Forgotten Wolf

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41 Flayer

“The fuck, is a flayer?!” I ask, throwing up my hands in exasperation.

I’m just gonna leave vampires for another day. Based on his tone, now we’re screwed.

“Not good,” he grumbles.

I just glare at him. “Got anything more helpful for me!?”

He studies me for a moment while he comes up with a new game plan. “I thought it was just the old fashioned way of elbow grease ’till they wore me down enough to get me to tell them what they wanted. Flayers are kind of like sadistic psychics.” He pauses, trying to find the right description.

‘Well that sounds just delightful.’ ‘I can do this, I guess my ex was good for something after all, sadists I can handle.’

“They won’t need me to tell them anything, they just have to break my mind enough to get in to find what they’re looking for.” He’s trying to put on a brave face but I can feel his concern.

“What are they looking for?” I whisper, shaken by his confession.

“Information on the lost royal would be my guess. It’s the only thing of value that I know.” He shifts to look at me, brown eyes boring into mine. “I can’t tell them. Under any circumstances, you understand this right?”

“But you said they can just rip it from your mind?” I question, not understanding his statement.

“Even with extreme pain I won’t break, I’ve been extensively trained for this. It’s going to go from bad to worse, real quick. Flayers are not patient people, though it takes a toll to dig around and hit walls. That explains why he was only here for a short time each day.” He seems to take a small comfort in this.

“He’s going to kill you,” I whisper as the realization hits me hard.

“Probably,” he replies as if he isn’t talking about his own end.

“Don’t you care at all?” I ask incredulously.

“It’s part of the job,” he replies as he smiles sadly at me. “It’s expected that I’d lay my life down for the crown, I knew it when I signed up.”

“I can’t prepare you for this,” the remorse is clear in his voice. “Don’t show him anything, hold out as long as you can, showing fear will just be like blood in the water for a shark.”

Derek has always been a formidable asshole, this tender worried side scares the shit out of me.

“Try and rest as much as you can, exhaustion will make you more vulnerable.” His hand brushes my cheek. “No tears for me either. I’m so sorry I dragged you out into the woods-”

“Like either of us expected this,” I say with a bitter laugh.

His laugh brings me out of my own funk. “You’re handling this surprisingly well,” he says skeptically.

I shrug. “I freak out about thinking things, shit that doesn’t make any sense. This is tangible, he’s right here, for now it’s one foot in front of the other. I’ll have my breakdown later and you can bring me hot coco and rub my feet then.” My voice is bitter but I’m desperately hoping we can look back on this later as a bonding moment. We’ve never been close, but I’m glad he’s here with me.

The door opens and the man who caught me comes in only long enough to toss a bundle in before leaving and locking up again. I walk over to see what he tossed in: a ratty thin blanket, two bottles of water, and hunk of bread.

I checked the seals on the bottles, both are safe. I hand one to Derek, who gulps greedily while I sip mine. With half a bottle left, I hand it over along with the bread.

“You need it,” he says, trying to refuse it.

“I’m not the one leaking everywhere, besides my stomach is still churning, I can’t imagine trying to eat,” I reply, dramatically hugging my stomach.

After making sure, he drinks the rest of my water and eats all of the bread. I curl up against him with the ratty blanket and slip into desperately needed sleep.

-----

The next four days went on fairly similarly. The men would move Derek out and either bind him to the pole or shackle him to the ceiling. They’d leave and Jonah would spend an hour or so trying to break him. I’d sit in the corner wrapped up in the disgusting blanket and try to tune out as much as possible.

Derek is really beginning to look like shit; enough so that they increase our food and water allotment. His last beating, I saw him whipped. His back is split painfully open and bleeding freely. I hate just sitting here powerless, but there is nothing I could do to fix it.

“Talk to me,” he says, voice strained and laced with pain. “Tell me something happy, like how you met Chris, I could use a distraction.”

I laughed nervously. “I’m not sure it counts as happy,” I trail off.

“Tell me anyways.” He sits with his head held back against the wall, eyes closed. His body is failing him and the silver collar is preventing his wolf from healing him. Broken and bruised ribs make even breathing painful.

“When I first met him, it didn’t go well. The first time he noticed me and realized I was his mate, he lost his shit. I had spent the afternoon swimming with Jace so apparently I smelled like him. This was before I knew the whole shifter part.”

“He cornered me at my truck, scaring the crap out of me. Saying he’s waited so long, but I thought he meant I took too long to come back. I panicked and tried to get away, he thought I was running and rejecting him. Needless to say, he got mad and I freaked out, it ended with him kicking me out and telling me not to come back. It’s kind of funny now how we were on two different pages completely, but at the time it scared the shit out of me,” I finish with a nervous chuckle, his intensity haunted my dreams for weeks.

