I would need that for later.
I landed on another large branch, the sound merely a whisper in the early morning light. I kept going, not stopping once as I jumped from branch to branch, speeding up as I went. The birds were beginning to chirp as the sun continued to rise above the horizon.
I couldn't smile no matter how I wanted to, the cold air nipping at the exposed skin of my face.
Despite the speed I was going at, whipping my brown ponytail around, I never slowed. If I had tried to do this three years ago, I wouldn't have even gotten as far as I have. With all the experience under my belt, I knew which branches were my best bet with a single glance.
Up ahead, I saw my intended target through the trees and slowed fractionally. I kept going, making a conscious effort to remain silent. A hand disappeared under my sleeve as I neared.
I gripped the knife’s handle tightly in my palm.
The pounding of paws that had been following me, quietened. I finally came to a stop in a large pine at the forest's edge. I was crouched, somehow hiding my tall frame behind the needles. The crunching of snow beneath padded feet came closer and the figure in the clearing stiffened where they had knelt over a dying fire.
Below me, a single wolf with grey fur consisting of multiple shades trotted into sight. Our resident stranger stood and watched the canine with cold and calculating eyes. The wolf, however, was relaxed. She even went so far as to smile a toothy grin at the stranger.
If I wasn't up here—ready to attack at any moment—she wouldn't be acting quite so carefree.
My best friend stopped a mere five feet from the stranger, her paws buried in the powdered snow. She planted her haunches and tilted her head. That was my signal.
I made sure I was undetectable before I spoke.
My voice sounded bored and tired as it rang through the trees mysteriously, “You’re trespassing on unmarked land. Name?”
I always enjoyed saying that line, the irony of being punished for crossing into land that didn't exist sparking the thrill of the hunt.
The stranger jumped slightly. He appeared as though he thought very highly of his advanced senses and hadn't even considered why the other wolf was so carefree. His head swiveled around, looking for me.
He only skimmed over my location.
“I thought you were supposed to answer, not imitate a bobblehead,” I teased for the sole purpose of getting a reaction.
He jumped again. Suddenly, he stopped his frantic search and stiffened. His wolf had been riled by my words and I could physically see his anger levels rise. He even glared at Cameron who smiled in response.
I slid my knife out and waited.
Thank the Moon. It’s been a while since I got some real practice in and I’ve been getting bored these last months.
I spoke up again, smirking just to add that tone to my voice. Not that I could smirk without staggering effort or my usual bloodlust roaring in my veins. I was itching for a real fight. Pent-up emotions were not fun.
The reply came almost instantly, the answer short and impatient, “No.”
Why must they always say that? Switch it up a little, please.
“That’s new,” I said instead.
“Well get used to it. I didn't cross any boundary and I’m not telling you my fucking name.”
I sighed. I was sure he could hear it.
As per usual that request only made it worse. Nostrils flaring, the stranger rushed forward and approached Cam in long strides. It seemed he was going to attempt to hold her hostage or something.
The knife flew from my hand before he could attempt anything of the sort. He wasn't even able to reach her and my knife only took a second to fly through the air and meet its mark.
A small thud echoed as the knife landed in his foot. The man doubled over, clutching his damaged appendage, and yelled in pain. A trickle of blood dripped out of his foot, dying the surrounding snow pink.
He wrenched the knife out with an angry growl, tossing it to the side. Instead of his expected immediate healing, removing the knife only made the wound bleed more profusely.
The stranger looked up with hateful eyes. He searched the surrounding shadows with a burning rage written into the lines of his face.
“You bitch! What the fuck did you do?!”
I slid yet another knife out of the same sleeve. When I did, Cameron backed up and walked back into the trees, going unnoticed by the other werewolf.
“And here I thought you had at least half a brain. Even a fourth of one would recognize the signs of silver. Look how wrong I was,” I said with a disappointed sigh.
A deep growl came from his chest—one that was supposed to scare me. I should've been shaking in my boots but instead, my lips lifted into a frightening but genuine smirk.
The stranger straightened to his full height that looked to be around 5’11. Yet another factor that tipped in my favor.
“Come on out here and we’ll see who wins then!”
The man had a certain smugness radiating from every pore. I recognized that for what it was.
I never allowed myself to become too cocky. All the books I’ve read, all the fights I’ve watched, and all the fights I’ve ever fought taught me that the minute you became cocky, you lost.
Being cocky may have just been an extreme version of confidence, but it also meant that you were underestimating your opponent. The minute I ever allowed myself to become too cocky, I purposely threw myself into a fight I knew I couldn't win alone.
