I go to the safe room in the middle of the manor and wait for you, or Benjamin or Rylee to come get me, Serendipity signed.
Dominic plucked a treat from the container and lifted it to her mouth. She smiled before opening for it. The sweet taste of chocolate made her eyes roll into the back of her head and she could have moaned. She bit down into the candy-covered fruit and the flavor of a strawberry burst to life on her tongue. It had been so long since she had anything sweet.
When she was finished, she opened her eyes. Dominic was laid out beside her on her bed like some Greek god, holding the container of fruit. The notes that she had taken were spread out, along with a few books on Werewolves. He had brought them to her as she woke up, along with the promise of a prize if she studied with him. She had agreed. If she wanted to change anything about the way humans were being treated, then she needed to understand the inner workings of New Nation as well as werewolf culture.
Unfortunately, the only thing they had covered in the last hour was all about her safety and what she should do in case of an attack along with the layout of the manor. The Prince read to her and talked a bit about what he thought she should know if the book didn’t cover it. On more that one occasion, she had been distracted by the magnificence that was him, which led to the game they were currently playing: pay attention or no breakfast.
Dominic tossed a strawberry in his mouth before asking the next question. “How many guards must follow you if you decide to step even a foot out of the manor without me?”
Serendipity cursed herself. This would have been one of those things he mentioned when she had become mesmerized by his presence like some hormonal teenager. She bit her lip, thinking as hard as she could. When no answer came to mind, she guessed the number three, sticking up her fingers hesitantly.
She let out a breath of relief when her wolf stuck his hand inside the container. He brought it up to her mouth and she opened it, expecting it to land on her tongue. At the last second, the Prince snatched it back and ate it himself. He looked away with a knowing smirk playing at the edge of his lips. She smiled despite herself and once he finished his snack he let out a long laugh at her ‘furious’ expression.
She brought her hands up to sign before she could stop herself. Spoiled brat.
Not the slightest bit concerned with her teasing, he responded smugly. “The correct answer is four, little human. I’m starting to think you only heard half of what I said.”
She wasn’t going to correct him, but it had been way less than half. At some point, all she could focus on was his eyes. Those beautiful, deep brown, intimidating eyes. Then she had gotten caught up with his face structure. It was so unique. So strong. It was when her gaze caught his mouth and she began to imagine it doing things other than talking that she knew she had to pay attention, but he had already started his line of questioning by then.
She pushed herself closer to him, abandoning her criss-cross pose from beside him to spread her legs out. She leaned over so that her head was above his, her hand on his chest as she pushed him beneath her. She had never been so brazen in her life, but she knew what she wanted. She had a mission! He looked up at her, surprise written across his face as she lowered her self, even more, her arm stretching out. She could feel his breath hit her neck. Finally, her hand found it’s the target and she grabbed a strawberry from beside him before leaping up, glee written all over her face. His surprise turned to shock once she sat it in her mouth, her body back to the way they had been sitting before.
He sat up faster than her eyes could follow, his eyes flashing. She felt her heart drop to the pit of her stomach. Now that her wolf was sitting, she felt all of her bravery fade away. A low growl had her stomach tightening and she couldn’t figure out if it was because of her fear or because that sound did something else entirely to her. She wrung her hands together about to apologize, but before she got the chance he lunged! Serendipity’s back hit the pillows as he pushed against her and she found herself out of room to move.
She bit her lip and continued to bit down harder the closer his face leaned into hers. His eyes were completely yellow now. His growls grew so low that it sounded more like a purr. She finally let go of her lip, preparing herself for what was about to happen. She was going to have her first kiss. With a wolf, her mate. Her eyes closed and she swore she felt his lips graze hers.
Then, before anything else could happen, there was a loud knock at the door. She pulled herself out of the haze she was in and it appeared as though Dominic did too, his head turning to glare over his shoulder at the intrusion.
Dominic’s Gamma Rylee pushed his way through looking a bit disheveled. “Pardon the interruption, Alpha. We need you now.”
Dominic pulled his body away from hers and she watched as the two men just stared at each other for a moment, almost as if they were talking with their eyes. Dominic gave a quick nod and Rylee left the room just a fast as he had come in. Dominic turned to her with a stern expression. The air in the room felt like it grew a few degrees cooler.
