In the Shadows

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Twenty One

The ground shook as my mate prowled towards me. He was a predator stalking his prey that was utterly helpless. I quickly looked around to see if anyone else could feel the vibrations he was sending through the ground but none of them seemed to notice. Perhaps it was my knees shaking then.

Many times, I had a chance to run, but I stayed frozen. Hakota was still prepared for a sudden sprint, I could see it in the way his muscles were tensed. It wasn't long before he stood in front of me, inhaling deeply, to smell what the bond wanted him to take. Extending a hand, he looked at me questioningly. I stared at his outstretched hand stupidly, not sure what he wanted from me.

"Dance with me." It was no request.

Normally, I would have spat at it, just because he ordered me to, instead of asking like every other male would have. However, I found myself wanting to dance with him. So I hesitantly grabbed his hand and was led back to the bonfire. It started off innocent enough, but as the flames grew brighter so did our souls.

The mate bond wanted to snap in place, but it couldn't unless we took action. Our minds were clouded, and for now, there was nothing but the other person. His hand was strong on my hip as he pulled me closer and closer. We danced to the beat of the drums, spinning around the fire. I could feel all of him, his heat, his scent, wrapping around my entire being. His hands began to roam over my body, I was too drunk on lust to care. When his nose brushed my neck, I still didn't care. But when I felt the scrape of his teeth I was abruptly aware of what was about to happen. With a mighty push, I shoved him away. My hand going to my neck, just to be sure I had caught him in time.

His eyes were blue now, telling me he had been in complete control of his actions, not his instincts.

I shook my head, my jaw clenching in anger. "Oh you..." I laughed but there was nothing pleasant about it. "Go screw yourself." I hissed and stormed away from him, so angry that I had nearly given in to the pull of mate bond.

One of his lycan buddies, came up behind him. I heard the whisper of his voice, even over the pounding of the drums and laughter and conversation on the celebration.

"What was that about? You guys were practically grinding on each other."

Not practically, we had, and now I reeked of him. A low growl rumbled in my throat. No doubt that had been his plan all along. He didn't want some male to think I wasn't claimed. Well, I would just have to convince some male that indeed I wasn't.

Scouting out those present I found myself wandering towards a bigger male who seemed to just be observing the festivities. I had almost reached him when I was grabbed from behind.

I was whirled around to face a pair of golden bronze eyes, that bored into mine. His fingers dug into my arms like he was scared to let me go. I hadn't seen this male before but as his eyes scanned mine, it seemed like he knew me. "You smell of that lycan." He informed me darkly.

"Well I'm not surprised considering that was his goal." I drawled sarcastically.

"You're mine, and you'll smell of me." He replied. "Won't you, mate?"

After that last word I finally connected the dots. He was my mate. I was fairly shocked, with this new piece of information, I never thought I would find a potential mate while I was with the lycans. But here one was. Laying my hand on his shoulder, I gave him my best sultry look and said, "Of course. Why don't we dance?"

"Sounds like a plan." He agreed but when I moved towards the fire, he stopped me. "After I mark you of course."

Hmm. How exactly did you tell your mate that if he wanted to keep his head on his shoulders, he'd better not? "Well, that might not be the best idea considering-"

It seemed he didn't care about it being a good idea because he moved the hair from my neck. At first I was going to stop him, but then I figured why not? It wasn't like we'd ever complete the bond anyway, and the mark would fade with time. In the meantime it would just piss Hakota off every time he saw it. It was a win and I liked winning.

His teeth just broke the skin when he was sent flying back, Roshan standing between us. He quickly glanced at the male in a heap on the ground before looking at me with a disappointed expression. "Cleo. You should know better. He's going to get hurt."

I shrugged. "I told him not to. He didn't want to listen. Besides I weighed the pros and cons and-"

"Ahh shit." He muttered coming closer to view my neck. His thumb pressed over the puncture wounds on my neck. "He got you." He looked around for any sign of Hakota. "You need to leave, Cleo. Go home, wash away the scent and bandage the wound with alcohol. It should mask the scent. I'll tell Hakota you-" he ducked just in time as my second mate swung his fist at his head.

