Twenty-One

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"Wake up, little wolf. Not a wolf for long!" A gruff voice spoke out, shaky and sad sounding. That's all Scarlett could conjure up on the voice projected to her. The owner of the voice was sad and grief stricken. "Open your eyes." There was a hand on her chin, gripping hard.

Slowly, they did. Blue eyes blinked open with a fluidity only to widen further in terror. Terror from the man before her and the lack of any familiarity in her surroundings. Opening her mouth to scream, nothing came out but a panicked whuff of air. Mouth opened and closed like a fish, making these pathetic little noises of fright. Dimly lit, they were boxed in by weak looking wooden boards, alone.

Senses seemed numb, static in the back of her skull had her at a dead end. Reaching out, there was no connection, no way to reach her love. Panic had her in a vice, not unlike the rope around her wrists and ankles, drawing her shoulders and hips back in an uncomfortable position.

Her attention turned to the man in front of her was probably in his mid thirties, maybe forties, but was easily wasting away. His hair mangled on his head, clumped and matted, his eyes delirious and rolling, his canines in a permanent shift. There was blood smeared across his cheek- not his own.

"Shhh... Hush hush. I'm going to make everything better." His voice was a strangled purr. "I'm going to right all my wrongs. For Ruthie."

Ruthie? Ruth. Jerome and Ruth. So this was Jerome, the one who sank his claws in Kale's chest. Scarlett blinked the tears from her eyes, they rolled down her cheeks in hot streams, dripping from her chin. She was tied down to a chair, bound by chains. No plan filtered through her head, stirring up terror.

Then she remembered- Ruth was Jerome's mate. They had killed his mate. Wouldn't he be dead? Scarlett's eyes traveled down to his wrists and arms, laced with black looking veins that wound like vines, disappearing under the sleeves of his dirty shirt. His skin was translucent, sick looking. He really was wasting away.

"Aren't you going to ask any questions?" The crazed wolf cocked his head to the side.

A throbbing headache was worsening in Scarlett's temples. She was so uncomfortable, so out of it, she just wanted to be asleep, please be asleep, able to wake up from this nightmare. She didn't want to be dead, didn't want to die. Would this happen to Kale if she died? She didn't want that.

"Come on!" He barked, making her flinch. "Nothing about that bite shaped scar on your shoulder? The murder of my mate? The shifting into wolves? Nothing? Ask me a godsdamned question, I feel like talking."

Scarlett looked down, sniffling. "Where am I?"

"The mountains." He grinned wickedly as Scarlett looked around the little cabin they were in. It was pretty barren, just a front door, a table with a cardboard box on it, and a room that lead off to the left. It smelled like mildew and distantly of pine and soil. She could hear a river nearby, but the sound was clogged by the static in her ears. "Ask another."

"Did you bite me?" Scarlett met his eyes, though terrified, she wanted to be strong, wished the tears were gone from her face. She had to be strong to be sane, to see Kale again.

"Oh my! You smart, smart shewolf!" He cackled. "Yes I did bite you. All that time ago, such a little girl. We wanted a pup, a little blue eyed female. All I had to do was frame your father and you were ours. I had it all planned out. I was going to make her happy. "

Scarlett's eyes widened, staring up at this wolf. Her father, her mother, all this wake of trauma and grief... Because of greed.

"I picked you from the river. And I bit you. Right there. Your father was stupid enough to let you wander too near to the flooded banks, it was so easy!" He pinched the underside of her arm, right over the scar. She yelped in shock.

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