MoboReader> Horror > Bound

   Chapter 16 No.16

Bound By Julie Embleton Characters: 18813

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:02


In the haziness of that just-woken moment the following morning, Nyah forgot where she was or what had happened. For a short, carefree moment, aware of the comfortable, warm bed she was curled up in, she basked in the sensation of waking from a good nights' sleep and the sense of peace blanketing her. But then her mind stirred awake, reminding her of the spiralling disaster that her life had become. And yet surprisingly, for the first time since the day she had learned of Simon's appalling intentions, the remembrance didn't prompt her to leap out of the bed with her forehead sliding into a tense frown and her shoulders tightening under the weight of her stress.

Remaining motionless inside the duvet cocoon she wondered why. Yes, she'd finally had a decent nights' sleep, yes, she was indescribably comfortable and yes, maybe the part of her brain that doled out the panic juice was still asleep, but it was something else making her shrug off the worries so carelessly. For some reason she felt. . . different; braver, more capable, impressively positive and. . . safe. That was it. She felt safe.

The alien sensation prompted her to open her eyes and lift her head out from under the duvet.

Ah – yes. Dean Carson's house. Dean Carson's living room. Dean Carson's couch - his comfortable couch. "Argh, the one you weren't supposed to have fallen asleep on, " she muttered, shoving down the top of the duvet and squinting around the room. "Idiot, " she groaned, squirming into an upright position. The small clock on the mantel made her scrunched eyes widen in surprise. Eleven-thirty? She'd slept that long? Wow. She couldn't remember the last time she'd done that.

Nyah yawned and flopped back down onto the pillow. The upside to having such a great sleep was that her brain would be in top condition to come up with another escape plan. The down side was that Mr Alpha was no doubt already gunning to get started on a fresh round of his interrogation programme first thing.

She winced at the full glorious Technicolor memory of the previous day's grilling. Dean Carson had certainly mastered the Alpha scowl, but his intense blue-eyed stare had had no effect on her – not even a teensy bit. With her wolf gone, his whole swelled-chest, laser-eyed, clenched-jaw 'answer-me-'cos-I'm-an-Alpha' pose had been in vain; the only thing he'd made her feel was more pissed at herself for getting caught in the first place. And now that she thought about it, she started to get pissed all over again. Why did he have to be such a damn do-gooder? Why couldn't he just grow a pair, ignore a stupid Lycan Law and let her go? And what was with all the concern? Why did he give a crap about what had happened to her? And his ashy-blonde hair was annoying, too. He had this long piece that kept flopping down over his eyes. It was really distracting.

Nyah sucked in a sharp breath and sat up abruptly. Dean Carson's hair was not distracting. It was lame. And nothing else, she warned herself, kicking off the duvet.

The last of her clean clothes sat in the bottom of her bag and she pulled them out, shaking out the creases. The very next town she hit she'd visit a launderette first thing – which will be today, she told herself, pulling on her jeans and a t-shirt. "I'll be leaving here today, " she told the room, before opening the door, quickly combing her hair through with her fingers and scooping the flecks of sleep from the corners of her eyes. A mirror would be nice, she thought, trying to smooth back her hair as she opened the door.

Noises drifted towards her from the direction of the kitchen and as she made her way down the wide, sunny hallway she amused herself with the idea that maybe Mr Alpha had had a good night's sleep, too and was going to announce she was free to go – after a big breakfast first though. The smells hovering in the air made her stomach growl.

He fixed her with the strangest expression when she walked into the kitchen. It was weird enough to make her throw a quick glance down, just to be sure she had actually put some clothes on. "Is something wrong?" she asked as he continued to stare at her, a coffee pot in one hand and a waiting mug in the other.

"How did you sleep?" he answered.

"Um, fine, " she replied, although it sounded more like a question. He was waiting for something, she realized, so she added on a 'thank you', again, sounding more like she had asked it than said it.

"Good." With a perfectly obvious, snap-yourself-out-of-it shake of his head he returned to filling his coffee cup.

