Un requited claimed seri.., p.1
Un.Requited (Claimed Series), page 1
Copyright © 2012 Reese Morgan
All Rights Reserved
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. No part of this book may be copied, reproduced, or distributed, either electronically or otherwise, without written permission from the author.
Table of Contents
1. Chapter One
2. Chapter Two
3. Chapter Three
4. Chapter Four
5. Chapter Five
6. Chapter Six
7. Chapter Seven
8. Chapter Eight
9. Chapter Nine
10. Chapter Ten
11. Chapter Eleven
12. Chapter Twelve
13. Chapter Thirteen
14. Chapter Fourteen
15. Chapter Fifteen
16. Chapter Sixteen
17. Chapter Seventeen
1. Chapter One
With heightened senses, Hayden quickly spun around the bald-headed man in her way, easily avoiding a collision. He appeared speechless at the sight of her concealed face, but quickly recovered his voice.
“Hey, watch where you’re going!”
Ignoring the irate man, Hayden tightened the scarf around her face. After a long day of work, men and women scurried home to their families, hardly paying her much attention.
While her eyes and chin were on the ground, her senses were open, alerting her to the surrounding strangers. If they came too close, she would have to hold her breath and focus on anything but their proximity.
School just ended two hours ago. It had been her first day of senior year and it had also been the worst day of her life. This past summer, Hayden had imagined the perfect senior year; seeing her friends, dating potential boyfriends, even the classes seemed somewhat appealing.
Instead, everything had turned out to be a nuisance, a mere annoyance. All she had wanted to do was escape the confinement of the school and run. It was a restlessness she wasn’t familiar with and she couldn’t seem to shake it.
Suddenly, a shoulder bumped into her, causing Hayden to stumble ungracefully to the edge of the sidewalk. Inhaling deeply, she felt something stir hotly in her stomach. It was a raging feeling, an angry pain that refused to cool or calm.
Eyes flashing, Hayden turned to glare at the person who had bumped into her. The middle-aged woman flashed an apologetic smile, but it wavered as soon as she noticed Hayden’s hostile stare. Without any further eye contact, the stranger hurried past.
Trembling in both fatigue and suppressed anger, Hayden tugged on her scarf, pulling it tighter around her mouth. Her teeth played with the material, pulling and chewing at it anxiously.
She hated the instant reaction she got when physical contact occurred. It had been this way since the attack this past summer. No one could touch her, no one could brush their hand down her arm, and even her own mother’s touch set Hayden’s teeth on edge.
Trying to pacify her rage, Hayden exhaled slowly and wandered into the gutter of the road. She needed somewhere to breathe easily, somewhere that didn’t involve busy sidewalks and clumsy pedestrians.
Crossing the street, she all but ran.
Her mother would be worried at her absence, but Hayden couldn’t go home just yet. Inside, her body was unsettled and the last thing she wanted to do was hurt her family. These episodes had happened before and it wasn’t something Hayden knew how to control. Those around her suffered with her vocal outbursts, yet voicing her disagreement was the lesser of the two evils. There were times she just wanted to lash out physically.
Huffing, she jogged toward the park. Up ahead, there were only a few children left at the playground. Judging by the parents standing impatiently around the perimeter of the sandbox, periodically glancing at the time on their cellphones, Hayden assumed the kids wouldn’t be staying for much longer.
She stumbled her way into the sandbox and collapsed onto a swing. Clutching the chains on either side of her, Hayden began practicing deep, steady breathing. The longer she sat there, the more her pulse began to regulate and the cooler her body became.
“Why do you wear a scarf when it’s so hot outside?”
At the innocent question, Hayden slowly turned her head, spying the young boy sitting idly on the swing next to her. The child licked his chapped lips, looking pointedly at Hayden’s scarf before he gaped at her eyes.
“And why are your eyes gold?” he asked with heightened awe.
