Where Flowers Don't Belong

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Bathed in Black

“Tell me exactly how this wound came to be,” his deep voice said gratingly.

I opened my mouth to speak but was embarrassed when nothing but a small squeak came out. I was too afraid to talk. What would he think of me after I told him what happened? I was so desperate to be in his good graces and didn’t want that to change.

I tried to hold back the tears, force them back down, but was unable stop the loud hiccup that came from my mouth. And just like that, the flood gate opened and I was sobbing uncontrollably in front of the king.

“I’m so sorry!” I said through my tears. I didn’t care if he had just asked me to stop apologizing; I couldn’t help it. “I-I’m so sorry. I was s-so stupid! I wasn’t looking where I was going and I-I tripped over my own feet like an idiot and fell and d-dropped the p-plate.” I was crying so hard at this point that I wouldn’t be surprised if the king didn’t understand a word I said. “Beta Michael punished me and gave me what I deserved by hitting me with the butt of a knife. T-that’s how I got t-the bruise...” I dropped my face into my hands and cried freely, my body moving up and down in out-of-control spasms.

I cried for a while. I couldn’t even bring myself to care when the king abruptly wrapped his arms around me and began speaking to me, too caught up in my emotions of dread and fear. I didn’t want to listen to whatever lecture he was giving me, so I just continued to sob, drowning out whatever he was saying. I knew what I did was unforgivable. I didn’t want to hear it from him.

It occurred to me that the way the king was touching me wasn’t harsh enough for what I deserved. The way he had his arms around me and was rocking me back and forth didn’t hurt at all. I deserved pain.

With that in mind, still sobbing uncontrollably, I brought my hand up and smashed it down onto the bruise on my head with all the force I possessed. I cried harder when the pain flew throughout my body and caused my world to spin and black dots to dance in my vision. The king screamed something in my ear, but I ignored him and smashed my hand down over and over again, intent on giving myself the pain I deserved.

“What are you doing?! Stop!” the king yelled. He grabbed my wrists and pushed them to my sides even though I fought against him. I was too weak at this point. I was too tired. “Stop...” he said again, quieter this time.

I hung my head and cried silently for a moment, shame coursing through me. The king did nothing but continue to hold my wrists and breathe out heavily. After a few minutes, my crying stopped and my body went numb.

The king, still standing in front of me, gently grabbed my chin and tilted my head up until I was looking at him. His eyes were so gentle now. Sad. Broken. What had made him look like that?

He shut his eyes and leaned down until our foreheads were touching gently. He placed his hands on either side of my face and rubbed his thumbs on my cheeks. Why did his touch feel so good? “Please,” he whispered gently, “please, never, ever, do that again.” He squeezed my cheeks and looked at me. Were there tears in his eyes? “You have to promise me that you won’t ever hurt yourself again. Under any circumstance. I can’t-” He paused and swallowed harshly, looking pained. “You just can’t hurt yourself. Please. You have to promise me that.”

A sudden and unexpected need to make him feel better consumed me. I didn’t want him to be sad.

I nodded my head. “I’m sorry,” I whispered, hoping it would help take the pain out of his expression. “I won’t do it again.”

The king knelt down in front of me, going to his knees so that he was eye level with me. My immediate instinct was to also go to my knees as a human slave should not be at the same level as the alpha king. We must always be lower. Without even thinking, I made the move to get off the bed but the king’s hand firmly placed on my hip stopped me. It was like he knew what I was doing.

“There is no need for that, love,” he said softly. “Stay where you are.”

He frowned, his gaze going from the top of my head, to my black eye, to my purple and black ribs that he could still see through my undergarment. His eyes were changing color, his irises flickering from light blue, to dark blue, to the most terrifying one of all, bright red. His wolf and vampire were upset.

He growled softly and, to my utter surprise, dropped his face into my lap. I jumped in shock.

“They said it would be difficult but I never imagined this," he whispered roughly into the bare skin of my thighs. I almost didn’t hear him.

I looked down at the golden blonde head of hair in my lap in complete bewilderment. What the heck was happening right now? I felt like screaming out in frustration and confusion. The king of all creatures was taking comfort in my lap!

After a minute or two of the king breathing deeply into the bare skin of my legs, he finally lifted his head and straightened so that we were once again at eye level. His hands found my thighs again, gently parting them and moving his large form in between, never taking his eyes from me. My breathing escalated at his touch. I could feel my cheeks turning a dark red as he leaned forward and placed his forehead against mine once again. I could feel his breath on my lips. He smelled like toothpaste.

“No more hurting yourself. Ever. And next time, you will tell me when you are in pain. Am I clear?” he said sternly.

I nodded in response, distracted by the way that his large hands were moving up and down my thighs. The position we were in was extremely... intense and um, well....intimate.

“Words,” the king said, causing my eyes to snap back to his. “I want your words. I am very serious about this.”

About not hurting myself? About telling him about my injuries? About speaking when he asks questions?

“Yes,” I breathed out, hoping he would take it as agreement to all three terms. “I’m sorry.”

Fresh injuries meant less healing and more pain for his punishments. At least that I understood. And it would be too merciful to punish myself. He wanted to do it himself.

The king stood and took a step back, running his hand through his golden curls in frustration. I couldn’t stop myself from admiring the way in which his muscles flexed, my eyes captivated by the way he moved. He was so strong. I wish I were that strong. Maybe then I would be more useful to my pack.

His eyes scanned me up and down and then he stepped towards me and slowly grabbed the string around my waist. He began to work at the knot, trying to undo it.