"Um, could. . . could I take a shower?"

"Sure." He took a deep drink from the mug and when his eyes met hers over the rim the expectant look was back. "I left a pile of towels on the laundry hamper for you."

"Thanks."

"No problem."

Nyah melted out of the kitchen and began climbing the stairs. She was totally missing something, she decided. Why had he been staring at her so strangely?

Oh no. She paused on the top step. He'd found out about her. He'd made phone calls, tracked her back to Blackwater Ridge, spoken to Simon –

No.

She refused to have a paranoia meltdown. If he had learned something he would have been waving it in her face this morning. He would have had a t-shirt with a 'Ha! Guess what I found out?' stamped across the front. His weird behaviour was something else. And not your problem, she concluded, marching across the landing to the bathroom. Try to spend at least the first hour of this day in a semi-normal state of mind, she ordered herself, closing the door, locking it and then shrugging off her jeans and t-shirt. You've had a good night's sleep. Use it to your advantage and force your brain to behave.

The hot fingers of back massaging water that jetted from the shower returned her to the state of relaxation she'd been in when she'd woken up. After experiencing too many attempts to wash over a sink, it was five star indulgence to have streams of water pummelling her scalp, shoulders and back, and sliding her eyes shut she sighed contentedly and let the water do its thing.

After allowing herself a long moment to enjoy the comfort, she turned her attention back to the present and gave herself a stern lecture as she began to shampoo. She'd been foolish to think she was going to be able to just sneak out of Dean's house. She had to be smarter than that. She had to figure out a way to get past the men watching his house and then avoid the patrols which probably covered every inch of his territory. Either that, she thought, applying a second generous blob of shampoo, or you've got to turn up the begging and whining to a level that will annoy him so much he'll kick you off his territory himself. Neither option was going to see her free anytime soon though, and the unwelcome thought sent a familiar ripple of fear running through her. Dean was a far more modern Alpha than her father had been. Smart phones with cameras which could have her picture uploaded onto the Lycan Alliance website in two seconds flat were probably tucked into every pocket of his pack, and a rogue being sheltered in the Alpha's house was hot gossip, no matter who the pack. It wasn't a stretch to guess that a few members were already curious for a glimpse of her. If she so much as stuck her nose outside the front door Simon could have her location within seconds and then. . . and then he'd. . .

Nyah turned off the water and squeezed out her hair. Maybe persistent, high-pitched, whiny begging was going to be her best option.

Smelling way too masculine than she liked, Nyah dried off and dressed, grimacing as the scent of his shampoo, probably called 'Manly Musk' or 'Essence of Dude', kept wafting around her. Next time, although it was nearly all gone, she'd use her own shampoo. "No you won't, " she snipped crossly. "Because you'll be gone before that happens."

When she came back down to the kitchen Dean was nowhere to be seen. He had left out breakfast for her however. The table was loaded with cereal, bread, fruit and yogurt, and a plate with bacon had been set out by the stove, a pan and spatula lined up alongside them for her convenience. Either he was the most decent Alpha in the whole world or. . . 'He's buttering you up, ' a warning voice sang.

Straight away she turned on the stove. Two good meals in a row; for someone who was being held against her will it wasn't exactly hardship.

She had eaten and was just putting the last of her dishes in the dishwasher when he appeared in the doorway. He had startled her of course, and so embarrassingly badly that she had dropped the cutlery she'd been holding. When it had been gathered up, and he had finished apologising for not making more noise, he had offered her the use of his washing machine. It had been tempting to say no. She didn't want him thinking that all his niceness was going to be paid back with answers to his questions, but she needed her clothes clean – especially if she was going to be stuck here for another few days.

Minutes later, as she stuffed everything from her bag into the washing machine, she began to prepare for the next round of interrogation, sternly reminding herself to remember to keep her mouth shut. She wasn't going to say a word to him today – well, at least, not until she was ready to start begging to be let go again. And then she'd use a

suitably annoying whinging tone. And maybe some tears. She bet he was the kind of guy who didn't know what to do with female tears. With the clothes lazily rotating she pulled in a deep breath and rolled back her shoulders. Round one coming up.

