The Mating Games

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Chapter 4

The day dragged, dusk only coming after hours of avoiding conversations and enduring envious gazes. Dinner was skipped, and now my initial intentions of peace were being overshadowed by the emptiness of my stomach.

No peace, my wolf argued, hackles raised at the thought of her competition. Unworthy in her opinion. We will go to war for our male.

I did not reply because I was uncomfortable with her possessiveness. She had already stuck her claim on Alpha Cole which meant this plan could not be backed out of. Not that it was going to be in the first place.

I could tell when the rest of the males arrived by aura, of course, and by the change in demeanor of the females around me. Their backs straightened, tilted their heads back in faux confidence, and distanced themselves from the weak friendships they fooled themselves into believing existed. Independence was the look they were going for and very few pulled it off.

Some were even daring enough to shift towards me as if they wanted to look like I tolerated their presence. I sneered in response, and they decided their lives were worth more than their dignity.

The atmosphere almost grew suffocating as warriors and title holding wolves made their way onto the property. Arousal could be scented in the air and all females tried to look for the weak link. No one dared to glance at me.

My senses were becoming strained looking for the only man that mattered in the bunch and even I can admit to disappointment when he was not found. He had until midnight-two hours. Then we would be paraded outside, put on display like we were a piece of meat. But unlike a century ago, we got to choose who the lucky consumer would be. If there would be a consumer. If not, we would just walk away. And some of us were willing to do it so many times until we were considered spoiled, no longer suited to eat.

She-wolves gathered around manor windows and only then did it seem like there were a lot of us. In reality, the ratio would probably be about one to five. Competition would be fierce.

The entrance of a late body caught my attention and proceeded to hold it. The way she carried herself was similar to myself with her posture relaxed but on the defensive. Calculating blue eyes scanned the room until they landed on me, meeting and holding my gaze. I smirked and the eyes narrowed.

I could smell no ranking on her, so perhaps she was a warrior. Her toned arms and lean legs could be offered as proof. Or maybe she was a normal she-wolf with the confidence of a woman who had been exposed to the real world. Either way, I now had some competition.

I offered no other greeting, simply continued to concentrate on Alpha Cole’s arrival. The dismissal would be considered disrespectful but I had no intention of engaging in petty drama while I was in this competition. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.

A maid came by offering champagne, her face tight in anxiousness. I ignored the way her hands shook, quickly scanning her body for a sign this nervousness might not be caused by me. When I saw no physical harm, I shook my head politely. “Not a big fan of champagne, do you have whiskey?”

My response was not one she was expecting and her face flushed. “I do not believe so, ma’am. My deepest apologies.” Her submissive posture and worried tone made my heart go out to her. I ducked so I could catch her eye and offered a reassuring smile.

“That’s fine. I’m not sure this is the best situation to be drinking in, would you agree?” Shyly, the young girl nodded her head, bowing slightly before scurrying off. My eyes followed her until she was out of the room.

The women were still looking out the window by the time 11:30 rolled around. And there was still no sign of alpha Cole. My wolf gave a dejected sigh and I contemplated following suit. My father had probably been misled. After all, the infamous alpha had never attended these things. I searched through the males and found a few promising gammas, even a Beta. I contemplated ending it now but my pack was in a desperate situation. It would have to be the Beta, then.

Tensions had began to rise and it seemed she wasn’t the only one baffled by a certain absence. Whispered conversations started, girls trying to tell each other that they would be the one he picked.

My wolf growled, not enjoying the fantasies so openly involving her mate. I gently reminded her that he was no longer an option, that we were just going to have to settle for someone else.

No, him. The finality should have shocked me but living with her for so long had gotten me used to the stubbornness. And I had always been able to talk her out of it. Not this time, she insisted.

We have no other choice. We have a pack back home that needs us to find a mate at this competition.” We began lining up to be let out of the house, myself maneuvering to the end of the line.

Then we go to his pack, she suggested. I simply rolled me eyes. Being captured was not on my list of to-do lists.

Five minutes until we were to be released, I felt it. The unmistakable aura of an alpha. And not just any alpha. One of the strongest. I had obviously never met Alpha Cole but if his presence was something alone to go by, then I am grateful I have had time to prepare before coming face to face with such a menace.

His aura was dark and intense with waves of superiority radiating off of him in constant intervals. The power made my knees weaken but I couldn’t tell if it was submission or desire.

Our male is strong, my wolf purred. I couldn’t bring myself to focus on her possessiveness because I knew it would be hypocritical. I wanted this male just as much as she did, competition be damned.

The arousal in the room intensified and from the earlier conversations I knew that I would have to beat out many to have the privilege of beginning to court him. Or, giving him the privilege of courting me. This went both ways.

