In the Shadows

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The wolf within me clawed at my insides, trying to escape and run after the mate. My father's back was still towards me as he watched where the lycans had dissapeared. "Take her back, Coda. I'll make sure they leave."

Coda relaxed his grip on my wrists, somehow knowing I was calmer, pushing the wolf back to wherever she had been hiding for the last ten years. The beta scooped me up, on hand going under my knees and the other around my back. "Come on kid, I'll take you home and we can talk there."

I nodded numbly in response, too overwhelmed with today's events to speak. I felt the eyes of my pack members follow me and as Coda headed east back to where my house was. They were all as shocked as I was to learn that I had a wolf that had been hidden away all these years. I'm sure some of the stares were because my mate was supposedly a lycan. As for me, I wasn't sure what I was more upset over.

When we arrived at my house Coda ran a bath for me, setting me down on the bathroom counter. "You smell like that lycan." Was his only explanation. Again, I only nodded in response. Coda stripped me out of my shorts and underwear because I was too numb, too exhausted to even think at this point. From the drawers he pulled out a pair of scissors and cut away my bandages before picking me up and setting me in the water.

He washed my hair, neck and shoulders, handing me the soap to wash the more intimate parts of myself. Werewolves got over modesty fairly quickly, nudity was a part of our culture, shifting in and out of our wolf skins when necessary. Coda had become more like an older brother to me anyway, so I didn't even care. He wrapped me in a towel and drained the tub, handing me a pair of sweatpants and underwear. He told me to come down to the kitchen when I was ready and he would wrap my shoulder then.

I took my time, wringing out my hair and sliding on what I had been given. I left my top half bare because I would only need to pull whatever shirt I put on off so Coda could wrap my shoulder. I trudged down the stairs slowly, making my way over to the counter where Coda had pulled out the gauze and tape. Hoisting me up on the counter, he wound the gauze around my shoulder across my chest and under my arm and back down my shoulder and around again and again until he was satisfied. I jumped down from the counter and made my way to the couch where I could look out the window and see my father come home.

Coda wrapped me up in a blanket cocoon before going back up the stairs. I didn't know what he was doing or what he was getting, I just stared out the window waiting for my father to come into view. Coda came back down from the stairs with a pair of socks, a blow dryer and a brush. He grabbed my legs out from under the blanket and pulled on the fuzzy socks before turning my back to face him. He plugged in the blowdryer and started to dry my hair properly, brushing it as he went. "You are going to get sick, Cleo. You should know better than to leave your hair wet this far in autumn."

I didn't say anything in response. Running around in a pair of shorts with only a white bandage half covering my chest in the middle of the night probably hadn't helped either, but I hadn't thought that far ahead. I didn't care about a cold at this point anyway. Nothing mattered anymore.

"What you are feeling right now, is rejection." Coda told me, brushing the underside of my hair, slowly blow drying it as he went.

"He didn't reject me." I said robotically, void of any feeling. "He said he was coming back for me."

Coda exhaled a soft breath, "But he walked away from you, Cleo. Your roots are treating it like a rejection. You are depressed right now. It's normal."

"I don't care if he rejected me, I don't care if he's my mate or about him at all. I don't even know him."

Coda clicked off the dryer and brushed through my brown hair several times. "I know you don't care, Cleo. Your primal instincts do, the wolfish part of you cares." He set the brush down and got up, going back into the kitchen.

"I thought I would be happy to find out I had a wolf, but I'm not." I told him monotonously.

I heard him digging through the pantry as he answered, "It's all just bad timing Cleo, all of this at once is poor timing. Everything that's happened today would take a few days to process, but all at once, it's not surprising it's overwhelming." He closed the pantry and pulled off the lid of a can. I heard the slosh of whatever he was dumping into a bowl before putting it in the microwave.

"You don't seemed too surprised about me having a wolf. Even I thought I would never get one." I stared into the night before me where snowflakes started to fall, melting as they hit they ground.

I heard him dig out the tea pot from whatever cabinet it had been buried in for years and filled it with water from the tap. "To be honest, kid, I don't think I would have been surprised either way. You are too strong for a human, you have too much alpha in you, but your wolf took an abnormally long time to come out so if it never did, I wouldn't have thought much of it anyway." The ticking sound of the gas burner being lit filled the first floor of the house.

"I thought the lycans were all dead." I moved on past the wolf to confront the other event of today.

