The car ride felt like the longest that Serendipity had ever experienced. Worry ate at her and all she wanted was to go to sleep and wake up back at her apartment. She scratched furiously at her arms and knew that she would be broken out in hives before long. She had always been extremely prone to them in stressful situations.
She glanced over at Lindsey. Serendipity didn’t know how she was going to get herself out of this situation, not to mention get Lindsey out of the mess. Despite her guilt, she was grateful that Lindsey was there. Without her, Serendipity would most likely be hysterical.
The truth was that Serendipity still didn’t know what in the hell she had been taken for. A glance behind them and she saw the bright headlights of an identical vehicle following them. Up ahead, she saw the faint glow of taillights. As they came upon the very same border she passed through every morning, she noticed that the wolves didn’t make her or Lindsey get out to check-in. Instead, the man driving the SUV and the man at the border exchanged a few words and they were allowed to pass.
Now in unfamiliar territory, Serendipity gripped her neck before scratching like crazy, her skin twisting and crawling with anxiety. Lindsey looked over at her before she grabbed Serendipity’s hands in hers and calmly brought them back down to rest on her knees.
Lindsey cleared her throat in the quiet car. “Do we get the right to know what Serendipity is being taken for? She can’t even speak so if this is some sort of twisted game, we aren’t amused.”
The car was silent. The two wolves in the front seats looked at each other for a moment.
“I think it would be better if we let others explain. Until then, doll face, I’d very much appreciate it if you shut your mouth. Your friend has given me a headache,” the man sounded a bit more than annoyed as his hand rubbed the lump on his head. Serendipity winced.
The next forty minutes passed in complete silence. Her hand went back to scratching as she gazed out the window. Her heart dropped in her chest when they finally pulled down the long drive that she knew led to her doom. The manor was lit up with lights and, unlike during the day, it seemed that a large number of wolves were patrolling the area. She looked over to Lindsey and gripped onto her hand for a slim second. If they were about to die, Serendipity hoped Lindsey knew just how much she loved her.
They were led out of the warmth of the car and into the cold. Serendipity shivered violently and wished that she wouldn’t have forgotten her jacket the day before. Wolves surrounded her almost immediately, destroying any plans of escape she hadn’t thought of yet.
The man leading them looked back at her and Lindsey. “This way.”
Serendipity obeyed and Lindsey began to follow before she was stopped. Serendipity glanced back, her heart in her throat. Lindsey said something to the man and jerked her arm out of his hold but didn’t move otherwise.
All Lindsey could do was nod to Serendipity in encouragement. “It’s okay. Just give them whatever they want so we can go home.”
Serendipity nodded her head as two wolves escorted Lindsey away from the front of the building. The many wolves who had surrounded her stopped and then continued their pace up the front steps before they disbanded. One of them snickered and whispered something to one of the wolves before speaking up.
“You sure you can handle her, Beckham? It looks like the human got the drop on you earlier.”
The wolf she had knocked out, Beckham, growled loudly and grabbed Serendipity by her arm before yanking her inside of the manor and shutting the door. Howls of laughter could be heard from outside and she almost felt bad for wounding the wolf’s pride.
They didn’t stay in the entranceway for long. Instead, she was forced up a flight of stairs and tugged down a hallway before they stopped outside of a door. He knocked before opening it. They walked inside together and he finally released his death grip on her bicep.
She stumbled further into the largest library she had ever seen. Books lined the walls, completely covering every inch of the room from the first floor to the third. A spiraling staircase wound up the second-floor landing and the third. A fireplace roared on one wall casting an orange glow and heating the room. Couches and chairs covered with throws blankets and pillows littered the room.
Serendipity couldn’t help but walk forward, drawn in by the beauty of the room. It was cozy and it gave her the aura of safety, even if that safety couldn’t exist in a manor filled with nightmares. Serendipity turned at the sudden shut of a door and was surprised that no one resided in the room with her anymore. Beckham had left her. She jogged towards the door and pried on the handle, only for her to discover she had been locked in.
Serendipity supposed there were worse places to be trapped and confused, a cell is one of them. She turned before swallowing hard. She was alone. Her thoughts drifted to Lindsey. What was happening to her friend? What was in store for her? Nothing that had occurred made any sense. Serendipity had been so sure that they had been coming for her to kill her, but she was now less convinced.
