Riding with the Pack

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Chapter 7

Tessa

“Why the hell did I agree to this?” I huffed as I carefully inspected myself in my bedroom mirror one last time.

I nervously ran my hands down the front of my form fitting jeans in a futile attempt at removing the wrinkles that were creasing the thick fabric. I couldn’t believe that I had agreed to go out with Ethan. I had only met him yesterday and yet here I was, readying myself for a night out on the town with the muscular dwarf.

“He’s here!” My mom called out from the kitchen and my heart just about fell out of my ass.

I quickly ran my fingers through my slightly curled hair to give it a bit of volume and added some final touches to my makeup. I decided to go casual in my favorite pair of faded black skinny jeans that hugged my hips in all the right places and a yellow crop top to add a touch of color.

My hair fell in long beach waves around my shoulders and I had decided to keep my makeup pretty simple since I wasn’t very good at it.

I had shaped my brows slightly and added a bit of glitter to my eyelids to brighten my face. I then threw on a bit of mascara to lengthen my lashes and finished the look with some clear lip gloss to make me look less tired. I hadn’t slept well at all the night before and this was why.

I heard my sisters burst through the front door in a fit of giggles and I begrudgingly left the safety of our room. Once reaching the family room, I was greeted with an orchestra of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ from my family.

I wasn’t really the type to do my hair and makeup very often, typically leaving the house wearing sweats or leggings, so I could understand their amazement at me actually trying to look nice for once. I gave them a shy smile before my eyes locked on the strange man that stood confidently in our living room.

Ethan looked as though he had put a bit of effort into his look for the evening as well. He was wearing a nice pair of jeans without holes and a plain white collared shirt under a fitted black blazer. He had a pair of white trainers on to complete the outfit.

His hair had been neatly combed to the side and he smelled of aftershave or over priced cologne. He gave me a wide smile before striding over to me with his arms open. He seemed to be ready to give me a hug before stopping himself at the last minute.

“Sorry,” he chuckled. “Almost forgot, you’re not a hugger. My bad.”

“It’s fine,” I shrugged awkwardly.

I usually wasn’t this bad at talking to boys but something about knowing that I was going to be forced to marry and spend the rest of my life with him whether I liked him or not may have played a minuscule part in this, but who knows.

“You ready?” Ethan asked after several seconds of uncomfortable silence.

Not wanting to spend more time fumbling around for words like an idiot, I simply nodded and grabbed my over-the-shoulder purse before heading out the front door in a breeze. Once I had reached the porch, I took a moment to appreciate the cool spring air as I waited for him to follow. Eventually, he strutted out of my house and I followed him to his beat up jeep that he had so elegantly parked on my parent’s freshly cut grass.

Gav is gonna to have a cow, I thought as I climbed into the passenger side.

I had allowed my family to talk me into riding with him earlier today and was already beginning to regret it as he pulled out of the driveway like an idiot. After narrowly avoiding a collision with my mother’s flower garden, he sped down the dirt road that led to our small town. After several minutes of unbearable small talk, we had finally reached the heart of town and pulled into a small diner that I had suggested.

Maggie’s Diner illuminated the damp streets in fluorescent blue lettering as we made our way towards the grungy double doors. This place was an absolute dump but I loved it.

I had practically grown up on the faded red leather booths that lined the tiny restaurant and if I was ever given a choice of where to eat, I’d come here every time. The greasy scent of fries and old coffee smelled like home to me, and I’d gladly choose a good burger over some over-priced steak any day.

We took a seat at my favorite booth in the back and I handed Ethan a menu. I could tell by the look on his face that he wasn’t particularly fond of the wobbly table we sat at or the outdated decor surrounding us. But being in such a familiar place gave me enough confidence to strike up a conversation with him for once.

“See that ‘T’ on the right corner?” I asked, much to his amazement.

He recovered quickly and began searching the table for clues.

“Next to the ‘L’?” He asked back with a hint of amusement to his voice.

“Yep!” I declared with mock excitement. “Me and my dad used to come here a lot when I was growing up and we etched our initials into the table on my tenth birthday to cheer me up.” I informed him.

“Why did he need to cheer you up?” He furrowed his brow at me and lowered his menu a bit.