"Get away from the female, lycan." He commanded Roshan. "You've invaded my territory and claimed my land as your own. You will not do the same with my mate."

This wasn't just any male, this was the alpha. He didn't seem to like the lycans that much and this was only making it worse.

"Claw, you need to go and you need to leave Cleo alone. If Hakota finds out what happened here, he will-"

"I will kill you." He answered for himself. We all whipped around to see Hakota stalking towards us. He seemed to have materialized from nowhere. He strode right past me, not even sparing me a glance. "Roshan, step away." The red haired lycan backed away without a word.

Hakota face the alpha who squared his shoulders and met him head on. "You marked my mate." His voice was deadly.

"I marked my mate. No claim was stated. I got her first."

"Well I suppose I'll just have to kill you now." He easily replied as if killing someone was no big deal.

"Are you challenging me?" The alpha demanded as they circled each other.

"What's there to challenge? You'll be dead in a matter of seconds." Before I could even open my mouth to protest, Hakota had my second mate by the throat and hurled him across the open ground. The drums faltered and people turned to see what was going on.

I stayed where I was, watching as Hakota advanced on the alpha, who was picking himself up from the ground, his eyes glowing as his claws shot from his hands. He jumped at Hakota and raked his claws down his chest. The lycan easily grabbed the wrist of the alpha and twisted, the snap echoing. There was silence now as everyone watched in horror as their alpha was taken down, Hakota ending him bone by bone.

The alpha was no match for the lycan, he was too angry to focus on what he needed to do, too blinded by rage to think logically. Although he got in a few hits, one a strong punch to the lycan's jaw, Hakota hardly had to move as the alpha continued to come at him. The alpha attempted to tackle Hakota but my lycan mate stepped to the side, sending his opponent stumbling forward. His hand pressed down on the alpha's neck, keeping his head below his back and with his elbow, broke the alpha's spine. I cringed at the gut wrenching sound.

His hand moved to the front of the alpha's neck and he hoisted him up in the air. "Know your place, alpha." He spat. "For it is not you who allows me to be here, but I who allows you. Stay away from my mate or I will erase your existence from this earth."

I hoped that this werewolf was smart enough to just agree and keep his life, but I knew that wasn't likely. He already hated the lycans and doing as Hakota ordered was not a possibility. My point was proved when he managed to say, "The female let me mark her, lycan. I can see that she hasn't permitted you to do the same." He laughed, a painful gurgling sound as blood dripped from his mouth. "I will also be the first to mate her and she will bear my pups. How do you like that, lycan?"

Hakota did not like that at all and he gave his answer by snapping the alpha's neck, ending his life before the eyes of all his pack members. At first it didn't quite register what had happened. He had killed the alpha, my mate, well a potential one, and these wolves had no alpha.

The werewolves around me seemed to be realizing their alpha just died but they didn't know what to do about that. Hakota rectified that, telling them exactly who would be the new alpha.

"Congratulations Fang." He hissed, spitting out the blood in his mouth. "You are now the new alpha." I gaped in horror as he threw the broken body on the ground turning to face the other werewolves present. It was dead silent, save the snapping of the fire. "Anyone else want to lay claim to my mate?" He bellowed, his voice echoing throughout the mountains. When everyone averted their eyes and took a few steps back with their heads bowed, he seemed satisfied that his point had been made.

Ever so slowly his head turned to face where I was standing with a shell shocked expression. "You." He snarled, his eyes ablaze with his fury. I swallowed and took a step back as he advance two forward. A low growl escaped from his throat as I continued backing away from him. When his eyes turned black with a blue ring in the center I knew I was in trouble. He had completely bonded with his wolf, making them one, and they both wanted to punish me.

