STAWP | Chapter 3

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Hope you enjoy chapter 2. 



I pick up my duffel bag and take one last look around my bedroom: the single bed, with its stained but freshly washed sheets; the beat-up wooden desk and matching chair that got me through years of homework; the now empty dresser, which barely had any clothes in it to begin with. I don't have many good memories of this place—at least not any recent ones—but it's still home, and it sure beats whatever hell's waiting for me next.

"Saffron," POW bellows from the living room. My hands clench into fists at his use of the name Mom gave me, and I struggle against the urge to run, or worse yet, fight. If I do either, I know I'll regret it.

POW's footsteps thunder up the stairs and my heart starts to race. It only took me a couple of minutes to pack, but I've still managed to piss him off. It's a good thing I don't own more stuff.

I head to the door, and my eyes instinctively drift to the empty spot above my bed. Mom's painting used to hang there for as long as I can remember. It's of a beautiful Saffron flower, the one the spice comes from, and I look at it whenever I feel sad or afraid. I know it's silly, but it makes me feel like Mom's with me. I'm glad it's small enough to fit in my duffel bag, because I honestly don't think I could leave without it.

I step out into the hall and POW's already on the second floor landing, leaning against the railing and glaring at me. He sure moves fast, even for a Wolf.

"Sorry, sir," my voice trembles. I don't even have to pretend to be the submissive, obedient Wolf Dad made me out to be. I'm so freaked out over everything that's just happened that I think I'm going to be sick.

"Let's go." POW gestures toward the stairs.

"Toothbrush," I mumble, taking a step toward the bathroom. POW emits a frustrated growl and I freeze in my tracks. What am I doing? The push-over Omega that POW expects, the one who does anything she's told—the one too scared to ever run away—would never do this. She'd have been too overwhelmed by fear to think of things she forgot to pack, like her toothbrush. I just disobeyed a seven foot tall Wolf because I forgot to pack a freaking toothbrush! What's wrong with me? Good dental hygiene is so not worth dying for.

I stand halfway between POW and the bathroom and begin to tremble. I'm never going to pull this off. POW is probably going to put guards on me and chain me up in the dungeon. I'll never escape... never see the light of day... never finish high school or go to college... never fall in love... never get married... never have kids. I'll starve to death in a cold, dank basement or bleed out from beatings and torture. I should just let POW kill me now and get it over with!

"Go," POW orders in a voice that sounds deceptively gentle, "just make it fast." He doesn't growl or yell—the only ways I thought he knew how to communicate—and his words are barely above a whisper. His tone sound soothing, but it's also laced with authority, and my feet take me inside the bathroom before I even have time to think about it.

I grab my toothbrush—and the toothpaste, floss and mouthwash, since I doubt Dad ever uses them—and shove everything into my bag. Given Dad's rotting teeth, genetics are stacked against me, so I need to keep up with my 'brush-floss-disinfect' routine if I want to stay cavity-free.

"Come," POW orders, and I follow him downstairs on autopilot, wondering how I can even think about dental hygiene at a time like this.

POW stops abruptly when he reaches the living room and I jump back to avoid crashing into him. He growls and I peek around him and gape.

Dad is sitting on the couch, a beer in one hand and the remote in the other. He's acting like he doesn't have a care in the world, switching channels until he finally settles on the game. He looks up from the TV when he finally notices us and raises a questioning eyebrow. He and I briefly make eye contact, but there isn't a shred of guilt on his face. I may be his only child, but he couldn't care less about me.

POW growls and walks over to the couch, towering over Dad. Suddenly, his right arm shoots out and he wraps his hand around Dad's neck, lifting him up as if he weighs nothing. Dad's jaw drops, his eyes widen and he begins to choke. Shouts and cheers echo from the TV, mocking him. He pulls at POW's arm with both hands, feet kicking out as he tries to break free, but no matter how hard he tries, POW's grip doesn't waver.

"If I ever catch you playing Poker again, or any card game, I will kill you. Are we clear?" POW demands, holding Dad up at eye-level.

Poker. I guess that explains how Dad came to owe so much money. Although why he'd bet money he'd never be able to pay back escapes me.

Dad tries to nod and when that doesn't work he manages to get out a strangled "yes." He looks so small and helpless, feet dangling high above the ground, arms trying and failing to loosen POW's grip. On TV, the announcer drones on as Dad starts to turn blue. I can tell his arms are weakening, and when his eyes start to close, I let out an involuntary gasp. My dad is about to die right in front of me and I'm not doing anything to stop it. What sort of person does that make me?

Without warning, POW lets go and Dad comes crashing down onto the brown leather. There are bruises around his neck, but he's still breathing, so he'll live. Because of our superior healing ability, I know the damage will be gone in minutes and Dad will be as good as new; while I'll still be POW's slave.

"Come," POW orders, marching past me.

I take one last look at Dad, silently begging him to change his mind—to save me—but he's too busy rubbing his neck to pay me any attention. I look away, hold back tears, and follow POW out of the house.

There's a dark blue pickup truck parked in the driveway. POW opens the passenger-side door, lifts me up, and tosses me onto the seat as if I were his gym bag; just another possession, bought and paid for. POW slams the door shut and I don't move a muscle, following him with my eyes as he rounds the truck and climbs in.

"Seatbelt," POW growls and buckles up. I quickly do as he says and he starts the engine. Then he hits the gas, and the truck tires screech as we race out of the driveway.

I hold onto my seat belt with one hand and cradle my bag with the other. As the truck speeds up, I turn to stare out the window, watching the only home I've ever known disappear from view.


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