MoboReader> Horror > Bound

   Chapter 23 No.23

Bound By Julie Embleton Characters: 23535

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:02

"Nick, are you in shock?" Dean threw a curious glance at Nick's taut expression profiled against the rain-streaked window in the grey light of the jeep's cab. They had been driving for nearly two hours and Nick had barely uttered a word.

"I think I must be, " he finally muttered, blinking his eyes hard as if trying to smack himself out of his stupor.

"Over what part?" Dean asked, his short disbelieving laugh revealing his own incredulous state.

"Shit, I'm not sure, " Nick replied dryly. "Maybe the part where we watched a trail of powdered hair, shaman spit and a bunch of other weird stuff trace itself across a map and settle onto a town called Mosse. Or maybe the part where a shaman inked tattoos on our chests so Northfell can't use hex necklaces on us – take your pick."

Dean agreed with another humourless laugh. Rain was hammering against the windshield; it made driving in the already smothering darkness a difficult task and they had countless miles to go before they would be anywhere near Nyah.

"What about you?" Nick asked. "You haven't exactly been Mr Chatty Pants either. You not freaked out by any of what just happened?"

"I'm still stuck in the horror of hearing how Northfell wants to mate with Nyah so she can carry his engineered pups for him, and how he's decided to use demon blood for an extra evil-fuelled boost. Shaman spit and magical tattoos are really not an issue for me right now." Dean glanced at the dash display again. Time was time moving way faster than the miles he was racing to cover.

"Cassius wasn't exaggerating when he warned that Northfell's totally off the reservation, " Nick sighed.

"No, he certainly wasn't."

There was a shared silence, the steady whoosh of the wiper blades battling to fling the sheets of rain off the windshield all that filled the sombre air.

"You think we're going to be able to do this?" Nick asked eventually.

Dean stared straight ahead for a long moment before replying. "I know that now would be a really good time to give a rousing Alpha speech, but, to be honest, Nick, I don't know. I think the best way to handle this is one step at a time. First off, I just want to find Nyah; Cassius' warning about the dangers of her wolf re-emerging has me worried. I know it's going to kick off soon for her; it's been three hours since he did that spell, and what if she's in the middle of a public place when it happens? What if she starts phasing in a crowd or hits the deck in a -."

"Dean, " Nick interrupted, "don't do that, don't go there – you'll drive yourself insane. Look -." Nick gestured towards the clock. "It's gone one in the morning; chances are she's tucked up in bed. It's the best place she could be."

"But what if she isn't?"

"She'll deal with it. She'll take herself somewhere safe."

"Yeah, you're right, " Dean yielded after a moment.

Nick reached forwards to grab a map off the dashboard. "So how are we doing for time?"

"We've nineteen hours and seventeen minutes before Northfell's deadline of eight o'clock tomorrow night."

"And Mosse is. . ."

"At least another eighteen hours away."

"Okay. . ." Nick replied, folding the map up and shoving it back onto the dash. "No stopping then."

"No, " Dean confirmed. "We stop for nothing."

When the screeching audience, grating jingles and smarmy one-liners of the game show host became too much to bear Nyah grabbed the remote and flicked herself into a silent dimness.

She hadn't even been paying attention – except for the part where the over excited Mary-Lou won a microwave and became so hysterical that even Scott Powerhouse, game show host extraordinaire, allowed his super-professional expression to slide into one of panicked horror – all she wanted the television to do was drown out the silence that reminded her of where she was, as opposed to where she wanted to be.

Remaining completely motionless on the bed she glanced around the room. The One-Eyed Cat was easily the worst motel she had stayed in. Depressing didn't even come close to describing the place, but the coma-inducing exhaustion which had crept upon her two days ago had reduced her to such a wreck that, if the first place offering accommodation on the outskirts of Mosse had been a morgue, she would have taken it.

Go to bed, she told herself. It's gone one o'clock in the morning. You need to sleep. But her body refused to move. Even her fingers remained curled around the nauseatingly sticky remote. Maybe I should just continue to lie here, she thought. It would be easy. I could just give in, let the tiredness win and let death follow.

