Rising Embers (Book II of the Flame Trilogy)

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Summary

Though separated, the fight continues. Dimitri Romanov must now carry the fate of his species. Now with his mate gone he will do anything if it means he can see her again, but with more than just their love at risk Dimitri will be pushed to his limits. Everything is at stake, but will he be able to convince those of his kind to stand up and protect their world, or will they all be doomed to fall at the hands of destruction? Arashi Hajime now deep within Shadow Fang territory, must trust in her mate. The stakes are high, and a war will not be won on their own but with still so many questions unanswered, and enemies all around, she is walking a path as treacherous as a double edged sword. Stuck at the heart of chaos, will she be able to meet her goal or will she fall prey to the darkness around her? To love is to fight, to feel is to sacrifice, to fall is to stand. Arashi and Dimitri will learn that love is a perilous road.... But how much is it worth?

Genre:
Fantasy / Romance
Author:
Bernie R. Jones
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
17
Rating:
5.0 3 reviews
Age Rating:
18+

1

Arashi

My arms burn, like they are going to fall off; they have been hung above my head for at least 2 days. I lost track between the pain and the passing out.

The wounds littering my body brings a new meaning to the word pain. Every time my ripped flesh would heal, new stabs and slashes are added to the collection. I’m certain that Aleksandr has punctured an organ or two, considering I’m struggling to breathe but it’s a small problem in comparison to the rest of pain flooding my body.

Aleksandr is definitely having a world of fun hearing me scream, I could see the delight on his fucking sick face. Part of me wonders if he delights in just causing pain, he would pause his questioning to abuse me more. I know that I have to take it, to actively prolong this torture; I can’t have him thinking that I’ve gone soft, but I know I also can’t have him know that I’ve betrayed him either.

It takes everything within me to submit to him when all I want is to rip his goddamn throat out.

“I’m getting tired of asking. Why the fuck were did you leave? What were you doing there?!”

Another lash of the whip sears into my skin, I feel it wrap around my side. The leather cuts so deep it sends me swinging, gasping for breath through the blinding pain. Through blurry, disoriented eyes, I barely register the sight of my rib poking through my mangled flesh. I grit my teeth to prevent any cries from my lips, I will not give him the satisfaction. My panting grows heavier as I try to breathe through the pain; I have faced worse than this.

“Fucking answer me, bitch!” He screams into my face.

I’m still trying to catch my breath, my cracked lips literally aching with the effort to use them.

“I-I... I’m s-s-sorry... ma-master.” I manage to rasp out. Goddess, I want to punch him. “P-p-please.”

“Not. Good. Enough.” He spits in my face, “And you fucking know it.”

He gestures to someone on the side, who dutifully walks over to me with a large bucket before tipping its contents over my battered and broken body.

Ice cold, salt water.

My entire body contorts in a violent spasm, I can’t help but let a scream rip from my throat. It’s like fire and ice, burning and freezing all at the same time. I’ve never known pain like this before. I almost want to plead for my life.

“I-I went for y-y-you.” I manage to croak. “To m-make su-re t-they di-dn’t know.”

“What are you talking about!” He bellow. Of course all he would think of is saving his own skin.

“L-let me go.” I grunt first.

He’s taught us well enough to know that information is currency, and there is no way I’m giving him anything whilst I’m in a vulnerable state. He looks at me with a vicious glare; I guess sometimes he hates that I’ve picked up some of his cunning tricks.

“Cut her loose. Clean her up.”

When my arms are finally unchained I fall to the floor. I can’t move; my arms hang limply at my sides, my legs curled beneath me. My entire body shakes with uncontrollable spasms and shakes as I collapse into a naked pile on the grimy, cold concrete floor. My whole body searing in protest with the movement; the broken skin that touches the dirty ground burning and oozing worse than before. I don’t even think that I can walk, my legs not strong enough to hold my weight.

I feel pathetic, I don’t want Aleksandr to think that I’m weak. I want him to know what I’m capable of. I want him to know that the strength he cultivated in me, is what I used to destroy him with. When I kill him, and I will, he will know that I am a force to be reckoned with.

I grit my teeth, whether in pain or anger I’m not sure but it’s all I could do as my broken and battered body is carried to the infirmary by someone.

It’s really just another section of the basement with horrible iron framed beds that had hard mattresses. It’s damp and cold, with an overpowering musty smell; if I had any strength left in me I would have gagged.

They are in no means gentle as I’m thrown onto the bed. I hiss, a pathetic attempt for me to save face; in my current state I wouldn’t stand a chance against anyone here but I kept the façade anyway.

