“You’re his mate, Champrelle.”
“What do you mean by mate?” She leaned against the metal prep table, flattening her hands against it.
A mate? Animals had mates. Not people.
It sounded insane but hours before she had seen a wolf turn into the man beside her, Kota. This tall handsome glass of water that held her eyes with his whenever she looked at him.
“Well...uhh...you see-” Kota started to speak when Kiisa cut him off with a glare.
“What my cousin means to say is, you’re meant to be with him. Being someone’s mate is like being their soulmate. You’re meant to be together, like a husband and wife.” Kiisa beamed, bouncing on her heels as she explained.
Champrelle looked to Kota for more answers.
He stood in silence staring into space for an eternity before he finally turned to gaze at her. His golden-brown eyes bored a hole into her skull. Heat flared within Champrelle’s body the more they stared at each other.
That same sensation she felt in the forest raced through her body, making the room temperature rise. In her head she pictured Kota and her going at it like bunnies in heat, stripping each other’s clothes off before Champ mounted him like a horse.
Kota and her turned, their heated exchange interrupted, Kiisa clearing her throat loudly.
“If you two could pay attention and actually talk then I can explain more. Get a room if you’re going to mate on my clean floor.”
Champ’s cheeks turned a warm pink. She looked away in embarrassment.
Kota’s voice cloaked her in velvet silk, calling to her like a long forgotten lover. She couldn’t help but turn to look at him, playing with her fingers nervously.
“She is correct. We are soulmates. It is a gift to be given a mate in my...kind. I know we barely know each other and that you have loved ones back home who would miss you, but, it’s a once in a lifetime chance to meet your mate.”
He was wrong.
Champrelle had no one back home. The pain of a recent loss still burned within her chest. She had to choke back the pain. Her life had been empty until she had decided to go backpacking in her home state for once. Up until now, her life had been sad recently.
“I don’t have anyone back home.” Gazing towards the floor she kept her eyes lowered before meeting Kota’s.
“Yeah, we barely know each other but, how are we destined to be together? As ‘mates’?” She didn’t understand it.
Burying the pain deeper she listened as Kiisa explained more.
“Hun, I know it doesn’t make sense to you since it’s so normal for us. It’s like being married but without a license or rings. You feel it in your bones. It’s natural. We can’t control it.” Nodding a little, Champ understood when it was put like that. Like marriage but more carnal. An instinct almost.
“I’m not Native American like you. I’d never fit in, like on the outside.”
“Nonsense, Champrelle. We don’t often meet outsiders but as Luna they will love you. It’s part of our nature. We’ve isolated ourselves for so long to protect ourselves from the dangers that the colonizers brought with them.”
Together, Kota and his cousin explained to her why they had isolated themselves once Champrelle popped the question after she understood the mate and wolf biology rundowns. Kiisa left the kitchen leaving Champrelle and Kota in awkward silence.
“Soo, what now? Will you be my guest since you say you don’t have anyone back home?”
Tugging at the bottom of her shirt timidly, Champrelle nodded.
“I’m glad you’ll stay with us. I do have a question for you, though.” Kota walked closer, his body heat making her aroused.
“S-sure. Fire away.”
He took a step back when her arousal permeated the air with her floral scent. It drove him insane with need, wanting to claim her as his right there, but he needed to wait.
They were still strangers.
“Why did you say you didn’t fit in with the outside world? I don’t understand how someone so beautiful would be unwelcome.” It didn’t make sense to him. In his world she was exotic, sure, but they’d welcome her with open arms.
The beautiful woman before him twirled a curl around her finger nervously, her plump lips squished together in thought. His mate was a goddess in the flesh and he wanted nothing more than to ease the pain he and Kiisa had felt earlier. Once the words came out of her mouth, her despair clouded the air and their noses with the smell. Something in her life had caused her pain. It was his nature to find that pain and soothe it.
“I’m biracial, Kota.”
“Forgive my ignorance but, I thought the United States was past all of that.”
Her lips pressed together, shaking her head. Kota could only listen as she told him her feelings.
“It has but there’s still resentment among some people out there. My mom’s family hated her for marrying a black man.”
A mixed expression took over her face so he decided to not press anymore. Nothing came out of pushing an issue.
“I’m sorry you had to deal with that. I can’t imagine what growing up must’ve been like as a child.”
“It sucked.” A smile cracked across her face, a short laugh escaping her lips.
“Well, I’m sorry you had to go through that.” His eyes glazed over once the words were out of his mouth.
She watched with curiosity as his gaze stared at nothing until they went back to normal. It was odd and slightly concerning.
“Are you okay?” Her eyebrows rose as he straightened, something in his eyes darkening. The muscles in his arms rippled as he tightened his grip on the steel work bench behind him.