My hands twitched at my sides, nearly grabbing his hands to stop him before falling back down. I had been wearing that string around my waist since I was twelve years old. I wasn’t allowed to take it off. Didn’t he know that?

The king’s eyes snapped up to look at my face the moment he saw my hand’s slight movement.

“What?” he asked.

I kept quiet.

The king took my hands into his own and squeezed them gently. “Something is on your mind. Please, talk to me. I want to know.”

I opened my mouth to speak but nothing came out. Sudden exhaustion washed over me. I didn’t want to do this anymore.

The king sighed when I didn’t answer. I was surprised when he didn’t touch the string around my waist again. He didn’t even touch my undergarment. He simply picked up the white shirt off the floor and handed it to me.

“Put this on. I don’t know what I will do if I have to look at those bruises for a moment longer. We will ice them tomorrow.”

I swallowed harshly as I quickly took off my undergarment all the way and put the shirt on. I knew it. I knew he would be disgusted by my body. How could he not be?

And what had he meant by “icing” them? Could it be that he was going to cover me in ice until I died from the cold? That would be a horrible way to go. I had once been locked out of the packhouse and forced to sleep in the snow. It had been the worst night of my life. Well, until now. My hands were swollen and covered in frostbite and I was sick for months.

Once the shirt was covering me, the bottom going all the way down to my knees, the king grabbed my hand. He pulled me to the bed. “It is time to sleep,” he said.

My head snapped up to look at him. “Sleep?”

He stopped and looked back at me, surprised that I had spoken. His face turned to one of anger. Uh oh. “Yes, sleep,” he growled. “They let you sleep around here, don’t they?”

“You don’t want to have sex?” I asked.

The moment the words left my mouth, my eyes widened to the size of saucers. My hand slapped over my mouth. I did not just say that. God, did I have no filter? He probably thought I was a whore, begging for him to get into my panties.

The king’s eyes darkened as the presence of his wolf became clear.

“Sex?” he asked in a low, husky voice. My body reacted to it in a strange way, sending shivers down my spine. “You thought we were having sex tonight?”

The intense stupidity that I felt at his words was overwhelming. Of course he didn’t want to sex with me. How could I have ever thought that?

I removed my hand from my mouth. “Forgive me, I didn’t mean to offend you. I had assumed that was what you meant when you said you were bringing me to bed. I realize my mistake now.”

Although I couldn’t see him, I could tell that he was fuming. He had every right to be angry. Who was I to assume that the alpha king would want to be with me in such an intimate way? If he wanted me in that way then it would mean that I was worthy somehow. I was not worthy and was a fool to think otherwise.

He growled. “Exactly how many men have brought you into their bed before?” he asked in a voice that was calm but deadly at the same time.

I gasped. Did he think I had been with other men? Did he think of me as a whore who took pleasure in having sex with as many men as possible? “None, your majesty! I have saved my virginity just as Madame Melinda has instructed all the slaves to do! I promise!”

His hand grabbed my chin and lifted my eyes to meet his furious ones. “Instructed to save your virginity?” he breathed out sharply. “Why on earth were you instructed to save your virginity?”

Didn’t he know how being a slave worked? Young, female slaves were always given away to men. It was how I always knew my life would turn out. “To be gifted to a man when I came of age, your majesty. In order to please that wolf with my purity.”

An earth-shaking growl left the king. I squealed in shock and covered my ears at the loud noise. Then, faster than I ever thought possible, the king flew across the room and into the bathroom, slamming the door closed behind him. A second later, loud bangs of destruction and roars of fury were heard. Was he tearing apart the bathroom again? Could it take anymore?

I stood where he had left me, shaking in fear as I listened to the loud sound of him demolishing the bathroom. Was it my response to his question that caused him to react this way? Was there a better way in which to respond?

A minute passed. And then two and three. During that time, I found myself dropping to my knees and bowing my head in hopes of lessening the king’s anger.

Finally, the door of the bathroom flew open and the pounding steps of the king entered the room. Every breath that came from his mouth sounded more like a growl as his wolf continued to fight for control.

I tried to calm my chaotic nerves as his feet quickly approached me. He stopped in front of me and, without saying a word, lifted me into his arms the way he had so many times already that night. He didn’t look at me as he marched us over to the bed and unceremoniously dropped me in the middle. He leaned over me, placing his hands on either side of me. I had no choice but to lay back as he looked down at me with a fierce expression.

“We will not be having sex tonight,” he snapped. “We will sleep and that is it. You need sleep. Understood?”

I nodded quickly, scared but also secretly relieved by his words. “Yes, your majesty.”

He growled for the hundredth time that night at my response. “Stop calling me that.”

Realizing my mistake, I quickly corrected myself. “I’m sorry! Yes, Elijah.”

I watched, completely helpless, as the king went around the suite and began to put out all of the candles lighting the room. Shouldn’t he have a servant do this for him? Shoot, I was the servant!

I sat up. “Do you want me to—”

One look from the king’s piercing gaze had me shutting right up. His expression told me all I needed to know. He didn’t want me saying another word tonight.

Do you think you can do that, slave? the voice in my head said.

With every candle that the king blew out, the room became darker my nerves rose. It occurred to me that once all the lights were out, the king would still be able to see me due to his wolf genes but I would have no way of seeing him. What would he do to me in the dark?

With that question stirring up intense fear in the bottom of my stomach, the last candle was blown out and we were bathed in black.

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