Like the pessimist that he had turned her into, she couldn’t help but wonder how long this sweet act would last.
Thea and Orpheus had spent the last half hour grocery shopping and picking out food to fill his kitchen with, almost as if they were a happy, normal couple even though that couldn’t be further from the truth. The whole time, he had been polite and helpful, pushing the trolley and grabbing things from the top shelf where she couldn’t quite reach.
Since Orpheus had a track record of only being able to keep up the nice façade for a limited time, she wondered how long he would be able to keep it up this time.
The fact that this was all that she could think about just made it worse, even more so when he held the front door as well as the car door open for her. In the little time that she had known him – not including their first encounter which appeared to still be up in the air for debate even though she was certain of what he had done to her that night – Thea hadn’t known for Orpheus Vladimir to be a gentleman. So, the fact that he was being so nice, caring and attentive toward her all of a sudden was beginning to make her beyond anxious and suspicion.
“Why are you in a such a good mood?” The question blurted out of her mouth before she could stop it, though it was the only thing that she could think of for the past few minutes as they drove in near silence, only the soft hum of the radio filling in the car.
“What do you mean?” Orpheus asked curiously as he spared her a sideways glance, her sudden question having caught him off guard.
“In the little time that I’ve known you, you’ve barely been happy for more than a few moments at a time, so what’s got you smiling like that?”
“What? I can’t be happy that I have my mate and son with me?” Orpheus chuckled, though it was obvious that, that wasn’t the reason.
When she sent him a pointed look, one that said she didn’t believe him for even a second, his lips twitched higher into what appeared to be a genuine smile; flashing all of his pearly whites to her.
“I just receiving some very good news earlier.”
Thea frowned slightly as she thought carefully. “Do you mean that phone call you received while in the grocery store?”
“Things weren’t looking good for a while but after this news, I’m feeling much more hopeful about everything.” He nodded his head in confirmation. “Hopefully from here on, everything is going to be smooth sailing.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Nothing you need to concern yourself with.” He murmured quietly and while he probably didn’t mean for his words to come out condescending, that was just how they sounded and Thea refused to be spoken that way.
If he wasn’t going to treat her right, he could at least make the effort to talk to her properly.
“There’s no need to act like I’m stupid.” She made a show of rolling her eyes, wanting him to know that she wasn’t the least bit appreciative of him or the way he chose to treat her and behave around her.
“Well, maybe I’m not acting?” Orpheus countered with a dark chuckle, not the least bit apologetic as he now blatantly insulted her.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Thea barked at him in a loud voice, uncaring of the fact that she was angering him with her tone and words. He had done the same to her so payback really was a bitch except in this instance, Thea was merely defending herself. “You’re so hot and cold you’re going to give me whiplash. One second you’re so happy and excited about something and the next, it’s like you want to kill me or something.”
“I’ve definitely fantasised about it.” He snorted, followed closely by a deep, irksome growl.
While she wasn’t sure if he was joking or not, Thea refused to be spoken in such a way.
“What? Just like the way you fantasise about the way you raped me that night?”
Almost as if some sort of trigger had been set off inside of him, Orpheus growled menacingly as he bared his sharp teeth at her, raising his fisted hand and slamming it down on the horn. When he saw that she jumped at the sudden action and tried to move away from him, he slammed down on the horn again before harshly breaking on the car.
While he was perfectly fine, Thea was sure that she would have banged her head if she hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt.
“Why the fuck do you have to keep bringing that up every time?” He growled lowly at her, his eyes flashing red as he struggled to keep his wolf under control. “Why the fuck do you keep talking about that night? It’s like you’re obsessed with it something!”
Even though Thea knew that she would probably come to regret it, she opened her mouth to say something but before she could even get a single syllable out, he reached out and wound his hand around her neck, gripping it tightly.
Pulling her closer to him, he tightened his grip just enough to exert power over her while forcing his forehead against hers and looking her right in the eye with his dark orbs that were now blood red in colour.
“If you don’t fucking shut up right now, I’ll do it all over again! That’s definitely give you something to think about.” He spat, growling uncontrollably.
It was only when she cried out for mercy and clutched at his hands, his grip around her neck too tight that Orpheus growled one more time before letting her go. Or rather, throwing her back into her seat, completely uncaring of the fact that he had nearly strangled her right now or that she had painfully banged her shoulder against the window.
Genuinely afraid for her life, Thea clutched at her throat as she silently gasped for her life, afraid that she would set him off again, if even by a simple sound.
She wasn’t sure how much time had passed but when the engine rumbled back to life, she sniffled and wiped away the few tears that had escaped, wanting this moment to be over as soon as possible; needing to lock it away in the black box gathering at the back of her mind, having not touched in a while.
Five years and ten months to be specific.
As soon as he pulled up outside of the kindergarten school, Orpheus let himself out of the car and slammed the door behind him without saying a word.
Thea could only assume that he was going to pick up Malik from the classroom so didn’t dare step out of the car, afraid that she had pushed him too far already. As the minutes passed and she couldn’t see either Orpheus or Malik heading toward the car, she couldn’t help but worry that he was taking out his frustration and anger toward her, on her son.
Thinking like that just made her all that much worried and when she felt like her heart was about to leap out of her chest and into her hands, she reached out for the door handle but before she could squeeze down on the metal there, her little man came into sight; a large grin on his face as he spoke animatedly to Orpheus, the both of them heading toward the car.
A sigh of relief washed over her as she sunk back into her seat, unable to take her eyes off of her son; the most important thing to her in the world.
