"You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated,"
My damp hair trickles down my spine, the cool water doing nothing to awaken my numb body. I don't know how long it's been since I got here, hours-maybe even a day. Time tends to move slowly when you're empty inside, the hollowed carcass of your body can't register anything much less the ticking of minutes. I must've scrubbed myself in the tub for an hour at least, putting all of my strength into getting her blood from my stained skin.
Turning over my hand I can still see the pinkish tinge left from my intense cleaning. It took a lot for them to even get me into the tub, the dismantled room around me evidence enough of that. The second they put me here I lost control, smashing the lamp on the side table and tearing down the hanging artworks-ripping the place to shreds. They came back in eventually and forced me to get in the bathroom to clean myself and get out of the stained ball dress before bundling it up and taking it away with the necklace and any object from the room that wasn't tied down or too heavy to throw.
They cleaned it up well enough and I am glad they took anything that could remind me of where I am, the room now reduced to its skeleton with only a bed and an empty bookcase next to a plush chair. The clothes I was given once I'd calmed were a single set of grey sweats with simple black undergarments. The familiar colour cotton gave me more comfort than I thought it would- at this point I'll take anything to push my mind out of here and back to simpler times.
Not a single tear has slipped from my sockets since being thrown in here and now I sit on the floor furthest from the bed underneath the discoloured square on the wall where a picture once hung. I'm empty. My mind won't turn off, the only way for me to subdue the pain and get tonights events to lull is by thinking of nothing and only nothing. Which is impossible. All I can focus on is Lucy's limp body and the blood pouring from her stomach as her life drained in front of my eyes. And Wren-that cold stare-void of any remorse or regret as she let a child bleed to death for a cause that any trust I once had in is now reduced to mere fragments.
After Roman got there he had his guards pull her body away from me, telling them to take her to the infirmary immediately even though I knew no amount of surgery could bring a dead girl back to life, not after the amount of blood she lost. His blue eyes didn't stray from mine once as we stood in a silent standoff, I didn't break contact this time. Not because I felt like challenging him but for the opposite reason entirely. The way he stared at me-refusing to look away-was out of fear, fear that I would somehow escape his grasp if he left me unwatched for a second. There were a million emotions swirling beneath his blue orbs but the most obvious ones were hurt and anger. Two feelings that don't mix well with any regular person, much less a murderous tyrant.
I waited on that cold kitchen floor, staring up at my captor, for what felt like hours until finally, with the smallest nod of his head, his men pounded on me and restrained my arms in their firm grips. When I looked back from the wolves who were holding onto me Roman had left without a single spoken word directly to me. It was then that I knew without any doubt that I couldn't play this off as anything other than what it was.
I didn't fight them off, not as they dragged me through bare hallways, twenty fully grown warrior wolves flanking my sides. There was no use in trying to talk to them, their steely faces told me that they were never going to so much as look at me in a compromising way. We travelled up the large staircase in the Alpha's quarters and I waited for them to take me back down that dreaded hallway, lined with the past leaders of the pack and into the room that I'd never get out of again.
They didn't however. They took me, confused in my compliant state and brought me down an adjoining hallway into this room I'm sat in now. There are no windows, no handles on my side of the door, no weapons that I can grab. My goal has been achieved-he knows that- Oliver is out and free from living life as a bargaining chip and now I've got nothing to lose.
He hasn't come yet and I hope that he never does. I hope he leaves me in my new cell and never talks to me ever again. But still, I think the silence scares me more than anything, like the calm before the storm, the eerie cries of animals before a natural disaster. Maybe it would be easier if I just let him get his anger and frustration out of the way instead of it bubbling up over time; but even then, I'm not exactly in the position to let him do anything. Any cards I once held have been exposed and the idea that I still have control is nothing short of insane.
I wonder if he'll ever let me leave this room again. His father was right in warning him against me and so maybe the agenda he pushed will be considered by my mate. I can only imagine that Marcus would be feeling pretty smug right about now.
I lean into my hands and let out a shaky sigh, clenching my eyes closed before laying down onto my side and curling into a foetal position. As soon as I awaken I know I need to pull it together, I made a promise to Ollie that I would find a way to get out of here and although I don't see it happening for quite some time I need to retain faith. I'll take this time to regain my strength and try figure out how the hell I'm going to get out of this mess tomorrow.
I wake up under silky sheets. My hands glide across the smooth fabric and I still before turning onto my side and peeking out through my lashes. I see Romans shoes in the corner containing the chair and I know that he is sitting there, part of me knew he was here before I woke up. I close my eyes again and pretend to fall back asleep but I can feel my heart bang violently against my chest and I know he can hear it too.
"Maeve," His voice is strained and scratchy but still scares me to no end.
"What do you want?" I rasped, my throat dry like I had just eaten a spoonful of flour.
