The guys went back to playing cards and Rose stared out the window at the white sky, massive snowflakes coming down so thick you’d have to wear goggles to see anything if you went outside. One of them threw a book over to her after a while and it landed beside her on the bed. Looked like a nonfiction on the Revolutionary War. Boring. She cracked it and started reading anyway. It was better than staring at nothing.
Time passed and it started to get dark. They stopped their game. It didn’t look like they were playing for a winner, they just ended it when the clock on the microwave changed to 17:30. Evans and Riker made spaghetti for dinner, their movements in the kitchen together practiced and efficient. The three of them knew each other very well, Rose could see. They clearly made dinner together a lot, probably did other stuff together too. She bit her lip, felt herself blush and squirmed slightly in the bed. Where had that dirty thought come from any why did it make her feel so …?
From the kitchen, Evan’s movements faltered, and he took a deep breath through his nose. And then he looked right at her with a knowing expression on his face. Her eyes widened. He couldn’t know where her thoughts had gone. Could he? She looked back down at the book, pretending to be engrossed. She was sure she heard he and Riker both chuckle and her cheeks burned.
Pike brought her pasta to eat from a bowl on bed and she tucked in with gusto. She was starving again. How long ago had that sandwich been anyway? She moaned with the first bite. ‘Oh my God. This is amazing,’ she garbled with her mouth full.
Evans grinned. ‘Thanks.’
Riker snorted. ‘I taught him everything he knows, Princess.’
Evans rolled his eyes and shook his head. ‘Bullshit, asshole.’
She smiled in spite of herself and ate the rest in silence, Pike whisking her bowl away when she was done and doing the dishes. Everyone had their job to do and did it in a timely and effectively fashion. She’d bet good money they’d all been military at some point.
‘What do you wanna watch tonight?’ Pike asked, opening a cabinet built into the wall that she hadn’t noticed before. Inside was a flat-screen TV and she gaped. ‘You made me read the most boring book ever while you had that hidden away the whole time?’
Evans laughed. ‘It’s only for DVDs. There’s no satellite or anything.’
‘So? What DVDs do you have?’
Riker opened the other side of the cabinet and she was met with rows and rows of movies, neatly packed on six long shelves. Jesus, it looked like they were even alphabetized! ‘You dicks. I can’t believe you’ve been holding out on me like this all day.’
Even Riker chuckled. ‘Let Rose pick.’
‘No, it’s ok. I can’t really see ‘em from here anyway. So long as it’s not a war movie, I’m good.’
She picked up the book and waved it around. ‘I’ve had my fill of learning for the day, thanks. On the upside, you’ll be excited to know that I finally know the answer to the age-old question of ‘Where was the Battle of Bunker Hill actually fought?’ Spoiler, it wasn’t ‘near Bunker Hill’, which was the answer I gave on my high school US History final and cost me my B+. It was Breed’s Hill.’ She rolled her eyes at the book and slapped it down hard on the bedside table. ‘Who’d have fuckin’ thought,’ she said half to herself. When she looked up, they were all staring again.
‘I know, I know. I’m weird.’ She quirked her lips like it was a joke as she looked away. She didn’t feel like seeing ‘the face’; the confused, slightly aghast expression most people took on when she spoke to them at length. Keep it short, Rose. Keep it short …
When the appropriate amount of time had passed for them to have moved on, she looked back and found Evans still watching her. ‘Why do you do that?’
‘Say mean stuff about yourself.’
Rose frowned at him. ‘I didn’t realize I was. I guess I think it’s better to get in there with it first. Preempt.’
She glanced around. Pike was setting up the move. Riker was staring out the window at the darkness. Both were pretending not to listen to her and Evans’ exchange.
His brow furrowed and he looked genuinely perplexed. ‘Preempt?’
She looked down, shifting nervously. Why was he making this a thing? ‘Yeah. You know so no one can say it first, I suppose. It takes the power away from them.’
‘Who’s them?’ he asked somewhat coldly and she got the impression he expected like names of specific people.
