Chapter 3: Feral
Hailey awakened with a start.
She heard the distant sound of a car’s engine roar alive and it drove further away. She was sure it was someone from the Centauri family; and that it would be Gabriel since he always left for work first.
Hailey rolled out of bed and got dressed for the day ahead of her. Today, she was taking her class on a hike around the Centauri property, it was a beautiful sunny day and it would be a lot more fun than being locked up in a classroom. Hailey wore more comfortable clothes than her usual attire and left for work.
The Centauri Institute was quite a massive building with multiple training grounds, a swimming pool, there was also a private school for all the minors in the pack to attend without leaving the territory. She also knew that Klaus Centauri trained the students and also taught a few general classes. It was an impressive establishment and Klaus proved to be a capable young man to run the Institute with Viola and Hunter. But for Hailey, she worked best with the small pups. Pack members that left the grounds for work would leave their kids at the facility under her care, she loved all the pups that came every day, and she could not wish for a better job.
“Good morning, Hailey,” a familiar voice spoke behind Hailey. It was Viola.
“Good morning,” answered Hailey.
Viola was a beautiful woman; she had sun-kissed blonde hair and beautiful emerald green eyes that turned a brilliant shade of jade under the sun rays, she had long limbs and a trained body that she seemed always at ease with the way she would walk around the building, she exuded confidence and dominance through every fibre of her body just like her brothers. She was constantly surrounded by her brothers, but she was never over-shadowed. All the eyes were on her when she stepped into a room with stilettos that could slay and a dress worth more than a house.
“Leon told me you’re taking the pups on a hike,” she said brightly.
“Yes, I am,” said Hailey. “I thought it would be fun to show them the property.”
“Would you mind if I joined you?” asked Viola. “It’s my day off, but I’m bored and I need something to do.”
“No, not at all,” astonished Hailey. “You never need to ask.”
Viola smiled with her perfect white teeth. “Come on,” she put her arm around Hailey’s shoulder. “Let’s go get those rowdy pups.”
Another night passed and Hunter got no sleep.
He didn’t even bother turning on the lights in his dark and cold room that was pretty plain; a massive bed sat in the middle and it faced a small couch and flat-screen tv. A few photo frames sat on the side table and that was about it. Hunter didn’t decorate his room like his siblings had. Hunter kept everything self-sufficient, he didn’t need to fret over his room or keep it extra tidy, since he had to stay alert almost all the time. And at this moment, he was more alert than ever. All night he couldn’t stop thinking of Hailey Swan. He read up on her and found out that she had lost her parents to a car accident before she graduated high school. She left for London to study psychology and art, she even topped her class and got through University with scholarships alone. Hunter was impressed and figured out why Viola didn’t think twice before hiring Hailey. She was a bright young female who excelled in anything she did, Hunter felt pride but more than that, he felt a little sick. All Hunter could offer was the ghosts of his past and the body count of all his victims.
Annoyed and agitated, Hunter pulled on some shorts and a plain t-shirt. He opened the door to the balcony and his body was engulfed with crisp morning air. Hunter’s was exhilarated to the heights that only the morning air could conjure, his blood pumped through his veins and his body was fired alive but his wolf seemed less interested. Hunter leaped off the balcony ledge and the sturdy ground caught his agile feet that withstood the fatal fall.
Hunter enjoyed that the birds sang with great glee this morning, but his wolf wasn’t impressed. The sun was blazing bright with a few fluffy clouds, he secretly walked down to the river and spotted the cabin on the side, he could smell that it was empty, and knew that Hailey was probably at the Institute like his sister. Hunter’s wolf which was so bored before, suddenly roared alive and it started to pace. Hunter rolled his eyes at his wolf’s behaviour and began his morning run with great speed that excited every muscle of his body.
Hunter pushed passed bushes and trees that surrounded the entire property, which was the way he liked it. He loved the entire area they called home. It was calm and private where no interruptions were made and no one ever messed with them on their territory. Hunter could easily smell the Centauri signature pine scent marked over every corner of their secluded property; it warded off strangers and enemies.
