After pacing the room that I shared the evening before with Tala and her roommate for longer than I would have liked, I made my way down the hall towards the only other room that I knew in this blasted place. The hall was empty, and I was thankful for that. My nerves were on end, and it made me ill knowing that I would no longer be taking my meals with the other human females. No, instead, I was going to have breakfast with one of them.
Making my way to where I believed the room that I nearly shared with Kallan was, I attempted to let what little I learned about these beasts to come to the surface of my mind. Fortunately, most of my adult life I simply managed to just avoid the creatures altogether, so I never bothered to learn much about them. And what I did know only helped me to keep clear of them as best as I could. Though, honestly, if one of them really wanted you, I knew there was no escaping them. So, I kept my distance and kept moving. And it worked...until now.
The door was in front of me, though I couldn’t be certain if this was it. Glancing back down the hallway, I tried to remember how many doors we passed the night before as we made our trek to Tala’s room. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember, and I stood there waiting more than a few minutes before I could bring myself to knock.
Though I had thought to defy Kallan, having him bathe me or come to retrieve me was not on that list. Truth be told, I was struggling to tamp down my defiance against him and all those like him. And yet, if I didn’t get a hold of it, it could end up hurting Tala in the long run. As much as it pained me, I had to try to do better...for her if for no other reason.
Letting my knuckles rap against the wood, I found my feet already stepping away trying to put space between me and the person that would answer the door. A beautiful man opened the door as a woman’s laugh pierced the darkness from beyond it. The dampened dark hair and the towel riding low around his well-sculpted hips suggested he was fresh from the shower. Well, at least these beasts seemed as fond of their own cleanliness as much as they were fond of making others around them sanitary.
When he cocked his head to the side and smiled nearly seductively at me, I could feel my insides tighten as my fists clenched. That smile on his face made me thankful for the change of normal clothes that was in the bathroom after my own shower. Wearing that low-cut and revealing garment they call a dress would have given this man too much to consider as he let his eyes rove over my entirety. As it was, the form-fitting jeans and low-cut bell-sleeved top were still a little more revealing than I would have liked.
“Are you quite finished ogling me?” The snarl was past my lips before I could stop them.
Almost as if he were trying to get a rise out of me, he ignored my question as he continued to assess my worth. His dark chocolate brown eyes finally returned to my face while his long, lean frame leaned against that of the door. Crossing his arms over his chest, he took in a deep lung full of air and let his smile grow bigger at his revelation.
“Well, what do we have here?” His words were spoken on a low growl of seduction as his tongue practically danced over each word, and it made my skin crawl.
“There is no we, and you certainly have nothing here that warrants your attention.” I practically sneered at him. “Clearly, you are not who I am looking for.” I turned away from the man at the door ready to walk away before he stood up straight and shot an arm out to stop me from leaving.
“I could be,” he cooed with a smarmy smile that made my skin crawl.
Snatching my arm back, I practically sneered at him. “Keep your filthy paws off me!” The man laughed, and the waves of it echoed in the hallway. “Appears someone has been keeping you a secret around here.”
I glared at him as he took a step towards me. “Could it have anything to do with you not knowing personal boundaries?” The sarcasm and snarl in my words could hardly be missed, and I reprimanded myself. You don’t poke the bear in his den, and I was dealing with something far worse than bears.
The man’s eyes darkened as his lips twisted in anger. Great, I poked the damn bear! Though I attempted to move away from him, his hand grabbed my arm roughly as he forcibly drove me against the wall. His body pinned mine hard against it, and my one free arm was trapped in between us. Pain ricocheted through the bad arm that he had pinned between us, and anger surged through me.
As I opened my mouth to sling more blasphemous remarks at him, this man clamped a hand over it while he took another drag of air deep into his lungs. “I will excuse your lack of respect towards a visiting alpha on the grounds of ignorance,” he started as he leaned into me, placing his nearly perfect nose at the juncture of my neck. “Because you smell so pure, and so...divine.” He breathed those words into my neck, sounding for the life of me as if he was intoxicated by the scent
This man infuriated me, and I was already past poking the bear. That bear was poking back as I could feel the length of him pressing into my abdomen. I wanted to throw a fist at his face, or bring a knee hard up into his groin. Squirming beneath him, I snapped my head toward the meaty part of his hand and bit down hard. The man snarled as he snatched it away from my teeth and whipped it harshly across my face, causing it to snap sideways from the impact.