She marveled at the wonders of childish curiosity. Unlike the girls at school, the boy didn’t look nearly as wary of Hayden’s eyes as they had. Her classmates thought it had been an attempt to appear fashionable, by wearing amber-colored contacts. Hayden had simply played along with them and tried to convince herself that maybe she had subconsciously put contacts into her eyes.
“Come on, sweetheart.” A woman quickly marched over and took her protesting son by the hand. She spared Hayden a suspicious glare before tugging her kid cleanly off the swing.
Through lowered lashes, Hayden watched them leave the park. She found it funny that the mother kept glancing back, as if she expected Hayden to lunge after them like a lunatic. Only when they disappeared from sight did Hayden look away, smiling bitterly across the park.
Before she had much chance to contemplate further, the air around the playground suddenly turned warmer, thicker. Her relaxing body began acting up once again when she sensed the familiar aroma in the air. It was a woodsy smell, an exotic-type of wood, and it was eerily similar to the scent of her aunt’s property in Montana. The aroma at her aunt’s house had only been this potent the night Hayden was bitten and attacked.
Swiftly, her eyes zeroed in on an advancing figure across from her. The man seemed familiar, but Hayden couldn’t recall seeing him before. He certainly was a character she would remember vividly if she had seen him.
His appearance became clearer as he emerged stealthily from behind the monkey bars. The leather jacket he wore appeared too small for his muscular torso, and with a profound shrug of his shoulders, he tried to adjust the coat.
However, the jacket wasn’t what snared her undivided attention. It was the elongated, yellow fingernails and the ash-colored hair that fell to his biceps in greasy kinks. His very presence emitted a threatening air, and even the onlookers took the intuitive warning in stride, pulling their children out of the park and never looking back.
Hayden wanted to follow them. She wasn’t stupid. Except, there was something making her stay put, an unfamiliar force keeping her obediently on the swing. Her amber eyes locked on the man’s gaze, fighting the fear that abruptly welled inside her.
His eyes were unnerving. While one eye was brilliant amber, the other was a contrasting dark blue. They held Hayden’s gaze, capturing and demanding her to stay immobile. Panic swelled in her chest when her body complied effortlessly at his silent and unspoken order.
The wolf that had attacked Hayden this summer had the same eyes as his. She could never forget those eyes as she convulsed underneath him in pain, in horror, in utter helplessness.
“Hayden Grey, am I right?”
He hadn’t raised his voice, although he was a good yard away. The color of her eyes aside, her hearing had also improved, as did her sight. The unusual changes had alarmed her, yet she still hadn’t told anyone.
Swallowing the lingering fear, Hayden raised her chin defiantly. “What’s it to you?” she asked lowly.
Her disbelief was beginning to overshadow the earlier fear she had felt. Could the wolf in Montana really be here, standing before her as a human? It was irrational and completely illogical, but something told her that it wasn’t
“You can call me Tracer,” he introduced unnecessarily before considering her. “You don’t remember me, do you?” The oily smile that stretched across his lips revealed his yellow-coated teeth. “Don’t you feel our connection?” he mocked with a dry chuckle. “Our connection is what’s making you sit so obediently for me.”
Uneasy, Hayden eyed his elongated canines, realizing that everything she had been trying to deny was actually real. For days, she had heatedly tried to pass off her changes as a mere coincidence. But that ‘coincidence’ was now standing directly in front of her, a cruel wakeup call personified.
That August night had been a full moon, and that wolf hadn’t been a simple wolf.
He must have read her apprehension. “Yes,” he hissed in delight and approached closer. Long fingernails curled around the swing set bar, bringing attention to the dirt staining his palms and fingers. “You remember now, don’t you?”
It was impossible to forget the wolf’s teeth carving into her throat and the way she had laid there, knowing she would die. Her heart had stopped. She knew she had died, but hours, maybe only minutes later, she had awoken in the same position as before. The moon had been bright and sardonic as she blinked up at the nightscape, her body both trembling and sweating like mad.