With a groan she forced herself to roll onto one side, wiping off the fingers that had been infected by the remote on her jeans. "Shut up with the death wish, " she ordered. If she was going to die it wasn't going to be in some pox-ridden hell-hole of a motel room. It was going to be on a forest floor, on a bed of dry pine needles, a warm afternoon sun filtering down through the branches and a gentle chorus of bird-song drifting around her. "Many, many years from now, " she muttered, groaning as she heaved herself upright. Rummaging in her bag she pulled out the t-shirt she liked to sleep in. There was still a faint scent of Dean's fabric softener wrapped around its fibres, and even though she knew it would physically hurt, she breathed it in and allowed herself a short moment of pretending.

Returning to reality, she swallowed back the hard lump swelling in her throat and stood up. The room spun, but that was nothing new. She waited until the floor and ceiling had settled back to where they belonged and using the cardboard-thin walls for support she crossed through to the mildewed bathroom.

With one hand supporting her weight over the sink she brushed her teeth, wondering in a remarkably matter-of-fact kind of way about how many days she had left to live. Yesterday she would have guessed four, maybe five. Today she reckoned less; three days, maybe two, and it was tempting to imagine the comfort of surrendering to the approaching end. Once she faded completely there would be no more pain. The emptiness she felt – the emptiness that had swelled and consumed her with every mile the train had taken her from Carter Plains – would be gone. There would be nothing. Complete nothingness. It would be nice.

"Stop!" she hissed at herself, throwing a nasty glare at her exhausted reflection in the stained mirror above the sink. "You made a decision; you have to stick to it. You are not going to allow yourself to die."

In the box car of the freight train, a stomach-churning stench of over-ripe melons eventually driving her to leap out after seven long hours, she had held a very long and serious debate with herself; her most honest yet. She was dying; the fact could not be ignored any longer, and although checking out would mean an end to most of her problems and pissing Simon off big-time, it also terminated the tiny, tiny piece of hope that she and Dean might end up together someday. Life was too precious, Dean was too precious, and she couldn't let either of them slip away willingly. The problem was deciding who she would allow to restore her wolf and therefore, her life; Dean or Simon.

Staying with Dean would fix her within weeks; maybe even less if he marked her. But Simon would still find her, and Dean would end up dead.

If she returned to Blackwater Ridge however, Simon would restore her wolf too. She would have to make him agree to a deal; stop controlling everyone in turn for her co-operation, and if he wanted her carrying his pups badly enough he would have to agree to it. Wouldn't he?

Neither of her options promised her a future of lemon drops and picket fences. Both guaranteed misery, because whatever way she looked at it she would most likely end up being claimed back by Simon. All the decision really boiled down to was whether she wanted Dean to live or die. And that was easy to decide.

So, this was her last night as a rogue; tomorrow morning she was going to take her final journey back home to Blackwater Ridge. It was going to be so good to see her pack again; Karen, Blake, Michael – all of them. And she would contact Tanya first thing too. The baby must have been born by now – was it a boy or a girl? And what had Tanya named it? Allowing herself to think about her friends after shoving all thoughts of them into the back of her mind for so long was a relief, and being back amongst them was one of only two comforts she could hold on to. The second was her memories of Dean, but thoughts of him would be kept in a very deep place, a place she would not allow herself to go to very often. It would be easier that way, easier for everyone if she embraced her 'calling' with Simon and put aside her feelings for Dean.

Scooping a handful of water from the tap she leaned forward to splash it on her face. Of course, thinking she could put aside her feelings for Dean was easy enough when her wolf wasn't around to argue. When her wolf was back their mate connection would re-surface, too, and according to what she had heard, the first few weeks of rejecting or ignoring a mate was hell on earth. Reaching out, she blindly grabbed for the sandpaper towel. She'd just have to suck it up.

That was when it hit.

