C H A P T E R 1 6

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C H A P T E R 1 6

WORD COUNT: 2084

***

The pack dungeons have an atmosphere of darkness and death surrounding it. Two guards stationed outside greet us with stiff nods. I note how grim their expressions are. Is it really bad working here? Stupid question.

"Kaiden," I mutter, gaining his attention easily. "How many prison guards do you have?" 

Kaiden blows out a breath. He doesn't answer straight away, leading me to believe he's calculating the number of pack members. "I think thirty pack members. They all work an eight-hour shift, in the same place. Some guard outside the building, others are positioned in certain stations. The most dangerous prisoners are watched twenty-four seven." 

My eyes widen at the last piece of information. I couldn't imagine being watched all the time. It would drive me insane. I value my privacy. 

The first level of the prison leads two ways. One way is to the guards quarters where they have their breaks. The other corridor leads to the first floor of prisoners. Unfortunately, the stairway to the lower levels is on the other side of the corridor. Thus, I have to walk past the prisoners to get there.

Prisoners moaning and begging reaches my ears as I start the walk and the stench of blood lingers in the air. Kaiden leads us past the dirty cells, each filled with a prisoner. I try to keep my eyes on Kaiden's strong and firm back but the urge to glance at the prisoners begins to feel overwhelming. I tell myself just one look won't harm anyone. Of course, it does - to me. 

I slowly drag my eyes to a cell. They lay on a beaten man, crouched at the bars. His one open brown eye begs with me silently to help him. His face is filled with bruises and cuts that refuse to heal. He looks skinny and empty - cold. 

I suck in a breath and flutter my eyes closed. I shouldn't have looked. I shouldn't have looked. I repeat to myself. Now the image of him looking so helplessly is stuck in my head. I know these prisoners did bad things and deserve to be punished but I hate it. I hate hurting other people, no matter what. 

"Lupus Paulo," a voice mumbles into my ear, softly. I instantly recognize the hypnotic voice. Kaiden wraps his arms around me and pulls me to his chest. My skin sizzles from our touch and my mind goes foggy. All thoughts of the man vanish and are replaced with Kaiden. 

I breathe in his familiar scent and melt into him. I really am falling for this man. 

"Come," Kaiden eventually pulls away and beckons me away. I gladly move; stay focused on Kaiden's blonde hair. His hand is gripping mine and is pulling me forward. 

To my relief, we finally reach the staircase. A middle-aged man stands before the staircase with a stoic expression. His lips are pressed together firmly and his hands are knotted behind his back. He's tall, nearly as tall as Kaiden, giving him an intimidating look. An alarming scar runs down from his chin to his neck - adding to his chilling look.

"Quinn, this is the chief of guards, Patrick." Kaiden introduces me to him, unaffected by the man's presence. I swallow nervously and give him a shaky smile.

"Hi," I say meekly. 

The man nods, the corners of his lips quirking upwards. "Luna." 

"Can you take us to the new prisoner?" Kaiden asks although it sounds more like an order. Patrick nods his head and spins on his heels, begining his journey down the stairs. Kaiden gestures for me to go first and I comply, reassured that he's behind me. 

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