo." My father growled, at me warningly then addressed the next issue, the lycan before me. "You may be taking Cleo with you today, lycan but I will not hesitate to bring war to you if she is harmed in any way."

Hakota looked me up and down, desire clouding his eyes. "Do not worry, hunter, she will be in good hands. She won't have any complaints before long."

"We'll see about that." My father said lowly.

Hakota looked at the wolves around me, unimpressed. "Well, if there are no further words to be exchanged then I'll be taking your daughter and going."

A pang heightened in my chest. I knew this was how it was going to be. Abruptly and coldly. I just hadn't expected it to be today. I had been on one of the patrols when I had caught a slight unusual scent. I had broken away to follow it and had found Hakota in his giant blue-black wolf form. I had high tailed it out of there, dashing madly through the forest to get away from him. What had started out as a normal day would now end as the start of a much different life.

I stepped in front of my father, turning around to give him a nod, both in a farewell and a silent reminder that this is what we had agreed upon and I expected him to follow though with. Then I met the eyes of Coda's wolf and did the same, giving him a thank you for being my mentor and an acknowledgement that I would not forget my promise. The final set of eyes I met were those of Grey. I gave him a small smile, my eyes telling him I will miss him and that he was too watch over my father for me while I was gone. A goodbye and thank you to my only friend through the years.

Raising my head high I walked up to Hakota and looked up into his eyes, tilting my head back further than I would have liked. "Remember your promise." I told him. "I come with you and you leave my pack alone and their territory."

Hakota smirked down at me. "I remember pup, as long as you remember this," He bent down and whispered in my ear, "If you try to run away from me, I will track you down and then I will come back here to this pack of hunters and kill as many as I desire while you watch." He then straightened. "Of course, I don't think that will ever need to happen, so don't fret." His eyes snapped over to my father's "If that's all the words to be exchanged we'll be on our way." My father made a dissaproving sound but didn't say anything further. Hakota took the opportunity before my father change his mind. "Shift and let's go we have waisted enough time as it is."

I shifted, the clothes tearing from my body and sent one last glance over my shoulder to my pack, standing in the snow watching as I left with the enemy.

We didn't get very far before the large black wolf that was Hakota turned in front of me, blocking my path. His wolf slunk around my own, sniffing at me, observing. He shifted suddenly, surprising me and I took a step back, shuffling my paws.

His eyes were blazing with what looked like anger and curiosity. The other lycans had all halted, awaiting orders. "Secure a perimeter." Was all he said, his gaze focus wholly on me. The other wolves left, spreading out in all directions to keep any wanderers away from their alpha. Or perhaps to catch me if I decided to run. I was still in my own territory and familiar with my surrounding, after all.

"Shift." He told me.

I bristled, not because I was embarrassed to show my naked body, I didn't care about that, but because he had told me the same thing not five minutes ago.

Shifting back in my human form I stood, brushing off my hands that were covered with mud. I stood at my full height and stared the alpha down.

His eyes roamed across my bare body. I crossed my arms but did not shrink from his gaze. Watching him carefully, I made my own assessment of him.

He was a foot taller than me, probably a little over six feet. Honed muscles were present nearly everywhere. He wasn't buff but rather lean. His muscles were there and very noticeable but not ridiculously huge. His hair was a mess of brown and blonde, perhaps the darkest color of dirty blonde I had ever seen. It was cropped, shorter at the sides but a spiky mess at the top. His eyes were blue, identical to those of his wolf's.

A large tribal tatoo scrawled across the right side of his torso. A swirling choas of black ink running up his ribcage and sneaking out further across his chest in some places. It wound around his shoulder one tendril crawling up his neck. The black ink tangled itself down his arm, crossing and twisting until it reached his wrist.

He drew closer to me, dragging his nose slowly down my neck before jolting backwards. He grabbed my arm and sliced a gash down my wrist. I yanked it away from him, hissing at the pain and tried to claw at his face with my claws that were now out. He blocked my attack with the back of one hand and sized my wrist back with the other, bringing it to his lips and licked the trail of blood now flowing from my wound.

He spat out my blood on the ground and glared down at me. His eyes were swirling with dark anger, my instinct to fight or run kicking in and had me twisting to get free from his iron grasp. "You're a hunter." He accused me.

I stopped my struggle and grinned wickedly at him, showing my teeth that held poisonous venom. "That's right." I smirked seeing his enraged expression. "Afraid?"

He gnashed his teeth in a show of dominance. "Of you?" He mocked me, scorn evident in his voice. "I am more afraid of a chipmunk than you."

I scowled at him, unless he was deathly afraid of chipmunks I was deeply insulted. I was much more menacing than a furry little creature like that. "I will have to rectify that." I told him simply.

"How can you be a hunter?" He demanded, throwing my still bleeding wrist from his hold. "There are no female hunters!" His eyes were continually changing from blue to black, as if they couldn't decide who was more in control. His wild, or himself. Black veins struggled to crawl up his neck and down his eyes as he pushed back his raging wolf. "Why does it have to be you?" He shouted at me, like I had been the one that decided I was to be a hunter.

I raised a brow, "So does this little tantrum you are having here mean that you reject me and I can–"

He was on me in an instant, the heavy weight of his body slamming down on top of me, his hands pinning my shoulders to the ground. "Never." He snarled. "I am no fool to reject the power that comes through the bond. Even if you are an abomination to the wold. You're a female hunter, a disgraced to both wolves and hunters."

"Oh I'm so sad. You hurt my feelings." I replied sarcastically. Having quite enough of this I shifted into my wolf and flipped to my side, escaping through his arm. I pulled myself up onto my paws and trotted away from him and continued in the direction we had been traveling, leaving my pack and my past behind me.

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