In The Shadows

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Forty

I wish I could say everything after that day was a walk in the park, that it was sunshine and roses in my romantic life, but Fate was making it damn hard for that to be possible.

Issue number one consisted of my ever growing problem with the hunters and my father. Grey was in the wind, I hadn't heard from him since that day. Sage had sent me many dirty looks, glaring at me like I was a traitor. She'd given me many opportunities to follow her so we could talk but I ignored all of them. I had debated coming clean with Hakota about everything but I figured he already knew about Little Cloud, the werewolves with him, and the hunters plotting his demise. It would only dredge up another argument which was one more thing I didn't need. Besides, I had made the decision to be done with my father and his hunters. Hakota was my mate and I wouldn't hand him over or kill him for them.

My second problem was an annoying shrimp of a male named Terrin. The very same werewolf who had become my shadow, depending on me to act as a shield between Syn and him. I had become a way for both the scrawny pup and the lycan to vent. I had heard both sides of every argument and problem. Of course Terrin, or Turkey as I like to call him, was oblivious to the fact he and Syn were mates. Werewolf males were only 'mated' with females. The whole point of mates was to find a good genetic match for breeding and obviously that couldn't happen between two people of the same gender. However, it didn't stop werewolves from mating someone of the same sex anyway, it was just never with someone who was a potential mate for them. For lycans it was different as Syn had explained to me upon my questioning. Lune created them to be two halves of the same soul and in their circumstance they both just happened to be males.

As far as I knew Syn still hadn't told anyone about his newly found mate and they were too blind to see it on their own. Terrin was just as ignorant, thinking Syn just disliked him and found him to be an easy target to bully. And of course Terrin had no way of knowing Syn was his mate because he didn't feel the connection like lycans did due to the fact that he was a werewolf. I had asked Syn why I had felt the connection with Hakota and Syn explained that they could push the feeling to their mate to let them know and understand but it was a voluntary action on their part and Syn didn't want to do that.

"Do you have any bread?" Asked the little creation who was currently raiding the fridge. He had taken up the title as 'my best friend' and pestered me with his presence every day.

"On the counter island behind you," I answered offhandedly. Honestly, I felt like his mother more than his friend. I picked up his shoes and other clothes he discarded around the house while making himself at home, I also made him food, took him shopping because he was broke, and let him follow me around.

The little werewolf started to put together his sandwich, patting the triple layered sandwich which consisted off three slices of bread, four different kinds of meat and a whole lot of cheese. He raised it to his mouth preparing to taking a bite when I stopped him. "Ah," I held up a finger and pointed it at his sandwich. "Where are all the vegetables?"

Terrin gave me a pitiful look and whined, "Awww come on, I'm a werewolf. I don't need any stupid vegetables."

I pulled out the lettuce and tomatoes from the refrigerator doors. "Maybe if you ate more vegetables you wouldn't be such a beanpole."

He sighed dramatically, looking at me as if I were a lost cause. "Protein, Cleo. Protein is what I need and meat is the answer," he said while I took the sandwich away from him and properly packed it with the lettuce and tomatoes before handing it back to him.

I proceeded to put away the food and clean up his mess. "Or maybe you just need some more chores to build up those stick arms and legs of yours. I'm sure Syn has plenty of activities for you to do."

Terrin made a sour face and stuck out his tongue at me. "What are we gonna do today?"

I closed the fridge door and leaned against the appliance, crossing my arms. "Don't you have any friends?" I already knew the sad reality of his circumstance. He was an orphan, his parents dying in a winter avalanche when he was a pup and from there he'd been lumped with the humans and was a social outcast, not good enough for the other werewolves but unable to fit in with the humans.

"You are the lucky winner of all my attention and delightful company."

"Oh joy," I replied drily.

"So do you have any ideas, because if you don't then I–"

"I am not being your wingman again." I told him flat out. The last time Terrin had tried flirting it up with the females had been a nightmare. Mostly because I had to hear Syn's rant about it for hours which had included accusations of my betrayal for letting Terrin talk to them in such a way. I had learned a pouting Syn was worse than a pouting Hakota.

"Come on Cleo, I need someone to back me up!"

I pushed off the fridge and walked to the couch, "No. It's awkward. Besides you're too young for girls." I told him, plopping down on the couch and flipping open my book to the page I'd left off on.

The werewolf followed me to the couch, plunking himself down next to me. "I'm nineteen years old!"

"My answer is no Turkey," I replied, turning the page of my book.

Terrin huffed, crossing his arms and mumbling, "What is with you and Syn calling me names? My name is Terrin. Ter-rin," he annunciated, "there's nothing difficult or hard to remember about my name." The cushion shifted as he got closer. "Speaking of nicknames, I haven't seen Whiney Piney since Hakota caught you guys talking."

Which brought me to my third problem. Me. I had thought that with Hakota's mark on my shoulder and our argument slash heart-to-heart talk would keep his jealousy at bay but I was sorely mistaken. I hadn't talked to Pine for three days after Hakota marked me but once I thought it was safe and Hakota had enough time to cool off, I had just said hello and asked Pine how he was doing with plenty of witnesses around to verify all Pine and I had done was talk. Hakota had flown off the handle when he'd heard from, surprise, surprise, Sky, about our brief meeting.

