Early the next morning, I woke to the sounds of barking commands and hurried footsteps. Before dawn broke, the remaining human women that were housed in the same hall as Kallan were ushered out of their rooms and to the dining hall to take their meals. It was the same scrawny man that nearly ripped my shoulder from its joint the evening before that came to usher them away.
Just seeing him had made my skin prickle and made me want to pounce. “Where do you think you are taking them?” If he had not grabbed Tala by the arm to pull her out of the room, I might not have been too bothered.
The man looked at me with his brows drawn as he momentarily stalled his steps. “You still have a lot to learn,” he grumbled low, a growl nearly ready to spring from his throat.
“And you still have not answered my question,” I quipped as I moved to stand in between him and Tala. If he was going to take Tala from me, he was going to at least let me know where he was taking her.
His sneer was menacing as he bared his lycan teeth, yet I refused to budge. As I watched his eyes turn nearly black, I flinched but willed myself to maintain eye contact. He would have to walk through me if he wanted to take her from this room. When he chuckled, it shocked me more than his transformation did. “Of course you would be stubborn and foolish.” He shook his head. “I take it you would like your charge to be fed?”
My lip curled on its own volition. “Are we talking about feeding her, or feeding one of your beastly pack mates?”
This had the man laughing outright for several seconds as I stood staring at him haughtily. Finally, he choked back his laughter enough to answer. “We lycans have not acquired the taste for you filthy humans. We much prefer the more refined flavors of wild game.” Behind me, one of the accompanying lycans snickered at the man’s words and I bristled in response.
It felt like an insult, sounded like an insult, and yet it set me more at ease than anything else that had yet to come out of his mouth. “Why so early?” I was not sure of the time, but the lack of sun and the lack of any other movement in the house suggested it was earlier than any of them would choose to wake.
The scrawny man moved to stand within an inch before me, his height bearing down on me. “Unless you wish to risk one of their lives on the offhand chance that one of my beastly packmates are feeling the need to shed some blood after last night’s ordeal, I would suggest you move aside and let me tend to these women in my best effort to protect them and keep them safe.” He stared down at me before sneering once more. “Does that satisfy your need to know?”
Without saying a word, I stepped out of his way. His knowing smile nearly made me want to scratch his eyes out, but I was trying my best to keep myself in check. Well, sort of anyway. After he went through the door, I attempted to follow them. When he put his hand up for me to stop, I frowned at him.
“They can eat, but I can’t?” Needless to say, I was cranky this morning. My shoulder ached, and I was not able to get near the sleep that I needed to feel anywhere close to functional. In fact, my sleep was restless as best, with a certain lycan intruding upon my best of dreams.
“First, you no longer eat with these women. You eat where Lord Kolbeck tells you to eat.”
“Lord Kolbeck?” I frowned. Who the hell is he?
The man gave me a wicked smile. “As I said, you don’t have a clue who you were trying to goad last night. He is more than some mere Alpha, as he would have you believe.” I sucked in a lung full of air. Just who was Kallan to these people? “Second, you have one of his physicians coming to tend to your injured shoulder. It is expected that you wait here for the physician’s arrival.” With that, he started to walk off with Tala’s arm in his hand before he spoke once more over his shoulder. “I would expect, Ms. Clairmont, that you hold your tongue better for him than you have for me.” He then shrugged his shoulders casually. “But then, you are no longer one of my charges, therefore, none of my concern.”
That was nearly an hour ago, and the women had yet to return to their rooms. There was a possibility they would maintain their routines from the week that we had spent here before we were presented to their alpha. Even then we were made to get up well before dawn to eat breakfast in a large cottage on the back of the property away from their pack and alpha. Along with the tall, skinny man, a few of the pack women were sent to help us learn to adapt. I never learned any of their names...never felt I would really have to until now.
During that time, they held classes to teach us about their ways, though I tended to find other things to keep me amused. None of us were ever left alone, and I would always have one of the women stalking behind me as I scoped out the woods and perimeter that surrounded the small cottage. The security alone was enough to make me realize that escaping with Tala in tow would be an impossibility. It was then I knew I had to change my tactics. Though, so far, everything has blown up in my face.
While we were at the cottage, we were made to cleanse at least twice a day, our hair would be brushed at least three times a day to make sure it shone as they would have it, our nails cleaned, and our bodies shaved. The women would attempt to teach us ways to please men, but it was such an awkward practice for me to try to observe that I mostly tuned them out in lieu of asking questions about the location in which we found ourselves in. However, most ignored my questions and continued to attempt to teach me their ways.
That was then. Now, I had a lycan doctor looking at my arm, just as my lycan captor had said he would. The poking and prodding was enough to make me feel like cattle.
“Ouch!” I hissed at the good doctor as he gently probed my aching shoulder.
“I’d say you must have yanked it pretty hard. Looks like there might be a slight ligament tear.” The doctor looking at my arm was watching the muscle and sinew beneath my skin as he pressed two fingers into the meaty flesh there.
I hissed again. “Would you stop doing that! If you know what it is, why are you continuing to prod me like a cow?” Indignation and pain flooded my words. “Do you really think I yanked my own arm to cause such damage? You might want to talk to that scrawny lycan beast that nearly ripped it off.”
The doctor laughed at my comment. “It’s hardly like he ripped your arm off, but I assume you are talking about Jensen.”
So, his name is Jensen. At least I know whose name to curse when I am having a bad day from here on out. He should expect to hear it daily.
“What does it mean to have a ligament tear?” Why did it seem that, no matter what group of beings you consider when it comes to doctors, they are always the easiest to approach? The man did not put off any territorial vibe, nor any vibe that might make me consider him a threat. And why couldn’t everyone have the same temperament as this man had?
