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The moose we had just enjoyed had been delicious, but it was nowhere near enough. With a pack as big as ours, it is going to take several more kills tonight for us all to get our fill. Not that anyone minds – the hunt is when we can allow our wolves to take over, we surrender to our inner beast. Only an orgasm feels better, but it’d be a close call. When Harou is in charge, I’m at my fastest and strongest. When it comes time to return to ‘normal’, and Nate takes over, the human side of me brings the good and bad of what that entails. More intelligent, logical - capable of empathy and love.

With Harou at my side, I have never spent a single day in fear.

We work in synch like a single entity instead of two separate souls sheltered within the shell that is me, Nathaniel Douglas. He is my spiritual other half and together we are a whole. Or so I always thought. All of that changed when I became Alpha of our pack, Erie Waters, when my father died two years ago. When the crown fell to me, I became acutely aware of the aching emptiness in my heart and in my life. Mate. I needed and finally wanted to find my mate.

Until then I was more than happy fucking any she-wolf willing to spread her legs for me, and as the son of the Alpha, that was a lot of women. I made conquests in every pack we visited on my father’s diplomatic tours, where I was always welcomed in the hopes that I would find my mate somewhere in their ranks. I never did. I didn’t actively seek her out, but from what I’ve been told by all of the happy lovesick assholes around me – I won’t have to. I’ll know it is her without a doubt, regardless of the circumstances. Sounds like a bunch of romantic bullshit to me, especially since I’m now thirty and my mate continues to remain elusive. Dumb.

I know there are murmurings in my pack about my lack of a partner, and heir, given my ancient age of thirty. Jesus, you’d think I was ready to retire. But in truth, for a werewolf, I should be partnered by now – and as an Alpha I have a fucking responsibility to my pack. So romantic. Why I haven’t found her yet, I don’t know – but it is also very possible I never will. So now I have to consider taking a ‘chosen’ – every werewolf’s backup plan. Again, fucking romantic as hell. For centuries we have struggled to maintain our numbers, so we have had to make allowances. Taking chosens as mates is one example, where you pick your life partner - similar to normal human dating, getting engaged and then married. We just do it in one step. The other is mating with humans – still not widely accepted, even after all of this time. The offspring aren’t always werewolves, and none of us see the need to help humans increase their numbers. And a werewolf who has to protect a weak mate is weaker him or herself in battle, and when it comes to fighting, every werewolf who can fight wants to. So not being able to is looked down on, regardless of the reasoning or rationality. Werewolves need to increase their numbers; didn’t mean they were going to stop being stubborn asses about it.

I do have a chosen, and we’ve talked about getting together. Nothing official, but I doubt Jess is going to be happy going like this for much longer. She isn’t much younger than me and keeps talking more and more about pups. When my first reaction every time is the urge to puke, Harou always snickers at me. He doesn’t like Jess and usually gives me the silent treatment for a day or two after I’ve been with her. He is convinced our mate is out there and doesn’t want to settle for anyone else. I am trying to be reasonable and am sick of the whispers about my singledom.

One of the pack mindlinks the rest of us and tells us about the herd of deer his wolf just sniffed out. Harou picks up his pace in excitement, and I can hear the thunder of paws all around me. Heavy panting breaths fill the air as my pack runs in the direction of the deer, fanning out and forming into two separate formations automatically as the herd of deer split. My group are following the large half of the split and there are five deer, the other half of my pack are following the final two. We’ll bring them all down, and everyone is going home tonight with a full stomach.

The pain hits me first in the chest, and it feels like I imagine being hit by a speeding car would feel like. Strong. Hard. Fucking awful. So much pain. My front two legs collapse under the agony, and I flip ass end over, sliding my face through the rough forest floor. When I land, I’m stunned and remain laying on my side for a moment to catch my breath. What the fuck was that? Hurt.

Oh God! More pain! Every part of my body feels as if it is on fire, but underneath it is a new sensation I’ve never experienced before – terror. Hurt! I don’t understand what’s happening, but I know it isn’t my terror I’m feeling. I hear whimpering, and I know it is coming from Harou. As much pain as I’m feeling, he is in fucking anguish. Whatever ‘this’ is, is it hurting him more because we’re in his form? What. Is. Happening?

My Beta and closest friend, Samuel runs up to me. Using mindlink since we can’t speak in our wolf forms, he asks me what is wrong. As I lay on the ground in front of him, I stumble over my explanation. How do you explain something you, yourself, don’t understand?

In the cloud of pain and fear, Harou catches a new scent in the wind. Oranges and chocolate. Holy shit. What the fuck is that? Heaven he tells me. Mate. In the middle of the fucking woods? Nuh uh. Brain aneurysm? Stroke? Cancer? Something is happening because none of this makes any sense, yet this frightening pain is all too real.

Mate! He is insistent, and in seconds we’re off running. Samuel is hot on my heels – the hunt forgotten. I leave our mindlink open because I don’t know how else to explain what is going through my head. Samuel follows me without asking any questions, and it is his strength that keeps me sane when Harou loses control.

We’re running as fast as our four legs will carry us, and the smell is getting stronger. We can also smell gasoline, damaged trees, disturbed soil… blood. Whining, Harou somehow finds the strength to run even faster. Oh God, yes. Heartbeat. Yes. Slow. Really, really slow. She’s scared, no, petrified. She’s also hurt. Badly. I can smell her fear in the air, every animal gives off a scent when injured. She is no exception. Samuel mindlinks the pack to come for protection – other wild animals will smell her too and may be hunting tonight. We’re not the only carnivores in these woods, except we don’t eat people.

For the first time in my existence, I lose control over Harou when her heartbeat stops. We’re still hundreds of yards away but there’s no mistaking the absence of that unmistakable sound. Harou is unable to contain his misery, and the howl he emits is heartbreaking. We never even got to meet her. Moon Goddess – why would you be so cruel? Losing something I didn’t even have breaks something inside of me, so I’m happy to surrender to Harou for eternity. If he wants to run until we die of exhaustion, sounds good. If he wants to run us in front of a semi truck, sounds good. I give up.

Harou’s sorrow affects everyone in our pack, including Samuel. Dozens and dozens of howls soon echo throughout the trees, a sound heard for miles. But their sound is soon blocked out by the violent crashing of Harou throwing our body from tree to tree, as if desperate to hurt outside as badly as we hurt inside. I can distantly hear Samuel’s voice as he talks to me, and his wolf talks to Harou, both desperately trying to bring us back. He keeps us grounded long enough for the best words I’ve ever heard to come through the mindlink.

we got her back

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