“Death is the fate no one can escape. The question, then, is, How does one die? A person can die like a hero or like a coward. The difference is that the hero can face death without fear, whereas the coward can’t.” -Alexander Lowen
“What the hell was that, Zeke? Saving the murderer of my wife? She deserves to die!” Raven awoke to a pacing Colton at the foot of the bed she was strapped into. She kept her eyes closed, quickly fixing her breathing pattern.
“She’s my mate.” Ezekiel’s answer was slow, and quiet. Ashamed of her.
The pacing stopped. A long silence filled the room, making Raven believe they knew she was awake. She wouldn’t dare open her eyes though. “Mate?”
Alpha Ezekiel did not reply.
A snarl ripped from Colton’s throat. The bed shook, no doubt from him kicking it. “This does not change anything! She will hang from that damn tree. I will see to that. Enjoy your time with your murderer.”
And then he was gone. His finale being the door slamming so hard it shook the only picture on the wall.
Silence again. Then a long sigh as that Alpha sat in a chair beside the bed.
“You’re lucky he didn’t find out you were awake. Your blood would be splattered on these walls.” He spoke lowly. His words for her ears and hers alone.
She did not reply. Only kept her breathing even and her eyes shut.
“You cannot fool a mate. I can hear your heart picking up like it was my very own.”
Raven sucked a breath in before opening her eyes. There he sat, to her left. Leaning over the bed, his handsome face merely inches from hers. She had a very strong urge to reach out and stroke the shadow of a beard that was evident on his face.
He didn’t have that when she last closed her eyes.
He must have seen the way her fingers twitched, itching to get out of the restraints that held them there. A growl sounded, and he ripped his face away from hers, standing up quickly. The chair he was in skidded back across the floor, hitting the wall.
“Damn you.” He snarled at her. “You could have killed anyone else, and this would be fine! Just had to be my Beta’s wife, huh? Why?”
Raven opened her mouth to reply to that angry face, but found she couldn’t produce any sounds. Her voice had been temporarily stolen by the noose.
Ezekiel simply watched her, the rage building behind those green eyes.
He started again, pacing around the room. She could hear the heavy breathing coming from that open mouth. Trying to soothe his anger. The pacing continued for a few minutes.
Raven took that time to take in her environment. It was nowhere near luxurious. The wallpaper was old and worn, peeling at the corners. One picture hung on a wall. A picture of a pup from many moons ago.
Raven jumped as Ezekiel punched a hole in the wall opposite of her bed. He kept his fist in that wall, his chest heaving.
“You should have kept your eyes closed.”
The words stung her. She sucked in a breath, tears threatening to overflow her eyes. She blinked them away, pooling at the corners of her eyes. Sniffling softly, she clenched her hands into fists.
He didn’t look back at her this time when he walked away.
In the safety of her now empty room, she emptied her eyes of tears. Her sobs shook her chest. She could feel her wounds opening again, staining the sheets underneath her with her disgusting blood.
She couldn’t care less.
She should have kept her eyes closed.
She deserved to hang.
She didn’t deserve a mate.
She was nothing.
She had escaped death one day, only to wish for it the next day.
Days passed by. Or what she assumed was days. There was no window. There was no light in this room. It was a constant, dark prison. A female came once every day with a cold bowl of soup, harshly shoving the spoon down her throat.
Some days she refused to swallow, and spat the mouthful of cold liquid back on the female. The female would snarl and leave, not even attempting to feed her the rest.
Raven’s wounds healed, but barely. She watched, unmoving as the days passed as her once toned body slowly deteriorated. Death was on her doorstep once more, awaiting the kiss she’d been promised. A kiss that would steal her away from her pain.
She longed to go, but she couldn’t quite yet. Maybe another day or so.
Ezekiel never visited. A sense of longing and pain began to build in her chest, weighing down as if someone had set something heavy on her. Her voice hadn’t returned to her, or if it had, she didn’t notice. Company wasn’t a luxury she was given.
The smell of her opened flesh hung in the room, coating the air in her own sickly sweet scent. The female never bothered to wash her or change the sheets.
