Authors: C.J. Colton
HUNTED DOWN BY HIS ALPHA
(CLEAR RIDGE PACK)
By C.J. Colton
C.J. Colton, 2015
I knew this dream. I knew it as deeply as the shade of my light brown hair, the shape of my blue-green eyes, the crisp, earthy smell of the woods surrounding me. The hair on my arms stood on end and all my instincts screamed at me. I ran.
The low hanging branches slashed at my face, tearing at my skin and clothes as I crashed through the forest, the last of their crunchy autumn leaves falling to the soft forest floor in my wake. I could hear it behind me, closing the distance I knew would never be enough as he scented and chased after me like prey. I didn’t spare myself a second to look back as terror seized my throat and I continued to bolt forward.
Moonlight streaming through gray, silvery branches gave way to flickering street lamps spotlighting worn old red brick as I sprinted down the deserted street. He was close—getting closer—almost upon me, and I knew I only had seconds to hide. I could hear him, the almost whispered sound of his feet as he flew over the ground behind me, the soft huff of his breath nowhere as harsh or as hard as mine, as though this chase was nothing more than an easy jog through a park.
Sweat glazed my skin in a thick layer and my heart pounded like an amplified tattoo as I skidded and ducked into the small side street. Could he hear the roaring of my rapidly pounding heart as clearly as I could? Could he scent the almost metallic stench of fear coming off me in waves?
I swung up onto the rusty fire escape in spite of my clammy, sweat drenched palms and scurried up the clanking staircase trying to be as fast and quiet as possible. The sense of safety was nearly overwhelming as I reached the fourth floor and slipped into the cracked-open window. I nearly planted on my face in my haste to get through it, my foot getting caught on the ledge of the windowsill as I dived through. I spun around and slammed the window back down, latching it just as I saw a dark shadow flow past the glass outside.
I’m safe. I’m safe. He can’t get me in here. He can’t get in.
I forced myself to breathe through my wheezing, tried to drag oxygen into my seizing lungs as I backed away from the window, my eyes fearfully trained on the cloudy glass and the dank building across from it. Slowly the edge of my fear leeched away as the shadows beyond my window continued to lie still and bit by bit, the relief of safety took its place. Still, I wouldn’t let my eyes stray from the window as I continued to back away and muffled a curse as I tripped over something I’d left on the ground. I tumbled onto the bed with a harsh exhale, my hair flying over my eyes as I landed onto the lumpy mattress.
“Fuck.” I blew my hair out of my eyes and froze. Fear crashed back through me, clawing at me as a heavy weight landed on the bed above me.
I felt my heart leap back into my closed up throat as I locked onto bright green eyes. His body towered over me, braced as it was with his hands on either side of my head. He could have easily moved them in and strangled me or broken my neck—it wouldn’t have required more than a tiny portion of the power and strength I felt radiating off of his large body—but he didn’t. He continued to stare down at me, not moving. He was naked. The dim moonlight flowing through the clouded window bathed the dips and hollows of the sharpest of muscles in a play in light and shadows, softly highlighting the ropey sinew winding across his body like a roadmap of danger.
I couldn’t see beyond his waist the way he was pressing against me, but from the unmistakable hard outline of his erection searing against my lower stomach through my sweat soaked t-shirt, I knew he was as naked down there as he was up here.
Almost instinctively I shifted my waist. I wasn’t sure if it was to escape that hard, searing evidence of his arousal or to press myself closer to it. I froze at the soft growl of warning.
“The hunt is over, mate.” His voice was harsh, almost animalistic the way he rolled his words. He shifted against me, his cock almost branding me the way it rubbed against me again, and those unnatural green eyes boring into mine. “I’ve found you and I will do it again and again. No matter how many times it takes. You’re mine, little mate, and I will never let you go again.”
I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the promise in his, the utter belief he had in his words. I wanted to shake my head, tell him he was insane—
I wasn’t anybody’s!
—but the only thing that came out was a soft moan. The fear was seeping away and as I began drawing in oxygen again I inhaled his scent and felt it fill my body, my head. It was like earth and moonlight, musky and dark with shots of light. I felt myself respond, felt my body tighten not in fear, but in something else—something even more primal.
