Chapter 7: Colton
I know I’m getting to see him, finally, but everything about that interaction breaks me open and I roll
over into my cushions to sob it all out. Crying in pain, that’s not too dissimilar to mourning my entire
family, ten years ago. I feel worse now I’ve spoken to him briefly. This feels as much of a loss as then,
even if it seems crazy and not even a comparison. Like something awful is coming and that when I see
him, it will only serve to cause me more devastation.
A nagging voice of logic and haste in the back of my head pulls me out of my dark depressive state,
and reminds me that if I want to get to the forest within the hour, I need to get up and motivate myself.
In human form, it’s a trek and a half, and I need time to get ready. I’ve been living in my nightwear for
In wolf form I’ll get there in minutes but completely naked, and I haven’t yet tried to turn of my own
accord. Too preoccupied to even attempt it and wouldn’t know how to start without a little practice. I
need to shower, change, make myself look half human at least, and hide the dark circles and shadows
from pining my days away. I don’t want him to see me at my worst.
My body is weighed down with lethargy when I drag myself up, and it takes all my will power to haul
ass to the bathroom moments later. Desperate to find some relief in the meeting, even if the outcome
won’t be what my heart hopes. Torn in two though, with a little shining light of delusional hope, telling
me that maybe what he needs, and wants to do face to face, is mark me as his mate. That maybe we
can do this in secret and find a way to be together. Or maybe not.
I still cannot seem to get to grips with how this can be. How imprinting on a relative stranger can
completely derail everything you knew before and make you so insanely in need of them that you
would tie your life up in theirs just to be able to breathe. Pushing that person into the center of
everything and craving them with the intensity of severe addiction.
I know more about him than anyone in my life and I have barely spoken to him. My mind is a chaotic
mess of his life and mine, which once ran separate, yet now coincides and memories blur into one
another. I have mental images of him at every age and random knowledge about things most people
never know of their mate. I know everything he does, about himself, his life, his family, and I’m
guessing the same goes for him too. You truly merge when imprinting and now I see why it’s so rare
and so potent when it happens. You lose control of everything and the only thing which matters from
there on in, is your mate.
We are one. In every way possible.
I wash quickly, dress, and dry my hair at speed, and attempt to fix my face to hide the blotchiness of my
tears. Make up was never my thing, but this sudden obsessive adoration for Colton makes me want to
look my best for him, even if our meeting has a tone that doesn’t spell happy ever after for me. I need
to have hope.
I clock watch as I apply the bare minimum enhancements and tousle my hair out with my fingers, as it
forms light natural waves. For a moment, my reflection reminds me of my mother, and I swallow a lump
in my throat as the shooting pain of remembered heartbreak hits me like a sucker punch and almost
buckles my knees under the weight. Bruising my heart in that unique way that only the loss of them
“I miss you, mom. I miss all of you.”
I stare at the resemblance, biting back tears and then shake her out of my head like I have come
accustomed to doing over the years, to bear the ache and turn to ready myself for getting out of here
unseen. The only way I dealt with their loss was to never dwell too long on it. I never really learned any
I turn my attention back to what I need to do. I’ve never snuck out of the orphanage before, nor ever
needed, to but I have a route plan and I think I know how to get by unseen where no one will miss me
for an hour or two. It’s not like this place was ever set up as a prison, and we don’t have any guards
I scribble a hurried note for Vanka, should she care, which is doubtful; telling her I’m taking a book to a
secluded part of the garden to hide and read and know she won’t bother checking. She doesn’t care if I
live or die most days, so she sure as hell won’t care if I’m not in my room, now I no longer have classes
School ended for me on the day of my turning, as coincidence has it, and I should have been on my
merry way to a new life, much like Vanka is planning before the month is out. She’s been making
arrangements to head off and soon this room while be mine alone. That will be the only upside to being
stuck here for an eternity.
It’s not like any new orphans are heading in here or have been for a decade. Newborns have families
and unless another war wipes out a lot more of us, then I doubt the orphanage will have any new
rejects any time soon.
