Prince Charming and Mental Breakdowns
Okay, so this place was nice. I couldn’t bring myself to give up the chance to have hot shower and clean clothes, but the Alpha calling this my “new lodgings” told me they didn’t plan on letting me leave- and that was nerve wracking. I felt like a fish out of water in this beautiful building. The room that the two men- Bryce and Soren- brought me to was large and spacious. The queen-sized brass bed was fitted with white linens and a light pink comforter. Everything was light- the walls, the furniture, the curtains and floors. The room looked empty and airy. A set of French doors led out to a simple balcony overlooking the city streets.
I looked out to the forest that was on the outskirts of my new prison. My body was itching to phase and tear through the woods. I was already missing the sound of the birds and squirrels rustling through the trees, the smell of pine and cedar, the feel of the earth beneath my paws.
I felt the fabric of the new clothes I was wearing. The pristine jeans and blouse were soft and cute but were too delicate for my taste. I had spent so long not worrying about how I looked, even seeing my reflection was a shock. I went to the excessively large bathroom and analyzed my face. My wet hair was plastered to my head, and I finally saw just how much I had grown. I wasn’t a chubby cheeked child anymore. My lips had filled out, my features became more defined and my body had matured into womanhood. It was like staring at a stranger.
I took the brush that was sitting on the perfectly organized countertop and started- painfully- pulling it through my hair. It was tedious and brutal, but after half an hour of yanking and untangling, my hair was halfway dry and knot-free. I tossed the brush- now full of my broken hair- onto the counter and walked back into the room to sit on the bed. It was too soft. I felt like I was sinking into a marshmallow.
“Goddess, how am I supposed to live here?” I grumbled to myself.
There was an abrupt knock on the door, and I caught the aroma of a familiar scent.
“Asenna?” Ryker asked through the door. “You in there?”
My eyes narrowed and my lips pulled back in an instinctual snarl. I stood and stormed to the door, flinging it open and meeting his eyes in defiance.
“What do you want?” I growled at him. The last thing I wanted was a spoiled, privileged Prince annoying me with his perfect, royal life.
His eyes widened slightly before narrowing into a glare. “You know, you could be a bit more appreciative. Most people don’t even get through the city gates.” I hated how deep and rich his voice was. It was harder to picture slashing my claws across his face when his voice sounded like honey.
But I managed to keep my voice icy cold. “I didn’t want to be here in the first place. I want to go home.”
“And where exactly is that?” Ryker asked with a smirk as he leaned against the door frame with his arms crossed.
My mind stalled and my brows furrowed. He had a point. Where did I have to go? I had no obligation, no responsibility, no family or pack to be a part of. There were dens and caves, but I hadn’t had a home in eight years. The heaviness of that realization was unsettling.
“That’s what I thought.” He said, but his voice wasn’t smug or taunting now- it was almost sympathetic. “Come on.”
“Where?” I was still skeptical, and I was not about to just waltz off with this dude.
He rolled his eyes and turned to walk away. “I just thought you’d be hungry.” Ryker called over his shoulder.
Food? I was sold.
Oh. My. Goddess. If the food was this good all the time, I might never leave this damn city. I was inhaling the chicken and pasta dish in front of me, not caring about the eyes that stared at me in revulsion. I’d been eating raw meat for so long I had forgotten the taste of real meals- and it was heavenly.
Ryker was sitting across from me, leaned back with his arms folded across his chest. One of his brows was raised and his face was a picture of curiosity and confusion. I sucked down the last bit of my pasta and set my fork on the empty plate in contentment. I met Ryker’s eyes and set my elbows on the table with a sigh.
“When was the last time you ate?” He asked.
“Yesterday.” I shrugged. He looked me over and I felt an annoying sense of embarrassment at how I must look to him.
“How long have you been on your own?” His voice was quiet, almost a whisper.
My eyes dropped to the table. My secret wasn’t my own anymore. The Alpha had told them what I was. It would probably get out to the whole pack soon. I didn’t know how much they knew though. Did they know about my pack’s lifestyle? Our training? Did they know who I was? They knew that my pack had been wiped out, but what else? Even I didn’t know the whole story about what had happened. It was quick, unexpected, an ambush.
“I think you already know the answer to that.” I stated simply.
He nodded slowly, letting his hair fall forward slightly. “Eight years since the Spartans disappeared.” Ryker whispered. I shot my eyes up at him with rage.
“They didn’t disappear. They’re dead.” My claws were fully out, digging into the table at the little restaurant we had visited. “All of them… dead.” I muttered as an afterthought.
“Not all of them.” He said as he sat forward.
I stood from the table and started walking out the door, hearing him tossing money on the table and jogging after me. I stepped out into the cool night and inhaled the smell of concrete, trash and wolves. I pushed through the groups of people walking by, leaving the restaurant behind. I could hear Ryker following me but wished desperately that he would let me leave.