‘Oh, uh … no one in particular these days. Just, you know, from school…kids can be dicks to each other. I wasn’t like the other kids so sometimes they were–‘
‘Mean?’ he finished for her.
She didn’t answer, getting more uncomfortable by the second. Why was he so focused on this?
‘Why weren’t you like the other kids?’
He edged closer. ‘You said you weren’t like the other kids. How were you different?’
Rose swallowed hard and suddenly felt at a distinct disadvantage, down here on the bed while he was on his feet. There was something else as well; a tingle that she tried to batten down as soon as she felt it. He was just so hot. They all were if she was honest. Evans came still nearer, nostrils flaring again, and it was starting to weird her out. Surely, even if he had some kind of super nose, he wouldn’t be able to get much over the horrible pine scent that pervaded the cabin.
Realizing she was just gazing up at him like a fucking fangirl, she gave herself a mental shake. ‘I wasn’t much fun, had responsibilities. I had to get home right after school everyday so I couldn’t do sports or extracurriculars and I spent every lunchtime in the library doing my homework.’
He sat down on the bed looking enthralled by her answers. ‘Why?’
‘I had to look after my dad.’ Seeing his next question, she hurried on. ‘My mom died when I was little so it was just me and him. He got sick … for a long time and we couldn’t afford … so I took care of him. He made me go to school, but that meant he was alone in the daytime so I’d rush home.’
‘What did he–’
‘Cancer,’ she blurted simply, suddenly furious that he was making her talk to him – them – about this. It was none of his or anyone else’s fucking business, but just as she was about to tell him as much, she realized that she was very, very close bursting into tears.
‘Excuse me,’ she said quietly, pushing off the covers and standing in one swift motion. Not looking at any of them, she held onto the wall as she limped quickly to the bathroom. As soon as the door closed, she screwed her eyes shut as if that would stop them. She pushed the toilet lid down and sat on it, putting her face in her hands as she sobbed as quietly as she could. God, she missed him. At the end, he’d still been cracking jokes and pretending he wasn’t dying even though they’d both known he was. And now he was gone. And she was all alone. It had been two months. Shouldn’t it feel just a little easier?
After the outpouring, she felt better. The tears dried up fast like they always did and she washed her puffy face, catching sight of her red eyes in the mirror and sighing. Oh well, they must know what she’d been doing in here unless they were complete meatheads.
When she came out of the bathroom, she noticed the nights were off and she was absurdly glad they wouldn’t see her face. She didn’t look at them. She couldn’t. She hated that they knew. It made her feel so pathetic.
One of them stepped into her path on the way back to the bed and she sighed. The last thing she wanted was some kind of misplaced pity from the guys who were planning to kill her.
‘Hey, Rose. Look, I¬’ Pike shifted on his feet. ‘I lost my mom not that long ago, so I know how you – It sux.’
She looked up at him with a small, grateful smile. ‘Yeah. It really does suck.’
Riker make an impatient noise from the bed. Her bed. Where he was now laying. Shirtless. Under the covers.
She looked around, uncertain where she was meant to go now. He grinned and patted the bed next to him. She shook her head. ‘No offence, but no way.’
He grinned. ‘Where do you think you slept last night, princess? Who the fuck do you think warmed you up while you were on the edge of hypothermia? We had a great night together.’ He winked.
She’d slept in a bed with him last night? With a stranger? She swallowed hard, expecting the panic, but there wasn’t any. What the fuck was going on with her?
‘Relax, babe. It’s not like it was your first time sharing a bed with a guy.’
But it had been. Riker must have seen it in her face before she quickly turned away to hide it because he was suddenly in front of her in just a pair of low-slung black boxers. She stared at the wall in front of her, trying to forget about how ripped he was. Who the fuck had that many abs anyway?
‘Fuck, Rose I–I’m sorry. I thought– fuck, you’ve been with guys, right?’
‘Yeah!’ she said too quickly.
His eyes widened comically. ‘Shit, you’re a virgin!’
She gave him an exasperated look. ‘What are you, twelve? Shut the fuck up. And, no, I’m not a virgin. I just … never slept the same bed with a guy before.’
