In The Shadows

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Seventeen

Hakota checked on me every day. He offered me food each time, telling me he'd take off the muzzle to allow me to eat as long as I didn't bite him and would let him put it back on. I hadn't moved at first, so he'd taken it as a sign of my complacency and had unbuckled the muzzle. The moment the thing was off my head I sprung.

My jaws snapped at his face and I sent him smashing onto his back as I pinned him to the ground and dug my teeth into his shoulder. I had failed to notice the collar in his pocket which he snapped around my neck. I had put up a good fight and got a few more deep wounds into his body before he was able to throw me off him. With the collar around my throat he hauled me by the neck and then chained me to the hook bolted in the ground. The muzzle found its way back onto my head and my food was kicked away as Hakota slammed the gate behind him.

He didn't make the same mistake again.

I rejected his food each day after.

He was growing increasingly infuriated with my antics. He would try to get me to eat and I would only try and snap at him in response. I knew it was upsetting to his nature. His wolf wanted to provide for me but because I was rejecting his offering, his care, his wolf felt useless and unnecessary. Nothing was more terrifying than a rejected alpha male on a rampage. Hence why it had become customary for the mates to share food to satisfy their wilds. It was seen as an action of love I only saw it as weakness.

Females had more use than simply bearing pups and performing chores around the pack. They could fight and they could lead as well as any male. I had every intention of showing my mate I didn't need him.

The fifth day without food, Hakota sent Roshan to me instead on a little experiment. When the red haired lycan approached me cautiously with the food in hand I simply watched him. He placed the food down in front of me and showed me his hands, gesturing them towards my muzzle. I didn't give him a sign that I would hurt him or would encourage him.

His hands slowly came around to the buckle behind my head and undid the binding. The muzzle fell into his hand and still I did not move. He pushed the food towards me and I took a step forward. His hands shot up, showing me he meant no harm. I ignored him and ducked my head, scarfing up the food I had been longing for.

I let Roshan put the muzzle on without a fight, knowing my mate was watching and did it just to piss him off. The red haired lycan left without incident and I was returned to my solitude in the cage. Hakota came himself the next day, but unlike with Roshan, I fought him.

Hurling the dish at the side of the house, it shattered into pieces, the perfectly good food splatting on the ground. "Goddamn it! Damnit all!" He then proceeded to use some more colorful words as he stomped back into the house, knowing I would only reject food from him, because he was my enemy.

I had been in my wolf form for nearly two weeks, and each day I remained that way would only make the shift more painful. The first shift was always the worst, but if you went weeks without moving between human and wolf skin, the pain felt like a first shift.

I was napping one day, as sleeping had become the best way to pass time, when the scent of werewolves washed over me, brought by one of the cold winter gusts of air. They were all in human form as they walked to the house, no aggression or ill intent showing in their postures.

I climbed to my feet and watched the three of them enter the house belonging to the lycans. These wolves smelled of their territory, they were the ones who belonged here. They spotted me, but then again who wouldn't. I was in a metal enclosure off the side of the house, in clear view for anyone to see. I caught their eyes scanning over me, before they whispered to each other. I knew they were talking about me.

I was muzzled, collared, and caged, completely trapped and under the control of my mate. I was humiliated to be found in such a state, especially because I was a hunter being looked down upon by a bunch of werewolves. My fur rose along the ridge of my back in anger.

They approached closer, a few feet from the chain link fence caging me in. I sprang at them, my front paws hitting the fence as I snarled before the leash yanked me back, sending my sprawling on my back. I jumped back to my feet and did it again and again. The werewolves flinched at each of my attacks but didn't leave like I wanted them too. I just wanted to be left alone.

Apparently I'd been making a loud racket because my lycan mate had suddenly appeared by the side of the cage and slammed on the fence. I jumped, never sensing his presence. I hadn't even smelled him, too engrossed in my fruitless attacks at the werewolves watching me like a zoo animal.

I rounded on Hakota, rotating ninety degrees to face the side of the cage he was located on. My hackles were raised and I growled at him, the werewolves now forgotten. "Stop." He told me, using his alpha command to make me bend. The noise in my throat stopped, as much as I tried it wouldn't come out, I had lost control of my voice simply by a single word from him.

"What did you expect? You haven't eaten more than a single meal in days, you're too exhausted to fight me anymore, your body can't handle your ridiculous rebelling ways."

