Chapter 1 - Shaye
Shaye woke with a start and groaned at the pain centring around her temple. Carefully she moved to reach up and realized she couldn’t. Her eyes shot open, and the pain in her head intensified, but it was the rope tightly binding her wrists together that sent her body to trembling. She realized she was lying on her side, and hard packed dirt was beneath her. Her clothes were covered in it and tattered to the point of no repair. Blood tricked from her wrists where the rough rope bit into her skin, and her shoes were missing.
Shaye was beyond terrified, but she knew she needed to calm herself and take some time to figure out where she was and what exactly was going on. Taking a deep breath, she lifted her head awkwardly, ignoring the stabbing pain that threatened to send her back down. Girls surrounded her, at least two dozen, from what she could see. All where trussed up as she was, and all had looks of horror on their faces similar to hers. Shaye caught the eyes of the closest girl, and opened her mouth to speak, but a quick shake of the girl’s head stopped her. Confused, she furrowed her brow in question, then followed the girl’s eyes as they moved to the side.
That was when she discovered they were in a crudely constructed pen. What appeared to be roughly sawed off trees had been driven deep into the ground in a circle and held together with barbed wire. The cage stood high off the ground, and Shaye knew if she had been standing, it would have towered well above her head.
Then she spotted the large men surrounding it, and her fear escalated. They were pacing and glancing in the cage every so often with intense expressions. All were massively built and looked powerful. It was a deadly combination. None wore shirts, and their jeans sported holes in the knees and frayed bottoms. Most wore heavy looking worn black boots, and all had dirt covered skin. Most had scruffy faces and hair, but it was glowing golden eyes that gave her pause. It gave them an inhuman look.
When Shaye twisted back to look at the girl she had attempted to talk to, it was to see her staring at the side of the cage with tears in her ears. Once more Shaye followed the direction of her eyes, to see one man had stopped his pacing and had his eyes locked on the girl. If possible, he seemed to grow in size as he pushed out his chest and studied the girl.
Shaye looked away, not wanting to attract the man’s attention herself. She did not understand what was happening, but she knew whatever it was couldn’t be good. They were bound and penned for a reason. Desperately she pulled at her bound hands as she searched the edges for a way out. She found none and only succeeded in coating her wrists in more blood. Before she could stop them, her own tears flowed.
Hearing a soft chuffing sound, she darted her eyes once more to the edge of the cage, and was horrified to see another man had stopped his pacing. This one had his eyes locked on her, and they were narrowed as he titled his head and studied her. The man was even bigger than the rest. His arms were thick, his chest was full of muscle, and he had an intricate cross tattoo on his anterior shoulder. His hair was a light brown colour and trimmed shorter than most of the other men, and his face only sprouted a dusting of facial hair.
His eyes glowed a brighter gold shade as well, and he towered over the rest, forcing them to move away from him warily. It was clear whoever the man was; he was someone that held power. But he belonged with them, she had no doubt; he was savage. His nostrils flared, his body was locked tight, and he fisted his hands at his sides. It appeared he was struggling to hold himself in place.
Shaye tore her eyes from his when a gun went off inside the cage. The women inside screamed and several attempted to stand. She herself held in her own cry, but she did try to stand. Placing her bound hands under her, she pushed up, and got to her knees. Her head swam for a minute and she slammed her eyes shut. She had no desire to land back in dirt. When it passed, she lifted one foot and dragged it out from under her to place it in front. Then she pushed up unsteadily and placed her other foot in front as well. When she was steady, she used her bound hands to swipe at the tears.
Feeling she was in a much better position, Shaye searched for the girl once more. When she found her it was to see she wasn’t as lucky. The girl was still down and was having no luck at all gaining her feet. Shaye moved around a couple of the other girls and leaned down to grip the rope binding the girl. The girl must have read her intent, because she nodded and pushed up as Shaye pulled. Then they stood together as an older woman moved to the centre of the pit.
The woman was dressed in jeans, the same boots as the men, and a deep red tee. Her hair looked almost black and hung straight to her waist. She wore little makeup and looked like she worked out daily. Shaye had no doubt if the girls rushed her at once, she’d easily take them all. It was a terrifying thought.
The two girls stood together and waited. It appeared no information would be forthcoming until they all were on their feet. Minutes passed, and finally the last girl was standing. The lady smirked at her cruelty as she shoved the gun in the waistband of her jeans, then a hard glint entered her eyes.
“You have been chosen to become brides of the Bloodstone Pack, and you should be honoured,” the lady bellowed, bringing a gasp from them all. “You had lives before, but they are no more.”
Shaye heard whimpers and sobs surround her, and the girl beside her moved closer so they were shoulder to shoulder. She could still feel her own tears, but she refused to make a sound. She fearfully glanced back to see the man still watching her ominously, so she quickly turned back to the lady.
“When the gates open, you will have a five minute start,” she continued. “Run. Run as fast as you can. For after those first few minutes the wolves will give chase, and the hunt will begin.”
Startled, Shaye looked back to the man eyeing her. She had no idea why the lady called them wolves, all she saw were men. Although the gold colour of their eyes confused her. A scream rent the air, and she looked towards the sound, to see the lady approaching a younger girl with a large knife. The knife looked sharp and lethal, and the girl had her back against the cage as she tried to get away. Without a sound the lady reached out, snagged the girls hands, and sliced through the rope binding them.
After another few minutes all their hands had been freed, and they were eyeing the men who were looking extremely excited. Snarls rose from outside the cage as they paced the perimeter faster. Power emanated from them and had the girls moving collectively to the centre of the pit. Shaye and the girl at her side joined them. No one was stupid, they understood they needed to stand together.
“Each one of you will end up a bride tonight, and will become one of the Pack. Your mate awaits,” she yelled in closing as she fanned her arm out towards the men. As a group the men responded by throwing back their heads and howling into the darkening sky. More screams were torn from her group, and Shaye thought her heart would beat right out of her chest it was racing so fast.
Two more females emerged from the group of men surrounding them and moved to one side of the cage. It was then Shaye saw the break in the logs, and the wire looped over the top. A door she realized, and a door she knew all of them would be rushing for in a minute. However bad it was inside, it would increase tenfold once those doors opened. Without drawing any attention, Shaye grabbed her new friend by the arm and shuffled them closer to the door.
Shaye could feel eyes on her, and knew the man was still watching her, but she refused to look in his direction. When those doors opened, they needed to be at the front of the group. Shaye was fast, and her speed was the only chance she had of surviving tonight. If she had no one in front of her to slow her down, she knew there was a chance she may get away. She eyed the girl beside her sadly, knowing she’d have to leave her behind. The girl eyed her back and lifted her chin, it was a sign she knew the deal and was resigned to it.
The two woman unlatched the gate and drew everyone’s attention. Then they were pulled open at the same time the gun went off once more. Without a backward glance, Shaye sprinted from the cage, hearing the pounding of bare feet behind her. The men would be on them in five minutes, and she planned to be long gone by then.