In The Shadows

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Thirty Eight

There wasn't even a chance for us to run. Not that I would have, I knew better than to run from a predator. He would only give chase and become more beast than man because of it.

Hakota hadn't moved an inch from his threatening position, his eyes glued on us, or more importantly, Pine. His eyes still held some of their blue color which was a good sign, but the claws protruding from his finger were not. He let out a deep growl as Pine shifted behind me.

"Pine," I said lowly, not taking my eyes off my lycan mate as I backed up a step, "you need to leave. Slowly." If Pine made a break for it Hakota would go after him and not stop until he got the blood he thirsted for.

"I'm not leaving you here!" Pine whispered sharply.

"Pine," I gritted out not having the time or patience to deal with this.

"Are you crazy Cleo? I'm not leaving you with him when he's in this state."

I continued to walked backwards, ushering Pine to do the same. "Pine, I'm not going to tell you again. You have ten seconds to get the hell out of here or he may very well kill you."

"He's dead no matter what!" Hakota snarled out and began striding forward.

"Pine run!" I shouted in my alpha command voice. This time the werewolf did as I said. He took off at a dead sprint, running for the trees. Hakota headed straight for him but I intercepted the running lycan, tackling him to the ground and doing my best to give Pine a chance to get away.

Hakota and I rolled across the ground clawing and pushing at each other. My mate tried to get out of my hold to go after his true target but I kept his attention on me as I continued to fight with him. "Hakota stop!" I shouted at him while digging my claws into his shoulder, injecting my venom into him even though it had no effect. His teeth snapped too close for comfort by my throat as he tried to pry me off.

"Calm. Down." I grunted out each word while wrapping my legs around his waist in an effort to keep him from flipping us over. I was currently on my back as was he above me, struggling to remove my arm from his throat where I was slowly choking him. He jabbed his elbow back and into my side, the air escaping my lungs giving him enough time to get out of my snake like hold. He started to rise to his feet, his eyes set on the direction Pine had run off to.

In a last ditch effort I hooked my foot around his ankle and yanked with all my might, causing my mate to tumble back to the ground, catching himself with his hands from eating the dirt. He whipped around, his eyes glinting with malice as he bared his sharp teeth at me. I brought my knee to my chest and then pushed out. My boot nearly collided with his nose but the back of his hand batted my foot from its course and twisted around my ankle, pulling me to him. I was under him in less than a second and all I could see was his fangs descending as they sank into my collarbone, dangerously close to my throat.

It was like two hot needles filled with hunter venom had been driven into my skin with hatred. It burned worse than anything I'd ever felt before.

Hakota's pupils dilated into slits the moment my blood hit his tongue. Pain shot through my body causing me to cry out and writhe underneath him. Hakota seized up and rolled off of me, spasming beside me. He recovered faster than me, back to his normal self in no time while I was still in utter agony.

My mate's pupils dilated back into their round shape as his senses returned along with the realization of what he had done. Hakota scrambled over to me hovering above me trying to helplessly to find a way to stop the bonding. "Shit!" He cursed while his hands fluttered frantically over my body, over the ring on teeth marks that now adorned my collarbone. He ran his hands through his hair over and over, grasping at the ends as he overlooked my body that was arching and caving in pain. "Shit, shit, shit!" He could do nothing but curse as he watch on his knees as the bonding process happened. "I'm so sorry Cleo. I didn't mean for this to happen." I believed him from the brokeness in his voice. "Damnit!" He spat running a hand down his face. "Please don't hate me for this." He grabbed my hand holding it between his large ones. "Please, Cleo, I'm sorry."

I wanted to respond but the pain was too much and I had no control over my body as my head lolled to the side and my eyes rolled to the back of my head. It felt as though every cell was torn in half throughout my body, my heart stopped beating, oxygen stopped entering my lungs and I was weightless. I felt nothing.

Just as fast as the numbness spread feeling shot through me. It was like I was violently shoved back into my body, feeling everything at once as my body rebuilt itself. Only it wasn't my body, it didn't feel the same. There was more to me now, a void that had been filled.

Hakota tried to pull me into his arms to keep me from hurting myself as I thrashed around on the ground. I weakly pushed at his hands, "Don't," I breathed out and Hakota flinched. He tried again but I turned on my side giving him my back, "Don't touch me."

I groaned when another shock flooded through me as I was settled into my 'new' body.