“Yes, what does it mean,” the deep, sensual voice rolled into the room from the doorway. His long, muscled body was currently resting against the door frame with his arms folded across his chest.
My head snapped up as I sent the man a glare. Did the man not know how to dress? The man opted for nothing more than what appeared to be pajama bottoms to grace my door. I refused to let this intimidate me, as I kept my eyes trained on his face. From his amused expression, I could tell he knew exactly what he was doing.
The physician beside me did not seem to notice the exchange as he prodded once more, causing me to drop my gaze and hiss at the good doctor. “Well, what it means is that it needs to be immobile for a few days, or more. We will have to see how quickly it mends as we go.”
“Pity,” came the grumbling voice from the door. I sneered at the man as I let all the loathing I had for him reflect in my gaze.
Rummaging in his bag, he pulled out a syringe full of some clear liquid. “Ah, there we go.” I twisted my head to the good doctor, and my eyes grew round. Taking the safety top off, he twisted to me as if he was going to stab the thing into my shoulder.
Jumping from my place on the bed, I clutched my arm to me cursing at him. “Oh, hell no...you are not jabbing that...that...thing in my arm!” I watched him like a hawk. No way was I letting him get close. “You could be trying to poison me or something.”
At first, I think I shocked him. He stood there looking at me as if I had sprouted three heads. I was so intent on watching him, I forgot about the other person in the room. When the doctor stood, he nearly cooed at me in a calming manner. “It’s just something to help with the healing process. I can’t imagine how much pain it’s causing you at the moment, but I just want to help it go away.” The man smiled, and I glared.
“And here I thought you were a nice guy.” I backed away from him again, shielding my injured arm from his view. “You know what, I’ll take my chances. You can just put the top right back on that thing, and stick it...well, you know what, I don’t really care where you stick it, but I might be able to name a few more preferable places than in my arm.”
The physician snickered and shook his head. Looking somewhere over my head, he spoke to someone behind me. “Figures she would be obstinate and willful.”
Shocked that I had almost forgotten about the most domineering man I had ever met, I let my head snap to where he last was. Relieved that he was still there, I was ready to turn my most indignant gaze upon the doctor when a stabbing pain flooded over my shoulder and sent radial ripples of pain in all directions.
I screamed in pain as I practically felt the tip of the needle scratching against my bone. “You son of a,” but I bit off the rest of the words as he withdrew the offending object. A growl echoed in the room, vicious in its nature and intent.
With a quick swipe of an alcohol pad, he grinned at me and sent a reassuring glance to the man at the door. “See? All that bluster for nothing. And you should be right as rain in no time.”
I seethed at him. “You have just made my shit list.”
The doctor’s eyebrows shot up as he chuckled merrily. Casting his glance back to the man who filled the door, he shook his head. “You are going to have your hands full with this one.”
This one...as in there have been others. The thought rankled me. “The man better not have his hands anywhere near me,” my voice snarled into the room.
Kallan barked loudly as his humorless laughter filled the room. Finally, he leveled a steady gaze on me. “It’s not only my hands, mina para. I will know every part of you and your body...intimately. And you will know mine.” He said the word intimately as if it was a delicious morsel of food, and it sent a shiver through me.
The thought made my stomach churn and my heart thunder against my chest. I opened my mouth to say something scathing to the man whose arrogance was as defiling as his gaze, but the good doctor interrupted. “Well, I think that is my cue to head over to the clinic. I believe I have some paperwork to tend to,” he chuckled as he glanced between the two of us.
Grabbing his bag, he headed for the door. When Kallan did not move out of his way, the doctor gave him a peculiar look. Kallan moved his gaze from mine to consider the man before him. “If you weren’t my brother, you would not be breathing now.”
The smirk was instantaneous. “If you had thought to help me, it would not have been so painful for her.”
Kallan stood from his perch against the frame to his full height, and let out a low growl. Until now, I had not noticed how tightly clenched his fists were, nor had I noticed the tiny tendrils of blood that eked out from within them. “You would think that I would help you hurt my own mate?”
The doctor, who stood maybe only an inch shorter than Kallan, patted his arm gently. “If you had mated with her as you intended, you wouldn’t have needed me at all.”
Kallan grumbled at the doctor, letting a threatening growl echo in the room. “Are you questioning me, Laklan?” His eyes had already started to darken, and I wondered if my getting out of my agreement wasn’t staring me right in the face. Laklan did not seem to feel threatened by Kallan.
Laklan shook his head and smiled knowingly. “You know as well as I do I was never meant for that title. It suits you well, and I am only too happy to help you defend it, brother.” The man grinned again before he quipped with a lifted brow, “does that appease your alpha nature enough to let me pass?”
Kallan grumbled as he moved aside for his brother to pass. Though, being the alpha that he was, he certainly couldn’t resist the last word. “You defend me because you could not best me!” His lycan was pushing against him as his eyes darkened even further. “And your tone does nothing to appease my lycan nature.”
Instantly, the doctor bared his throat as he glanced away from the threat that was building within Kallan. Clearly, Kallan’s temper was on the rise, and his brother knew better than to try to reason with him. However, the next words from his mouth chilled me.
Laklan whispered to his brother, more a plea than a request. “You may want to pull your lycan back, brother, lest he mark your mate before you are willing.”
As if reminding him that I was in the room, those black eyes turned to focus on me. I gasped and took a step back. I was ready to go toe-to-toe with the man, but what would I do now that I am confronted with the beast?