Five | Cleo
Wiping the blood off my blade with the shirt of my victim, I sheathed the knife in its scabbard on my thigh. I tossed one look over my shoulder at the dead body where red soaked the carpet beneath him. With a small smirk I grabbed ahold of the window frame and pulled myself up on the sill before tossing the rope out the window, one end of it tied to the bed post. I gave it a few tugs before propelling myself out the window, using the side of the building to quickly make my way down as I pushed off the stone wall and let my hands slide down the rope.
I made it all of three steps before I was violently shoved and then pinned to the ground, my hands pulled behind my back and a knee jabbed in between my shoulder blades. I thrashed around, trying to get free or twist around so I could kick out.
"Shhh," a deep voice rumbled above me.
I halted my efforts and stilled beneath him. My hands were slowly released and the pressure on my back lessened. I got to my feet, brushing the dirt from my pants while grumbling. I crossed my arms and pinned the male across from me with a glare. "I told you not to contact me Coda."
"Well this is a rather pressing matter that concerns the good of the pack–"
"We've been through this at least a hundred times Coda. You are the alpha, remember?"
"And yet I'm not." He returned evenly.
We had a stare down, saying nothing out loud but having the same old argument mentally. I was still sore about the fact that he hadn't just let me die. I'd questioned him on it, fought with him when he wouldn't take the alpha spot from me. We had needed to come to a mutual agreement that had satisfied us both and finally allowed us to go our separate ways.
"You're my alpha, the alpha of this pack and as beta I will not let you abandon us." Coda stood between me and the gateway to freedom. It would be useless trying to fight my way through him. I had only just taken the bandages off my neck yesterday, allowing me to see the damage Hakota had inflicted.
"I don't want to be the alpha," I gritted out through my teeth, my hands balling into tight fists.
Coda was in no mood to deal with my whining. "You killed Eric, you earned the spot. I don't care what you want, you need to take responsibility."
"Fine," I poked my mentor in the chest. "As alpha I'm designating you as alpha while I take a leave of absence, indefinitely."
The male batted my hand away irritatedly, "Not going to happen Cleo."
I ground my teeth, my back molars grinding together harshly. "This pack hates me Coda, I can't run it properly if they all despise me. Besides I don't have the mentality to do much of anything right now." At this Coda's face softened and his ridged stance relaxed. He reached out a hand and brushed away a tear I hadn't known I shed with his thumb and cupped my face in his large palm. "I can't stay here Coda, at least not right now. Please just take over the pack and if I ever can be the leader this pack needs, I'll come back."
Coda let his hand drop and rose his eyes to the sky. "Alright," he conceded his eyes glancing down to meet mine. "But you have to stay until you're fully healed."
I sighed heavily as the memory faded. There was no use arguing with the male, he was more stubborn than I was. I'd learned my attitude from him after all. "It's dangerous for us to both be out like this," I said, casting my eyes up at the stars. We were on the outskirts of a town where the bigger houses resided and in an open space.
"It's dangerous for me to be anywhere actually," Coda muttered.
"What?" My arms fell to my sides. Coda was at the top of the food chain in our world, one of the strongest males that currently walked the earth. For him to acknowledge that he was in danger was not a good sign.
"Hakota. He's looking for me." He said flatly. "Well, looking for you actually. And before you ask," he went on before I could ask the pressing question, "no, he does not think you're alive. Quite the opposite in fact, but he thinks I have your body."
I frowned in confusion. Why would Hakota hunt Coda to find me, or rather my dead body? "He thinks you would have just kept my corpse for two years?"
Coda shrugged, "His assumptions about me are true, I would have taken your body. Lycans go crazy when they believe their mate is dead and they don't know where the body is. Even in death they still wish to protect them. He's weakened without your body, alive or not. Having your corpse would be an advantage and a great bargaining chip."
I rubbed at my temples, all of this was a mess. Nothing could ever be easy for me could it? I waved a hand for Coda to follow me as I began my journey home. "Come on, we'll talk more about this at my house."
We made haste back to my townhouse, being in the open was dangerous for Coda and would only bring trouble to me if people found out who I was or even the fact I associated with the 'alpha' hunter.
Coda made a noise of disgust as he looked around at the tightly crammed buildings lining both sides of the narrow streets. "I can't believe you live somewhere so constricting and...human."
I shot him a smirk as I stepped up to my door and unlocked it, pushing it open and gesturing for Coda to enter. He snorted as he walked past me into my small home. I closed the door behind myself and locked it back up. Coda was standing in the middle of the room scowling as he looked around. "Why do I smell a strong male scent?"