"I want to talk to you," he says back nonchalantly, as if we are going to discuss the whether.
I gulp thickly, my throat bobbing and I slowly sit up on the bed, tucking my hands underneath the covers once it becomes clear that they won't stop shaking. Shame fills me and I don't know why, it's like when you're a child and somebody tells you off for doing something you don't regret, you still feel bad about it. I don't glance up at him, my eyes stay trained on the bed because if I look up I know I won't like what I see.
"What is there to talk about?" I ask.
"How long?" He cuts in quickly, not bothering to indulge in building anything up, "how long have you been planning this Maeve?"
I don't answer him even though I know it will only infuriate him more. There is no answer that he'll like so its easier give him none.
"Was any of it real? You said that you were going to try and yet you've been lying to me this entire time; scheming behind my back! Goddess, if you weren't my mate you'd be hanged for this," his voice rises but his words only make me feel depleted. It was a stretch to presume he'd give me the mercy of death. The vehemence of his words show that he isn't simply peeved at my attempt-he is incensed.
"How could you do this? I was trying to make things better for you. And this is how you repay me? What were you thinking!" He yells and I can't hold back any longer.
"I never said that I wouldn't try to leave," I snap back, bringing up my gaze to stare directly into his blue orbs, "You were just deluded enough to think that I had actually accepted this. Why on earth would I want to stay with you. I hate you," I spit, moving the covers to stand up beside the bed.
"You have some nerve, I've always admired it but now I'm not too sure. Those people you sided with against me were evil, whatever promises they put in your head that you were stupid enough to believe were false,"
"More false than this stupid bond mantra you have literally forced down my throat?" I let out a sarcastic laugh, "I don't give a shit anymore, Roman, I'm willing to side with virtually anyone that's against you at this point,"
His jaw hardens and I can see the frustration that is swirling in his eyes.
"What did you think was going to happen when you got there? I'm very curious to know what promises they made Maeve, so go on, indulge me," he says and I open my mouth to respond but no words come out, truth is they didn't promise me anything.
"You would have died, Maeve. So would I, without our bond being fulfilled you would have gone stir crazy before your body started failing you and the same thing would have happened to me. They didn't want you there for any other reason than to use you to weaken me and stop an heir being born into the pack," he says and I am taken aback, my body rejecting his idea.
"Stop lying, Roman. You're only saying that so that I'm too scared to leave," I respond and he lets out a slow, frustrated breath.
"I'm not lying to you. This bond we have is real, I have said countless times that this is something that you and I don't get a choice in and that is the truth. When you and your little lover boy started making out, I felt that. My heart started twisting and my lips burned and I know you felt repulsed at the idea too, there is no point lying," he states and I narrow my eyes, but my mind becomes even more befuddled.
"Bullshit," I remark but my voice doesn't hold an ounce of certainty.
"I thought you might say that," he turns around and knocks on the door and a second later a young woman walks in, the smirk on her face pointed directly at me. Already I can feel my heart begin to clench. She looks gorgeous, a tight black dress hugging her perfect curves in all the right places, her blond hair cascading over her shoulders.
"Maeve, dear, I would like you to meet an old friend of mine," he says but I just fold my arms defiantly and glare at him.
"You think I care if you get with someone else? Be my guest," I spit back but the lie that taints my tongue burns. His eyes harden with rage and I know that my answer displeases him.
"Fine," he quips back before turning around and smashing his lips against hers.
It feels like my chest has been set alight, the flames licking up at my tissue and burning down to the bone as he continues to kiss a more than happy she-wolf. I clutch at my heart and true to his word feel a sting on my lips, it's only once I have crashed to the ground onto my knees that he pulls back. A cold feeling sweeps through my body and extinguishes the pain in one fell swoop and I look down at the carpet, gasping for air as the bedroom door slams yet again.
"Now what do you think is going to happen if you run away?" He asks and I look up at him with fury in my eyes, my chest still rising up and down rapidly.
"What the fuck have you done to me?" I spit out, pushing my shaky self from the ground to stand back up.
"I haven't done anything. You seem to think that just because I am the one of us who believes in the goddess that this is all my fault. I never asked to be mated to you and I didn't create the effects of the bond," he shouts back and my heart rate picks up again.
"I don't want this," I reiterate because it is the truth, I want my husband and I want to be able to love him and not nearly kill myself because of it.
"You have made that pretty clear. I have tried to make this easy for you, I have tried so hard to change my ways and change myself but you won't meet me in the middle," he yells out but there is less anger and more frustration behind his words.
"Meet you in the middle? You are a fucking oppressive tyrant and you want me to change my ways? I don't want to be anything like you, I don't want anything to do with you and I don't care if I die because of it. I'd die a thousand deaths if it brought you and your fucked up nation to its knees,"
"Maybe if I'm so evil then you should watch your tongue. You may be my mate and I am willing to tolerate the things you say but to a degree, you are forgetting that I am half wolf," he seethes and I let out a scoff.