"A lot of people believe that. Your father killed what was nearly left of them after they murdered his mate. He knew that the lycans would never become fully extinct. They are needed to keep the balance. I suspect what you saw today was the last of them."

"Who is he?" The snowflakes outside started descending more rapidly, the beginnings of a storm.

"His name is Hakota Blackwaters. He's the alpha of the lycans, which you probably pieced together yourself."

"Why does he want me so bad?" The microwave beeped as whatever was inside of it finished cooking. I heard the rattling of the silverware drawer and soon Coda was walking around the couch, a bowl of soup in his hands. He handed it to me before taking a seat on the reclining chair next to the couch where I was huddled in the corner.

"Lycans are different than werewolves. Mates for werewolves are just the best genetic match for strong pups with desirable traits. The pull to mate is pure instinct to reproduce and nothing more, which is why fast marking and mating is common. Most females encounter more than one mate. The males fight it out and the victor gets the female. The loser continues on and usually finds another possible candidate. Once marked and mated, they pair for life."

"But sometimes the females are already mated and marked and still find another mate."

"Yes, it happens. When it does it's only because the new male is stronger than the previous. If a challenge is issued, the previous bond between the already mated male and female is annulled. Then the males can fight each other but normally they don't because the female is already happy with their mate."

"Like you." I murmured, remembering back three years ago to when he had told me the story of his mate.

"Like me." He affirmed.

I took a sip from my spoon of the chicken noddle soup he had made me. "What's different about the lycans then?"

"Lycans have mates that are in all sense their other half. Unlike werewolves, they only find one mate. They kill anyone in their way because they only have one chance. It's their gift and curse. The blood of their mate heals them of even our hunter's venom. That's why he wanted you Cleo. You're his only chance, daughter of a hunter or not."

"If I'm so special to him, why wait three years?" I kept my eyes on the snow outside that was escalating quickly.

"I don't know." Coda replied softly, the whistling of the teapot saving him from a further explanation. While he brewed my tea I finished the soup he had given me. We swapped the cup for the bowl soon after. He made me lemon and ginger tea. Even though I hated it, I knew it would soothe me. I nursed the cup in my hand, clenching my jaw as my thoughts wandered.

Coda caught my angry action. "Try not to bite your father's head off when he comes back, Cleo. I know he threatened your mate but he was only trying to protect you."

I turned to face the beta, finally dragging my attention away from the snow flurry outside. "I'm not mad because of that, Coda. I'm furious that my wolf could care less about my own life. That nearly dying wasn't enough for it to come out but a mere threat to my mate has it spiraling out of control trying to jump from my skin. I growled at my father, Coda! I challenged him for a stranger!"

"It couldn't be helped, pup. Your wolf came on too quickly. You had no chance in controlling it. I'm impressed you didn't get more aggressive." I wrapped the blanket tighter around myself, the cold air penetrating my barricade through the opening my arms were leaving. "It's my fault you were attacked today, I shouldn't have left you alone. I'm sorry for that Cleo. I would never intentionally put you in danger." Coda continued on, apologizing to me for the first time ever.

I shook my head. "Don't worry about it Coda, I heard Grey chewing you out enough for it already. You thought the threat was elsewhere and went to eliminate it. Don't apologize for protecting the pack."

He bored his gaze into mine. "You are a part of this pact too, Cleo. I should have protected you better. If we hadn't gotten there when we had, you could have been torn to pieces or snatched away by Hakota."

"But I wasn't, and it's over and done with now." He was silent, and I knew he was still angry at himself. "If you really want to make it up to me, Coda. Let me take the initiation. Take me on as your real apprentice and teach me what it means to be a wolf."

"You've been my real apprentice this whole time." He told me but I just shook my head.

I sipped at my tea, turning my attention back to the window where a storm of white was whirling around in the porch lights. "You were appeasing me." From the snow a dark figure emerged, coming closer to the house. The porch light illuminated my father.

"If your father allows it, I will do it." Coda replied, his attention also focused on the alpha plowing through the snowstorm. The door banged open, gusts of snow blowing inside the house. My father slammed it shut behind him, his claws that were still extended gauging deep lines in the door as it flew from his hand. He stormed past us without a word or a glance.

There was the sound of drawers opening and slamming and then the loud crash of objects being flung off a desk due to my father's rage. Coda and I said nothing to each other, only waiting as my father stomped back into the room and threw a set of leather bound books on the coffee table before me.

"We need to talk."



If you find any spelling/grammatical errors please point them out. I've read through all of these chapters like a hundred times but some errors still slip through.




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