Ira has been trained her entire life to hunt and kill werewolves by her abusive father, the leader of the Hunter Clan. On her eighteenth birthday, she’s expected to kill her first werewolf and pledge herself to the clan, but instead she turns her back on everything she knows and runs away with the wolf she’s supposed to kill.
Now she’s surrounded by a whole pack of werewolves and at the mercy of their alpha, who won’t stop calling her “mate.”
Age Rating: 18+
“It is time, Ira,” Father said from the doorway of my little “room.”
I doubted that anyone would consider the broom closet I was sitting in a room, but it was all I ever knew. As much as it was a prison cell, it was my safe haven—the place I hated and still sort of loved at the same time.
I felt dread starting to crawl up my chest once I fully realized what I was about to do. I always knew this day was coming, but I’d always hoped that something would happen to prevent it.
I didn’t want to do what they expected of me, but I knew what he would do if I dared disobey his orders. So I quickly stood up, my eyes glued to the floor as I tried to avoid eye contact, just like I was taught to.
“Yes, Father,” I whispered.
After a few tense minutes that felt like him drilling holes into my skull and me trying not to cower in fear, knowing well enough that any signs of cowardice from me would only provoke him further, he finally turned and led me down the hall.
I sighed in relief since the last thing I wanted at the time was to have him unleash his anger on me. I was nervous about my task and that would have only added more stress to my already fraying nerves.
I felt a dozen pairs of eyes on us, watching and judging my every move as we walked through the house. Their stares made me uneasy, but I managed to keep my face void of any emotion as we passed by them and went outside.
Father stopped at the edge of the forest, and I did the same, shutting my eyes and clenching my hands into fists in an attempt to stop them from shaking.
A soft, pitiful whine drifted to my ears. Peeking through my lashes, I saw a big off-white wolf lying beneath Father’s legs in a cage a size too small for him. His soft fur was covered in blood and dirt, a gnarly gash sitting over his right eye.
His breathing was shallow and broken, but his yellow eyes were alive and gleaming with hatred as he glared at me. I shuddered as I met his gaze, taking a step backward unconsciously.
My heart ached at the sight of the broken creature. Just the thought of what I was expected to do had me wanting to run far away.
“Ira,” I heard Father calling my name, his face as rigid as a stone mask and his hand holding a gun outstretched toward me. I took a deep breath, urging my body to co-operate.
Grabbing the gun with a shaking hand, I pointed it at the wolf. Our eyes locked; his were hard and full of hatred, making mine fill with tears, which I tried to fight.
“Ira, now!” Father yelled, startling me, and I nodded.
The wolf continued to stare at me, his gaze almost curious now. He then closed his eyes and lowered his head to the ground.
I closed my eyes too, unable to look at the poor creature any longer. I tried to pull the trigger, but a small voice inside my head stopped me: If you do this, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life!
I tried to shake it off and ignore it, but it only grew stronger with each passing second; I was sure I was going crazy.
“What are you waiting for? Do it!” Father shouted at me, his harsh voice making my jaws clench in annoyance.
I looked at him to see an ugly sneer plastered on his face, and I realized how much I hated him. He had tortured me my whole life. Memories of beatings and insults overwhelming me, I felt anger burn my insides.
My body began shaking as I relived every single day of my miserable existence; then, something inside me snapped. “No!” I shouted and moved my hand so that the gun was now pointing in his direction.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he growled but kept his distance.
“What I should have done ages ago. Open the fucking cage,” I commanded in an unfamiliar, strong voice that sounded nothing like me.
By the look on Father’s face, I knew I wasn’t the only one surprised.
He unlocked the cage, visibly unhappy about it. A look of pure hatred flashed across his face as he eyed the gun pointed at his head. He then quickly retreated back as the wolf stepped out of the cage.
“Run!” I yelled at the wolf, pointing at the woods behind us.
But he just stood, rooted to the ground, looking at me with wide eyes.
“Come on, what are you waiting for? Run away!” I shouted at the stubborn creature.
But he continued to stand there for a few more minutes before lowering to the ground.
He shook his head at me and then toward the house from where we could see the rest of the clan coming out, probably wondering what was taking so long.
I stared at him in confusion until my mind registered what he was trying to say. He wanted me to go with him.
I didn’t know what to do. On the one hand, if I stayed, I’d probably be dead by the next morning; on the other, if I went with him, I’d finally find what was waiting for me out there.
I didn’t know anyone outside of the clan; hell I’d never even set foot out of our land. It took me a minute to make a decision before I jumped on his back, my arms wrapped around his neck and my fingers holding onto his fur.
The voices from the house grew louder as he started to run through the forest at lightning speed. I cast one last look at the place I had called home all my life before turning around, feeling wildly unprepared to face the unknown.
What have I done?