In The Shadows

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Thirty Two

Syn and I didn't make it back until long after the sun had set. We had stayed until all of the stars came out and we could see the galaxy above us. Peering deep into the endless sky where the stars seemed to go on forever I realized just how small we were. The petty feud between lycans and hunters was pointless. Why did we fight each other to be the top dog? What exactly would we gain? This small pocket, of the universe called earth which was not even a speck compared to the larger picture?

It wasn't hard to believe that Fate and Lune were out there among the other deities we believed in. As hunters, we had learned of them but never really believed in them. Fate dictated our paths, weaving a complex future for each of us that was designed by the choices we made. Lune was our moon, or source of power, our creator. Also referred too as 'goddess' by many, she paired the lycan souls with their other half. Werewolves and hunters were left at the hands of Fate for their possible mate matches. Of course there were others such as Terra, who created our forests and dictated the snow fall, rain and changing of seasons and Sol who was the master creator. Sol made every star, including our sun, and in essence crafted many of our other gods. Lune was a product of Sol, Terra a singular world of many that littered the cosmos. Fate and others such as Chaos and Hope were their own beings like Sol.

I'd resented Fate for a long time, blaming her for my misfortunes and for the unfairness I had suffered. For bringing me to this point where I was torn. For so long I had believed this to be my chance, it had all been so easy, so simple in my mind. Kill Hakota, receive respect, gain glory. Everything I'd ever wanted if I could just do the deed. I'd had plenty of opportunities, so why hadn't I taken one? Even I knew it to be a lie when I told myself I was holding off because Little Cloud had a bigger plan and insisted I waited and seduced my mate in the meantime. What kind of plan was that exactly? Wouldn't allowing me to kill Hakota when I was given an opportunity be quicker and more efficient?

The answer was simply yes. No one could stop me from doing it least of all some werewolves. The only person in my way was me. I was stalling because I wanted Hakota to change my mind. I was being selfish and indulging in the familial atmosphere the lycans created. I liked the way Hakota was 'chasing' after me, the way he was fighting for my compliance even if for his own gain. I was tired of doing the chasing to get people's attention, to get a friendship or a bond between my father and I.

My father was so obsessed with killing the last of the lycans. Was it ethical to eradicate an entire race because one woman died? Albeit she was my mother and my father's mate, but was this all worth it? Hakota claimed that the lycans would prevail because the balance had to be kept. The lycans would rise as the hunters ebbed, around and around in an endless circle. However there was a very real possibility that this could be the end of the lycan race.

If I refused to mate with him, even if I died, the lycans couldn't procreate without the alpha female's heat. The only way around it was if Hakota died and a new alpha could be instated but the alpha position had been given to Hakota. Unless an outside member came in and took over his pack, no one could step up to fill his spot. An alpha was either born in or brought in but they couldn't evolve. But as far as I knew, this was the last of the lycans and even if there was another lycan out there, no way would it have the alpha trait.

One death would cement the disappearance of the lycan race. I held a lot of power in my hands and as of now I didn't know what to do with it.

I wanted to hate Hakota so badly. If I could it would simplify this immensely and make the choice clear. He killed my mother for goodness sake! I felt guilty that I didn't hate him. I didn't want to kill him because of my father's hatred or in the name of my mother. I didn't want to kill him because I was a hunter and he was a lycan and it was my duty to my pack. He was mine, crafted for me by Lune. BUT...

I was terrified. The fear that once he had what he wanted he'd toss me away, replace me, perhaps even kill me all seemed very real. He'd told me point blank that he wanted to breed me and that was it. Sure he was trying to woo me as of now, doing a shoddy job of it, but still. It was all an act. We were trying to be the first to seduce the other, to get what we wanted. Our attraction could not be attributed to anything other than the lust from the mate bond. A pull to bring us together because we were too stubborn to give in freely.

Considering all of this, I was left where I began.

Clueless.

Confused.

Indecisive.

Hesitant.

All I could do was continue playing whatever game this was and give myself time to decide or wait until something else made the decision for me.

I laid my hand flat against the wood of the door that I had been standing before for the better half of an hour while my head was flooded with these thoughts.

It was time for me to lean in hard to both options. I needed to try with Hakota. I needed to attempt a relationship with real determination of it working. I needed to see if keeping him was what I wanted. I also needed to talk with those associated with Little Cloud. I needed to hear what they had to say about the lycans. Why they needed them dead. What they did as part of their nature that lead to the oppression of others.