“Yes. My Beta alerted me of something I need to deal with. I hope we can continue this conversation later. Please, feel free to tour the grounds of the pack.” His eyes softened as he met her gaze, his golden-brown eyes glinting.
“Of course. Thanks.” Champ smiled shyly, her cheeks turning pink.
Kota quickly left the room, taking the tension with him in a tornado. Pure testosterone had been slamming into her like waves on a rocky shore. It was almost too much. He was too much.
The connection she felt to him was intense. Maybe a tour of the grounds would be good for her. Fresh air was in order after all.
Kota marched into his office with violence on his mind. He didn’t have time for the drama today.
After years of pining and hoping, he had finally found his mate. Spending time with her was all the animal part of him wanted to do. He wanted to get to know her, not deal with this crap.
“Tell me what happened. Make it quick.” His rough voice commanded the man who sat in one of two chairs in front of his desk.
“Greetings to you, too, Alpha Kota.”
Kota glared at him as he leaned back in his leather chair, the metal groaning beneath his weight. Crossing his arms he eyed the rogue before him with suspicion.
“Talfin, what do you want? You know you’re not allowed on Quyakal pack lands. Tell me what you came here for and be on your way. I don’t want any of your…ways to corrupt my people.”
The rogue Talfin smirked, the smile not meeting his dark eyes. Said rogue had been a pain in his side for years.
“I’m only here to deliver a warning from Alpha Grande.”
“Who’s Alpha Grande? This name means nothing to me.” The name was of Champrelle’s world, not his. What would a colonizer pack want with his people?
“He’s only the big bad of the Pacific North West.”
Kota growled, baring his teeth as he let his nails shift into claws. Annoyance boiled in his veins. He didn’t have patience for the one liners.
“Get to the point, rogue. Stop the one liners.” His sentinels that were slipping quietly into the room bowed theirs heads in submission as Kota used his Alpha voice. That dominant part of his nature wanted him to pummel the rogue into submission.
This man had been ejected from the pack for many reasons. Every time he had to see this man’s face that rage boiled to the surface again. He could only keep it down for so long.
Talfin couldn’t resist the dominant aura, either, and bowed his head in submission. His dark eyes avoided Kota’s heated haze. He liked to push Kota’s buttons but he knew better than to take on an Alpha. A person of his status was far beneath Kota’s in the hierarchy.
“He said to tell you that your days of peace are limited. You savages will howl your last for what you took from him.”
That made no sense to Kota.
He had never run into Grande, ever. He was sure his father hadn’t, either. For now, he wanted the rogue off his lands so he could figure it out later. Right now this asshole had overstayed his welcome.
“Escort him off my lands and make sure he doesn’t try anything funny.” Kota ordered one of his sentinels. They nodded and hauled Talfin to his feet, pissing off the rogue wolf.
“I can walk on my own, dammit.” He growled, following the two men out of the office.
Once he was gone and Kota was left with his Beta Roklee, he sighed in relief.
“Hey man, one day we’re going to have to find a more permanent solution to Talfin. Give me the orders and I’ll do it.” The tall tawny skinned male suggested, raising a dark eyebrow. His Beta had been his best friend growing up and was more upfront about things, which was the balance he needed in leadership. Someone to do the dirty work.
A hand dismissed the idea, shaking his head. “Let this be his warning. Next time, you know what to do.”
Roklee nodded, his lips curved in a smile. “Good. As for other matters of business, how is the female we brought back?”
“Her name is Champrelle and she’s definitely my mate. I feel the tug of our bond every time I’m near her. She carries trauma, but, she’s a warrior.” He couldn’t help smiling as he thought of her. With the thought of her had his nails becoming human again, the anger receding and replaced with calm.
The other male watched him, his black eyes glinting with humor. “I see. She’s very beautiful. The pack will love her.”
“If she stays.”
“What do you mean?” Roklee sat in the chair Talfin vacated minutes ago, crossing a leg over his other as he leaned back.
Kota felt sad at the thought of his mate leaving so soon. He had to convince her somehow to stay.
“She’ll want to go back to her life. I must find a way to convince her to stay.”
His Beta’s mouth formed an ‘O’. A few of his fingers rubbed his chin as he thought of a solution.
“How about you…woo her? Put out all the stops? Show her how great it is to live here, too. How much better it is than the human world.” He suggested, a smile on his face.
Nodding, Kota liked the idea. It was perfect and he knew just the thing to start out with.
"Lets do things traditional."
Roklee smiled knowing just what it was he proposed.
"I'll start the preparations, Alpha. She'll love it and so will the pack."
Kota sat back with a smile on his face, hope brewing in his heart that this would be a success. The pack did these often and the weather was perfect. He set about mind-linking the right people to get it all in order.
*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.*
Ha’la ai: (HAH-LUH-EYE) [Word for Hello]
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