Mates of Shadow and Light(Breeder#4)

coming of age

I would live in this moment forever.

I’d have this one taste of love to hold fast to as the years ticked by. I’d shelter it, keep it tucked away, a memory for my eyes only.

He kissed my neck, then my mouth, sucking on my lower lip until I finally cried out and threw my head back in ecstasy.

“Xander,” I said, fighting against his grip. “Xander, wait–”

Submit, I thought.

“Lena,” he said, his voice edged with a nearly inaudible frustration. “You’re mine. I’m yours. Whatever happens next,” he breathed, kissing me deeply before continuing, “this will be for us. A tether. A thread to keep us grounded to each other.”

He was going to mark me. I could feel it in my soul.


All I ever wanted was a chance to be normal, to finish my studies and live a quiet life where I’d never have to think about my past. But Xander changed everything, and once he walked into my life, I could never go back. Neither of us could control the destiny we could never avoid…a destiny that would change the world forever.

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Chapter 1 : Saved by the King
*Lena* “I heard Cressida Mayfaire got an invitation," Abigail said with a twinkle of mirth in her emerald eyes as she bit down on the straw of her iced coffee. “Cressida?" Viviene leaned over the table, arching her brow. “She's lying!" Abigail shook her head, her red curls bouncing on her shoulders. “She told Heather that she received an invitation from Prince Charlie himself, can you believe that? Heather seemed convinced, but I have my doubts–" “Who cares?" I yawned, stretching my arms over my head. I blinked into the sun beaming through the ceiling height windows of the campus coffee shop that covered our table with golden light, reflecting off the glossy pages of my textbook. We should have been studying for finals. That was the plan, at least. But lately, all my roommates wanted to do was gossip. “I care! Cressida is the absolute worst, Lena. I'd kill for an invitation to that wedding!" Abigail leaned back in her chair, crossing her legs and giving me a smug look. I knew she was serious. She, like every other girl who attended the Morhan College of Environmental Sciences, a satellite campus of the University of Breles, was obsessed with the three princes of Poldesse. When news broke last year about Prince William's engagement, the campus went wild. People were crying, literally crying, over losing their chance with him. “They're just royals," I said with annoyance, flipping a page of my textbook. “Can you imagine being a princess?" Viviene said dreamily, sighing deeply as she swirled her coffee. “All the finery, the dresses–" “One lucky lady gets to be Luna of Poldesse, too, eventually. The Alpha and Luna haven't declared which prince inherits the title yet. I bet it's Charlie. He just has the look about him. He's a captain, too, you know. I feel like you kinda have to be a ship captain to be Alpha of Poldesse. Did you know the Alpha was once a pirate?" Abigail rattled on and on about the princes as I did my best to focus on my studies, but it was nearly impossible. “You're awfully quiet today," Viviene said as she turned to me, ruffling the pages of my textbook. I sighed, surrendering to the fact that this study session was a failure, and I would be up all night, once again. “I have one more final before my field study," I breathed, reaching for my now tepid cup of tea. “Do you know where you're going yet?" Abigail asked, looking somewhat vexed about Viviene changing the subject away from the royal wedding. “No idea. Professor Adams said somewhere to the north based on my course of study. I'm hoping for the rural camp that's studying the redwoods near Red Lakes, but that placement is so competitive!" I was frantic about it but stifled the urgency in my voice. I was studying botany and was in my final semester of school. I wanted nothing more than to spend my life in the wilderness, alone, plucking leaves and flowers and pressing them between the pages of books. I'd done so all my life, and I'd had to fight tooth and nail to get my parents to allow me to move to Finadli to pursue my studies. Researching the neverending, untamed, and unexplored forest in north-western Finaldi was my dream. But it felt unreachable at the moment. “I bet you get it–" Viviene began, but she was interrupted by Abigail leaning forward and reaching over the table to peer closely at me. “You got your hair done again!" I blinked, then subconsciously reached up to touch the golden blonde locks that were spilling over my shoulders. “Just lowlights–" “See, Viv? If anyone has a chance with the princes, it's Lena. Cressida is blonde. Megan, that fiancee of Prince William's, is blonde. I'm going blonde! " Viviene giggled as she twirled a lock of her dark brown hair around her finger, shaking her head. I rolled my eyes, closing my textbook and gathering my things as the conversation shifted back to the topic that everyone had been talking about lately, nonstop. I was just about to stand when Heather, our other roommate and my closest friend, burst through the door of the cafe, her black hair falling around her face as she frantically looked around until she spotted our table. “Holy s**t, you guys!" she exclaimed, dropping her textbooks on the table with a thud as she took a seat next to me. “You'll never guess who asked to join my study group!" “Goddess, Heather! Did you run here from the Natural Sciences building?" Abigail teased. Heather was panting, trying to catch her breath as she adjusted her weight in her chair. She was a zoology student who was specializing in the effects of botanical materials on specific groups of animals. Her field was large animal medicine, and she was one of the few students who had been accepted into the program. Morhan was a prestigious college, and she, unlike Abigail and Viviene, took her studies seriously. “Who?" Viviene pressed, offering Heather a sip of her coffee. Heather accepted, mouthing her thanks as she reached up to wipe sweat from her brow. “I was just minding my own business, you know, right after our study group disbanded for the day and… you guys, I'm not exaggerating when I say I thought I was dreaming!" “Get on with it!" Abigail exclaimed. I looked around the table, unable to hide my smile as my friends leaned closer to Heather, their eyes wide with anticipation. “Xander Smith walked up to me and asked if there was any room in our group," Heather whispered. Abigail and Viviene gasped, but I leaned back in my chair, crossing my arms over my chest. Speaking of royalty; Xander Smith was the closest you could get, at least on campus. He was a transfer student from the University of Mirage, apparently. He was one of those tall, dark, and handsome types that drove everyone absolutely nuts. But he