Why would they place a prisoner marked for death in a library of all places? Serendipity sighed wearily and walked towards the shelves. She walked down the seemingly endless aisles, trying to read some of the book titles. Most seemed to be in another language. A loud bang from outside made her freeze up. The slight sound of shuffling feet walking away made her relax again, but she gave up on exploring.
Finding a comfortable looking couch in front of roaring flames, she sat down hesitantly. The throbbing in her head eased as she warmed up. Looking around, she saw a book spread out and face down on the table in front of her. The cover caught her eye and she reached out and picked up To Kill a Mockingbird. The pages looked worn and fragile and she knew it must have been a very early copy.
“That was one of my wife’s favorites.”
Serendipity jumped up, the book falling to the floor. Her heart hammered against her ribs and her breath was long gone. An older man stood across the room from her. At first, she mistook him as a human. He looked to be older. His entire head of hair was grey and white. Wrinkles creased his forehead and dark circles colored the underneath of his eyes. The clothes he was wearing fell off of him. He looked too weak and weathered to be a wolf, but the yellow tint of his eyes and strong build gave him away. Serendipity realized that he must be sick, alarmingly so.
Serendipity bit her lip. I’m sorry, she signed.
She didn’t know what else to do. She hadn’t met a single person other than Lindsey that knew sign language, and she doubted that the older wolf in front of her knew it either. Then he did something that surprised her.
Are you deaf?
Serendipity’s mouth dropped open in shock. Her hands faltered a bit before signing back.
Serendipity lifted her neck a bit and traced over the scar that resided right over her voice box. The man’s eyes followed her hands and she knew the moment he understood. His eyes grew softer, but he said nothing. She grew uneasy at the silence that filled the room.
“What happened to your arms?” the man used his voice this time.
Serendipity looked down at herself for the first time since the chaos had started and frowned at the handprint sized bruises that were starting to form. She had always bruised easily and Beckham hadn’t exactly been gentle.
Swallowing hard she lied to the man with shaky hands. It is nothing.
He didn’t respond, but she could see the slight narrowing of his eyes as if he already knew what had happened to her. The crackling of the fire became dominant once more.
She paused before forming her next question. Who are you?
The stranger looked surprised she was asking him that question but answered anyway. “You may call me Gabriele.”
Serendipity nodded and gave him a small, uneasy smile when silence dominated the room again.
My name is Serendipity. Your wife liked the book? She bent to pick up the novel and sat it carefully back on the table. She knew she was rambling, but maybe if she made herself more relatable, the wolf wouldn’t hurt her.
“Yes. I built this library for her. She loved to read.” His words came out as low as a whisper and she could see the pain in his eyes intensify as his gaze wandered towards the dancing flames. He moved for the first time since announcing his presence. Her standing form backed away from him as he grew closer and she relaxed when he only sat down on the couch. She slowly took a seat on the opposite end.
“I used to have a large collection of books. My brother would bring me one on Friday’s after my parents died, Serendipity signed. It was strange having a conversation with a wolf. It was something she thought she’d never do.
The older man turned to get a better look at her. The pale face was ghastly. His eyes were a brilliant green and yet they almost seemed empty somehow. They lacked any luster and for a moment she was convinced he was gazing directly through her. Before she could think about it, she moved her hand to lay it on top of his. All she could see at that moment was his pain. It didn’t matter that he was a wolf. It didn’t matter that her fate was still up in the air. If she could bring the man any comfort, she was going too.
“She liked daisies too. When I found out we were mates, she fought my claim every step of the way. I bought her three dozen roses, jewelry, and even chocolate. She threw every single thing I got her back at me. I don’t blame her. I was an asshole.”
The man paused for a moment. A ghost of a smile played on his face. “The first thing she accepted from me was a couple of daisies I handpicked from her yard as I stood outside her window, trying to get her to talk to me.”
When he looked up at Serendipity, she signed her response. I’ve always thought roses were a bit overrated. Your wife must have had wonderful taste. I wish I could have met her. Serendipity took a deep breath before becoming brave enough to ask what she needed to know.
I’m sorry for asking and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for your hospitality, but do you know why I’ve been brought here? She sat anxiously twisting her fingers together while she waited for his answer.
The man smiled again, something Serendipity knew he must not do a lot. “Oh, I think that explanation is better suited for my son. I’m surprised he hasn’t already rushed downstairs to explain himself.”
