In The Shadows

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Twenty Three

Being kept on house arrest made my plan a little impossible. I needed to find some way to speak with Little Cloud and not seem suspicious.

Hakota was still throwing a tantrum about what happened nearly three days ago and my guess was he wouldn't talk to me or even look at me until the ring of teeth on my neck faded.

It was one such time now, where we were in a room together, I reading a book and he sitting on what looked to be a very uncomfortable chair. It was made from thick logs with a single green cushion that was a few inches thick. He was looking out the window, his brow furrowed in a pout.

His presence did not bother me, as I was used to it. The last few days someone was always watching me. Roshan and Frayah talked to me, and every now and then I'd catch their mate's lurking in the shadows, glaring at me with hatred. Although their anger did not disturb me, I did keep a careful eye on them, not putting it past them to jab a knife in my back when it was turned.

Creasing the corner of the page, I closed the book and uncurled from my position in the couch, setting it aside on the glass pained table. Hakota's head snapped to look at me, his eyes narrowing as if to say where do you think you're going?

"Lower your hackles, I'm just going to the bathroom." He looked skeptical, convinced I was lying to him. "Do you need to watch me in there too?" I sharply added.

His lip curled up in distaste and he looked away from me grumpily, not deigning to reply.

I huffed and left him to his sulking, not in the mood to humor him. "So childish," I muttered under my breath as I closed the door to the bathroom.

Deciding to stop in the kitchen on my way back. I opened the fridge to find it completely empty except for a half carton of chocolate milk and a nearly empty bottle of orange juice. I didn't have much better luck with the freezer as it was stacked with frozen packages of steaks. I opened the cupboards to find utensils, bowls, plates and glasses and appliances but no food, not even a spice packet. Raiding the pantry, I found only three boxes of cereal, having eaten the few cans of soup the last couple of days. "Does no one in this house eat?" I demanded.

As a society we thrived off of trade, some things only grew in certain areas and were a high commodity in far away places. Meat was the only thing there was plenty of but vegetables and fruits, although not a preferred food did grow abundantly around here. I could see the fruit and nut trees just from outside the house, every fall I had no doubt they would be teaming with apples, pears, plums and walnuts. The soil here was very fertile as well so gardening would be easy here. Yet there wasn't anything to make a full meal in this house.

I made my way back to Hakota, set on questioning him about the lack of food.

He had moved spots, drifting from the uncomfortable chair to the couch I had been previously occupying. He was sprawled out on it, one leg propped over the arm rest, his other hanging down lazily. He had stolen my woolen blanket and looked quite content as he rested, his eyes closed and his breathing steady. I knew he wasn't asleep, because he wanted me to confront him just so he could ignore me.

At first I found it endearing he wanted me to be hurt by his shunning, but now it was annoying because he refused to talk to me at all. Which I found unfair because he'd been the one to dig at me by using my father. If anyone should be giving the cold shoulder, it was me.

Luckily, I had been the bigger person and didn't instigate him.

Sitting down on the edge of the glass pained table, I tapped at his hand with my foot. "Why is there no food here?" I waited patiently for a reply, not surprised when he didn't answer, keeping his eyes closed as if I hadn't said anything.

Rolling my eyes, I nudged him a little harder. "Seriously, Hakota. There has to be something other than meat. What have you guys been eating?" He let out a slight snore as if that would make me believe his act.

"For goodness sakes. Hakota I'm honestly trying to have a conversation with you. Ignore me all you want later but answer the damn question." His lips flattened out in displeasure, proof he'd heard me but he still opted to say nothing.

Inhaling a deep breath I closed my eyes and released the air from my lungs slowly. He wanted to ignore me? Fine. Let's see just how long he could pretend I didn't exist.

Knowing this was a dumb idea, especially after my final decision to complete what I came to do I just reminded myself I was doing this for no other reason than to, one, irritate him as much as he was annoying me, and two, teach him a lesson. This had nothing to do with the fact I found him more attractive with each passing day.

First, I pulled the blanket off him, throwing it to the end of the couch where it piled on top of his legs. Then, I stretched one of my legs over his 'sleeping' form, and wedged it between him and the couch. Then I shifted my weight so I was balancing on it and positioned myself above the valley of his stomach, kneeling above him. Then I dropped my weight down on his stomach, getting a slight umph from him as I forced the air out of him. I stared at him for a moment, waiting for a reaction, not surprised when nothing else happened.

Well then, I guess I was going to have to try a bit harder.

With no hesitation I slipped my hands under his shirt and dug my nails into his ribs, tracing the ridges and arcs of each bone. I felt him shiver and smirked when I saw goosebumps had made their way down his arms. "Stop being childish, Hakota, aren't you supposed to be like a thousand years old?"