It may hurt to beat down the ego but it was highly necessary.
With my current opponent now allowing his cockiness to rear its ugly head for a fight, my chances increased. They were already high before but this was a bonus. I could get down and dirty now, just like I needed. The pent-up anger and sadness that always lingered in my chest needed a way to get out.
This just happened to be that way.
“As you wish,” I said, my sickening smirk just barely curling the edges of my lips now.
It wasn't there long before dark shadows replaced its rare presence like always whenever I did happen to smile. I wasn't exactly the most smiley person around. Hadn't been for five years now.
I easily slipped my knife back into my sleeve and secured it in a way where it was easy to grab. With my other arm, I brushed back the remarkably few pine needles hiding me from view. With his advanced hearing, his head snapped in my direction.
His plain brown eyes reminded me of someone I detested more than anything when they darkened to a glistening black. This only hardened my resolve to kill the bastard.
All he could see of me was a shadow crouched in the tree and it seemed to anger him.
I inched to the edge of the branch and swung down, using it as a monkey bar, and then lightly dropping to my feet. My jacket landed in the snow next to me when I allowed it to slide off my shoulders. The thud it made when it dropped into the snow was barely noticeably louder than it should have been, considering the sheer amount of weapons concealed in the material.
Before coming out here to confront the wolf who had come a little too close for comfort, I ensured a fair fight. That was why I wore clothes that had never been worn in battle, which was a surprisingly rare thing. The garments currently covering my skin from the harsh cold were one of the only ones I owned that weren't covered in an undetectable silver spray.
So, I had to leave my jacket there in the outer trees and with it almost half of my trusty silver weapons. My favorite leather jacket would need to wait another day while the sweatshirt I always wore underneath it would have to work to keep the cold out for now.
Once I landed on the snowy forest floor, I stood to my full height. I feigned casualness as I walked towards the bulky stranger. He stared at me with wide eyes. He seemed surprised with my height and my gender as well.
My voice wasn’t that deep and I was only about an inch taller than him.
Once I stood in the snow only three feet away, I raised a thin eyebrow. The man's eyes regained their ugly brown and his mouth was a thin line. I stared at him expectantly and brushed a stray hair out of my eyes.
“I’m not fighting a girl. Much less one like you,” the man scoffed.
“Don't see many pretty girls around, do you? And besides, you were just about to take one hostage so I don't think that's a very valid excuse,” I said blandly.
“I’m not going to fight you,” he huffed.
“No? Then it’s my turn again.”
His eyes widened and he opened his mouth but I already clutched a new knife in my palm. Unbeknownst to the stranger, it had come from a hidden sheath built into my pants.
His eyes darkened again at the threat. No matter how gorgeous I may have been, his wolf couldn’t allow an open threat to go unchecked. He growled and I felt my blood lust heighten.
A sick smirk mottled my lips and I twirled my knife.
The werewolf darted forward and I matched the action, surprising him. These fights were becoming more and more predictable these days. I hooked a hand around his upper arm in passing, practically throwing him to the ground. I had used his imbalance mid-run to pull his top-heavy body down and into the snow.
Unfortunately, it took much more than that to take down a werewolf. A deep growl shook his chest and he grabbed my arm in a crushing hold. I winced at the bruising pain that would do just that in hours. The stranger's body twisted and his knee raised.
I noticed the telltale sign as it approached my side, my other arm darting out.
I held a small knife in my hand that sunk into the flesh of his leg. The speed in which they met echoed with a crunch and blood splattered between us.
The man cursed loudly, his hold on my arm loosening just enough. My blood-soaked dagger—the only one attached to this sweatshirt—quickly disappeared up my sleeve the moment it was wrenched from his skin.
His growl echoed through the still, frigid air once more. I didn't take any chances, jabbing at his neck and momentarily stunning him. His muscles relaxed although his eyes remained a deep black, glaring through my soul.
A smirk tugged at my lips and I, with a silent grace, pinned him to the pink snow.
I lay my knife on his neck, straddling him. I could see his fingers twitching and his muscles tensing as the effects of my stun faded away. I had to ignore my current position to keep my stomach contents where they belonged.
The skin of his neck began to turn red with irritation at the touch of silver. The stranger growled but the black in his eyes was beginning to seep away. I frowned.
Why was he calming down? From what I could tell, mere moments ago he was angry enough to throw a tree. I was briefly distracted when a hand gripped my waist—accidentally relaxing the blade against his neck.
