Chapter Seven

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Of all the punches Niko had taken that day, taken and deserved, the worst was seeing the dark flash of Zee's tail as she ran from him.

He staggered, slamming a hand against a nearby wall, as the echo of her fear, the scent, the taste of it, cut through him like a blade

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He staggered, slamming a hand against a nearby wall, as the echo of her fear, the scent, the taste of it, cut through him like a blade. Squeezing his eyes closed, he whispered softly, "Zee."

But she was already gone, her scent lingering to taunt him.

All these years, he'd tried to forget that scent, tried to bury memories that had become like a whip. The whip of memory was still there, but now it served as punishment.

Instinct warred with logic. He had little time left. Meridia had seen him not even ten minutes ago and offered a mocking smile before telling him, Zee's back in P-town. Your countdown has started, Prime.

Everything about her, from her attitude to the sneer in her voice rubbed raw against the core of dominance in him, but part of him, the part that had never stopped longing for Zee was glad for Meridia Blue.

She'd been the one to care for Zee when nobody else had stepped up.

"It should have been me," he said to the night.

The sound of Zee's headlong flight, quiet as it was, had faded by the time he made a decision. If he had the luxury of time, he would have backed off and let her calm, but that wasn't an option. Moving into the shadows, he stripped. Habit had him folding his clothes into a military neat pile, shoes on the bottom. His mind was already on the chase ahead, the cool brush of the salt-laced night air filling his lungs as he started to breathe deeper in preparation for the run.

She'd always been fast, his lovely, sleek Zee. He was faster—Primes always were the strongest and fastest, but Zee was swift and had a natural cunning to her that had been a surprise to him the first few times they'd played as wolves.

Later, he'd assumed that was her true nature and he'd battered himself for not seeing through her guise.

Now he'd have to rethink everything—again.

But none of that mattered right now.

He had to find her.

He shifted and took a deep breath of the air, catching her scent, the layers of it that told indicated paths she often walked—he also took note of a particular male scent.

Donner. His scent was layered with hers, something Niko had picked up on almost immediately and he'd seen her wearing a male's shirt, known which male it had belonged to.

The urge to rip out a throat was strong, but again, that wasn't the important thing this very moment. The tangled skeins coming from the ocean, fish and seals, decay and new life, the certain uniqueness of a scent that could only belong to the local alpha—the Regnar. Meridia.

And over it all, laced through it and under it, everywhere, he tasted Zee on the air.

He started to track her.

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