“Listen to me carefully, Serendipity. You are to stay in this room. Someone is posted outside if you need anything. I’ll be back,” and just like that, without any other explanation, Dominic left in a tense rage.
It was only after he left the room that she realized how heavy her breathing had become. Her fingers rose to her lips and touched them lightly. She had almost kissed him. She hadn’t known the man for a week and she had almost locked lips without even realizing the gravity of the situation. The man was lethal! If he had pushed for more, she knew she would have given in. The fire between them burned too hot to allow for anything else. It seemed she forgot everything around him, even her morals.
After more than a few minutes of trying and failing to study the notes and books in front of her, she stood and stretched her legs. She walked towards the window, wanting to see how much the snow had melted. The temperature was unseasonably high for March. At first, the white of the snow calmed her. Then, she saw them.
The werewolves were in their animal forms. She had never seen two wolves training before, but she couldn’t imagine it being as rough and bloody as what she was seeing. A howl pierced the air so loud she could hear it inside of the manor and more wolves pounced at each other from the treeline. She saw men run out and try to calm the rowdy group of werewolves to no avail, most turning to join the fight after being smacked around.
A loud bang from outside her room followed by a yelp and the thundering of feet running down the stairs had her frozen terrified. She stood in the growing quiet, expecting a wolf to jump out at any moment. Never once had she been afraid of living inside the manor. She had never doubted Dominic’s ability to make sure no one could get to her. The sense of security that comforted her withing the walls of the manor disappeared at that moment though as she regressed into the frightened human she had been before Dominic.
After several more moments of nothing happening, Serendipity walked as softly as she could to the door. She pulled the handle gently, opening it a sliver. When she saw no one in the hallway, she opened the door completely. Something had to be very, very wrong. Dominic wouldn’t have left her with no guard. Her stomach twisted with nausea at the thought of going back into the room to wait around like a sitting duck. She had no protection there.
Her mind wandered to what Dominic told her about finding someone she could trust to get her back to him. Surely, Dominic would have left Benjamin or Rylee in the manor somewhere to watch over things. She stepped out of the protection of Dominic’s room and shut the door behind her. She still couldn’t hear anything. Nothing looked even the slightest bit out of place as she walked down the staircase and eventually out of the Prince’s tower.
The usually bustling hallways looked to be empty and she picked up her pace, hoping to run into someone soon that could tell her what was happening. If she were honest with herself, all she wanted to see was Dominic’s face. She wanted him to tell her everything was okay. She grew closer to the servants’ area and frowned. There was no sound coming from the kitchen. That part of the manor was never quiet. Several humans were always on duty, prepared to do whatever was asked of them at any time. She even pushed on one of the swinging doors to see if her mind was playing tricks on her, but found that there was indeed no one in sight.
She continued e ahead a few steps before the sound of vicious, gut-wrenching snarls met her ears. She couldn’t move for a few seconds, paralyzed from the waist down. It wasn’t until the sound of something large rushing down the adjacent hallway reached her ears that she started to panic. The thing was heading right for her. Serendipity looked for the closest door and ran towards it, the hair on the back of her neck standing to attention as she forced herself inside before turning and locking the only barrier between herself and the terror of outside.
The sound of paws scraping the floor outside as well as the occasional animalistic vocalization grew to it’s loudest point, right outside her before it passed. Serendipity released a breath she didn’t even know she had been holding before shutting her eyes in the dark hallway, tears beading up before she could stop them. She could feel herself shaking as her legs gave out and she slid to the floor in the little gap of space between her and the door.
Serendipity sat in shock and blinked her eyes in confusion. She was in the hallway Dominic had forbidden her from going into the day before, and she hadn’t even attempted to get there on purpose. It was almost as if fate had willed that she be back in this space. She had vowed to get to the bottom of whatever secret he was hiding in his basement, and she had every intention of still doing so. Now, the opportunity beckoned her fourth.
She stood, her hands gripping the cool stone walls to help her uneasy legs regain their balance. For a split second, she considered waiting there or leaving the hallway altogether. Before the idea could take root, her curiosity got the best of her and she took a couple of hesitant steps down into the dark abyss. The stairs seemed to lead straight down and then change directions, before repeating.
