Chapter One :Chapter 1

The plate smashes against the wall, its shards piercing my skin and I quickly pull away my arm, hissing in pain. Tears pool in my eyes as I watch the crimson fluid roll down to my wrist. "Now don't just stand there! Get me something I can Actually eat!", his sharp voice rings in my ears.

Long was gone the comfort I used to feel by his voice, the warmth I craved from his embrace. I turn my head to the blonde male in his early thirties. His strong build and athletic body served as evidence to the intense training he went through to be the warrior he is today. "Do I have to repeat myself?!", he growls and his brown orbs get surrounded by golden rings, revealing his wolf side.

I quickly shake my head before rushing to the kitchen. As I pull the glass shards out of my flesh with a hiss, I glance at the photo stuck to the fridge. The happy couple in it is far from what Harry and I are today. Washing the blood down the drain, I start working on the breakfast all over again. Perhaps it was my fault. Perhaps there really was too much salt...but did I really deserve being treated this way?

I serve him the egg roll with bacon on a new plate as Harry stares at me. Keeping my head low, I turn to leave when he grabs my wrist, prompting me to meet his gaze. "Why do you upset me?", he asks in a calm tone now but it still fails to give me butterflies in my stomach like it used to. "You think I enjoy this?", he asks as he stands up, towering over me now. "I love you, Claire. Don't ruin this.", I nod to his stern voice before lowering my head.

"I'm heading out with friends. Don't prepare dinner for me.", he informs before simply walking out of the house without even touching the food I cooked. I stare at the egg roll for a moment, asking it the question I've been asking myself lately, 'Do I really deserve this?'

The phone in my pocket buzzes with a text and I pull it out. The name on the screen lights up my mood and I text back. With a proper bandage on my wounded arm and a long sleeve shirt hiding it, I step out of the house, locking it with the only key to the house. Harry isn't going to return until late at night so no point in leaving the key under the doormat. Our pack, Shadow Sky, is one of the biggest packs in the country and with neighboring small packs merging with ours, our territory is getting bigger than before. With more than 500 stomachs to fill, some of the wolves took the duty of farming. Now we have our own decent marketplace in the center of the east clearing.

I make my way to the cafe only to find a redhead waiting patiently for me. The moment her emerald green eyes land on me, she waves her arm with a big smile spread on her face. I feel warmth in my chest as I join her before giving her a hug. Nadia, a miller, is probably the only wolf that loves and never judges me in this pack. As we take our seats at one of the tables, the redhead orders our usual for us, chocolate donuts for her and a simple coffee for me. "So, how's the new job treating you?", she asks me as she licks the chocolate frosting.

"Well..", I look inside my cup, "It's treating me better than my old job at the diner here. None of the humans can judge me or bully me for my wolf."

"See?", she smiles, "I told you that it is the best offer for you! You get to work from your home, in the comfort of your bed and none of your colleagues know about the issue Which, if I may add, is Not your fault so one shouldn't treat you any different for it anyway.", she finishes, rolling her eyes.

"Yeah...but it's like I am living among birds while being it's fair that everyone treats me differently...", I lower my head. Nadia frowns at my words before reaching out and grabbing my arm to comfort me but I hiss in pain, making her raise her eyebrows.

"What is it?", she asks as she rolls up my sleeve although I try to stop her. Her eyes widen at the sight of the bandage and she stares at me in shock, "How did you hurt yourself?" My silence only makes her gasp, "Did Harry do that?!"

"Don't worry... It's not that serious...", I murmur, pulling my arm away from her hold, rolling the sleeve back down.

She shakes her head, "This is not okay, Claire. He can't treat you this way. We are going to my house after this. We have to get that fixed." She gestures to the bandage. I wanted to tell her that there is no way to fix it more but I knew that she wouldn't listen so I quietly sip my coffee.

Once done, she takes me to her house that was in a bigger clearing in the north of the pack territory. The large area was reserved for the farms and mills and Nadia being a miller, had the permission to stay there. She is also a gatherer and steps out of borders once in a while to gather rare berries or herbs although with the fact that it's not safe outside the borders, I'm always concerned for her. She takes me to her house and lets me in. I take my seat on the couch while she fetches some of the herbs she must have collected on one of her trips.

"I have been wanting to give you this for a while. I made this ointment with one of my grandfather's recipes!", she informs me as she places the small wooden box on the table and starts to remove the bandage from my arm. I hiss in pain as I watch the tender flesh opening once again to let the blood out. "This should help you heal faster.", the female assures me as she wipes away the blood and starts applying the green liquid. It stings and I clench my jaws as tears pool in my eyes.

" not sure if there is anything that can make me heal as fast as other wolves, Nadia...", I sigh as I turn my head away to focus away from the pain but it feels impossible. "You know I am weak..."

"You are not weak!", Nadia snaps "You just...", she pauses as she fails to find the correct words to explain my situation. I let out another sigh before shaking my head. "Believe me! It's the fault of your parents. They gave you wrong amount of wolfsbane!", she continues.

"It doesn't matter whose fault it is...", I murmur.