Something was clawing inside of me, wanting to get out and as I watched his head descend towards mine I knew what was happening was inevitable. His hard mouth felt far too soft as it slanted over mine. He swallowed my whimper and then my moan as the kiss deepened, grew hungry and intoxicating as his tongue delved into my mouth chasing away the last of my fear.
My arms came up to wrap around his back, his fingers digging into the hard slabs of unyielding muscle as I pulled him deeper against me, needing more. I rocked my hips against his, my own cock filling and hardening as arousal flowed into me, like burning sunshine, blooming with every stroke of his tongue against mine, with every slide of his cock against my leaking tip.
I tried to pull him back as he lifted his head—I needed to taste him again, needed the wet heat of his mouth on mine. “Please, more,” I begged, my voice ragged and breathy.
“This is only the beginning, little wolf.” His eyes glittered down at me, his bronzed cheeks flushed with his own arousal.
I felt my heart ricochet off my ribs as he smiled. The flash of white teeth was almost startling in the dim shadows, sinister. And then he was crushing his mouth back against mine once more, and all thoughts of chasing shadows and survival fled. He devoured me as he dominated my mouth, nipped at my lower lip and suckled at my tongue. I could feel myself surrendering up to him, giving up the last of my resistance as his lips moved to the corner of my mouth and nipped across my jaw.
“It’s time, Tobias,” he said softly, his words whispering across my skin, licking at my rapid pulse. His teeth scraped over the curve of my neck, making me shiver as he teased me. “I’m coming for you.”
Suddenly a shard of instinct, of fear, pierced through the haze of my arousal, screaming at me to run. It was too late.
He bit down hard.
I shot up, my cry caught in my throat as I jolted awake. My skin was clammy and coated in sweat, my heart racing like I’d just run out of hell. Sweat ran in rivulets down my temples, plastering my damp hair to my face.
As it happened every time I woke up from the dream, I remembered every detail. They were crisp and clear, like running film in my swirling, overwhelmed mind. The chase, the forest, the shadows and the city as I returned to it, but this was the first time I’d met
He’d always been the shadow, the eerie darkness that snapped at my feet as I tore through the forest and down the street. I hadn’t even been sure he was entirely human. Braced above me, he’d felt like it—every inch of that hard, powerful body pressing me into my bed as human as I was. But there had been something else, a raw, brutal power barely leashed beneath that searing hot skin. Beneath my hands that had felt entirely too non-human.
Get a hold of yourself. It was nothing more than a dream.
A recurring dream I’d been having every night for the past month, but a dream nonetheless.
I had to get in the shower, wash away the sweat and the thickness still clouding my head—ignore the throbbing erection pushing up between my legs. That too was nothing new. I might not have met my predator until last night, but I always woke up hard as rock. I’d always assumed it was due to the adrenaline pumping through my blood during the dream chase, but now I wasn’t too sure. There had been a part of me that had reacted instantaneously and powerfully to the man, as though I’d always known him—elementally—and it scared me. Scratch that. It terrified me.
For years now I’d kept my promise to Michael, the man who had saved me from a past I couldn’t remember. I’d kept to myself, never stood out, never made myself memorable. The human contact I craved I satisfied with my low-paying job at the greasy pizza place two blocks away, and though my loneliness chaffed at me at times, there was an instinctual fear that kept me from breaking my promise.
My past was a graveyard of shadows and half-formed memories that disappeared into mist every time I tried to grasp at them. Michael had been reluctant to talk about what had happened to me before he’d taken me with him, and I’d never really tried to press him on it. The look of profound grief that shadowed his ragged, worn features had warned me that the answers I sought might be something even worse than the unknown. I’d known I’d eventually get past the fear and ask him about my past, but before that had happened he’d died. A heart attack in the middle of the day, nearly a year ago.
My world, my only family and my protection from the shadows, had crumbled into dust that day. I gritted my teeth as pain shafted through my chest. It was as bad today as it had been that day eleven months ago. I squeezed my eyes shut and waited for it to dull into a painful throb that would linger throughout the day. It was only another one of the many things I’d learnt to live with.
