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Alpha Born, Excerpt from Chapter 3
Dante, a young shapeshifter, was taken in by Victor, a pack alpha, after he was found in the clutches of an abusive and possessive pack leader. 10 years have passed, but the memories are coming back to haunt him in the shape of dreams he can’t remember.
Crouching down, he triggered his shift to beast. Bones shrank and grew, muscles twisted, and skin rippled and stretched. Thick black fur sprouted over his body and tingled with energy. In under a minute his true form slipped away, replaced by beast. Neither canine nor feline, but something in between, he shook out his pelt and leaped off into the woods for a run.
Time as beast didn’t exist in the normal sense of the word. Minutes blended into the sights and sounds until they didn’t seem to exist at all.
Dante hunted when he got hungry. Finding himself a fat rabbit, he climbed on top of a large flat rock in a clearing overlooking the woods. Preparing to eat, he froze as the scent hit him. Rich deep earth, sharp cedar, and spicy musk. Victor.
He turned his muzzled head and watched a large pale beast step out of the woods.
He glanced at the rabbit in front of him, picked it back up and carried it over, dropping it in front of his alpha. Laying on his belly in front of him, he reached his head up and licked at Victor’s muzzle. Victor licked him back, and Dante let himself flop to the ground to enjoy the grooming. They shared the rabbit, though Victor hadn’t needed to share a thing if he didn’t want to. It wasn’t like one rabbit was much of a meal anyway, more like an appetizer, half a rabbit was little more than a taste.
Dante shifted back and lay on his back in the grass. The sun beat down on his golden skin. Pale old scars mared his nude skin.
“Gavin has a big mouth,” Dante said, staring up at the tree tops.
Victor had shifted as well and sat back against the rock Dante had been laying on to eat his kill. Dante moved to lay across Victor’s legs. Once comfortable, he propped himself up on his elbow on the other side of Victor’s knees.
“Gavin doesn’t need to tell me a thing for me to know you’ve been restless and disturbed recently,” Victor said. “Besides, you missed breakfast with the pack and you know how much I dislike it when you do that. Breakfast is a pack affair, you know that.”
Dante looked away. “Sorry. I wasn’t thinking. I was just running.”
“And hunting I suspect.”
“Actually that was my first rabbit. I haven’t eaten yet.”
“So, you miss breakfast at home and miss breakfast completely. You realize its almost noon? Do you want to be ill?”
Dante sat up quickly and sighed. “Alpha, please. Missing one meal won’t kill me. I’m not a cub anymore.”
“Do I treat you so?” Victor asked.
Dante smiled and looked up at him. “Sometimes. I don’t mind most times. I enjoy being your cub. It’s nice.” His smile faded as he looked off into the distance. “Other times, we both know better than to think I was ever a cub or could ever be one. It’s all pretend.”
“No, Dante. You were a cub in many ways when I took you. It’s not pretend. Do you think I pretend to love you like my own sire?”
“No. I know better. You don’t pretend love.” He studied Victor a moment. “I’ve been having nightmares again. I don’t know if they’re like the ones when I was young. When I first came. I don’t remember them when I wake up but they feel similar.”
“How long have you been having them?”
“Two weeks. I’ve been trying to decide what to do about them. I thought long and hard during my run today. I’d like your permission to leave for a week or two.” He looked up at Victor, studying him carefully. “I want to go back. I want to try and find my old packhouse. The first one.”
“Do you even know where to look?”
Dante nodded slowly. “Somewhere around Charleston. About an hour away, but I’m not sure which direction. It’ll take some hunting, but I’ll find it.”
“South Carolina? Dante, that’s half a world away.”
Dante frowned. “It’s only 5 or 6 days drive from Boulder. You act like it’s China. You didn’t cause a fuss when Tristan went to France for school for three years and THAT was a half a world away. All I’m asking for is a few weeks to go to South Carolina.”
“You aren’t asking to school in France–Which I would let you do by the way. You’re asking for permission to dig out your worst memories… alone. I don’t think that’s healthy.”
“No, Dante, listen. How many times did those memories bring you to the brink of rage and pain so dark you were almost lost? How long did it take to wash away your nightmares? You’re finally healing and now you want to dig at the scabs and see if you still bleed? How many times did you stand on that cliff and think about jumping?” Victor asked pointing through the woods to the west. His tone softened. “When have you been intimate with anyone?”
Dante sighed heavily and ran his hands through his hair. “Do I need to fuck someone to prove I’m better? I’m sure I could find someone. I hear you never forget how, and I was damn good–.”
“Dante, that’s enough. That wasn’t what I was saying and you know it.”
Dante sat up and pulled his legs to his chest and picked at the grass at his feet. He twisted and pulled the blades out with his fingers and dug into the dirt with a claw. For a long time, neither of them said a word.
“Are you upset?” Victor asked.
Dante shook his head and looked up at him. “No,” he said honestly. He had let his disappointment go, and accepted Victor’s decision. He always did. “What will I have to do to be better enough to make the trip?”
Victor sighed and studied him a long moment. “I just… I just don’t want you alone when the wounds reopen. You’re better Dante. You’re much better. But even you have to admit that you still have your difficulties.”
“I don’t argue your points, Alpha. Nor would I ever. If you don’t think I’m ready to go, I won’t go.”
“Can I ask why you want to go?”
“I thought… that seeing might chase away the nightmares. Maybe I was wrong.”
Victor tapped his chest and Dante smiled and scooted so that he could lay his head so he could hear Victor’s heart.
He heard Victor sigh and enjoyed the moment as Victor ran his hand through his hair. “I love you, you know that, right?”
Dante smiled. “Yes. I love you too, Father.”
“If I let you go and do this, you have to take one of your brothers with you, okay? You have to call me everyday, so I can hear your voice.”
Dante slipped his arms around the only Father he could remember that was worth loving. “Why did you change your mind?”
“Because. You really aren’t a cub and if you want to do this, you should be able to do it. It’s more my worry that gave you a no when it should have been yes to begin with. When will you leave?”
Dante closed his eyes, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the sound of Victor’s steady beating heart. “A few days. I’m in no rush.”
Victor smiled. “Come on, then. Let’s get you something to eat.”
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