“My brother has never been smooth,” Derek chuckles.

“He has his moments,” I admit with a smile. “There were a couple small things that happened, but the next major one was when he showed up at the club... Which I got suckered into.”

“You got my brother to go to a club?” he asks skeptically.

I just shrug. “I guess so. I was drinking, a lot. They aren’t my go to destinations but Jude was having fun with everyone. I don’t know, I drank enough to get up dancing with them and he showed up. I tried to run but he called me on it. Then I tried to say I was thirsty but he gave me his drink and turned me back to dancing. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest when he grabbed my hips to dance. But eventually I caved and we danced and lost everyone else.”

“My baby brother has some game after all,” he laughs before wincing.

“I guess so, think that was the first time I spent the night? He insisted I drank too much, really I wasn’t that bad.” A grin plays across my face as I remember that night. Chris insisted that I take the bed but he barely fit on the couch.

“You sound like a lot of work,” he teases.

“I really am,” I frown.

“He doesn’t seem to mind it one bit,” Derek replies. When I don’t respond, he continues, “You make him happy you know? You never saw him before, but he’s better with you.”

A sudden wave of sadness and guilt washes across me. I feel like I’ll never see him again and that thought terrifies me. In such a short time, he has worked his way in and has become so important to me.

“None of that, he’s coming, just needs more time.” He’s sounding very drained. “We should catch some sleep while we can. Thank you,” he whispers.

-----

The sixth day of this routine is looking very bad. Even with giving Derek the lion’s share of the food and water, his injuries are getting to be too much. His light is starting to flicker, even as strong as he was he can’t handle much more.

He’s hanging limp from the ceiling. His sarcastic remarks had stopped yesterday, like he has nothing left. Jonah is unrolling a wrap of various knives on a counter to the side, the wicked blades catch the dull light and make me shudder.

“I’m running out of patience Guardian. As much as I’ve enjoyed our time together, it’s coming to an end.” There’s a dangerous promise in his voice that sends a shiver down my spine.

Jonah picks up the first knife and buries it deep in his shoulder. Derek grunts out and hisses in the pain, slumping against his restraints.

“Stop! You’re killing him,” I shout desperately before I can think about it.

Jonah slowly turns to me, a cruel smirk spreads across his face that fills me with fear. “Is that so SUGAR?”

My heart stops hearing that word slip past his demonic lips. He abruptly swings the door open and stands before me. I drop my gaze and aim for meek as I try to reel in my emotions.

Without warning, he grabs my arm and instantly I try to pull away. My struggle only excites him further, earning a sinister laugh as Derek snarls in rage.

‘Well that seems to have relit his fire.’ ‘Great, at least I’m good for something!’

“If you touch her I’ll-” Derek starts before being cut off.

“You’ll what?! Snarl in your chains like some wild animal?” Jonah’s voice is colder than ever as he snakes a hand to my throat. “I’m going to do a lot more than just touch her,” he promises and I can’t suppress my shudder at his words as I fight to keep the panic at bay.

Suddenly Derek locks his eyes with mine, a fierce determined look as he says one word. “Nothing.”

“Exactly,” Jonah scoffs thinking he’s won. But I know what he meant, he was telling me to show him nothing, to lock him out.

Jonah binds my wrists around the pole so I face it with my back to him and Derek. I steady my breathing trying to steel myself against whatever comes next. My heart drops as I hear him undo his belt.

He would rape me in front of my mates brother?!

My heart races in panic as I desperately try to think of anything else. Derek’s warning runs through my head. He’s just a sadistic psychic looking for a crack into my mind. I just need my walls again.

I can handle this, this isn’t the first time, I survived that too.

*Crack*

I didn’t even hear the belt come free as I was lost in my thoughts. I wasn’t prepared for the blow as the air is sucked out of my lungs leaving me gasping and my back burning.

*Crack*

A second blow brings a hiss from me as I clench my jaw. I stand my ground nails digging into the pole for support. There is a twisted sense of relief that washes over me as I realize he’s just pulling off his belt to beat me with it.

*Crack*

I gasp, my back burns like white fire over every strike and my legs threaten to buckle, leaving me panting and sagging against the pole.

“There really is no compassion left in you now is there Guardian?” Jonah asks. “You could stop her suffering.”

*Crack*

“Your brother’s mate means nothing to you? At all?” Jonah sneers. Derek’s silence is deafening but I know he can’t do anything to help me.

The next two blows come one after another and drop me to my knees as I pant, struggling to breathe. Renegade tears prick my eyes but I blink them away, refusing to let them fall.

I won’t cry for this asshole.

Blow after blow slice across my brutalized back, blending together in an agonizing blur as the darkness closes in on me. A small smile slips on my lips as I pass out. Part of me is at peace, I had won my little battle, I didn’t scream or cry or anything.