The most unmerciful pain exploded inside her body, doubling her over so acutely that she cracked her head against the side of the sink before crumpling onto the chipped tiled floor. Too paralysed with pain to cry out she quickly realized that what was happening was connected to Cassius Ochre, as a yawning chasm opened within her and her wolf began to emerge. She buckled and twisted as it clawed its way up from whatever abyss it had been hurled into, and a lucid part of her screaming mind told her to lock herself inside so her emerging wolf would not be able to wreak havoc in the town. It was with gargantuan effort that she finally managed to grasp the shower curtain and yank down the pole so she could wedge it against the door and the edge of the shower tray to keep the bathroom door jammed shut.

Blinded with agonizing pain, Nyah writhed in agony, praying for her consciousness to slip away, but as she twisted and thrashed on the hard floor, her mind remained clear and alert. If Cassius had restored her wolf it meant Simon was coming. She would have fared better if she had been able to willingly return to him; now he would come and say or do who knew what as punishment. Curling into a tight ball, her breaths rushing in burning streams through her nostrils, she could feel her mouth filling with blood as her teeth bit down into her tongue. Maybe worrying about what Simon was going to do was pointless; if this pain kept up she'd be dead before he found her. Another spasm snapped her onto the flat of her back, her body arching dangerously as she felt her consciousness waver. The room began to dim before her and she squeezed her eyes shut, hoping the darkness would suck her into oblivion, but when another searing rush of agony flung her eyes wide open again she knew she wasn't going to be that lucky.

Countless hours of torture passed before the tormenting pain began to wane, only to be replaced by a base sense of savagery. Her wolf was enraged and the violence of it shuddered through her as it struggled to phase. Whatever pain she thought she had felt before then was eclipsed by the torture of her body mutating at bone snapping speed one moment and unbearable slowness the next, her wolf's want for carnage so completely overwhelming that she slashed and ripped at the tiled walls, her claws gouging chunks of tile away as she fought to break free of the small room.

During the moments

when her strength had waned enough to phase her back to human form, she lay panting and weak on the floor, her fingernails torn and bloody, every muscle and bone in her body screaming with pain. She knew only by the changing light morphing inside her small cage that deep night had faded into early morning. The greying light of dawn had dulled the bathroom ceiling when she had been in human form, but by the time her wolf had phased numerous times more, smashed itself continually against the confining walls before collapsing and transforming her back, a softer, declining light heralded evening time.

Dean and Nick were forty-six miles outside of Mosse when Dean sensed the first faint awareness of Nyah's wolf. It tipped the bare edges of his consciousness, its signal weak and worryingly distorted. At the thirty mile mark it was strong enough for him to know that Nyah was in distress. "Intense, " he struggled to explain to Nick. "It's coming in waves. Right now I can sense violence, fury. . . but a few minutes ago it was a sort of confused exhaustion."

"Cassius said it would be hard for her, " Nick reminded him and nodded towards the clock on the dash. "You think he's been able to hold Northfell off? There's still two hours and forty minutes before the deadline."

"I hope so, " Dean replied tightly. "But Blackwater Ridge is only three hours from here – if he wasn't able to stall him, Northfell could already be ahead of us." Dean grunted in frustration and agitatedly scratched at his head. "What in the hell was Nyah thinking coming so close to Blackwater Ridge? I thought she was smarter than -." He broke off with a wince as another wave of her distress rolled over him. "It's getting worse, " he muttered, flooring the pick-up. "Hold on, Nyah, hold on, baby."

"It's just the disorientation, " Nick offered, calmly. "Take it easy or we'll get pulled over for speeding."

"It feels more than disorientation to me, " Dean replied, darting out of the lane to overtake a string of cars as he sped along the wide, flat road that led to Mosse. "It's fear. Something has her panicking and nothing or no-one is going to make me stop this car until I get to her."

Nyah's distorted signal was so clear that by the time they entered Mosse, Dean had no problem in finding the motel she was hiding out in. 'The One-Eyed Cat' was sitting right on the edge of the town and he swung into the parking lot, his tyres spitting out dust and gravel as he skidded to a stop outside the stretch of uniform units.

Dean scanned the empty lot as they jumped from the jeep. "I think we beat him to it."