There was no way I would let the man think he got the best of me, and I slowly turned my head back to meet his gaze full on. Though my cheek burned from the lashing, I found my voice and growled at him. “And I will excuse your lack of manners on the grounds that you are a pig.” My squirming was doing nothing but enticing this man to move ever closer to my body, so I stood rigid against him willing every part of my body to shrink away from those areas that he brushed against.
The man’s eyes went black, and he seemed to grow a few inches taller as he stood above me. A sadistic smile crossed his features as his fingers dug into my arm where he still clutched it. “I am going to enjoy teaching you how to submit to an alpha.” When his claws dug further into my arm, I yelped. “It won’t hurt...much,” he laughed as he pressed himself even closer against me.
“Drake?” The whisper of a female voice came from the recess of the door only a few feet away.
The man known as Drake snuffed as he spoke to her over his shoulder. “Go on back to your room, Lily. I have no more need for you.” He turned those black eyes back on me, and I swallowed hard. “I have found my entertainment for tonight...and maybe for a few nights to come,” he said as he smiled wickedly.
“But…” the woman’s voice sounded hurt. “You said...you were going to...we were…” When her voice broke, I could not help but wonder what female tears did to these beasts. Did these beasts break beneath them like most men?
The lopsided grin made my heart go out to the young woman. This man was toying with her affections. “You knew from the beginning you were nothing more than amusement.” Casting a brief, dismissive glance at the woman positioned behind him, he continued. “Now, leave us.”
The sound of scurrying footsteps sounded in the hall, along with gentle sobs. It was unmistakably human, and I could not help but wonder what she saw in this man. What I saw was an overbearing, neanderthal that could not take no for an answer.
“Now, where were we?” With a free hand, it slid it down to my hip as he followed the movement with his eyes.
“You were about to release that which is mine!” The growl thundered through the hall, and Drake paused.
Lifting his head to the side, he smirked at the newcomer. “Ah, Lord Kolbeck!” The frame of him remained pressed against me, and he did not make any moves to let me go. “This exquisite piece of ass showed up at my doorstep,” he smirked at me as he let his hand move back up to my waist. “I was thinking of a little nibble before breakfast.”
“Nibble?” I couldn’t stop my mouth from running off. “If there is a God, he will give you a rash in your nether regions that will have you pissing fire if you so much as show me your canines!”
Before the man could respond, he fell to his knees and my whole body went limp from the lack of pressure that once pinned me against the wall. Whipping my head up, I watched as Kallan gripped the man’s shoulder so tight that I could hear the grinding of bones. “I don’t think you heard me right. It was not a request, it was a command!” The voice was deadly as he leaned over the man that he had brought to his knees. In a calm voice, he continued his threatening tone. “You do not touch what is mine...ever!”
The alpha had gone pale, though his features had darkened. “She is unclaimed, and the law is clear!”
“My laws, dictated by me. Don’t forget who the laws bend for!”
Moving away from the two men that took up nearly the entirety of the hall, I watched in shock as these two men debated propriety while the pain for the one had to be excruciating. Kallan’s eyes were black, though he remained in his form without using the intimidating height and strength of his lycan.
“You’ve never been opposed to sharing before,” the man said through clenched teeth as another shock of pain raged through him.
The snapping sound followed, and the man’s collar bone broke into two. The once smooth surface that spanned from his neck to his shoulder was now jagged and...crushed. My stomach revolted, and breakfast was now the furthest thing from my mind. “Stop,” I spoke as I nearly gagged on the word.
Drake’s scream pierced through the hall, and Kallan stooped lower still as he spoke once more. “I draw the line with this one,” his voice was menacing and deadly. “You so much as look like you are going to touch her in the future, and you and your pack will fall at my hand.” The fear on Drake’s face morphed his black eyes to those chocolate browns that he sported initially. “Are we clear,” Kallan asked, though it sounded more of a demand of compliance as he exaggerated each word.
Drake nodded, bowing his head in submission to the beast of a man that still stood above him. When Kallan drew his arm back, I was mortified to see the claws damp with blood. The man still on the ground recoiled from Kallan’s shadow as he scampered across the floor towards the open door to the room where he apparently was staying.