was brooding, and standoffish, which for some people made him even more desirable. I'd only seen him once or twice over the semester. He wasn't in any of my classes, and our paths never crossed. I had never even thought about him unless he was brought up in conversation. “AND!" Heather exclaimed, raising her hand to shush the excited murmurs of surprise coming from Abigail and Viviene. “He asked about you, Lena." “Me?" I choked. Heather nodded vigorously, taking a deep breath before she continued. “He asked me about my blonde friend, with the blue eyes, who stands about this tall–" she motioned with her hand to accurately describe my five-foot-two-inch stature. “I said, who, Lena? And Goddess, Lena, he growled your name. I swear. The way he said it was something out of a romance novel." I could feel the blush rising over the collar of my crewneck sweatshirt. I glanced over at Abigail, who was gaping at Heather. Abigail looked slightly disappointed, but I knew she'd get over it. Abigail was what we, mostly lovingly, called a hunter. A hunter was someone old enough to feel the mate bond but had no interest in settling down just yet. She had a long list of trophies from past s****l escapades… but nothing like Xander. He was untouchable. The ultimate prize. And he was asking about ME? I felt a little hot as I reached into my backpack for the claw clip I always carried around. I wound my waist length hair into a tight coil, pinning it in place so the chilled air could touch my neck. Me? What the hell did Xander want with me? “He asked if she was in my study group, and I said no, because she studies botany and not zoology, and he seemed disappointed–" “Wow," Abigail said, leaning back in her chair. She shifted her gaze from Heather to me, shrugging one shoulder. “Good for you, Lena. The King of Morhan College wants to date you." “I don't–" I began, but my voice was drowned out by Vivene's questions as Heather continued to chatter about her run-in with Xander, and his desire to know me. “He asked if I could set you up–" Heather began, but her voice faded as I thought of the last date I had been on. My first, and last, date. I swallowed, then glanced down at the dainty wrist watch my mom had given me for my birthday a few years ago, realizing I had exactly seventeen minutes to scurry across campus to my afternoon class if I wanted to avoid the consequences of that date and the aftermath that had followed it. “I have to go," I said as I stood and hurriedly stuffed my textbook into my backpack. I ignored the exclaims of protest from my friends as I walked away, glancing down at my watch once more. Sixteen minutes. I walked briskly across the campus square where students lingered around the fountain, past the Natural Sciences building, tucking my hands in my pockets and keeping my head low as I hurried along. The building that housed the general education classes for first-year students was up ahead on my left, and I gave it a quick glance, cursing under my breath as people began to funnel out the front doors. Had my watch been slow? Did class get out early? The greenhouses where I took the majority of my classes were up ahead, situated at the end of the pathway lined by massive oak trees. It was fall, and the trees were a deep, burnt orange in the soft midday sun. If I wasn't walking at almost a jog, I would have slowed my pace to enjoy the view. But I was, under no circumstances, interested in subjecting myself to the fervent advances of the man I had gone on one single, lousy date with–a man who wouldn't leave me the hell alone. “LENA!" I grimaced, picking up my pace as Slate's voice ripped through the air. I knew he had seen me walk by. He had likely been waiting for me to pass, watching me from the window. He was an adjunct professor and taught the first-year students how to form proper sentences and stuff like that, but he had a chip on his shoulder–a power complex. And he was obsessed… with me. “LENA!" he said, practically screaming it as he ran up behind me. I almost broke into a run but didn't want to cause a scene. I felt him grip the back of my backpack, pulling me to a halt. He spun me around, taking me by the shoulders. “Are you running away from me?" “Yes!" I bit out, red in the face and not in the mood for his games. He rolled his eyes, which were a strange, pale Slate to match his name. He would have been handsome, and maybe he was at one point, had it not been for the thinness of his fine, tawny blond hair that was receding even though he was only thirty, and the creepy way he smiled when he looked at me, like I was prey. “Come on, Lena. You can't still be mad at me–" “You showed up at my apartment, Slate, in the middle of the night–" “That was one time… in the last week," he purred, tightening his grip on my shoulders as I tried to pull away. No one else was around, and it was dark here in the shadows of these tall trees, giving the entire scenario a creepy quality I didn't like. “I know what you wanted, you know. I can feel those things with you–" “No, you can't," I growled, attempting to get out of his grip once more. Slate had it in mind that we were mates, and after three months of following me around campus and being an absolute stalker, he hadn't let up. It had gotten worse, actually, with him loitering outside of the apartment I shared with Heather, Abigail, and Viviene in the cozy college town just off campus at odd hours, throwing gravel at my window in the middle of the night to get my attention. Heather and Abigail wanted to kill him, but Viviene thought it was somewhat romantic. “You've only got a few more months until you realize I was right," he teased, leaning in to whisper in my ear. HIs mouth was so close to mine, and I was practically backed against a tree with no way to escape if he tried to kiss me. “And then you'll see the error of your ways. I promise I won't punish you for ignoring me. And when you finally feel the mate bond and let me into your bed–" “What's going on here?" came a deep voice from behind me. I froze, watching as Slate's eyes shifted slightly up to look into the face of whoever had spoken. “How about you let her go?" “She's my girlfriend," Slate stammered, his cheeks reddening furiously as he tightened his grip on my shoulders, trying to drag me closer to him. I dug in my heels and pushed against him, but he didn't relax his grip. Suddenly, a large hand was around Slate's neck. “It wasn't a suggestion," said the voice as the hand tightened around Slate's throat. Slate's eyes widened in surprise as he immediately released his hold on me. My mystery savior let go of Slate as Slate staggered backward, holding his throat and choking. I slowly turned around, squinting into the sun as I came face to face with Xander, the King of Morhan College.

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