Fit For Fire

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Mistaken Identity

My arms and legs ached. My legs were tucked under my body at a weird angle. Trying to ignore it, I stretched my legs out behind me until my feet hit something hard. Groaning, I buried my face into the warm pillow under my head. Imagine my surprise when a hand ran through my hair and my pillow moved of its own accord.

Startled, my eyes snapped open. Seeing only darkness, I struggled to push myself up into a sitting position. My arms were sticking to what felt like leather underneath my skin. Pushing myself half way up, my hair fell in front of my face, I reached up to push it out of the way, when a large, calloused hand beat me to it. Fingertips brushed across my cheeks as they tucked my hair back.

I sucked in a breath as sparks spread from their point of contact, threatening to consume me. A throaty chuckle sounded, above me on my left. Batting away the hand that was still stroking my head, I sat back on my knees to put some distance between me and my newfound pillow pet. Scrunching my brows together, I made out Zach’s chiseled features examining me. Behind him the night sky was visible from what I realized was a car window. Leaning back against the opposite door, I let my feet unfurl from beneath me, now residing where my head had been.

Temporarily satisfied with the distance I had placed between us; I used this space to analyze my situation. Zach had been seated next to me, and my head had been resting on his leg. Patrick was driving. From the looks of it, we were in a fairly large SUV. Soft rock played on the radio and glowing red letters informed me that it was just after midnight. I tried to remember how it was that I ended up here. The last thing I remember was being in Zach’s arms.

Looking up from the hands I had placed on my knees I looked up at Zach, my once blank face now accusing. “What happened to me walking out?” I croaked. My voice was hoarse and my throat was dry. Zach merely shrugged his shoulders. ” I couldn’t be sure how you would act once you got outside. I figured this was easier for everyone.”

“You know” I started, glowering at him, ” it’s odd to me that you’re confused as to why I would claim you’re abducting me, and why I don’t trust you when you’re constantly doing shady shit.” My hands balled into fists. Zach looked me over, amusement lighting up his features.“There’s nothing ‘shady’ about how we conduct our business with rogues. You’re a possible threat to our pack. We will deal with you how we see fit.” Patrick interjected.

I stared at the back of his head, my eyes drilling into his skull. In this moment, there was nothing I wouldn’t give to have laser vision. ” First off, I think we both know I am not a threat to your pack. You guys are just embarrassed because I escaped your compound.” Leaning back against the door I paused for dramatic effect. If this guy thought I was going to tremble at the might of his pack given power, he was sorely mistaken. ” Secondly, I am a person. Rogue or not. I have basic human rights. There are real laws in place against this sort of stuff. Being in a pack does not make you better than me. Being in a pack does not give you the right to do whatever you want with me. Honestly, I’m pretty thankful I haven’t grown up in a pack. If I did, I would be stuck with the same God- complex as you.”

By the low growl emanating from Patrick’s now stiff from, I was pretty sure I had pushed my luck. A scared voice inside me told me I should care, but the larger part of me, the currently angry and irrational side, couldn’t give two shakes to the wind. What I couldn’t do physically, I would double dish out verbally. Zach’s form stiffened as well, but from the way he studied me, I didn’t think it was from anger.” You should watch how you talk to me.” Patrick growled in a low voice. “I’m the beta of this pack, and I help decide just how big of a threat you can be.”

A coy smile spread across my lips. This was how he was going to be. “Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize I needed to stroke your ego to earn my freedom. I thought being innocent was enough. Forgive my stupidity. I’ll just sit back here and cower in fear of the almighty beta.” I caught Patrick wince at my words in the rear-view mirror. He gripped the steering wheel audibly harder, the leather under his hands squealing out as he squeezed. His body became impossibly stiffer, before he sighed, deflating like a balloon with a slow leak. “You. . . I. . . That’s not what I meant.” He sputtered.

For a moment I was surprised. I had expected him to grow angrier at my words, but somehow Patrick seemed more put out and shocked by his own words. Realizing my mouth was seconds away from getting me into bigger trouble then I had originally bargained for, I gave him the opportunity to back pedal. I had done the damage I was trying to do anyway. My anger had ebbed away considerably just watching Patrick squirm under his own moral discomfort. “Then what did you mean?” I asked quietly.

Sighing again Patrick spared me a glance before explaining “Wolves, well pack wolves I guess, are very loyal to the hierarchy and rules set in place by their pack. The Alphas word is law, we live by the pack, we are made stronger by it. You are brought up with the morals and laws of your pack. It’s a big part of being a wolf. It’s the world I operate in. It’s hard for me to watch you challenge that and show no respect for our way of life.”

My eyes grew wide, and I bit the inside of my cheek. I had expected anger, but I had been blindsided by his honesty. Part of me felt like a jerk. Then again, another part of me reminded myself why I was here. I was reminded by how little regard for my life, and my own rights these people had. I sat there, quiet for a couple minutes. I kept going back and forth between guilt and validation. I wasn’t sure what to say.

Finally, what felt like the right words came to mind. “I can see how my views would be offensive to you, but you have to consider that I wasn’t brought up this way. This is all very strange to me, and it’s hard for me to understand why it should be considered okay to treat someone, who you have no idea even committed a crime, this way.” I stopped, taking a shaky breath. Patrick seemed to be listening. Maybe this was my chance to make him understand how crazy this all is. ” To me it’s as aggravating as my words must have been for you, except in this scenario, I haven’t attacked, or hunted you. I haven’t brought you somewhere against your will, for living differently than I do. I haven’t told you to just accept that your future will be solely determined by what one guy, who hates what you are to begin with, decides for you.”

We sat in silence after that. Zach continued to study me, a look of both interest and sadness displayed on his face. I tried to ignore it as I laid my forehead against the cool glass of the window. It wasn’t long after my argument that we pulled off the main road. Taking a side road, we drove deeper into the trees. Somehow the night seemed to get ten times darker the moment we had pulled off the road.

I closed my eyes and tried to prepare myself for the white lights and concrete walls of a cell. Thinking about being locked up for an indeterminate amount of time had me breathing in jagged, irregular breaths. I tried to calm myself before the guys in the car noticed. My chest vibrated with my own fear, as I squeezed my eyes closed tight, and put my hand over my heart in a bid to stop my oncoming panic attack.

While trying to calm myself, I hadn’t noticed that the car had begun to slow down. I hadn’t felt us pull off the road and onto a gravel driveway. I didn’t see the large home we had pulled up next to. When we stopped, Zach reached over and placed his hand on my shoulder. My eyes snapped open.” I’ll walk. Just please don’t touch me.” I whispered, knowing he could hear me. He pulled his hand away slowly and got out of the car.

Looking out the window, I looked at the house in confusion. Zach opened my door and sensing my confusion asked “What is it?” Looking from him to the house I answered “This isn’t the compound.” Smiling Zach reached out his hand before explaining. “The alpha has invited you to stay at his house.” A small ember of anger flared in my stomach at the mention of the alpha. “You can tell him I’ve declined his invitation.” I said evenly, my expression blank. Zach nodded his head and looked me in the eyes before responding “I won’t be taking no for an answer.”

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