Before I could fix my mistake, the man flipped us over. He was straddling me this time, pinning both my hands in the snow with one large hand. He had used his supernatural speed when I was distracted, dodging the knife that wanted to rip into his throat.
The snow acted as a cushion, melting against my back and sending shivers down my spine. Stranger danger smirked and his eyes regained their full muddy brown. I guess I had an answer to my question.
His extremely average features suddenly seemed nauseating, my stomach turning.
I would never show him weakness. No matter the situation, I would never show anyone weakness ever again. Even in situations worse than this.
“Oh, believe me, I've seen plenty of gorgeous women in my years. You just happen to number among that lot. Now,” I flinched. “didn't you say you wanted my name? Since you asked so nicely, it's Apollo. What's yours, sweetheart?” Apollo seemed to purr when he spoke.
His chest rumbled with each word and I found myself staring wistfully at his nose, wishing not for the first time that I had extra sharp canines at my disposal. Except—for the first time in forever—this reason had nothing to do with my pack. Merely, this time, it was caused by the large nose of the werewolf on top of me.
My mood kept getting worse as I was unable to bite it off.
“In your dreams,” I said calmly, as if my stomach wasn't twisting itself into knots.
“I guess this will be in my dreams later.”
His hand expertly undid the button of his ratted jeans. It was almost like he had done it a thousand times in positions like this, which I didn't doubt for a second.
My heart rate sped up. Apollo heard it and smiled viciously, pulling down the waistband. I resisted the urge to screw my face up in disgust.
“You rape many women?” I asked nonchalantly.
I was completely serious, nothing new there.
He smirked and finished undressing his lower half and moved to mine. I subtly moved my leg in a ready attacking position.
Dumb ass. Leaving yourself open like this when trying to rape someone?
Apollo answered, “Not really. Most come willingly.”
“I doubt that.”
“Hmm, I suppose you wouldn't. However, you were right.”
He had just barely gotten my belt undone and tossed it to the side. Apollo hooked his thumb into the waistband of my pants, looking me in the eyes. I shivered in disgust at his clammy touch.
He was confused, I was deadly serious.
“What?” he asked.
I moved my leg so my knee was right behind his baby maker. I didn't dare look down, afraid I would barf.
“You will dream about this tonight, if you survive,” I hissed.
Apollo's eyes widened and his hand froze in its frantic movements. I sent my leg flying into his crotch, kneeing him as hard as I could. Considering I had been training nonstop for three years, it was hard enough to kill any future children. Not to mention that I had explicitly used a part of my leg where one of my stronger blades was concealed.
Too bad it couldn't kill him.
Apollo toppled over and his sickening touch finally retracted. He probably didn't even notice that he had let go of my hands to clutch his manhood, yelling expletives.
I quickly adjusted my pants and hopped to my feet. Picking up my belt where it lay discarded in the snow nearby, I slid it back on, making sure all the hidden weapons were secure before tucking my knife away. Ignoring the bleeding and moaning man behind me, I went to grab my bloody throwing knife. It disappeared on my person within moments and I didn't even bother to clean it.
Apollo looked up when I stood next to his hunched figure. He had tears rolling down his cheeks and glared at me although the pain seemed to be fading. I only smiled, excitement filling my chest and crouched by his waist.
“Stop being such a big baby. This is gonna hurt a lot more.”
Apollo tried to back up in a panic with what my words implied. It didn't help any when my silver knife slipped out of my sleeve and into my hand. He spiraled into panic at the excited smirk on my lips.
With one single movement, the knife sliced through flesh, detaching it from his body for good. Apollo screamed bloody murder and I stood, taking a handful of snow and carefully cleaning the knife. I turned my back to the rapist.
Cameron padded out of the trees, carrying my leather jacket lightly in her maws. The light brown material swung in her hold as she meandered over. She was holding it by a section on the collar that I explicitly made silver free. It was there for the sole purpose of my two travel companions for when something happened and they needed a way to carry it without any repercussions.
I nodded thankfully at my best friend and slung the warm jacket around my shoulders. Cam took a look behind me at the screaming and sobbing man, her warm brown eyes sparkling in delight. My lips twitched infinitesimally and I stepped through the snow.
The grey wolf and I stepped through the treeline moments later, leaving the man behind.
His loud sobs of anguish followed us into the trees. He would probably bleed out, considering I had just cut off a very significant part of his anatomy. I felt no pity—in fact, right where it should have been in my heart, there was only sick joy.
So, with a quickly fading smile on my face, we left Apollo to bleed to death in the middle of nowhere.