I have to say a quick thank you for those of who are joining me for my newest adventure, Caught by the Muse, hosted by Wicked Muse Society. Unfortunately this week, the rest of the group isn't participating but since I promised, here's the next part of The Hunt :) Check back next week for another installment - and hopefully the return of the rest of the contributors.
Working Title: The Hunt
Working Title: The Hunt
Genre: Erotic Romance/Paranormal/Shape Shifter
Heat Level: 1
“…Mahkah?” The sound of my mate’s voice brought me back to the present. “Please, do not dwell on that day. You saved your cousin. My father should have never demanded the sacrifice of a shifter female – let alone Weeko.” Now dressed in a pair of skimpy shorts and a halter, I realized that Onawa had once again used our mating link to find out what I was thinking. Even after six months it was taking some getting used to.
Surging to my feet, I gathered her close. “I know. I just wish I could’ve done more. I’d give anything to be able to travel back in time and change the outcome. This war with your father’s clan has cost so much. I’m so glad Ohanzee was able to broker a truce between our clans.” Rubbing my nose against her dark hair I savored the fact that she was mine. She could’ve rejected my suit when she’d torn into me after her younger sister had abandoned the Witikó clan to join mine. It still amazed me that she hadn’t considering that her father was the Alpha of said clan.
She pressed a kiss against my sternum. “Nonsense. If you hadn’t stood up for your cousin, I’d have never met you – and you wouldn’t have ended up mated the baddest bitch in the Dakotas.”
I chuckled and released her as the cool night air picked up. Lifting my head I scented the coming rain, holding out my hand. “Even as bad as you are, it’s time to head home. A storm is brewing. And frankly as much as I love running in our fur together, we’ll both smell like wet dogs if we have to run back home with wet fur.”
Giggling, she shook her finger at me. “I will have you know I don’t smell like…” her eyes narrowed as if she’d picked up on something. As the Alpha bitch of my pack – or soon-to-be, we were just waiting for the Council to recognize her place, Onawa’s hearing was far superior to mine.
“What is it?”
Her eyes widened. “It’s my father!” She gave me a hard push as a whine of the bullet ricocheted off a nearby walnut tree inches from where my head used to be.
“Son of a bitch.” I forced the wolf back and placed myself between her and the direction that the shot had come from. Since we were on ground which the Council deemed sacred, I couldn’t retaliate without dire consequences falling upon my Pack. And it pissed me off to no end, because our attacker wasn’t playing by the same rules.
“That was only a warning shot, Sapá!” Takoda, the beta of the Witikó clan was a force to be reckoned. As a cougar shifter, I knew that he could easily rip my wolf to shreds since I didn’t want to give the Witikó clan another reason to retaliate by attacking him. Which I was certain the reason behind this new attack. But it didn’t mean I was about to give up my mate to him.
“This is neutral land, Takoda, if you attack us here you will restart the war.” I called out, edging Onawa back further in the tree line. It galled me that I had to try to reason with him, when all I wanted to do was to rip out his throat. There were times I hated my need to avoid bloodshed – instead of acting like Alphas of the past. “And even if you don’t, the council will punish you and possibly strip you of your position.”
Stepping out from behind an evergreen, Takoda appeared dressed in traditional buckskins and cradling his Remington rifle in his arms. Nearly a decade older than my own twenty-eight years, he was fanatically loyal to Kangi since the death of his parents. I guess I understood why since the man took him in, but he was taking a real risk by bringing the gun into our sacred running grounds. If he were caught, he could be possibly put to death.
“Takoda! What are you doing! Have you lost your mind?” Onawa stepped up beside me, ignoring my warning growl as usual. “You won’t have to worry about the council stripping you of your title - they’ll skin your cat and leave you hanging outside the meeting house to set an example.”
Takoda’s brow furrowed. “It’s time for you to come home, Onawa. Your father wants you back – not running with this mangy cur. He has forgotten the sacred ways and is an abomination to our race.”
Next to me, I could smell the anger rolling off Onawa. As my mate she was fiercely loyal to me – even when she wanted to kick my ass. “More of that traditionalist crap.” She folded her arms over her breasts – momentarily distracting me. “You are starting to sound as bad my father. We’re not in the 1700s anymore.”
While I whole-heartedly agreed with my mate, I knew taunting Takoda like this wasn’t wise. “Enough, Onawa. There is nothing he can do while we’re on sacred grounds without risking the wrath of the elders.” I took her hand, preparing to lead her away from Takoda when another shot rang out. I grunted and stumbled as pain flared in my left shoulder. Onawa tried to hold me as I fell but with me outweighing her by nearly a hundred pounds gravity won.
“Damnit, you shot him.” Onawa was on her knees beside me trying to staunch the blood flow with her tank top. She was now naked from the waist up, since she hadn’t bothered with a bra tonight. My wolf pulled hard on my restraint. It wanted free to savage the man who dared look at his mate’s bare breasts, but unlike most myths concerning shape shifters we weren’t bullet proof nor did wet miraculously heal when shot with metal by merely shifting form.
When Onawa was suddenly jerked away from me – the grip I had on my wolf snapped. I shifted, yelping at the agonize pull on my wounded shoulder. I nearly passed out from the pain when I tried to follow them. I howled as I collapsed my front left leg unable to support my weight. Panting I shifted back intending to chase after them in my human form, but the cold touch of metal against my temple had me freezing.
“Don’t. I have no compunction against killing your sorry ass, Alpha of the Sapá.” Takoda pulled the hammer back. He spoke to Onawa without taking his gaze off me. “Now, Onawa, the rest of the hunting party is less than a hundred yards out to the west. You’ll go to them.”
She shoved at him. “Like hell I will. My place is with my mate!”
He froze, his nostrils flaring. “You lie.”
Despite the pain I was in, I smiled. “Use your nose, you bastard – or can’t cat shifters smell the mating mark?”
His nostrils flared and I saw the recognition in his eyes before his expression hardened. “It doesn’t matter – she belongs to the Witikó clan and unless she wants me to shoot you dead, she will do as I say.”
Onawa looked at me. I could see how torn she was – she wanted to stay but more than anything I didn’t want her to get hurt. “Remember the possibility of a child, my sweet Onawa. See what your father wants and return to me.” When she looked ready to argue, I knew she’d heard me through our link. I licked my lips and repeated my request. “Go, I’ll come for you. The council won’t let them keep you from me.”
I let out a sigh of relief when she gave a subtle nod before she crossed her arms over her naked breasts. “I will go and talk to my father but don’t expect more than that Takoda. I will return to my mate.”
I watched as she strode off to the north – the direction her father’s scent had come from. I was just turning back to face Takoda when he struck me. All I saw was the butt of the gun as I blacked out.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK....
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©Dakota Trace All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.