The shape of the walls began to change and grow more rugged before it all eventually jutted out in weird and off-kilter places. Some of the rock sides even looked sharp enough to do real damage were she to trip and fall for any reason. The dim lighting in the ceiling had long ago been replaced by torches and the stench of something horrible wafted it’s way up to Serendipity’s nose the further she walked down. She slowed her pace when she made it to the bottom. Another little hallway led her closer to the sound of a roaring fire. The temperature spiked heavily and she began to sweat within seconds.
The room she finally entered was dark enough to obstruct her view at first, but when her eyes did adjust they filled with tears. Cages lined the walls, some filled with soft, painful moaning and others with growling and howls She almost stepped back out of the room before anyone could make sight of her, but by the sound of two loud shouts and a catcall, it was too late for that.
Everything was tinted in the red and orange glow of a giant incinerator. She looked down at her feet suddenly, realizing for the first time that she was walking in something wet. She reached down and touched the bottom of her shoe. She lifted her fingers.
It was blood. The floor was soaked in blood.
Serendipity felt the color drain from her face when a cell she accidentally stepped too close to was banged against loudly. The ghastly sight of a deranged wolf charged at her from his side of the cell he was in. He looked sick, his eyes red and face sunk in. His body was naked and bruised. There was no trace of sanity anywhere in the man. She didn’t even think he saw her. She backed away quickly, her heart pounding so hard that she could hear it in her ears. She felt like she was going to empty the contents of her stomach onto the floor when she saw a pile of rotten meat sitting in the middle of the room. It took her a moment to realize that it was a body.
She couldn’t stop the onslaught of memories from her stay in the terribly managed slave camps. She woke up to a different friend dead every day it seemed and she had been starving at the time. She had wondered when it would be her time to go and if when she did if anyone would remember her fondly. She remembered each one of the girl’s names that she had been tasked with burying after she found them dead.
She fell to her knees, her body tipping over onto the nasty ground. Her only reprieve was that it was far enough away from all of the prisoners who were now shouting ugly and depraved things at her that they couldn’t get to her.
Hands pushed towards her out, fingers greedy as they curled together like claws as the prisoners all reached for her. She curled up, her hands going to rest over her ears. Her eyes clenched together. It felt like Serendipity was going crazy and she wished for a moment that she had died in one of the million ways she could have during the War. She would have even settled for dying in the car accident with her parents so that her brother could have gotten to live the life he wanted before things went to total shit. She rocked back and forth, her breath wheezing into and out of her lungs with shallower and shallower pulls.
She was insane. That was the only explanation for the angel of death that appeared in the form of the loudest roar she had ever heard. The sounds grew quieter, not altogether gone, and she felt herself be lifted into the clouds. There was warmth. Everything was dark and scary and she couldn’t trust anyone, but there was warmth somewhere. A little light that began to grow behind her eyelids.
The overwhelming sensations that had wracked her body began to fade ever so slightly as she became more aware of herself and that’s when she felt the hands that had grasped onto her body. She pushed out in a frightened haze, still not opening her eyes, and struggled with everything inside of her. She wasn’t going to be killed without fighting back. The blood in her head pulsed so hard she couldn’t hear anything but a faint roar. Large hands simply grabbed her wrists, pulling them together. She still didn’t stop moving her body, arching it up and kicking her legs out.
“-you’re breaking my heart, little human. You have to stop. I have you. You’re okay. Shh.”
The soothing voice broke through the haze of her mind. She struggled to remember who it was. He was important, she knew that. There was something about the way the worlds curled around her and soothed her that made her realize that. A terrible, rattling sound was coming from somewhere and it took her a moment to understand that it was her.
“Look at me, Serendipity. You’re safe. Nothing can hurt you, baby.”
Her eyes relaxed when she felt fingers trace her forehead, following a few strands of hair to intertwine his fist into her scalp gently to help lift her and massage the area at the same time. She opened them slowly, terrified at what would await her when she did finally peer up into the unknown. A pair of yellow eyes met hers and a worried smile played over his lips.
“There you are, my mate. I’m here,” Dominic murmured.
