A shiver passed through me.
The knowledge of my defeat a lingering tingle down my spine at the sight of the flashing lights in my rearview mirror. My gaze shifted to the glove compartment as my hands tightened around the steering wheel. I could visualize the pistol I had bought from Tom, the owner of the local pawn shop. I had spent four months of my tips on it, along with a clip of silver bullets.
It had been an odd request – silver bullets, and Tom had seemed surprised when I asked him about them. He told me he’d had some specially made for an organization that lived out of state and that he happened to have some extra. He’d made the expected joke about me hunting for werewolves. I’d forced myself to laugh it off – he was among the ignorant few that didn’t know this town was brimming with them.
The sound of approaching footsteps in gravel carried over the idling engine of my truck and the wild thumping of my heart – the rushing of my blood echoing in my ears. I closed my eyes, breathing deeply before letting out a heavy exhale. I needed to remain calm and composed. I wrung the cracked and weathered leather in my hands. Another breath. The sound of knuckles rapping against the glass made me flinch. I should’ve been better at masking my emotions. I had more than enough practice with it over the past year and a half.
I released my grip on the steering wheel, reaching over to the window crank below the door handle. The window stuttered and screeched the entire way down its slow descent. The sound of crickets chirping and frog croaking unleashed a sudden and loud assault on my ears, that had been a muted buzz before. The tiny hairs on my arms rose in reaction to the cool summer breeze that drifted through the cab of my truck.
“Perry.” I gave the Sheriff a tense smile.
He dipped his head down, leaning toward the open window. “Evenin’, Dove.”
He scanned my face before looking at the back seat where I had thrown my suitcases. I had been in hurry this afternoon. No one had been around to watch me, which was unusual. There was usually always at least one person around to keep an eye on me, that’s the way Silas liked things. I could only assume now, being caught in the act as I was, that my “perfect” opportunity to escape had been a test. A test I had failed, again.
His eyes met mine. “Out for another one of your midnight drives?”
I squirmed in the seat. Midnight drives – that’s what we had come to refer to my escape attempts as after the first couple of tries. This was the farthest I had gotten to date. I knew that, if Sheriff Perry had a mind of his own, he would’ve let me go on my way. He would see how wrong all of this was, but the problem was one of Silas’ people. He had to do what the man told him to do. When the Alpha gave an order everyone in the pack or affiliated with it were expected to follow it or they risk being punished.
“I got real close this time.”
“You sure did,” he agreed. A pitiful smile on his lips. “Now, how about you head on home? Silas is real worried about you.”
“I bet he is.” Silas wasn’t worried about me. He was only worried that I might make him look like a fool – even if he didn’t need me for that.
“Now, don’t be like that. Silas might be a little rough around the edges.” That was the understatement of the century. “But he takes good care of you.”
I turned away from him, staring at the sign that pointed to the entrance of the interstate. I’d been so close.
“You need me to escort you back?” Perry questioned.
I gave him a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. My gaze shifted to the glove compartment as a new plan was born in my desperation. I knew what I needed to do.
“No. I can find my way just fine.”
I feared that Perry would follow me so I took the back roads. Silas had most of the people in this town eating out of the palm of his hand. He knew pretty much everything that went on in Jericho. He had eyes and ears everywhere, and most of the time he had them focused on me. I had been his lover – now I was his captive. The glitch in his well-crafted system of keeping people under his thumb.
Silas had been waiting for me when I pulled into the driveway like I knew he would be. The large two-story pack house stood behind him like a mausoleum.
“Silas,” I spoke his name through clenched teeth as I came around the back of my tailgate.
A taunting smirk played on his lips as he crossed the driveway to my truck, hands resting in the pockets of his dark washed jeans. The t-shirt he was wearing pulled tight against his wide chest with every breath that he took. His coffee-brown eyes were full of mischief. “You were late coming home tonight. I was worried that maybe you had got it into your head to try and skip town. Thankfully, the good Sheriff is only a call away.”
