In the Shadows

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Thirty Nine

I'm not sure what I expected after voicing my pledge. Maybe for him to just walk out the door anyway? A large part of me hoped we'd have this huge romantic moment where he'd embrace me and tell me the same thing.

I, however, did not expect him to take one step back and close the door slowly. The eerie squeal as the door closed did not help the nerves that were now twisting my stomach in knots. He muttered something, his forehead pressed against the door and his hand still gripping the handle. When he turned around his expression was frightening. It was the same look he'd given me after he killed the alpha who's marked me. The look he gave me when I refused food from him day after day while I was locked in that cage. The same look he gave the packs when hed rounded them up at the Red Zone and slaughtered their leaders. The same look he'd given Pine when he'd found us together by the river. I knew this was not a good sign.

I frowned and was able to stutter out, "W–what?" I wanted an answer to his actions, to what he'd mumbled, to his response of my confession. I expected him to be somewhat happy not enraged by it.

"I asked what the hell is wrong with you."

My mouth dropped open, those words being the last thing I expected from him. "I—what?"

Hakota stomped towards me raising his voice loud enough for everyone in the territory to hear. "What the hell is wrong with you!"

My mouth opened and closed as I tried to form a sentence. "I—excuse me?" I meant the last part to sound outraged but it came out light and confused.

"How can you have the nerve to say that after your heartwarming escapade with that werewolf? Do you think I'm stupid?" He demanded, his eyes lit up with fire. "I saw you together, how you held hands and smiled all lovingingly at each other. I saw you kiss," he snarled, his canines making an appearance. "Who knows what else you did considering you were there all day? I doubt you were just talking the whole time." He said coldly, making my jaw once again drop in indignation. He didn't even give me a chace to defend myself. "And then after all that, you have the nerve to tell me all that acceptance shit like you actually mean it? Like you actually care?" I heard the hurt in his voice. It was nearly hidden beneath the spite and posion in his tone, but I could see it in his eyes. "Do you think it's funny? Because it's not. It's not a joke to me but obviously you don't feel the same way."

I tore all the furs off me, throwing aside the covers and sliding out of the bed—our bed. "Listen here," I pointed a stern finger at my mate. "First off all, I don't like your insinuation about what Pine and I do when you're not hovering over my shoulder like a babysitter." The lycans scoffed, grumbling something under his breath that I choose to ignore. "Second of all," I said, "don't presume to understand how I feel about our relationship. It's been one hell of a hard road to get to where we are because of our mistakes. It's both of our faults and don't you dare deny it," I added seeing him lick his lips in preparation to counter my claim. I stabbed his chest with my finger. He looked down to see where my offending finger had dared to poke him. "But I am proud of our journey. Yes our progress was slow and we took more steps back than forward, but it's a damn impressive accomplishment that we can be in the same room without wanting to scratch out each other's eyes let alone cuddle and hold hands."

"Cuddling doesn't seem to be a problem for you," Hakota dismissed my claim, "considering every time I find you with someone else you are always touching them."

"Oh get over yourself Hakota," I hissed, "stop trying to argue with me and just listen."

"Listen to what? You defending your actions? Your justifications of why I should just be happy you even want to be around me because you are a hunter and I'm a lycan and boohoo I killed your mother and am mortal enemies with your father? Well guess what, Cleo, I don't want to listen to your excuses. We are mates and I looked past familial feuds and years of bad history. It's not outrageous that I wanted the same courtesy from you."

I wanted to scream and hit at him for putting words in my mouth and making assumptions but I was able to control myself. Taking in a deep breath I told myself to just be calm and understand where he was coming from. Calmly I replied, "You want to blame me for all of our problems?"

"No," Hakota gritted out in frustration, "I just want-"

"Fine. Then blame me. I'll be the reason we fight all the time and take so long to get anywhere. I'll be the problem between us and you can be the saint who keeps giving me more chances to screw up. I'll be the bad guy, nothing new there." I wiped away angry tears, frustrated with myself for being so pitiful.

Hakota grabbed my chin forcibly between his fingers. "Tears aren't going to help you with me. It may have worked with daddy but I'm not going to fall for it."

I knocked his hand away, "They have never helped me you asshole," I seethed, "And stop assuming my relationship with my father. The man was my alpha, he treated me no differently than everyone else. The only difference was that I lived with him. He never cared about my opinions or feelings."

"Poor little Cleo never got daddy's love or approval, so what?" Hakota was unrelenting, refusing to feel any pity. I didn't want his pity but he didn't need to be an insensitive ass.

"What the hell do you want from me, Hakota?" I shouted, spreading my arms out, "Do you want me to apologize?"

"No I don't want you to apologize!" Hakota roared. "I want you to stop playing with me. Tell me how you really feel and stop playing. Do you want Pine? If you do then just tell me and I'll get out of your way so you two can live happily ever after."

Oh want a lie. He wanted to do this song and dance? Fine. I'd play along. "You want me to tell you how I feel about Pine? How much I love him and how much I hate you that we have to see each other in secret because you'd kill him if you find out? Do you want me to tell you that our kiss was the most blissful feeling in the world? That my heart jumps every time he touches me and I crave the hunger of his lips. Do you want me to tell you that I'm an addict for the feelings he gives me, the way that just being around him twists me up inside. How I fantize about our future and the way he will touch me when--"

Hakota tackled me, pinning me to the bed, snarling in my face to get me to shut up. "I'll slaughter him!" He whispered, breathing into my ear, his warm breath fanning my skin. "You belong to me, and I'll make sure the little prick knows it before I kill him." His tongue traced the bite on my shoulder. "You are branded. My property. Anyone that touches you will die." His lucid voice sent shivers down my spine and damn me to hell if I wasn't turned on by his vicious words and barbed tone. His hands traced my hips, his thumbs curving inward and drifting dangerously south.