"Why? What are you going to do? Lock me in here forever?" I let my hands swing up to motion to his new cell but it doesn't provoke a response, "I don't care anymore Roman, if you are going to hole me up here as your sick little pet then fine, there is no need for any kind of discussion,"
"I don't want to lock you up here forever Maeve," his brows furrow and his voice turns softer as though my proposal was absurd, "I presumed that you wouldn't want to sleep in our room so I thought that putting you in here would be best for the time being,"
"You shouldn't be 'putting' me anywhere! I am not some China doll that you can just lock in a glass case whenever you want, I am a human being," I yell back and his jaw ticks.
"If I don't then you are going to do something that'll get us both killed! I am protecting you from making a stupid decision because as much as you don't want to believe it, I do care,"
"I don't want your protection, nor do I need it Roman!" I snap back and he looks at me incredulously.
"You would really rather die a slow and painful death than even consider that maybe this bond isn't the worst thing in the world?" He proceeds, eyes narrowed into thin slits.
"Yes," I say firmly and he lets out an animalistic growl.
"Why are you so stubborn! All I want is to fulfil my duties to the pack and make this world a better place and to do that I need you with me but you're being so selfish," he yells and I flinch which makes him calm down somewhat, "Clearly you aren't going to listen to me asking nicely so you leave me no other choice than to be harsh. I want my relationship with you to be different but I am an Alpha and my pack will always come first. Tomorrow, at the ceremony you are going to smile and put on a happy face and if you even dare think about pulling a stunt like tonight ever again then I swear to the goddess you will regret it," he seethes and I cower under his authority but my backbone isn't broken.
"You can't seriously be still going on with that? Accepting me will make you a laughing stock," I spit back but fear crawls up my spine at the thought he is actually going to follow through with this.
"Oh I'm serious alright. As far as the other packs are aware you were the subject to a kidnapping attempt and are lucky to have been able to alert a maid to get me to come and save you," he states condescendingly and I clench my jaw tightly, averting my gaze from his in defiance, "You have put me in quite the predicament I hope you know,"
My body begins to shake violently then, its as if a switch was flicked on inside my mind and now the only way for me to deal with the situation is shut down. My ankles feel as though they are going to shatter underneath me and I can tell from his powerful stare that he notices. Those thick bushy eyebrows furrow yet again and he takes a step closer to me but I stumble backwards into the wall, my hand slapping onto the hard surface to steady myself.
"S-stay away from me," I warn but his body inches slowly towards mine, "I mean it, stay away! I'm not going to do it Roman, forget it!" I squeal at him and his eyes return cold.
"Maeve, stop being ridiculous," his voice was filled with stubborn concern.
"If you come any closer I swear to god!" I yell at him loud enough for him to stop in his tracks, maybe a metre away from me.
"Maeve," he says gruffly- the warning clear.
"I know what you plan on doing to me," I blurt out and his brows furrow before the cogs in his mind turn like clockwork, triggering the sudden wave of realisation over his face.
"What exactly are you talking about Maeve?" He says with a disdainful glare.
"You're really gonna play dumb? They told me about the mark Roman!" His features harden and his muscles tense. "When were you going to inform me that you planned on sinking your fucking teeth into my flesh so you could install some voodoo magic tracing device into me? So you could rape me?" I yell with force, the shakes of fear that wrack my body now instead harnessed from my boiling anger.
His features morph into disgust, his lips reeling back and his face contorting in pain before he regains himself and stares at me with anger and heartache.
"Rape you? I already told you that I would never do such a thing, how could you think that?" He interrogates but I don't let his reaction waver me.
"How could I not?" I laugh sarcastically but my words are void of any humour, "So it's not true then? You weren't going to mark me without my consent, without letting me know prior to the ceremony?" He stares at me and opens his mouth to form a response but nothing comes out and finally the big bad wolf is silenced.
"I won't do it. I'll scream and kick and fight you off every step of the bloody way," I seethe out.
"I'm not going to rape you, Maeve. The fact that you can even suggest that after I told you about Diana is appalling," his words kick me in the gut, effectively winding me, "I planned on telling you about it but you never seemed ready and so I put it off, I was going to let you know I swear," he explains and I scoff.
"What? You were going to give me an hours notice? 'Oh by the way, I am going to bite you in front of hundreds, don't worry it'll be over quick'?" I mock and glare, "Wren told me about what the mark does, how it pushes you to consummate the bond and makes it so that you forever know where I am, trapping me with you forever. I don't want that, I don't want you to know where I am because unlike you, I don't have an army of werewolves to help me enforce my choice," I sneer and he furrows his brows.