It was obvious that whatever the man found so humorous he didn’t plan to share. She bit down on her lip a bit more than frustrated.
Am I in some kind of trouble?
The man laughed loudly. “You are in more trouble than you know, though probably not in the way you’re thinking.“.
Serendipity felt her heart drop and the blood run from her face. Was she about to be killed? Was that the reason the wolf was being so cryptic? Why would he toy with her emotions in that way? Gabriele looked as if he was about to explain himself when the sound of a door opening pulled their attention away from each other.
There were a couple of times in Serendipity’s life that she could remember being stunned. It just wasn’t in her nature to freeze up and go completely numb and thoughtless. She always attempted to take everything in and evaluate it with a certain level of calmness. This, however, was one of those rare moments.
The man that entered the room looked to have been made in the very image of a Greek god. He was tall and muscular, giving off the impression that he was capable of great strength and power. His hair was long and tied back at the nape of his neck with what looked to be a scrap of soft material. His face caught her attention almost immediately. It could have been chiseled from marble. He had pronounced cheekbones and a sharp jawline. A 5 O’clock shadow shaded the area. She couldn’t stop the shiver of fear that made it’s way slowly but surely up her spine.
This man was the definition of danger.
Then she saw his eyes. They were a warm, smoldering chocolate brown. Looking at him from a distance, his dark gaze resting on her, she couldn’t help but be reminded of the monster he no doubt was. The shape of his eyes and the way they trailed their way down her as if he was about to pounce reminded her of a lion she had once seen at a zoo. The only difference this time was that there was no cage separating the prey from the predator. The stranger was the epitome of a werewolf. He was frightening her, truly frightening her, and yet she couldn’t help the invasion of other thoughts too. Thoughts that she shouldn’t be having.
Serendipity stood suddenly, her nails digging into the palms of her hands she grew flustered. Her cheeks burned a bright red and her breathing accelerated. It amazed her that just looking at this man had such an effect on her. When she was younger, no boy had ever caught her interest. Then the war had come and she had been separated from the opposite sex completely, except for the occasional werewolf that she saw. Still, none of them had this effect on her.
The old man stood beside her, slowly turning to meet the stranger’s gaze. “Son.”
“Alpha King,” The man greeted. The words tumbled out of his mouth casually. It was soft and dark and the one word wove a spell around her. She was mesmerized for a split second before the words hit her like a pound of bricks.
Serendipity’s heart stuttered and she suddenly felt a bit dizzy. She had been speaking to the Alpha King? She knew he was a wolf but she hadn’t expected him to be the king of all werewolves. That meant that the man who had just entered the library was his son. He was the prince that had mercilessly killed her brother and thousands of other humans and then decided to enslave her species. Serendipity felt sick. Her body swayed and black dots freckled her vision. She averted her head to look down at her shoes, taking shallow breaths.
Was she supposed to curtesy? Serendipity had never met anyone of this caliber before in her life. She was already in trouble and she didn’t want to dig herself into a bigger hole by disrespecting either of them in any way. She peeked up from the floor at the sound of footsteps and watched as the king walked towards his son. He placed his hand on the Prince’s shoulder and said something low in his ear before walking towards the door.
They were alone in the room. Serendipity and her wolf.
Her wolf? Where had that come from?
The Prince stepped forward. He didn’t move with quick strides. Instead, he put one foot in front of the other at a confident and steady pace. Not for one second did his eyes leave her or stop his slow exploration. Somehow, his movements were more terrifying than if he would have simply rushed her and taken her by surprise. It was almost as if he wanted her to run from him. It was as if he wanted to chase her.
Serendipity felt herself move, her feet shuffling backward without her permission. Was she supposed to run from a wolf, or would that make it more determined to catch her? Her arm came up and cupped her opposite shoulder as if the limb would provide her with some sort of protection. The back of her leg bumped into a side table and she heard the crash of a lamp. She stumbled over it which allowed the man to grow closer to her. Still, he continued. His eyes never wavered from her. She felt her back hit a surface and she turned her head only to find that she had run out of space to run.
Serendipity’s hands shook as she tried to sign something, anything, but she didn’t know what to say to stop whatever was about to happen. Her hands fell to her side as he grew closer. Finally, he stopped. He was so close she could reach her hand out and touch him if she wanted.