Pressing my forehead to the door and squeezing my eyes shut, I let out a deep breath and opened the door. The hinges were silent as I eased it open. Moonlight bathed the room as I stepped in, closing the door softly behind me. A large four poster bed was illuminated in the silver light. On it, a massive form was sprawled across half of the bed, the sheets a twisted mess on the one half but pristine on the other and still tucked in tightly.

I tiptoed over to the bed, climbing up on the empty half and crawling across it to where my mate lay deep in sleep. He was tuckered out from our fight and his day of distraction.

I lay stiff as a board next to him, half expecting him to wake up and tell me to get out. However, he didn't even stir.

Staring at the ceiling I could feel my heartbeat increasing with my nerves. Hakota and I never shared a bed. Hell, we never had even cuddled really. Not due to lack of effort on Hakota's side. Oh no, he'd tried numerous times to get more touchy with me but I always pushed him away or shrugged him off.

Freezing cold currents drafted through the room, brushing over me like a feather, goosebumps following in its wake. How could Hakota kick off his sheets? He wasn't exactly bundled up either. A pair of black boxers was the only article of clothing adorning his body. His washboard abs that were better than most werewolves' were exposed to the bitting air every bit as much as his broad shoulders and corded arms. The muscles of his left arm bulged slightly from its curled potion under his pillow. And of course there was that alluring tribal tattoo on the right half of his chest and arm. The black ink swirled and twisted over his skin in a beautiful painting. One day I'd ask him if there was any meaning behind it.

Finally gaining my nerve, I scooted even closer so that I was huddled against his side, even going as far as to move his arm that was lying on his torso out of the way and letting it fall around the outside of me, caging me in to him. I let my hands rest between us, my knuckles pressed against the side of his rib cage. My head rested on his collar bone, his nipple just centimeters away from my lips.

I couldn't resist the urge to tease him and blew out a soft breath.

Hakota shifted beneath me, still not awakening but subconsciously tightening his arm around me and bringing me in closer. His legs tangled with mine and I dragged my big toe up his calf in fascination with the hard muscle. There was plenty of muscle on my own body but I never had explored the feeling of them on a body other than my own. Something so similar felt so foreign to me. I could feel the power packed in every inch of his body.

Hakota let out a small moan, pulling his leg away from my tickling. I smiled against his skin that was surprisingly warm. I had thought he'd be cold like my hands often were.

I didn't know what came over me when I impulsively lifted a hand to smooth the wrinkles from his face. Even when he was sleeping he seemed so serious. I couldn't blame him, he had the future of an entire race on his shoulders, that was a burden no one would ever want.

The pad of my finger ran across his brow ridge, easing out the tension between them from where they were furrowed. My knuckles grazed his cheeks, kneading out the stress of his clenched jaw. I exhaled a small laugh. My mate was a grinder like me.

Hakota's eyes were open now, sleep still clouding them slightly but he was aware of what I was doing. I didn't stop, didn't falter as I met his eyes briefly. I let my fingers trail over to his lips, stopping them right stopping them right at the edge of his mouth. A shuddering breath left my mate, his entire chest caving with the movement.

I let my index finger swipe across his bottom lip before letting my hand fall onto his chest.

We stared at each other, no words exchanged between us as he turned to his side, fully facing me now. He brushed his fingers around the shell of my ear like he had just tucked back a lose strand. His fingers came down and around until they lightly cupped my jaw, one finger moving back and forth in a soft caress.

His whole hand then traced my jawline to my chin where he grabbed it firmly between his thumb and forefinger. He leaned over then and pressed a kiss to my forehead, his lips lingering there for a second longer than usual before slowly withdrawing. His fingers remained for a few more seconds before leaving my face.

My mate clutched me tightly against him, crushing me into his chest. One arm was banded around the dip of my waist, the other came under me and wrapped around my shoulders. The sheets rustled with our situating, the mattress moving beneath us until we settle in.

I curled into Hakota, nestling into his solid form

Blissful silence enveloped us. Hakota closed his eyes, his adam's apple bobbing up and down as he swallowed.

For once a hundred thoughts of the repercussions and 'what ifs' did not plague my sleep. My head was empty but my heart was full with the knowledge of being held and being safe. I felt at home tucked next to him, snuggling into his warmth.

All of my previous thoughts boiled down to this one basic principle.

Hakota could quite possibly be my home if I would only gave him the chance.

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