Chapter 25 - A Broken Filter
“Hello, my sleeping beauty. Welcome home,” he says. “You’ve been away far too long, my dear girl.”
A shudder of disgust runs through me. Old Mr. Maddox.
He opens the door wider, and a small woman timidly walks in, bearing a tray of food.
“You’re even more beautiful than I remember,” he says, approaching the bed. His eyes are raking my face and my body. “Or you’ve grown even more beautiful since the last time I saw you.”
The woman lowers her head and places the tray on the nightstand. Her movement stilted and fearful. She takes the cover off a plate and the mouthwatering smell of food wafts through the air.
I can’t shake the drowsiness out of my head but I lift my head up to look at the tray with one eye open. Meatloaf with potatoes and vegetables. My stomach grumbles. The last time I ate was a handful of Cheetos those men spared me during the car ride yesterday.
Old Mr. Maddox laughs. “You must be hungry,” he says.
“Famished,” I tell him. My voice comes out very loud and strangely cheerful despite the strong revulsion that I feel towards the old man. Then I remember that Luna Bianca, his daughter in law, was heavily pregnant when I took off a few months ago, so I can’t help from adding, “How is it going, grandpa? Congratulations! You must be busy playing with the grandkid.”
His face twists in distaste at the word grandpa. Hey, other sane people would be happy to be a grandpa but I know, the former Alpha is anything but sane. So, maybe I’m intentionally being insolent or maybe I’m still high from whatever they drug they gave me.
“Go, grandpa. Woot! Woot!” I raise my fist in the air before I drop my head back on the pillow. I’m still feeling dopey.
His bushy eyebrows slant down and lips pursed further in displeased. That is NOT a good look on him. Oh, dear...I hope the poor kid didn’t inherit his grandpa’s unfortunate eyebrows.
This time his face turns red. Oooppsss...did I say that out loud? My brain to mouth filter was just a bit damaged before but it’s truly broken now.
Actually, inheriting anything from grandpa is bad luck for the kid. Where did all his hair go? I mean, some men look great bald but him? Let’s just say he’s very unfortunate in the looks department despite being a werewolf. Some of those eyebrows should grow on his head...Oh, no...did I just say that out loud too?
“Insolent brat!” he roars. “I was being nice by bringing food up for you. You don’t deserve to be treated kindly if this how you’re going to repay me.” He then turns to the tiny woman who’s still standing by the nightstand. “You,” he yells. The cup and saucer rattle in her hands. “Take the food away.”
She almost drops everything in her haste to get out of there. She must be one of the Omegas. Not all packs treat their Omegas badly but they are being treated very abhorrently in this pack. They are basically treated like slaves with no prospect and no future. Much like they were treating me after my Nana died.
The difference between them and me was that I fought back. Nana made sure I knew my self-worth. Omegas here have no chance. Their spirits were destroyed before they had the chance to sprout and flourish. A lifetime of conditioning could do that to a person.
Old Mr. Maddox grabs my face roughly. His eyes are dark and his fingers are digging into my cheeks. “You!” he barks, spittles flying everywhere. “You’ll learn your place very soon,” he threatens as he pushes my face away and storms out. The house rattles from the sound of the door that he slams behind him.
I wipe his spit off my face. Ewwww!!!
The drug that they gave me, whatever it is, is very peculiar. It makes me very sleepy but I can think with extreme clarity. However, I can’t stop saying whatever I’m thinking, out loud.
I’m about to doze off again when I hear a hushed voice coming from behind the closed door.
“Quincy?” The voice sounds familiar. “Quincy? Can I come in?”
“Jorden?” I call out. My voice comes out very loud. I can’t seem to control it. “Is that you?”
The door slowly opens and Jorden’s familiar dark curls appear first before the rest of his face. He needs a haircut.
“You need a haircut,” I tell him.
He closes the door and enters the room but his shoulders slumped when he sees me. The mattress dips as he sits at the edge of the bed. “Q...” he whispers sadly. He looks tired. “Why are you back here, Q? Where’s Jonah? He’s supposed to keep you safe.”
“Jonah’s gone,” I tell him.
“Gone?” He almost shouts. Then he catches himself and lowers his voice. “What do you mean he’s gone? Gone where?”
