Eric Price stared into the dancing flames before him. The entire camp was made up of chatty males and females, all excited for The Hunt two weeks from now.
Staring into his fire, his Beta, Dolph poked the raging fire pit. Eric's Beta was not chatty like the others. One of the many reasons why Eric enjoyed Dolph's company, he wasn't annoying.
"How much further," Eric asked.
"We should be there by next nightfall, sir," Trevor, Eric's brother-in-law spoke, "just around the mountain."
Trevor Ford was Eric's third in command and map. Eric would admit to anyone, without Trevor. Eric and his men would be lost without him, literally.
Eric couldn't think of a better person to navigate his pack to this year's mating grounds for the Hunt. In Eric's opinion, he would have rather had the Hunt back at home where he knew it was safe.
"My Lord, are you not excited for the Hunt?" Trevor spoke with a cat-like-smile.
Eric nearly laughed at his brother-in-law, "It's the same as the last one." All the men around the campfire knew that was true. A bunch of horny females roaming around, waiting for a male to mount them and give them a pup. Likely for Eric, being an Alpha, he had more control than most males. And unlike most males, Eric never mated with a female during the Hunt.
"This year will be different," Trevor laughed.
"Didn't you say that last year," Dolph chimed in.
"That was my year," Trevor huffed.
"And what about Dolph, is it his year too?" Eric laughed shaking his head.
"Like any woman would dare mate with him," Trevor joked. Unfortunately, Dolph wasn't laughing. Dolph growled under his breath, staring daggers at his friend. Trevor put his hands up, "Hey there, boy. It was a joke. You'll find her."
Dolph stared back at the fire, poking it with his stick once more. Eric felt bad for his dear friend, Dolph had always had problems with women. Even when the boys were growing up, the girls would run away screaming for their parents. Unfortunately, Eric never blamed the girls for running away, and neither did Dolph.
Dolph was a man of very few words. He was taller than any male in the twelve packs. He was bigger than most too. Stronger. It didn't help either that he had a mean-looking face, with his body covered in scars.
"He is right," Eric said looking back at the fire, "you'll find your mate."
"If it was that easy," Dolph muttered throwing his stick into the fire. "I'll take the first watch. It's best you get your rest, Alpha," Dolph frowned, getting up, and leaving the fire.
Both Eric and Trevor watched him leave and disappear into the shadows of the trees. The two looked at each other.
Shaking his head, "Get some rest, Trevor," Eric said leaving the fire and retiring in his tent.
Once in his tent, Eric laid on the bed of his fur blankets, on his back. Rest his hands behind his head and yawned.
Tomorrow Eric and his pack would be in the hands of the Black Water Pack. Their Alpha Seth Kelly senior just recently stepped down, letting his son Seth Kelly Jr. took the role as Alpha.
Moving onto his side, Eric closed his eyes. No need worrying about it now.
Blake rolled around in her bed before looking over to her nightstand to see that it was already eight o'clock. The sun's rays beamed passed the blinds on her window. Rolling onto her back, Blake ran her hands over her face. She then sat upright and swung her legs over the edge of the bed.
With her eyes shut, she scratched her head and walked out of the room into the hallway to the bathroom. Touching the doorknob of the bathroom, Blake turned it and pushed.
What the hell.
Blake opened her eyes wide, sniffed the air, and banged on the bathroom door. "You little fuck, this is my bathroom time," she yelled.
In the house of Blake Norton, there are just a few rules you never cross.
Number one rule, eight o'clock to nine o'clock was Blake's private bathroom time. You should never be in the upstairs bathroom during those times.
Number two, never talk to her until she had a cup of coffee in the morning.
Number three, unless someone is dying or the pack was under attack, no one should ever bother her while she slept.
If any of those rules were broken, Blake would be your worst nightmare.
"I'll fucking kill you, Ross. Take you and your stink bomb downstairs!" she yelled.
"I'm sorry!" Ross groaned. "I think it's stuck," he cried and he had a good reason to, once Blake got her hands on her brother he was dead.
"Fucking hell," she muttered marching down the hallway to the staircase. Once down the stair, she turned into the hallway leading to the kitchen and made a left turn to the small half bathroom.
Before entering the bathroom, the kitchen door swung open. Letting the smell of eggs and bacon fill the hallway. "Good morning, Blake. Would you like some breakfast?"
Blake glared at the man wearing her gray apron that says, 'What you See is What you Get, Now Eat!!!'
"Do you want to fuckin die today," she growled.
"No?" he said slowly trying not to look her in the eye.
"Then go take your ass back in the kitchen where it belongs and make me coffee. It better be done once I'm finished."
"Yes, ma'am," he whispered walking back into the kitchen.
Blake quickly disappeared into the bathroom and did her thing before she ended up making a mess all over the floor. She would have been even more pissed off and made Ross and her unwelcome guest clean it up for just breaking two of her rules.
Once Blake was finished in the bathroom. She came into the kitchen to find a fresh cup of coffee and a breakfast made-up of three sunny-side-up eggs, Italian sausages, and hash browns on the table.
Taking her seat at the table, she cupped her hands around her mug and breathed in the of her fresh roasted blend of coffee. With a hint of a smile on her face, she took a sip of her coffee in bliss.
"Is it good?"
"Perfect," Blake said in satisfaction.
"Then, is it good to talk now?" He asked taking a seat beside her at the table.
"If it wasn't," she replied, "Then why are you still talking?"
Bowing his head, Blake glared at her friend and now Alpha. Blake couldn't help but roll her eyes before taking another sip of her coffee.
Seth Kelly Jr. is a well-respected man within their pack. He's strong, smart, and completely wrapped around Blake's little fingers. Just the way she liked it. Nothing called you more of a badass than to have your Alpha treat you like you're the Queen of the castle.
