Three knives, a butter knife and two chefs knives. A large knitting needle. A pair of scissors. Two bobby pins.
I lay on the mattress, my eyes staring straight at the ceiling veiled in the darkness night provided. I could hear Olivers deep breaths from his place on the ground, sometimes he’d shift and his breathing would halt, like he awoke for a moment before it resumed again.
It used to bring me comfort, waking up at night at feeling the heat of his body pressed against mine, listening to his laboured breaths as he recovered from a hard days work. Just knowing that he was still there beside me, that I wasn’t left alone in a cruel unforgiving world-that I had him to call on if I ever needed him. It was the most comforting thing in the whole wide world.
And now it just made me feel ill. I felt bad on the best of days, a constant sickness seeming to creep up on me as time ticked on but it hit worse at night while I was alone in a room with him. Sleep just brought about worse pain, the kind that had me curling into myself with no way to fix it.
So instead, I just lay awake, counting over the inventory that was stored along the room, underneath the very mattress I slept on, in a plastic bag in the cistern. I relayed it over and over and relished in the fraction of comfort it brought about.
I would follow the haphazard plan that was built, I would get to the end goal no matter the cost. The wolves I spent time with in the cells were right-if I truly wanted to help them, if I had any hope of seeing the werewolf race not come to harm then I had to get away from the hunters. And, without it needing to be said, I needed to get back to ensure that the humans won’t be the ones at the mercy of it all.
There is a way for coexisting and only one side sees it. That’s the side I’m going back to-not because I am completely devoted to their cause, there is still so much wrong with it, but because I can’t just give up so easily on the idea that humans can come out of their hardships without the bloodshed of wolves.
I anticipate the shrill beeps of Olivers alarm before they sound, my brain becoming accustom to the daily routine.
Oliver stirs in his bed, finally waking and I hear him let out a heavy sigh into his pillow. He’s never been one to want to wake up in the morning, it's something he’d always complain about. Military life he’d say, with that look on his face, one that told me I don’t ever want to consider it. He’d go on about many of his dislikes for it but the main point of contention was having to wake up early in the morning, every morning to train.
Anytime he came home he would sleep in to his hearts content. We’d spend days cuddled up in bed, watching movies and eating from a large stash of snacks.
It, unfortunately, didn’t get much better with the new world-having to wake up early to endure hard labour but he didn’t complain as much about it then. He said waking up early still genuinely sucked, but it also meant he could wake up to see me.
When he came home, when he slept soundly next to me-free from any pressure or alarms and we were just together-they were the some of best moments in my life. Nothing else mattered, everything seemed so perfect and right, I could see our future together, envision it like I held a crystal ball. I wanted him to be the father of my children, to have a house together and a life until we grew old and weary-I wanted all of that and more but now I will never have any of it.
It hurts my heart to even admit. To look at that wasted dream and those wasted years living a lie. To know that it was always destined to fail, no matter what.
Olivers phone starts to ring again, a sound I don’t anticipate. The disturbance in the norm makes me turn my head towards him, watching as he sits up and grabs his phone, pulling it to his ear immediately.
“Hello?” He asks, trying to keep his voice down before snapping his head towards me, as though he can feel my gaze.
He offers me a sleepy smile and mouths sorry. “Yes, she is,” he answers more casually this time, flicking his gaze my way. “Why’s that?” His brows furrow and I get the impression I’m not supposed to be listening to the conversation at hand.
“I thought this wasn’t supposed to come around for another couple weeks. She’s not ready,” he says and then stands up, slipping a shirt over his defined chest. He looks at me and brings his attention back to whoever is on the phone before walking to the door.
I’m about to intervene, the conversation clearly about me but he walks from the room before I get the chance.
I think about following him out for a moment but decide against it, getting ready for the day ahead instead. I shower, locking the bathroom door and changing myself there, checking my stash of supplies like I do everyday-tending to it as if it were a garden. I’ve only got one more thing to get, one more thing and then I can move forward with the plan.
But acquiring Olivers key card, an item I haven’t even seen yet might be more difficult than I think. I’ve seen flashes of a square card in his hands before but that could be anything. Some people walk with it on a lanyard around their necks, others pocket it but everyone must keep it somewhere. Oliver included.
I just need to get that. That’s all I need and then the rest will work out, but without it… I couldn’t even open the door to my damn room.
I shake my head, opening the bathroom door to find Oliver rise from the floor, both our beds made neatly.
“What was all that about?” I ask, nodding my head towards the corridor.