‘Not even after…?’
He looked sheepish as he turned, returning to the bed. Then he patted it again. ‘No different than last night, babe.’
She gave a sigh. The other two were ignoring them, sitting in their own beds and watching the TV like the movie wasn’t just on the title screen. One of them pushed a button on the remote and the movie started. At least it was a rom com. Rose sighed as she hobbled over to the bed and lay down on top of the covers. She heard Riker give another of his little laughs and narrowed her eyes at him. Dick.
The movie was just a classic Adam Sandler, but it was funny and at least took some of the edge off. After a while, she forgot to be on high alert and snuggled down comfortably, putting the crazy situation she was in to the back of her mind. The movie ended and she saw the other two had already fallen asleep. The microwave said it was almost ten.
She lay down and tried to sleep herself, but she couldn’t. It wasn’t even because she was in the same bed as Riker, which was odd because he had scared and upset her earlier. She should still be freaking out about that. She opened her eyes. He was facing her, and she saw he was awake too, watching her.
‘When you kill me, which one of you will do it?’ she whispered suddenly. ‘Will it be you?’
‘Jesus, Rose!’ he ground out softly. ‘What the hell?’
‘Will you gut me with that knife you used earlier?’ she asked him. ‘Slit my throat? Or will you make me run away from you and put a bullet in my back so you don’t have to look at me when you do it?’
‘Stop it,’ he snarled.
‘Why? I’m just an inconvenience. If it was just you who found me, you’d have left me to die in the cold. Why do you care if I…’
She gave a squeak as he pulled her towards him and then his lips were on hers. She tried to push him away, but he wrapped one arm around her middle and took her ponytail with the other so she couldn’t escape. She was no match for his ridiculously toned body anyway. His tongue flicked her lips, wanting entry into her mouth and she stifled a moan as she parted them. There was a voice inside telling her to stop, that she was giving him the wrong idea, but she silenced it ruthlessly. She wasn’t giving him the wrong idea at all. She’d never felt a physical pull like this, not to anyone and she wanted to see where this path led….just a few steps.
He made a deep sound of approval as his hand came up to touch her breast over the shirt she was wearing and found her nipple already taut. She ached for his touch. Her good leg moved over his and used it to pull herself even closer to him. He groaned, taking her breast in his hand and kneading it.
And, in one quick maneuver, he had her on her back and she gasped at how quick he’d moved.
He plundered her mouth again and urged her thighs apart with his knee, grinding it into her core, not hard, but enough to make her crave more.
He kissed down her neck, licking and biting, making her arch into him because she just couldn’t help it. She’d never felt like this, never wanted – not just a guy, but – anything in her life as much as she wanted …
‘What the fuck, Riker?!’
Light flooded her vision and she squinted as Riker pulled away from her, breathing as hard as she was. He got off her so fast it was as if she burned him. The shirt she was wearing had ridden up to her waist and she pulled it down as quickly as she could, her face growing hot.
She sat up, trying to put herself to rights. No one was saying anything. She glanced up quickly. Pike and Evans were staring at them, both looking angry and something else she couldn’t quite understand.
Riker suddenly laughed and threw up his hands. ‘Hey, look, she started kissing me and it’s not like I was gonna say no, right? Sorry, princess. Maybe another night, huh?’
Had she just heard him right? She swallowed hard and wrapped her arms around herself, trying not to let any of the hurt show on her face. She knew he was an asshole. Him acting like it was all her was expected. Men did this. The only one of them she could trust was gone.
She braced herself and looked Riker in the eye. Where she’d expected a cruel smile or a smirk of disdain, there was just a carefully blank expression. She mirrored it and shrugged. ‘My mistake.’
She carefully got under the cover and turned away from all of them, pretending to go to sleep, feigning indifference all the while wondering if she had misread … he’d kissed her, right? Had he pulled her towards him and she’d misjudged the situation and kissed him when that hadn’t been his intention? No, she was sure he’d kissed her first.