"Speak," Blake commanded, setting her cup on the table.
Seth sprung up from his chair as if he was just woken up from the dead. "The Hunt is near and-"
"The answer is no," she quickly said staring into her mug. "I have no interest in games like The Hunt."
"Blake, The Hunt is not a game, it's a way of life. Our future."
"Being hunted by horny male wolves. Baring bastard pups. It's really not my cup of tea."
Seth glared at her, "You know well that not what The Hunt is about. What is wrong with you?" he hissed. Running his hands through his chestnut hair. Blake raised an eyebrow. "I don't understand you."
"What is it that you don't understand?"
"Everything!" he yelled. "You never go out for runs. You're always inside the house and you have no friends. These past five years, you've changed!" he yelled. "Even Ross is worried about you. You're not the same Blake we know."
Blake found herself staring into her mug, running the tip of her index finger on the lip of the mug. "And you think The Hunt is going to change everything? Don't make me laugh," she glared at him. "I have everything I need here. A house, a car, a job, and my brother. What more do I need?" She asked.
Seth took a knee to the floor beside Blake, taking her hand into his, "A lover."
Blake narrowed her eyes at her Alpha. Since the moment Blake and Ross lost their parents Seth and his family had helped them in more ways than one. Growing up Blake and her little brother was very close to Seth. Blake could even still remember the other girls at school would get jealous of Blake and bully her just because she was close to the future Alpha.
And Blake didn't want Seth to think he should be responsible for her just because she didn't have parents. Since they finished school, Seth had asked her out on dates, proposed, and committed himself to her.
"Be my wife, my Luna, Blake," Looking into each other's eyes Blake knew that she wasn't for him. She knew that some other girl was right for him. Not her. She couldn't give him pups, she couldn't make him happy as someone else could.
She loves Seth, she truly does, but not in the same way as he does for her.
Seth squeezed her hands together, "My answer is still the same."
"Right," he bowed his head in defeat. "Can't hurt a man for trying," he laughed with a shrug.
She didn't want to tell him she was sorry, it would have made things worst. Taking her hand free from him, she took her cup and took another sip or two.
"I hate to kick you out of my house after I just put you down, but I have work to do. If there is anything else you like to talk about, then now will be it."
Seth smirked, "That's one thing that never changed. You're still a workaholic."
She smiled back.
"There is something else I wanted to tell you." Blake gave him her full attention. "The Alpha King will be here before nightfall. Make sure you're in the meeting hall before then."
"Do I have too?" she sighed.
"Yes, you skip everything else but that."
Sitting up straight, Blake looked almost surprised. "Are you saying I can skip The Hunt?"
"You know I can't force you too."
"Seth," she smiled, jumping out of her chair and wrapping her arms around his neck. "Thank you, thank you, thank you," she cheerfully laughed.
"Alright now. Stop before I change my mind," he laughed. "Besides, If you don't go to The Hunt, I still have a chance," he smirked looking like he was doing an evil laugh inside.
Rolling her eyes, "Sure."
"You know what," he huffed placing his hands on his hips, "just eat your breakfast."
"Okay mom," she laughed making Seth laugh too.
After Blake finished her breakfast and her coffee she excused herself from the table and head to her room. Coming to the staircase, Ross stood at the bottom waiting for her.
"Why did you let him in?" Blake asked her brother. She knew well that Ross had let Seth inside the house.
"I'm worried about you," Ross explained with an apologetic tone. "Seth isn't wrong, you've changed. And I'm scared that I'll lose you too."
"Ross, you won't lose me. I'll always be here."
"That's what I'm afraid of too."
"I don't understand."
"I don't want to be the reason why you can't do things like the Hunt or-"
"Ross," Blake lifted her hand up to stop him, "I'm doing what's best for the both of us."
"But is it? How long will watch over me? How long will it take for you to be the old Blake who used to fantasies about finding her mate and becomes the powerful female-wolf, who will one day rule the world," he said raising his voice.
Blake couldn't help chuckle at the thought of her younger self, "Ross, I was a child. Besides, I-," Blake cut herself off. She was about to confess to her brother about her little secret.
Shaking her head while forcing a smile, "Nothing, I have work to do."
Making her way around her brother to go up the stairs, Ross gripped her arm, "Why not accept Seth's proposal? He loves you. He can protect you. Provide for you. You wouldn't have to worry about paying bills or work or-"
Blake placed her free hand over her brother's hand at gripped her other arm, "Ross, he's not my mate. And I won't take another woman's mate, even if he is an Alpha. I won't be that kind of woman."
"But he lo-"
"It's a crush, Ross. It's not love."
"How do know?" He whispered.
"Because I just do." Blake lied trying to smile at her brother while looking him in the eye but she couldn't. She wasn't even sure if Seth was her mate. She couldn't tell. But that didn't change the fact that she could never give a pup to Seth if he was. He would be an Alpha without a hair to his bloodline. Blake couldn't do that to him. She couldn't do that to no man. "Go to school Ross. You're going to be late."
Ross turned his head to look at the father clock in the other room to see it was well past seven o'clock. With a small curse from under his breath, he to the kitchen yelling, "I'm so late."
Blake smiled and yelled back, "You wouldn't be late if you didn't have a monster-"
"Not another word," he growled running out of the kitchen with his bag. "It was stuck and being stubborn," he blushed.
Blake laughed at him, "Have a nice day Ross."
"Okay," he yelled opening the front door.
"Yea," he tilted his head back to look at her.
"Come straight home today."
"Just do as I say."
With a nod, he left shutting the behind him.
Blake frowned at the door, glaring at it. Today because of the Hunt, packs all over were coming. Who knows what kind of character theses people were going to come. This just made her job just a little harder than usual.