She felt his bed underneath her, but couldn’t remember how she had gotten there. All she could remember was the smell of death and the faces of her now dead human friends. The face of her brother. Tears flowed down her cheeks as she silently wept. Dominic lowered himself beside her, his arms looping over the top of her. She felt his wolf’s familiar rumbling and her body began to ease, her grief and confusion melting away the longer she laid on top of him and cried. All the while, Dominic held her and called her sweet names, telling her how much he cared about her and how sorry he was for leaving her. When she came to a stop with a long sigh, she looked up at his weary face.
You’re a monster, aren’t you? she signed weakly.
He didn’t hesitate with his reply. “I’m worse than a monster, Serendipity. Unlike some kind of fictional beast, mine’s very real. And he’s a wild, unpredictable threat to everyone and everything but you. Never to you.”
Those men looked sick and crazy, she signed. She had never seen something so horrible and Dominic had put those people there. Did that make him evil? Did it make her evil because she cared for him?
“Some of them are rouges and others have gone insane with mating sickness. Humans occasionally go there if they do something bad enough. The prisoners locked up are there to protect everyone else, wolves and humans alike,” he explained as if it was no big deal.
Her forehead creased down in a large frown as she looked down at her body. She was in nothing but her bra and underwear. She clutched a pillow to her. It’s wrong to keep them in those conditions, Dominic. What happened to my clothes?
His expression hardened as he walked towards his closet and walked back with one of his large t-shirts. “You had blood all over your clothes so I stripped you before I laid you down. You haven’t lived in my world long enough to know what is necessary to keep a pack safe, but that place in the basement is one of those necessary things. You never should have been exposed to it.”
She took the shirt and put it on with a grateful expression. I shouldn’t have gone down there, she agreed. His expression darkened.
“Don’t speak of your disobedience unless you want me to throw you over my knee and spank you now,” he snarled. Her blood grew hot at the thought and she didn’t know whether to become embarrassed at her response or angry at how his words made her body feel. She guessed she felt both. Instead of lashing out, she just nodded against his chest and his hand ran down the length of her hair before pausing.
“Don’t be too relieved. Make no mistake, mate. We will be having that conversation as soon as you feel better.”
She could hear the anger in his voice and knew it was directed at her, but she could also hear something else that bothered her much more. It was disappointment. He had asked her to do one thing and she had given him her word that she would do as he said. Her heart hurt and as exhausted as she was, she wiped the salty stains off of her face and sat up so she could look at him. She had to make him understand.
I saw the wolves fighting outside and when I heard a wolf outside the room, I was scared, Dominic, she began to explain. He didn’t look moved by her plea but she continued anyway. Then I went looking for you, but I heard a wolf running through the hallways on the lower floor near me and the closest place to hide was the hallway.
He bared his teeth at her. “That doesn’t explain why you went down into the prison. You should have sat there and waited for me but you purposefully defied me. You could have been hurt! One wrong move, Serendipity, and I could have lost you forever.”
She realized how selfish she was being at that moment. She hadn’t even noticed his emotional state. He looked unhinged and shaky. He couldn’t even form words without his eyes flashing back and forth as he and his wolf fought for control. She felt the urge to cry again, but raised her hand instead, stroking the side of his face for the moment he needed to defeat his more primal side.
I’m sorry. I won’t do it again, she apologized. She didn’t know what else she could say. She laid back down in his arms. He didn’t say anything for a moment and she had to remember that he had the right to be mad at her. It would serve her right to be treated with silence.
She felt him sigh underneath her before kissing the crown of her head. “You were perfectly safe, Serendipity. There was no reason to leave this room. I asked you not to.” He swore under his breath squeezing her arms hard as if to make sure she was real when she leaned up again.
I heard a loud sound from outside and when I went to check, Beckham wasn’t there. I thought something happened to him, she explained.
Dominic shook his head. “You didn’t trust me to keep you safe. A couple of pack members got into a scuffle and chaos broke out. I mind linked with Beckham and ordered him down to me and sometimes the command can be strong enough to cause a wolf to change, especially when the Alpha makes the demand.”
She felt ashamed of herself. She thought he was hiding something from her, and in a way, he had been, but it wasn’t for selfish reasons. He hadn’t wanted her to experience the horrors that she had. She should have just listened to him. He had been nothing but nice to her. More than nice most of the time.