“You don’t have to go to the kitchens today, there’s been…” he purses his lips, struggling to decide how to phrase it-or whether or not to tell me. “There was an incident on last nights shift so you get today off. They asked if you wanted to switch into something else but I figured you’d like today to do what you want.”
“What kind of an incident?” I ask urgently, my brows furrowed. His jaw clenches as though he thought giving me a day off of my stupid forced routine would make me forget all about why.
Making me live out chores, calling it therapy and calling me damaged is punishment. I don’t know Arthur well enough but I know that he’s not the type to just stop punishing someone for no good reason.
‘It doesn’t really matter,” he says dismissively, waving his hand. I shoot him an unrelenting stare. “There was just some trouble in the kitchens, that’s all.”
“That’s not all,” I argue, quick with my rebuttal. “What kind of trouble?”
“Damn it, Mae you know I can’t tell you,” he snaps.
“Yes you can, you’re choosing not to.”
“I don’t get to make all the decisions around here you know. It’s not like I can just do whatever I please-” he stops himself, taking a deep breath. “Look I understand just as you do that it’s shitty to be left in the dark, to have people order you around and have little power against it. I’ve lived through it my entire life. I never wanted you to have to be apart of it but here we are.”
“Here we are,” I reply. “Now you are leaving me in the dark, ordering me around and have all the power over me you want. If you truly understood you’d do something, anything to change that fact.”
He shakes his head, raising his arms before letting them drop in surrender. “Yeah like what, Mae? There is no cure for a curse like mine, there’s no way out and there is no way to change any of it. If it were up to me things would be different.”
“Just tell me. Speak to me, Ollie,” my voice cracks slightly with the plea. It feels so similar, this exchange reminds me of what Roman used to be like, what the king is, what Arthur is. But it is also wholly unexpected coming from Oliver-despite the many, many lies he’s kept from me over the years. I never thought I’d have to beg him for decency.
I see a flash in his eyes and try to recover myself. “Just talk to me, help me out. I just want you on my side.”
Every single word is genuine but I’m also not foolish enough to miss my opportunity, to grasp that flash and use it.
“There was some inventory missing from the kitchens. Knives and whatnot.”
My gut sinks completely.
“Missing?” I ask, my facade adapting instantaneously like a built in defence mechanism. “Why is that an issue?”
He lets out a sigh. “Because someone took it on purpose,” he says, speaking like he knows he shouldn’t, guilt and wariness marring each word. I hope to hell hunters don’t have hearing like wolves but I do everything in my power to regulate my erratic heartbeat in case. He sighs heavily. “A human mate recovering actually.”
This is it, then. My eyes move towards the door, as if people are going to barge in and head straight for the cistern with my collected goods.
“They found them all stashed under her bed.” Relief washes over me and I have to remind myself to not let it show, not with those green eyes resting solely on mine. “Her name was Amara, we really thought that she was improving but the transition is harder for some than others. She wouldn’t say where the rest was but we figure she’s got it somewhere.”
“How is she here? If she doesn’t want to be I mean,” I ask, I remember seeing her, a tall woman with fiery red hair and true to Olivers beliefs she did seem normal, as though what they were enforcing actually worked.
“They found her in a mission a couple months ago, she had been mated for maybe six or seven years at that point-since before the takeover at least. It was enough time for her mate to be comfortable in letting her walk close enough to the packs border where they found her. They saw a mark, didn’t detect her as a wolf and liberated her then and there.”
“So you just took her too?” The question flies from my mouth before I can stop it and I see in the way his expression shift that he notices it.
“She’s been through a lot. She’s still recovering from her trauma and honestly it could take years for her to even be close to where she was before. You have to consider the fact that she was taken at a time before wolves made themselves known to humans, her capture was much more damaging. Its… look I’m not supposed to be telling you these things but I know you well enough to know you’re not going to do something reckless with the information.
No, I probably won’t use this information for anything here- I won’t jeopardise what I’ve worked towards like that and if this girl is going to take the blame for the items I’ve stolen long enough for me to get out of here-I’m shutting up. But I do plan to be reckless.
“Does anyone actually get any better?” I ask and his lack of an immediate answer tells me enough.
“We haven’t been doing it long enough for me to say.”
At least he’s honest.
“And what if I don’t get better? What if I get worse?” We both know I’m referring to the episodes that plague me at night, the terrors and pain inflicted by the bond.
I see hurt flash in his eyes. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you, Mae. You’re all I’ve got.”
I shake my head, erasing how his sincerity makes me feel. “So what do I do for the day then?” I ask.
