Reclaiming His Mate by Rosa Mink

Chapter 1

Katya smiled at the sound of footsteps coming up the front porch.  She didn’t need to bother with a breath to get his scent, she knew the sound of his steps as well as she knew herself.  Always the same, in a hurry the last hundred feet to get to her and she loved that.  If only the stars had been kinder and actually made them mates this would be far easier.

Loving him wouldn’t feel so bad.

It wasn’t until last year that it’d actually started feeling bad, as though wrong to love him knowing that he really wasn’t her mate.  Before that, they’d both assumed from their feelings that it was inevitable. When she turned eighteen, the mate bond would hit, and they’d be together forever.  No matter how his parents felt about her, the orphan wolf they’d taken into their pack after Brian found her in the woods.

She was four and he was six, had snuck out to go running through the woods wanting his wolf to show.  It had after he found her, when he’d stepped in front of her as the adults that’d come looking for him debated what to do with her.  They didn’t realize she was like them until she’d shifted as well, thinking Brian was wanting to play.

They’d been inseparable since then even with his father, their alpha, and his attempts to stop them.  Brian was the one thing that calmed her when she was little, unable to remember anything about what led her to be in those woods, a dead body of another shifter about a thousand yards from her.  She was lucky they took her in she supposed, not all packs would have.  She was even luckier that her adopted parents loved her so much she’d never wondered about her real parents or felt that she didn’t belong, only looked down on by some.

It was the closeness that Alpha James didn’t like.  It’d taken until she was almost eighteen for him to relent, admit that yes, she could be a good mate for Brian, even if they knew nothing about her past, her bloodline.  That was important to someone like James, who prided himself on the fact that his pack was composed of the oldest bloodlines, even those he considered to be omegas, made to work the menial jobs, he still considered superior to other packs.

He thankfully wasn’t cruel in his thinking, but he still looked down on her for having no traceable bloodline.  The man found with her had only been half-wolf, which made James’ attitude towards her worse—even if she had learnt to shift before his son in age, meaning her wolf was stronger than Brian’s was by that time.

She couldn’t remember the first time she shifted. Only that when she’d seen Brian’s wolf pup, hers had wanted to play and the shift hadn’t frightened her.

Despite everything, James was relieved that she hadn’t ended up being Brian’s mate. She’d seen it in his eyes when they’d come into the packhouse for dinner that night.  Brian had as well and reminded his father that none of them knew her actual birthdate, that while she’d said it was late September, it didn’t mean that it truly was.  She hadn’t remembered anything but her name, so it wasn’t a stretch that she didn’t remember her birthday correctly.

He hadn’t given up hope once in the last year that she’d wake up one day and it would be the day.  It was also why she didn’t need to take a breath to get a scent to know the person at her door now was Brian.  Every morning he came by to see her, to check, and then to take her into his arms and tell her she was his, mate bond or not.

It was why she loved him so much.  His certainty that she was his, even with all the facts staring them in the face saying she wasn’t, and yet he’d never wavered.  He really was the one thing that she could rely on no matter what.

The door opened, making her smile, a soundless laugh shaking her chest.  After all these years, Brian was family, even more so than the fact that they were of the same pack.  Her parents didn’t mind that he came and went—not even late at night.  They’d long ago got over that bit, when she was sixteen and Brian spent the night with her for the first time.

They hadn’t done anything then.  At least, not fully.  Not the way they had the last two years and why she’d give anything to truly be his mate.  She hated the idea of another woman coming along, being touched, and loved by him, but she knew better than to think that their bond would override the mate one.  It was impossible to override that bond.

That’s why it felt bad loving him so much.

“Morning,” Brian said, dropping a kiss onto her lips.  The usual tingle she felt when he touched her raced through her body and she wished once more that he was right.  That she’d gotten her birthday wrong, assumed her age wrong based on her size.  But they hadn’t.  Oh, the day might be wrong, but the rest wasn’t, not by a full year. She knew that and it hurt immensely.

“Morning, I’m surprised you made it with tonight’s plans,” she replied, wrapping her arms around his neck, unable to resist another kiss.

“The Autumn Moon Run, I forgot how much prep goes into it, especially when it’s so close to the equinox.  This one is unique though, bleeding into your birthday, and I have something special planned for us tonight.”

“What’s that?” she asked.  The look in his light green eyes said it was big and she worried what it meant.  There wasn’t much they hadn’t done together to make tonight special.  He’d made love to her under the full moon the last three months so it couldn’t be that.

Memories of making love with him, his solid body filling her, cherishing her made her fight to keep her arousal at bay.  She’d kill to be able to slip into his arms, feel it and nothing else, as her head snuggled under his chin, entirely wrapped around him, protected by him.  Even their wolves enjoyed their togetherness.  Whined for more chances for them to allow the two to take what they wanted from each other, and stars above, those night were incredible.

She couldn’t imagine it possible to feel anything deeper than that, but she knew fully well that the true mate bond was as close to heaven as they could get on earth.

“I don’t care anymore about the supposed mate bond.  You’re my mate, Katya, and I want to claim you tonight, under the full moon, as your birthday hits.  Nothing in this world will override how I feel for you, you know that,” he added when she pulled back some.  “The whole pack knows you’re mine.  They won’t say a thing about it.”

“Your father will never approve.”

“I don’t care what my father says.  I never have when it comes to you, blue eyes.”

The nickname made her tingle as well, only growing deeper when he pressed a kiss to her forehead.  “I know, it’s why I love you so much.”

“Then you’ll meet me at our spot, midnight after the run?” he asked and she nodded, her throat tightening when he gave her a long, slow kiss that woke her body, made her need more.

