Rejected Mate and Following Fate - Awakening Book

Chapter 23: The Agony

I bend double, stomach twisting itself inside out, and dry wretch as my body tries to vomit out the
contents of my earlier breakfast. A washing machine motion making me spasm as I gag once or twice.
Sweating profusely, limbs shaking with exertion, and heart working so hard I think I’m having a heart
attack, and it’s about to explode through my chest. I can feel my own pulse inside my ears and in my
throat while I use my hands on my knees to brace my body and gasp for breath to fill my laboring
lungs. I feel like I’m on the verge of dying.

“Here, drink some water and it’ll pass. Take a breather.” Colton holds out a cold bottle towards me,
foggy with condensation and straight from the ice bucket, at eye level and I can’t even muster up the
ability to reach out and take it. I cough up phlegm, my throat burning painfully, and exhale wheezily in
some sort of response. I can’t believe how unfit I am.

“It’ll get easier, you’re just at the start of building stamina.” He carries on, placing the bottle on the grass
below me near my feet within my eyeline, and sinks down on his haunches to gaze up at me, tilting his
face and smiling handsomely. A bead of sweat runs from my messy ponytail down past my ear and
somehow travels across my cheek to drip off the tip of my nose. I can feel more running down the
center of my spine, between my shoulder blades, and I shudder.

“If I... make it… that …far.” It’s an effort and a half to get the words out and he grins at me, amused with
my uselessness. We’ve been out here for hours. Stretching, running, exercising, jumping boards,
climbing obstacles. I never knew physical training could inflict so much agony.

“You’re doing fine. First time my father put me through this, I blacked out and woke up covered in my
own vomit, at his feet.” He shrugs with that cute boy smirk as though it’s some sort of proud memory
and I squint at him. Not sure why that’s a helpful or encouraging thing to say, and he chuckles, that
sexy half smile of his bringing out his dimples and pats me on the back firmly. I feel like he’s being
more condescending than sympathetic and inhale with effort, sure my lungs might no longer be working

to full capacity, and then blow out a long hot exhale. Trying to recover enough to take the damn drink I
sorely need.

The noise of a field full of various aged people, all in different stages of training is all around us, voices
echoing among the rumble of vehicles, and building works in the further distance. It feels like a school
sports day, only with more shouting and yelling, and much older people. Also, a lot fitter, because I
don’t remember my class ever taking on a course like this and doing it without dying.

The whole valley is in movement, orders being carried out, and there’s been an ongoing stream of
trucks all day so far. Bringing supplies, materials, and wolves from further down the valley outskirts of
its furthest point. They started construction further down and there’s been rumbling and thudding
noises coming from that direction on the wind. They were quick to assemble and start to put things in
motion at the crack of dawn and its humbling to see the force that is Santo, in the flesh.

The worst of the internal burn inside of me calms down with the non-movement of my limbs and the
three minutes of rest. I grab at the bottle and manage to straighten up, if somewhat painfully. My body
trembling, and my legs weak, I can’t take it anymore slumping down on my butt ungracefully, accepting
fate. I’m done. It doesn’t help that we’re moving from spring to summer and the sun is hitting its high
point of the day and slow roasting us all to a crisp. Not the best time to take your unfit self and put it
through military style athletics.

Colton looks up and towards a podium where senior wolves stand issuing orders at the masses, and
nods silently. I guess someone is talking to him and he flashes me back a sympathetic smile.

“You’ll be pleased to know you have a two-hour rest and refresh session to go easy and lay face down
on your bed.” He extends a hand to me, straightening up to stand up himself and I bat it away with
another frown.

“I’m going to lay right here, thank you very much, and hope to god I wake up and this was all a bad
dream.” It’s a better attempt at verbal conversation but I still sound like an asthmatic dying pig. If only
that was a strong possibility.

I let myself slump back into the short prickly terrain cushioning my ungraceful fall, and stare up at the
cloudless blue sky, so utterly relieved to be able to let my body finally stop. It would be a beautiful day if
I could appreciate it.

The fatigue washes over me and highlights how done my limbs are, and how unlikely it is they’re going
to cooperate or recover anytime soon. I can’t take anymore even if I wanted to and hours of physical
exertion have highlighted how unfit I am, while Colton barely broke a sweat.

“Do you need me to go get a wheelchair, or give you a piggyback?” He’s mocking me now, his tone
light, that air of cheeky and I can tell his dimples will be on show. I shove at his foot weakly as he gets
up, comes close and toe digs me softly. Trying to push me into action. He towers over me offering a
little shade from the direct light and I take a second to admire the formidable build of my Adonis. He’s in
a gray tracksuit that molds to his perfect muscular body and even in this heat, he has it zipped up to the
top of the stand-up collar. No hint of being overheated, or sweaty or even reddening and I wonder
what’s up with that.

“Nope. Go away and leave me here to become one with the daisies. I’ve decided this isn’t the life for
me.” It’s humor on my part, the atmosphere between us today a lot less strained than last night. He
seems brighter, more like his usual self today, working, and training in the sub pack, I could tell he is
back on normal form. Carmen even managed to irritate him less as we were all so focused on what we
had to do.