Needless to say, I turned and ran, dashing through the territory I had no knowledge of. I should have known this would backfire on me. I had been too furious of Hakota's attempt to mark me without my consent that I wanted to punish him. I'd only punished myself instead.

The wild within me found it hilarious, believing I had gotten what was due for rejecting my mate countless times. It was unfair that I was getting all the blame considering Hakota had basically told me he wanted me for nothing other than giving him pups.

Shifting into my wolf skin I was able to run much faster and considering I had no idea of where I was going, speed would only help me. Unfortunately, Hakota seemed to have the same idea and his wolf form was bonded with his human, they were one being, one mind, one thought.

Catch his mate.

I didn't stand a chance, outrunning him. Hiding somewhere he couldn't reach me was my only hope, but while I scanned my surroundings for any place to help me, I wasn't focused solely on running and my pace dropped. I was bulled over by his huge form, flattened underneath him the breath pushed out of me.

I shifted in attempt to wriggle out from under him, but he was used to that trick and was ready for it and shifted himself. His hand slammed my shoulder back to the ground, a crack echoed through my bones. I cried out at the pain, irked that he was being a brute. There was no need to break my collarbone.

Our breathes mingled as we panted, me because I was out of breath and him because of his rage. "He nearly marked you!" He snarled in my face.

I glared right back up at him, there was no almost about it and I said as much. "He did mark me." I corrected him.

His eyes narrowed in to the incisor wounds on my neck. His eyes flashed with blinding fury upon seeing a claim on something that was his. "That pathetic thing?" He laughed cruelly, "Oh no. I'll show you a real mark." He bared his teeth, showing me his canines that he had every intention of sinking into my flesh.

"Oh get off me you brute." I huffed, pushing at his chest.

That only seemed to make him angrier, which I didn't think was possible. "So it's fine if he marked you without your consent but I can't?"

If I didn't know better I would think he was sulking. "No! You can't! We are supposed to hate each other, you and I. Can't you try a bit harder? I'm the one who's been doing all the work! I hate you enough for the both of us!"

He rolled his eyes and let go of me, sitting up so that he was perched on my hips. "Look, if we tried to get along things would be easier. I just need you to give me what I want and then you can leave. That's all I need from you."

I wanted to let out a frustrated scream, why didn't he get it? If he marked me, half the bond would be completed. The pull to mate would only intensify and if we were to mate, I doubted I would be able to kill him. That wasn't an option. He needed to die for what he'd done to my mother, what he wanted to do to me. I wouldn't give in to the pull, no matter how difficult it got. "Read my lips Hakota. No."

"I've complied long enough, Cleo. It's time for you to grow up. You aren't part of your father's pack anymore, his vendetta is not your own."

"I don't need your faults against my father to hate you. You locked me in a cage, muzzled me and collared me. You want to use me as a breeder and you just killed my mate!"

"I'm your mate!" He bellowed, slamming his fist on the ground. "And I'm your only mate."

"Well then start acting like one!" I shouted back. "Convince me why I should forget about my vendetta. Tell me why Roshan says I've been lied to my entire life! Tell me why I shouldn't want to be alone anymore!" My chest was heaving from the adrenaline that had flooded my veins. Hakota looked taken aback by my outburst, obviously expecting just a snide comment instead of the emotional reply I had given. Taking a deep breath I said, "You don't want a mate Hakota, but I do. Roshan was right, no one in my life has every been kind to me or treated me as family. I want that, and you won't ever be able to provide that."

Even though I may never admit it, though id continue to tell him and those around me that I hated him because of my mother, that I'd kill him in her name, I had changed my stance on things. I wouldn't kill him for my pack, even for my mother, I'd kill him for me. As long as he was alive, he would kill my other mates, my chance at happiness, for his own selfish purposes. He'd proved as much tonight when he'd killed that alpha without even considering how I'd feel. I knew he'd do it again and again until there was no one left and I'd be as lonely as I ever was.

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