"You are seriously going to believe Wren? I believe she is the woman who orchestrated this whole thing, threatening your life and-let's not forget-killing that young girl, whom you were very fond of," he yells out and it is my turn to look at him with bemusement.
"I don't know who to believe!" I yell in frustration, "just tell me then, tell me now what it is all about and put me out of my bloody misery,"
"The mark will seal our bond, yes, it means that if I wanted to find you then I could use the bond to track you down. It isn't like I will be aware of your coordinates twenty-four-seven. It won't make any difference to you because as you should know by now, escaping this palace isn't an option."
"And for the aspect of rape, Maeve, that is the most absurd thing I have ever heard of. The bite will only enhance what you already feel for a short period of time, a night-at most- because your body will be adjusting to the changes. As far as I can tell you hate me with a burning passion so that much will only get worse I'm afraid. I might have had a different response had I not realised your intentions but even then I planned on injecting myself with wolfsbane to dull any sort of instincts my wolf might've had. There are many couples who choose to consummate the bond on their marking night but many don't and many still survive it,"
"So I won't have to sleep with you then?" I spell out and he runs his hands down his face, letting out an exhausted breath.
"It still doesn't matter, it isn't fair that you should be able to keep tabs on my location and everything I do," I argue and he pinches the bridge of his nose.
"If it makes you happy whenever you want to know where I am, I'll be more than willing to tell you," he says.
"That's not the point. I don't want you to mark me," I say firmly.
"Goddess, Maeve, the only reason you don't want me to is so you can cling onto some false hope that you'll one day leave me and kill us both! This isn't something I want to do, this is what is best for millions of lives and you're just too selfish to see that!"
"Wolves lives, millions of wolves lives. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't care if your stupid system collapses," I spit back.
"I doubt that, Maeve, I really do. This system falls and it is taking away children, your friends little daughter will suffer, your brother and his new child will suffer, the humans will most definitely receive the worst suffering of all and for what? Your refusal to accept something that could give you a world of happiness?"
I look to the ground in shame, realising the prejudice of my words and tears slip from my eyes, "It's not fair, I don't want to be with you," I retaliate and he lets out another dry laugh.
"You have made that clear enough. I wanted this to be your choice, I wanted for you to see what's at stake and make a conscious decision for the greater good but if you're not willing to do that then I will choose for both of us. You don't have to love me, you don't even have to like me but you have to step into this role whether you like it or not," he informs me and there is something so unsettling about the way he has given up fighting for my affection because it means he isn't afraid to lose my acceptance to achieve his goals.
"I hate you, I wish that I'd never laid eyes on you," I respond, more for me than him- who doesn't so much as flinch.
"Eventually, someway, we would have met. I'll be sending the people to help you prepare for tonight once I've left. You will show up without a fight and you will comply with the aspects of the ceremony. This isn't up for debate," His voice is still sonorous despite the nature of his words holding malicious intent.
"You will drag me down kicking and screaming if that's what it takes to get me there but I will not show up on my on free will," I spit back and his eyes narrow.
"Oh yes you will, I won't hesitate to throw every plan I have made for your human development out the window if you don't. I don't want to do that but if you won't compromise then so be it," he says truthfully and I know that he will, his loyalty to his pack proves that.
"You are evil," I glare at him as if my vehement looks could manifest into a physical knife and stab him repeatedly. My looks of pure hate don't stab him however, and instead he simply smirks, his bright blue orbs twinkling. It sends fear racking down to my core, he looks so perfect, so in his element.
It unnerves me even more how handsome he looks, even if his smile is tainted with evil it still doesn't shy from the fact that he looks like a god delivered from the sky. Or more likely one that has fallen after a soft nudge from Jesus himself.
"Oh baby you have no idea how evil I can be," he cocks his head to the side and walks closer to me, the strength that I showcased squishing further like he is stomping it down with each step.
"And trust me," his chest pushes up against mine, evading any personal bubble space I once had and suddenly I don't feel ten foot tall and bulletproof any longer. His soft lips move next to my ear as he speaks lowly and full of certainty, "you don't want to find out,"
And just like that he puts an end to our argument, pushing off the wall behind me, stalking to the door with ease, like he didn't just threaten me a second ago. Before he can exit he stops by the door, his back muscles flexing even beneath the suit, each ripple of movement reminding me of his superior strength and how easy it would be for him to pin me up a wall whenever he so chooses. His head cocks to the side and loose black strands of hair fall over his side profile.
"Oh and darling?" He pauses for dramatic effect, ever the showman, "don't think that your actions will go unpunished, you're not getting away with a slap on the wrist this time,"
And with that, he walks out and slams the door.
The whole foreword was basically a a/n so if you didn't read that hen you can go back and do so :)
But also please please make sure to vote and comment your thoughts on the chapters as we continue through this journey!
soooo much love,
ps: *calling all ghost readers* even tho I wish you'd be known I still love you so mwah