I was a mess inside, no better than I was on the outside.
Hakota humiliated me by carrying me back like a cute little kitten he'd found, walking straight through all the werewolves who were still dazed about the turn of events. He refused to let me turn into my human form, my guess was because even though I didn't mind nudity, he apparently did. I hadn't fought him on it because I'd rather be carried in wolf form than human form. Something about the way his skin on mine felt scorching hot told me I was at risk of another faze of crazed lust. Being in my fur was safer even though I hated how small I was in his arms. I was like the size of a husky not a mighty wolf and nowhere near the size of a lycan. I hated the reminder of it every time I was in my wolf form.
Eyes followed us as Hakota stomped his way back to the house. He wouldn't put me down when we were far away from everyone else, maybe he thought I'd run back there and seduce another male to mark me. From the way he was grinding his teeth and tightening his grip on me every now and then I knew he was still thinking about the alpha he brutally decapitated.
His anger was obvious enough that no one approached or came back to the house with us. He shifted me around so I was tucked under his arm and opened the door, pushing it open with more force than necessary. "Pull a stunt like that again and I'll do worse than just kill the male." He warned me when we were in the confines of the log house. I would have rolled my eyes if he could see it, but since he refused to look at me it would have been a waisted effort. "Was my offer so terrible that you'd rather just throw yourself at any male who wants to mate you? Are you so desperate for love because Daddy never gave you any?"
Hurt pierced through me at his words. They rang with a little bit of truth but he had no right to basically call me a whore and talk about my issues with my father. I wasn't in the mood for another fight anyway so I just weaseled my way through his arms and scampered up the stairs to my room and changed into my human form, locking the door behind me and dissolved into a sobbing mess on the floor.
I wasn't crying because of Hakota's brutal and attacking words or even crying because of the werewolf that Hakota killed—he seemed like a jerk anyway—I was sobbing because the mate bond was making me a hormonal weeping female.
My emotions were going haywire, the death of a potential mate, the attraction I felt towards Hakota and his sexy yet over the top show of dominance, the anger I felt towards his unfeeling attitude, knowing I was alone, all of it together was overwhelming.
My father had warned me this would happen if I didn't act fast enough. The mate bond was battling against my Hunter instincts and as of now, the bond was winning out. I had yet to come up with a plan for Hakota's demise. Hell, lately my mind was more occupied with finding ways to annoy him so I could see his jaw flex in anger. I found it adorable that he tried so hard not to just snap at me even though in the end he'd explode on me anyway.
That was another thing. I was beginning to notice things about him that I shouldn't be. I shouldn't be watching how his eyes seemed to shift between shades and darkened with his emotions and which ones signified what mood he was in. I should be studying his habits, his movements and what was the best way to take him down.
My father placed this burden on my shoulders. He trusted me to do this because I told him I could. If I failed, I'd make him look weak in the eyes of my pack. I couldn't shame him like that. But no matter how many times I told myself to push the bond away and focus on my task, it just hit me harder. Tonight was proof enough of that. We had been so close to going through with the marking and mating right there in front of everyone. My judgement was clouded and my mind was fogged with feelings like lust and even a bit of joy rather than hate and anger when I was around him. It was like his scent was a drug that switched my brain over completely and wanted me to just give in.
Which was just stupid.
Give in? Give in to what? Hakota wouldn't make me part of the pack, he wouldn't treat me like a mate. I was a breeder for him when he wanted and the rest of the time he wanted me far away. The mate bond would hurt me more in the end, so why did letting it run its course seem like such an appealing idea? It just seemed easier and flooded my head with thoughts of how I'd be happier but I knew I'd just be more depressed when he pushed me away.
No. I was better if I just hated him, if I could remember what he'd done to my mother, my pack and me. If I would just keep those thoughts at the front of my mind, reminding myself of them every time I was near him then I wouldn't keep feeling these things and thinking these thoughts.
I had a mission to do but now I was hesitant to carry it out. Even though I still held a strong dislike towards Hakota, part of me craved his acceptance. Sure I was a brat towards him, but I liked our banter. Even though sometimes it was negative, I liked his attention, I liked seeing I could rattle him.