“Asenna!” He called after me.
I didn’t want to hear my name. I didn’t want to think about my pack. I didn’t want to remember. My hands and nails were morphing and phasing, longing to fully become paws and claws.
I was running. Frantically turning down streets and alleys. I didn’t know this place; I didn’t know these paths. I was going in circles and my heart was racing with panic. My teeth were turning into canine fangs and I could feel the prickling of my pelt trying to come out. My wolf wanted to be free.
I was following Asenna down every path I could smell her. I had to hand it to her- the girl was fast. I had tried calling after her, but that only fueled her flight even more. I didn’t mean to make her upset, but geez, how was I supposed to get to know her if she refused to talk?
A howl pierced the night and I picked up my speed until I was sprinting toward the noise. We never shifted in the city limits- was she crazy? I suddenly realized what a stupid question that was. A wild she-wolf who’s been alone for as long as she has without any socialization. Craziness was an inevitability.
When I finally found her, she was doubled over, head clutched in her hands- paws? It was hard to tell with the way they were only half phased. She was growling and snarling faintly as her body swayed almost drunkenly. I edged up to her and placed a hand on her shoulder, and she about took my head off with her claws. I dodged her attack- barely- and the force she put into her swing tipped her over onto her back. She dropped like dead weight.
I caught sight of her blue eyes- glowing like lightning- and fangs peeking out from her full lips momentarily before they disappeared into her human features. Her eyes had slipped shut and her head lolled to the side limply. I leaned down and placed a hand on her cheek, made even paler by the moonlight. She must be exhausted. From what Larken had said, they’d been on the move all day.
I slid my arms beneath her and hoisted her up against my chest, making sure her head was supported by my shoulder. She was smaller than me, but the weight of her muscles didn’t make her feather light. I took the back alleys towards the manor to avoid curious onlookers on the main roads. I walked as quickly as I could manage, trying my best to keep her head from slinging backward.
I made it to the manor and up to her bedroom with its door slightly ajar. I pushed it open all the way with my foot and was shocked to see Larken laying on Asenna’s bed, sound asleep. I brought her passed out body to the other side of the bed and set her down gently, letting her sink into the mattress and pillows. I went to the other side and laid a hand on Larken’s shoulder to gently shake him awake.
“Hey, little man.” I whispered to him. His eyes opened slowly and looked up at me with sleepy confusion. “What are you doing in here?”
“I was looking for Asenna.” He said as he rubbed his eyes. “She left her bag in the woods, so I brought it back for her.” He pointed to the dirty, roughed up bag slumped on the floor by the closet. “Soren brought me here and let me wait.” Larken sat up and looked over to see Asenna’s sleeping figure next to him. “Ry, you’re not gonna hurt her, are you? She didn’t do anything wrong; I swear! I asked her to bring me here, it’s my fault she crossed the border.” His voice was quiet but filled with anxiety and urgency.
“We’re not going to hurt her, Larken.” I said. I rustled his hair and he offered me a small smile. “Come on, let’s give her the bed.” I moved over to an armchair in the corner of the room and took a seat with a heaving sigh. Larken followed and jumped up onto my lap like he was a toddler.
I’d been around Larken his whole life- he was like a little brother to me. His dad was our pack Beta, so our families were always close. He was always a shadow around me and the guys. If there was something interesting going on, you could bet your ass Larken was close by.
“So, she saved you from a hunter, huh?” I asked him. “How exactly did she find you?”
“She didn’t.” Larken said with a yawn. “I was just running and… I found her, I guess.”
I nodded my head and kept my eyes on the sleeping girl. “She’s not the nicest person in the world, is she?” I couldn’t hide the humor from my voice. She was a spitfire, a total wild card. She wasn’t someone who could be controlled or coerced- and I didn’t know if that fascinated or frightened me.
“No… but she’s good.” Larken said with a smile. He had such admiration in his eyes that I found myself wondering what he saw in Asenna. What side of herself had she shown him? If it was the rude, animalistic, self-centered side of her, then I would need to have a long talk with Larken about his judge of character.
“I think she’s really lonely.” He stated with a small, sad voice.
“What makes you think that?” I was honestly curious. Larken may be a kid, but he was also too smart for his own good.
He twisted his fingers together, obviously troubled. “She said her family was gone, that she’s by herself, but I don’t think she really likes being alone like she says she does.” He looked up at me with hope on his face. “Maybe we can be her family.”
I rubbed his back gently and looked back to Asenna. Her face was more relaxed now, softer than I had seen it earlier. She was strong, resourceful, and no doubt powerful- but what else was there to her?
“Yeah.” I whispered. “Maybe.”