twenty

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A/N: on the eighth day of christmas gen10 gave me to me, another chapter of gentle predator..... (let's pretend it rhymes). To get everyone into the holiday spirit, and to count down the last 12 chapters of this book, I thought I'd post a chapter a day until christmas! Merry Christmas you guys!

"Well that was unexpected," Keon spoke from behind Illyria surprising her. "Don't even start," Illyria groaned, already feeling guilty for the way she went off at the men who now walked in complete silence back to the pack house. Even Alpha Logan lead the men towards the pack house in silence.

"Is that what you women are like? Is that what-" Keon cleared his throat almost nervously, "is that what your friend, her name's Jess right? Is that what she's like?" Illyria felt a small smile creepy onto her lips as she imagined what Jess would do in that situation. She laughed out loud for the first time since Jess was taken. Keon now falling in step with Illyria, dwarfing Illyria in comparison. "Jess would've been ten times worse. She would've let you go at them, or she would've yelled at them until they ran away with their tails betwee their legs." Keon chuckled beside Illyria, as though picturing the scenario. "Jess doesn't really show it often, but she's a really dominante wolf, it's just that the way people treat her since she came to the pack, it's not really nice so she tends to stay to herself. If anyone knew that she felt her mate die then they'd probably cut her some slack, but she doesn't really want pity."

Keon stumbled a little, surprising Illyria, but quickly regained himself. They walked in silence for a few minutes until he spoke again. "Her mate," he cleared his throat, "her mate died?" His voice sounded small, almost vulnerable. Illyria cast him a curious glance before turning back to the trail infront of her. "Yeah, it's the reason she's at this pack instead of with her family. After she felt him die there was nothing there for her except for childish memories of mates and the bond, she hated seeing her family with their mates, all happy and bonded, and together." Illyria sighed, "she hated the idea that she was never going to get her happy ending, especially after everything she's gone through already..." Illyria trailed off. Keon was silent for a moment, his eyebrows furrowed as he walked, "what happened?" He asked, his voice low and urgent. Illyria shook her head. "Maybe you can ask her yourself when she gets back."

"Yeah, maybe," Keon sighed. As they neared their territory Illyria felt herself looking at a tree engraved with angry scratches and missing chunks of bark, her heart feeling lighter as she remembered how it happened. She leaned into Keon and began to whisper, "you see that tree?"

"Mmh,"

"The first time I met Jess we got into a fight, she totally took a chunk out of my side, which was actually incredible considering she's an untrained wolf and I'm a warrior. Anyway, we fought and when we finished, it was a draw by the way," Illyria cleared her throat, "when we finished we both lay on the ground, panting, and when we looked around us we realised we'd completely trashed the place. Everything else was torn from the ground, we were covered in mud and twigs." Illyria let out a hoot of laughter, "that tree is all that was left from that fight. The only thing that wasn't completely destroyed."

Keon halted his steps, looking between Illyria and the tree. When she smiled at him his eyes widened and he took in the small clearing like space surrounding the tree. "Holy shit little wolf, you impress me." Illyria laughed and mocked a bow as though an audience stood before her. Keon smiled, "so tell me, what happened after you destroyed the tree?"

Illyria smiled, "naturally, we laughed. And then we limped together all the way back to the pack house, talking about everything and anything. We became best friends that day." Illyria smiled cheekily at the memory. Everyone thought a rogue had attacked when the girls stepped into the back garden, covered in mud, and twigs, and blood; limping and stumbling all the way across the lawn and into the pack house.

Keon looked thoughtful for a moment and then turned to Illyria, they had started to walk again, trailing behind the groups of shamed warriors and their stoic Alpha. "So, what did you fight about?" Keon asked, Illyria stopped smiling, her wolf protesting the memory, "she got a little bit too friendly with Tristyn, I got a little too... protective..." Illyria shook her head and smiled up at Keon. "I was always a little bit too possessive with Tris," Illyria shrugged.

"Tris is your... mate?" Keon asked, his head cocked to the side as he looked at Illyria. A coy smile graced her lips, her heart now yearning for her mate. "Yeah." Noticing her dejected look Keon decided to prod for details, "he's an Alpha isn't he? Why isn't he here?"

Illyria sighed, "he was injured in the attack where Jess and the Luna's were taken. He's in pretty bad shape, or atleast he was when I saw him this morning. Healed, but not yet awake. I'm hoping that he's okay, but it's cruel. Hope, I mean."

Keon looked forwards, his eyes clouded with darkness as though his wolf was pushed to the surface. "Yeah, it is." 



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