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CHAPTER 11: Shadow – Part 1/3

I continued around the yard, feeling more at home than I had in a long time as if I belonged here. I walked over to the first barn and opened the door, entering the building. Inside were a few stalls occupied with some horses; there was also some equipment and other items throughout the barn. I walked in further, looking around, when a petite woman approached me angrily. She had strawberry blonde hair, brown eyes and high cheekbones. The woman let out a threatening growl and took a step towards me. “Who are you, and what are you doing in here?” She questioned me.

My voice caught in my throat, unable to speak, and I just stood there, stuttering like an idiot. She took another step towards me but stopped and sniffed the air before her eyes widened in shock. Her upper lip twitched into a snarl “Human.” She growled out.

My breathing became erratic, and my heart thumped in my chest. I put a hand up to stop the woman from coming any closer. “Wait! I am under Damon’s protection; you can’t touch me.” I said quickly.

She stopped, and some of her tension eased. “Oh, you must be Amelia. I am sorry, I didn’t know it was you, and we can never be too careful with hunters around.”

I released the breath I had been holding and relaxed a bit. “Yes, I am, and that’s alright. I understand that you are just being cautious and protecting yourself.”

She nodded. “Yea. Anyways, I am Rose, and it’s nice to meet you finally. I’ve heard all about you from Trevor.” She smiled before peering over my shoulder and into the distance. “Where is the Alpha?” She asked me.

“He had to go do something, and I asked if I could stay here, as I wanted to keep looking around.”

Her smile brightened. “Well, that’s great, cause honestly, I am pretty much the only one that comes here, and it can get very lonely.” She pursed her lips, then motioned for me to follow her. “Come on; I’ll show you around.” She said excitedly.

I followed her over to the stalls, and we stopped at the first one. A large brown horse popped its head over the door. “This is bear, he is a brute, and I know it’s an odd name for a horse, but it suits him.” She said while brushing her hand across his hair. We walked over to the next stall, where a white and grey horse lay on the ground. “This is frosty; she is quite lazy, as you can see.” She laughed. We finally reached the last stall, and it almost appeared to be empty, but a dark figure appeared, revealing a large, black horse. “This is Shadow, he is kind of like the Alpha of the group, but he is very timid and broody, doesn’t like anyone and enjoys being alone.” She told me, and I felt saddened for the animal, wondering why he was like that. Shadow trotted towards us cautiously, watching our every movement. As he neared us, I realized just how large and toned this animal was, mostly how beautiful he was, as his fur shined in the light.

I gazed into his eyes, memorized by his beauty and poise. “He is so beautiful,” I said softly.

Rose lightly scoffed, “Yes, he is, and he sure knows it.”

Shadow reached the door and stopped, gazing down at me, as he let out a low huff. Hesitantly, I extended my arm, my hand reaching out for him. He flinched and reared back slightly but then leaned forward, nudging my hand with his nose and nickered. I put my hand onto his nose and began to gently stroke his soft fur, the horse now seemed content with me, and I felt overjoyed.

Rose was standing beside me, eyes wide and mouth agape. “What? What’s the matter?” I asked her worriedly.

She blinked rapidly. “He…He never does that, not even with me, and I have been tending to him for years now. Shadow sees me every day, and that is the first time I have ever seen him so comfortable and relaxed with someone. So what are you, a hunter?” She asked playfully, yet there was bewilderment in her tone.

I chuckled and shook my head. “No, I am not a hunter. To tell you the truth, I’ve only been around horses once in my life and never really went near them. So why would you ask that?” I admitted.

Rose shook her head in astonishment. “Well, there have been stories that horses are like familiars to hunters, like a spirit animal or something along those lines. I was told that back when the first hunter was born, his only companion was his horse, and eventually, their relationship cemented a bond between hunter and horse. Also, if a hunter finds their destined familiar, that animal will die to protect them and will help to guide them when they need it most, but those are only stories. However, he seems to like you, and I think you’ve made a new friend.” She smiled.

I drank in Rose’s words, loving the idea of having a destined spirit animal, someone to protect and guide you; it was almost poetic. I continued to brush my hand along his silky coat, finding a sense of comfort in doing so, when Shadow abruptly stood at attention, focusing on the barn doors and started to snort loudly. I whipped my head around and looked towards the doors, wondering what had him so on edge and in walked the same redhead from earlier, the woman who had leapt onto Damon, trying to hump him. I scowled at her and turned away, bringing my attention back to Shadow.

I heard her let out a low snarl. “What the fuck is she doing here?” She questioned Rose aloud. I ignored her and continued focusing on Shadow, but he was becoming agitated by her presence and was jumping in the air and neighing loudly. I reached up and stroked his fur, trying to calm him, but he only became more and more distressed. Then, turning around to look at the woman again, I realized that she was now closing in on me, stomping her way towards me.

Rose leaped in front of her, stopping her in her tracks. “Mira, she is just here to explore the grounds. She was brought here by the Alpha and left in my care. You are not to harm her, and I think it would be best if you leave.” She sternly suggested.

Mira’s eyes flickered angrily between myself and Rose, then her gaze locked with mine. Her chest heaved, and her lip twitched. She then shoved Rose out of her way and ran towards me again, fury emanating from her. I took a step back, pressing myself against the stall door and prepared for what was to come next, but suddenly, I felt a whoosh of cold air pass me, and I opened my eyes to see Shadow now standing proudly in front of me, blocking the woman’s path. He paced back and forth in warning, stomping his feet on the ground. She stumbled back a bit and glared at him, then tried to go around him, but he just blocked her again.

Rose jumped to her feet and stood in front of Mira again. “You need to leave right now before I call for the Alpha.” She hollered.

Mira stood there, glaring at me, her chest heaving and her left eye twitching from the rage that boiled inside of her. Then, finally, she turned her penetrating stare to Rose, huffed, and then left the barn.

As she exited the barn, Shadow settled down and relaxed a little, coming to stand at my side now. I brushed his fur and placed my head onto his neck, thanking him for protecting me. Then, I reared back and kissed him on the nose. Shadow let out a quiet nicker as he butted my head, causing me to laugh at his playfulness.

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