Clearly, Drake had no idea when he had been given a pass as he decided to open his mouth and let something else fall out. Casting a glance my way, he scowled. “Dare you believe that a human is worth risking your empire?”
Kallan flicked a hand out to his side, and the claws on that hand immediately lengthened at the action. He swiped that clawed hand against the handsome facial features of Drake, and the man howled with pain. Kallan snarled at the man that now clutched at his own shredded face. “How dare you question me! Human or not, the woman who will bear my mark is your superior.” The man’s eyes rounded as his mouth fell open. “Now, you will live with evidence of your insolence.” Drake’s face fell as small tendrils of blood snaked through the fingers that pressed against his wound.
“Aye, that’s right. She’s mine.” His black eyes lifted to meet mine, and a shudder coursed through me. A knowing smile slid across his lips as a corner of his mouth lifted in appreciation. He continued to hold my gaze as he continued to speak to Drake. “And there is no defying that law.”
When he moved past the man that remained cowed on the floor, I flinched. Kallan’s eyes were still black, and his muscles were still taut and strained through the fabric of his shirt. It was intimidating, to say the least.
Standing in front of me, he narrowed his gaze on me. “Mina para, how many more of my own must I maim or kill due to your lack of propriety?” His hand smoothly lifted and ran across my arm, causing gooseflesh to litter my skin.
“My propriety?” I hissed as I backed away from him to put some distance between us. “That man,” I continued as I glanced past Kallan to see the door to the room shut firmly. “What you did to him was not on me!”
“Ah, but I would aim to protect that which is mine, and you are mine.” He stepped in closer, and I bristled at his possessive words.
“I am not yours,” I started. Don’t poke the bear. Don’t poke the bear. Don’t poke the bloody bear! Taking a steadying breath, I tried to calm my anger. Blast this man! Unfortunately, he was my way to helping Tala, and he was making it difficult to remember that.
Kallan tilted his head to the side as he watched my expression, a knowing smile spreading across his face. Damn him! “You are more mine than you realize, mina para.” His face changed as it became suddenly very serious. “There will be consequences for your actions. Tala will…”
At the mention of Tala, I could feel my insides start to seize. She was my weakness, and he knew it. My face twisted with anger and disbelief as I struggled to control the words that wanted to fly at him. “You...you can’t...how dare you try to continue to use her against me!” Seriously, I tried.
“So much fire, and so much of it misplaced.”
A rather large man was walking towards us, and it once again struck me how beautiful all these creatures were. There was not one of them that had any flaws that I could tell, besides being the beasts they were, of course. “Lord Kolbeck,” the man said as he approached. His head was kept down in a submissive hunch, and his eyes remained averted until Kallan spoke to him.
“Please take Miss Killian to the master’s quarters. Be sure that she has nourishment as her body is still on the mend. She is to remain there, guarded, unless I instruct it otherwise.” His words were formidable, with no possibility of being denied. The man fully expected his every wish and command to be fulfilled, and there was a deadly intent clear for those that would not comply.
“But…Tala,” I started, my voice faltering as I thought about what was being said.
Kallan smirked at me and shook his head. “You have made it clear that I cannot allow you to continue to be without supervision of my choosing. Tala will be without your comfort. She is a grown woman, now. She can look after herself.” He stepped closer to me, letting his hand wrap around my upper arm. “You, however, need some time to...understand your predicament.” Then he leaned forward to whisper in my ear. “I eagerly await for the day that you have healed and there is no more risk of me hurting you. Then, you will know what is to be claimed by me. And I will own all of you, mina para. There will be no part of you that I have not claimed as mine.” With his sharp teeth, he nipped at the juncture of my neck and shoulder. I yelped, causing him to chuckle at the sound that echoed in the hallway. Then, unceremoniously, he propelled me towards the other lumbering man in the hallway. “Take her away!”
The man took my arm and turned on his heel. Digging my own heels in, I tried to wrench myself free of this man, but it was futile. “You arrogant, controlling,” don’t poke the bear, “underhanded, demanding,” don’t poke the bear! I let out a loud snarl of frustration that ricocheted down the hall, and the deep, throaty laughter that followed only increased my ire.
Swirling back to look at him, he stood watching me with a dark glint in his eyes. “And feared, mina para. For a reason. You would do best to remember that!” After spinning around, he moved down to the end of the hall and through a door I had not explored yet. And, like that, I was dismissed...and very pissed off.