There had been no wounds on her body. The dried blood and the healed scar across her throat was the only evidence of what had happened. She remembered feeling two conflicting sensations at that moment, revulsion and vigor. That night had been the start of something foreign, something dangerous and unfamiliar.
Hayden had refused to tell her aunt or her mother about the incident, especially when she began noticing changes about her body that wasn’t normal. No matter how much she had needed to talk to someone, she kept it to herself, too afraid to acknowledge what was happening.
“What do you want with me?” Hayden asked neutrally as she tightened her hold on the swings.
“I don’t want anything from you.” The man’s eyes grew hooded. “On the other hand, Nicolas has become very interested in you. Females are hard to come by, as they rarely survive the transformation, especially ones that look and smell as delicious as—”
He cut himself off abruptly and cocked his head. With a sniff to the air, he stiffened. “Come. We must leave.” The creature, Tracer, took his hand from the swing and turned back in the direction he came from.
He obviously expected Hayden to follow like an obedient dog, and truthfully, she couldn’t imagine not following him. Her mind was distorted, cloudy, and the only thing she could comprehend was that she wanted to please this stranger.
However, before her traitorous legs could lift from the swing, something clicked audibly behind her, snapping her from her stupor.
“I wouldn’t try it. She’s under Cole Slayter’s protection.”
Flabbergasted and relieved, Hayden turned around and immediately spied a gun pointing unswervingly at Tracer. The gun, she noted, smelt suspiciously like metal, a toxic metal. What was even more surprising was the man behind the gun, or more specifically, the boy.
Hayden vaguely remembered him from school. His name was Gregory Martin, the resident nerd who never seemed to fit in. He was currently wearing a tight stocking cap that flattened his hair against his face, making him nearly unrecognizable. His abnormally large nose was pointed to the ground, allowing his beady eyes an easier path to his target.
Tracer barked and an amused grin slanted across his mouth. “She’s under Cole Slayter’s protection? Is that the best you can come up with, boy?” Even if the man was mocking Gregory, he still glanced guardedly at the gun. “Cole Slayter doesn’t give a damn about rogue werewolves. He’d rather kill them before protecting them.”
Gregory was emotionless as he watched Tracer. “That’s not true. As you said, she is a surviving female. Cole is interested in her just as much as Nicolas is.” He placed a sure finger on the trigger. “If you don’t believe me, try taking her with you and see what happens.”
Gregory’s scent was painfully noticeable to her as he took a step closer. With Tracer, she hadn’t felt the familiar hostility that she had experienced all day, but it was back with Gregory’s presence. His scent wasn’t as strong as others were, yet just as tempting. She had a sinking suspicion that her body’s reaction was due to the fact that Tracer was a werewolf and Gregory was a human.
Tracer scrutinized Gregory for a moment longer, contemplating the issue. “Nicolas will hear of this,” he promised. “He will find it more than fascinating that Cole already has eyes on her, especially when he intended to mark her first.”
Mark her? Hayden’s earlier fear and timidity darkened into intense loathing. This man was acting as if Hayden were a simple possession, a prized female ripe for the taking.
“Get away. Go.” Gregory jabbed the gun at Tracer, looking as if he wouldn’t hesitant firing.
The beast-like man grinned spitefully. “I’ll be keeping an eye on you,” he addressed Hayden. With one lingering lick to his bottom lip, he turned his heel and disappeared into the surrounding trees.
She watched him go distrustfully, wondering how long he had been watching her. It was obvious that he had followed her from Montana to New York. And he probably even knew where Hayden lived, who her family was, and where her school was located. It was an unsettling thought to know someone like Tracer had been following her without her knowing.
Gathering her composure, Hayden stood up from the swing. The hypnotic feeling that Tracer brought with him had disappeared as soon as he left, leaving Hayden exhausted, aggravated, but also more aware than she had been.
Keeping her back turned, Hayden listened as Gregory approached her from behind.