He shrugs, a slight smile coming onto his face. “Well, for the most part, you get to hang out with me.”
It was an effort not to tear my eyes away from Olivers pocket throughout the day. We did, essentially, just hang out and it was nice.
We ate in the cafeteria, watched a movie in the recreation area, deserted due to everyone busy at work. We talked, mostly about before, and it was enjoyable. It didn’t feel the same just as nothing did anymore but I found myself actually smiling from time to time.
Without the hunters uniform, without our being at the base, in the organisation that he worked for-my enemies, it all might’ve felt somewhat normal.
I glance up from my book at Oliver, watching as he sifts through some papers in the small office we are located in. It was relatively secluded, honestly. When he asked if I wanted to accompany him here I expected us to go back to the main office where Arthur was but whilst we were in the general vicinity of it-we were also somewhat alone.
His office was a small crammed little room that could easily be mistaken for a janitors closet and all the occupied it was a desk, two chairs and some cabinets containing what I presume to be files. He’d given me a book which my nose was currently buried in, my eyes seemed to skim over the words but my mind was occupied on other things, on the card, the object I needed to get the most.
The object that sat discarded lazily in front of me on the desk, thrown over a pile of papers, nearly tucked away entirely by Oliver.
I snap my attention towards him immediately. “Hmm?” I pull my eyes back towards the book for a moment to seem actually invested in it.
“I’ve received an email from my father regarding you.” Once again, my gut twists and I don’t bother to divert my eyes from his. “He wants you to attend a meeting with him tonight, in an hour or two. After dinner.”
I can sense his wariness at my reaction. “About what?” I ask, tentative.
“He wants to talk with you, he didn’t go into much detail in his email but I believe he wants to start up the testing phase of your recovery. He usually likes to talk with the human mates before hand.”
“Testing phase?” I ask, my brows furrowed and he stills slightly but waves a hand.
“It’s nothing to worry about,” he says and my expression quickly changes from confused to angered. I close my book.
“Why is it every time you say that I feel like you are setting me up for something I should definitely worry about?” I ask, my tone serious enough for him to focus his attention on me and close his laptop.
He clenches his jaw, thinking. “It’s just standard protocol, nothing to worry about. All they’re going to do is take a couple blood samples, run some tests and check up on your overall health. That’s it.”
My mind cages in, to the point that it almost hurts as I think about the magnitude of his words-what they mean. Immediately I think of those pills, of the outcome not taking them might hold and its enough to make me want to vomit.
I haven’t shown any symptoms but it could be too early to tell on my own. I don’t know but I know its a possibility and if there is even the slightest chance of that being true… the last people I want to know are the hunters, let alone the first.
“No,” I announce. “I don’t want to do that.”
Oliver’s gaze hardens. “Mae you are going to be here quite some time, having a check up will occur eventually. Please don’t make this a big deal,” he says and I should listen. I should figure out how the fuck I’m going to evade this in silence but he’s struck a nerve that refuses to be ignored.
I rise from my seat.
“I do not want to have my damn blood taken like I’m some kind of lab rat. I don’t trust them enough for that.”
I stare at him as he scoffs. “At this point I don’t think you ever will trust us. You aren’t the same as you once were, every single word that comes from my mouth you question. Do you realise how much it hurts to see you like this? Completely convinced by a psychotic lunatic that only wants you for-” He stops himself in his rant, catching his voice begin to increase in volume.
“That’s because apparently every word I once believed was a lie.”
“According to who? I kept you from this life for the very reason you want to leave it now. I knew you would hate it, I knew if I told you then by hunters law I’d be forced to keep you at a place like this-secluded and hidden away in some bunker. I didn’t tell you the truth because I was ignorant enough to think I’d get out of it one day and it wouldn’t even matter. But they took over, took you, took absolutely everything from me-you hate me for lying Mae well so do I.” His voice cracks slightly and he stands from his desk, pushing it in and turning around to run his hands through his hair in frustration before looking at me in complete pain.
“I wish that I just blurted it out. I wish in the so many moments I had where I wanted to tell you that I just did and faced the consequences of you being here afterwards. The fact that I was dishonest haunts me every damn day of my life because it lead to me loosing the one thing I truly cared about. But I didn’t want to trap you then and I don’t want to trap you now, it’s unfair, it’s not right-the last thing I want to become is like them, any of them-but if I let you go back to that place I know for a fact you’ll never be free.”
I try to swallow down the knot of emotion that forms in my throat but I can’t. “You don’t get it, Ollie. No matter where I go in this world, who I’m with, I won’t be free of it. The bond isn’t something that can just be evaded.” My voice is just as broken as his.