Finally his eyes opened, albeit only to glare at me. "Try two hundred and thirty six. A thousand? I'm offended."

"Yeah well you're still two hundred and seventeen years older than me. I think it stops mattering after you are nearly a century older than your mate. You're a pedophile either way. "

His hands grabbed my hips, his nails digging deep into them. "How could I be a pedophile when I haven't made a move to touch you? You're the one that has instigated it every time."

My mouth dropped open indignantly. I didn't know he would take my joking seriously and be so defensive about it. "Excuse me, you're the one that was trying to mate me in front of all those werewolves!"

"Well I'm not the one who's straddling my mate," he snapped back.

I slapped his chest angrily. "You wouldn't talk to me!"

"Well maybe you shouldn't throw yourself at other males, then I wouldn't be angry!" I felt his claws poking through, pricking at my skin. His grip was bruising as his thumbs increased the pressure on my hip bones.

"Why do you even care? You have no reason to be jealous, you hate my guts!" I couldn't believe he was still hung up on this. Honestly, why did it bother him so much? He'd more than once spelled out for everyone that I meant nothing to him and might as well be the dirt on his boots.

"You're still my mate," he hissed, "When another male marks you it makes me look bad."

I resisted the urge to scream and punch him in the face. Either I was his mate when someone else took interest in me, or I wasn't when someone sneered at me. I was getting tired of his bipolar temperament. "What do you care what people think about you? You're the alpha of the lycans. You just kill anyone who pisses you off."

His eyes flashed with agitation, "I'm not a mindless killer like in the lies your father spreads."

"Oh really? You could've fooled me with the way you pulled that alpha's head from his neck like it was a cork in a bottle!"

"He refused to stand down. I gave him plenty of chances, more than he deserved after marking you while knowing full well you belong to me."

"I don't belong to anyone," I stabbed his chest with a finger, "stop treating me like chattel."

"Then stop acting like a child, throwing a tantrum every time something doesn't go you way–"

"As if you're one to talk!" I exclaimed lividly.

"—You are a raging pain in my ass. You are a bitch to everyone, even Frayah who forgave you for nearly killing her because your feelings got hurt. I can't trust you not to hurt someone so now you have to be under constant surveillance, wasting more of my time because you need attention."

"If I'm so much trouble why don't you send me back home?" I demanded rising from my position, "Then you don't have to worry about some female hunter that you were cursed to mate with who could stick you with a knife."

Hakota grabbed my arm and yanked me back down before I was able to step over him. I landed on top of him, my chin smacking into his chest. "Stop making yourself seem like a victim. Boo hoo, no one has ever cared about you. So what? That doesn't entitle you to pretend to be some paragon. You are not better then me, my pack, or the Werewolves because you are a hunter. You aren't a princess, I haven't stolen you away. You came of your own free will so you don't get to make me a villain. I punished you because you are a spoiled brat who believes she's some messiah sent as a gift to this earth. You're the first female hunter but that doesn't make you special. No one cares about you which is why they sent you here. They gave you a job to further their own agenda and make you feel important."

Tears were burning in my eyes, threatening to fall with every new blow he delivered with his words.

My cruel mate grabbed my chin and forced my eyes to burn holes through his. "The fact of the matter is you are no one. You're attitude is deplorable and your personality is unattractive. You have no friends because being around you is like walking on pins and needles. You fly off in a rage the moment someone says something you don't like. You're nineteen Cleo so start acting like it. Just because you were never loved as a child doesn't mean you get to start acting like one now."

I ground my teeth together, refusing to let myself cry in front of him like he wanted. If I cried it would only be proof that his words were true.

"I refuse to humor you and put up with your anger. Stop venting your rage on me, putting all the blame on me. Your pack is the reason you are miserable. I don't care about your past, or your feelings or what you want. I would have left you there if you didn't have what I need. You are nothing, Cleo. Not a daughter, not a friend, not an apprentice, not a mate."

The angry tears washed over my cheeks. "I hate you," I whispered out, hating how he had made me feel like nothing. He's stripped away my armor, taken the one thing I had.

Denial.

I let myself believe after they found out I was a hunter they suddenly admired me, accepted me, cared about me. The truth was it was no different except that my pack mates knew better than to treat me like before because I suddenly became dangerous. I never had anyone to turn to, it was always 'figure it out Cleo'. I had no one who stood by me and guided me. The one person who may have done so was taken from me. My mother, who was killed by my own mate.

I hated him for taking away that one person I may have had, and refusing to fill her place. He left me with no one so I had to fend for myself and when I finally built myself a shelter and learned how to endure, he's set fire to it and watched as everything I'd ever built crumbled down around me, leaving me with nothing but hurt, sorrow, and anger.

And those three things were a perfect recipe for disaster and destruction.

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