"I am just trying to tell you how you are still a great person...", the redhead gives me an encouraging smile, "And this recipe, I had been looking for the ingredients for so long! It almost negates the effect of wolfsbane. If it's as effective as grandpa wrote in his diary, then it should help you whenever you get hurt.", she says before handing me the wooden box. "You keep this. If I find more ingredients, I'll make another batch for you.", the female gives me one of her big smiles.

My heart instantly melts and my eyes water. I pull her into a hug, "Thank you... I don't know how I would have survived without you..."

She rubs my back, "Of course, bestie. But this isn't over.", she says as she pulls away and looks at me with a stern look. "You need to get rid of Harry problem."

I sigh as I lower my head, "You know I can't... My parents would be mad at me..."

"It's not your parents who have to keep up with his nuisance!", she huffs, crossing her arms. "You need to sort it out. He is just a warrior! It's his Job to protect the people of the pack. You don't have to repay him for it! He surely gets his money from the alpha after every rogue attack. He just stays with you because you take care of him and all the house expenses. If there was any love between you two, it's surely long gone."

I couldn't do anything but fidget with the wooden container in my hands. She was right and I knew it but the issue was with convincing my parents. "Look, Claire...", she uses a softer tone. "I don't mean to push you...but this relationship is not healthy for you... And you are yet to find your mate. Do you think your mate would be happy when he comes to know about your current situation? You earn enough to be an independent woman." She rubs my arms, "I believe in you. You can do this."

I give her a nod and take in a deep breath. This must be done. I can't stay like this forever. Nadia is right, my mate wouldn't be happy to see this. What if he starts hating me for all this? I have dreamt every night of the moment I find my mate. Once wolves are 18 years old, they can find their mates. Mate is a wolf's significant another chosen by the Moon Goddess herself. It is a sacred bond that is stronger than anything in the world. Although this bond can be shattered by the sin of rejection, I still have high hopes about mine.

I have heard many stories about it. I have heard how their touch makes spark flow through our skins, that their scent is intoxicating and unlike other wolves, you can actually tell what they smell like. Other wolves' scent is just a different variation of dog like smell but our mate's is unique and special. I have heard that just looking at them can make our heart skip a beat and that the love born from mate bond is the purest of them all. In this harsh world where every wolf, except Nadia and my brother, looks down at me, my mate would cherish me.

But for that, I must be prepared for him and that must start with leaving Harry. With that goal in mind, I head to my parents' house. It is a bit further than my own house where I live with the male. I knock on the door and wait for a moment before it opens and a woman with little gray hair mixed with her original brown looks at me. "Claire? What are you doing here?", my mother tilts her head, "You didn't tell you were coming." She steps away from the doorway to let me in.

I follow her to the living room to find my father on his favorite couch, reading a book. He looks up from his spectacles as he hears us come in. He raises an eyebrow, "I didn't know you were coming." I lower my head at his questioning tone.

"I..wanted to talk to you guys...", I speak up and mother gestures to the couch opposite to father's as she sits beside him, her mate. The man closes the book and puts it on the table to give me his attention. "I...", fidgeting with my shirt, I keep my head low as I continue, "...don't want to live with Harry anymore..."

"Why?", his stern voice sends a shiver down my spine.

"He... We aren't close anymore... And it feels like we are just dragging the relationship...", my eyes stay fixated at the glass table instead of the couple in front of me.

"What kind of excuse is that?!", he instantly growls and I instinctively cower back in the couch. My fingers were already starting to freeze and my heart beats loudly in my ear. "What do you even plan to do if not live with him?!", he asks, making me look at him in disbelief but one glance at his brown orbs with golden rings around them was enough to force me to lower my gaze back down.

"He is a pack warrior, Claire", my mother speaks in while holding her husband's hand to calm him down. "With all the rogue attacks, we need him to protect us. You do know how all the small packs around us got destroyed by the rogues and others merged with ours to protect themselves. When their Alphas chose to leave their title and live among us, why can't you continue to live with Harry?"

"But...", I dare say, "...he is not my mate..."

The man scoffs, "Mate! She still believes she will find her mate!" I feel his gaze burning holes in my head. “You are already 27! Wolves stop searching for mates after the age of 34! What makes you think you can still find yours?? And even if you did, why would he accept someone like you??” His words hit me like blades and tears pool in my eyes but I press my palm to stop them from falling.

“Claire, all this mate stuff is not for you. If not for yourself, then think of your little brother! He is only 11 years old. We are too old to protect the two of you. Harry has protected us so many times. With you being his girlfriend, we have always been his number one priority during a rogue attack. Do you think you would be able to protect your brother on you own?”, the female shakes her head.

“Protect her brother?”, father scoffs again. “Can you not hear her heart beating like a jackhammer right now? She is scared stiff! In front of her own parents! What makes you think she can stand against a rogue?!” He turns back to me, “You listen to me! You are Not leaving that warrior! If you do, then prepare yourself for the consequences!” With that, he rises on his feet and marches out of the room with his wife following him.

I stay completely still on the couch, staring at my hands. As I hear the door upstairs shut close, I pull my knees close to my chest and let all the pain out. I cry, wondering what did I do to deserve everything I went through and continue to face.

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