I tried to snarl but my throat had locked up, allowing no sound to emit from it. I wanted to howl in frustration, but the muzzle and my lack of voice kept me from doing that as well. I pawed at the ground in agitation and paced before him.

"Has it gone rabid?" One of the werewolves asked.

Hakota's eyes left mine for a fraction of a second to meet those of the speaker's. "That would make things much more simple." He grumbled under his breath before replying, "No. She's gotten this ridiculous notion in her head to fight me forever. She's painted me as her enemy and refuses to see otherwise."

"Your mate." One of the other werewolves guessed.

A curt nod from Hakota in conformation. "Though I wish otherwise."

I stopped my pacing. That despicable creature that was supposed to be my mate didn't deserve my attention any longer. From this day forth I would simply ignore him, pretending he didn't exist. I turned my back on him and flopped to the ground, curling into a fetal position promptly ignoring him.

The lycan alpha led his guests inside casting me a look. I could feel his eyes boring into my pelt and I wondered what he was thinking.

That night laughter could be heard continuously and the warm glow of light filtered through the windows of the cabin. The wind was merciless as it tore at my face and fur. I curled up tighter, whimpering for the warmth that was on the other side of the cabin wall.

The werewolves left the next morning, my mate with my breakfast right behind them. The cage door opened and the sound of his boots crunching in the snow alerted me of his very close proximity. "I have your breakfast should you want it."

The wind rustled my fur, but other than that no movement came from me. I didn't snap or bite at him because that would be acknowledging his existence. So even when he came around the front of me and crouched down, setting the food he had brought before me I remained still. When his hands reached around the back of my head and unbuckled the muzzle, letting it fall into his hand, I stayed motionless.

His threaded his fingers through my fur, rubbing small circles on my head for my good behavior. He thought I had given in, but on the other hand I had resorted to a new strategy. "Eat." He said his hand circling around my neck to the underside on my jaw. His fingers were gentle, how could hands bathed in so much blood, the blood of my mother, be so comforting, so beautiful? I stared off blankly into space, as if he wasn't before me, petting me. I never met his eyes, I looked through him.

His fingers tightened around my jaw, thrusting it up so that my eyes met his. "Eat." He commanded me, catching on that my defiance hadn't ended. He released me, forcing my face away. I resumed my previous position. "So now what? You're just going to ignore me?"

When I didn't answer him he grabbed me by my collar and yanked me forward, before pulling the leather band through the loop and releasing me from its hold. He then snatched up the plate of food and opened up the gate, swinging it open and gestured for me to go. "Come on then. If you are going to sulk, sulk in the house."

I didn't even raise my head. My rump remained facing him as if he hadn't spoken. If he thought he could trick me, he was wrong. "Fine then. Continue to act like a child." He spat and nearly ripped the door leading into the cabin off its hinges. He had left the gate behind me open and had taken the muzzle and collar with him.

A small amount of satisfaction filled me with pride. I had won this round and I had every intention of winning each round after. I waited a good twenty minutes after Hakota had left before I got to my feet. I forced my body to shift and immediate pain shot through every inch of my body.

My muscles tore as my bones split and reformed. My spine shot upwards as a series of painful cracks sounded, echoing through the mountains. Burning pain shot from the pads of my paws to the tip of my nose. A howl of agony ripped from my throat, the wolfish sound morphing into a human scream.

I lay curled up in my naked human skin on the ground, steam rising from my body and melting the snow around me. I stayed curled in my fetus position, my fingers clenching and unclenching in a motion I hadn't made in over two weeks. I was panting heavily, the shift having taken the remaining energy I had, my lack of nourishment taking its toll on my body.

I groaned as a colossal headache pounded through my skull. Forcing myself up, one limb at a time I was finally able to stand, swaying on my feet. Each step I took forward had me stumbling several to the side. I finally reached the cabin door and pulled it open, stepping inside and sighed in pleasure as the warmth hit me like a wave.

I closed the door behind me, sealing of the raging winter air and sank against it, sliding to the ground. Sleep pushed at me, wanting to consume me. Forcing my eyes to stay open I spotted a gigantic stone fireplace, a fire roaring within it. A stack of blankets was placed in a wicker basket, calling to me.

I crawled on my hands and feet, not having the energy to stand again. My fingers clutched the warm blanket and I hauled it around my shoulders, incasing myself in its inviting warmth. I curled up before the fireplace and let myself sleep.

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