Dean was in the living room, his back turned to her as he knelt in front of the fireplace, energetically shovelling up the ash and tipping it into a small metal bucket. She hovered in the doorway, knowing damn well that he knew she was there, but ignoring her anyway - or maybe not.

"You weren't cold in here last night, were you?" he asked, his head bent low as he jammed the shovel under the grate to scoop up the last of the ash.

"No, I was fine, thank you."

"Good."

That was it? No, what's your name? Where do you come from? Nyah wandered over to the couch and perched on the edge. Another long moment passed and she watched as he brushed away the last of the ash from the hearth. "So. . . no twenty questions this morning?" she asked eventually.

"Is there any point? If I ask are you going to answer?"

She didn't need to reply, he already knew the answer, and once a few silent seconds had passed he gave a short laugh.

"Thought as much, " he said.

"Are you going to let me go?"

"No."

"Are you going to contact my pack?"

"No."

"You're not?"

"No."

"So, why do I have to stay here then, why won't you let me leave?"

He stood up. Dropping the shovel into the bucket he brushed his hands together and turned to face her. "Because you won't be safe beyond the boundary of my territory."

"But. . ."

"You have no senses that will protect you, Taylor; you may as well be human. I'm not letting you go when the risk of you getting hurt is so high."

"But. . ."

"But nothing. You wandered onto my territory. I'm responsible for you until you return to your pack, and as I'm not prepared to allow that happen, you have to stay here." He picked up the bucket, shrugged as if to say 'it happens, suck it up' and marched out of the room.

"Wait!" Nyah ran down the hall after him, following him out a back door which led into a wide, open grassy yard where he carried on walking towards a compost heap. "You're going to keep me here indefinitely?"

"Uh huh." He tipped the ash out and she was forced to hop aside as a light wind aimed a puff of it towards her face.

"But, I can't stay here."

"Why?"

"Because I just can't! I have to go. You have to let me go."

"The only thing I have to do, " he said calmly, putting the bucket down and giving her an intent look, "is ensure your welfare. You're a werewolf. I'm an Alpha. You're on my territory, ergo, I am responsible for you."

"You don't have to be, " she suggested lightly, "I mean, you could just neglect your responsibilities for once and let me go."

He didn't bat an eyelid. A pitchfork was resting against one of the low fencing panels surrounding the compost heap. He grabbed it and forked the ash into the existing pile of clumpy brown sods. "I never neglect my responsibilities, " he said.

"But you can't keep me here forever, " she pushed, "and I'm pretty sure you don't want me around."

He stopped his recycling to give her a look eerily similar to the one he'd fired at her in the kitchen that morning. "I do want you around, " he said, brushing the annoying lock of floppy hair off his forehead with his wrist. "And I can keep you here."

"No, you can't, " she insisted.

He shrugged and put the fork back.

"Seriously!" she yelled after him as he walked back towards the house. "You can't! And it's kidnapping, " she added loudly as she followed him up the steps, onto the back porch and into the house. "You're holding me against my will!"

"Right - and that's worse than what's already been done to you?" he answered suddenly, stopping abruptly in the hallway to wheel around and face her. "Keeping you safe here is worse than having your wolf taken?"

"It's – your – when it's against my will, yes, it is!"

He made to walk away, but held back at the last second and turned to her again. "Tell me something; while you've been here, have I mistreated you in any way?"

"No, " she answered.

"Have I starved you? Threatened you?"

"No."

"So what's so bad about being here that you'd rather go back out there where you've no way of protecting yourself against whatever it is you're running from?" She opened her mouth, but he cut her off before she could even form the first word of her reply. "You can't answer that, can you? You know it's safe here, you know how dangerous it is out there, and yet - ."

"And yet I still want to leave, " she snapped.

"Why?" he snapped back, taking a step towards her "Why in the hell would you want to do that?"

