In the Shadows

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When Hakota returned around six o' clock, he brought his lycans with him. I was sitting at the huge table, by myself eating a bowl of canned soup I had found in the pantry. They were talking and laughing as they entered, but when they spotted me, staring at them with my spoon raised halfway to my lips, the noise ceased.

I met Hakota's eyes and put the spoon in my mouth, closing my lips around it and pulled it out cleanly with a pop. Then I lazy let my eyes wander away and continued eating my food without acknowledging him. From the corner of my eye he flicked his head, the lycans dispersing.

My spoon clinked against the bowl as I scraped the edges. He was waiting for me to greet him, as was customary when the male of the house retuned. Since he was my mate, normally I was to brush cheeks with him, but I wasn't really glad to see him, so he would have to do without the display of affection I didn't have for him.

"I'm back." He told me.

"I can see that." I replied flatly, scooping out another spoon full of soup, keeping my eyes on the window in front of me.

When he finally seemed to accept that I wasn't going to move from my spot or say anything else he strode over to me and snatched away my bowl. I looked up at him. "Really? You're going to take my food?"

"It will spoil your appetite." He justified his childish actions.

"I'm a wolf, Hakota, I'm alway hungry. Besides, I don't see any meal I should be eating instead." I folded my arms on the table resting my chin on my hands.

"We are going to the full moon bonfire."

"Full moon bonfire?" I asked monotonously.

"It's common throughout the packs here. It's to honor the goddess and all her children." I resisted the urge to snort, no wonder we didn't celebrate it at home. It was a celebration to honor the lycans, who were said to be the 'children' of the moon. We'd be much more likely to celebrate the massacre of the lycans than their brith.

"You're going to a party to celebrate yourselves?" I sneered, licking my spoon clean.

Hakota's eyes followed the movement of my tongue and mouth. I smirked, he could hate me all he wanted, but he was still a male, and I was his mate. He couldn't help his lustful thoughts and desires.

Pulling it from my mouth and pointing the utensil at him I said, "Why how narcissistic of you." Then just to irk him further I licked the spoon slowly, knowing full well he was watching.

The spoon was ripped from my hand and flung across the room before I could even blink. He was griping the table so tightly his arms were shaking. I could see his claws had come out and were digging into the wood of the table. His eyes were rapidly dilating and going from gold to black. His breathing was ragged and with great effort he brought his eyes to mine. "Do not," he growled more beast than human, "tease me little wolf." His claws sank further into the wood, the table groaning under the pressure he was putting on it. "You will not like what happens." His eyes finally settled on blue as he took control, pushing down his wolf and it's want to mark and mate me. "Especially on a full moon." His voice was guttural. Then he ripped his hands from the table, taking pieces of the wood with him. Standing to his full height, he looked down at me. "Behave if you want to come to the bonfire tonight."

Because I just had to be a smart ass I provoked him. "Aww, can the big bad lycan not handle a little naughty behavior without bursting a blood vessel?"

He was across the table in a second, the full force of his body slamming into me, sending my chair backwards. I landed on the ground, my back digging into the toppled chair. Hakota's hand was around my neck. His pupils were fully dilated. "Learn to control your tongue, little wolf, or I will find something better for it to do." His voice was pure animal, deep and husky.

It elicited a delicious shiver up my body, my wolf purring in satisfaction. I immediately stomped on those thoughts telling my wolf to keep her horny thoughts to herself. Somehow through my racing thoughts of all of the very inappropriate things I wanted to do to him, I managed to glare back up at him with narrowed eyes. "You disgust me."

He laughed lowly, thrusting my chin up with the knuckle of his forefinger. Bringing his face dangerously close to mine I could see the mischievous gleam in his eyes. "Want to try and say that with a little more conviction?" He taunted.

I ripped my face from his light hold and shoved him off me. He let me, and got off, offering me a hand. Because I was an immature brat, I ignored it and got to my feet on my own.

"You won't be able to ignore it forever Cleo." He called after me as I moved away from him, needing to take a walk.

I knew that, I just had to resist until I killed him. Besides, neither of us wanted it, but our wilds did. They would push and push until we caved in. It would be harder for Hakota because he was a pure bred lycan, and mates were much more than a match for strong offspring. For him. Not for me.

In a flash he was blocking my exit. "You can sulk later, we have to go."

Huffing out an annoyed breath I gestured for him to lead the way. Once the other eight lycans had been gathered together we were soon making our way to the bonfire. The closer we traveled to the heart of the territory the stronger the scent of the pack became. I could feel eyes following us as we continued along, but no move was made to stop us.

The sun was setting overhead, painting the sky in hue of orange, gold and pink. The sun was a burning gold disk descending below the horizon, it was truly beautiful. In the distance I could see a trail of smoke trailing up and disappearing. The smell of burning pine alerted me we were probably close.

In one moment it seemed like the werewolves were just phantoms in the shadows and then in the next they were everywhere, milling around the open clearing where a bonfire was raging brightly already. People were laughing and dancing, some setting out food, others not able to wait and already starting to eat. A few glances were cast towards the group of lycans, but they were soon dismissed, some uncaringly, some disdainfully.