He didn’t break me.

-----

I wake up some time later, face down on the cold cement floor. I groan as I roll onto my side, fresh waves of pain radiating from the lashes across my back as I tuck into a ball.

“Jess! Thank the Goddess!” Derek exclaims, the relief clear in his voice. I turn my head towards his voice. He isn’t far behind me, once again chained by the neck to the wall. Painstakingly slow, I crawl the couple feet to him collapsing with my head on his lap. My back is on fire, I can’t catch my breath as my vision dances with stars, threatening to black out completely.

His hand feels like ice on my fevered skin as he brushes my hair back from my face, trying to soothe me. I just lay there panting, waiting for the pain to subside enough for my breathing to return to normal. He says nothing, just gently strokes my hair, giving me time to recover.

“Jess I’m so sor-”

“Don’t be, you did what you said, I brought this on myself when I opened my mouth.” I can’t help my bitter tone as I cut him off. “I know you can’t do anything,” I trail off sadly.

We sit there in silence for a while before he speaks again. “Where did you learn that?” I grunt in confusion, not knowing what he’s referring to.

“Guardians train to withstand things like that, normal people scream or cry or something, that doesn’t make them weak,” he trails off, his voice soft and full of concern.

After a while I finally break my silence. “My ex liked belts too,” I whisper. Derek freezes as he considers my words. “But they weren’t plain leather like his... They had gaudy metal belt buckles and the tip was always metal studded or something.”

“Does Chris know?” Derek whispers, continuing to stroke my hair.

“No, I don’t want him to know anything about that part of my life.” I cringe at the memories as they come, then push them aside, burying them deep like always.

“Jesus Jess, does anyone know?” He asks, stunned. I shake my head no. “Fuck you can’t just carry that around with you forever,” he trails off, concern obvious in his voice.

“He helps me to forget,” I whisper. “He makes me feel stronger.”

“You are strong, it’s not him. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through to stand there like that,” the disbelief is clear in his voice.

“I learned the hard way,” I shrug. “The first time he beat me I was so shocked I begged him to stop, the more I begged the more he hit. He enjoyed hearing me beg and cry.” The bile rises as I remember it, wishing I could have just told myself to run back then.

“We had a particularly bad weekend once. I don’t know when it started but it stopped when I just sat there staring at the ground too exhausted and numb to beg or cry anymore. It was like that took the fun out of it for him.”

“Why did you even stay with him?” He asks, his shock and utter disbelief wash over me.

I laughed bitterly, “it didn’t start out like that.” I sigh, feeling embarrassed about my stupidity. “He started off the model boyfriend, doting on me and treating me like a princess. Once I opened up he started using my insecurities against me.” I was so blinded or stupid, I should have ran the first time he called me fat but I didn’t.

“It started with my weight, he would just make small comments here and there, just to chip away at my self esteem. Then he drove a wedge between me and Trish. He started twisting my thoughts and turning them darker.” I shudder at the memories.

“Before long he had me believing I was a fat, ugly pig who was so lucky that such a great guy would even look at me. That no one else would ever want me or be able to put up with my shit like he did. That I should be grateful to lick his boots after he kicked me with them.”

I feel Derek stiffen as I tell my story, but he keeps quiet to let me continue.

“He used me however he saw fit, as if I was just there for his amusement with no say in it. He was never a faithful man but I didn’t care, it kept him away from me at times. It was bad enough when he touched me, but the night he tried to give me to his friend I broke away and never looked back.”

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?” He asks, the shock clear.

“And tell them what? After a year of playing house with a guy I didn’t want to do it anymore?!” I scoff. “No thank you! I was never locked up, I should have left a million times but I didn’t. It was my mistake, I got what I de-”

“The fuck you did,” Derek roars. His hand cups my cheek, pulling my gaze to him. “You didn’t deserve any of that,” he says and locks his fierce eyes on mine.

“I-”

“None of that was your fault! He’s sick, and should have been put down. He broke you down and took advantage of you.” The anger clear in his voice. “In packs shewolves are precious, it’s why mates are so protective. It’s not that they want to control and subjugate them, they are everything. They knit the pack together and bare the pups, without them there is no pack. Strong, happy shewolves make for strong, secure packs. That’s why any pack male will do anything to protect them.”

I sigh, feeling drained after telling my story for the first time ever.

“Jess... Why’d you tell me all of this, why now?” Derek asks with a sense of dread.

“Because I couldn’t keep the memories at bay. When he cracked me with his belt the memories from before fluttered through. I think he saw... It’s going to get a lot worse and I didn’t want you blind sided,” I trail off.

Please hurry Chris, I need you...

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