The arena was basically just an old football stadium that no one used anymore besides for city functions. The building was huge and well looked after but it was rare for the entire city to participate in the functions, most packs tended to stick to themselves and besides the annual alpha meeting you rarely caught everyone in the same place. But this challenge was all through the media so I wasn’t shocked to see this place packed to the brim, everyone crammed in like sardines in a can. Nervousness crept in as we pulled in next to the huge entrance.
People walking in and I felt giddy seeing rogues entering a place that was otherwise forbidden to them. Valen’s men made sure they had entry through his tunnel entrance. Macey and Zoe stood by the doors next to Tatum and Marcus. Macey was the only one out of us that was still rogue and despite the offers she refused, saying she was happy with her status.
Although, I had a funny feeling with Tatum’s infatuation with her it would only be a matter of time. Valen would take and accept all the rogues without asking but it was more then that, I may be pack, Zoe pack, but we were all rogue, status is given but at heart, we clawed out from the rubble like the rest of them, bled beside them and took on society exactly the same.
No my village didn’t need a pack, this city should be pack, no names, no labels, no designation. One pack is how it was supposed to be and it should be, everyone free, and free to choose and free to live. That was what we wanted, just our freedoms, nothing more and nothing less.
Valen grips my knee as Valarian undoes his seatbelt when he sees Taylor and Casey, Casey waving a snow cone in the air for him. He jumps out and runs over to her, his had no color, just ice, the girls knew him too well. Valen shakes his head at him and chuckles before looking over at me.
“Are you sure you wouldn’t be more comfortable in shorts, you will ruin those pants shifting in them. I brought you a set in case you changed your mind,” Valen says while glancing down at my yoga pants. I shake my head. I wouldn’t be shifting, it would risk too much, my body would have to change too much.
“No, I’m hoping he submits in first half,”
“You realize how hard that is, we are instinctual, and you know how these things go, after 10 minutes and the drill goes off everyone shifts, so unless you got some moves I don’t know, you are gonna have to shift, Love,” I swallowed.
He was right. No one likes a challenge going on too long, after ten minutes the drill will go off. That was brought in decades before I was born after a challenge lasted three days while both of them circled each other looking for an opening. I laugh at that thought, stuff that, best to get it over with. Then again, I also understood it. What parent wants to fight their child and vice versa.
Are you afraid to show your wolf?” Valen asks and I stare at him but he looks away. I tilt my head to look at him.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing, I just know you are self-conscious about how small yours is, though when the rogue attack happened you were a fair bit bigger, is that why you never wanted to train in your wolf at home,”
“Well, you would be self conscious too if you looked like someone’s pet dog and not a werewolf,” I tell him.
“You’re not that small,” he says and I shrug and open my door. Zoe and Macey are waiting for me by the entrance and I need them to keep calm, right now. We walk through the dark tunnel and come out the other end walking along the boundary line. I could see Nixon and his pack watching.
Slasher pack was also here but Nixon and dad stood on the other side of the massive ring that is etched into the grass with white paint. We walk over to our place when I feel my head tugged back by my ponytail.
Valen’s hand wraps around it and pulls me to stop, turning me. His arm wraps around my waist pulling me against him and he tips my head back. His lips cover mine in a heated kiss that has my cheeks burning with his very public display.
“Valen!” I mumbled against his lips, and he chuckled. He was still laughing when he let me go. He tugs me along and Kalen rushes in quickly.
There was a park at the other end of the arena which is where he is taking the children to play so they don’t have to watch. They could because I was training at their age, however, a challenge was vastly different: it wasn’t mucking around, it was blood, claws, teeth and fur. Messy and terrifying so when Valarian demanded he wanted to come, we organized for Kalen to watch them at the park and bring them over after.
“How are you, are you still set to leave tomorrow?” Valen asks his father. Kalen stops and pecks my cheek and hugs his son.
“Yep, leaving at 7am,” Kalen says and Valen nods.
“Where are you going?” I ask him.
“To pick up some supplies that got lost in transit for the hotel,” Kalen says with a shrug. Kalen quickly hugs me. “Knock his ass out, love. Now where are these munchkins of mine,” Kalen says looking around for the kids. He points off toward the girls and waves before rubbing his hands together.
He walks off toward them. “Who wants to race Pop to the park over there.” he says, pointing off toward the other end. The three kids look where he points before running off and Kalen chases them. Valen laughs at his father who could easily outrun them but lets them win.
