Kota had been organizing paperwork in his office when his First sentinel had barged in, alerting him of a trespasser on the Quyakal territory.
He and his people had lived on these lands since time immemorial with little interaction with humans. It was out of the norm for a human to be on their lands.
The last time his people had a human in the Quyakal territory was in the eighteen-hundreds when the U.S. government and then-Alpha Tutari drew up a treaty. This treaty stated that his people were to be left alone and kept secret from the human world.
A human being spotted in the territory raised cause for alarm. Usually the human was a lost backpacker or mountaineer, rather than a spy from a distant pack of fellow Ulfnar. Ulfnar being Quyakal for wolf-people, Lycans, as the human world called them.
Ulfnar has been relegated to myth. It was no accident that happened.
Rising to his feet, Kota left his office with the sentinel in tow.
Ignoring the looks of concern from passing tribespeople, he ordered his First to come with him and leave his Beta, Roklee, in charge while he was gone.
He didn’t care to wait around for Roklee to speak with him. Finding the potential threat to his people was first on the list, super-ceding all else. As Alpha of the Quyakal, it was his duty to protect his people.
Protect them no matter the cost.
Approaching the tree line, he shifted into wolf form as his Second joined he and his First, shifting as well. Kota gave the nod for the mission to start and off they went, bounding through the forest.
They followed the scent for a few miles, it growing stronger with every step. For some reason, Kota thought the scent was enticing, being floral with hints of vanilla. The smell only made him run faster.
He also noticed another scent following the floral one. It was musky and dirty. The smell was foul and it made him angry. Kota didn’t understand why it made him angry but he felt the need to end the life of the human it was attached to.
Two humans was too much.
“Sir, the report from Kiva said there was only one human but I smell two.” His First, Akla, growled through the shared mind-link.
“Yeah, I smell two. Stay alert. We don’t know what we’re getting into.” Kota commanded.
“Yes, Alpha Kota!” Responded both sentinels.
Another ten minutes passed before they caught up with the scents on the edge of a meadow in a clearing.
Kota ordered his men to stand down and stay hidden in case of backup. He would howl if he needed help, he instructed through the mind-link.
Across the small meadow a human female burst through the trees, pausing for a few moments to take in her surroundings, fear and exhaustion plastered on her lovely face.
He now knew why the scent was so enticing.
She was his mate. The Moon Mother had finally given him a mate; a human mate. The mating of a human and Lycan was rare. Super rare.
Kota had suspected that the scents belonged to lost humans but that wasn’t the case here. The floral one belonged to the woman but he wasn’t seeing where the foul smell came from, until it burst into the clearing.
A male. A scruffy male wielding a butterfly knife. A foul scruffy male who chased his mate.
He needed to save her and eliminate the threat to her life. Now.
The young woman raced across the meadow, her teal and green tennis shoes crushing flowers beneath her feet. Running like an African Gazelle, she evaded her persuer by a few feet.
It was too close for comfort. Instinct took over. Protecting his mate became the priority.
Without thinking, he snarled as he stalked into the clearing. Kota’s mate noticed him immediately, skidding to a stop a few yards away in the middle of the clearing. Her brown eyes grew huge, black curls falling from her high bun atop her head. Panting, she took in the sight of him, forgetting about the male who now stopped as he noticed Kota, too.
Resembling a Timber wolf with brown, black, and white coloring, Kota was huge. He easily stood at the height of a human pre-teen. Like his human form, he had golden-brown eyes.
He was sure she was terrified as she took in his huge size. Mentally he hoped that she would grow to not fear him. The woman was stunning, a picture of perfection in his eyes.
“Good wolf. Be a good wolf and eat him instead. He’s trying to kill me. Doesn’t he look tasty? His skin probably has enough grease for him to taste like a plate of fried chicken and greens.” Through the rage he felt towards the male, he found her actions amusing.
Her attempts at puppy-talking him were amusing.
As if she could talk down a Lycan. Ha!
“Take out the male. She’s my mate. Rip him to shreds and make it painful. Go when I howl. ” He ordered the sentinels as his mate argued with the male.
Kota had enough of the male’s foul smell, so he lifted his snout to the sky and let out a howl.
Both humans abruptly stopped arguing to look at him in horror, the scent of their collective fear permeating the air. The smell wasn’t pleasant and he didn’t like it coming from his mate. It smelled acidic and tingled his nose.
Akla and his Second shot past him from the trees, zeroing in on the male behind his mate. They quickly took him down. Teeth and claws mauled the foul smelling creature, his screams ringing in Kota’s ears.
No one would ever harm his mate. Not ever.
Unsurprisingly, she fell to her knees and puked her guts out. He didn’t blame her. Not many of his non-warriors could handle such a scene, either.
Seeing she was distracted momentarily, Kota slowly walked closer to get a better look at her.
Kota noticed she was biracial, taking note of her rosey plump lips and the lovely warm Chestnut shade of her skin, kissed with a pink undertone from long hours in the sun. Pulled into a messy bun on her head she had a head full of bouncy curls, the color a black-brown that shone under the sun. Lightly spread across her face were brown freckles, giving her a youthful appearance.
Never before had he met someone of both African and European descent.
The combination stunned him. People of mixed descent didn’t exist in his world.
All of his life he had only seen First Nation and Quyakal people with very few outsiders, colonizers, as his people referred to them. Humans typically weren’t attractive to him, personally, but it wasn’t unheard of Quyakal being attracted to them.
As his mate took notice of his nearness, he found himself looking into chocolate brown eyes.
Not only was she a beautiful woman but she was also the owner of eyes you could drown in. He wanted to dive into the pools of liquid brown. The mate bond cheered him on as he slowly approached, coming face to face.
Kota bowed before her. He touched her knee with his snout gently, trying not to take a whiff of the puke in the grass.
He whined like a dog.
She vaguely smelled like a dog so he hoped this would gain her trust. If she had a pet dog back home then surely she’d take the bait.
After waiting for what seemed to be forever, he felt a soft hand gently scratch behind his ear. The touch of her skin against his fur felt amazing. Shivers raced through his body. He hadn’t been petted before.
No one would dare to pet an Alpha, but she would be the exception.
She was his mate. Mates were different.
“Kota, I’m glad you’ve found your mate but we should head back home. We should head back so we don’t miss dinner.” The gravely voice of his Second flowed through the mind-link channel between his men and he.
He had been so caught up in this woman that he had forgotten they would miss dinner in the dining hall.
There was also still the issue of how he would bring his mate back with them. He decided to shift in front of her and hope she’d pass out so they could carry her back. Lycans were a myth in her world, after all.
Taking a deep breath, he took a step back and shifted into his human form. Right on cue, as he hoped, her eyes rolled into her head as she fell unconscious into the bed of flowers she had been kneeling in.
Akla took her backpack, placing it on his shoulders while Kota bent to pick up his mate. He didn’t know her name but he found himself wanting to race back and wait by her side until she woke.
“Come. Let’s head back home. I’m starving after all of this excitement.” Kota and his men started the trek back home.
*All names and locations in this book are fictional and aren’t intended to represent real world people, places, or actual indigenous groups. I tried my hardest to come up with my own people and not use stereotypes to keep from being just another White person adding to the collective trauma of the Indigenous people of North America, specifically the United States. The land I reside on is the historical/ancestral lands of the Chickasaw people.*
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