He took an unexpected step forward and her next breath became lodged in her throat. Inches apart, her eyes clenched together in fear and she turned her head. He was so close, she could feel the warmth radiating off of him. He smelled like pine and aftershave.
He smelled like a man.
She jerked back at the stroke of something tracing her cheek. When she peeked her left eye open, she saw that it was his fingertip casually exploring the contours of her face. He reached her chin and the slight pressure he applied made her tip her head back. She found it impossible to ignore the strange but pleasant shocks that erupted from his touch. It was something, to her horror, that she leaned into instead of pulling away from.
She watched his expression curiously as he found the scar that ran across her neck. His eyes morphed into luminescent liquid yellow, a completely different shade than the sensual brown they had been just seconds ago. Her mouth grew dry as his finger grazed lower, tracing the thick white line that stubbornly refused to fade away even so many years after the accident. A low growl from the wolf pushed her over the edge and she pushed against him. Her palms met a muscled chest and she huffed in her effort to escape his clutches. He didn’t move and his expression never changed. It was almost as if he seemed to not notice her struggles. Her breathing became heavy as she panicked and tears pooled in the corner of her eyes.
Serendipity was trapped.
The growling began to morph into a low rumble and he let go of her chin. He pushed himself even closer to her, closing all gaps of space between them. Serendipity felt him everywhere. Pleasurable tingles ran down the length of her body as he ran his nose up the side of her cheek and then moved down, towards her throat, and then back up again. The rumbling continued and she found herself, despite everything, calming under him. Her heartbeat evened out, her breathing became steady, and she stopped trembling, something she didn’t even know she had been doing. He brought his head back up suddenly, his eyes fading into brown once more.
“I’m sorry. I find myself not as prepared as I wanted to be,” he told her, his voice gruff.
His words speared her in the stomach and she began to panic once more. This time when she pushed against him, he let her go after a bit of resistance. She stumbled away and immediately hated the separation. What was happening to her?
His eyes narrowed as she moved further away from him and at first, she assumed that it was because for the distance she was creating between them. When she followed his gaze though, it was on her arms.
He mashed his teeth together. “Why are you bruised?”
Serendipity was too afraid to lie. When I was brought here, one of the wolves gripped too hard. It doesn’t hurt.
Anger transformed the Prince’s face. She shuddered, suddenly scared for what would happen to Beckham. The guard seemed like a complete and total asshole, but no one deserved to be at the mercy of the man in front of her.
“They weren’t supposed to hurt you, Serendipity,” he told her darkly. She could hear how badly he wanted her to believe him. The conviction in his voice made it impossible not to.
Serendipity brought up trembling hands. Why am I here? Have I done something wrong?
“You are not in trouble. I’m sorry for the way that I brought you here, but I couldn’t wait for another second to see you and know you were real,” he explained, his face one of upmost sincerity.
Serendipity grew even more frustrated. I don’t understand.
The prince sighed and waltzed towards her once again. She jumped back faster this time, prepared for his antics. She couldn’t think clearly when she was close to him. He had a way of jerking all thoughts that made sense from her brain.
Please, no closer, she signed desperately.
He faltered in his advance before holding his hands out in front of himself as if to offer peace between them. His forehead creased down in a frown. She had the urge to smooth out those little lines.
“I won’t hurt you,” he swore. He swallowed hard and struggled with his words before he settled on something. His voice low, he whispered, “I just want to be close to you.”
Serendipity wanted that too.
No, no she didn’t, Serendipity thought to chastise herself.
I don’t know you and you’re- Serendipity stopped signing, her hands not knowing which words to form. A wolf, a Greek god, a monster unleashed upon this earth, the sexiest man she had ever seen in her life. Any of those descriptive phrases would work. She saw his eyes soften.
Miraculously, he backed away from her and found a couch to sit down on. “Let’s start over then. My name is Dominic and I’d very much like to get to know you.”
He motioned towards a couch that sat across from him.
Serendipity stood still a moment. This was a dangerous man. He was a man that had killed thousands of humans without a care in the world. He was someone who, with a flick of his wrist, could snap her neck a thousand times over and not think twice about it. It would be stupid for her to engage in any kind of conversation with him.
She took a large gulp of breath and tried to steady her nerves before walking towards the lounge chair. She sat across from him and waited for him to spark up the conversation. She didn’t trust herself to do so. The fire crackled in the silence before Prince Dominic began to speak.
“I think it’s time we talk about why you’re here, Serendipity.”