A knock at the door had her turning her body to roll off of him and after a second, Dominic let her go. She turned over so that she wasn’t facing him and scrunched her body up, curling around herself. She heard Dominic rise and the door open before listening to hushed whispers.
“Is she okay, Alpha?”
It was Lindsey. She didn’t turn to acknowledge her friend. She wasn’t finished hiding.
“She will be. Thank you,” she heard her wolf respond. The door clicked shut and he was over to her before she had time to sit up. He sat down beside her with a tray and handed Serendipity a steaming cup filled halfway.
“It’s tea. My mother used to make it for me at night to help me sleep. It’s all herbal and you need to rest for a bit. I hear you toss and turn at night and I don’t fare much better without you in my arms.”
She blushed and lifted it before sipping. The warm liquid rushed down her throat, helping some of the chills that had claimed her body. She sat it in between her legs so that she could sign. It’s good. What is the mind link?
He sat the tray on the floor before responding. “It’s a way wolves can telepathically communicate with each other. It’s very hard to explain, but it’s almost like having a harp in your head. If you pull at the right string or strings, you can send messages to whoever you need to within the pack.”
Serendipity looked at him skeptically. You can talk to wolves in your mind? You’re kind of like a superhero, you know that?
He smiled and shook his head. “This information is to be shared with no humans unless they wear the mark of a wolf. Not even Lindsey. It could put us in danger.”
She didn’t hesitate. I promise I won’t say anything. Can you speak with me through the mind link? She picked up her cup of tea again.
“When I mark you, I will get to speak with you and you will get to speak with me whenever you desire. There are some limitations, but-” Dominic stopped speaking at the look of total surprise written all over Serendipity’s face. The cup shook in her hand and she felt him take it from her, sitting it down. He reached for her but stopped.
I’ve had enough surprises for today, Dominic. I don’t think I can take any more, she begged. She would be able to speak. She would be able to speak.
She would be able to speak.
She had come to peace with the fact that she would never use her voice again. It had taken her some time, but Caleb had been right beside her the whole way. He learned sign language right alongside her and was the most patient big brother she could have asked for. To now be told that she could have the ability to speak, even if it was just to wolves through her mind, stunned her.
Serendipity had never felt so weak in her life. She couldn’t imagine what Dominic thought of her. Wolves valued strength, she knew that. She looked away from him, about to turn her body completely from his view when he just reached out, ignoring her protests, and gathered her to him, laying them down. Her silent sobs wracked her body harder in response but he just held her.
“I’ve been waiting for this to happen, baby. You’re so good at repressing things that you don’t take the time to deal with them and it builds up until it all overflows. Your life has changed so much. It’s okay to mourn to what you’ve lost,” he comforted softly, rubbing her back.
“You’re so courageous all the time. It’s okay to let go and be weak for a moment. I’ll be you’re your strength.”
She let go. She cried for her life before the war. She cried for her parents, and her brother. She cried for everyone she lost after the war. She cried for her tiny little apartment that she kind of missed. She cried at the unfairness of getting tied to a monster. She cried about the guilt she carried around with her for being happy around her sworn enemy. She cried because it felt good to cry!
She didn’t know if she stopped because she ran out of tears or because she was exhausted, but when she did, she felt Dominic lay her down and get up before returning with a rag to wipe her face with and a new shirt that wasn’t soaked from her emotional breakdown. He picked her body up and she tensed.
Can I take a nap in here? I don’t want to be alone, she asked nervously. He didn’t answer her, but she soon realized he had picked her up to lay down himself. She settled in his arms as they got comfortable.
“I don’t think I could let you go right now even if you wanted me to, little human. Close your eyes for a while.” She closed them as he said, listening to his heartbeat.
Her mind wandered even as hard as she tried to calm it. She would close her eyes and almost be asleep before the sight of the dead body made her remember all of the ones from her past. She would jerk out, her breath gone and heart stuttering. Dominic would soother her, wrap her up a bit tighter in the blanket, tuck her head a bit closer to his heart, and the cycle would repeat.
Eventually, when her body became too exhausted to react anymore, she fell into darkness.