I barely slept a wink last night. I wasn’t sure if it was to do with the shitfully uncomfortable bed in the Beta’s spare room or the fact that the tribrid plagued my thoughts the second I would close my eyes.
I thought back to yesterday, seeing her standing there, tears staining the velvety soft skin of her cheeks; and it was him...the dog Alpha that had made her cry. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that the bitch-wolf, Gretchen, was creaming her pants over Jayce. My money was on that they use to bone. The second she had run into his arms when we arrived I could see the annoyance etched in Quinn’s face. That annoyance grew when Gretchen sat next to the Alpha at the table.
But when I saw the annoyance transition into hurt, I knew Jayce must have fucked up. As much as I didn’t like seeing the tribrid upset, I knew it could only work to my advantage.
I walked through the compound and took in all there was to see, which wasn’t much. It was a large space with dirt roads and tracks; nothing compared to beautiful cobbled stone roads of my kingdom. The vast space was peppered with cabins of various sizes, almost reminding me of an overly large school camp facility. It was easy to see that this place had been built by hand and with love; as much as I hated to admit it, it had a warmth about it, a sense of community and family.
The training ground caught my eye the second I came across it. It was simple, effective. It was purpose built and sat smack bang between the Alpha’s pack house and the Beta’s kennel.
I continued on my walk. It was early morning so there weren’t too many dogs up and about as of yet. The ones I did come across gave me mixed reactions. Some would smile before averting their eyes and walk in the opposite direction. Others would snarl as they passed me or grumble something pathetic under their breath.
Before too long I found myself at the rear of the compound, the sound of the flowing creek calling to my panther. Now, this was by far my favourite space that I’d come across. The dust and dirt of Fern Creek was a vast difference from the humidity and opulence of Panthera. This creek was quite nice though. The grass that surrounded it was green and lush and the trees overhead gave shelter from the brightness of the morning sun.
My panther purred, loving the serenity...but that wasn’t the only reason he was happy.
“You know this was the first place I saw you” I muttered, feeling the warm presence pause behind me.
I turned around, hands in my pockets. Quinn stood only metres from me. She looked radiant. Her beautiful hair flowing in long tresses down her back and wearing a simple sundress that was the same blue hue as her eyes. It didn’t matter if I wanted to despise her or if I wanted to ignore her...when she looked like that it was hard to do anything but just want her.
“What are you doing back here?” She asked.
“I was looking for an area of this shit heap that wasn’t covered in red dirt” I answered, looking back at the water, “it’s no Panthera, but it will do”
Quinn nodded as if she knew exactly what I meant and came to stand next to me. Her closeness sent my panther into a spin but the smell of dog on her didn’t go unnoticed.
“This is my favourite place to come. I don’t know why but I love it here”
I studied Quinn’s face as she peered out over the creek. There was still a pain in her that I had noticed yesterday, a faint line across the bridge of her nose that suggested something was weighing heavy on her mind. She was too young, too beautiful to be so heavily burdened.
“It’s because of the water” I answered.
Quinn turned her head to look at me. I’d forgotten she hadn’t been around many panthers, there was probably so much that she didn’t know about her own kind.
“Panthers are drawn to water, it’s where we find our grounding and where we connect to our god”
Quinn nodded, taking in what I was saying.
“Like the moon for a wolf” she surmised.
Quinn moved closer to the creek and crouched down at the water’s edge. She dipped her fingers in, creating her own tiny whirl pools as she stirred the water around.
I wanted to sit down next to her, my panther urging me forward, daring me to run my fingers through her hair and to feel her lean into my touch as I knew she would automatically do.
“Cassius and Gretchen will be arriving today” I said.
I noticed Quinn’s body tense and I couldn’t help the smile that played on my lips.
“You don’t seem happy?”
Quinn groaned and rose to her feet, wiping the excess water that dripped from her fingers on her sundress. She turned around and walked back towards me.
“No. I’m fine. It’s just...I don’t want to wait around. If I’m the one that can kill this witch then I should just go do it. The longer we wait the more chance there is of Magdalene doing something stupid. What about those wolves that Percy mentioned she couldn’t control? Who’s to say she doesn’t just kill them? Is that a risk we’re willing to take?”
I shrugged my shoulders. To be honest, dead wolves didn’t really phase me that much. The more the merrier.
Quinn snorted at my reaction.
“Ok. So what about the panthers? Didn’t Onyx say that a mother and son were captured? A five year old cub?”
A low growl emanated from me and Quinn knew that she’d hit the spot.