I had figured that Pine was taking extra precautions to avoid me but now that Terrin brought it up I was a little worried I hadn't even seen him in the last week. I frowned, turning to the werewolf, "you haven't even seen him around?"

"Nope," Terrin replied popping the p.

The front door slammed open, shaking the whole house. A myriad of footsteps accompanied the slam followed by voices. "Hakota, please. We need to move on from here. The territories will be secure until we return. The old kingdom is falling to the hunters. They are taking it over and you know what will happen if Eric gets his hands on the–"

A loud growl had Sitka shutting his trap while Syn tried to take over as the voice of reason. "I know you don't have good memories of that place, most of us don't, but we can't let the hunters overrun it."

"It's an ambush Syn! They are luring us there. If they get ahold of one of us you know what they can do! And I will never allow that to happen again. I saved Denahi and Keni from that and I made them a promise."

"Hakota–" Innoko tried to carry on the argument.

"My answer is no!" Hakota roared while storming into the living room where I was seated. I stared wide eyed at the parade of lycans that followed on his heels, still trying to convince him. He had stopped responding to them, his attention fully on me.

I closed my book, knowing I would not be reading anytime soon. Hakota was still fuming, I could feel his anger radiating off him in waves. He was struggling to keep in a comment he would regret but I knew it was going to come out one way or the other. I elbowed Terrin who leapt off the couch, whacking his leg on the coffee table in his haste.

"Uh...hello sir," Terrin tried, making sure not to make eye contact with Hakota. The poor werewolf turned into a submissive, awkward mess around my mate.

"Get lost Terrin." Hakota growled, not impressed with the scrawny boy.

Terrin winced, bowing his head and shuffled out of the room like a scolded puppy. He bumped into Keni on his way out and mumbled an apology. It was silent until the door opened and closed signaling his departure.

I set my book on the coffee table, propping my ankle over my knee and folded my arms, leaning back in the couch. "If any insinuation or accusation claiming that I have any part in what the hunters are doing or planning leaves your mouth you will be sleeping on the couch tonight."

Sitka narrowed his eyes at me while Syn tried to resist the urge to smile. Hakota debated this and carefully choose his next words. "Do you think they are planning a trap?"

The lycans had all gone still, waiting for my answer. Were the hunters planning something? Most definitely. Did it have anything to do with the old kingdom? Perhaps. The old kingdom was a long way from here, but they could be drawing the lycans out and since I refused to help them kill Hakota it seem plausible that this could be their backup plan to taking them down.

I licked my lips, "Yes."

"Why do you think so?" Hakota didn't take me at my word.

"You aren't going to like my answer," I told him honestly.

Of course that was all it took for him to snap. "Goddamnit Cleo!" His voice made the twins behind him jump and the others flinch. I just blinked calmly. "Are you conspiring with them? Does the mark on your neck mean nothing?"

I had given up a lot for this male, more than he knew and gave me credit for and this time I wouldn't just bite my tongue. I would tell him exactly what this mark on my neck meant. "If this mark meant nothing to me, I would have poisoned your food the first time I cooked for you." I uncrossed my legs, leaning forward so my elbows rested on my knees. "If this mark meant nothing to me, I would have slit your throat the first night I slept by your side." I stood up, walking around the coffee table so that I came nose to nose with my mate. "If this mark meant nothing to me I'd have run away from you so I couldn't be used against the hunters." I began to circle him slowly, listing every opportunity I had to destroy him and his lack of lycans. "If this mark meant nothing, I'd have killed Innoko and Frayah long ago so there could not be anymore lycans. I would have told Little Cloud where when and how to kill you. I would have turned you in to Grey and told him to just finish you off. I would have helped him when he asked me too. I would have ripped out your heart when you were on that rock with me, slashed your throat any of those times it was just you and I and your guard was down." I glanced at the lycans, noting each of their grim expressions as they realized how many opportunities they had given me to kill them. Then my eyes rose to my mate who was looking down at me with a guilty expression. "I never would have let you mark me, Hakota, if you and your pack didn't mean anything. I made a choice to let you bite me that day Hakota. I could have stopped you had I chosen to." I picked up Hakota's hand that was hanging slack by his side, threading his fingers through mine.

I took my mate's side on this argument and gave his pack my reasoning to avoid the old kingdom. "The point is, I was sent to kill Hakota and the rest of your death's would follow. However, since I've made it abundantly clear that I no longer have any intentions of helping them, they are going to try and finish the job themselves, their way. Hunter and werewolves alike want lycans to be erased from existence. Going to the old kingdom is too risky."

"So what should we do?" Sitka snapped. "We can't just sit around here and wait for the hunters and their so called army of werewolves to come and kill us. We are extremely outnumbered and would never survive an attack like that."

"Exactly," I agreed, meeting Sitka's eyes. "We need an army to combat them. We have to stop making enemies and start making allies."

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