| Chapter One |
Katze Maxime pulled her truck over to the side of the road. The thick green trees towered above submerging her in their shadows. What little light of the day left was quickly fading, as the sky darkened so did her confidence.
This was the place, she could smell them close.
Getting out her truck she closed the door quietly behind her leaving it slightly ajar so no sound could be heard. Leaning down she looked into her side mirror. Her black hair hung down her back, that wasn't what held her attention, it never was. Those pathetic eyes stared back tauntingly at her. One blue, one green, them both as clear as the day she was born. She looked away before she punched her reflection from sight.
Those eyes were a curse, they were the reason she needed Wolff's Clan.
Katze had tracked them here, for weeks she had looked for the Clan following the stories that had travelled like lightening throughout the different Shifters. Wolff's Clan had taken on the Council who controlled them all, they had wounded them greatly to protect each other. Before that they had taken on Clan's who had dared go against them. They were the fiercest warriors to exist.
They were the answer to her problems.
Making her way through the trees, her boots sinking deep into the wet, muddy earth Katze inhaled one final calming breath. Turning back wasn't an option now, she had to ignore the nerves floating around her stomach.
"Where the hell is he?" A voice boomed, the crackling authority rippling through her.
Stopping Katze listened intently. The voice sounded angry, actually furious. Holding her breath, she could hear her rapid heartbeat thrumming in her ears.
"Wolff calm down. We don't know that someone has taken him. He could have just wandered off. We need to think clearly." A female voice chimed, calming the man instantly.
Her heart skipped a beat at the name Wolff. Never had Katze been so nervous to meet someone, her animal wasn't one to become unruly but right now she could feel it pace inside her skin. Meeting him was her last option, it had to go well.
"Wandered off? He was supposed to be patrolling. Wandering off isn't an option." The voice grated.
Stepping closer, her feet silent with each movement she made Katze edged around the trees letting the animal inside her bones guide her movements. Crouching down she looked through the trees seeing a tall handsome man with messy blonde hair looking down at a red haired beauty. The two of them looked worried, the smell of their uncertainty clear.
"I can't find him." A young man came through the trees, in past the wooden cabins they were standing in the middle of. "He isn't here."
"It's OK Deon. We will find him." Another woman appeared, her long dark ponytail whipping behind her.
A truck sounded in the background, the door slamming loudly with a force that was clearly uncalled for. The footsteps of the person moved casually, like they had all the time in the world. She could smell the persons arrogance from where she knelled. Her animal surfaced again at the dominance rising in the air.
"You have got to be kidding me." Wolff spat his bear growling loudly in his throat.
A sigh left his mate. "I know better than to try and stop you changing now."
"Stay back Neve, he deserves everything coming to him."
A tall man with dark skin wandered into the area, a sneer on his face. Shirtless he looked down at his arm showing it to the others.
"Do you like it?" He asked his voice void of anything other than a goading symphony.
"You left to get a tattoo." Wolff's voice was more animal than man, he was on the verge of a change, she could taste it in the air.
"I guess so." He shrugged.
Wolff changed his bones reforming, fur sprouting, shape changing until he stood on four paws an earth shattering roar leaving his lips. The sound had her gripping the tree trunk she was next to harshly. His bear was a monster of an animal, the sheer size of it making her jaw hang open.
The others stepped back as the man with the tattoo changed into a bear equally as large. There was no shock from anybody, no fear. This must happen often.
Wolff lunged first his claws raking down the other bears body. Katze had seen fights in her time, reluctantly she had been part of a few but she had never seen anything like this. There was so much anger in the air, the deep roars bouncing off the trees only adding to it.
"Wolff." His mate Neve called hunching forward her body shaking violently.
A bear erupted from the woman's skin, a ginger grizzly who lunged at the other bear. Wolff nipped at her leg, the animal trying to protect her from harm. The other bear took the opportunity to attack gripping onto Wolff's shoulder.
Turning violently Wolff slammed the Bear into the ground. The two of the rolled along the earth, their teeth snapping at each other as the mud matted their fur.