I yank on my sneakers, my blue hoody, over my tight t-shirt and jeans and slide out of my room into the
deserted hall. It’s during class time, so most of the kids are in the rooms of the left wing right now,
learning all about our traditions and history with some academia thrown in. For the most part we are
raised to live among humans, to fit in and exist in their world, so we learn all the same crap they do,
and how to conceal what we are.
I guess I was lucky in that the war confined us here, in our own school, and I didn't have to interact with
non wolves since then. Those of us left with no family got pulled out of our human schools amid rumors
of a deadly virus, plaguing families on the mountain skirts, which meant no officials came knocking.
Some of the alphas, like the Santo’s too, for their own protection and lineage, but general population
were allowed to retain their places in the real world as though nothing happened. I don't plan on going
back there anytime soon either, now my change has drastically altered the course of my path.
I sprint to the end of the hall and down the servant stairs to the kitchen. Not that we have any, but this
house used to belong to the alpha of the Romaine pack, none of whom returned at all from the great
wars, and the house was repurposed for our use. Their wealth committed to the cause of repairing our
society. Probably because they were the smallest of the packs, living on the edge of solitude, and far
from the rest of the villages, that it was a prime location. The house and its lands are secluded enough
to confine unwanteds in one corner, to forget us and leave us to our own devices. It’s why Colton
picked the west forest, I guess, it’s easy to access from here and close enough for me to get to without
It’ll take him longer to get there from where he is though, as his pack live on the south side of the
mountain, almost seven miles from here. If he can't be seen leaving, he will have to go on foot, not use
his truck, and the only option for him is to turn and wolf it this way. We can cover ground faster as our
true selves and I wonder if I should take him some sort of clothing. Not that seeing him naked is a bad
thing, but it might take my focus away from what he wants to say.
I shake my head at my own stupidity and realize he probably thought of this and will be carrying some
sort of bag and attire for changing back, that’s if he intends to. Maybe he will stay in form and talk to me
No stupid, he said face to face, as using our mind link will make this worse!
I chastise myself, blaming the lack of sleep for my dumbing down lately as I slide trough the kitchen
unseen and get to the back-porch door in record time. Getting used to my new speed and zipping
around when you don’t want to be seen is the perfect practice. I’ve stopped bumping into things and
tripping over my own feet in hyper speed mode, but I haven’t yet mastered how not to get breathless. It
takes it out of me after a short sprint.
Th garden is empty but most of the classrooms look onto the courtyard, so I make sure I stay in the
shadows against the wall and slide along to the concealed part of the garden, behind the outhouses.
Up and over the eight-foot brick wall with an easy leap and I’m free to run for the woods with no one
seeing me escape. It’s easier than I thought. Then again, no one expects me to defy rules and go
chasing after Colton Santo. I was never this girl before him and yet now, he just has to say the word
and I go…. blindly following my alpha; another annoying trait of being mated. He commands and I do.
It’s kind of pathetic.
I start running in the direction I need to go, stopping and dropping behind trees anytime I catch sight of
movement or pick up a sound or scent. My senses are firing on all cylinders of their highest ability, and
it’s making me a paranoid wreck as I try to forge a path without trace, through the dense forest that
leads to where I want to go. Heart pounding so hard through my chest I’m sure anyone nearby will hear
it. I try to calm down but to no avail. I’ve never been a risk taker or had the bravery to do anything wild,
like defy Juan Santo. I must be insane.
I know if I get caught, I’ll be dragged in front of Juan for breaking the rules set for me. He might be
worried about killing his son, but he isn't worried about putting him through a little pain and I’m not one
for a public flogging if I can help it. Colton is stronger than me and even if he does feel my pain, Juan
will use it to teach us both a lesson. I don’t doubt that cold hearted bastard would do it for that reason.
I’ve never liked him.
I feel like I run at least five miles before I stop for much needed breath, gasping crazily with crushing
agony, my limbs beginning to ache and burn from overuse and the unfamiliarity of speed running like
this. Much like unfit people, we have to build our stamina so the human side of us can catch up, and I
have not been good at building up to this kind of sprint. My legs and muscles are throbbing and feel like
my tendons are being torn apart. I collapse behind an overgrown ridge to try and regain some
equilibrium. So my lungs don’t cave in and give myself a few moments before dragging myself up and
walking the rest of the way at human speed now I’ve made up good time.