This morning, at dawn, started with a twenty-minute yoga type bunch of stretches, a warmup, followed
by a two-mile run that was a major shock to my system. I’ve now added sadist to his list of less
desirable traits, because he’s a bossy asshole who kept running behind me and pushing me along by

my butt when I lagged behind, refusing to let me stop no matter how much I begged him. Or maybe it
was just an excuse to put his hands on my ass. Either way, it wasn’t appreciated while I was panting
like an old person trying to climb a stair.

“Can’t, the grass cutters come out at noon and I don’t think you would look good shredded and
decorating the field. Come on, lazy, we need to go shower, eat, and head out this afternoon. We have
things to do.”

That brings me back to reality and hits me with a note of seriousness. I know what it is we have to do
and whether I want to or not, I’m being dragged along, as he has this idea that from yesterday, I
became part of his sub pack. Luckily, his father hasn’t been around today to see me among his best,
because I know he isn’t going to like this slow integration Colton has me doing.

The plan this afternoon is to split into trucks to start visiting the villages around the mountain. Juan
wants us to issue notices, and orders, to ‘deal’ with disobeyers. Colton managed to convince him that
force wasn’t needed, or advisable, in the end. I guess Juan slept on it, and this morning new orders
were issued among the pack leaders. We’ve to deliver face to face written notice that might give them
time to come around to having them up and move the few miles to the Santo domain. I know it’s
because of Colton standing up to him.

Colton has a good heart, and despite years of thinking him arrogant and careless of people below him,
looking back, I realize he just stuck to his own kind, and in the old mindset that the packs were rivals.
He had his close-knit circle and he didn’t like entertaining anyone new. He saw me as everyone else
did, as one of the cast asides, and he made no attempt to interact with me. His defense of the people
around the whole mountain tell me I had him all wrong.

I reluctantly roll over onto my belly and lay my cheek on the grass, enjoying the cool feeling on my
previous overly warm skin. It’s a little stabby but a welcome relief to climbing nets, sprinting, and
jumping hurdles again. The rest of the pack are still off in the distance, carrying on, and I keep hearing

Meadow issuing commanding directions to them as they tackle a huge wall they’re climbing. As wolves
it would be easy, but today’s training was human only. Stamina building, apparently.

“Just five more minutes.” I moan softly, truly giving up on any form of movement as my body shuts
down completely, deflating with a heavy, dramatic sigh. I yelp when his strong hands slide under me at
speed, around the waist, him jumping over me and planting a foot either side of my hips as he lifts me
up in one short sharp maneuver.

My arms flail, my legs curl and swing under him before he pulls me fully with him and drops me on my
own feet. Clinging to his upper arms, making all sorts of desperate sounds and end up with the back of
my head in the crook of his neck, my butt imbedded in his groin intimately. He doesn’t let me go straight
away, just pulls me in tight with a sneaky hug, and lowers his own face so his mouth comes level with
my ear. As always, my body reacts even when I don’t want it to and I goosebumps all over, internal
explosions and tingles going off inside my stomach so easily.

“You should never turn your back on your mate…. Gives him all sorts of dirty ideas.” That husky tone
ignites all sorts of hot and fiery feelings in the depths of my pelvis and it seems to magically revive me.

“Mate, huh? … I thought you dumped my ass and were sulking over the fact we would never be.” I
point out a little sassily, his arms sliding up around my ribs as he hugs me in against him fully. Taking
advantage of the moment and initiating a different kind of contact.

“It’s such a nice ass, that I realized my mistake and am groveling at your … rear.” He chuckles in my
ear, that telltale cheeky sound, and I know he’s only playing, but it strikes a chord in me that dampens
the sexy mood, killing it dead. For a moment, that bitter pang of annoyed hits me in the stomach hard
and I push away from him hastily, freeing his hold on me and step out of his embrace, elbowing him in
the abs as I get away.

“Don’t.” It’s a moody bite to my tone, death of playful, as now stiff, and prickly, heart pained while he’s
making light of this. I catch him out of the corner of my eye, sighing too, his whole fun demeanor
changing as swiftly as mine.

“Hey…. Don’t be like that.” He reaches for me, but I step away again, picking up the discarded water
bottle and turn on my heel to march to the main house. He said shower and food and I think we need
some breathing space. Maybe I’m being too sensitive, but I can’t help the overwhelming urge to
suddenly punch him in the throat, while sobbing my eyes out.

“Lorey, baby?” He follows me, obviously getting the waves of wounded mood and sulkiness coming his
way. I know I chastised myself last night, to be more patient and reel him in, but I’m so sick of this hot
and cold thing he has going on. It’s up and down, touch, don’t touch. Mate, not mate, and it’s messing
with my head. No wonder I’m having a hard time even sticking to my own plan.