On the day she had planned to give Death that kiss, the door opened and revealed a hardened Ezekiel. He had buffed out more than the last time she had seen him.
Testosterone pumping. His body reacting to having found his mate.
Lazy eyes belonging to Raven rolled over to him, grazing up and down his figure. The male puffed himself out, watching her do so. But then her eyes rolled back over to that picture of the pup.
She’d grown quite fond of it over the weeks. Had imagined it was her own. Or what hers would have looked like.
Hurt flashed behind his eyes, but he quickly covered it. Only in a few strides and he was beside her bed, looking over her weak frame. She did not look back at him.
His gaze found where hers was pointed. No reaction.
An electric feeling shot up her arm as he gripped her wrist and freed it of its binding. The skin worn raw and red from the days she fought against it. Always the fighter, his mate.
“I came to see you. I can’t help it, but I have this need to see your face.” His fingers gripped her small hand. She could feel his eyes travel the length of her body. Focusing on her protruding ribs, the raw skin around her neck, her sunken cheeks.
Raven’s cracked lips twitched into a smirk. She wished she could tell him to leave. His presence was unwelcome, and interrupted her fate with Death.
“I’m taking you to the pack house today. You will be punished when you recover.” Was this supposed to be comforting?
He nodded, noting the expression that danced across her face. He stood, his hand dropping hers back onto the bed.
A deep sigh rumbled through him, taking his eyes off of her. He kept glancing back at the female every so often, checking if any changes had been made. Yet all she did was lay there, even with nothing binding her to the bed.
What he failed to realize is that she already was dead. A piece of her would forever remain on that stage. It had been ripped from her soul.
The eyes of her hungry pack haunted her, their faces etched into her eyelids. How they watched and hungered for her blood. How they recoiled afterwards. She could still feel their anger, the betrayal they felt. It had settled underneath her skin, clinging to everything she was.
“I’ll have Gracie come back in to look at you.” And again he was gone.
Her mate walked out for the third time, leaving her helpless and left behind.
The same female that continued to tend to her day by day entered the room within seconds. Raven half wondered if she had been listening in.
Hard eyes that Raven was familiar with landed on her own. The soft female they belonged to did not match.
“Sit up.” Grace spat at Raven from her bedside.
Lazy eyes rolled over to meet the icy ones of Grace. A few seconds of Raven thinking ticked by, before she inhaled and sat herself upright in the bed. Her skin of her back made wet noises as she struggled to sit. A sharp inhale came from Grace as her eyes danced over the wounds that marred her back and bits of her front.
They were far from healed.
Grace’s hard demeanor was changed slightly for the better, however it did not stop her from being rough with Raven. The sheets where Raven had been laying were soaked in fresh blood, and caked with dried blood. They would never be used again.
Raven could feel Grace’s eyes set on her infected wounds. Her back was beyond saving. She would carry these scars for the remainder of her life, and until her skin rotted away with Death.
“Can you get out of bed?”
Raven moved her feet to the side of the bed and cautiously slipped her feet downward until her skin came in contact with the cold wooden floor.
She placed some weight in her feet and a sudden jolt of pain ran along her spine. A raspy cry left her parted lips. Raven squeezed her eyes shut, before forcing herself to stand.
She struggled to stay upright and wobbled- with no help from Grace. Grace only watched on with empty eyes.
With a silent curse, Raven finally managed to stand upright. Her chest heaved with the effort.
She had not been changed since the incident, and her shirt was clinging on literally by a thread. She could care less though at the moment. Her back was fully exposed, showing every line where the whip had graced her skin.
Grace clicked her tongue from behind Raven, and quickly draped a robe around Raven. Raven hissed in pain with the contact on her injured skin.
Her feet slid out slowly in front of her, making slow progress toward the door. To Grace’s credit, she didn’t once push the matter and allowed her to take her time with it.
“I’ll be escorting you to your new temporary room inside the pack house. It’s right across from Alpha Ezekiel’s.”
This was all happening very fast, Raven thought to herself. Not too long ago I was being hung in front of the entire pack.