Home > Matefinder (Matefinder #1)(3)

Matefinder (Matefinder #1)(3)
Author: Leia Stone

Kai let go of my shoulder and Sammy stepped forward. He looked about fourteen years old and had blonde hair and brown eyes. I stared, heart pounding, not out of fear but out of nerves. Where would I fall in the pack? What would it mean? If I was low, did that make me weak? If I was high, did that make me more of a monster than I already thought I was? After about five seconds, Sammy looked down. Sweat beaded on his forehead and I wondered if that was from me. I went to the next person. A tall and lanky man with kind eyes stepped forward. After a few seconds he, too, looked down. Sweat shown on his brow as well. I kept moving up the line. Once I got to the middle, I could hear murmuring.

‘Silence.’ Kai commanded. It was so alien to hear someone speak in my mind.

I looked back at Kai, unsure.

“Keep going, Aurora. You’re doing exactly what Emma and I told you. Don’t worry.”

I turned to face the next person and then the next, until I met who I assumed to be Sadie. She was ninth from the top of the pack and had long, ink black hair and medium dark skin. She looked Native American. Maybe mixed. She was beautiful, exotic. As we stared, I began to feel my pulse pick up the longer we locked eyes. A bit of sweat beaded on my upper lip but Sadie looked down after about ten seconds. She was panting. She cursed under her breath and shot me a death look. She wasn’t happy about my place in the pack being above hers. I swallowed hard and moved on.

It began to get harder to hold their gaze but I was able to. Three pack members from the top, whispers had started. Kai had to quiet everyone multiple times. He kept reassuring me that I was doing fine and needed to continue. I continued on until I was standing in front of the last man. He was tall, broad shouldered and his arms were littered with scars. What would be so bad that it would scar a werewolf? He had sandy blonde hair and ice blue eyes. He stepped forward and puffed up his chest.

“My name is Max and I have been Kai’s second in command for forty-six years.” His voice could cut paper. I swallowed. Forty-six years? He didn’t look a day over twenty-five, neither did Kai. Kai put his hand on Max’s shoulder.

“Yes you have, and a great second you have been. I know this is a bit of a shock to all of us, to have a newly changed female so high up in the pack. As you know, nothing will feel settled with you about Aurora until we know how dominant she is. Your wolf will wonder if you could take her in a fight and I can’t have that. Not in my pack. Max, Aurora. Continue.”

I was already sweating because the last two stare downs had been very difficult. I felt like looking down multiple times but I didn’t. Not before they did. But with Max I was scared. What would this mean? If I was more dominant than him would I become the second in command of some new pack I knew nothing about? Some life I  didn’t ask for? Maybe I should just look down halfway through so I didn’t have to deal with this.

‘If you do that, his wolf will always wonder where you stand, and a fight will break out eventually.’ Kai. In my head. Great. I stepped forward. I had to be brave or at least try to be. I looked Max in the eyes. I didn’t blink. I barely breathed. After about thirty seconds he started panting and I began to feel weak in the knees. I felt the strongest urge to bow my head in submission. I pushed the urge back. I was strong.

I had been through a lot in my short twenty-two years on this planet, enough to give me a thick skin. I’d been through things that still gave me nightmares. Things no person should ever have to endure. I didn’t know what this meant for my future; didn’t know what being a werewolf meant for what I had planned for my life but it was better than being dead, and if Kai hadn’t saved me, I would be. If being this high up in the pack was where I was meant to be, then I would be. I stared. He stared. Sweat broke out on my forehead and his as well. He  bit his lip and with a grunt he dropped his eyes, bowing his head down low.

I took a step back, startled. I wiped my forehead and tried to catch my breath. Max looked at Kai and something unspoken seemed to pass between them. Anger was coming off of Max in waves. Kai nodded slightly and Max scowled at me and then took off running into the woods. He shed his shirt and slowly changed into his wolf form, his body was contorting and cracking. I sucked in a breath at the sight. I turned to see Kai open his arms wide.

“Brothers and sisters, I welcome Aurora into my pack as my second in command.”

There was murmuring among the wolves. ‘Pack,’ they told me, as they looked me up and down. Kai’s warm body pushed up against me as he whispered in my ear. “You have their inner wolves’ respect. Any one of them would die in a fight for you, but now you need to get their human side’s respect. That’s a whole other ballgame as you Americans like to say.” His breath against my neck made my stomach drop, but his words flushed cold water through my veins.

“Let’s eat! Steaks are on the grill out back,” Kai announced and motioned for us to move to the back of the house. My inner wolf was pleased with our new place in the pack. I was scared shitless.

Second

“Wow, second,” Emma squeaked behind me. I turned to her voice and she cast her eyes down slightly towards my nose. I wondered if I would ever get used to having to think before I made eye contact with someone.

Now that I had time to look around, I realized we were in a heavily wooded area on Mt. Hood. There were cabins dotting the property. But Kai’s was by far the biggest. There were no fences, just open space.

“Yeah, who knew?” I shrugged, not sure of what to say. We walked together around to the back of the house towards the smell of cooking food. I was still in shock over making second in the pack.

   
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