The pistol felt icy cold against the sweat-slick flesh of my lower back. I shifted on the balls of my feet. “And what if I was trying to leave?”
His lost his smirk, “Don’t you get it, yet? You aren’t ever going to leave this town. Once you’re in, you never get out.”
“That’s what you think, but I’m not staying here for another full moon.” I wet my dry lips as I held his dark gaze, challenging him. “You can keep dragging me back here, but I’m going to keep running away.”
Silas’ eyes narrowed into angry slits, he shifted a step closer to me. I stiffened as my mind began to scream at me in warning. It recognized the predator that lurked beneath his human veneer. I was standing on thin ice and I could see the cracks forming beneath my feet.
“You’re going to take your pretty little ass back to your room, now.” he pointed a finger at me, before directing it towards the house. “This conversation is over.”
I hated the way that he lorded over everyone because he was the Alpha. He seemed to think that the whole world belonged to him. He still thought that I belonged to him even though I had broken things off between us three months ago. When I had come to this town he had been charming and attentive, everything a naive girl could want in a man. Only he hadn’t been a simple man. He had been more. He’d turned out to be a werewolf. It took me some time to get over the initial shock of what he was. He wore me down with his persistence and charm until I found myself falling head over heels for him.
It wasn’t long into our relationship that he asked me to move in with him, to live with his pack that I felt some doubt return. I didn’t know if it was safe for someone like me to live in a house full of werewolves. I couldn’t imagine they’d appreciate having a human hanging around. As usual, though, he kept asking until I gave into him. It was when I came to live with him that I found out I wasn’t the only woman in his life. He already had a mate and child, but that seemed like a trivial matter to him. I had tried to leave but found out that was not a simple task. Everyone had come to believe me to be a part of Silas’ pack. It didn’t matter that I was human and had the gift of free will that the other pack members seemed to lack.
Silas had plans to change that. I had overheard him several days ago talking with Charles, his Beta, about how he was going to give me the bite during the next full moon. He planned to transform me. That was what had prompted my sudden urge to get the hell out of this damn town. I’d given up enough for Silas. I had no intention of giving up my humanity.
“You keep forgetting that I’m not one of your packmates. I don’t have to do what you tell me to—you’re not my Alpha,” I said, feeling a little braver with the pistol pressing against my skin. I was going to leave this town, one way or another, either in my truck or a body bag. I would be damned if I was going to let him turn me into another one of his drones.
“You’re right you’re not one of us, which means you are simply a weak human girl. What power do you really have?” He lurched forward, shoving me backward. “To me, it looks like none.”
His anger was getting the better of him. I had pushed him a little too far. “I told you to never touch me like that – never.” It had been a fear of mine for a while now that he would lose control and hit me or worse. I had seen the temptation in his eyes before and there was no debating whether he was stronger or faster. The differences between us were stark. I could never win against him outright. That’s why I had a weapon.
“What are you going to do? I can do whatever I want to you. So, Tell me.” Spit began to gather at the corners of his mouth as his anger rose. “What are you going to do?” He snapped as he shoved me, again. My feet got tangled under me and I landed on my butt, hard. My teeth cut into my tongue at the harsh jolt, the coppery taste of my blood wetting my dry mouth.
Silas stood over me, handsome face contorted into a beastly scowl. His eyes glowed amber for a moment, enough to send fear racing through my veins. My survival instinct took over. I scrambled backward on my hands, pushing myself up off the ground. I freed the pistol from its hiding place in the waistband of my jeans. My index finger clicked the safety off. I stood on trembling legs, pistol positioned between the two of us.
“How about I shoot you?” My voice shook as the neurons in my brain began to be overloaded with adrenaline. “How’s that for no power?”
His eyes widened in surprise at the sight of the gleaming metal. He had never thought I’d go so far. Silas fixed his gaze on my finger that sat on the trigger. It would be so easy to pull it back. To end all of this, here and now – no effort required. Put a bullet in his brain. He deserved it. I could hear my inner voice shouting at me to do it – to pull the damn trigger.