Back in my pack I didn't matter to anyone, I was like a dog to be ordered around.
Cleo, go on patrol with Coda.
Cleo take these papers to your father.
Cleo, go take out those rogues with Coda.
Cleo pay attention you need to know this if you want to be able to stand a chance of killing Hakota.
Cleo, go practice more.
Cleo, do what I say.
I wasn't even my own person, no one took my opinions seriously or even listened to what I had to say or cared how I felt about what they wanted me to do. At least Hakota listened to me, even though my mouth usually landed me in a load of trouble, he didn't ignore me like everyone else.
Ugh. I was so pathetic.
"Really Cleo?" I asked myself. "You would rather be humiliated and shamed by Hakota just for attention than be someone important and worth something in your own pack?"
This mate bond was ruining everything.
Before I came here I'd always know exactly what I had to do. I knew what I was training for, what I had to do. I was levelheaded and goal oriented but now I was all muddled and uncoordinated. I had no idea what I was doing, I had no plan, no inkling of what I needed to do.
The bond was forcing me to push all those thoughts away and thrusting ideas of a future with Hakota in my face.
How could I have gotten so sidetracked? In a matter of days I'd forgotten the purpose of my training, the extent to which I went to be prepared. It was all for this. If I could just do this my pack would finally see me as something. I had to prove I was worthy of being my father's daughter. It sounded so easy in my head. My longing for love and acceptance could be fulfilled if I sacrificed Hakota.
I wanted to be someone.
I was tired of having to fight for just a glance from my father, for a few words of approval from Coda. Just do this one simple thingy get the one thing I craved.
A family I could belong to.
All these years it was easy to tell myself I would easily be able to ignore the mate bond and kill him no problem. Yet, I hadn't even made an attempt on his life. I thought about it plenty, imagined a hundred ways to do it, but when push came to shove I just made empty threats.
I was already a victim to the mate bond. I hadn't killed him because I didn't want to, not that I hadn't had a chance.
Maybe some part of me knew that I was lonelier than I believed. Maybe Roshan was right, perhaps I never really had someone who loved me or treated me like family. Coda and I had our moments, letting bits of truth come out. My father had always been protective of me, not in a way of a parent being concerned for their child's wellbeing, but a general concered that one of his soldiers would be out of commission if something were to happen.
Had I mistaken those moments as acts of love?
Roshan's words rung in answer. They have treated you well not kindly. Don't mistake obligation for kindess.
Was he right? Deep inside did I hope that maybe this thing between Hakota and I could work?
He had killed that alpha in the blink of an eye, disposing of the threat. He acknowledged me as his mate several times, announced it to his pack and the werewolf one. He was insistent on marking me, and was hurt that I had let another do so.
Those were all little signs that he cared, right?
I smashed the little glimmer of hope starting to blossom in my chest with the bitter truth.
He didn't care about me, he cared about his bloodline, he needed me to get pups that was all. He'd caged me, collared me, muzzled me, humiliated me and those actions easily overpowered his others.
He was just like everyone else, using me for their own gain.
It was like the moment I was discovered to be a hunter, a flip had switched. Everything became about killing Hakota.
If I didn't do it, I couldn't return home. My father would shun me for being weak and my pack would see me as a failure that put her heart before her head.
I had to betray someone.
Hakota or my pack.
I would never belong here, the lycans, all except for Roshan and Frayah pretended I didn't exist. And Sani hated my guts for what I did to his mate.
I wasn't a lycan, and I never would be. So a future with them was doomed.
If I completed my task and went home, I'd be accepted, placed on a pedestal, admired. Never truly loved but I would belong, I would be appreciated.
And perhaps a potential mate would come along and I could make things work.
I had a chance of happiness there and I had to take it.
It was time for me to stop stalling. My whole life I've been training for this. I could kill Hakota, I knew I could.
Now I just had to do it.
And I knew the perfect werewolf to help me.