If something were to ever happen to him, Thea didn’t know what she would do.
“How was your first day at school?” Thea couldn’t help but coo as Malik got into the car, Orpheus strapping him into his seat.
When the angry wolf sent her a sharp look, daring her to speak another word, Thea clamped her mouth shut in fear that with the murderous glint in his eyes, he would actually reach out and strike her; having already taken more than a few steps out of line.
Not daring to say anything else in fear of retribution and setting him off again, Thea made sure to keep her mouth shut the whole ride home.
If Malik noticed anything, he didn’t mention it as he proceeded to inform the both of them what he had gotten up to on the first day of school.
As soon as the car pulled up outside the packhouse, Thea was out of the vehicle and rushing around the side to unstrap Malik, wanting to get as far away from Orpheus as possible. After the way he had blown up at her for an innocent question and then proceeded to ignore her like she had been the one in the wrong was something that she was unwilling to put up and right now, she didn’t even want to look at him.
It was bad enough that she was being held here against her will, having been proved a liar in front of all the Alpha and Luna wolves despite her stating that she had been raped and following it up with a re-telling of what had exactly happened that night, but it appeared that they had chosen to protect one of their own instead of the human who they had preferred to claim she had been crying wolf the whole time even though that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The longer Thea spent around Orpheus, the more she worried that one day, she would become numb to what he had done to her all those years ago and eventually forgive him for the crime and it appeared that, that had already started.
Before, he had been nothing but Malik’s biological father but more than that, he was just a few glimpses that she had managed to catch during the assault but now, it was almost as if seeing him and spending time with him was humanising him in her head and her heart; as if he hadn’t raped her.
Except, he had.
The fact that he had just inadvertently admitting to raping her just made it all worse because other than there being no witnesses around, she knew that no one would believe her.
Yet another thing which made her feel so powerless against him.
With so many conflicting emotions running through her body at the same time, Thea knew that she needed some time to collect and steer herself back on track. She couldn’t keep letting her guard down like that. The Alpha wolf would only take advantage of that and only then would she realise her mistake.
He was a rapist through and through, and once again, once a rapist, always a rapist.
If she needed to keep repeating that statement for it to become embedded into her mind, body, heart and soul, rendering her unable to ever forget or overlook it, then so be it.
Whatever happened from this moment onward, Thea couldn’t keep making the mistake of letting her guard down whenever he was around as in reality, he was the one person that her guards and barriers were supposed to be keeping out. But it appeared that she couldn’t even do that.
“Thea.” When he called out to her in his signature deep, husky voice, her body stilled and she couldn’t help but hold her breath, afraid of the next few words that would come tumbling out of his mouth. “Can we please talk about what happened?”
“I don’t think we have anything to talk about.” Thea denied in a quiet voice as she helped Malik out of the car and closed the door behind him, accepting his adorable little hand when he reached out for her.
“Just hear me out, okay?”
“Do I have a choice in this?” She sighed, pursing her lips in frustration as she knew that regardless of whether he answered now or not, it would be negative.
Just as she expected, he had stripped her of any choice which essentially ruined the whole point of asking her to talk in the first place but as she knew that mentioning this would get her into even more trouble, she decided to bite her tongue and let this one slide.
Instead, she glanced down at Malik and forced her lips to curl up into a smile for his safe, not wanting him to worry about anything, especially since she knew her son was quite perceptive when he wanted to be.
“Why don’t you head inside, baby?” She crouched down on the ground in front of him, leaning forward to press a gentle kiss to the tip of his nose. “I’ll only be a minute, okay?”
“Okay, mummy.” Malik grinned before letting go of her hand and making his way over to the pack house, eager to look for the same pups that he had played with yesterday.
Thea watched carefully as her son made his way toward the packhouse and it was only when she saw him enter into the building that she turned around to face her mate or rather, her rapist and now, her captor.
“What did you want to talk about?” Thea huffed as she crossed her arms across her chest, a defiant look on her face. Even though acting insolently would probably rile him up further, in this moment, she couldn’t bring herself to care.
There was only so much that one person would be able to endure and as she was already going through so much, Thea felt herself nearing the tipping point, afraid that once she fell over the edge, she wouldn’t be able to climb back up.
“I would like to apologise for snapping at you earlier.” Orpheus stated quietly as he slipped his hands into pockets, seemingly not knowing what to do with them as he spoke. “I was completely out of line with the way I had spoken to you and you certainly didn’t deserve to be treated that way. So, for that, I am sincerely sorry and I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
At a complete loss of words, she opened her mouth but was quick to shut it.
What was she supposed to say to that? What was she supposed to say to the man that had just apologised for threatening to rape her earlier?
But mor importantly, how was she supposed to escape him?
“Let me make it up to you.” Orpheus suggested with what appeared to be a nervous smile on his face, but she refused to fall for it after having been burned by him far too many times before.
“How?” Thea couldn’t help but ask in a small voice, unable to think of anything else to say.
“I’ll take you out to dinner tonight to make up for earlier. Just the two of us.” His lips twitched higher into a grin, almost as if he believed that this was a good idea. “How does that sound?”
Before she could open her mouth and deny the offer as going out with him was something that she never wanted to do, he was quick to beat her to it.
“I’m not going to take no for an answer.” Orpheus chuckled, his eyes twinkling but just like before, she wasn’t able to say anything as he had already turned around and was making his way toward the packhouse.
Needing a moment to collect her thoughts and acknowledge what had just happened, Thea remained outside.
So, now she wasn’t just living with her rapist but going out with him?
As if things weren’t fucked up enough already.
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