A deep, sleep laced voice had her animal swivelling towards the cabin it came from. The creaking of the old door hinge had her heart ricocheting in her chest until it stopped completely when she saw the two dark brown eyes of the man she was fated to. She didn't hear the rest of what he said, all she could concentrate on where the tumbling ferocious animals that were about a metre from him.
Her animal took her skin, the flawless change happening in milliseconds. Her panther ran, it's strong legs bringing her so she was straight in from of the man, shielding him, protecting what was hers.
Her lips pulled back showing her sharp teeth as the animal hissed stopping them immediately. The two male bears stood in seconds side by side united, the other ginger grizzly walking around so she was beside them. In seconds the other two people had changed so she was surrounded.
Wolff changed back, standing before her with an authority that her animal couldn't ignore. He was an Alpha, maybe not hers but the tingling feeling over her body was still the same.
"Change." He demanded.
She didn't think twice Katze changed so she stood before Wolff, the other man at her back, still fully protected. She didn't dare turn to him, her animal was already too attached.
"Who are you?" Wolff asked his voice holding an authority her animal was wary of.
The other man changed, the one who he had been fighting. "What does it matter who she is, she is an imposter in our territory. She needs to die."
Katze swallowed thickly at the mans words. There was so much happening, the authority, the anger, her need to step back towards the one man her animal had chosen.
For panthers it was instant, there was no verbal claim needed. The claim was in one look, once she saw his eyes there was no stopping the pull her animal had to him. He was hers now.
Panicked Katze took in a shaky breath. This couldn't be happening, not with so much on the line. She didn't want a mate, there was no space in her future for one.
"She wouldn't be in our territory if you were doing you job patrolling. We were all worried Maxton." Wolff wailed. "Don't you understand the severity of our situation right now?"
"I don't need another lecture Wolff. I'll do as I please." Maxton spat.
"Oh that's right, you only follow the rules when they suit you. The rest of us have to do everything by the book, that's the way according to you. Maybe you should practice what you preach."
"I'm Katze." She answered before the argument turned into another brawl.
"What are you doing here?" Wolff demanded.
"Wasting our time, she clearly isn't a threat. I guess Zeke hired a bodyguard, did you finally realise you were useless?" Maxton mocked, he sighed when he didn't get an answer turning so he disappeared into the woods.
"Where are you going?" Wolff shouted after him.
"To patrol." He whispered, Katze heard her sharp hearing picking up on his low voice. Wolff turned back to her his eyes narrowing.
"Go patrol." He warned the others.
Leaning down he stroked the ginger grizzly as it passed, her soft hum bringing a smile to his face.
"I asked you a question, answer it." Wolff stepped forward when his mate was safely out of sight making the air heavy on her n***d skin.
"I need your help. My family are in danger, they need help." She rambled sounding as pathetic as she probably looked. She had practiced what she would say to him repeatedly. Her speech seemed to have disintegrated to a pathetic babble.
The man behind her snorted. She turned just as he pulled off his t-shirt. She didn't get a good look at him, he pulled it over her head covering her body. When she looked back after registering what he had done his log cabin door had shut with him safely inside.
"Zeke." Wolff shouted a sadness embedding into his face when he received no answer.
Her animal purred softly at the name. Zeke, the name of her mate. It should have made her happy that she had found him, it didn't. Instead a bitter sadness filled her heart. He was a complication she didn't need.
"You're family are your problem not mine. I have a duty to my Clan, nobody else and I won't endanger them with a fight that I have no need to be involved in." Wolff remarked the hardness back in his features.
"Please." She whispered.
They were her only hope. Without them her whole plan would fail.
"I said no. Leave."
"Whether you like it or not, whether I like it or not I'm part of this now." Katze looked at the cabin Zeke had just entered her animal scratching inside of her to follow him. "My animal won't let me leave so I'm sorry but that isn't an option."
"He's yours?" Wolff asked his eyes widening as he looked down at his mate who had come up beside him now human. When their eyes met hers it was a mixture of shock and hope glimmering back, Katze didn't understand it.
"Yes." She answered reluctantly. "He's mine."