“My dear dear J. I’ve missed you. I love you, you know? I loved Nana..” Suddenly I feel tearful. “I want Nana back. I want Caspian back. I want Jonah back. I want---”
“Where is Jonah, Q?”
Where is Jonah? “Now that is the question, isn’t it?” I furrow my brow. Thinking hard. Nope, still don’t know.
“Wait, who’s Caspian?” asks Jorden. His face looks comical like that. So I laugh.
Jorden doesn’t think it’s funny. He rubs his face and watches me warily. “They’ve drugged you.”
“They couldn’t deal with me. Enzo called me “a little girl-devil from hell”, ” I complain with a pout.
Jorden sighs. He looks older than nineteen. Life must be stressful. Poor Jorden.
“You didn’t happen to bring food with you, do you?”
“No, Q. Why did you go and make Old Maddox mad like that?”
“Filter broken,” I tell him, pointing to my head and my mouth.
Jorden shakes his head. “Listen, Quincy,” he says, holding my shoulders. When he calls me Quincy, he’s being serious. So I pay attention. “I know you’re all doped up but I don’t have that much time to talk to you alone and this is important, so listen.”
“I think they suspect that I helped you escape. The only reason I’m still alive is because I’m the Beta’s son and they think that they can still use me.
“Now they gave me the duty to guard you. If you escaped again they will pin it on me. Do you get what I’m saying, Quincy?”
“So I’ll stay,” I tell him. I will not get Jorden killed.
“I don’t know,” he says, running his hand through his long curls. “They’ve announced to everyone in the pack last night that you’re Old Maddox second mate.
“Once he marked you, you’re stuck here forever. I have a feeling he’s going to do that very soon. He’s not going to let you get away again, Q.”
“Run away with me,” I tell him.
He just nods his head like he’s already thinking of it but there are uncertainty and something close to fear in his eyes.
Something niggling at the back of my mind. “What is it?”
He just shakes his head again. “Nothing, Q. We’ll figure it out.” His expression looks defeated. My heart is crushed. He doesn’t believe that we can make it out alive this time.
No, if there’s not much chance that we’re going to make it out of here alive, then I don’t want to take that chance. I don’t want my cousin to die. I’ll take my chance but there’s no reason for him to do so.
Caspian...his vivid green eyes, his scent, his touch, the expression on his face as he stared at me in my tiny bed flash in my mind. That can’t be the last time I see him. It takes a while for me to realize it but our connection runs deep. It seeps through my bones. It flows in my veins like blood. It twines and woven around my soul so tightly that without him, I’m broken. It gets harder for me to ignore this emptiness. The more we spend time apart, the harder for me to breathe.
I want to tell Jorden about him. If I didn’t make it, I want Jorden to know about my obnoxious, cocky, annoying, thoughtful, sweet, and charming golden prince.
We are interrupted by Don and Enzo who open the door and enter the room without knocking. They both watch us suspiciously.
Yes, they probably know that we’re talking about escaping. Setting Jorden as my guard feels very much like a setup to me.
“Did you bring food?” I ask them.
The two men scowl at me.
Jorden’s lips twitch. This is the closest he comes to a smile since he came in here. “It’s after two in the afternoon. She’s been asleep since you brought her in, this morning. So, she must be hungry,” says Jorden, defending me.
“We don’t care if she starves to death!” snaps Enzo.
“Alpha Maddox wants to see you,” says Don to Jorden.
I don’t think Jorden is happy about leaving me with two hostile looking brutes but he doesn’t have a choice in the matter. He gives them a warning glare but leaves the room.
Enzo mutters something about me being a handful and calls me “a nightmare”, “devil”, “annoying bitch”....those are the nicest things in the long list of names he calls me. Don seems to agree with him wholeheartedly.
“Wow, that really hurts my feelings, Enzo.” Not! “Bastard,” I mutter. What are they doing, standing there just watching me and talking sh*t about me anyway? “Pervert.”
I start thinking of how much I owe the swear jar that I left in California and how to escape. I’m so sleepy. I hope the drug will wear off soon so I can run. I don’t know if I said that out loud. Whatever.
I give them the finger then roll to my side.
My heart weeps with painful emptiness even when I’m drifting off. Something inside me needs him so desperately. I dream of a golden god with electric green eyes and a wicked smile.
I rip the baguette with my fingers and dip it into the remaining beef stew before I place it in my mouth. I miss Boeuf Bourguignon and this one taste almost like the one Nana used to make. Besides, I’m hungry.