“Well,” I cringed at the memory. “My sisters and I didn’t exactly get along when we were kids and when it came to birthdays, they usually got what they wanted. My mom and Gavin would throw these giant parties for them and all of their friends while I kinda just hid in the woods until everyone left. So, for my tenth birthday my dad suggested that we all just have a small party here. Family only.”

“Sounds like a nice idea,” he chimed in as he accepted coffee from the flirty waitress.

“Yeah, it would have been if they would've shown up.” I muttered. “My dad and I sat at this booth for three hours and nobody came, not even my mom."

"Why not?" Ethan inquired curiously.

"Turns out Grace made a huge scene about not getting to invite her friends over and Gavin caved." I shrugged. "When we got back home, there were streamers and cake everywhere, with a huge banner that said ‘Happy Birthday Monica and Grace!’ It hurt a little, not gonna lie.”

“Well I don’t think they were trying to hurt your feelings,” he waved it off. “I just think that you got outvoted, that’s all.”

“Outvoted?” I sneered, not knowing if he was being serious or not.

“Well, yeah. There’s two of them and one of you. If they all wanted a big party, why shouldn’t they get one just because you didn’t want it?” He argued.

“Well, you weren’t there so you can’t really get it.” I clipped.

“Sounds pretty black and white to me," he snipped back. “They wanted a fun birthday party with all of their friends like every other ten year old girl, and you wanted to spend the day in a crappy diner.”

“Well if it’s so crappy, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out!” I snarled while rolling my eyes.

The cocky bastard had the nerve to roll his eyes back at me. He ignored me for a few minutes while we ordered our food. My blood was boiling. I knew this was a bad idea.

I tried to share one tiny childhood trauma with him to test the waters and the date had already gone to shit. My dad used to say that you could tell a lot about a person by the first hundred words that came out of their mouth, and I could tell by this conversation that he was going to take my sister’s side over mine for the rest of our lives.

“Look,” he tried to speak over a half chewed fry in his mouth. “I don’t want to argue with you. I was just telling you how I felt about the subject.”

“Yeah, I get it.” I flipped my hair over my shoulder. “Maybe I would have appreciated your honesty a little more if I had asked for it.”

I held in a snide chuckle as I watched his eyes bug out in shock at my attitude. He seemed ready to let the conversation go and I was surprised to learn that he wanted to continue the date. We finished our oily food in silence and he took it upon himself to pick up the tab.

“Sorry I said anything earlier,” he apologized on our way out of my favorite hole in the wall. “It wasn’t my place and I see now that you were just trying to open up to me and I totally blew it.”

I peeked over to notice him staring at the ground blankly. He seemed to be kicking himself mentally.

“Just forget it,” I said in an attempt to change the subject.

I was trying my best to give him a fair chance since wedding bells were still ringing around the corner whether this went well or not.

“Want to go for a walk?” I inquired while painting a coy grin across my face. “It’s a beautiful night.”

“Not as beautiful as you,” he smirked as he slid an arm around my waist. The kid was good, I’d give him that.

“Smooth,” I teased as I lifted his arm away from my hips and allowed it to rest casually on my shoulders.

We leisurely strolled along the damp sidewalk for a couple of hours. The night was never silent as we always found something to talk about. Well, by we I mean Ethan boasting about his many achievements while looking to me every now and then for some kind of awestruck reaction.

He seemed like a nice guy when he wasn’t allowing his arrogance to get the better of him. Even though he was a bit of a thoughtless loud mouth, he seemed to be on his best behavior while we were together and I appreciated that.

After the first hour or so of sauntering around together, I began to notice that he was taking more control of the direction we took while walking. I shook it off at first but at some point during our conversation I’d found that we had traveled to a more dodgy part of town. Gas stations and sleazy motels lined the dark streets that we’d wandered to and I was beginning to feel uneasy.

“Maybe we should head back,” I cut him off as he continued to brag about his riches. “I don’t know this side of town very well.”

“Oh, don’t worry! I rented a room at that motel over there,” he said while pointing to one of the nicer motels that surrounded us.

I planted my feet and gave him a questioning look. If this man thought that I was just going to hop into bed with him after only knowing each other for two days, he had another thing coming.