Deep in the woods, following the worn animal path to the cavern that I know well, I feel a little lighter,
and less depressed. Every kid has been here at least once in their life, long before the vampire attacks.
This used to be the go-to spot to hang out, play and swim in the lake nearby and the path made it
impossible to get lost. Animals walking the link to their watering hole once you reach the shadowy
depth of a forest so dense that it’s permanently in shade, even on the brightest of days.
I know this is why he chose this place. In my memories he would have seen I frequented it a lot with my
brother Jasper, as a child. He knows I know it well. No one comes here now; they’re too afraid, yet
every kid knows the way and knows exactly how to get there. The fear of vampires still haunts us even
now with all the years of quiet living. They are still out there somewhere and shaded gloomy secluded
areas like this, would be an ideal spot for them to hunt.
A twig snapping off to my left makes me jump a foot high, head snapping to follow its source and eyes
burning to see what is coming. I dart inside a large hollow log to conceal myself and glance around,
heart elevated and breath laboring quickly. Senses kicking into red alert.
It's me.... don’t be afraid.
The much longed for voice in my head, smothering me with calm, like thick honey and I exhale with
both relief and something else. That elation at being close to him again, but I wonder why I haven’t
picked up on his scent or his proximity yet. We’re supposed to feel our mates when they’re close.
Where are you?
I mutter awkwardly as I crawl back out, peeking cautiously, picking the dried moss from my hair and
straighten up to scan the woods around me.
“Keeping my distance, downwind of you, over here.” He calls back verbally, drawing me to him by voice
alone. That explains why I didn’t feel or smell him approaching. He’s close enough to make me jump,
and I spin in the direction his voice came at me from. I catch sight of him, jumping down from a rock
overhanging the clearing, to one lower, I placed myself in, as he pulls on a t-shirt over those sculpted
tanned abs and throws a backpack to the side of him. He must have carried clothes with him, and I
have to admit, I’m a little disappointed and eye rape him appreciatively. My body heating up with the
insane lust I feel for this man, just because he got within fifty feet. My crazy hormones have had me
dreaming of doing all kinds of naked things with him that a virgin shouldn’t know how to do.
I make a move towards him, but he raises his palm and throws me a serious frown that halts me in my
tracks. That dominant warning, I have to heed.
“Stay there. Don't come closer, it’s better for both of us if we keep our distance.” He seems extremely
wary, voice a little husky and unsure.
“Why? What do you think I’m going to do to you?” I retort angrily, hurt stupidly, and reacting like he
offended me on every level. It’s an insane disappointment, eating me up inside, because all I really
want to do is run into his arms and continue what was interrupted days ago. I need to feel his skin on
mine and hate the fact he clearly doesn’t.
“It’s not you, it’s me. I'm finding things hard and after what happened at the pack house, it’s safer to
keep you at least thirty feet away from me at all times.” He shrugs, rounding those large shoulders and
drawing my eye, making it obvious he doesn’t trust himself.
I guess he means the kiss, and the urge to mark me that followed seconds after. I guess I’m wrong and
he does have the same insane need I do. I have to agree, proximity does make me want to touch him
all the more, but thirty feet is a little extreme.
“So why bring me here if you have no intention of coming anywhere near me?” I spin on my heel and
head to the log once more, in a bid to stomp some of this sudden aggression out, only this time I climb
on top of the rickety old wood and slump my butt down, dropping my legs over the side to sit
comfortably. Sulking inwardly, like a chastised toddler and focus my eyes on the snowdrops pushing
through in the only crack of sunlight to hit the ground, rather than look at him. My pride is wounded and
as stupid as it is, I’m mad at him for it. This hunger is only cured with contact.
“I owed you some sort of explanation for cutting off our link. For staying away after we........ I needed to
do this properly.”
Colton’s voice makes me all kinds of crazy. It’s that deep male sexiness laced with a raw husky and
almost commanding edge. He has always had a nice voice, that underlying hint of a Colombian accent
in the depths and now more than ever, it does insane things to my insides and dampens my irritability a
little. Not quite all though.