I couldn’t believe it when Enzo woke me up and escorted me down to the dining room with food and everyone waiting for me.
Everyone at the table is staring at me. By everyone, I mean Luna Bianca, my uncle’s wife, Maria, my cousin Joelle and a few of her friends, a few other women from the pack, my sister, Caitlin Rose, and last but not least, my mother dearest.
It is made very clear right from when I was just a little girl that I am far beneath them. So far beneath them that I am not worthy to sit at the same table as them. So why am I sitting at the pack’s dinner table now?
Frankly, I have no idea. It feels like the last supper to me. You know, the meal they serve prisoners just before execution?
They are all smiling, except for my mother, but even the widest fake smile cannot hide the deep-seated disgust that they feel for me. There’s surprisingly a flash of pity in one of the woman’s eyes. I do not like pity but anything but disgust and hostility is surprising to me.
“Joelle, why don’t you take your cousin out for a walk after she’s done eating, honey?” suggests Luna Bianca sweetly.
“Of course, Luna,” replies Joelle, sounding very eager and pleased to do so.
I look at them both suspiciously. I have been looking back at all of them very warily.
The pack house is guarded like a fortress. I realized that as soon as I stepped out of the bedroom, which I come to understand is Old Mr. Maddox’s bedroom.
My walk with Joelle and her friend, Kelly only enforces what I already know. The whole house is heavily guarded. The ground is crawling with Loup Noir Pack warriors. Now I understand the look of defeat on my cousin’s face. Jorden knew there’s absolutely zero chance for us to escape. We’re both are as good as dead to even attempt to escape.
“Now let us take you back to your room. I bet they have the bath ready for you,” says Joelle after she dragged me around the outside of the pack’s house. “Don’t they have a shower or a bathtub where you went off to?”
“Yeah, I’ve been wondering about that” comes a response from her clone, Kelly. Joelle covers her nose with her fingers and both of them laugh like hyenas.
I know I stink because the last shower I had was a couple of days ago and the car I’d been in for the last two days stank to the highest hell but I’m tired of their games. They’ve been sickeningly sweet but condescending. Ridiculing me with their backhanded compliments.
“At least I’ll smell better after a shower. You two are so full of BS no amount of bath could mask the stench.”
Joelle gasps. “Goddess, Quincy! How rude! We’ve been so nice to you.”
“Yeah, we’ve been so nice,” agrees Kelly. “You haven’t changed a bit.”
“Nothing can cure a bad breeding,” announces Joelle.
“But I thought she’s changed after she became Mr. Maddox’s mate,” says Kelly to her as if I wasn’t there.
“I am not Old Maddox’s mate!”
“Oh, please! You should feel so lucky that he claimed that you are,” says Joelle with a sneer. “Let me be honest with you, Quincy,” she leans in and whispers in my ear. “Nobody else wants you here. You’re so useless. More useless than the Omegas. You’re so pathetic but you don’t seem to get it. You don’t know your place no matter how many times we tried to tell you.” She straightens up. There’s so much hatred in her eyes.
She’s right. I don’t get it. I don’t understand where all that hatred came from. I don’t remember doing anything bad to her or anybody in this pack...at least not something that warrants such loathing and contempt.
She smoothes her dress and takes a deep breath. The ugly scowl on her face is now gone. “We were planning on getting rid of you,” she continues casually as if she’s talking about the weather. “But Mr. Maddox said you’re his second mate. So we’re going to be nice to you.” She smiles at me then. Kelly smiles at me. I think I prefer their hateful glare than the smile. I think I will be pulling bloody knives out of my back very soon.
I’m being lead back to Old Maddox bedroom. Two big burly guards escort us back there. Don and Enzo are stationed at the door.
Three women are waiting for me inside the room. One of them ushers me through the door of an ensuite bathroom where another two women are waiting for me.
The bath is ready. Steam rises and the smell of lavender fills the air. The smell reminds me of the late Judith Maddox. She smelled like Lavender. I feel sick. I feel the beef stew that I ate earlier rise from my stomach. I turn, fall on my knees and hurl.
*Sorry, this chapter is not a happy one but my next update will be Monday so that you don’t have to wait too long for the next chapter.
Don’t you just miss Caspian and the whole gang? *evil grin*
Have a wonderful week everyone!