“No, Mae,” he sighs, exasperated. “I refuse to believe that’s it, that there is nothing else to it. He’s told you that. That fucking asshole has fed you all the information that he wants to serve his own agenda and it makes me so mad.” His hands clench into fists, shaking with rage.
“Of course he’d make you think that you could never escape, that he’d hunt you down but where is he Mae? You’ve been here weeks and he hasn’t come knocking down the door, bursting in with all his armies and strength and power to take you back. Whatever threats he made to keep you in line were empty.”
I hate that we are talking about Roman. I hate it more than anything in the world. It clutches at my heart, squeezing it to the point of pain and there isn’t a thing I can do to change it. I don’t want to discuss him with Oliver and up until this point I haven’t had to-it was bound to occur eventually.
But his worst make my gut twist, so much so that I take a step away from the desk, stunned into silence.
He carries on riding his wave of truth, no doubt enjoying it if only slightly, and moves around the desk closer to me.
“Of course he’d convince you that I’m the villain in all this-that my hunter gene and my lies make me your enemy. Mae his purpose couldn’t be more clear. He wants you to distrust me and hate me and think of me with nothing but anger because deep down you love me-not from some bond or force compelling you to but because you choose to. You loved me more deeply, more intensely and more truthfully than you’ll ever love him because you did it in freedom and he won’t ever be able to strip that away-not truly.”
I meet his gaze once more then, my bottom lip quivering.
“You think I don’t know that?” I ask, wiping at the stray tear that runs down my face. “Do you realise how it hurts me to know that I won’t feel that way again-especially not for you? You might be right about some things Ollie but you’re not right about him. Roman wanted my feelings for you to erase, sure, it is in his very nature, but he accepted that they existed. Whatever emotions I have for you now I have made on my own.”
I could almost feel my words plunging into his heart, hitting him sharply.
“And what would those feelings be?” He asks.
“Everything you’d expect, Oliver. You treat me like I’m some mindless object, incapable of drawing my own conclusions, making up my own mind. I haven’t been brainwashed by anyone, I’m just not that scared shell of a girl you once knew. Experiencing everything I did at the hands of Roman was as bad as you imagine it to be but it didn’t wear me down and make me weak-that’s where you are so wrong. It made me realise just how strong I am, what I can actually achieve.”
It’s his turn to be stunned into silence.
“From where I stand, he accepts that and you-you only want to stand in my way.”
“I’m your husband, Mae.” I tear my gaze from him then, the reality of his words to much to bear but he doesn’t consider my reluctance and takes another step closer to me. “You are my wife. You’ve always been strong, you’ve always known it too-strong isn’t about just having ultimate power-it’s not. Strong is helping out wounded humans that have no access to anything, sneaking around in the dead of night even though you could be killed for it. Strong is going into the belly of the beast for medication despite knowing the risk. Strong is putting on a brave face, smiling each and every day for my brothers when they were too young and vulnerable to exist without it in the world we were thrust into. Strong is surviving in a world on your own, growing up with nothing and getting into a good school with a good scholarship and making a good life for yourself. You’ve been strong on your own all along and I’ve never doubted it, not when I saw you that first time in that book store so happy when all I’d seen for the last ten months were pain, not even now. You’re not weak at all, I don’t think that for a second. You’ve just forgotten.”
Tears stream down his face and he doesn’t bother to wipe them away, doesn’t care that he stands in front of me so vulnerable. Every memory he uttered brought with it another ounce of pain, another hint of hurt to his eyes until it encompassed him.
“You never needed him to make you realise anything-its always been in front of you, Mae. He is just one bad guy in a world of bad things no matter how much he wants to be more than that.”
I fold my arms across my chest, hugging myself to try cope with my pain. As true as it might be, as much as his words ricochet within me and leave their impact there is so much more to it he doesn’t know-can’t know.
“I can’t just be strong for me anymore though, I can’t use my strength merely for those around me when I have the opportunity to do so much more with it. And he’s not a bad guy, he’s done bad things just like you-like anyone, but that doesn’t make him a bad guy. What matters is that he is trying to change, what matters is that he sees the vision I hold for what could be and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get there. If you just listened, if you or any of the hunters just sat down in a room with him and talked about what could be you’d realise your on the same side, that this war doesn’t need to happen.”
“If I were to ever be in a room with that mutt I’d kill him.”