“It’s not like that,” he exaggerated his words while lightly tugging my arm in the direction of the motel. “I just rented a room so I had a place to sleep tonight. I figured that our date might run late and it’s a long drive back to the city.”

“So you thought that if we walked all the way to your motel,” I exclaimed in a mocking tone. “That I’d spend the night with you because I wouldn’t want to trek all the way back to the car in the middle of the night. Smooth. Very smooth.”

“What? No, not like that!” He stammered. “Well, I don’t know what I thought. I guess I kind of just went on auto pilot for a while. I didn’t even realize I was heading this way because I was so lost in your eyes.”

“Nice save,” I sneered while fake gagging at his cheesy pickup line.

“Look, if you want to head back to the diner we can.” He reasoned. “But it is late, and this part of town looks a lot scarier after dark.”

I took a quick scan of the sketchy neighborhood we had traveled to. The streets were littered with filth and all of the nearby buildings were swimming in graffiti. I wasn't even aware that this part of town existed.

Nerves began to get the better of me and for some odd reason, the dangers of staying out in the open seemed to weigh much more than that of spending the night alone with my new mate.

“Fine,” I huffed. “But don’t try anything! As soon as the sun comes up you’re taking me home.”

We hurried over to the shabby motel and made our way toward the furthest room from the street. The door seemed sturdy and was slightly hidden by the rustling leaves of an overgrown bush that grew in front of it.

The fact that the room was so secluded struck me as odd but I ignored my gut. I had been eager to get off of the street and behind the safety of a locked door, which may have been why I had missed this red flag.

Nevertheless, Ethan stepped in front of me and made quick work of unlocking his room. We stepped inside swiftly and he turned the lights on in a blink. The only way that I could describe the room around me was as a honeymoon suite. The walls were lined with red satin tapestry that bore some suspicious stains that matched the matted down shag carpeting. The lights in the room glowed a low yellow hue that I assumed was meant to resemble mood lighting, and the bed was in the shape of a giant red heart!

“Oh. My. GOD!” I blurted my shock out loud. “I’m leaving!”

I turned on a dime and was ready to head right back into the street when Ethan grabbed my arm tightly. I glared at him while trying to pull away from his grip but he wasn’t letting go. Fear began to slowly course through my body and I was suddenly very aware that I was in a secluded room with a strange man that I barely knew, alone. I tried to calm my breathing before I spoke.

“Let go of me,” I ordered him firmly.

“Just wait a minute,” he tried to reason but I was already panicking.

“Ethan,” I hissed.

“It was the only room they had!” He blurted in a tone that didn’t seem entirely honest. “We don’t have to do anything, we can just watch TV.”

“Then why are you grabbing my arm?!” I snapped louder as I began to look around for an escape route.

“Because I can’t have you freaking out and running back out into the streets. It’s dark and there’s no telling what could happen to a girl like you out there.” He reasoned.

I decided to ignore the small comment at the end and opted to sit on the atrocious bed. He sat beside me and he seemed to be content with sticking to his word as he flipped through the channels on the small TV for several minutes.

After settling on a romantic comedy, we lounged on the bed in silence for a while. I’d always found rom-coms to be quite boring and was quickly losing a battle with sleep as I struggled to keep my eyes open.

“Be right back,” I informed Ethan lazily as I sauntered into the filthy bathroom.

I patted some cold water on my face to try and wake myself up a bit. After fixing my face and hair in the mirror for a few minutes, I opened the door to find Ethan looming on the other side of it.

His stance was primal and his eyes had narrowed into threatening slits, cluing me in that he was dangerously close to shifting. Not wanting him to turn into an overgrown feline wonder on our first date, I tried to talk him down.

“Easy tiger,” I joked stupidly. “Why don’t ya put the claws away and we can finish the mo-?”

*Assault Warning*

He was on me before I had the chance to finish talking. His tongue penetrated my mouth with his lips following close behind. I fought against his advances as hard as I could but he had wrapped his arms around me like a vice.

His claws pricked the soft skin of my back as he continued to lick the depths of my throat in a sickening pattern that never ended. I screamed my frustrations into his mouth as I struggled against his tightened grip, but this only seemed to push him further as he aggressively ground the thick tent that had formed in his pants against my stomach.

