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Ch. 1: Nate

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Lone wolves were strictly not invited to the Elders' Ball. But despite the threat of death looming over my head, it didn't stop me from attending.

Concealed within the shadows, I watched as a group of werewolves in masquerade walked by, heading in the direction of the Elders' Institute.

Initially, I hesitated to come. My invitation had been rescinded when I was banished from my pack. But an overpowering sensation, an intense tug on my heart, compelled me toward the event.

It was a warm summer evening as I crossed the tree lined drive and hid within the concealment of a dark path leading to the back entrance of the institute. Nerves made my hands tremble, a mix of adrenaline and an unsettling restlessness. I craved a cigarette to calm my nerves.

It was stupid and dangerous being here as a wolf without a pack. I lacked protection, having no one to watch my back. If I was caught, I could be killed for trespassing. Yet my wolf had guided me here, and I was never one to deny my wolf's desires.

The institute was a large white mansion surrounded by a thick forest on the outskirts of town and was constantly patrolled by wolves. As an omega wolf came down the dark path, I swiftly took shelter in an alcove. He paused, his nose wrinkling as he sniffed the air and whirled back around.

Surprise etched his face as he saw my silver eyes glowing in the shadows. Before he could cry wolf, I pounced, my arms coiling around his throat, ensnaring him in a chokehold. Guttural gasps escaped him as he struggled to breathe.

He resisted, elbowing me against my chest. But within moments, he fell unconscious, and his limp form crumpled to the ground with a thud.

Securing my arms beneath him, I hauled the young wolf behind a dumpster, and departed the scene in search of an entrance.

Circling the building, I took in the vibrant lights and the resonant strains of music emanating from the hall where the annual ball unfolded.

There was no way in without getting caught and it didn't help that my banishment from the Silverman Pack still lingered on my mind, blurring my focus. I could still see the look of dread on my father's face when he had me cast out, and the ache in my heart weighed heavily upon me.

The memory had my wolf howling at me, clawing at my soul like a caged animal desperate for freedom. Urging me to find a way inside by whatever means possible.

"I'm trying!" Frustration coursed through me, erupting in a growl that unleashed my claws.

I lashed out. Leaving four deep gouges marred in the white wall. I inhaled deeply, catching my breath, and calmed myself and my wolf. But the release wouldn't be enough. I needed to get inside now.

At that precise moment, a catering truck arrived, and the back entrance to the kitchen burst open. The head chef came running out and berated his staff for being late. I advanced towards the truck, hugging its side as I peered round the rear.

Amidst the commotion, a staff member retrieved platters from the trunk, distributing them out to the waiters. I smiled at the perfect opportunity, and slipped between the chaos of the staff, snatching a tray and hoisting it high to mask my features and followed the line of staff across the asphalt and passed the wolf stationed by the doorway.

At last, I stood within the confines of the institute.

Inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly, I placed the tray upon the counter. A veil of steam enveloped the kitchen, infused with mouth watering aromas. The staff were unbothered by my presence; too busy preparing the food.

A sense of ease washed over me. The hard part was over. Now to find out why my wolf wanted me here.

I whisked past the line of champagne flutes, and grabbed one, acting like a guest who'd found himself lost and slung it back in one gulp.

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