Love is like the flower you've got to let grow-John Lennon.
Already reeling from being forced to flee his old home town, the last thing that Dire Wolf Clark needs is to find himself attracted to his new Alpha, Bishop. More surprising, is that Bishop seems to return Clark's feelings. However, Clark has been hurt in the past and the last thing he needs is to find himself in another relationship. So, Clark withdraws and rebuffs Bishop. The last thing Clark expects is for Bishop to continue his chase of the Omega. Will Clark be able to let go and trust again or is he doomed to be alone forever?
Clark once read about what POWs of WWII suffered at the hands of their enemies, but he’d never dreamed that it would happen to him. Certainly, not at the hands of his own pack.
Sure, his family and pack had always been a bit odd. They lived off the grid—television, Internet, cell phones, and most books were off limits. As was running water, electricity, and all the comforts that normal people have.
Whenever anybody dared to question their Alpha about his reasoning, Bern said that it was because they couldn’t let anybody, human or Dire Wolf, know that their pack existed. While Clark could understand that, he never really quite got the literature and media thing. Even Clark had heard about American Horror Story and he thought he would really like it.
Back to the point. The one where Clark was in the pack prison. Which was really a big issue. Especially given the fact that his skinny ass had been curled up in an underground cell for nearly two months. Actually, calling it a cell was an insult to all cells in the world. What he really was in was a shallow hole in the ground. By shallow, he meant a slight indention in the ground that had a set of bamboo bars over him. He was so close to them that they brushed his hair whenever he tried to move around. The fact that the ground was covered with three inches of snow didn’t help matters either. By his best estimate it was some time in December. Well, that and the fact that all the Betas just had an ugly holiday sweater party the other night.
They liked to call his current lodgings the “Omega Jail”, because no normal-sized Dire Wolf could fit in it. Even with his thin frame and small stature, every movement caused Clark agony. That was with the exception of the areas that had lost all feeling. His only true hope at the moment was, since they were barely feeding him, that he would waste away enough that his lodging would soon actually be comfortable.
Somebody gave the bars a swift kick, causing Clark to jump in fear. If he got the whip one more time, he swore that his already shredded skin was going to slide off his back. As it was, all his fingers were broken, because he’d dared to curl his fingers around the bars over him.
Glancing up from under the overgrown fringe of his blond hair, Clark’s heart began to thump with raw terror. It was Sheen, the Alpha’s Second Beta in command. Oh, and Clark’s oldest brother. Not that it really mattered, since Sheen had turned on him faster than Zoolander during a walk-off.
“I talked to Dad today,” Sheen said with a snide look only Stalin was capable of giving.
Dad? Dad, who? Last time Clark checked, his sperm donor had written him off as dead when the pack discovered Clark was gay. In fact, he was the asshole who’d turned him in and even worse, was the one who made it a unanimous vote to send Clark to the hellhole.
When Clark just glared at his brother, it only urged his brother on. “He found Mom crying over some old photos of you. She’s so weak that she refuses to see you for the defect you are. So, do you want to know what Dad did?”
Even though Clark’s blood boiled at the thought of what his father was capable of, he still didn’t speak. Whatever happened to her could not have been good. Clark was raised in a home where violence came first, then conversation after. All of which had consisted of him begging for forgiveness from the spawn of Satan. His mother had endured the same situation. It was only Sheen, the strong one, the brutal one, who was the apple in his father’s eyes. It was so sickening at times that Clark wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that they held hands while skipping their way to the ballpark. Then after, Sheen probably got an ice cream cone, double scoop, because nothing less would do for the super son.
Sheen continued, “Not only did he rip the pictures from her hands and throw them in the fire, but he gave her a really good beating. So bad that I’d be willing to bet she thinks you got off easy.”
“How does it feel?” Clark asked.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“To have the whole pack think that you’re some great enforcer. Protecting the innocent, being the Alpha’s Second Beta, all the while the truth is that you’re afraid of him too.”
