A strong wooden baton would have smashed across my chin if it wasn't for my quick footing. I managed to duck and roll just in time to back away from my opponent, but Instructor Levi took pride in kicking my lazy arse to high heaven whenever the opportunity arose. It was just another Saturday morning on the training pad for me.
"You're a quick little wolf, aren't you, kid?" Levi tossed the baton in the air, only to catch it in a new overhanded hold.
"Quicker than you, it seems, hey Teach?" I mocked and soon paid the price as Levi latched on to my arm and flipped me over his shoulder, smashing me into the mat. The brutal thud knocked the air clean out of my chest as he took the opportunity to pin me in place and effectively win the sparing match.
"Okay! You can get off me now," I wheezed and felt the steel grip on my arm loosen up.
Levi was quick to have me back on my feet as he smirked at my discomfort and turned me around to head off the mats and over to the steel bleachers to sit down.
"You're getting better, runt," he called out to me as I walked away and sat down to catch his next student step on to the mats to get their arse handed to them by Levi.
"Ouch!" Willow winced as she approached me from the kitchen with her trademark basket full of herbs and other fancy-pants remedies. "You look like hell." She looked me over and placed her basket down on the ground.
"I feel like hell," I muttered.
"Levi kicked your butt again today, didn't he?" She glanced over at Levi and his next victim battling it out on the mats.
"Yes," I whined to her, but Willow was my best and only friend, so she knew when I was spouting shit and when I was serious. At this moment, there could be a little bit of both happening. "Can you please make me my favourite smoothie? You know the one you always make after training." I sat over by the bleachers and pouted at her with the best puppy dog eyes I could manage.
The only thing about being besties was that she could see straight through my bullshit and just arched a brow at me.
"Come and help with the summit preparations and if, and only if, you do a good job without complaining, then I will make you one of my special smoothies." Willow was driving a hard bargain, but I knew she needed the help.
Willow was a studying resident at the pack hospital and was at the top of her class in medical school. That was actually how we met. Back when I was a runt causing all sorts of problems in the pack, I got beaten so badly by the other pups that Willow's mother took special care of me. That's when Willow's mother introduced us, and we eventually became good friends. Sure, I would still get into a fight or two here and there, and yes, Will was my saviour and she would come and patch me right back up as she scolded me and told me how much of a delinquent I was, but that's just how we jived.
"Can I have the smoothie first and then hard work?" I attempted in vain, knowing full well she would not agree to a damn thing.
"No. Now, get up and go and help the kitchen staff. The dignitaries will be arriving tomorrow and we're behind as it is," she commanded as she took her basket and began to head back into the kitchen.
"Can I at least shower first?" I poked my head up and watched her walk away.
"You got five minutes!" she shouted back.
"Come on!" I shouted at her. "Willow!"
* * *
My back was killing me by the time the evening had finally rolled around. I ended up playing housekeeper for the day after Levi kicked the crap out of me, and I could feel it in every muscle. At least today was done and the pack house was ready. Alpha Perry had rounded up all the pack members three days ago and demanded that everything be ready and perfect for the upcoming summit. I was unfortunate enough to have a guard whisper in my ear that Alpha Perry wished to see me alone in his office. I went as instructed, but I knew he was just going to say the same shit he always did.
"When the dignitaries arrive, I want you up in your room and not come out again till the summit is over." He narrowed his gaze at me as he demanded my compliance. "You're not one of us, and I won't have you damaging our reputation with the other packs because of your reckless behaviour."
I sat on one of the leather armchairs with my eyes lowered as he leaned over his desk the way he always did when giving me a chewing out. It was nothing I wasn't used to. I wasn't born in this pack like every other member, and that earned me a few hard knocks from the other pups growing up. Not to mention this creepy obsession Alpha Perry had ever since I arrived that made him believe that one day, I would mate his now twelve-year-old son was cringe-worthy, but it didn't bother me as much as my files that had been kept sealed from me about where I came from.
"I mean it, Piper!" he growled when he realized I wasn't paying him any attention at all. "Now, get out of here. I don't want to see you for three days," he ordered.
After I left Alpha Perry's study, I was pissed . . . and sore but mostly pissed. Instead of going straight to my room like a good little wolf, I decided on the next best thing.
It was dark when I finally got out the front of the pack houses and watched some members part as they saw me do a quick stretch. I ignored their obvious sense of entitlement and took off in a jog towards the woods. Our pack's territory was in the centre of all the other packs, making our city boom from the constant stream of travellers and traders.
Every year, a grand summit would be held here, bringing all the alphas from all over the country to our pack. The main topics discussed here were business relations, trade agreements, and rogue attacks made against packs.
Alpha Perry had decided that this year, all the packs would take a run through the woods together to encourage relations. Its goal was to increase the bond between the packs by helping pack members find their mates. I, on the other hand, would not be attending. At least that's what I'd have Alpha Perry believe.
It took some time and slight eavesdropping here and there till I found out where the run would take place as well as the start time. My plan was to make it into the woods and hide before the packs started their run, then when the run got underway, I would slip down and join in. The pine trees in the woods were large enough to climb and hide in, so no wolf would suspect me and I would be able to observe the run as the wolves passed underneath. It would be so awesome and the first time I'd get to do it. That was if I didn't get caught first.
The summit would technically start tomorrow as all the packs would be welcomed into the city and spend the rest of the day settling into their apartments. That's the first day. The second day was when the so-called magic happened. All the alphas and betas would be stuck in a meeting room discussing all the boring, dull pack crap that they're supposed to talk about, then the third day was when the run would take place.
Alpha Perry usually went out of his way to lock me in my room like the previous years and spouted crap to the other wolves about how I was saving myself for his son. It's all hogwash, but at least now that my eighteenth was right around the corner, my files would finally be unsealed and I'd go back to wherever the hell I came from.
The only day I was allowed out of my room was on the second when the alphas were contained in their meeting room, but I planned to be long gone by then. I'd had enough of all these rules keeping me from just being able to simply live. I felt my wolf growl out in my head as my feet pounded on the forest floor and tried to push all these thoughts out of my head. The night air was cold, but the heat building in my back from my wolf kept me warm and drove me forward.
I will have my way, I will get out of here, and I will not let Alpha Perry control a single aspect of my life ever again.