Claw his eyes out. How dare he stare at you? How dare he meet your gaze?
The Loup voice in my head was a relentless bitch.
Go away. Please, go away.
I ignored the tank staring daggers at me. Yeah, my Dominus status had gotten out, and you’d be surprised how many outliers locked up by the Magiguard had a reaper to blame for their predicament.
Damn you, woman, can’t you see he’s challenging you with that glare. If you back down, you show him you’re weak.
We’re not here to get into any trouble. I need to keep my head down.
You need to survive. Do you want another bruise on your face? Put him in his place, he’s the biggest of them. You knock him down, and the rest will leave you alone.
I touched my cheek lightly.
You didn’t listen to me last time, and look what happened.
Let me do it. Let me hurt him.
I could feel her trying to get free, trying to take over, but I was stronger than her. Whatever the hooded figures had done to set her loose last time had been a one-time deal. It seemed she needed my consent to get out now, and I couldn’t risk letting her out to play.
I fixed a polite smile on my face and turned to the monolith with the broken teeth. “Can I help you?”
“You can help my cock with your mouth.”
Anger pricked my skin and heated my neck. “Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t put maggots in my mouth.” I blinked up at him with wide, innocent eyes.
The Loup inside snort-laughed. I thought you said we weren’t going to rumble.
But rage was bubbling in my veins, and the last few days of taunts, jeers, yesterday’s altercation with a female prisoner, and my resulting bruised cheek were all too much. I was done keeping my head down. There was no point in behaving in the hopes I’d get out of this place if good behavior meant getting my neck broken.
I’d learned over the past week that there were never any Magiguards around when you needed them, and lunchtime was a dead zone. With the wards in place, our captors were confident we couldn’t escape, and it was obvious they couldn’t care less if we beat the shit out of each other.
This place was for outliers who’d killed or maimed humans. We were scum as far as the Magiguard were concerned. One less outlier was one less problem to deal with.
The broken teeth guy slammed his food tray against the nearest table as if to illustrate what he intended to do to me. I guess he expected for it to snap, but it didn’t. The trays were made of thick plastic. I arched a brow and looked from the tray to his face.
Let me. Please, let me.
There was a growl in her voice, a desperation to act that tugged at the back of my mind and made my muscles itch.
Heat seared my arm, and then power channeled into my hands. I lifted my tray and snapped it in half.
Broken teeth blinked in surprise, and for a moment, I thought he’d back off, but then he narrowed his eyes and moved in for the kill.
My thighs bunched. I dropped the tray and curled my hands into fists, ready to fight. The room around us buzzed and hummed with anticipation, and adrenaline coursed through my eager veins.
I needed this.
I needed to let off steam and pummel this bastard’s face in. I needed to do something other than curl up on my cot at night, remember what I’d done to Lucas, and sob.
With a battle cry, he charged, but he never made it. The air crackled, and he was flung away from me, across the room and into the wall. His head cracked off stone, and he slid to the ground, unconscious.
The canteen erupted in booing as Ursula, my cell block warden, came striding into the room, flanked by two Magiguards.
She stared down her nose at me. “I thought I asked you to stay out of trouble, Miss Dawn.”
I relaxed my stance, arms hanging loosely at my sides. “I didn’t start anything.”
“But you intended to finish it.”
The beast inside me growled menacingly.
I closed my eyes and reined in the rage. “It won’t happen again.”
“No, it won’t,” she said. “Your preliminary hearing has been set for tomorrow.”
My gaze shot up to meet hers, and I caught a flash of sympathy in her eyes before they hardened to chips of ice.
“Wade, get her back to her cell.” She turned on her heel and strode from the room.
She acted all hard bitch, but she’d been the one to bring me salve for my cheek and slide a meal through the slot in my door the other day when I’d lost out on supper due to some crazy rogue witch who had a bone to pick with Azazel.
Ursula wasn’t all bad, and she’d given me hope. Maybe this preliminary hearing would be my chance to tell my story. To set the record straight. Those hooded figures were still out there with the dagger, and they needed to be stopped.
Wake up. We’re not alone.
I opened my eyes to darkness.
There was someone in the cell with me. My hackles smoothed out as my senses recognized the interloper. The beast in my mind closed her eyes and relaxed.