Confusion crept into Sheen’s face. Something Clark had seen his fair share of. Not that all Betas were stupid, far from it. However, there was always one who broke the mold and in this case it was his brother. He was so dim-witted that at times he walked into walls, simply because he’d forgotten they were there.
“Afraid of who?” Sheen demanded.
“Your father. All those years you stood by and didn’t do a damn thing to protect your mother. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t Betas supposed to protect the innocent? Not laugh while they are bleeding all over the living room carpet.”
Sheen stomped on the bars several times, causing them to bend and beat into Clark’s already up shit’s creek back. Clark had to bite his tongue to the point it was bleeding, but he refused to cry out in pain. That was one thing Sheen would never get from him. No matter how hard he tried. He didn’t deserve it, especially after all the other things Sheen had ripped away from Clark.
“I have never been afraid of him and that will never change,” Sheen raged.
Sheen’s dark hair gleamed from the various torches surrounding the prison and his eyes sparked with anger. Then the tick appeared above his right eye, the one that always let Clark know that he was in deep shit.
Sure enough, Sheen unlocked the cage then ripped Clark out of his hole. Pain shot through Clark’s body, both from the iron tight grip his brother had on him and from the simple act of walking. Every old wound in his body broke open and began to bleed. Plus, to add to Clark’s humiliation, he found he’d been in his near-fetal like position for so long that he couldn’t walk upright. He was reduced to a hunched over gait that would have made Igor proud.
“I think this Omega piece of shit needs a shower,” Sheen announced to the guards.
Clark’s stomach formed a tight knot. He’d had the opportunity of having a shower from the prison and it had been far from a pleasant experience. Before he knew it, his clothes were ripped off his body. Then he found himself shivering and naked as he stood in front of a concrete wall.
He tried to look toward the guards, so he would at least know when the blast of water was coming his way, but they were shining bright lighting in his eyes. So, all he could do was stand there in the spotlight, naked as the day he was born, and wait for the worst to begin.
There was a long pause, no doubt with the sole purpose to fuck with his mind. Then the water hit him. The blast was so cold and hard that it took everything Clark had in him to keep standing. And it hurt. Oh God, did it hurt. The icy water instantly made his muscles seize up. At the same time, it bore into his wounds. It was so bad that Clark made the mistake of turning around, exposing his back.
As soon as he did that, Clark wanted to kick his own ass for his stupidity. That made it so his back was exposed to the spray. He finally gave up the fight and let out a scream of pain. He clawed at the cement in a desperate bid to keep from falling, but his efforts were futile. Clark dropped to his knees so hard that he knew for sure he was going to have bruises later on.
Finally, after what seemed to be forever and a day, they turned off the hose. Clark lay on the ground, shivering both from the cold and the agony ripping through him. I’m not going to survive this. They are going to kill and bury me in some unmarked grave. Then I’ll only be a ghost, nobody will remember me, with the exception of Mother. Even then she would only mourn for me in private.
They left him on the concrete for such a long time, that he eventually stopped shivering. Clark was a paramedic, so he knew that didn’t mean he was getting warmer. He’d just slipped into the early state of hypothermia. That would be his luck, to freeze to death, balls out for everyone to see.
Just as he was accepting that would be a real possibility, somebody threw some clothes at him. While they were the drab, gray prison garb, holes and all, at least they were clean. Clark put them on as fast as possible. His frozen fingers and stiff joints made it a long, almost torturous process. Eventually, he managed to get dressed again.
How he wished he had his ability to shift. Not only would his fur keep him warm, but he could at least lick his wounds to heal them some. That was impossible, though. On his arrival to the prison, he’d been given an injection that made it so he was unable to turn into his Dire Wolf form. Worse yet, it had severed all contact with his inner Wolf, to the point where he didn’t think he’d ever feel it again. It was such a loss to who he was, that Clark almost felt as if a body part had been hacked off.