Hunter reached a small mountain peak, when he heard chattering kids and his sister’s laughter mixed with someone else’s in the distance. He inched closer to investigate, but he soon realized that was a mistake when that remarkable lilac and vanilla scent washed over him, his wolf stirred alive with a lucid howl even though Hunter exhausted both of them with the run just now.
Hunter got a bit closer and cleared his vision that stopped him from seeing Hailey clearly. Oh, and his sister. He spotted a dozen little kids holding hands with Hailey in the centre, she wore a pair of ripped denim shorts that showed her toned legs and cupped her voluptuous ass that he approved of greatly, out of all colours, she wore a bright red tank-top that didn’t hide her heavy breasts- it just put them more on display, which set him off and angered his wolf beyond reason.
Hunter watched Hailey in awe, she had the brightest smile as she showed the kids the lake in front of her house, she may be a submissive wolf but her radiance was something outwardly for him and his domineering wolf, he had never seen someone so carefree with their time.
Hunter leaned against a tree as he observed Hailey Swan steal a moment of his time he didn’t know he could spare, but as he stood there, he felt as if time had frozen and all that he could remember was the laughter of the pups, and Hailey’s bright fresh aura that his wolf craved beyond anything else. Hunter’s wolf clawed internally at Hunter for him to go to Hailey, but he didn’t oblige his raging wolf, and then brazenly his wolf threatened Hunter to get closer to his woman. Hunter didn’t need his wolf telling him that, since he witnessed her joyful demeanour, he himself wished to get a dose of her contagious energy that was making him happier by the second.
“Viola,” Hunter called out to his sister.
Viola turned with a smile. “Oh, good morning.”
Hunter smiled and approached her, he would have thought that his presence would alert Hailey to stop and pay attention to him but she hadn’t, she was too busy frolicking in the lake with the pups.
“What’re you doing here?” He asked his sister hiding his slightly annoyance.
“We were just-” Viola froze and took a few moments to ponder, but then she looked at him with a grin, she laced her arms and blinked a couple of times. “Is that what I think I smell,” she remarked.
Hunter knew what she was thinking in that clever head of hers. “No,” he gritted out.
“Yes, it is,” Viola’s smile broadened. “Who is it?”
Hunter glowered at his sister. He was about to deny everything, when that intoxicating scent came closer.
“We’re about to head back, Viola,” announced Hailey chirpily.
Instantly, Viola’s eyes widened making Hunter want to tackle her. “You know my brother Hunter, right Hailey?” asked Viola.
“Who doesn’t,” mumbled Hailey. “Hi,” she greeted him.
He bit the insides of his cheeks and nodded, he acknowledged her simple yet sweet smile. Hunter glared at Viola daring her to say anything further about him.
“We were just out showing the pups the territory,” said Viola.
Despite everything, Hunter was slightly surprised. “That’s a great idea,” he thought critically. “They’re young, so they’ll learn the routes faster.”
“It was actually Hailey’s idea,” said Viola with a sly smile.
Hunter glanced at Hailey, her cheeks had reddened from his sincere compliment which made his wolf go a little crazier than he preferred, but he didn’t mind.
“I just wanted them to have some fun,” admitted Hailey. “But thanks for liking my idea.”
Viola had a goofy smile plastered on her face.
Hunter could read that Hailey was confused by Viola’s behaviour and slightly nervous, he found it quite cute that anything she was feeling showed on her face. “You’re welcome,” he answered Hailey.
Viola suddenly patted his shoulder like she was a proud mother, she walked away from Hailey’s field of vision before turning to face him, his brow arched and she threw him a mischievous wink.
Hunter rolled his eyes and looked back at Hailey who was helping a pup tie his shoelaces. “Thank you for your great work at the institute,” he said to her.
Her smile pierced his soul and her silvery blue gaze bored into his memory. “I love working there,” she told him openly. “But I wouldn’t call my work great, since I don’t do half as much as you and your family.”