I patted his shoulder as I walked past him. "Down boy, no one is going to jump out and attack us. You just smell Sebastian."
"Sebastian?" If I wasn't mistaken there was a hint of a growl in his voice.
"What are you, my father?" The words slipped out before I could stop them. I flushed in embarrassment at the silence that ensued. We both knew that Coda was more of a father to me than Eric Farland ever was.
Instead of making it awkward, Coda just replied, "The last time you got involved with a male it ended with your throat ripped out."
I stuck out my tongue at him and flopped down on the couch, kicking up my feet on the coffee table. "If I'm not mistaken we came here to talk about said male not Sebastian."
"You need to come back. Now." Coda got straight to the point.
I pursued my lips. Instead of flat out refusing him like I wanted to I asked the simple question. "Why?"
"Do you even have an inkling of what a pain in the ass it is to have to set false trails and constantly move the pack? I've had to associate with those Lunars, who practically set me up for the lycans to find just so they could get a shot at Hakota. I've lied to a lot of people for you Cleo." I didn't bother telling him I went by Rala now, that would just get us into another heated debate. "And I don't mind killing people for you, but I will not sacrifice the pack's life so you can continue to flounce around the Old Kingdom and sulk."
"And if I come back to be alpha of the hunters, then what?" I twirled my hand in the air. "Somehow that will make everything better?"
"I need you to be with me Cleo. I need to know you are safe. We can't afford the lunars getting ahold of you and using you against Hakota in this war, but we cannot have Hakota knowing you are alive. He's weakened right now, and he needs to stay that way."
"I'm not going to kill him," I told him darkly and withdrew my legs from the coffee table. "We made a deal, Coda," I said, stabbing the glass table with a finger, "the hunters are neutral. We leave the lycans alone."
"And I'm trying to uphold that promise, Cleo, but the hunters want to leave. They want to fight against the lycans and use the Lunars to help. There's too much animosity and bad blood between hunters and lycans. Even knowing it would be a losing fight, they refuse to be complacent and let the lycans take over."
I rubbed a finger across my lips. I had figured it would eventually come to this, I was not foolish enough to believe that Coda could keep them in check against the lycans when the hate was so strong. "Tell them they are free to leave if they wish but the pack will not get involved. Get the senior members who know what a war with the lycans is like on your side. Although they despise the lycans they are not reckless like the younger generations. If you can pull them to your side the others will be more apt to reason."
"How about you pull them to your side? Come back with me Cleo."
"I can't do that Coda. I'll only bring destruction and death with me which is why you should stop protecting me. Do not sacrifice your life, or anyone's for my own. I'll deal with whatever comes my way," I said, getting to my feet. "I'm no longer your responsibility Coda," I gave him a small smile, "I'm not your apprentice anymore."
"You'll always just be that helpless human pup to me," he replied in a flat tone and a serious face.
I flicked his nose, "asshole."
Coda caught my hand and squeezed my fingers, "You need to be careful now more than ever. Hakota is coming unhinged." I took his warning to heart, knowing the worst of this war had yet to come. "And if he ever believes that you are alive, promise me you will not fall for his traps. Whatever he does to lure you out, promise me you will stay hidden." His grip tightened on my fingers. His eyes bored into mine with an intensity so fierce I almost made the promise.
I smiled weakly at him and pulled my hand out of his. "I can't make that promise Coda, but I'll do everything I can to make sure he will never have anything to lure me out with."
Coda inhaled a long breath, exhaling defeatedly. "Good enough for now."
I chuckled softly, "Well that's all you're getting so I'm glad you are making the best of it."
My mentor ruffled my hair like I was but a young child. "Well, if I can't convince you to come back I should probably tell you something."
That peaked my interest. "Hmm?"
Coda took a seat on the small sofa, gesturing for me to sit. "As you probably know your father was never really honest with you." He ran his hand down his face, something he only did when he was about to admit something he'd rather not speak of. "We knew long before Hakota took you away that he was your mate."
"But how is that possible? Hakota and I never made contact before that day, there's no way that..." Coda's expression told me that I was so very wrong and it was in that moment that I realized I really did know nothing and that perhaps my whole life had been one giant box of lies wrapped up with manipulation and tied with a bow of bad luck.
"Would you like to know why he killed your mother?"
I swallowed thickly before nodding shakily, not sure that if for once in my life I didn't want to know the truth.
"Before you get to that," a sharp voice interjected, "I'd like to know what the hell is going on here and why the alpha of the hunters is sitting in the living room?"
Our heads whipped around to the staircase where Sebastian was leaning against the railing with a hardly veiled pissed off expression on his face.