It was as Nyah lay twisted amongst shreds of shower curtain and what had once been her clothes when she felt his presence swell around her. Immediately her wolf's aggression calmed. Opening her eyes she blinked away the last of the dizziness and drawing in a few steadying breaths she rolled onto her side and dragged herself up into a sitting position. No, no way! How had he found her? How in the hell had he found her so fast? Her bloodied hands grappled frantically with the pole blocking the door, but she had jammed it in good and hard. It wouldn't budge.

"No, no, no, " she whispered, scooting back to slam her two bare feet against the length of steel. "Come on!" she spat, pounding her heels harder, "move!" With one final, desperate shove the pole popped away.

Scrambling to her feet she flung open the door and dashed back into the bedroom, hastily snatching clothes from her bag. "Hurry, hurry, " she hissed at herself, jamming her feet into her boots as she yanked up her jeans and fumbled with the buttons. He was getting closer. His energy was starting to curl itself around her like a soft, warm blanket, and boy, if ever she wanted to allow herself to be wrapped up in something it was that.

Seizing whatever clothes were closest, she flung a sweater over her head and shoved the rest into her bag, swung it over her shoulder and then stopped dead. Front door or bathroom window – front door or bathroom window?

Neither, her wolf replied, our mate is here, stay! "Bathroom window, " she decided and spun around.

The front door burst open. "Nyah!"

She froze in place, her back turned to him, her face wincing with the awful pleasure the sound of his warm voice brought.

"Nyah, it's okay, I'm here." His hands were on her, turning her towards him and cupping her face. "I found you, " he said. "I thought I wouldn't make it on time, I thought -."

"You shouldn't be here!"

The relief on his face froze as she shoved him back and stepped away. "Why did you come? You shouldn't have come – you shouldn't have!"

"Nyah. . ."

"No. You have to leave; you have to go right now!"

"We're ahead of Northfell, " Dean replied calmly, reaching out to touch her again. "It's okay, Nyah, I have you now, you're safe."

"It's not me! It's – dammit! Why did you have to come!"

"Nyah -." He grabbed for her again, quickly drawing her into his arms. "You're coming back with me, I'm -."

"No, I'm not!" she yelled, jerking free. "I'm not going anywhere with you, I'm going back to Blackwater Ridge!"

"You're what?"

She hadn't even realized Nick had come into the room until he choked out an 'Are you nuts?' as Dean began yelling at her.

"Have you any idea what he's planning to do?" he shouted. "He's going to -."

"I know what he wants!" she snapped back. "And I know exactly what he'll do if he finds you –."

"Dean!" Nick's frantic shout halted her words. "Northfell's here!"

Immediately, Dean grabbed her and shoved her behind his back as Nick began to move away from the door.

"Through the bathroom, " Dean whispered, jerking his thumb towards the ravaged room behind them, "quick!"

Nyah didn't move. There was no point. Simon Northfell had found them, and all the running in the world wasn't going to save them now.

The handle of the front door began to rotate, and in perfect horror-movie style, time slackened into slow-motion as the door was pushed ajar. Dean was nudging against her, trying to make her move, but she stayed in place as three figures appeared in the widening doorway; Simon Northfell, Michael and Blake.

Simon stepped into the room, took a moment to glance around, sniffed once and then settled his cold, black stare upon her. "Hello, Nyah."

Her mouth refused to work and when her eyes darted nervously over his shoulder to where Michael and Blake flanked him, her heart dropped when she saw their expressionless eyes. Elbowing her way past Dean she stepped forwards. "I'm coming with you, " she said.

Simon raised a single eyebrow.

"Over my dead body, " snarled Dean.

"Be careful what you wish for, " Simon warned lightly, still watching her.

"I'll come right now, " Nyah insisted, "we'll leave straight away."

"What are you doing?" Dean hissed, snatching her back towards him and clutching her tightly to his chest.

"Let me go!" she demanded, "I want to go back home!"

Simon took a few casual steps further into the room. "Miss Morgan has requested you release her, pup. As her Alpha I would advise you to do so."

"Why? So you can put your filthy hands on her? She's my -." Dean grunted in pain as Nyah drove her elbow into his belly and the second his hands loosened she darted away from him. Simon was quick to wrap one bony hand around her arm and yank her to his side.

