Out of the Light

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Thirty One | Hakota

I was fed up by the time Cleo called for a halt. I was brimming with annoyance and jealousy. I hated that I had to walk behind Cleo while the werewolf got to walk next to her.

I probably wouldn't have minded so much except Sebastian was making his forlorn puppy eyes at Cleo the whole damn time. Honestly, I swore I had to swallow down the bile that rose in my throat when Cleo caught him staring and he blushed.

Needless to say, the moment Cleo started making camp I hightailed it out of there.

I wasn't sure if I was pissed at myself or happy that I had given up the alpha role. On the down side, I felt this crushing feeling in my chest every time my mate wouldn't look at me or would give me her clipped answers. I hated watching her and the werewolf that I knew was her lover.

They weren't even doing anything and I was boiling with jealousy.

On the plus side, my head was clearer than it had ever been. It was relieving quite honestly, not having to deal with the crushing weight of responsibility. I could finally see things clearly and only had to worry about one thing.

My mate.

Now that the alpha side was shut off, I was left with my most basic self.

I was just a male whose female loathed him.

Although I wasn't in a very favorable position, at least I could stop pretending that it was fine. Now I recognized where I had to work up from.

Loathing to tolerating would be a good step.

In my mind it was simple. I would have to show Cleo a new side to me, the side that wasn't the alpha. To begin, I figured I should use my wolf. After all, my wolf hadn't done anything to her so she was bound to be less guarded when I was in my wolf form.

Sitka told me I needed to give her space and wait for her to invite me closer. He advised I show her I could be trusted before I tried getting any closer.

My instincts however told me otherwise. There was a threat to my mate status and I couldn't step back and let the werewolf think I was acknowledging his claim on my female. I didn't have time to wait, I had to get into her good graces fast.

And what better way to start than giving her a gift?

I admit my thinking was probably inhibited by the fact I was in my wolf form and was oversimplifying everything with my basic instinctual thinking.

Nevertheless, I set out in search for some game and was rewarded with a fine rabbit. I returned to the camp, my trophy in my mouth.

I trotted over to my mate who was peering at me as I came over. I was delighted her attention was solely on me and not on the werewolf who was sitting next to her a little too close for my liking.

I eyed the competing male.

Okay, a lot too close.

He could reach out and touch my mate if he wanted.

I swallowed down my growl, too close to my mate to display my sign of displeasure, least she think it was aimed at her.

I saw her obvious surprise when I dropped my offering at her feet. She stared at if for a moment, her brows screwed together in the way they always did when she was thinking too much about something. Slowly, ever so slowly, her eyes lifted to mine.

A low whine vibrated through my throat and she blinked out of her intense thoughts and gruffly dismissed me, "I don't want it." She looked away as she said it, expecting me to take her rejection without a fight.

I whined again and dropped my rump down on the forest floor. My tail thumped the ground dully.

Her face flickered with several emotions. The first one I saw cracked through her cold mask only to be quickly shrouded with annoyance and then anger. I had no idea what was going through her head to cause so many reactions all at once.

I bent my neck forward and flipped the rabbit closer to her with the tip of my nose.

She only stared at my gift with distaste, invoking some worry from within me. I really didn't want her to reject my offering, especially not in front of the werewolf. To show her that I bore no ill will I demonstrated my submission by laying down and resting my muzzle on my fore paws, staring up at her with pleading eyes.

Her lips parted and my ears flicked in anxiety. I held hope that she would take it only for my hopes to be dashed as she flatly remarked, "I already ate, I'm not hungry."

I wanted to yowl in frustration, instantly blaming the male beside her for this denial. My food was better than anything he could have stowed in those packs. I sprang up and picked up the carcass.

Could she not smell how mouthwatering it was? Could she not see it clearly?

I stepped forward only to find she was no longer looking at me but the werewolf. I was annoyed that she looked concerned as to what the werewolf thought about our interaction.

With a huff I dropped the rabbit directly in her lap, hoping that when she picked it up she would at least examine it and find that it was indeed a fine catch. I wasn't even expecting her to share it, I just wanted her to accept it.

My mate hardly glanced at it when she snapped her eyes back up to mine. I could see how furious she was and I didn't understand.

Was the rabbit not to her liking?

Did she not like rabbits in general?

I backed up a few steps, my head dipping down as I watched expectantly.

My tail slowly wagged as her hand finally scooped up the rabbit. What followed, shocked me.

"I said I don't want it!" She yelled and chucked the animal at me with her full force. I had no time to dodge as it sailed towards me and whacked into my shoulder. There was a crack and I hoped it was the rabbit's bones and not mine, but the sharp pain provoked a sharp yelp from me.

An intense throbbing immediately followed and I held back a whimper as I looked at my offering that was now an unappetizing mess at my feet. The rabbit was now soaked in mud and the skull was caved in, the brains splattered on the ground.

I did not meet my mate's eyes, scared of what I would find in those depths. I carefully picked up the rabbit and walked away from her, my shoulder sending a shock of pain through my body every time I put any weight on my foot.

I made sure I was a good distance away from the female as to not make her any angrier and dropped the rabbit on the ground and then plunked down next to it. I stared at the dead animal before picking it up again in my mouth and swinging my head around to send the rabbit flying through the air and into the brush.

I had no appetite after that.

My tailed curled around my back feet as I shifted my weight off my injured shoulder.

I tried to sleep but I couldn't. The strong urge to turn around and look behind me drove me wild until I finally gave in. I uncurled myself and twisted my head around, immediately wishing I hadn't.

Cleo had snuggled closer to the werewolf, her tiny hunter form fitting snugly against the barrel of the large werewolf. His tail had wrapped halfway around her, an extra barrier between her and me.

I swallowed down the mournful howl that longed to break free and settled for a high pitched whine.

Trying to sleep now was impossible so I painfully rose to my feet.

I wasn't one to give up that easily, one rejection would not be the end of my efforts. That had been my previous mistake and I would not repeat it.

Venturing into the woods I laid in wait for my next prey, a new plan already forming in my mind.

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