I ignore him completely, annoyed at myself for once again turning hostile when he was genuinely
fooling around, but the fact I know we have two weeks before he marks that bitch as his, has me
feeling all kinds of foul things. It doesn’t help that she spent the last few hours watching me, laughing at
my attempts to keep up, and cartwheeling around me like some sort of gold medal gymnast, showing
off, showing me how much better she is. She tried to make me look inadequate and kept interfering any
time he got too close in showing me what to do.

Hey, I didn’t mean to upset you. Talk to me.

His voice invades my mind as I try and put distance between us, but it just irritates me all the more.

Just make up your mind, okay…. Stop messing with my head and giving me mixed signals. It’s not fair.

The obvious pain in my tone ebbs through and I flinch as he speeds up and catches me from behind,
yanking me back by the upper arm and spinning me too him a tad aggressively. His little muscle in his

jaw that twitches sometimes is working overtime and I stare blankly at his chest to avoid eye contact.

“You told me we should take the time we have and do what the fates wanted us to do” he frowns at me,
defensively, pulling me back a second time when I try to back off and gain distance, his voice edged
with the same low irritation as mine. He has no right to be tetchy in this, and it’s not the way to handle
my change of attitude.

“Yeah, right before you stopped kissing me and walked away. You, again; hot and cold!” I point out,
frustrated beyond belief and stupefied he doesn’t see how he’s being.

“I’m not being hot and cold. I told you I love you and want to be with you! It’s just the shit keeping us
apart that’s getting to me. I don’t want this to be harder, but at the same time I can’t not be with you. I’m
drawn to touch you, be with you, constantly. That’s not mixed signaling.” He really doesn’t see it the
way I do, and I almost yell it in his face as the good old inner temper explodes at him.

“YES, it fucking IS!!” I shove him away hard, aware some around us have stopped to look up,
engrossed in the possible hint of drama going on over here, but I pull my head up and glare at any I
catch with eyes this way. Completely combative, and not like me at all. Surprisingly, any I challenge
look away fast and Colton hauls me back for a third time, oblivious to his wrongdoing and feeding on
my spreading anger.

“Look…. I’m sorry…” It’s delivered through semi gritted teeth and I know it’s probably more from the
fact I’m drawing unwanted attention and publicly challenging his authority, than being pissed at me, but
it’s not the right way to handle me when I’m already overly tired from hours of physical ed, and
sensitive, because I love him, and this whole thing is shitty as hell.

“Aren’t you always?” I raise a brow, sarcasm oozing like molten lava from my lips. I slap his hand off my
arm, not caring if it stung, and make a fast dash to put distance between us before he reaches out

Leave me alone! I shout it at him mentally and don’t let up, taking a sprint for the door and dashing
forward as soon as it comes into view. At least super speed has its advantages sometimes, and I
almost collide with a group of young teens coming out the main door and have to skid to a halt.
Someone large, and familiar, colliding into the back of me with equal speed, and emergency braking in
such a way it almost sends me flying. Colton catches me around the waist as I topple headfirst from the
impact and rights me just as fast, pulling me up so we weirdly end up back in the position that started
this whole bickering argument. Me in his arms, as he’s wrapped around me from behind and his mouth
at my ear. Only this time it doesn’t ignite a desire to snuggle in. Fuming and ready to claw his eyes out,
I turn in his arms to face him down.

“You want me to ignore all this and just go with my heart? You want me to share your bed every night,
act like everything is rosy, and perfect, and my father won’t do everything in his power to end this if I try
to defy him? You don’t know what he’s capable of, Lorey. You don’t know the lengths he will go to stop
someone he loves from doing something he deems wrong for our pack. I may be his son, but that
means nothing.” His biting tone, and flash of fierce in that normally cool expression snaps me to
attention at the strained way the words rush out, his eyes softening from almost amber anger to that
dark brown under lowered brows, blows a little wind out of my sails.

“Like what?” Tears bite in sheer agitation, my emotions getting the better of me that here we are,
arguing over this again, caught suddenly with the pain in his eyes, and he lowers his voice.

“You never stop to wonder where my mother is? Our Luna… who should be here for her people, being
the heart and glue that tends to our vulnerable, in all these years?” That low, raw question, which
brings amber to his eye’s fully, winds me with the unexpectedness of it and I try to claw at the memory
banks for an answer in the moment. Remembering my own suspicions from before.

Sometimes accessing his memories is not that easy. There are so many, jumbled together, out of
sequence, so sometimes it’s better to know what or who you’re looking for if trying to find an answer.

There are confused snippets and nothing concrete that I can pull out in a second, other than she was

“Well, where is she?” My fury dies a little, curiosity shining through and toning down this row. I can’t
sustain that kind of mad when my lame heart gets upset over him. Colton is a weakness, and he seems
to know how to disarm my fury and cut right to the bone without trying. People seem bored we’ve
stopped yelling and go about their day, bypassing us once more as he lets go of me and takes my hand
instead. Tangling fingers intimately, his warm, strong, solid in my smaller, softer, looser, tightly.

“Maybe we need to have a talk somewhere private. I thought you would have seen all this in your head,
but maybe not. I guess because I have so few memories to share of her. Come on.”