“My family’s only able to work properly because we have the pack’s cooperation,” said Hunter. “Which we are nothing but grateful for.” Hunter lost himself in her eyes that did something other than just gaze at him, he hadn’t noticed how mesmerizing they were, his wolf growled when she turned away from them. Hunter could smell the scent Viola was talking about and he was curious if Hailey picked it up, but from her calm demeanour he guessed she hadn’t, which left him kind of disappointed. Usually, the bonding scent wasn’t something one can just ignore especially for a Centauri. Hunter wondered if she was ignoring the scent deliberately or just hadn’t realized it.
“I’ll join you,” said Hunter because he had to confirm if this was real, he had to know if this wasn’t just some fleeting attraction. His wolf smugly took a seat back and let Hunter confirm what his wolf already knew.
“You don’t have to,” said Hailey. “I’m sure you have more important things to do.”
“Not at all,” he said. “The pups are just as important to me, and it would be beneficial for them to take a walk with their beta.”
Hailey nodded. “Come on, kids,” she ushered the pups to gather around them. “Another special guest will be joining us today,” she announced. “Hunter Centauri, the pack beta.”
The pups’ mouths dropped open when they the craned their neck to stare at the domineering male, that looked scarier than the monsters in their books. But they knew who he was and recognized that he wasn’t someone they should fear, instead they felt protection and pure feral strength.
“What do we say to our beta, kids?” asked Hailey.
“Thank you!” They all yelled together.
Hailey instructed the class to follow her as Viola went to the back making sure no pup fell behind, Hunter in a few strides reached Hailey’s side.
“I’m surprised the pups listen to you,” he said. “They are the only wolves that can’t be controlled by authority.”
Hailey laughed and it was music to Hunter’s ears. “Believe me, it wasn’t easy at first,” she told him openly. “I had to earn their trust before they listened to me.”
“Other than Klaus, Viola and Vincent were crazy pups,” said Hunter. He erupted with a short laugh as he remembered his own younger siblings. Gabriel and him had to chase them back and forth just to get them to listen to their simple requests, and then there was Hailey, who made it seem like child’s play.
Hailey tilted her head. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you laugh,” she said. Hunter slightly blushed which surprised even him. “It’s nice,” she continued showing the pups the long trails leaving Hunter all flustered.
Viola appeared as Hunter observed Hailey. “She’s the one, isn’t she,” stated Viola.
“I think so,” he found himself confessing.
“I’m so happy for you,” said Viola. “I can’t wait to tell everyone.”
“No,” said Hunter. “Not yet.”
“Why not?” She asked him. “This is good news, Hunter.”
“I have to be sure,” he said.
“You look like you’re about to eat her,” exclaimed Viola.
“Is it that obvious?” He asked her grimly.
“This isn’t like picking flowers in a garden, Hunter,” advised Viola. “If you feel that she’s your mate, then there’s no doubt about it. And I couldn’t be happier.” Viola snuggled under his arm and hugged his waist; it was something she always did as a kid.
Hailey stood with the pups trying to ignore her curiosity over what Viola was discussing with Hunter. It wasn’t hard to notice that they were staring at her, which lead her to wonder if they were talking about her.
Hailey’s gut churned wondering if she was in trouble, but she didn’t do anything worth getting in trouble for, and besides, they liked her idea of the hike. So, why were they talking so quietly? She marvelled by herself.
Hailey perched herself on top of a flat boulder and let the pups get familiarized with the new scents and land. She swung her legs back and forth hypnotically as she recalled how surprised she was when Hunter Centauri found them. He had a pair of black shorts on that showed his muscled calves that had to be fake, like no one could have such a toned body. His white shirt was form-fitted and hugged his broad shoulders and chest, but those sharp amber eyes that melted like honey and gold got her tangled in a way she had never felt before. She knew she couldn’t avoid talking to him since his sister was with her, so she summed up a drop of courage and faced his deep scowl that slightly lightened when he was with his sister.
Hailey knew that Hunter may be a bad-ass beta, but he had a soft side that was saved just for his family. Hailey found herself smiling when she remembered his small laughter that erupted accidentally when he let his guard down, she was mesmerized and bewitched. She wondered to herself why she was so affected by Hunter, his scent and his spirit riled her wolf more than she would like to admit.
