Chapter 4: The Meeting
Coming to a clearing, I wrapped my arms tightly around myself trying to steady my breathing. I was shaking, Who was that? What is this feeling? If I didn’t know any better I would mistake the tightness in my chest, the racing of my heart beating so fast I thought it might explode, the feeling of all the hairs on my body standing on end, as exhilarating. No, it felt dangerous. Exciting, but dangerous.
Was he a threat? Why was he staring at me? I tried to reach my wolf but she was angry with me for leaving, she wanted to jump over that barrier and confront the white wolf. I shuddered again, when his eyes locked onto mine, I literally forgot to breathe. I didn’t want to think what would have happened if I was closer to him, whoever he was.
Shaking my head trying to clear my thoughts, I walked further into the clearing to find a small waterfall. To my left was a cliff face that projected from the ground at a sharp right angle, creating a smooth rock face.
Crouching by the edge of the stream that it fed, I stared into the clear water trying to make sense of what had happened. I’m sure he was looking right at me, but why?
I stood with Orion and the others in the tent set up for the race participants that was to signal the start of the games.
Look at them, we can beat them easily, my wolf sneered.
Ughh, I groaned to myself, I can’t believe we let Jarrod talk us into this. I cannot lose control. We still need to make these games about peace, if our pack was to win at every game it could be seen as a threat to the other alphas, I reminded him.
Always sooo boring, he replied, not like the old days.
No, not like the old days, I agreed.
“Luca, come meet our competition.” I heard Orion say, drawing me away from my thoughts.
Nodding I met him standing with three other men. Alpha Kean was about our height, had a lean build, tan skin and had dirty blonde hair. Alphas Darren and Ellis were cousins, both a few inches shorter than Orion and I. Both had darker skin, deep brown hair and matching eyes. I greeted them in turn, ignoring the cold stares I received. I was used to it, the reputation of my outcast pack and my own brutal past no doubt preceded me.
Hearing Atlas’ speech draw down, I knew it was almost time. Stripping down with the other racers, I shifted, shaking my shoulders at the feeling of being free.
Orion was to my right, “Ready for this brother?” I said through mind link.
“Ready to give you a run for your money, my mate is out there watching, so we better make this good.” He replied his wolf’s black face turning slightly to wink at me.
“Oh, don’t worry.” I sneered, “I’ll slow down for you.”
And with that he heard Atlas finish. Raising our heads to howl, we emerged from the tent to file in at the starting line.
The shot rang out and I leapt forward, making sure to keep my movements in check so that I would only keep up with Orion, and not exceed him by too great a length. He was being honest, his speed had increased in the time since our training back in the day, but then again so had mine.
As we rounded the first corner a glimpse of red caught my eye from the stands, at first I thought it was fire I saw it for such a brief instant. Then a scent hit me, it smelled sweet like cinnamon but had a warm depth like the waves of heat that rose from an open flame. I scanned my eyes over the crowd trying to locate the source, but we were running too quickly. I would make sure to slow down on the next lap.
One lap passed, then another and I could only gather short bursts of that smell. Saliva dripped down my muzzle not from the physical exertion from running, but from whatever that mouthwatering scent was. On the fourth lap I saw her then. Flaming red hair on a girl descending the stadium steps right next to the track.
Stop, my wolf commanded, but I was already slowing my pace. She rose her gaze to meet mine and I felt a jolt deep within my chest. It was as if my heart had forgotten its rhythm and time stilled. All too soon, Kean’s wolf raced past me, clipping my shoulder and breaking the moment. I stumbled and searched for her in the stands, she was gone.
Follow her, I heard my wolf growl. I had not heard him command me in a while as punishment for not releasing his full power in many moons.
I – I can’t, we have to finish the race, I hesitated.
Fine, then I will finish it for you, my wolf sneered before leaping forward using a bit of his own power. And I let him.
I felt myself race around the track tapping into my wolf’s strength. I soon eclipsed Kean and blurred past Orion as I finished the last lap. Not stopping at the finish line, I rounded the bend and leapt over the railing separating the track from the stands. People fled out of the way as I frantically sniffed the air and ground trying to locate her scent, but she was gone.
I mind linked with Jarrod ordering him to meet me at the entrance of the track with a pack of clothes. Leaping back to the track, I didn’t hesitate to race to the exit. I was not going to lose her, not when she was so close. Jarrod met me with wide eyes, he has never seen me this frantic. Speaking through mind link, “Is it a threat Alpha?” he questioned.
“No, I don’t think so but I have to be sure.” He nodded in understanding handing over a pack of clothes for when I shift back, I took them in my mouth and continued my search. I had to find her, find out who she was.
Exiting the races, still in my wolf form I found her scent outside of the stands, I followed it through the field and out the main gates. Nose to the ground I followed her trail down a walking path until I heard the sound of running water. Slowly, I crept forward as not to scare her as the trail grew stronger. I had to consciously remember to breathe as her scent threatened to overwhelm my enhanced wolf senses.
Crouching by a stream next to a picturesque waterfall, I could see her there. Bright red hair curled over her shoulders, her black and white polka dot sundress hugged every curve. My eyes scanned over her body again and again trying to decipher if she was real or an illusion created to taunt me. Unconsciously I stepped forward, snapping some leaves under my weight. Quickly she turned to face me, her light gray eyes flecked with gold shining in the morning light. I was captivated by every part of her. Inhaling deeply, I stepped forward into the clearing.
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