When they took him back to his cell, Clark was shocked to see that somebody had taken the time to clean it. Maybe, one of these goons actually had a piece of humanity. They didn’t even have to shove Clark in. He was so desperate to get into his ball of warmth, that he willingly crawled in.
Soon after, all the torches were doused and the prison was encased in complete darkness. Usually, Clark’s enhanced shifter skills would still have allowed him to see. But, since they’d taken that part away from him, he could barely make out his hand in front of his face.
He was almost asleep when he saw a light beam from a flashlight. To his horror, it made its way to his cage. Then there was a light thump as somebody sat down, next to him.
“Thank goodness. I never thought they’d leave,” a cool, feminine voice declared.
“Lillian? What are you doing here?” Clark asked.
While he might not be able to see her, Clark would have recognized her familiar tone anywhere. They were cousins, but they’d rarely seen each other, since their fathers didn’t get along well. Okay, maybe it would be better to say that they were mortal enemies and went for one another’s throats the instant they were in the same room. For Clark, that was a normal family exchange, so it’d never bothered him.
“I’m getting you the hell out of here,” she declared.
“Why would you take that risk for me? You have to know that they’re going to detect your scent and know it’s you.”
“Because, unlike our dads, I know the true meaning of family. I’m not about to stand by and let them kill you,” she replied.
“They’ll murder you if they catch you.”
“And they’ll finish you off if I don’t.”
In the dim light from the flashlight, Clark could see that she had a large duffle bag over her shoulder. Setting it down on the ground, she pulled out a set of bolt cutters. Within moments, she had clipped the lock off Clark’s cage.
He tried to scramble out, but found to his mortification that he couldn’t even stand anymore. Lillian, bless her heart, didn’t show an ounce of pity. She reached in and hauled Clark out. Since he was still unable to stand, she threw an arm around his shoulders and dragged him away.
“Gotta love lazy Betas,” she said. “I was able to get in here without even a glance from any of them.”
As much as Clark loved her, he couldn’t hate the fact that she didn’t sound the least bit winded. What made it all the worse was that she was an Omega too. If only it hadn’t been for that damn shot, then Clark would have been able to carry his own weight. Now, he was worried that he would end up slowing her down and getting them caught in the process. If that were to happen, Clark would never be able to forgive himself.
When they reached a clearing, Clark let out a small breath of relief. While they might have escaped the prison, they were still on pack lands. All the Alpha would have to do was send out his pack of Betas and Clark and Lillian would be toast. Damn, but it sucked to be the weak one.
Then when he made out the outline of a Pontiac GTO, he couldn’t hold back a gasp of shock. “Is that yours?”
“You bet your sweet ass it is. I rebuilt the thing myself. Of course I had to do it off pack lands, since cars are a big no-no.”
She opened the passenger door, the interior light finally giving Clark a good view of her. Her long, blonde hair was tucked into a baseball cap. Several tendrils had fallen and fanned her sweet as peaches complexion. Her blue eyes sparkled with pure mischief, which paired perfectly with the smudge of dirt on her pert nose.
“I wish we’d started hanging out sooner,” Clark exclaimed.
She grinned. “Well, we’re starting to now and the fun is just beginning.”
She slowly eased Clark into the car. Even so, he still moaned in pain several times. Once he was settled he curled up into the seat as Lillian got into the driver’s seat. Somehow, she was an image of sheer perfection as she sat there, all that steel under her command.
“Where are we going to now?” Clark asked.
“We need to get you to a doctor STAT.”
Oooookay, that wasn’t helpful at all. “Where? We can’t go to a human hospital. Even with the shot in my system, they’re still going to figure out that one of these things is different from the other. Don’t you dare say a vet, I may be at my lowest, but even I have my standards.”
She shook her head. “No, I have the perfect place in mind. We’re going someplace where you and I are both going to be safe.”