Once they are gone, I turn around to face the pit and the place falls silent when my father steps over the barrier and removes his shirt, handing it to my mother. I suck in a breath and Valen grips my shoulders giving them a squeeze.
“Breathe, you got this,” he says, yet my eyes were on my father, images of training with him when I was kid skipped through my head. When I regarded him as my hero, but now I was no longer a little girl, he was no longer larger than life, but despite that his size and physique remained the same.
This man was a giant, and powerful. I swallow down the dread, remembering when he accidentally broke femur in training when he punched me a little too hard, one punch and he snapped it like it was chicken bone.
I shake the memory away before tugging my shirt off. I had a sports bra underneath and my shirt would give him something to grab a hold off. My mother stood beside Nixon looking at us nervously and as I was about to walk onto the field, I felt a hand grip my arm. I stop when I see it is Ava. She stares at me.
“Dad’s left knee is bad, he has had two surgeries on it, watch his hooks, but if it comes to his wolf back out! I will take your place, I am not good at hand to hand but,” she glances at our father nervously.
It was clear she was petrified of my father, she hated training and it scared the crap out of her. Ava was not violent by nature, she wasn’t trained the way I was, she was daddy’s princess while I was his warrior.
“Ava you don’t have to get in there, and you aren’t,” I tell her and she swallows again, though I knew she would get in there if I asked and she would take a beating happily for me, a beating isn’t needed here, victory is so I knew this was on me.
Ava grabs me and hugs me. “I know!” she whispers, and I pull away from her and look at her.
“I know, and you back out or I will,” she looks at Valen standing over at the sidelines.
“Who?” I ask.
“Macey and Zoe,”
“You can’t shift,” Ava continues.
“I don’t need to, I can beat him in this form, I was born for this Ava, trained in his image for this, I haven’t forgotten, I will win,” I reassure her.
“You better, if not stand down, your people will understand, they won’t see it as a failure,” she says.
“No, but I will. You haven’t been with us as long, you haven’t seen the half of it, this will change everything, now I am asking you, as a sister, to keep your mouth shut,” she pressed her lips in a line and nodded.
“Left knee, and try to keep on right side, his vision isn’t the best in that eye anymore, beat him before the shift, if you’re in trouble I am telling,” She says walking off and I sigh before turning to my father.
Once inside the circle there was no backing out. My father stood in the center waiting, arms folded to see if I would step in. “Back out Evie, you don’t want to do this,” Dad says to me and I shake the shudder that rippled up my spine as his aura washed over me and stepped inside the circle.
He curses and shakes his head but takes a stance. I moved closer and on his right, watching how he shifted a little more and I realized Ava was right. His vision on that side wasn’t the best and he growled and I saw his eyes go to her off the side. She waves to him before he turns back to face me again.
Nixon calls out to him but my father ignores him. The whistles went off while we sized each other up and when he didn’t charge at me or make a move, I knew I would have to be the one to initiate the fight so I did.
He blocked my punch easily and ducked under my arm which left him an opening to my ribs but he didn’t take it. Nixon yells at him to fight, but dad goes on the defensive. After a few minutes it was starting to irritate me. I caught his left knee three times but he never swung back. When I went to kick him again, he caught my foot which left me in a bad position and he growled angrily at me.
“Submit,” he snarled at me before punching me in the thigh. I groan, feeling it bruise and stagger back when he lets me go. My eyes go to the huge digital display 4 minutes before we would be forced to shift.
“No,” I growl and Dad growls back at me before spear tackling me and the air catches in my lungs as I am airborne. I am waiting for his crushing weight to smash me into the ground but at the last second he twists, and I crash on top of him instead of being crushed under him. I sat up shocked and punched him while he pulled me closer in a headlock, which left me struggling to get out of it, my fist connecting with his ribs, and the side of his head, yet dad was only holding me.
“Fight back, I am not a little girl,” I tell him.
“Wrong, you’re my girl, my pregnant girl,” he snarls before rolling me off him. I get to my hands and feet.
“What are you doing John!” Nixon roars from the sidelines. My father ignores him and gets to his feet. He glances at the clock.
“Stand down, submit!” Dad says and I clutch my knees while he is trying to catch his breath. “I can’t!” I tell him looking at the crowd of rogues.
“John! Stop playing with her and take her fucking out!” Nixon booms across the field and I glance over my shoulder at him. My mother is standing beside him, her face pale as a ghost and I turn my attention back to my father. He looked torn.
“Please Evie,” he whispers and I take my stance and he growls taking his before we start fighting again, or I do while he continues playing this stupid game of just blocking and dodging.