His too long hair needed a trim, but she enjoyed the way it tickled her.  Especially when they were making love, the way the dark brown slipped through her fingers, trailed over her skin as he kissed her.  The need crawled through her, wanting to feel all of that right now.

She pushed it aside, knowing what she needed to do.  As much as she wanted, longed for him to claim her, bond them together for life, she couldn’t do it.  She wouldn’t risk the hurt that would come when he met his true mate.

The pain for her would be greatest.  She’d lose not only the person closest to her, the one she loved most, but there was also the potential dangers that would come with it.  Not just from his mate, but also the stars.

When a wolf mated with someone other than their true match, it angered the stars.  More often than not, they sped up the time for the mates to meet, resulting in a fight.  Another she-wolf would try to tear out her throat for being claimed by her mate.  If that didn’t kill her, the new bond with his true mate could.

It would attack her through the bond to Brian, to end it, erase it.  If she were injured in a fight, that attack would end her and there would be nothing that Brian could do to stop it.  Even if he still loved her, even a little, the pull towards his true mate would be too much, he wouldn’t be able to ignore it.

His lips feathered over her closed eyes, the sweetness of it making her want to cry.  “I have to go finish getting things ready for tonight, I probably won’t see you during the run, but I’ll be at our spot at midnight, I promise.”

“I know you will.  I love you,” she said softly, giving him a long, lingering kiss as she fought to keep her emotions under control.  He’d know if she were upset if she didn’t and he couldn’t know what she planned to do, not until after tonight.

“I can’t wait for tonight, to put my mark on you here,” he said with a low growl, kissing her neck where a mate would claim her.  It made her tingle from head to toe, but it wasn’t the mate bond.  She’d seen too many pairs, heard the stories of how intense it was, how they couldn’t control themselves to pretend otherwise.  “I love you, blue eyes.  Next time we’re together, it’ll be the last that we’re ever apart, I swear.”

“I want nothing less than that,” she whispered to him, drinking in his scent until he had to leave.  She watched him until he disappeared from sight, then let the tears silently fall.

Sometimes she hated the stars for doing this to her.  For bringing her here, putting Brian in front of her only to mock her again by not letting him be her mate.  It was hard enough being the wolf that didn’t truly belong, even if she felt she did with Brian and her parents, but for them to allow her to fall for Brian and not let him be hers…that was just torture.

Was it punishment for something her parents did?  She’d seen it before, a child being punished for something the parent did, her adopted parents were proof of that.

Her mother, Lois, was seemingly punished for her own parents’ deeds.  A wolf pup died under while under their care before her mother was born.  It came out that it wasn’t an accident eventually, and both were banished from the pack.

Alpha James’ father didn’t force her mother out as it’d happened before she was born, but she’d never been able to have her own child.  It was why she’d taken her in so easily when James allowed her to stay with the pack.  She was nearly sixty, her mate a hundred, when Katya arrived here, and both wanted a child.

From the little Katya recalled about her real father that day in the woods, the way he was beaten, appeared to have died from his injuries, she assumed he’d done something bad.  That it was the reason they were deep in the woods and no other packs around knew of them.

With the tears still falling, she moved into her bedroom, writing a letter for Brian, unable to leave without telling him she was.  She wouldn’t just disappear on him, even if she was disappearing from him.

The tears finally stopped as she penned a note to her parents, letting them know she loved them as much as they’d loved her.  It was almost as hard to leave them as it was to force herself away from Brian, but it had to be done.  He’d never forgive himself if something happened to her because of his true mate.  He might love the new woman, just as much, or more than her, but he’d hate himself for letting her be hurt and she wouldn’t put that on him.

She slipped through the woods, putting her letter for Brian in the tree at their spot, then hurried back to the house to get her things.  She propped the note for her parents up on the table before leaving through the back so no one else would see her.

Their house was close to the border of the pack’s grounds, and she moved quickly through the woods to reach town.  She wasn’t due at work for another hour, giving her time to get onto a bus.  They wouldn’t call looking for her.

Her boss would assume Brian asked her to help with preparations for the Autumn Moon Run and she’d lost track of time.  The woman that ran their little print shop was an omega, a higher ranking one than most, but still an omega that wouldn’t dare question the alpha’s son.

Brian would be angry with his father for her not reaching out, asking where Katya was when she didn’t show, rather than be angry with her boss.  It was James’ rules that kept them silent after all, doing what they’re told to do, and not questioning authority.  Regardless of if that authority was just part of the alpha’s rule or the alpha himself.

Katya sank into the dark corner of the bus, ignoring the pain in her heart as it took her further away from home, from Brian.  As much as it hurt, she couldn’t stay.  That would hurt them both more in the end.

She slid off the bus the next evening, looking around the huge city, as the scents hit her hard.  Every smell seemed amplified.  The good and the bad ones, and they did little to cancel each other out as she headed to a small store that boasted they sold electronics.

She needed a new phone, one that Brian couldn’t track.  The one she had he’d bought her last year for Christmas, showing her how it had GPS tracking in the event that he couldn’t scent her to find her.  It’d made her heart warm, her pulse race giddily when he’d given it to her.  Understood it was because he was concerned for her safety.

A couple attacks on girls near her age happened in surrounding packs and he was worried about her.  Young unmated but of age wolves were in high demand for some packs.  They didn’t care about bonds, finding mates for their pack members; they just used the girls as breeding stock.

She wasn’t going to risk that happening to her, but she couldn’t walk around with her phone on knowing Brian could easily find her with it.  Despite what she wrote in her note, he’d come looking for her if he found her phone.  That’s why she came to a city this large to begin.  The smells of it would override any trace of her scent within hours.  He wouldn’t know which way to go next and without the GPS of the phone, he’d know it.  Have to do as she asked and not continue to look for her, to go home and forgive her one day for leaving him like that.