Ahh. So the lycans were not liked very much. It seemed that about half of the werewolves did not care for the lycans to be invading their gathering, while others didn't care. A few however were thrilled that the lycans had arrived and came over to the small pack and started to converse.

A few curious glances were tossed my way, I raised my lips in a snarl to warn them off and received a sharp pinch from my mate. He gave me a warning look, causing me to roll my eyes and walk away from him, to do some exploring. Hakota didn't come after me, but I knew he was keeping an eye on me to make sure I didn't do something insulting or stupid.

I inhaled the smell of burning pine, quite pleased with the scent and watched the flames dance. The bonfire rose twice my height, a strong warmth radiating from it. I looked around meeting the eyes of those who wished to know who I was and what I was doing in the company of the lycans.

As the night wore on and the sun fully set, allowing night to fall and the moon to rise, more wolves continued to flock to the bonfire. Soon everything was in full force and everyone seemed to have forgotten about me. The lycans were eating and chatting amongst themselves and some of the werewolves. Sani and Frayah snuggled together, while other mated werewolf pairs dance around the fire. I sat by myself a fare distance away from all of it. The snapping of the fire the only sound in the winter night. I had no doubt that the locust and crickets filled the night with their chirping in the warmer summer weather.

Overhead the stars were out, shining brightly beside the moon. I smiled softly, the stars would never change, they would always be the same wherever I went. It was the same sky I looked up at in my pack as it was here.

"They say that every star represents of one of the goddess's children." A voice beside me said.

Without turning to see who it was I replied, "There's too many for that."

He was silent for a moment before saying, "You came with the lycans but you distance yourself from them, why?"

A cruel smile crept across my face. Well that didn't take long for him to get to the point. "If it was any of your business, werewolf," I growled, turning my head slowly to face an older man with hardened features, "Then you would have been informed."

He didn't seem surprised about my hostility. "Very well." He replied unperturbed. "Then perhaps you can tell me your name instead? I am quite tired of hearing everyone refer to the mysterious female as 'the one who comes in the company of the lycans'." There was a trace of humor in his voice.

"Well that is a very long title, so I suppose I could shorten it for you." I replied wryly. "You can call me Cleo."

"Little Cloud." He returned.

I rose a brow. "Little Cloud?"

He chuckled, "I suppose its a bit strange to a foreigner but its much simpler than some of the other names around here, such as Sky of Brightest Blue, or Song of the Quiet Bird. Of course all of our names are shortened, most people just call me Cloud."

I looked at him for a moment before retuning my attention to the stars. He wanted something from me, everyone did. I didn't know what he wanted from me yet, but if he was going to waist my time by beating around the bush it was best for me to ignore him until he was willing to come out and say it. Cloud, seemed to know my train of thought but he didn't give me what I wanted. "Well enjoy the festivities, Cleo." He said and slunk back off to the ongoing celebration.

Not even two seconds later I as interrupted again. "I brought you some food."

I was about to snap at the voice before I saw that it was Roshan, and he was with Frayah.

"Hey guys." I greeted before turning my attention back to the sky and its infinite stars. The two lycans came around me and sat on either side.

"I used to look at the stars from my cell." Roshan began, titling his own head back to admire the beauty. "They gave me hope." He set the plate to the side and folded his hands on his chest as he stretched out on the forest floor to star gaze with me. "When the werewolves had me in their control, I didn't have anything but the freedom to see my future in the stars. Every time I looked at a certain one a face would be reflected back at me, showing me what awaited me if I could just hold on for a bit longer."

"I just see home." I told him, unsure why he was opening up to me and sharing something so deep.

"This is your home now, Cleo." Roshan told me. "And it will be if you let it." He rolled onto his side and picked himself off the ground, gesturing for Frayah to follow him. They returned back to the other lycans, leaving me with a plate should I want it. Of course I did, because no person with a wolf skin would reject food and soon ate the entire thing.

While I was doing so, I observed everything, some werewolves bonded together to talk about the lycans, shooting them scathing looks. I made a mental note of them, they could be helpful in the future, while others danced happily around the fire and enjoyed the celebration. I nearly choked on my chicken bone when I saw a she wolf sidle up to Hakota and tried to pull him to dance with her. She touched his chest and then turned around so her back pressed to his front and brought her arms around by his neck.

My wolf growled her jealousy but I pushed her away amused as he pushed her hands away and stepped back. The she wolf wasn't so easily deterred and she continued trying until he gave up and danced with her. My wild wanted me to tear her head from her shoulders but I just pushed those thoughts away. I wasn't jealous at all, this whole thing amused me quite frankly. He kept a good five inches between them which only made them stand out compared to all of the others who were basically on top of each other. She was only embarrassing herself.

A strong wind blew across the clearing, the wind shifting directions, the smoke now heading in the opposite direction. I was hit strongly with a sweet and overwhelming scent that knocked me backwards, making me jerk. Hakota stumbled back at the same time, his nostrils flaring as he scented the same thing I did.

The full moon was taking its toll on us, our wilds rising to the surface and urging us to do what we hadn't. He wanted to claim me and I wanted to be claimed.

Our eyes met.

The blue of his irises were swallowed whole by the black of his pupils, my only warning that he was losing control of his wild as he began to stalk towards me.

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