The lights went out and no one joined her in the bed. She guessed Riker was bunking with one of the others since she was such a shameless wanton. If her ego wasn’t feeling so bruised, she might have sniggered aloud at that. She clearly wasn’t a shameless wanton by any stretch, but she sort of wished she was with these guys. At least then she might get what her body suddenly craved from one of them.
She frowned. What the hell was wrong with her? These were her captors, her enemies. They were going to get rid of her as soon as they decided when and how. and Riker was the meanest one of the bunch. How could she even want him anywhere near her? She’d heard Stockholm Syndrome was a bunch of BS, but all this had her wondering.
After a long time, the same thoughts going around and around in a loop, she finally succumbed to a blessedly dreamless sleep.
Morning seemed to arrive as soon as she’d closed her eyes and, when she opened them to the light of the still-cloudy (and, yes, still fucking snowing) sky, she felt wrung-out like an old kitchen sponge. She peered out from the covers and her eyes narrowed. No one was here. She sat up, looking around a little more thoroughly. The three of them were gone.
Guess they didn’t feel like they needed to keep an eye on her. Where the hell was she going to go with the wolves outside and her foot all messed up? She let out a long sigh, eyes panning to the bathroom. Maybe she should get a shower in while they were gone.
She got out of bed and shuffled to the bathroom. Flicking the shower on, she was surprised to find the water heated quickly. For some reason she hadn’t thought they’d have hot water. She heard the muffled, faraway hum of a machine turning on and frowned. There must be a basement where the pump for the well was, but she hadn’t seen any stairs.
Tugging off the shirt, she got into the water and let out a breath. She spied shampoo in the corner and body wash ¬ black pepper and something or other. You know, the kind marketed as manly scents. She lathered everything up and washed the grime left over from the crash and subsequent hike-fall and when she was finished, she really did feel better.
There was a towel on a heated towel rail – another extravagance that seemed out of place in a nowheresville cabin, but it was toasty as fuck so she wasn’t going to complain.
The living-bedroom was still deserted when she left the bathroom, back in the shirt Evans had given her to wear. Her hair was wrapped in the towel. She guessed she’d have to ask them for a comb when they came back. Assuming they hadn’t left for good.
Stomach growling, she found some cereal and ate a few handfuls dry, then vigorously rubbed the extra water from her hair before taking the wet towel back to the rail in the bathroom.
She heard the door bang and walked back out into the living area expecting to see the guys, but there were two men she didn’t recognize instead.
They both did a double take as they saw her.
One of them barked a laugh. ‘I thought Stone was kidding when he said they had a girl here. What’s your name, beautiful?’
Rose took a step back. She didn’t like the way he was looking at her, the way they both were. Like she was a tasty little snack. Their eyes roamed over her, and she swallowed hard, eyes darting to the window, hoping to see the guys who, oddly, didn’t actually scare the shit out of her anywhere near as much as these assholes – regardless of their plans for her.
‘Asked you a question,’ the other one snarled.
She whirled around, leaping for the bathroom door, but somehow, one of the fuckers got to her just as she passed through the doorway. Asshole 1 grabbed her by her wet hair and pulled her back with a nasty laugh.
‘C’mon, bitch, we don’t want anything you didn’t already give Evans and tiny fucking pack.’
His fingers wound around her throat as he pushed her down on the nearest bed, straddling her immediately as he squeezed her neck and pulled up the shirt. No! This wasn’t going to happen to her again!
She clawed at his fingers with one hand and, with the other swung out with her fist as he moved in closer, catching him hard in the nose.
‘Fuck you!’ she ground out.
‘Fuck! Little bitch hit me!’ Asshole 1 retaliated immediately, and her face was thrown to the side with the force the slap he delivered. Pain bloomed in her eye and cheek, and she yelped, flinching as he raised his hand to do it again.
Asshole 2 laughed. ‘Fuck her already. I want my turn before they get back.’
‘Hold her,’ Asshole 1 ordered his friend and her upper arms were suddenly in a vise-like grip.
