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Jes stood there, looking cocky as ever in his leather jacket and his bad boy apparel. Roland growled at him, as did the other males. “You have no business to be here, Jes.”
“Since you and your pack are so into tradition, law states any male in good enough condition regardless of age or affiliation of the pack is able to compete for the favor of the princess when she becomes of age.”
Jes smirked and Roland clenched his hands into fists.
“Unfortunately you are correct. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t expect you to follow our rules in trying to win my daughter’s affection. You will abide by them, or be cast out again like I’m sure you were from your previous pack,” Jes smirked and stood proudly in line.
I looked over and shuddered. The thought of Jes being my mate made me almost vomit as well.
“As is customary, the older males will go after the younger males go. Each winner will be presented to my daughter after the attempt, and each winner will advance until there are two left. She will then inspect them and the males will have one last chance to win her favor. Any foul play or dirty tricks will result in immediate disqualification,” Roland looked to Jes. “Do I make myself clear?”
The large black wolf smirked, “Clear as crystal.”
Sephora glared at him too. I sat down on my chair and pouted a bit. The wolves who were already mated sat beside me as did the pups and the elderly. The first two males were a russet and a timber wolf who seemed almost as nervous as I was about Jes being there.
The two took their stance and prepared to fight. They seemed fairly young to fight for a mate, however, male coming of age was 16 and not 18. It was not uncommon for younger wolves to fight for the affections of older wolves, and visa versa.
The two tussled a bit and then finally the russet swiped. He made contact with the timber who yelped and charged at the russet. As the two tumbled over, the timber got slightly more aggressive and pinned the russet down.
After an hour, it was whittled down to four males including Jes, Daniel, a chocolate-colored wolf named James, and a silver named Seth. Personally, I still preferred to wait and an idea came to me.
“I feel that the males deserve a rest. I say we reconvene tomorrow to continue this,” Roland and Sephora looked to each other, then me. “If this makes sense to you, and you truly feel this way, it must be so.”
Roland looked to the males who did seem exhausted and weak from multiple fights, “Very well then.”
The feast began as the males recouped and I began to feel a bit claustrophobic. I went to the back side of our house for some alone time and sat on the porch.
After some time, I was discovered by Daniel. “You ok?”
He asked and sat beside me.
“I got a bit claustrophobic. Couldn’t breathe,” I fibbed.
“Thanks for postponing the final fights,” he said and clasped his hands together. I nodded in response, remaining silent.
“I know why you did it.” Daniel leaned back a little and looked at the now darkened sky. “You do?”
“Yeah. The thought of being forced to love somebody, especially an outsider, is a lot of pressure. Even for a princess. Besides, it seems as if you don’t feel ready to see who would win out of all of us. Perhaps you don’t find any of us favorable? Am I right?”
I felt horrible and kept to myself.
“If I ran away, father would send the hunting group to find me. Plus, Jes could have a secret pack we don’t know about, and I could be kidnapped. I just don’t feel ready to be the Ulfric yet. There’s so much I don’t know.”
Daniel moved a piece of hair from in front of my face to behind my ear.
“You will be a great Ulfric. I’ve got faith in you,” he said with a soft smile. I felt my cheeks burning ever so softly then heard a sneer.
“Oh look, a contender trying to secretly win more favor. That’s a dirty trick there, runt. I should tell Roland," came Jes’s voice. He came around the corner and I stood up as Daniel did.
“You know as well as I do, Roland won’t believe you. Roland sees you for what you are plain as day. If anything, I should be exposing you for the runt YOU are, and if I catch you, or your gang trying to harm Zooma, or anybody else in this pack, I swear it you will be dismembered and left for the cougars.”
Jes didn’t seem phased. “Well I will see you tomorrow, runt. I aim to get the girl.” He winked at me and I spat on his boot.
“I would definitely never ever mate with him,” I said and looked away. “I’d rather die first.”
Daniel waited before Jes was completely gone then sat down again.
“If I could, I would do anything for you. You had always been there for me when nobody else was. You and your family. I would understand if you did not favor me, but at least I could protect you from that monster.”
Daniel was older than me by a couple years. He was larger than the other males, lean, and very strong. I felt safe around him and never really worried about much. It seemed as if his trouble making days were ending and he was feeling lonesome. I owed it to him to at least consider him a possible mate.
Perhaps more than possible. Am I falling for him this quickly? Did his display of power and control stir something within me I didn’t know was there?