Ihad the weird sensation I was back in my parents’ home, waking in the middle of the night to the sound of shouting. To the crackle of flames, to smoke choking me, to my father trying to kill my brother and me.
Panic crawled over me. I shoved myself to a sitting position, frantically looking around, my heart racing.
Instead, darkness yawned back at me.
A bedroom engulfed by night. No flames.
And still, those vivid memories suffocated me.
It was when I twisted to get out of bed that a sharp twinge cut across the front of my neck.
“Ouch.” I lifted my hand to the ache, when something heavy pulled against my wrist. The clang of chains sounded, and I blinked through the night at the shackle that was around my arm and attached to a metal ring on the wall. I cried out as instinct kicked in, and I shuffled out of bed and began tugging against the metal fetter. “No. No. No!”
My heart beat with rage, and I desperately hauled at the restraints, while my neck screamed with pain.
Everything that had already happened came forward, along with the memory of me being taken against my will.
A growl vibrated through me, my wolf awake and shoving forward. I wouldn’t be anyone’s slave. Never again. I knew this dark world too well, I’d grown up with hatred and inflicted pain. I knew it well enough to understand that if I remained here, wherever that was, I’d end up used and tortured. And most likely dead.
I desperately pulled at the restraint, my wrist burning with the metal rubbing my skin raw. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I pictured being attacked on the beach with River outside his mansion.
How quickly the men pounced on us in the night, how we barely had a chance to respond. I felt turned inside out at the reality I’d been taken prisoner again. This was arguably the second time I’d been kidnapped from a place I lived, and I fucking hated it.
Anger thundered in my veins as I opened my floodgates and called to my wolf, unleashing her because I stood no chance to escape without her. “Please help me, Moon Goddess,” I whispered to the night.
The freedom my wolf awakened within me spread over my body, filling every inch of me with a feeling of pure exhilaration. I felt my wolf sliding against my insides, her fur soft and welcoming. She groaned, rushing out of me without needing to be asked twice.
But just as she pushed against me, a terrifying pain sliced across my throat. I whimpered, falling back against the wall as I clasped my neck. There were bandages over the wound where the attackers back on the beach had stabbed me. The wound felt slightly damp to the touch, and the tips of my fingers came back tainted with blood.
The pain kept me prisoner, and I waited a few moments for the ache to stop, swallowing softly to chase away the panic.
Try again, try again, I kept repeating in my mind.
With a deep inhale, I called to her, needing my wolf. And she responded just as quickly…we were one, connected, and as such, the heavy boom of my heart filled her too.
A flash of pain flared almost instantly as she pushed for freedom. Stars pulsed behind my vision, and instead of a wolf, I cried out from a horrible pain across my neck, feeling like someone jabbed shards of glass into my flesh.
She whimpered, retreating deep back inside me. My tears came for her as well, for how much my neck stung. I pressed my hand to the wound and slumped down to the floor, my back to the wall.
I closed my eyes. My heartbeat thumped in my ears, and nothing I did eased the hurt burning across my throat. Whatever my captors did to patch me up, I’d somehow ruined it because I sensed the trickle of blood rolling down the front of my neck and over my collarbone.
All around me, darkness seemed to be reaching out to me, attempting to drag me away into hell. To keep me hostage in this madness.
Every inch of me pulsed. I clutched my neck harder, wondering if this was how I’d finally meet my maker? Alone in the dark, bleeding to death.
I fought the pain, but I needed to be bandaged again, that was clear, so I awkwardly removed my tee, thankful I still wore a bra underneath. I fashioned a bandage out of the fabric and clumsily fastened it around my neck to apply pressure and hopefully stop the bleeding.
Hendrix flashed in my mind, and his last words to me after he forced me into an orgasm came to mind. I’ll always own you, little wolf.
I wasn’t sure I wanted him to come for me, but as I sat on the cold floor still chained up, my stomach clenching at how much trouble I’d ended up in again, maybe he wouldn’t be such a bad person to rescue me.
I had no idea how long I sat there, but when an explosive shouting match broke out somewhere in the house, I almost jumped out of my skin.
Raspy, barbaric voices, all male, boomed into an argument. A thunderous bang echoed against the walls that shook my room. Their voices escalated, but they were too blurred, too furious to make out the words.
I was on my feet before I knew it, crossing the room. The chain on my wrist permitted the distance to the door, as long as I kept my arm stretched out behind me. Curiosity got the better of me, and I had to know who took me. I wasn’t anything if not relentless in finding a way to survive, and that meant getting to know my enemy.
Placing my ear to the door still had the voices sounding muffled, but the shouting escalated, and by the thumping into walls, I was convinced the whole house would come down. What the hell were they doing out there? Wrestling?
Cautiously, I pushed down on the handle, and to my surprise, it opened. With my heart in my throat, I pried it open just enough for me to peer through and not give myself away. I’d snuck around enough in my life to be good enough at making no sounds.
I stared out past a dark hallway and into an aristocratic-looking living room with leather couches that had been turned over, a coffee table smashed to pieces, the chandelier swinging wildly in the dimly lit room.
A flash of someone being thrown backward and landing on the floor came instantly, followed by another blur of a person flinging themselves at the man lying down. They clashed, the battle bloody. Other voices came from somewhere in the house, cheering them on to fight.
Growls shattered the air, their battle ferocious, blood splattering from each strike.
The overhead fixture swung back and forth, the light bouncing off their torn clothes, their bloody wounds, their claws, their terrifying speed.
One man had short, trimmed hair, and the other had dark and shaggy hair around his face like it had been left to grow wild.
My stomach tensed as the smell of wolf fur, of pungent blood, of electricity in the air constricted around my throat. And with it came a familiarity. A scent I knew too well…it wrapped around me like the chain binding my wrist.
And instantly, I knew exactly who I watched straddle the poor guy on the floor and deliver one deadly punch after another into his face.
I crumbled on the inside, shattered like shards of glass all over again. I trembled, and I fought the urge to cry out that he’d found me. That the monster who’d rejected me, hurt me, promised me a life of misery…once again had me in his clutches.
I wasn’t his. Please, Moon Goddess, I couldn’t be his. Even if he hadn’t rejected me, I had rejected him a million times over since that time.Hatred flared within me, ignited with the terror of what he’d do to me to pay for leaving him. Sure, his father gave me away, but idiots like him never saw reason. They only saw excuses to hurt.