Chapter 1: The Prison
Bright light jolts me awake. My eyes, raw from crying, struggle to adjust to the brightness.
I shake my head and labor to lift myself since my hands are still tied behind my back, and I manage to sit up against the wall.
I look through the bars and see Brad. I can’t help but sigh in relief at the familiar face. “Caelynn, what did you do?”
He opens the cell and walks in, untying my gag, wet from saliva and tears, and releases me from my handcuffs.
I whisper, my voice hoarse, “I’m sorry, Brad, I understand if you hate me.”
“Caelynn, you’re my best friend. I’ll never hate you. I’m pissed at you, you tried to kill my other best friend, but I can’t pretend I don’t see where you were coming from.”
I rub my wrists, the skin raw from the cuffs being on all night, shaking my head. “It’s much more complicated than that, Brad.”
He arches his eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
I tell him everything. About the plan, how my goal was to use Erik’s pack to help the Resistance, the phone call with my mother, and my confliction throughout our entire relationship.
Brad heaves a hand through his hair. “Holy fuck, Caelynn! You’ve been playing him this whole time? Playing me?”
“No, originally, I was just supposed to woo him into making me Luna and kill him as fast as possible. But I fell in love. I sought a peaceful solution, and I repeatedly tried to get him on board with helping us, but he refused. My mother told me if I didn’t get him on board or kill him, I would never be able to go back home or talk to her or my old friends again. If I didn’t kill him, I would be betraying them by not following through and picking his side. I’d be betraying my father’s memory.”
I bow my head. “I’ve been struggling with this for the past few months because I love him! Ultimately, I couldn’t do it.”
“Fuck! This is insane! Erik is a total mess right now.”
My heart clenches. “I can feel it.”
“Do you still love him?”
I nod frantically. “With all my heart! That’s why I couldn’t bring myself to do it.”
“Listen, Erik is going to come down to see you at some point today. He wants answers. You need to be honest with him, okay? Tell him everything about your father and the plan. That’s the only way you might save yourself from execution.”
“Execution? Is he… Is he genuinely considering that?”
“Do I need to explain the irony of you being shocked by that? And yes, it’s common practice to execute a person who unsuccessfully challenged the Alpha, which you did by trying to kill him. But, since you’re his mate and he loves you, he’s having a hard time deciding. It’s only a matter of time before people find out you’re here and figure out why, and they are going to call for your head.”
“Fuck! What has Erik been saying?”
“He’s heartbroken. He feels betrayed, and he’s furious, to put it lightly.”
I look up at my friend, my body aching for friendly contact. “Can I please have a hug?”
Brad softens, nodding. “Of course.”
He helps me to my feet, my knees shaking, and he pulls me into an embrace.
“I don’t condone what you tried to do, but I can empathize with it, Caelynn. I love you, and I’m going to do whatever I can to save your life.”
I press a kiss on his cheek. “Th-Thank you, Brad.”
Brad pulls away and says, “I-I’ve got to go. Javier just mindlinked me. I’ll find time to visit you throughout this. Good luck.”
He exits my cell, locking the door behind him, and leaves.
I walk to the elevated slab of concrete that is my bed and lie on my back, staring up at the gray ceiling, waiting for Erik to arrive.