He dug his sharp talons into my delicate spine and hoisted me into the air, never breaking the hold his slimy tongue had on my mouth. He carried me out of the bathroom and threw me onto the bed. I scrambled to get away from him but he dug his nails into my ankle and yanked me towards him.

“Ethan! STOP!” I screamed while kicking him with all of my might.

A deep throated snarl erupted from him and vibrated the entire bed. His claws pierced the skin of my ankle and I yelped as my blood trickled to the ground. I kicked him in the face with my free foot and watched in horror as he ignored the thick crimson liquid that gushed from his broken nose.

“Please! Don’t!” I pleaded as he mounted me, holding my body down with the weight of his own.

He trapped my arms above my head with one of his large hands while using the other to start ripping at my clothes. I bucked and screamed with all that I had but his body had turned to stone above me. I cried out as he began tearing at the zipper of my jeans and pure terror flooded my senses. His vile lips made their way to my neck as he tore through my shirt, exposing my bra and much of my bare skin.

“STOP IT!” I sobbed while kicking at his intertwined legs feverishly.

He trailed his mucousy tongue along my neck sloppily and stuck it into my exposed ear. His heated breath assaulted my hearing as he began to whisper dark promises to me.

“Once I mark you, you’ll be begging my not to stop.” He growled whilst nipping my lobe painfully.

He released my arms momentarily to violently rip my pants off, exposing my baby pink panties. I punched and scratched at him repeatedly as he forcefully spread my legs and began to grind his hard-on against my clothed core.

He snatched the thin lace fabric off of me, causing a fearsome chill to travel between my hips. My breathing hitched as he fiddled with his belt for a moment before exposing himself to me and I shoved my hand between my legs to block his entrance.

He hissed and took a fistful of my hair. He then jerked my head to the side, putting my neck on full display as he flung his head back and allowed his large white fangs to pierce through his gums. He hurled himself toward my bare throat and I instinctively flung my arm out to block him.

His teeth sank deeply into the flesh of my forearm and I shrieked out in pain. I brought my other arm up and raked my razor-sharp talons across his face and neck, causing his agonized screams to mix with mine. His jaw released my arm and he fell to the side of the bed clutching his bloody cheek. I pulled my jeans up and stumbled away from him as fast as I could but he pounced on me yet again.

"Come on baby, don't fight it." He smirked.

He forced his wet bloody tongue down my throat once again and I locked my jaws onto his lip until I felt my teeth pierce through the meat and connect on the other side. He wailed into my mouth and I swiftly kneed him in the groin, causing him to collapse to the ground in a pathetic heap.

I grabbed my belongings and bolted out of the room in a blur. Tears streaked across my bloody face as I ran through the dark streets half naked. I had no idea how far I was from home but I didn’t stop running until I got there. It had to be three in the morning by the time my feet had connected with the withering wood of my front porch.

I glided through the house silently and locked myself into the bathroom. My entire body was shaking and I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I turned the shower onto the hottest setting and waited for the water to heat up.

I could hardly recognize myself in the mirror. I was covered in blood and my makeup was smeared all over my face. My swollen arm throbbed and still bled from the horrible bite Ethan had taken out of it. I winced at the thought of him. I could still feel his rancid breath on my neck and his filthy hands violating me.

I removed my shredded clothing and had to bite back a sob at the sight of my scratched and badly bruised body. Deep blue hand prints littered my inner thighs and scarlet pin pricks left trails down my spine. I stepped into the shower and held my hand over my mouth to muffle my cries at the sharp sting that it left on my open wounds.

I fell to the cool tiled floor and let the water run over me as I replayed the events of the night over and over again. What had I done to deserve this? Sure, I copped a bit of an attitude at the diner earlier but I thought we had moved past that. None of my sisters ever came home with cuts or bruises, so why me.

“What the hell did I do?!” I sobbed to myself.

I scraped a hand towel across my bare skin to try and wipe the feeling of his hands away, but it didn’t work. I scrubbed my body raw and could still feel him grabbing me. The weight of his heavy frame still weighed on my shoulders. I brought my knees up to my chest and balled like a baby, allowing the running water to wash my blood and tears down the drain as if they were never there.

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