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Chapter 8| Torture

It had not been my intention to venture out tonight. I'd been in a sour mood all week, and after a long day, I just wanted to enjoy a glass or two of whiskey and try to get some rest.

Sleep had avoided me this week, and Maverick's restlessness certainly didn't make things easier. I was quick to anger and easily annoyed, shit, even Maverick pissed me off.

Training had proved to be an effective way to tire me to the point of exhaustion, but she plagued my dreams.

I'd close my eyes and I'd see her; a tender kiss, a passionate touch, our bodies intertwined were the images that flashed in my head in quick succession.

It felt so real, right down to the sensations that flared when I felt her. When we were joined, the euphoria was almost blinding, it made me wonder what it would feel like to really have her.

The way she'd sing my name was enough to send me over the edge, but the moment would always end before we could reach that point.

Instead, I would find myself in the forest desperately searching for my mate, my true mate, only to find her broken and bruised beyond recognition.

The pain that would set in was unbearable; I would run on trembling knees, falling beside her, knowing what I would find each and every time, but expecting a different result.

Insanity.

She was dead, not a single breath, not a single heartbeat, just gone. My Elaine, the strongest woman I've ever known, the kindest, fiercest soul I had been blessed to be linked to. The love of my life, lay cold in the foliage, gone from me.

To know what it was like to have felt her light, as though it were a living, breathing part of me and then to feel it's absence. To tear from me what was meant to be irrevocably bound.

There were no words to describe that kind of agony. No words to describe the chilling darkness that now resided in the space once occupied by the best part of me.

I cried and screamed, and Maverick would rise to the surface. Grief, and pure rage pushing us to shift, to kill. The snap of a twig would alert us to the intruder, the killer. My baser instincts demanded blood and I would have it this night.

Bending to a crouch I was on the attack, but from the greenery would emerge Amina, who instantly brought me happiness like I've never known.

The soul-crushing pain of losing Elaine suddenly lifted. My heart felt full again, but then I'd look down to the ground where my mate lay, her eyes absent of the light they once held-fixed on me.

"Did you ever love me?" The voice would whisper, "How easily you forget me," the voice said with more clarity. Her mouth wasn't moving, but I knew that voice, I'd know her voice anywhere. "Elaine, my love, I could never-" I couldn't finish, my voice broke off into a sob.

"I died for you," she'd say, her voice grief-stricken, "You knew what being mated to you entailed. That your enemies would come for me. You said you'd protect me! You promised!" She shouted as she sobbed. So much pain, I thought. She whispered, "Look how easily you've forgotten me. Your mate."

She sounded so tired, so broken, but what could I say? I was an alpha, a hybrid at that and I failed her.

I couldn't protect the love of my life, what kind of man was I? What kind of leader was I?

She was right, at the sight of Amina, I'd forgotten her like she never existed, what kind of person was I?

These were the thoughts that raged on in my mind as I watched Amina walk across the forest. She approached me, never uttering a single word.

When we came face to face, she reached up to touch me and it was only then did I realized her blood-stained hands. When the thought registered, I awoke. Three hours of sleep, like always.

The same damn dream every night this week. Its own special form of torture, it drove me insane with both need and repulsion in equal measure.

I wanted her, Goddess knew I wanted her, but how could I crave her so as though I never loved another? Elaine had been the light of my life these last 6 years, and in one moment it was as if Amina eclipsed what we had.

"The Goddess doesn't make mistakes," had been a new mantra of mine I adopted this week, but it brought me no comfort.

Was this a test of wills? To see how weak the doubly blessed moon child was? To see if I would fall for a woman who was potentially involved in the death of the two women most dear to me?

"Fuck you, Selene," I said with gritted teeth.

In my anger, I threw the glass of whiskey in the fireplace. I watched the flames roar as the alcohol made contact with the fire.

I couldn't care less, if anything I found comfort in the flames. Its warmth was inviting, so much so that I wanted to touch it, and I would if I knew it wouldn't burn me.

Something about the destructiveness of the element spoke to me. Perhaps because deep down I knew that I was just as destructive, just as reckless.

What was that saying about kin again? Like fire, I needed to be contained, since I lost Elaine I had been a ticking time bomb, and now with Amina, I'd gotten even worse.

I'd had a taste, but it wasn't enough. I wanted more, needed more. I rarely catered to my vampiric needs, after all, I was more wolf than I was vampire, but with Amina, I was tempted to taste her essence. Her scent, a mix of honey and cinnamon; her skin the taste of caramel.

I stood up, holding on to the ledge above the fireplace for dear life. I couldn't take the thoughts any longer, they were crippling.

The sharp inhale of air did nothing to clear my mind. The desire for her had reached its peak, it was bringing out the beasts in me, and I needed to control it. I-

"Alpha? I knocked a few times but you never answered, I," he paused before continuing, "Are you okay?"

I took a deep breath before responding, "The whiskey...it's not helping. Balfore, what do you do when you need to take the edge off?"

He sighed, staring at me with pointed gaze before responding, "Wolfsbane. You must spike the drink."

I could see the disappointment etched into his face as he looked at me, the more I sensed his judgment the more my irritated I grew, "You know why I'm doing this, so stop," my voice was a bit distorted as Maverick rose to the surface.

One of the many reasons why Balfore was my second in command was because he knew how to diffuse situations.

He knew when persistence was necessary and when it was not, and he understood this moment was the latter. "Okay," he said with resignation, "How about a night out to blow off some steam?"

"No."

"Come on, it'll be fun, it's just what you need to take the edge off."

I didn't disagree, but I wasn't interested in dodging women tonight. Hybrid or not, for humans they have quite the grip when they're drunk and on a mission.

I shook my head, "No, I just need-"

"Matthew invited us, he said Amina would be there."

I froze before her name could slowly spill from my lips as I processed the information, "Amina," I stated rather than questioned, still I waited for verification.

"Yes."

"Where?" I said as calmly with eyes fixed on my beta.

"Ascend, " he said with a smile.

Asshole, my gaze still on him as his smile broadened. He knew I had no choice but to go.

Of all the places they chose the fucking Crescent District. It was paranormal territory, and of all the clubs, Ascend! It was all in the name; corny as it was it spoke directly to the vampiric nature.

There's no way Amina would walk out of that club alone. They would sense she was human and would take advantage.

Unless she was aware of what lurked in the Crescent District? I mean she did have the Brotherhood of Knight's bracelet, surely she knew what it meant, but what if she didn't?

I could feel Balfore's smirk as he watched me pace back and forth in my office. I really wanted to punch him in his throat.

"Still want that wolfsbane, alpha?"

Jackass.

"Yes."

The wolfsbane would weaken me, although slightly as I was an apex predator twice over.

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't take it, but I could hardly control myself as it was and the chances of control with Amina were highly unlikely.

"We leave in an hour, Balfore."

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