I stare at the bars. They crisscross the gap where the window should be. There’s no glass. I expect they are too afraid the inmates would try to break it and use it as a weapon. That’s if they could even reach the window, which I very much doubt.
At least the sky is blue today. Not that I can feel the sun’s warmth in this fetid place. Warmth is one thing you won’t find in any werewolf council prison, least of all in Mirebrook.
I should know, because this has been my home for the last five years, if you can call it that. Not for much longer, though, because in a few short hours, I should be out of here for good.
Whether I live very long once I get out remains to be seen.
I jump when I hear the sound of the steel door opening. There’s no need for silver in here. All the werewolves in here have had their wolves suppressed. Me, I never even got mine. I guess that’s what happens when you have a silver and wolfsbane implant put in you before your wolf even has a chance to emerge.
They said what I did was criminal, but at least I never hurt any pups, which is more than can be said for the bastards in here.
I spin around to see one of the guards. I almost breathe a sigh of relief, but I don’t. You soon learn to keep your emotions in check in a place like this.
If they think you’re going to crack, then they hurt you all the more.
The guard sniggers. I guess I didn’t hide my disquiet that well.
“Jumpy, aren’t we? Did you think I was your boyfriend?”
I clench my jaw. I’m still an inmate here, and it doesn’t take much to piss off the guards. I always suspected the guards knew what was going on; what the other inmates did to me. They always seemed to disappear when one of the wolves decided to use me as a punchbag or cut me a little.
At first, I tried to fight back, but that only made things worse.
Then when I turned eighteen it got worse. Whilst I was still a pup the guards would draw the line at anything other than a good beating. Once I was designated an adult, then it was open season on Tasha.
Dafydd was the worst. An older wolf with a scar that ran down his cheek. He would take more pleasure than most in giving me a beating and when it was over he would look at me lustfully before putting his mouth close to my ear and whispering the words that would make my blood freeze.
“Soon, princess. Very soon.”
There was no stopping him once I was deemed an adult. He was twice the size of me, and I soon learnt that I would be better off if I just zoned out whilst he did what he felt like.
Rumour had it that he was in here for forcibly marking and mating another she-wolf who wasn’t his fated.
They had extracted his canines as part of his punishment. At least that had stopped him from marking me.
I always had a sneaky suspicion that this was Marius’s doing. I’m sure he had and still has goons on the inside. A show of power to make sure I did as I was told. If only he knew I had no intention of doing otherwise.
Five years ago
I slowly slide the bedroom window open and climb inside. The pack enforcers left a while ago, but that doesn’t mean they won’t come back.
I hid my dad’s large stash of wolfsbane in a hollowed-out tree trunk, so even if they do come back, they’ll never find it.
My feet have barely touched the floor when I see a shadow in my peripheral vision. I gasp and almost head back out the window.
His deep, commanding voice stops me in my tracks.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you... Tasha.”
His words carry the hint of an Alpha command, but he’s not the Alpha of my pack. I’ve heard of him, though. Everyone has. He’s a rogue and a criminal. I always keep out of sight when he visits my dad. He supplies the wolfsbane that my dad peddles around the pack. He shouldn’t even know I exist, let alone know my name.
I recognise his voice straight away. I’ve only ever heard it from the other side of the door, but it always carried a hint of danger. His name is Alpha Marius Skotari. The rogue Alpha.
I freeze in my tracks and glance over at him.
He’s shirtless and his muscular chest is covered in tattoos, but it’s his eyes that draw me in. Dark grey and stormy.
“Where is it, Tasha? I know you have it.”
I shove my hands in the pockets of my hoodie, hoping to disguise the odour of the wolfsbane. A stupid move. As if the pocket of a cheap sweatshirt will hide the scent of wolfsbane from an alpha.
Especially not with the amount I’ve just been carrying. I have no idea why my dad has so much in the house. This Alpha seems pissed and I wonder if my dad owes him money, or a debt of some description.
He moves so quickly I barely see him, but then he’s standing in front of me, his hand wrapped around my throat.
“Your daddy betrayed me, Tasha. You’re not going to betray me, are you?”
I shake my head.
“N... No Alpha,” I stutter.
I don’t know what my dad has done, but he hasn’t come home. Not even after the enforcers left. Could he have sent them here? No. He knew I was here on my own. He wouldn’t, would he?
It’s almost as though Alpha Marius can read my mind. His grip on my throat slackens and his other hand gently strokes my hair.
“It seems like he has betrayed us both, but if you do a little job for me, then I will make sure you’re looked after.”
I gulp down a swallow. It’s one thing hiding a stash of wolfsbane for my dad, quite another doing a job for a rogue alpha, but what choice do I have?
I nod and croak out an ok.
He hands me a piece of paper.
“Take the wolfsbane to this address. Collect the payment. If you run into trouble, you don’t mention my name, understand?”
“Yes, Alpha Marius.”
He smiles at me.
“Good girl, Tasha. As long as you’re loyal to me, I will always look after you. Betray me, and you will beg for death.”
I climb back out the window and head to where I left the stash of wolfsbane. Then I head to the address on the piece of paper. An old warehouse at the docks.
Little do I know that I’ll regret this for the rest of my life.
***End of Flashback***
The rough voice of the guard snaps me out of my thoughts.
“Hurry up, you know the drill.”
I do. Because every year for the past five years, they have hauled me out of here to an interrogation room. Two werewolf enforcers from the council ask me for a name. A name I refuse to give.
It doesn’t surprise them. When I walk into the room, I’m bruised and beaten as a reminder of where my loyalties lie.
I don’t want to end up like my father. His throat was ripped out, and left to decompose where he was dumped.
Not that he didn’t deserve it. It was he who led the enforcers that night to the warehouse. He didn’t give them Marius’s name either, but if not for him, I wouldn’t have ended up spending five torturous years in this pit.
I turn around and face the wall. Hands at the back of my head.
Last night I didn’t get a beating. No point in beating me when I wouldn’t be a problem anymore.
When I leave here, they will remove the implant, and that should free my wolf if the silver and wolfsbane haven’t killed her.
Then I’ll be a rogue with a target on my back. Every alpha will be out to get us. Wolfsbane suppliers are the lowest of the low. They don’t usually get as far as sentencing because the alphas just kill them on the spot. The fact that I was only thirteen when they caught me meant they couldn’t kill me. Not even the werewolf council would sanction killing a pup, although death might have been preferable to the five years I’ve spent here.
The guard grabs my wrists one at a time and I feel the cold metal of the restraints replace his sweaty palms.
He pushes me roughly towards the door, and I’m careful not to stumble and fall flat on my face.
I’m marched through the prison to wolf whistles and catcalls from the other inmates.
“Hey, jailbait. Who’s gonna suck my cock now?” Dafydd yells.
I cringe at the nickname, and I swallow down the bile that’s threatening to rise. The things I’ve had to do in this place to survive don’t even bear thinking about. If my wrists weren’t cuffed, I would give him the bird.
I can’t, so I just grit my teeth and try to ignore the jeers and comments that they are yelling as I walk past.
I suspect the guards and the warden are just looking for an excuse to march me right back to my cell so that they can keep me here for another five years. An excuse I don’t intend to give them.