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Wrath's Patience (Seven Deadly Sins Book 3) by R.A. Pollard (1)

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

 

 

 

Rage. Rage was all he knew—all he could see and experience. The world outside his mind was red and painful. Every touch against his fur sparked an insatiable lust for destruction and hate. He could feel it pounding in his blood like a living thing, thick and sweet, seductive in its thrall. Each burst of anger swamped the last until he could remember nothing else but the sublime feeling of it.

His large nose to the ground, he inhaled the scent of decaying pine needles and earth. Rain lingered in the air giving the forest around him a mystical hue, causing mist to hang between the trees like smoke. Not a breath of wind marred the hauntingly beautiful scene, yet he didn’t notice the beauty. His sight was set on the kill.

The doe before him was perfect, nature in all its glory, her graceful head down as she nipped gently at the grass. Her long sleek back and powerful legs gave him pause. She would be a strong one—a single kick from those dangerous hooves and he could be in for pain tonight. His mouth watered at the prospect of feeling her blood on his lips, feasting on the hot meat she would provide. She would unknowingly give him a moment’s respite from the madness that crawled through his brain.

One slow movement forward and his muscles bunched, ready for the sprint of speed. Widening the pads of his paws, they sank into the damp detritus on the forest floor leaving no sound. The world around him faded from his mind, all focus on his hunt. He could hear the hard pounding of her heartbeat. She was strong, she would be a good kill. Hunger gnawed at his insides, almost making him leave cover too quickly. His hot breath made small curls of steam rise into the gathering darkness. He held this moment, feeling the exhilaration of knowing he would soon take down this magnificent beast, that she would provide him the sustenance he needed to continue another day.

His dark fur was the perfect camouflage against the darkening forest. With his muscles coiled he waited in powerful glory. A small rustle to his left brought the doe’s head up sharply. Her dark eyes scanned the forest around her for some sign of the intruder. The beast froze, keeping himself hidden, letting the forest noise hide the excited beating of his heart. It was now or never. The deer poised on edge, her body preparing for flight. He launched himself from the cover in a burst of speed that shocked the doe into a few moments of stunned acceptance before she broke into a bounding run away from him.

That pause was all he needed—his powerful legs ate up the distance between them, the flash of her white tail a beacon. She tried valiantly to evade the hunter, her heartbeat loud as a drum to his ears. With a roar, he was in the air and then came down on her back, deadly canines clamping onto the back of her neck. The spry deer aimed a good kick to his midriff bringing a growl of pain from him.

He would not let her suffer. A sharp twist of his large head snapped her neck. He panted hard as he lowered her body to the damp floor, his teeth lodged deeply in her throat until her legs stopped their phantom run.

Hot blood coated his teeth and tongue. He lapped at it frantically, feeling the calming rush of sanity return to his mind for a few moments. Why was it only a kill that brought him a small measure of clarity? As always, he knew he was lost. He also knew he had once been more than this beast, and that he needed to be somewhere else, but he could never remember where. Then in a moment, that blissful clarity was gone as the beast’s drive for food swamped his mind, and the throat of the deer was removed in a spray of blood that covered his face in its sticky copper sweetness.

The heart still had not caught up with the doe, but as the blood pooled out onto the forest floor the final death of the magnificent animal happened. With a growl of hunger, he sank his teeth into tender flesh, pulling back and swallowing with gusto. The stomach of the great beast was never sated. He had to hunt once, maybe twice a day to keep himself from losing what little sanity remained in his mind.

As the belly of the beast became full he continued swallowing, determined to overeat—the longer he could go without hunting the better his control over the hunger became. He tore into the soft underbelly of the doe, eating heartily of the blood-rich liver and heart. He had learned early in his madness, the more he fed the less he craved, so he hunted endlessly, searching for what could sate him.

Finally done, unable to eat any more of the worthy prey, he sat back, licking the sticky blood matting the black fur down his front. Now fed he would sleep, safe from the nightmares that sparked the endless rage in his blood. Trotting off into the forest, he knew nature would ensure not a morsel of his prey would remain by morning. The inhabitants of the forest were efficient scavengers; they would pick the bones clean, and the deer would return to the earth to be born again.

The other animals of the forest gave him a wide berth. Birds called out in warning, rabbits rushed for cover, even the other predators of the forest avoided his presence. The scent of a bobcat, a black bear, and the other wolves of the forest mingled around him. Fear permeated their scents. They knew better than to face something they recognized as unnatural.

The great wolf-like creature emerged from the forest onto a rocky overhang. He had chased off the mountain lion that had made this outcropping home and claimed it for himself. Sleep would take the beast soon, then would come the memories—faces he could not remember, voices that stirred emotions so deeply they fed the wrath in his soul. He hated sleep, wished he would forget those faces and voices that called to something deep inside him, something he didn’t recognize.

He flopped down on the stone, his body soaking up the lingering warmth from the day’s sun that saturated the rock. He huffed out a large breath of air, sending steam rising from his mouth. Sleep called to him, pulling the great beast down into the abyss of his madness. Satanus, Sin of Wrath, son of Hades, sank into the nightmare, a nightmare where he did not remember being anything but the beast that had consumed his soul.

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