When Rathe returns after a year, Elliot expects friendship from his old lover, not to have Rathe completely ignore him. There's more going on than Elliot knows, though, and Rathe has more on his plate than simply becoming the new alpha.
Seeing Rathe again after a year of not having him around was hard, but not as hard as the complete indifference he gave me upon his return. He got out of the truck his brother had driven back to the pack, and then he didn't even make eye contact with me. I was maybe five feet from him. There was no way he could have missed me. So I was left with the knowledge that he had intentionally ignored me, which was a hard reality to face.
He had his own life, though, and so did I. The last time we'd been together, right before he'd left for his year of living with the real wolves, we'd said that there would be no more nights for us. He was going on his rite of passage into becoming our next alpha and I was... well, at the time I'd been a community college dropout, and I hadn't done much to improve myself since then.
But even with all that behind us, I'd never once expected him to act like he didn't know me at all—like I was invisible and the dozen or so nights we'd spent together were just a waste of time for him. They'd meant a lot to me, and I hated feeling like I'd been completely wrong about him this whole time. I hadn't expected his love, then or now, but I had wanted his friendship.
I stormed away as even more of the pack began crowding around Rathe and his brother. They were the current beta and the future alpha, and I was done with them entirely.
"Elliot! Don't go far! You'll miss the feast!"
If that had been anyone but my mother yelling for me, I would have ignored them. But she deserved better from me. "I'm not really hungry. I'll be back in a while." It was the truth. I'd been starving all day as I'd looked forward to the ceremony where Rathe was to be welcomed back into the pack. We'd all pitched in to help cook or hunt for the feast. I'd caught five trout, and then I'd stuffed them with herbs and grilled them. But everyone else could enjoy them. I wanted nothing to do with them, or the pack, and especially not Rathe. I hoped he’d choke on a pin bone, which was a really bad thing to think about when Rathe was going to be my alpha after tonight, but I kind of did want him to suffer. I didn't want him to get hurt, really, and I especially didn't want him to die, but a little suffering would be good for him.
I headed into the woods, which wasn't hard to do when our pack was surrounded by a thousand acres of national forest, but I had a specific place in mind. A small cave I'd found years ago, secluded and tucked far into the thickest part of the forest. I'd seen plenty of deer near there, and even a bear on occasion, but never anyone from my pack. It was where I went to be alone, especially when I wanted to think, or like tonight, when I wanted to stew in my anger and wish I'd never decided to be with Rathe.
I stripped off my clothes and lay on the cool cave floor. Being naked didn't bother me. It felt far more natural than running around in the sweats I’d had on earlier. There would be music and singing at the pack right now, but this far away from them, I couldn't hear any of it. I was glad for that. I didn't want to hear my pack being happy that Rathe was home again.