She grew nervous as she waited for him to explain himself. Her hands fumbled together and she bit her lip. This was it. She was going to know her fate and whether or not she would live to see another day. Her hands began to sweat and she rubbed them on her jeans, trying to make it less obvious.
“Calm down,” the Prince murmured. “I can hear your heartbeat and it’s racing.”
She had worked herself up into a panic again. What was new? She took a deep breath and tried to do as he instructed.
I don’t understand what’s happening. Serendipity signed. She was tired of beating around the bush about her fate. The suspense was killing her.
“This would be much easier if you were a wolf. You’d know exactly what was happening and why,” the Prince leaned forward, gauging her reaction.
There was no hint of malice in his words, but Serendipity couldn’t help but feel the sentence stab into her like a red-hot knife. Hurt dispersed through her. She hadn’t asked to be abducted.
She bought her hands up quickly, a surge of anger making her a little bit braver. I can’t change into whatever it is you want me to be.
The Prince’s expression changed to one of humor and Serendipity slunk further into the cushions of the couch.
“I didn’t mean to offend you. This is-,” he paused, “-hard for me too, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.” The sincerity etched into his voice surprised her.
What am I not putting together? Serendipity asked. He was trying to have a conversation with her about something she wasn’t aware of.
The look he gave her then was one that sent heat spiraling down into the pit of her stomach. She never knew that gaze could hold such... intimacy. His eyes looked hungry but there was something else hidden in their depths. The wolf looked at her as if she hung the stars and the moon in the sky as if she was the very air he depended on to survive. It should have made her feel uncomfortable, but instead, it made her feel special. It made her feel wanted. That was something she hadn’t experienced in a long time.
“When I was younger, my mom sat me down and told me a story. It was about a wolf. This wolf ruled over all of the others. He was the Alpha, a strong and courageous leader that looked over and protected his people. Though seeing his people happy and cared for made the Alpha proud, he was extremely lonely,” the prince explained.
Serendipity’s eyebrows raised in disbelief. Was he telling her a bedtime story?
The prince continued, paying Serendipity no mind. “The moon Goddess saw how sad the Alpha was. He had worked hard for a very long time and brought peace to the land so the Goddess decided that it was time that he have something that was his in every way,” the prince reached across the table for her hand. She looked down at his palm before taking it hesitantly. The warmth and comfort that she received from the slight gesture made her wonder what it would be like to have his arms wrapped around her. She’d be tucked safely into him.
“So, the Goddess sent the Alpha a beautiful girl. She was full of light and the light was blinding enough to conquer his growing darkness. She was his mate and with her, by his side, he would no longer be alone,” Prince Dominic rubbed his fingers over her knuckles. Her free hand grabbed the hem of her shirt and twisted up in it before gripping it hard.
A mate, Serendipity thought. Her eyes narrowed in concentration. A perfect match.
She looked up at him and surprise colored her face as she snatched her hand back. There has been some kind of mistake, she signed before standing. Am I being detained?
He stood, towering over her. “No, you’re not being detained.”
Am I free to leave? she asked, edging closer to the door.
He didn’t follow her this time, his eyes flickering between gold and brown as he stood there, his stance looking every bit as uncertain as he did. Finally, the shocking gold won out over the brown and a growl escaped his throat.
“No, you aren’t to leave the premises.”
She paused, her hands making contact with the handle of the door. She let the handle go to sign one word.
The prince walked towards her again and she panicked. Stay away. I can’t think clearly when you’re near me. Please answer me. Why?
She already knew the answer. His eyes desperately searched hers for acceptance.
“Serendipity, you’re my mate.”
There was no hesitation in his voice and no room for argument. It was just a fact. She felt the resolve in his tone. She couldn’t be- no, it just wasn’t possible. She focused her attention back on him. His face, usually one of harshness, seemed to have softened.
“Serendipity, I don’t know what you’ve heard, but please let me explain. I’m not-”
No! I know what your kind has done to me and my kind. Now you want to tell me that you have some kind of claim on me- to me. The raw rage blistering through her made her fumble and she could tell he was having a hard time making most of the words out.
Tears prickled her eyes as her hand clumsily found the handle of the door before she yanked it open. She whirled around and shoved past two wolves who had been guarding the doors. It didn’t matter what she had to do or where she had to go, but she wasn’t going to allow herself to be tied to a monster.