"Boys, " he sighed wearily at Michael and Blake. "Could you please?"

Nyah squeezed her eyes shut. There were a few moments of scuffling, grunting and snarling before a surrendering silence fell and she cautiously opened her eyes. Dean and Nick were both in a tight hold.

"I swear, Northfell, if you so much as lay one finger on her I'll kill you, you evil son of a bitch!" Dean roared, struggling ineffectually against Michael.

Simon rested a hand against his chest. "Why, now I feel bad. You know who I am and I have no earthly idea who you are."

"Dean Carson."

"Ah." The utterance hung in the air and Nyah closed her eyes again. "Alpha Carson of Carter Plains."

"That's right, " Dean spat. "Remember that name; it belongs to the wolf who's going to end your pathetic life."

"It's a pleasure, etc., etc., " Simon's smiling voice replied mildly. With her eyes still mashed shut Nyah sensed Simon turning towards her. "Any particular reason as to why this whelp is behaving in such a threatening manner?"

"He knew my father, " she answered, opening her eyes, but keeping her stare stuck to the tatty carpet.

"I'm her mate, " Dean ground out.

"No!" Her head whipped up and she shook it frantically at Simon. "No, he's not. He's lying."

Simon's eyes narrowed and slowly tracked from Nyah's face back onto Dean's.

"Nyah is my mate, " Dean stated again. "And if you -."

"No, I'm not, " she insisted in reply, shaking her head at Dean, her eyes begging him to stop.

"Someone here is telling porky pies, " Simon replied. He contemplated the anxious silence for a short minute and then suddenly grabbed her, jerking her head to one side and roughly yanking her hair back. "Hmm, " he smirked, running two fingers down the unbroken skin of her neck. "You haven't been marked. It still doesn't tell me which one of you is lying, but I'm glad to see you haven't been infected by that whelp."

Nyah pressed her hand against her neck when Simon released her. It felt like a million worms had wriggled under her skin. "He knew my father, " she said again, "he feels a duty towards him. That's all this is, nothing more. He's not my mate." Even as she said the words she could hear her wolf howling pitifully.

"Whether he is or not is of little matter, " Simon decided. "But you did lie to me, Carson. You had my rogue and you denied it."

"I – that was me – I told him my name was -." Nyah began.

"Was I talking to you?" Simon snapped, making her flinch away from him.

"Northfell, " Dean warned. "I swear, if you -." Michael drove his knee into Dean's kidneys, the force of his hit buckling Dean's legs. Nyah swallowed back a scream.

"Blah, blah, I'll break your neck, blah, blah, I'll eat your innards, " Simon sang, waving his hands theatrically. "Blah, blah, blah - enough." He clicked his fingers. "Boys, take care of this. Nyah – with me."

Nyah allowed him to walk her towards the door, but she craned her neck to take one final look over her shoulder at Dean. "Please don't hurt them, " she begged Simon as the door was wrenched open. "Alpha Northfell, please. Don't hurt them. I was coming back to you, I was, they just got here when -."

"Shut up, Nyah, you whimpering little brat, " he hissed, "I'm not even five minutes in your presence and I'm already sick of your whining voice."

"Nyah!" Dean yelled and she whipped her head back towards him in time to see Michael and Blake suddenly swing Dean and Nick to one side. In perfect harmony they were smacked into the wall and braced in place by a single arm. Stepping back, Michael and Blake each raised a foot and in one clean, synchronized flash of movement drove their feet into Dean and Nick's knees.

Nyah choked on her own weak scream as the sound of smashing bone was drowned out by two roars of pain.

Yanking her out of the room, Simon bundled her into his waiting car. "That's what happens when you lie, Nyah, " he said lightly, sliding into the seat beside her. "You would do well to remember that."

The sickening sounds of Dean and Nick's punishment continued to swim around her as she huddled against the car door, and her only hope that neither of them was dead was that Blake and Michael were quick to return to the car. They climbed into the front seats and without a word Michael started the engine and drove away.

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