2: Hello, Pet
“I think it’s best if we go over the rules,” Alice announced as she brushed a strand of coal-black hair over her shoulder.
The man’s eyes watched her every movement. His body had tensed since her talk with Mark and he had yet to calm down.
Not that it mattered.
“I don’t know what you want.” Justa had backed into his corner again. His eyes scanned the small room for an escape but of course, none was present. “Let me go or kill me. I won’t be some entertainment for you.”
Alice shook her head. “No, I’ve already made my decision about you. Besides, this pet thing keeps you alive. If you were not my pet, the pack would devour you. Do you wish for death that much?”
“It would be better than being someone else’s plaything,” Justa replied.
Alice shrugged. “My decision stands, human. In any case, the dawn is coming soon. I will be retiring myself to slumber. Those chains will keep you here. If you try to wander you will only get so far.”
She tilted her head to the side as she studied him. “If you try anything that endangers me or my pack, I will grant you your wish and kill you.”
Alice didn’t wait for his answer. Instead, she pulled the covers back on her bed and burrowed under them. One benefit of the smaller human-like body was being able to encase herself in warmth at times like this.
She pulled the covers off of her head to take a glance at her pet again. The human was still in the corner lying on the floor. “What are you doing?” she demanded.
“Getting rest,” he replied.
“At least go sleep on the couch,” she snapped.
He glared at her. “If I sleep here I can keep an eye on you. If I sleep there, who knows what you might attempt.”
Alice’s body was pricked by a thousand needles as she studied this defiant being. “Have it your way. You want to hurt yourself by sleeping on the ground, so be it.”
With a huff, Alice threw the covers back over her head again and curled up into a tight ball. She’d be able to hear if he did try anything, but from looking into his eyes, she just couldn’t see the strange human doing something like that.
Sleep overtook her at some point, she didn’t even remember falling asleep, and yet something had woken her up before she normally arose. Her nose wrinkled and she sniffed.
Odd. What was that smell hovering in the air?
Alice tossed the covers off. Her pet was no longer in his corner, and something strange had happened during the day. Much of her house, was clean. True, there was still the dirt from the entryway, there was no getting rid of that. But her things were organized in neat tidy rows.
Alice followed the patch of her pet’s chain, and the tantalizing aroma, into the kitchen. He was sitting at her kitchen table, a mug of hot liquid in front of him. Hot brown liquid. She sniffed again. “Coffee?”
Justa nodded. “I wasn’t sure when you’d wake up.”
Alice looked around. Once more everything was clean and sparkling. “Why did you do all this?” she demanded.
“Consider it as payment for saving my life,” he replied. “Breakfast is on the stove. I was surprised to see you live as humans do. I expected everything to be more...”
“Wild?” she offered as he trailed off.
Justa’s deep blue eyes once more locked on her and he nodded.
Alice appreciated the way the white hair in the front shadowed his eyes. They made the blue stand out even more, it was almost as vivid as her own blue eyes.
“In any case. You have breakfast, and I took it upon myself to clean. I won’t be treated like an animal.”
Alice nodded. “Thank you. I don’t think there’s ever been a time since I was a pup that anyone has cleaned up after me, or made me anything to eat like this. Unless you count some dead deer carcasses shared.”
She tried to smile at him. An easy, thankful smile. The gesture felt foreign and awkward. She grimaced and she let it drop.
Justa chuckled and she glared at him. “Sorry, I didn’t expect the Alpha of this pack to have a cute side.”
Alice’s eyes widened. Cute? Her? She’d been called a lot of things, but not such a term as that before. “Anyway, I do have a question for you, human.”
“What’s that?” he asked with a sigh. “And stop calling me human, my name is Justa.”
“Justa, why did you help my forest brother? He was dead, and yet you put yourself in danger to honor his body. Why?”
“It wasn’t right,” he answered. He watched her with wary eyes. It reminded her of abused animals she’d seen humans handle before. It sent a shiver through her body. “I will not stand by and let such things happen in front of me.”
“And yet you let them kill him,” Alice pointed out.
“The wolf went after a child of one of them. He got all his friends together for revenge. They trapped him first, and then they killed him.
“A child was in danger? Alice frowned. “I do not approve of that.”
“Nor do I. I only stepped in when they made cuts into the body and pulled the organs out. They had no reason rather than as a means of revenge. Petty revenge that I wanted no part in.”
“And so you stood up to them.”
“I wanted the wolf to have a proper burial. That’s all.”
“Thank you.” Alice tried to smile again. It came a little easier this time, it felt more natural to her lips.
“Justa, I am serious about your safety. As long as you stay here as my pet, you will be safe. If you venture out there, you will be slaughtered. My people don’t take kindly to humans.”
“I get the feeling they don’t take kindly to outsiders to begin with,” Justa agreed. “How long do you plan to hold me as a prisoner?”
“Pet,” Alice corrected as she continued to study him. “You’re not a prisoner. The chain is for your safety.”
“You think pet is that much better?” Justa demanded as he took a long sip of his drink. “I belong to myself.”
“Not anymore,” she replied with a twisted smile on her lips. “I’m too interested why a human would do anything for my kind.”
They were interrupted by the sounds of boots in the other room. Alice frowned and shifted in her seat. “Who is there?” she demanded her voice sharp.
As the man walked into the room, her body tensed. She recognized that one far too well. The sharp hook of a nose, the squinty yellow eyes, and the greasy blonde hair that made her shudder.
“What do you want?” Alice demanded. “You’re not welcome here.”
“No?” he chuckled and his eyes strayed to Justa. His lip curled as if he had stepped in something foul. “The rumors are true then? The almighty Alpha of our pack has taken a human pet?”
“What I do is my business, not your own, Jared.”
“Jared?” he laughed. “I don’t think that’s how you should treat the former alpha of this clan. You should have respect for those that came before you. You need to call me Alpha, Pup.”
Justa glanced from one to the other. He slouched in his chair, probably to appear as less of a target.
Alice couldn’t blame him. “I’ll only call you Alpha again the day you beat me,” she said with a sneer. “You don’t deserve anyone’s respect, Jared.”
“You bring a filthy human into our pack, one that was part of that group of torturers. What, are you planning to use him as an attack dog to go after those you don’t like?”
Alice snorted. “As if. Justa is my pet.”
“Justa? It has a name?” Jared laughed as he shook his head. “This is already far worse than I could have imagined. They told me you brought that thing in, but didn’t tell me you were attached to it like this.”
“Why wouldn’t I name my pet?” Alice demanded as she crossed her arms over her chest. “Jared, you’re not welcome here. I want you to leave, now.”
“No way, little pup. You’re forcing me to do this. I don’t want you crying when it’s over.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Just get out of my house.” Alice glared at him. She wished that she had the power to turn him into a kindling stick with her glare.
“Alpha,” Jared barked his voice loud and booming so it echoed not just in her house but far and wide where the others could hear it.
The hair on Alice’s neck stood on end. Was he nuts?
“I challenge you for your position!” Jared smirked. “And when I win I’m going to publically execute that beast in front of the pack.”