She couldn’t move. Asshole 1 pulled her legs apart and she bucked, kicking out and successfully forcing him back. He swore again and jumped at her.
‘See how you like this, bitch,’ he said, taking hold of her swollen ankle with a vicious fucking grin and squeezing it hard. She screamed in pain, her stomach rolling as he flung her legs wide and got between them, fumbling with his zipper.
She was still trying to get her arms free, unable to catch her breath – one might call it hyperventilating – and trying to keep the flashbacks of being under another hulking, sweating body at bay when the door crashed open. Evans sauntered in, the other two behind him. She’d never been so glad to see anyone. Ever.
She saw the moment Evans realised what was happening because his face contorted in fury. He suddenly leapt through the air and he changed in a second. The air rippled and by the time he hit the floor, there were four legs instead of two and he was a lot fuzzier.
Rose’s mouth fell open. Asshole 1 must have hit her hella hard for this level of WTAF delusions.
Asshole 2 let her arms go abruptly and skittered back, hands up in placation. Asshole 1 was ripped off her and she bounced up and hobbled as fast as she could as far away as she could, wedging herself into the corner between the kitchen countertop and the wall, sinking to the floor and huddling into a ball, looking on in fear. But she was beginning to disconnect, her mind going numb.
The men were talking, yelling. There were growls. Lots of them. Then a yelp and a crack followed by silence.
‘Shit, Evans, you killed him,’ whined Asshole 2.
Evans changed back into a man – a naked man – and Rose just watched, not batting an eye. She realised that even as the shakes started setting in.
Evans wiped the dead guy’s blood from his chin almost absently. ‘You don’t belong here,’ he growled.
Pike took Asshole 2 by the scruff of the neck and pushed him hard towards a wolf (Asshole 1?) who was currently laying on the floor, his head at a peculiar angle. So he was a one too.
Because of course he was and soon Edward and Jacob would show up and all the pretty faeries would have a little party right here in this room while she watched. Yep, her mind was well and truly broken. Who knew what was real or not now?
‘Crawl your sorry ass back to Stone and don’t come here again or we’ll gut you,’ Pike snarled, ‘and take that with you.’
Asshole 2 picked up his friend and left. It was all oddly anticlimactic.
Then Evan’s picked up a glass from the table and threw it at the wall with a, ‘FUCK!’ it shattered and drew herself closer, not making a sound.
‘What were they even here for? This is neutral ground until after the fight.’
Three sets of eyes swung over to her.
‘Give you one guess.’ Riker drawled. ‘Are you coming out?’ The last was directed at her, but she didn’t move.
She stared at the side of the kitchen cabinet, not looking at them.
She heard one of them coming closer and pushed herself tighter into the corner with a small whimper.
‘Step back. Can’t you smell her?’
‘I can’t smell shit over this fucking pine.’
‘That’s the fucking point of it. You know Stone likes to fuck with others’ shifter senses.’
‘Well I can smell her and she’s covered in terror… and those two fucks.’
One of them let out a growl. ‘Are you surprised? You saw what they were doing…’
‘Plus she saw Evans…’
‘Rose?’ Pike said softly. ‘Can you come out, please? No one here is gonna hurt you.’
She turned her head and tried to focus on him, her mind still oddly calm though her body was shaking so hard she couldn’t keep it still.
She heard one of them swear.
‘They hit her.’
‘Sweetheart. Can you come out, please?’ he asked again.
She shook her head, not trusting herself to speak.
‘Ok. You come out when you’re ready. We won’t force you, ok?’
Rose gave a stiff nod, leaning her head against the wall and taking a long, shuddering breath.
‘What the hell are we going to do with her now?’ Riker muttered. ‘The fight isn’t until next week. She’s seen you turn. What if Stone…’
‘Stone can’t do shit until after the fight.’ Evan’s replied, not taking his eyes of Rose. ‘Better hope I fucking win though. After this, you won’t have the option to leave. He’ll just rip out your throats.’
‘She’s seen me. You know the rules. Letting her go isn’t an option now.’
Part 3 is up!