“I’m not going to hurt you. You can put the gun down.” She pitched her voice into a calm and convincing tone. He was more than likely pointing his gun at her back, ready to fire if she made any sudden movement.
Chancing a glance over her shoulder, Hayden was surprised to see the gun already pointing uselessly at the ground. Gregory’s legs were shaking frantically and he was giving off a relieved, yet hysterical air. The boy in front of her was certainly different from the young man who had confronted Tracer.
“How did I do?” He chuckled dryly, his beady eyes looking in every which direction.
Finding no threat, he threw himself on the swing next to her, breathing heavily. Groaning, he bent over at the waist, appearing nauseated. His lips pursed and an excess amount of spit gathered at the edge of his mouth.
Hayden stood there dumbly, staring at him. “You don’t do that often, do you?” she guessed. Despite the seriousness of the situation, she was reluctantly amused at his antics.
He gave an obstructed laugh, his hands trembling. “If you mean threatening rogue werewolves with a gun loaded with silver bullets?” Chocolate brown eyes looked up at Hayden. “No, I can’t say that it’s a habit of mine.”
Gregory’s nonchalance when mentioning werewolves only made the situation all the more surreal. Nevertheless, the evidence was there. Hayden knew her body better than anyone else did and she knew this wasn’t typical teenage puberty. Eventually, she would have to stop thinking herself as a normal human but a… a werewolf.
The realization that this was reality, and not some parody of a dream, was incredibly difficult to come to terms with. Her life, her future was ruined. The very thought of becoming an animal like Tracer made her cold with fear. A small part of her even wondered why she couldn’t have just died that night in Montana.
Pushing the lingering uncertainties aside, Hayden approached the panting boy. “How did you know I was here with him?” While she was thankful for his intervention, she was also suspicious. His timing had been impeccable and he already had the loaded gun with him.
Issuing another nervous laugh, Gregory began looking anywhere but at Hayden. “Actually, I was told to kill you. It’s a funny story, really, not as morbid as it sounds.”
At seeing her sudden caution, Gregory’s eyes widened and he held up his hands in surrender. It appeared as if he were going to have a panic attack, as he was gasping and sweating excessively.
“Wait! I swear I’m not going to kill you. Please don’t take it personally.” Eyeing the scarf around Hayden’s mouth and neck, his lips trembled in uncertainty. “I watched you today at school. I mean…” His cheeks grew red. “I noticed the signs of lycanthropy.”
Hayden forced herself to calm down and sit on the swing next to him. “Lycanthropy?” she pressed with intrigue. Gregory seemed to know a lot about werewolves, a certain knowledge Hayden lacked but was reluctantly willing to learn.
“Werewolf,” Gregory confirmed with a fleeting smile. “You distance yourself from humans, almost if you’re in pain. You really just want to attack them, right? I know it’s hard to control. My brother was the same way as a newborn. Unfortunately, he had more trouble controlling himself than you do.”
Newborn? Brother? Hayden furrowed her eyebrows. “You have a brother that’s a werewolf?”
Gregory inclined his head, not noticing Hayden’s darkening mood. “Yes, he was bitten when he was sixteen, ten years ago. His name is Blake, by the way.” He swallowed and leaned away from her, the chains of his swings clinking together. “After I noticed your behavior at school today, I told him about you. And then Blake told his Alpha, Cole Slayter.”
“Cole Slayter is an Alpha,” Hayden repeated numbly.
She was having trouble wrapping her mind around all the information, all the farfetched information. From what little she knew, an Alpha was the dominant individual who had the highest position in a hierarchy. In a wolf sense, she figured the Alpha was the leader of a pack. She wondered if humans, or in this case, werewolves lived in packs as well.
She blinked over at him. “Cole is your brother’s Alpha? The same man you told Tracer I was under protection from?” Something wasn’t adding up, and she noticed the nervousness around Greg seemed to grow.
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