"I don't have to tell you."

"Yes, you do."

"No. I don't. You're not my Alpha."

"I'm the Alpha whose territory you strayed on to."

Nyah folded her arms in reply. "So?"

"Look, Taylor, " he sighed impatiently. "If whoever did this to you is looking for you, they're going to find you, " he warned, his sombre eyes returning to her face. "Wouldn't you rather they found you here, where you're protected?"

"No, definitely not, " she replied, the half-laugh, half-gasp choking her voice.

"Well, I do, " he said simply. "I want whoever did this to come right up to my front door. I want them to stand there and have the gall to try and claim you back. I want them to. . ."

His fighting words evaporated around her as horrific images of Simon wreaking havoc leeched air and heat from her body simultaneously. Shrinking away she blindly stepped backwards seeking the support of a wall.

"No – I, Taylor, that's not – I didn't mean. . ." he stammered, his face instantly crumpling with regret. "I'd never put you in harm's way, never."

She shook her head, her feet still inching backwards and her hands groping for something solid.

"Taylor, I'd protect you, I'd never let anyone harm you."

"You want him coming here? You want what he did to me to be done to you and the rest of your pack?" she choked out.

"No. Taylor, I –."

"Because that's exactly what will happen. For every hour you keep me here you're getting closer to hurting your pack."

"I won't let anything happen to my pack – or you."

"You wouldn't have a choice!"

"I'm no freshly turned pup, " he assured her with a dangerous cut to his voice. "I can fight."

"Not against that, " she said, her back finally meeting a wall. "You wouldn't be able to fight that."

"What do you mean, fight that?"

She shook her head and clamped her mouth shut.

"Fight what?" he said again, anger starting to shadow his eyes. "What do you mean?"

"No."

"Taylor." His warning tone made her want to cringe, but she gritted her teeth and shook her head again.

"Tell me what you mean about fighting that. Tell me! Now!"

Dean moved to trap her between him and the wall, but before his arms could form a barrier, she ducked and bolted. It was pointless. Dean was fast - fast because his wolf wasn't turned off like hers.

"Ow!" she cried, when his hands grabbed her arms, spun her sideways and shoved her back against the wall. "Get off me!" she shouted, pushing at him and then squirming so she could aim a kick at his shins. "Get off of me!"

"Tell me!" he shouted back, grabbing her wrists so she would stop hammering fists into his chest. He jammed his leg against her thighs, leaving her powerless to land another kick. "I'm not letting go until you tell me!"

She struggled for another short moment, frustration over her weakness quickly building and filling her eyes with tears.

"Tell me, " he ordered again, pressing the length of his body against her. Despite how he had her pinned, she insisted on squirming, her whole body wriggling like an eel as she tried to shove him away. Her breath was getting tighter with each ineffectual twist, but when she freed one foot and raked it down his shin he eventually lost patience with her. "What can I not fight?" he roared, so loudly, so angrily and so like an Alpha that the damn burst.

"The thing that did this to me!" she sobbed, her whole body sagging pathetically enough to make him grab her tighter to keep her upright. "Voodoo, magic, dark forces – whatever the hell you want to call it! He'll come here with his shaman and before you'll even be able to catch a whiff of him he'll have you turned into a robot and then all your talk about protecting me will be gone out the window because he'll make you do whatever he wants! Making me stay here is the worst thing you can do – you have to let me go!"

He released her so suddenly that she staggered forwards. When she caught herself and straightened up he was staring at her with an indecipherable expression, his hands fisted into two weapons by his side. Nyah swallowed hard, her breaths colliding in her throat as she took in his fierceness.

For a long moment he stood in complete silence, his savage stare boring right into her before abruptly walking away. He strode down the hall, snatched his keys off the key-rack and marched out the front door, slamming it so hard behind him that the walls rattled. There was an ominous snap as the lock was sharply turned.

Nyah slumped back against the wall, faltered for a short moment as she stared after him, then slid down onto the floor where she burst into tears.

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