“Fee?” Cora said softly.
“Cor.” I was off the cot and in her arms in a blink.
She hugged me tight, and the dam inside my chest, the one holding back the fear and the grief I’d bottled up for a week, crumbled. The tide of tears rose up my throat and erupted from my mouth in raw, desperate sobs. Cora held me and rocked me and smoothed my hair while I let it all out, snot and all.
She handed me a tissue to mop up. Always prepared.
I blew my nose and looked at the thick metal door. “How’d you get in here? This place is warded to fuck. Not to mention all the security.”
She gave me a sly smile. “But I’m a tulpa that you created. We have a connection. It took a few attempts, but I got here in the end.”
I hugged her again. “Cor, I’m so fucking scared.”
“It’s going to be okay, babe,” she said.
But how could it be okay? “I killed Lucas. I fucking ate him, Cor.”
I’d thought about it, run the images through my mind again and again, but saying the words out loud made it all the more real.
I’d killed him.
Torn him to shreds and devoured him.
She studied my face in the gloom. “Do you remember doing it? Fee, what happened at the house that night?”
I shook my head. “No. But I did it, I know I did. The hooded figures did something to bring the Loup out. They were chanting. I blacked out, and when I came to, there was blood on my hands, and his…I had stuff in my mouth.”
She pressed her lips together. “Now you fucking listen to me, and you listen good. You are not responsible for what happened. Those fucking hooded bastards are.”
I like her. She has claws.
I ignored the beast. “They tried to kill me with the dagger…It didn’t work on me. I think the Loup inside me saved me.”
You think? A huff.
Cora frowned. “And then the hooded wankers did something to make your Loup lose control.”
Would the Loup have attacked Lucas if the hooded guys hadn’t done something? She’d been hungry. I’d felt it. But had they amplified that?
The beast stirred at the back of my mind, listening, watching, allowing me to make the connections.
“Cor, I can feel her inside me.” My pulse kicked up. “She’s listening, watching…She speaks to me.” God, I sounded nuts. I ran a hand over my face. “You must think I’m insane.”
Cor squeezed my shoulders. “We can figure it all out once you’re out of here.”
Hope bloomed in my chest. “Out?”
“Listen to me very carefully. Tomorrow, there will be a preliminary hearing.”
“I know. Ursula, my jailor, told me. But how does that get me out of here?”
“You enter a plea. You enter not guilty. The judge will ask you whether you wish to be tried as a rogue or as part of a pack. You have to ask for pack sanctuary.”
“What? But I’m not in any pack.”
“You’re not yet. But you will be. You need to ask for pack sanctuary. You need to accept Grayson’s claw.” She shrugged. “It’s a pack term. He will offer his claw, and you take it, okay? If you don’t, then you’ll stay locked up. The guys can’t risk bailing you out.”
“Because if you’re rogue, then you’ll be fair game to the Loup.”
A shiver rippled down my spine. “Not if I go back to the Underealm.”
She shook her head sadly. “No, Fee. You can’t. Not while the case is active. Not even while you’re part of a pack.”
Shit, shit, shit.
“Hey!” Cor shook me. “Fucking snap out of it, Fee. Shit happened. We man up, and we deal with it.” She frowned. “Look, those hooded figures did something to you. It wasn’t your fault. Lucas wasn’t your fault.”
“I doubt these Magiguard will take my word for it.”
“No, they won’t, but if we can get a witness…”
The penny dropped. “Lucas…He was alive when they started to chant…He would have seen what happened. You need to find his ghost.”
Her expression was grim. “The guys are on it. Trust me. Meanwhile, you need to take sanctuary. You got it? Also—”
Someone is coming.
“Shit, Cora, you have to go. We have company.”
Cora’s eyes widened. She pulled me in for a final hug and then winked out.
I scrambled back onto my cot and closed my eyes, blood pounding in my veins.
Boot falls stopped outside my cell. Voices drifted through metal, muted and muffled until the beast inside tuned in.
“What could you have done?” a male voice said.
“Turned a blind eye.” I recognized Ursula’s voice. “I swear, if I find out who leaked the news to the packs, I’ll strangle them with my bare hands.”
“What do you think will happen tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow? I think the wolves are going to come out to play.”