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....... Arlo ....... It’s a beautiful summer evening, and I’m standing next to the window in my family’s cabin in the middle of the woods. I’ve been here since morning, making sure everything’s perfect for her arrival, with the help of my sister, of course. I’m not that good when it comes to romantic settings. . . We finished preparing everything about thirty minutes ago, and she left immediately after. Even though everything’s done, I haven’t been able to sit down. I’m a nervous wreck, and my wolf pacing up and down in my head in excitement is not making me any calmer. . . Today is my girlfriend’s nineteenth birthday… well, my mate to be precise. Her name is Harlow Winters, and she's the very beat beneath my chest. Her beauty is indescribable, inside and out, and she takes my breath away every time. She is human, and before two weeks ago, werewolves were a myth to her, things she had only read about in books and seen in movies. Never in her life had she imagined that her best friend, whom she’d known since kindergarten, was one, let alone that she would be mated to one. We’ve been best friends since we were little, and we started dating six months ago. I’ve always been in love with her, so I prayed to the Gods every day that she would turn out to be my mate. My prayers were answered six months ago on my twenty-first birthday, and I was finally able to confirm it. . . The Gods created a soul mate for each one of us. It is already decided before we are born who we will love. It is not always easy to find them, though, as they might belong to another pack or live on the other side of the world. Sometimes they are near but human and do not feel the mate bond. Humans do not know our ways. They don’t even know we exist, so there’s no guarantee that a human mate will accept us. But still, that never made me wish for anyone else, not even once. . . As male wolves, we can only recognize our mates on our twenty-first birthday, but it's different for she-wolves. They get their wolves earlier, at eighteen. There are rare cases where a wolf, male or female, will get theirs late, but as I said, they are rare. When I could finally confirm it, I didn’t waste any time and confessed my feelings to her the same night but left out the werewolf stuff. It wasn’t the right time. I was scared she might turn me down and I might have ruined things between us, but to my surprise, she felt the same. By the night's end, I was the happiest man on the planet. . . Things were smooth between us until two weeks ago when I told her that werewolves existed and I was one. I’m the firstborn, and, as per our tradition, I’m supposed to take over the Alpha duties from my father when I turn twenty-one and find my mate. So, I had to tell her, and I had to tell her soon. I was not ready; I don’t think I would have ever been. I was terrified. I didn’t know how she would react, especially since I had to tell her she had the option to reject me should she choose. I didn’t want to tell her that, but I had to. It’s a rule. It's against our laws to force our human mates. We have to give them a choice, and so I did. I didn’t hear from her for two weeks, and it felt like two years. Last night though, she finally picked up my call and agreed to meet with me tonight. . . The fact that she picked tonight to meet gives me hope. I asked her to choose a place cause I wanted her to be comfortable, and she chose this place. This is where we spent our first night together and that just added to my hope. It is also where I told her everything. I didn’t think she would want to be alone with me again after how she reacted when I shifted into my wolf. She asked me to shift when I told her. I knew she wasn’t taking me seriously, but still, I did, and the look I saw in her eyes I'd never seen in the sixteen years I've known her. She remained eerily calm before asking me to take her home, and that was the last thing she said. I kept looking at her, wanting to say something on our drive back, but I couldn’t. It felt like she would stop breathing if I did, and so, I love you was the only thing I said when I dropped her at her place. Right now, though, she’s coming, and she should be here in fifteen minutes. . . I glance over at the table, where a Hazelnut Nougat Mascarpone Cake sits in the middle. She loves Nougat, that’s why I chose this type of cake for her. I notice everything is on the table except the knife, so I quickly head to the kitchen to grab it. I place it next to the cake and do a once-over look at everything again. The table is decorated with white linen and red cloth napkins with white napkin holders. She loves roses, so in the center of the table, next to the cake, sits a white vase with assorted roses. We’ve also sprinkled a handful of rose petals on the tabletop. Her favorite meal that I've prepared myself is also ready; all that’s left is to serve when the time comes. . . My heart is beating so loud it feels like it’s going to fall out of my chest as I hear the sound of an engine outside. “Calm down,” I tell my wolf as he starts going crazy again. I open the door just as she’s about to knock and she looks up at me surprised, probably not expecting me to open it before she even knocks. “Go…good evening,” I stutter for the first time in my life at the sight of the Angelic face that's got my heart skipping several beats. She softly chuckles, no doubt at my stuttering, her lips tugging upwards into one of her heart-melting smiles, and I smile back at her, mentally praying everything turns out well. She steps inside, and her lips part in awe the moment she sees the decorations, and I let out a silent breath of relief. I turn on the music after pulling out a chair for her to sit, and the soft sounds start in the background. “Is that glitter?” she asks with a big smile as I take my seat. “I believe so,” I reply with my own big smile, having no words to express how happy I am that she came to hear me out, but still unable to relax since we haven't spoken yet, even though the smile on her face gives me hope. We danced to this song at our preschool graduation, and it has been our song ever since. “Come here,” she says, getting up and taking my hand before pulling me to the dance floor, giggling. I mentally thank the Gods again for making her mine. . . My arms go to her waist, as she places hers around my neck, and I open my mouth to tell her how beautiful she looks, but my body jerks, and the words die in my throat, only a loud gasp escaping as something rips through my back, causing me to groan in pain. I snap my head towards the entrance to see more arrows flying in my direction, and another gasp escapes me as something punches a hole in my chest before I can react. I groan, turning my head, confused, before looking down and seeing the hand of my mate holding the blade. She pulls it out and stabs me again while I look at her, shocked, before doing it repeatedly, causing blood to spew out of my mouth. I stand rooted in the spot, too shocked to defend myself as my heart shatters with every stab. Blood gushes down my chest, and I feel myself going down as all the strength drains from my body. I grab onto the tabletop, still holding her gaze, but the cloth brings everything down, and I tumble to the floor. Why, is the last thing I say as she spits on me before kicking me in the face, turning my lights out. . . .................................................................... Welcome to HUNTRESS OR MATE? loves. Because you received me so well in my first werewolf book (THE SILVER QUEEN), I was motivated to do another one. I hope you will enjoy this one too. This is my contest book for the LOVE CONTEST, so please do leave comments. .................................................................. ⚠️ Before you continue with the story, please be aware of a few things: • The werewolves in this book might not behave exactly like others in other books. • This is not a fluff romance but a romantic suspense book. It will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions, so if you know your heart can't take it. Be warned. • The story has multiple POVs (Interwoven Storyline Narrative) So they don't repeat the same thing, but if you don't like this type of storytelling, this story is not for you. ....................................................................
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