But Hailey didn’t ponder for long, since Hunter would never even consider that something could happen between them. She will just concentrate on her work and if she makes a few friends like Viola and Hunter along the way, then that would be even better. But could Hailey be just friends with Hunter? She couldn’t answer that question.
“Okay, kids,” announced Hailey. “Let’s head back to the Institute.”
“No,” all the kids groaned together.
“Can’t we stay a little longer, Ms. Swan?” asked Griffin.
“Please,” a few more added.
“Just let them stay a little longer,” said Viola.
“I can’t,” said Hailey sadly. “I hate to be the buzz kill, but it’s just protocol.”
“She’s right,” Hunter pitched in surprising Hailey. “But they’re with the beta today, I think we can bend a few rules.” Hunter motioned for the kids to follow him down a forest trail.
“But-” Hailey was already too late to stop the Centauri siblings. She huffed but she knew that nothing would happen to those pups whilst Hunter was with her.
Hailey waited outside the Institution’s doors whilst all the pack members returned to pick up their pups. Hunter waited with her and greeted many of the pack members that hadn’t seen him in a while. He was comfortable but still emitted dominance wherever he went, she had never seen the pups get so comfortable around anyone before. Hunter was their beta and the pups instantly recognized that authority, but they also felt protection like she had, and just like her, the pups were ready to follow him wherever he went.
Hailey watched how the pups ran to their mother’s open arms and climbed over their father’s shoulders, she remembered the lonesome memory of her own parents that had left her a long time ago. She never liked visiting that part of her life and never ventured far when those thoughts did come up.
“Hey, you okay?” asked Viola.
Hailey snapped out of her trance. “Huh?”
“You alright?” She asked again.
“Yes, thanks,” she answered Viola.
Hailey felt this striking jolt down her back, her eyes lifted and she found Hunter watching her. She looked away from his gaze, it was so unraveling the way his observant eyes could read everything about her. Hailey felt like he knew exactly what she was thinking and it bothered her just as much as it pleased her wolf.
Viola walked off to talk to the short old lady, that had silver hair coiled into a chignon and a pair of circular glasses which rested on her hooked nose. It was elder Mary-Jane. She came to pick up her seventh granddaughter Sylvia.
“Are you off for the rest of the day?” Hunter suddenly appeared from beside her.
Hailey swallowed the tightness in her throat. “Yes,” she said. “But I have some chores to do at the house.”
Hunter nodded and casually stood next to her, it didn’t go unnoticed how close he was standing next to her, his shoulder brushed against hers and the heat that radiated off his body warmed her. Her breath heightened and all she was surrounded by was that dark scent; it almost felt like it was seeping into her own flesh and bones.
“Thank you for helping today,” said Hailey to avoid the growing silence. “I know the pups were happy to see you.”
Hunter turned and faced her, but she kept looking ahead of her. She knew his amber eyes were watching her and he was giving her his full attention, which made her even more nervous. “I’m happy to serve,” he said. “But my reason for helping them was pretty selfish.”
Hailey froze, but her body heated. “Wh- what was the reason?” She asked after reminding herself to just keep breathing.
“I think you know,” he whispered.
Hailey’s eyes widened and she flushed terribly. “No,” she shook her head. “No, I don’t.”
Hunter laughed softly for only her ears to hear. “Well, why don’t I leave you for today to think about it,” he said huskily before he strode off and she didn’t even bother looking where.
Hunter signalled to Viola before returning to the house. Hunter didn’t know what was happening, he found his mate so abruptly it shook him to the very core. And not only that, his mate was a bundle of sunshine that he wasn’t even aware that he needed, no, craved. Hailey Swan was his mate but now he had no idea what to do, he had to claim her as soon as he could, although he wasn’t worried since he already left his scent on her to ward off other wolves from touching what’s his and his wolf’s.
“Hey,” a voice stopped Hunter’s pacing. It was Vincent. “Are you alright?” Vincent asked him.
“No,” said Hunter and instantly a flash of feral instincts replaced the ease in Vincent’s hazel eyes.
Vincent stiffened and cut the phone stopping all business for his brother. “What do you need?” he asked sternly.
Abruptly, the front door swung open and Viola ran inside. “I called Gabriel,” she announced. “He’s on his way.”