I closed my eyes, trying to ignore the feel of his touch and his lips. "I'm not having angry sex with you Hakota," I breathed, my voice hitching as his teeth nipped at my skin.

"No, of course not," he chuckled darkly, his mouth lingering over my throat, the warmth of his slight panting teasing me to no end. "You won't have any sex with me period," he snipped and pinched my skin between his teeth a little too painfully.

"Why did you say it like that?" I growled defensively, my fingers finding their way into his hair and helping to guide his head along as he marked up my skin with his teasing nips and light kisses.

"Like what?" His tongue traced my collar bone from my shoulder all the way back to my throat.

I arched into him as his kisses traveled lower, his nose brushing a path down from the hollow of my throat. "Like I just don't have sex with you." I grasped tighter at his dark blonde hair battling between pulling his head closer or lifting it away from its route to dangerous territory.

"You don't seem to have a problem getting cozy with other males," he said as his hands brushed my stomach, his thumbs dipping into my navel. "You wouldn't smile at me until a few weeks ago," I turn my head to the side to try and let the cool air douse the heat that was building within me. "You only just started holding my hand, hell we only kissed a week ago." The calmness in his tone was unnerving and activated my instincts to flee from the danger I was in. "But you were laughing with pine within a matter of hours," his voice hardened and his soft caresses turned more bold, pressing into my skin rather than brushing across it. "Holding his hand within a week." There was an unmistakable growl in his voice, a clear warning that I should not feel safe in his hands but I did. He shook my hands off him, pulling up so he was looking down at me while pushing me further into the bed so I could not raise up to meet him. "You let that alpha mark you in a matter of minutes!" He spat and his claws came out, slowly elongating and pressing sharply into my hip bones. He lifted my hips, anchoring them into place with his hold so we were pressed together and I was unable to squirm away. "I'm always last with everything, why should I believe it's not the same with sex?"

I flinched more from his words than the sharp pain of his claws puncturing my skin.

Ouch. I kinda knew that was going to come back and bite me in the ass. "Fine, I deserved that." I admitted freely.

"No Cleo, you deserve to be chained to a freaking wall with one of my lycans guarding you so that you stop dragging my name through the mud. A promiscuous mate is not good for my image. It says I can't satisfy you, that other males can steal what is mine." I stared wide eyed into those blue eyes of the alpha. I hadn't thought about it like that.

"So tell me Cleo," he murmured, reaching down to brush a strand of hair behind my ear. The loving gesture was contradictory to his next words. "How should I display the remains of your werewolf mate as a warning? Should I stick his limbs on spikes and place them throughout the territory to serve as a reminder of what I do to those who steal from me? Or maybe I should burn him alive in a public execution?"

"Leave him alone, Hakota. He knows where he stands." I didn't need another death on my conscience especially Pine's. He was a good male and he didn't deserve to die because Hakota and I were making everything difficult.

"Under my foot where he can easily be crushed?" Hakota tugged on my ear, staring intensely at my lips.

"Maybe not quite that severe," I mused, a wry smile twisting up the edges of my lips. "Just far away from me until you aren't so insecure." I slowly dragged my tongue across my lips to tease him and also distract him.

His eyes followed the movement of my tongue, his gaze fixated on my mouth even as my tongue disappeared behind the seal of my lips. "Not good enough."

"Oh for the love of Lune," I huffed, "I told him him I was choosing you."

"So you kissed him?" His brows screwed together as he scowled. He was still looking at my lips but with accusatory eyes rather than hungry ones. It was obvious he was thinking of the kiss between Pine and I.

I shrugged, lifting a hand to his chest. I traced a finger directly down his center, stopping at his navel. "He wanted me to be sure."

"And are you?" He asked, his voice taking on a serious edge.

My eyes flickered up from my finger to his face. I quirked a brow, "Am I what?"

"Sure about me?" My mate retracted his claws from my skin, his calloused hands brushing over the bruised and cut flesh as if to soothe the sting. "Are you sure that you want to choose me?" Although he sounded nonchalant like my answer wouldn't matter to him, I could sense his anxiety.

I grabbed his face between my hands, looking deep into his eyes and willed him to see how honest my next words were. "Hakota, you are my soulmate, we were crafted for each other by Lune and I would have to be a completely idiot to give that up because of pride or some stupid stigma. So yes Hakota, I accept you, alpha of lycans, mortal enemy of my father, killer of my mother and all."

We stared at each other stuck in a stalemate until I smiled softly at my mate. His electric blue eyes fell to my neck, or more accurately the teeth marks on it. His finger circled the scarred ring adorning my collarbone, "This should be answer enough. I've wanted my mark on you since day one."

Not quite the returned declaration I had hoped for, but it was enough.

It was enough to know the lycan and I had reached an understanding of where we stood. It was enough to know that we both held mutual feelings of affection for each other, and that we had some animosity and soreness around certain topics that needed to be worked out.

Hakota, my mate, was enough.

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