“So...let’s go get them. You and me. I’m strong and I’m sure you can hold your own. Let’s go kill this witch” she pled, looking up at me with those killer sapphire eyes.
The way she looked at me in that moment was a look I wanted to etch into my memory. She wanted me, maybe not the way I wanted her to but she wanted me to help her. Her eyes were bright and sparkling with hope, her brow slightly elevated and her lips partially open.
I leant down without even thinking. I closed my eyes, my panther taking over my body, needing to feel those plump, soft lips up against my own. Before I reached my desired destination I felt a palm press gently on to my chest.
“Please stop” came a tiny whisper, barely audible.
I opened my eyes to find them staring into the deepest sea of blue, one that I wanted to lose myself in over and over.
“Is that what you want?” I asked.
Quinn’s fingers scrunched the material of my shirt, reminding me of the time on my terrace back in Panthera; so much had happened since then.
The energy that crackled between us both pulled us together and urged us apart. Never had I wanted something so much in my whole life but also wanted to turn on my heels and run. She was an enigma, a mystery that I wanted to bury myself in and explore every last inch.
The fast paced thud, thud, thud of Quinn’s heart matched the speed of my own and for a moment I felt like she was leaning into me, her panther magnetised to my own.
“This can never happen” she rasped.
I picked up a lock of her hair between my thumb and forefinger, bringing it to my nose and inhaling Quinn’s scent. She hummed in unison with me, her panther feeling the connection between us. I tucked the hair behind her ear and smiled as she pressed her head softly into my hand.
“Why?” I breathed, “this is meant to happen. Everything about you was made for me. We were designed for each other, fated by the panther god to be mates; for you to be my Queen”
“I was also designed for Jayce—”
I growled, pushing Quinn back as if her skin had burnt my own. Why did she have to mention that mutt? I hated that he got to her first, I hated that it came down to mere luck that she shared his bed instead of my own.
Quinn scowled at me, the spell between us broken and her wolf once again taking control.
“You’re an animal” she hissed.
“So are you baby. Or did you forget?”
The tribrid scoffed and straightened her dress, dusting herself off as if my touch had dirtied her somehow. I laughed, looking her up and down.
“You’d better go shower before your dog smells another man on you...or senses the wetness between your legs was not created by him”
With that Quinn turned on her heel and stalked off. She knew I was right though. She was hot under the collar and it was because of me...not because of her big dumb Alpha. Wether she liked it or not I had her. I hadn’t even pulled out the big guns yet, it was only just the beginning.
I stared as Quinn disappeared into the compound and walked back over to the creek. I picked up a rock and threw it into the water, watching as it created ripples that quickly took over the surface.
“Isn’t it fascinating how you can drop a rock into the water and it can create such a wave. Moving and stirring everything in its path”
I looked up to see Dominic, the Alpha’s father, standing over the other side of the creek.
“Yes. Fascinating” I muttered.
“But if you look back down at the water now...it’s back to normal, like the rock never happened”
I nodded my head, understanding the former Alpha’s metaphor. Hands in my pockets I raised myself on the balls of my feet, exaggerating the motion of peering down into the water.
“But it did happen” I rebutted, “The creek isn’t the same, the rock is still there, forever changing the way the water flows...”
Dominic’s body tensed. His jaw clenched and fists balled at his sides.
“Unless someone takes it out”
Message received, old man. Loud and clear.
Dominic turned away and headed off in the direction of what I only assumed to be his cabin.
My father’s parting words to me before departing Panthera were ‘don’t forget the mission. Don’t fuck this up’. That was the only reason I was here, in this god forsaken place, the mission. It also happened to be the place that my mate was, that was just coincidence.
I was considering Quinn’s offer; to go out with her and take down Magdalene, just the two of us. There was something holding me back though and I knew it was the risk of something happening to her. I knew I would never be able to live with the guilt of knowingly putting Quinn in the position where she got herself killed. Even though we weren’t mated, I knew my panther would never forgive me and likely send us both feral.
What a waste.
All of this because of a woman, a tribrid, a Queen. Wether I liked it or not, she had me. I hated the fact the she did but it was in my DNA...I was genetically programmed to crave her, to want her, to need her; and it was only a matter of time before she realised that she needed me too.
I could feel her panther, it’s depression matched my own. Her mate was right there, right within reach but her human - that was meant to nurture her - was the one preventing her from being happy, from being whole. This game of tug of war could only go on for so long. Soon she would let her defences down, there would be a moment of weakness, a moment of doubt...and when that moment came, I would be there.
In the mean time I would just sit back and be the rock that I knew I was, making ripples in the Fern Creek.