Sunlight streamed through the window by my bed, picking up the dust motes floating lazily in the air. I had to get out of bed and get ready. I didn’t need to check the time to know I’d be late for my job if I didn’t hurry.
I pushed at the damp sheets tangled around my lower half and dragged myself off the lumpy mattress. I’d been pretty bad when I’d salvaged it from the Salvation Army and the months I’d spent tossing and turning on it hadn’t made it any better. The floor was cold beneath my heated feet and each step towards the dingy bathroom pressed home the clamminess of my skin.
I turned on the water in the cracked shower and leaned over the sink as I waited for the water temperature to go from frigid cold to lukewarm—it couldn’t really get any hotter than that but that didn’t faze me anymore either. I’d once heard you could tell the state of a place by its bathroom. In my case my place was a shit hole. Down to one income and a crappy one at that and hardly any savings, I’d moved from the tiny two-bedroom apartment I’d called home with Michael to what was essentially nothing more than a cardboard box masquerading as a shack. It’d been months before I could call this place home but now there was no other name for it. If I didn’t call it that then I was homeless.
I dragged a hand through my limp, damp hair, pushing it off my face as I looked into the mirror above the sink. Eyes, bluer than they usually were, looked back at me wearily above a slim nose that sat okay with my sharp cheekbones. My lips looked dry and cracked and I licked at them automatically as I dragged a hand down my face and slid it around the back of my neck hoping to soothe the knotted muscles at the top of my spine.
I froze as my fingers brushed across two rows of imprints on the curve of my neck. I yanked my hand back like it’d been burnt.
“What the fuck…?” Angling my neck towards the mirror, I felt my stomach drop as my eyes locked onto the marks, clear, red and starting to bruise my pale skin.
“It’s not possible…” There was no way what had happened in my dream had transferred into reality. It wasn’t real. None of it could be real. But how else could I explain the unmistakable row of teeth marks on my neck?
Fear snaked through me as I squeezed my eyes shut. My fingers tightened on the edge of the chipped basin in an effort not to shake as I forced myself to keep breathing. My head was getting dizzy and I wanted to throw up.
No. There has to be another explanation.
But how could I explain it? I knew there were things not quite
in this world. Some instinct that screamed that there was something different walking among us, that there was something different in me.
I shivered as fear racked through me.
Get it together. Don’t think about it. Stick to your schedule.
Right, my schedule. I needed to get myself cleaned up and head into work. I’d make it in time if I didn’t shower, but there was no way I was leaving without washing the dream off me, mark or no mark.
I forced myself away from the sink and the glowing teeth marks reflected in the mirror, and stepped into the small cubicle. The water wasn’t hot, but it was soothing as it beat down on my head. I squeezed my eyes shut as I dipped my head back, and turned up to face the spray. Grabbing the wedge of soap I quickly washed myself and stepped out before the water turned frigid again.
The brisk rub of the thin towel against my skin brought the heat back into it and I left it on the bar directly in the sun as I headed back out. Minutes later I was clothed and stepping out onto the street, ignoring the coma-ed out drunkards and homeless as I headed to work.
“You’re late,” Ronny, my large Argentinian boss called as I slipped in the back door and pulled on my cap with Ronny’s Pizzeria emblazoned across the front of it. It hid most of my sandy brown hair as I pulled it down low.
“I’m sorry, it won’t happen again,” I promised as I rushed towards the counter. I preferred to work in the back, making the pizzas, but Monique had asked me to fill in for her and she had a counter shift.
“See that you don’t. I’m docking your pay for the thirty minutes I expected you to be out at the counter. If it happens again you can go look for a new job.”
I grimaced and held my tongue. I’d only been ten minutes late, but I couldn’t afford to argue with him. He was the boss and I knew that without this job and the time I’d spend looking for a new one would most likely get me evicted, even from the shit hole my place it was.
I pasted a smile on my face and readied myself for the long barely bearable shift. The bite mark on my neck itched and I tried to ignore it as a pimply face teen stepped up to the counter with more attitude than I wanted to deal with this morning and placed his order.
Fuck, if I didn’t need this job so bad I’d tell him what he could do with his specially ordered pizza with extra everything and leave out the whatevers.
This was going to be a long fucking day.