She pulled on the dress and looked at herself in the mirror with despair, the thud-thud of her heart hard in her chest. The red wine had faded to pink under, but it was still obvious that the dress was stained.
She snarled at herself in the mirror, the flush of frustrating rage rising red hot. She had wiped out her shoes, but the situation did not approve. She looked, she thought, like a tampon advert, who was trying to be modern using red instead of blue, and it just wasn’t going to do at all.
For a moment she indulged and pressed the heel of her hands against her eyes and cried, shoulder shaking, wracking cries of anguish. She didn’t cry about the ruined dress, or really even about the humiliation of being such a public victim of bullying, or even about her husband f-king another woman knowing she was only a door away, she cried about the fact that she had been so disposable to her family that they had sold her into such a situation and lied to her whilst doing so.
A love match, she had been told, fated mates, and fool as she was, she had believed it, because, from the moment she had set eyes on Baron Western, every fiber within her had told her that he was her One, her Only, and she had thought that such a thing was undeniable, that if it were true for her, it must also be for him.
Fool, she told herself now. She had been a fool then, and she was no less the fool now.
She drew in a deep breath and grabbed the lace collar of the dress, tearing the fabric away. In the vanity she found a pair of nail scissors, she cut and tore at her dress, until it’s lacey frills and neckline pulled away from the satin lining and then she pulled her hair out of the bun that she wore high on her head, shaking her hair down, and shoved her feet back into her high heels.
She regarded herself in the mirror. It was far from the polished glamour of Angelique, but there was a sexy dishevelment to the outfit stripped as it was back to its lining.
She opened the door into Baron’s office. His back was to her as he leaned against the window frame, looking out onto the city, and a couple of fingers of whiskey was in a crystal glass held negligently in his hand, his focus on the city streets.
The room smelled of sex, she thought, and pressed her tongue against the roof of her mouth, blocking the scent from her sinuses.
“Are you…” He turned and paused, his expression shifting.
“I am done,” she told him, deliberately ignoring the shift in his expression. “I am sorry to have kept you.”
“Jane,” he murmured, the ice in his glass rattling against the rim as it hung limp in his grasp.
She put her head down and walked across the room, opening the door. He followed behind her, she knew, always aware of his presence, the shift of fabric, the sound of the soles of his shoes against the concrete, his breath, heavy behind her. That sense that had betrayed her in telling her that he was her One, telling her where he was.
“Jane,” he said again as she opened the door into the club, but she stepped out, ignoring him, into the swell of music, and the scent of alcohol and cigar smoke.
She threaded between the busy, distracted people, oblivious to them, feeling only his eyes on her. She saw Angelique before her, and the she-wolf’s reaction, the sharply indrawn breath, the reassessment, before Jane caught a glass of champagne off a passing waiter’s tray and took it out onto the dancefloor with her.
She drank the glass dry in one hit, and someone took it from her, as a beta caught her eye, his smile flashing straight, sharp teeth, his suit displaying a body tight and taut, as he moved in on her. She drew in a breath, scenting him, and saw his eyes flash in response.
“Mine,” Baron growled, shoving the beta back, and blocking him and the others with his body. “Jane,” his voice was dark and dangerous, his hands finding her hips. “We need to leave.”
She didn’t want to leave; she wanted to dance and flirt with the betas. She leaned into him and inhaled. He smelt so good, making the pit of her stomach curl with desire. Alpha, his scent told her. The betas might be nice to play with, but an alpha was what she was after.
She stroked her hands up his chest, over his shoulders, and felt him inhale and draw her tightly against him. “We are leaving, Jane,” he said, the flash of his eyes, the growl in his voice, all staking his claim.
She was aware of the change of tone around her, the press of the betas, the flash of alpha’s eyes, and she resisted his pull against her. She saw the change in his expression as he felt her resistance, the shock. “Jane,” his tone changed, became more forceful.
He turned her, catching her up so that her back was against his chest, and caught her chin between his thumb and index finger, forcing her to look at the faces around them. “You are on heat,” he said in her ear. “Unless you want to be f-cked by every male in this room, you need to come with me right now.”
Looking around the faces that surrounded them, the feral glint in the males’ eyes, she swallowed hard, fear finding hold within her. When he next pulled against her, she went with him, without resistance.
He shoved his way into the cool night beyond the nightclub doors, drawing in heavy breaths as he did so, as if the scent of her was disgusting to him, as if he had held his breath in order not to scent her heat, and she felt the humiliation like a spear to the heart.
He growled at the concierge, and held her tightly against him, snarling at any male that drew too close, as they waited for the car to be brought around, and then shoved her into the door, before taking the driving seat.
He wound down the windows and drove with his face into the wind.
She turned her face to the open window and cried, the contortion of her face reflected back in the slither of glass that arched out of the door frame.
He parked out front of the house, with its ramshackle roofline, its balconies, and gothic towers, and slammed the car door with enough force that the car shook.
She had failed him again, she thought, by going into heat during his big night, by disrupting his party, embarrassed and humiliated him.
He pulled the door open and turned his face from her as she stepped out, keeping his breath shallow. “Go to your room,” he said, his voice low and dangerous. “And wait for me.”