PROLOGUE - I.. SMELL FEAR
Scratched, exhausted, lungs burning, thighs numb, calves on fire, she couldn’t give up, not now not after all of this. She squealed slipping on the bank pulling herself back up by any means possible grabbing onto roots, bushes, mud, anything to pull herself up.
“What the?” she panted sucking in as much air as she could rubbing her thighs, she had made it up to what she was sure was the mountain top, it wasn’t.
Just another level in the dense dammed forest.
Tears began to burn her cheeks as she swallowed the emotional lump building.
This was no time for emotion.
She scanned around her looking for a new escape route, one that might lead to a watchtower of any form of human life, but everything was beginning to take a dark green and black hue as the sun set further.
A deep howl echoed from the valley below and Sintia shivered as the sound ran down her spine, it was terrifyingly silent in the forest, the lack of birds and critters was getting to her. Were they silent with terror? Perhaps they were all driven out by the demons after her.
She scrambled to the nearest rock face to climb up again wiping her hair out her eyes she climbed again, grunting at the exhaustion running through her.
A closer howl answered the first and she froze.
Every hair on her neck stood on static end, it couldn’t have been more than ten feet away.
“No…” She whispered to herself, she couldn’t curl up and admit defeat, they would not have her!
She rushed up the rock face as fast as she could screaming as the panting breath rushed up below her snarling and snapping at her heels.
She had never seen such wolves in her life! Even wolves in movies looked like cute Huskie distant relatives, but these, they could make a bear bow down in respect.
One more pull up and she was free, she had to believe it, but up above was just the other side of the cliff face she had been climbing and it was all downhill, pun intended.
Scanning the slope, she once again tried to focus on breathing and spotted them instantly.
There an odd hundred meters ahead of her she could see blue and grey massive hungry eyes scanning for her.
She dropped to a leopard crawl and snuck around the two wolves best she could but the forest floor was anything but willing to cooperate and cracked twigs and rustled leaves more than what was necessary.
Before she knew what was happening she was backed against a tree, trapped.
* * * * *
Did his senses fail him or did he pick up on the erratic heart rate, the sweat, panic and, he closed his eyes filling his lungs.
“I smell, mmm, fear?” He sniffed the air once more, ah the smell of fear, finally!
She had been all but impossible to conquer, he could almost laugh at the irony.
“Interesting” He edged closer, hardened paws flattening the ferns meters between them, testing her panic limit, would he run her down again? He almost didn’t want it to end.
He could just catch a glimpse of her rustled black hair.
This must be killing her, little miss name brand had a hair out of place.
“Do you fear me?” It wasn’t a stupid question he knew she did, he just wanted her to admit it! Admit she wasn’t fearless admit he was the Alpha, admit he had won, after all, how many beasts like him could she have met?
She scanned her surroundings clamping a hand over her mouth, she was sure higher ground would have taken her out of this dammed, never-ending forest but it seemed to have only gotten denser, colder, and an eerie fog had begun to lick at her Gucci hiking boots.
The night would soon be here and she wasn’t sure if the frigid Russian air would get her or him first.
Her head whipped forward watching the stealth grey beast smoothly creeping forward, he was too close!
She didn’t want to admit defeat, all her skills and she was hiding behind a tree?!
Dam him she wasn’t scared, her trembling hands gripped on the bark as she slowly rotated around the tree.
“Why would I? Fear you?” She huffed, ridiculous! Typical arrogant man!
She had to get up a tree, wolves couldn’t climb trees, could they? She scanned the treetops above her, none had low branches, could wolves climb them? She couldn’t recall any documentaries she had watched, well if she was being truthful, half paid attention to as they played on loop for more background noise than anything else in her hollow penthouse.
Oh, how she would kill to be home now in her warm marble bath drowning out the world.
Who’s messed up idea was if for her to come to the wild of Russia really! Someone will be fired!
The ferns fell flat one by one as she sank to her haunches looking into stormy grey eyes, one flinch and she could be dead.
“Do you know what I am?”
He knew she had seen him & his brother shift, it’s why they had to hunt her. Studying her even with midnight hair wet and tangled around her pale face, makeup mostly off & plump natural chapped lips, he could almost not resist her beauty.
“Let me go home.” She whispered ignoring his questions, ignoring the crazy reality she was in, ignoring the fact that he could ask questions!
Logic denied everything she had seen, the world was not magical, did not have mythical creatures, hence the name myth, no not in her world. There was no room for such green screen monsters, if there were surely the capitals of the world would have them roaming?
And there were no werewolves or whatever cursed beast was before her on her island.
Manhattan, it had been her dream, big city life, chance to take the world, and she had done it! It was where her polished bathroom was waiting for her.
Sleepless nights, no social life, and swallowing all emotional feelings to be the bitch that was needed got her to the top, CEO of a major marketing chain and voted most successful young bachelorette of Forbes magazine last year at 27 she had achieved more than 80% of her age group.
Being from a small farm town in South Africa life was tough, yeah everyone has their own struggles but working on a failing maize farm was bottom-of-the-barrel tough.
With a disabled mother, an elder brother by two years who had to leave school to take over the farm full time, a gambling father who was sure that every next bet would be the “big one” and wouldn’t come home for weeks till one day he just didn’t.
Plus, there was me trying to get through high school while feeding mom even if that meant I had to skip a meal, bathing mom, cleaning mom.
She had been attacked by baboons on the perimeter of our farm a couple of years back and the operations to fix her nerve system had just been too much for the family to afford, especially since the only income was my brother’s hard work which hardly fed us for the month.
And all of this, was just too much for a teen.
So when I saw a competition at my school to study abroad full expenses paid.
Who could let an opportunity like a scholarship to be won slide? It looked like the key to my prison cell and I grabbed it with both hands.
Broke my family’s heart.
Bitch move, but it was needed to help me find the backbone and passion for life again.
I studied at one of the top art schools in America and kept my head down, I found my calling in marketing and I wanted to be in advertising, wanted to be in control of my destiny.
Working in advertising seems low-key stress, all you basically do is get people to notice and the job is half done, right?
… if only it was that easy we would all be CEO by eighteen.
Becoming CEO of my own company at one of the top firms in Manhattan was exactly where I wanted to be, top of my game and no more ass to lick, no one to answer to.
Then why was I in Russia speaking to a wild beast whom I was sure was a sexy muscles-to-heaven man an hour ago?
“Answer me!” Delacourte snarled looking down at Sintia, he didn’t have much time, the pack would be by his side in moments, her answers could save or kill her.