So, why was I hesitating? Because I knew if I killed him that would make me the next Alpha. That’s how things worked around here. You got to keep what you killed because you earned it. Titles were given only through blood, be that bloodlines or blood spilled. I mean, if I killed him now, I would be freeing all of these people from his control but how long would that freedom last? I was only human. It wouldn’t be long before someone got ambitious and decided to kill me. I couldn’t kill him – not now, not here.
He schooled his expression, looking disinterested.
“You think that gun is going to protect you from us?” He snickered, chest puffing up with arrogance. ”That’s cute.”
I narrowed my eyes at his dismissive tone. I exhaled a slow and even breath, reigning in the tremble of my hand.
“This thing is loaded with silver bullets.” I watched as the new information settled over him. He shifted – a subtle movement – but it was enough for me to know that I had gained some footing. He was eyeing the gun in my hand with disdain. “I might not kill you but I’ll definitely hurt you.”
That seemed to clear the air between us. Now it was just a battle of the wills, his against mine. He thought to try and intimidate me by moving a step closer. I didn’t have any more aces up my sleeve. This was it. The only thing I had now was my brain and the pistol in my hand.
“I’m getting really tired of this. Hand over your little toy, gather your things from the truck, go inside and unpack. You don’t want to press me further.” He held out his hand towards me, waiting. He expected my compliance – in the house slept thirty or so wolves, that at a moment’s notice, he could put upon me. A threat he’d used before – a threat that had worked to keep me here. Not this time.
I swallowed, hard. I held his gaze as I placed my thumb on the hammer and cocked it back. “I am leaving here tonight, Silas. You really don’t want to test my resolve.” I slid a foot backward, edging myself closer to my truck.
“If you shoot me or any of the pack with that thing, I’ll end you.”
I took another sidestep, glancing to the left to see how far I was from the driver’s seat. I licked my bottom lip as I met the amber gaze of the beast beneath his skin. “I won’t have to shoot anyone if you’ll just let me go. That is all I want Silas...to leave. No one needs to get hurt.”
He let out a loud snarl that sent goosebumps racing up my arms. He began to pace back and forth, his eyes never straying far from my pistol, “The first chance I get I’m going to sink my teeth into your throat. I’m going to taste your blood on my tongue.” The guttural tone of his voice had me shrinking into myself. I wasn’t a brave girl, but I was desperate. Desperation kept my mind focused on the only thing I needed and wanted, my freedom.
“You want to run? Fine. I’ll let you run.” His agreement caught me off guard. It was out of place for his character. He’d never let me go – especially now that I had threatened his life. He became still, though his posture was still menacing. “I’ll give you a head start or it won’t be any fun. Just know this time it won’t be anyone else chasing after you. It’s going to be me. This isn’t how things are going to end between us, Dove.” A threatening promise that chilled me to the core. He was letting me go only because he saw a better form of torment in this. It could be the only reason.
“Goodbye, Silas.” I didn’t waste any time standing there debating with him about that. I took the opportunity he was giving me. I backed away, keeping the barrel fixed on his chest in case he got any ideas. At the last moment, I reached back with a trembling hand, wrapping my fingers around the cold metal handle.
I heard the soft click of the latch as it unlocked. I scrambled into the driver’s seat, slamming the door shut and locking it. I dropped the pistol into my lap as I reached forward and turned the keys that I had left in the ignition. I threw it into reverse, letting my tires spin wildly over the loose gravel driveway as I pressed my foot to the gas. I didn’t even look to see if Silas had moved out of the way, to be honest, I’d been happy if I’d hit the bastard. It wouldn’t have killed him, but it certainly would have slowed him down considerably.
I shifted the gears into drive, barreling my truck down the long driveway away from the pack house. The moon peeked through the clouds as I cast one last look back, seeing Silas dark silhouette watching me as I went. I tightened my hands on my steering wheel. I was certain of two things as I headed toward the interstate, first I was finally leaving Jericho. And the second being I would never be free until Silas was dead.