The person leaves me to lick my wounds and I’m thankful for the moment of privacy. A whimpering groan leaves me as I try to shift myself into a more comfortable position, not that it’s actually possible. I turn to my front, the already dirty mattress below me staining dark red- almost black- with my blood.

“You’re lucky. I thought he would’ve done a hell of a lot worse.” His voice rings out, ignoring me as I let out a growl. I relax slightly, realising who it is.

Zakhar crosses his arms as he eyes me in interest as he leans against the wall furthest from me; I hadn’t noticed him standing there- probably a mix of my pain induced state, and him being shrouded in darkness.

He looks the same as always, though much cleaner than the day that he had arrived at White Claw. His dark brown hair was combed back, and his green eyes spark as he looks over my dishevelled form.

“Is that supposed to be a comfort.” I don’t even bother turning to him, or hiding my annoyance as I grunt quietly. It’s barely above a whisper but I know that he can hear me. He is like me- like the rest this godforsaken pack, an abomination.

“Well, considering that you could’ve died, I guess it is.” He shrugs. He’s always like that, pretending to be nonchalant when really he’s burning on the inside.

Maybe that’s why we’re the way that we are when we’re together. We have a mutual understanding of hatred, for this place that we daren’t show and we could let it go around one another, with each other. I can’t count the amount of sleepless nights we had spent, fucking like we hated each other, just to try and let go of some of the agression.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t trust him not entirely. But I know in the very least that he won’t judge, or tell anyone, because I hold the same power against him; our relationship is a deadlocked stalemate that we decided to make the most out of. Perhaps in all that time I had come to see him as some kind of friend.

Being in the White Claw pack, with Dimitri, had opened my eyes to so much more than what I already thought I knew. I can see more than his hatred and anger now; I can see his pain, his fear of being here, and somewhere within me it resonates, because I feel it too.

I don’t pity him, I understand. Now more than ever since I’ve finally found something to fight for, something that I could lose.

I told Dimitri that it was up to him now, but that doesn’t have to mean that I can’t help at all. I’ve given him a fair warning but I want more than ever to do more for him. Perhaps I really am a fool.

“Please, we both know that he loves me too much.” I joke. It isn’t exactly the truth, but everyone knows that I’m a valuable asset; that won’t stop Aleksandr from killing me if he finds out what I’ve done, but he would at least hesitate.

“So, why did you really leave?” Zakhar stares at me, as if he’s hoping to look within me at my very soul to see the truth.

I look around the room with discrete caution; I may have some kind of twisted bond resembling trust for him, but I know better than to speak openly here of all places.

“You know how stuffy this place gets.” I joke, my eyes going to the ajar door. ‘The walls have ears’, I mouth.

He needs no other explanation, we both know where we are. He nods in understanding, throwing me a rag before placing a bowl of water on the table beside the bed and sitting beside me.

There is no doctor, you fend for yourself, so I’m more than grateful that he decides to assist me. Though I guess that’s more because of Aleksandr’s request than anything else. Nobody wants to end up on that man’s bad side, my mangled body is a testimony to why.

I’m going to have to go top up my ink to hide the new scars. Goddess knows how Dimitri would react if he saw my current state.

Dimitri.

It hurts to think about him, but I do it anyway. I don’t want to forget again, all the things that I’ve learnt, all the things that I’ve become. I would not allow it to be erased so easily.

I hiss in pain as he touches one of the nastier wounds on my back. The room is mostly quiet, save my grunting and hissing, whilst he helps to clean me up, even having to stitch up some of the worse wounds. It’s obvious that we both have things that we want to say but we don’t- can’t.

I have to be absolutely sure before I say anything, otherwise things could easily fall apart and any hope I have of getting back on Aleksandr’s good side would be lost. I don’t really care if he likes me or not, but for survival purposes it’s probably in my best interest.

“If the Alpha doesn’t kill me, I’ll meet you tonight.” I murmur, just loud enough for him to hear. “I’ll tell you as much as I can.”

I don’t wait for his reply as I get up, preparing myself to see Aleksandr again. I’m still in pain with every breath that I take, the wounds which have started healing, protesting, some even reopening with my movement. But I have no choice but to move forward; Aleksandr is not a patient man.

“Where are you going? You’re still half dead.” Zakhar tries to push me back down on the bed, but I shove him off.

“I’ll be fully dead if I stay here too long.”

My mind races with each step. I only hope that Zoe would grant me some kind of excuse, something good so that I could fool Aleksandr with a lie.

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