You wake up with a groan. What’s happened? Where are you? Why are you so sore and wet? Why are you upside down? Slowly, it comes back to you in fragments: the attack on your village; the mad chase through the forest; the river, the mud, seeing the terrifying face of your predator for the first time; your capture. At a rush of horror, you try to pull yourself up but your body feels too heavy and your position doesn’t lend itself to any real movement.
You give a little whimper as you watch his feet stomp through the leaf litter. His hairy arse is right by your face. Your hair falls around you in a tangle. His arm is like a chain around your waist as he carries you like a sack over his shoulder. It’s dark now. Frogs croak. Crickets chirp. You can no longer hear the rushing stream. How long had you been unconscious? How far are you away from the village? Worse still—what terrible and disgusting things might he have done to you since you fainted?
Remembering how he licked you like a dog, you shiver.
Though he probably won’t understand you and it’s doubtless a big waste of time, there’s nothing else for it—you speak: ‘Let go.’
He gives a grunt and repositions you slightly but doesn’t answer.
‘I said, let go!’ Your voice rings through the forest. ‘Take me home! You have no right!’
No response. You try to raise yourself up again, only to slump back down. His feet crunch loudly through the leaves. How much longer before you arrive at your destination, wherever it is? How long before he steals your virtue and leaves you abandoned and pregnant in the forest like the unwilling mothers back in your village?
The thought sweeps away your fear and suddenly all you feel is rage. How dare he? How dare he! Your cheeks fill up with heat as the blood rushes to your face. The muscles in your thighs harden into rock as you prepare yourself.
He will not take you!
He continues his steady walk, completely oblivious to the danger. You don’t hesitate. The world lurches as he stumbles with a roar, but you don’t stop your attack, digging your fingers more deeply into his arsehole. You grimace. Your throat swells with vomit. This is certainly not how you thought you’d be spending your Thursday evening.
His grip loosens from around your waist and your eyes widen as the forest floor rushes to meet you. You land hard on your arms, tumble once, twice, then stagger to your feet. You try to get away but you’re weak and tired; the world tilts to the left and you follow it, crashing to the ground again. At a second roar, you scream in terror. His feet thud against the earth and before you can do anything but roll over, you’re back in his arms again.
He lifts you clean off your feet. The canopy arcs over your head as you scream, scrabbling at his long, muscular forearms. Then you’re back dangling over his shoulder. You almost weep in despair. Everything’s much the same as it was except that now he’s walking at a much faster pace, your heart’s thudding madly in your chest and your fingers stink like shit.
With nothing else for it, you reach for his backside again, only to snap your head up with a start as he smacks you on the arse. It’s more startling than painful. Did he really just do that? This man-beast? It doesn’t dissuade you; you reach out again.
‘Hey!’ you squawk as he smacks you again, harder this time.
He grunts something and gives you a little shake. You pause in surprise. Did he just speak? Did he just say ‘don’t’? Impossible. Males don’t speak. You’re making things up, seeing and hearing things that aren’t there to give you some hope; if you can speak with him, if he can understand you, then you can reason with him.
‘Let me go.’
You change tactics. ‘What’s your name?’
‘I can walk. I promise I won’t run if you just put me down.’
With a sigh of defeat you sag against him, gazing in a daze at his pumping arse and thudding feet and the rolling ground beneath. Your body aches. Your brain is tired.
He begins to slow and suddenly stops. Bending over, he eases you to your feet. You step back in surprise, quickly wrapping your arms around your breasts as you stare up at him. So he can understand you. His eyes gleam in the darkness. He looks as tired as you feel.
‘You can’t take me. You have no right.’
You swallow. ‘I know what you want but you can’t have it. I don’t want to mate with you and you can’t make me.’
His face is blank. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that he put you down when you asked him to. Maybe he doesn’t know what you’re saying at all.
At a sudden surge of desperate courage, you step towards him and touch his wrist. ’You won’t make me.’
He looks you in the eye. And for the first time you see that his eyes are hazel. You don’t know why that surprises you. Those hazel eyes drop from your gaze, looking over your body, and you know all is lost. Wrapping your arms more tightly around your breasts, you try to cross your legs in an attempt to conceal your lower parts—but all it does is put you off balance. You fling out your arms as you stagger, trying not to fall over like an idiot, and that’s when he grabs you, his big hand firm around your wrist.
‘Let go!’ you shriek.
You try to kick at his shins but all it does is make him angry. With a snarl, he wraps his arm around your waist and you realise he’s about to hoist you back over his shoulder.
‘Wait!’ you cry, throwing up your hands. ‘I’ll be good.’
He glares at you distrustfully, his arm still wrapped around your waist, his hips pressed up against yours. His groin is unexpectedly hot. You feel a sudden, hard twitch against your pelvis and don’t want to think about it. You wrinkle your nose at the smell of sweat and wet, unwashed hair. So much hair.
He frowns, pushing out his bottom lip. Releasing you, he grabs your wrist again and drags you after him as he continues with his journey.
‘Where you taking me?’ you say.
He grips you so hard your wrist burns in pain. You stagger after him, trying your best to keep up. Your wet shoes squelch against the moist earth, and you’re thankful for small mercies that he hasn’t torn them apart like the rest of your clothes. How he manages to walk barefoot upon the sharp and prickly forest floor confounds you.
You don’t know how long you’ve been walking for but it’s long enough that your eyes begin to droop and your legs ache. Your arm has gone completely numb in his careless grip. You begin to stumble more than walk. The only thing that stops you from dropping to the ground and falling asleep is the biting cold. Your skin is covered in goose bumps. You shiver and shake, your teeth chattering. Your feet feel frozen in their soaking socks.
It’s still dark by the time you reach your destination.
Blinking wearily, you hardly notice the little wooden shelter with the torn animal-hide for a wall, though you notice the pile of pelts quickly enough. They look so warm and soft and wonderful. He releases you, and without invitation, you stagger into the shelter, collapsing straight into their cosy embrace.
Your eyes slip shut and the darkness sweeps you away.