I couldn’t move but watched, failing miserably to catch my breath. The swinging light distorted the scene, and the longer I stared at Brayden, the longer he resembled the real monster he was.
I still couldn’t believe he’d tracked me down and had the balls to come after me. But why should I expect anything else? The asshole rejected me as his mate, then kept me as his personal slave. As someone to torment because no matter what I did, my wolf still felt a connection to his. And I despised that side of myself, hated that any part of me would desire a monster.
The fight continued, the hooting from onlookers deafening. But only when a bigger man stepped up and wrenched Brayden off the unconscious man, did he stop.
“What the fuck?” Brayden swung around, spitting blood.
The newcomer was taller than him, broader, older. He didn’t strike Brayden but stood his ground, his expression twisted into hatred. “Fucking enough. Killing Adam won’t change the fact that bringing her here wasn’t part of the plan.”
“Fuck you,” Brayden snapped, shoulders curling forward. “We did what you wanted. Your pack got revenge against the Khan pack, and you took your fill of Hendrix’s gun stock. So, I got back what the asshole stole from me. Seems fair to me. Now, get the hell out of my face or next time, you’ll be on the ground instead of your friend there.”
He twisted and spat on the dead man’s body, then marched past the tall man, knocking his shoulder into his. “Move!”
“My father will skin you alive for not killing the Khan brothers and instead risking our mission by bringing that whore into our home.”
“Fuck off. I’ll deal with the Khan brothers,” he growled thunderously.
I let out a slight gasp and regretted it instantly.
Brayden swung his attention my way.
Our gazes clashed.
Panic strangled me, and I shut the door instantly, then scrambled backward in the room. I fought the need to scream and cry out, and instead put that energy into wrenching against my restraints and scanning the room for anything to use as a weapon against Brayden.
Heavy footfalls grew louder on the other side of the door, and I crouched down with my back to the wall near the bed. I hugged my knees to my chest, hating how scared he made me. How I wished nothing more than to make him hurt.
The door suddenly swung open.
My breaths turned shallow, caught like a deer in headlights.
Darkness filled the doorway, the faint light behind him giving no features away.
Unease choked me, and I gasped for air as my spine curled forward.
“Bitch,” he growled, striding around the end of the bed and standing there, staring down at me.
Moonlight from outside cast a silvery hue over his contorted face. “Get up,” he commanded.
I swallowed hard and reluctantly obeyed because I knew him too well. He was going to hurt me no matter what I did, but the length and intensity worsened depending on how I responded. Today, he looked ready to murder me.
He’d been a vapid, spoiled asshole before. But in my absence, he seemed to have changed. My fated mate was now the devil with death in his eyes. Death for me.
His dark gaze lowered to the rapid rising and falling swell of my breasts. I stood there with no top and a bra, my top tied around my stinging neck, and I shivered at his lecherous glare over my chest. But just as quick, it turned to disgust. The familiar urge sparked to curl in on myself, to drag something around me to hide the burn marks on my body.
Despite his presence, somehow I steadied my quivering.
“You thought you were free of me,” he muttered while unbuckling his belt.
My heartbeat rushed, my blood pumping hard. I knew what was coming… I’d been here before. A dark place I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. And for a short time, I actually believed I’d escaped him.
“Brayden, I had no choice. Your father—”
His backhand came fast, and I hit the wall. I tasted blood on the back of my throat, half my face burning like he’d set it alight, while the cut on my injury screamed with sharpness.
I looked over to him, knowing exactly what this pathetic alpha was. What all the petty males like him who beat their women were.
A disease on society. They knew nothing else, just destruction to make up for how fucking destroyed they were on the inside. How utterly pitiful he’d become.
“I hate you,” I murmured, wiping the blood from my mouth. “Nothing you do to me will change that you’re a disgusting excuse for an alpha who hurts those weaker than him. Kill me, I don’t care. I will always hate you.”
His lips peeled back over perfect white teeth, closing the distance between us in one long stride. He snatched me by my hair, wrenching the fistful to the side.
I cried out, slamming my fist into his arm. Then he hauled me into his face. This close, I saw the splatters of blood across his cheek and chin from where he’d butchered the other man.
“Emersyn,” he began, and I gritted my teeth, detesting when he used my real name. On his lips, it sounded like an insult, like a curse. “I will not bless you with death. You think I’m that kind? You’ll pay for that asshole, Hendrix, laying a hand on me. You’ll pay for my father giving you away. You’ll also pay for humiliating me by being with the Khan brothers.” He tightened his hand on my hair, my scalp on fire, tears already building in my eyes from the pain. It stung so badly that I dug my fingernails into his arm, drawing blood.
He never released me.
Never even flinched.
“I saw the way you stared at him, the way you giggled like a fucking whore with River. How many times did you spread your legs for those pricks? Did they fill your cunt with their cum?”
He shook me, and I whimpered.
“Tell me,” he bellowed in my face, but a half cry fell from my lips.
“Fuck, you’re pathetic.” He shoved me backward, releasing my hair.
I stumbled over my own feet and slammed into the wall. “Asshole,” I spat back just as a flare sparked in the middle of my chest with my wolf. She shoved forward, furious, murderous. And I wouldn’t hold her back, no matter how much it hurt.
My wolf rushed forward just as two things happened at once. One, the excruciating pain in my neck had me shuddering, the pain unbearable. Two, Brayden’s belt whipped across my thighs, stinging like acid.
I screeched, my knees buckling under me.
I hit the ground, crying out, my world blurring in and out.
“You seem to have forgotten your place to speak to me that way. I own you.” His strikes came again, this time the leathery whip biting right into the flesh across my side, curling around my back.
My cries muffled with more screams as I tried to drag myself away from him, trying to frantically fit under the bed.
“I will do anything I want to you, and you, bitch, will beg for more.” Powerful hands grabbed one ankle and yanked me back out from under the bed.
Digging my fingernails into the floorboards, I left nothing but scratches on the worn wood. I twisted around and looked up to face the monster.
“Brayden, please,” I pleaded, trembling wildly.
But looking down at me was a man with only hatred in his eyes. He shouted at me, his belt coming down on me, again and again. His roar filled the night, while my cries fell on deaf ears.
My world collapsed around me, and I had no idea how long I endured his beating because with all the pain came an unrelenting darkness. And tonight, I welcomed it.
I begged it to steal me away because I wasn’t sure I could ever live like this again.