I could feel the anguish take over my features and every muscle in my body went tense, completely and utterly tense. “Don’t say that,” I whisper, it’s all I can manage, my head shaking from side to side as more tears well in my eyes.
“I would. If I see him so much s lay his hands on you again I’ll kill him, Mae. I don’t care what you say, what he’s made you feel-he would reverse every damned thing he’s done for humans in an instance if you weren’t in the picture. And if you never came along he would have kept oppressing them, us. Because that is who he is.”
“You don’t know him. He’s not, he’s not like that-don’t say that,” I tell him with more fervour, tears slipping down my cheeks as I run my hands through my hair. “He is my mate.”
He flinches at that but I needed to declare it, some part of me had to burst that out-make it known and it calmed me slightly.
“He is your abductor, he is your dictator, your assailant and your enemy whether you want to admit it or not. And your enemies, Mae, are mine.”
“You aren’t even listening to what I have to say-can’t you just see where I am coming from for once.”
“All I see is you.” He takes another step closer and I don’t retreat this time, whether its because I am shocked still or because I don’t view his advance as a threat I’m unsure.
“Every waking moment all I see is you and what he’s done to you, Mae.”
“What is it going to take for you to see that I’m not damaged? Why can’t you just look at me and see what I see? The true me.”
“Because you are different,” he says like the words are a struggle to get out, shaking his head. “Everything is different now.”
I didn’t realise our close proximity until his gloved hand rested upon my cheek, his thumb moving to wipe away a tear as his emerald eyes stared into men, during every inch of his soul into me through the gaze. I feel the thrum of pain from the bond begin to arise but I ignore it, allowing his affections to continue.
“I wish things weren’t so different. I just wish I could touch you, truly, hold you in my arms once more like I used to. I wish we were just us again for a single moment. I didn’t cherish it enough, didn’t cherish you enough and now you’re slipping, Mae. You’re slipping through my fingers and I can feel it.”
He gulps, his eyes looking to my lips, not with desire but something worse. Torment.
“I see it in your eyes when you look at me, I hear it in your voice when you speak, I notice it in the way you act-so different from before. You’re not mine anymore and it kills me. You belong to someone who doesn’t deserve you.”
His thumb wipes away the second tear that escapes and I look down briefly before meeting his gaze once more. “Maybe I don’t belong to anyone-not even myself.”
“To have and to hold.” He says our wedding vows with a slight scoff, his anguish still entirely present. “And now I’ll never be able to do either.”
His phone beeped then with a notification and it made pure panic ripple through me.
“Just please don’t make me go,” I rush out, placing my hand over his gloved one to keep him here close-away from that phone.
His eyes soften. “Mae-“
“Please.” If it we’re true... if they found out-Ollie found out. I gulp, suddenly felt queasy.
I can’t go to the check up. I can’t.
And I know exactly what that means, it means I have to finish my task and set the plan into action now-no matter if the timing isn’t ideal.
I need that card and the only way to get it is to tell him exactly what he wants to hear.
“Please, Ollie, just help me.”
I looked into his eyes then and rested my spare hand on the back of his neck, skin to skin.
I waited for the burning but it never came.
Not even a faint tingle arose and so I seized the opportunity. I leaned in, looking from his eyes to his lips and it was almost as if the bond knew that it had to simmer down then, allow me the action of planting my lips on his for the sake of everything. It let my body move closer into his touch as he deepened the kiss with no outbursts of pain to follow. It let me mould back into my husbands touch though the kiss wasn’t the same-at least not for me.
His lips didn’t fit mine in the way I’d grown used to a a kiss doing so. His hands that tightened around my waist before sliding around to hug me completely felt foreign in and unwelcome. That rush of pure adrenaline that once coursed through my veins, rocketing to my core at Romans mere touch wasn’t there.
Nothing was the same.
I both hated the fact and appreciated it because it made sliding one hand to the back of his neck, drawing him closer whilst another moved towards the desk behind him easier. It made picking it up and sliding it underneath the sleeve of my jumper more bearable.
And when I finally did turn away, my facade riddled with guilt and shame, I realised just how real it was all becoming.
I realised that now I needed to get back in those cells.
This chapter made me feel so many emotions my GOD.
I should just pre-write a formal apology for my terrible updating schedule at this point honestly but in the hopes I won’t have to-again I’m sorry. Things have just been reallyyyyy hectic in my life atm- I mean really I think there’s been so much drama going on that there’s none left for me to write lmao
But aside from all that, I am going to soon be going on a bit of an adventure soon across state borders so I will hopefully have some time to write and be creative!!!
Don’t forget to vote/comment/follow :)