Seeing Hakota's desperate, heartbroken, expression I was going to soothe him and explain that his touch only intensified the pain and that was why I didn't want him to touch me. Not that I hated him now.

The burning intensified and I felt my blood boiling through my veins. My nails extended into claws and sank into the dirt. I pulled myself towards the river, crawling my way towards the cold water that I was sure would cool me off.

When my fingertips dipped into the cool water of the river there was a small moment of relief. The currents were still strong and I feared if I slithered into the water to submerge myself I would be swept away and drown at the bottom of the river bed, too weak and in pain to swim. At the moment the risk seemed worth it because it felt like I was burning alive from the inside out. At least drowning would be less painful right?

Making up my mind I heaved myself forward, ready to dive in. My ankles were grabbed and I was pulled into a strong embrace. My nails sank into the arm and I bit and scratched trying to escape from his hold.

Too emersed in my task of freeing myself I didn't realize that Hakota was sprinting along the riverbank until we reached a calmer part of the river.

"You need to hold onto me, Cleo. No matter what. I can't hold onto you and fight the current at the same time." Not even waiting for a reply we were suddenly sailing through the air and then we were crashing into the water. The frigid icecap water seeped into my bones offering instant relief. The water pushed around us as Hakota kept us above the water.

My claws punctured into his arms so that I could keep a firm grip on my mate.

Laying my head against his chest I let the shivers run up and down my body as I breathed in ragged breaths and then blew them out through chattering teeth. Hakota let the water carrying us until we reached the delta.

Wading through the water he sat us down, the water washing over our shoulders. Hakota pulled me over him so that I was sitting in his lap. One of his hands pressed my head to his chest, messaging my skull. His other arm hooked under my legs as if to make sure I did not float away from him.

I clutched onto his soaked shirt, my hands clenching and unclenching until the pain faded.

Hakota kissed the top of my head mumbling, "are you ready?"

All I could do was nod slightly in reply.

He stood us up and trudged his way through the water. I closed my eyes and let his footfalls lull me into a light sleep.

When I opened my eyes I was in a bath, steam rising around me. Hakota knelt by the lip of the tub, his intense eyes on me waiting to catch me if I slipped under the water.

I was completely naked but that was the last thing on my mind. I grabbed Hakota's hand that was dragging through the water as he made little whirlpools. With his hand in mine I dunked my head under the water letting the warmth cover my head. I was utterly exhausted and sleep was pushing at me.

I squeezed Hakota's hand and he helped me back into a seated position. "Sleep," I murmured.

My mate wrapped my hair around his fist and squeezed out the water before he reached under my armpits and pulled me from the water like I was but a small child.

Swaddling me in a towel the lycan hoisted me up onto the bathroom countertop and began rummaging through the drawers until he found a brush and the hairdryer.

And so he began, brushing out my hair while slowly drying the wet stands with the hot air of the dryer.

It reminded of the time Coda had done this for me after the day I first met Hakota and my wolf first made its appearance.

When he was finished, he pulled a pair of underwater up my legs followed by a pair of leggings that he had placed on the sink beforehand. A thick sweater over my head was last. His fingers traced the bite mark on my neck. I let my head fall forward so that my nose rested in the hollow of his throat.

"I'm sorry," was all he said.

"I know," I whispered. We stayed like that for a moment just breathing each other in. I kissed his throat and then pulled back, putting my arms around his neck and slid off the counter wrapping my legs around his waist.

The alpha dutifully brought me to the bed, pulling the covers over me and stacked a few furs on top of me for good measure. "I'm not mad at you," I told him as I rolled down the covers that he'd pulled up to my nose.

"We'll see come morning," Hakota didn't believe my reassurance.

"Hakota," I said snatching his wrist to keep him from walking away. His jaw clenched but he didn't turn to me. I threaded my fingers through his and gave his hand a gentle tug. "Hakota," I said again.

His shoulders dropped as he let out a breath. With that he entangled his finger from mine and strode to the door, nearly wrenching the thing from its hinges.

My heart dropped. I knew he was going to do this. He regretted it, didn't mean to do it because he didn't really want me. He acted out of anger and jealousy and now he was pissed at himself and would avoid me like the plague. Well I wasn't going to let him do that. Not this time. I would not let him regret it. I would show him he should not regret it.

He took one step out the door and the words flew from my mouth.

"I accept this Hakota. I accept the bond and I accept you."

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