Three minutes.

Some were giving final touches to their outfits and makeup. Some were praying. Some seemed to be paralyzed in fear. Only two seemed confident in what their next moves were going to be. Myself and the blue-eyed warrior. And my intuition told me our moves were going to be the same.

Two minutes.

I tried my best to pinpoint his exact location, knowing this could be an advantage I had. The aura was not near-making it all the more impressive- and seemed to be situated on the very edge of the border. Almost five miles away. It would seem he was in no hurry. I guess we had better rush him, then.

One minute.

Brace positions were being made, bodies angled to shove in order to get where they wanted to go quickly. Even blue eyes looked ready to pounce. I smiled to myself. Amateur. I simply prepared myself for my wolf to take control, ready to run to meet my mate.

Go.

The double doors opened and females rushed out. Males stayed a couple hundred yards back, rightly hesitant to get swept into the small crowd of eager women. Distance was no matter, for they were reached in seconds. True mates were looked for first, and I suppose that is what I should have been doing but it definitely wasn’t. I had other priorities.

Walking past the males to shift proved to be a slight ordeal. They sensed my rank and were eager to approach, but my snarls were effective in pushing them away. Once a safe distance, one where shifting wouldn’t be considered a threat, I let my wolf take control of my body.

Concentrating, we knew what general direction to head. The specifics would only reveal themselves once we got close enough to smell him. And then close enough to taste him, my wolf lustfully thought. The idea was not sounding entirely bad and had I been back at the manor, maybe it would have been my own arousal that appeared. But my curiosity was over-riding my mature thoughts. He was said to be young but what was he like? Would I be forced to sacrifice my happiness so a cruel man could help me take control of my pack?

We were barely a mile away, almost close enough to smell him, when I sensed a change. He was becoming hostile, maybe even a little antsy. He knew we were coming. And for some reason it only pushed us harder, excited at the thought of a chase. Or even a fight. Show us what you’re made of.

In less than ten seconds, everything changed. What was once an aura turned into a feeling and it came on so quickly that we stumbled. We were enveloped in the epitome of comfort, no hostility or darkness. Just warmth and forest and a hint of cinnamon.

My wolf whined, pushing us further. It was after the shock of scent that I noticed Alpha Cole wasn’t in the same spot as before. He was running towards us.

I had no time to warn or strategize because less than a second later we collided with a mass of fur and muscle. And yet that huge body could not stop us, only propelled us into a roll over it and onto the ground. Branches and grass hit us on the face and the rough ground could be felt chafing my skin, but such a minor injury would be healed in seconds.

I could not afford to focus on any other potential energies. No, all of my attention was being called to a few yards away where the giant, black wolf handled the collision in a slightly more elegant way. I guess there was too much adrenaline to notice the spark that had slowly faded from where his skin touched mine.

I sensed no true danger but his aura had changed. Instead of dark it was simply overpowering. This wolf was emitting strong emotions but there were so many of them I couldn’t be sure if I needed to be on defensive.

Rising, I slowly crept towards him as he turned to face me. Exaggerated movements on his part warned me he wasn’t going to attack- and that I shouldn’t either.

His side profile revealed a scar that ran from the top of his skull through his muzzle, and the slightly puckered, white skin presented a starch contrast. My wolf licked her lips in anticipation and I leaned forward in interest from my spot in the front of her mind.

When he was fully revealed to us, we took our time basking in the sight of him. His power suited him. His stance was confident but stuck in a natural offensive manner. His stature alone enough to make wolves of lesser size fearful. A bear would have to be standing on its hind legs to outmatch his height. Muscular but lithe legs were hidden under a thin coat of dark fur, and shoulders that probably spanded a twin sized bed were sat on top of them. By the time we reached his eyes, it seemed like he was observing us, as well. The leisurely movement was almost discerning but we knew we had nothing to worry about. For a female wolf, we were quite impressive.

Not as impressive as he is, my wolf purred. I had to agree.

The anticipation was palpable when he finally got to our face. Look us in the eye.

As if he heard my silent command, his eyes snapped up. And my heart stopped.

When it started beating again, I wasn’t the same person I was before. No words had been spoken between us yet I knew that I would sacrifice myself for him without thinking, that I would never be able to feel for someone what I had the capability of feeling for him. My natural nature to dominate could learn to be shared and perhaps I had a shot at genuine, selfless happiness.

All of a sudden, his body began to reform and his fur shed. A very naked and very attractive man now stood in front of me, his eyes darkened with the promise of a raw encounter. And then a deep voice echoed from soft-looking lips and I knew my panties, along with myself, were goners.

“Shift.”

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