Author's Note: This story is not for the pure of heart! Prepare to be irrevocably corrupted by unnecessary violence, explicite sex, and true love. That being said, any flames will be regarded as massive typos and deleted. You have been warned!
All she had ever loved was destroyed in the fire.
The doctors told her it was a miracle she survived. Only thirteen years old, but her childhood ended on that night, forever frozen in her mind. She could still see the flashing gold and red flames that leapt into the sky, licking at a sparkling backdrop of stars. She had been thrown on her back by the blast, tumbling across wet grass to skid to a halt at the base of a chain-link fence. Jaime could still remember the tears that stung her eyes, the way her hands shook, red and burned by the flash of heat.
She gazed, stunned, at the sight of her parents' burning bodies. Dozens of people were running from the apartment complex, screaming and crying, sirens approaching in the background... but no sound registered in her ears. The fire had burst from seemingly every floor of the damned building, and her parents had been right in the middle of the inferno. She watched her mother's body fall from the window, black and cracked from the heat. She wasn't able to turn away.
In that moment it was as struggle to think, but something inside of her took control, and she knew she had to get out of there -- now. The explosion in the apartment hadn't been an accident. Jumping to her feet, Jaime finally turned and stumbled away, forcing her legs to move until she was flat out running. Her blood raced through her, thundering and deafening, pressuring her to give in to her instincts and Change. Born to the pack, she had always known she was a werewolf, but until now her other nature had remained dormant. In this traumatic case, however, survival instincts kicked in and made an exception. She did not change fully, but her senses heightened, her strength increased, and she turned and fled.
For good reason, too. Her pack was being exterminated.
It was clear that the bomb had been set in their apartment building intentionally. The Paxton City wolf pack was new and had been fast growing in power -- and they had all resided in this building. It was their den, their home, more than fifteen families contained within its walls. And now they were dead. None escaped the fire... except for her.
Her shoes slamming on the sidewalk, she was a good block away from her apartment complex when she suddenly heard the engine rev behind her. Her heart began to hammer -- up to that point she had been numb, in a dream, as though running under water, but the harsh sound of the motorcycle snapped her senses back into focus. They were hunting her. They were chasing her down and planning on killing her, just as brutally as they had murdered her family.
"Dammit!" she cursed as the bike rounded the corner behind her, skidding from the sharp turn. The rider was clad completely in leather, his features hidden behind a faceless black helmet, but she couldn't make out anything more at the rate they were moving. She was running faster than any human being could run, but her shocked and adrenaline-pumped system would tire soon. On the bike's heels were a pack of men, all of them howling and hooting, carrying clubs and guns alike. By the static in the air, she could tell they were resisting the Change; it was too public a place for the wolves to take their true form. Jaime took comfort in the fact that they wouldn't try to shoot her in this kind of open space -- too many witnesses -- but this was a bad part of town and if they caught her in an alley, it would mean certain death.
Tears stung her eyes and she bit her lip, forcing herself to remain in control; she had to be smart about this, she couldn't let her emotions run away with her and panic, and to turn into a wolf now would mean complete loss of logical thought. She glanced sideways and saw a narrow street leading to the next boulevard over, and she took her chance, dodging down the shadowy corridor and practically leaping over the large trash dumpster that blocked her way. There, hopefully the obstacle would slow down the motorcycle....
No such luck. She reached the next main street and glanced behind her, just in time to catch a flash of black paint as the bike leapt smoothly over the large trash cans, defying all sense of gravity until it landed on the opposite side. They rest of the wolves followed; they were closing in, chasing her like a wounded deer.
"Hey little bitch, get over here!" a voice called from her other side, and she turned, terrified to find that another section of the pack was emptying from the alley opposite to her -- they were cornering her in, ambushing her, just like the hunters they were. She took off running in the only direction she could: straight ahead, pounding down the sidewalk, her fists clenched and her sneakers scuffing. She couldn't help but be grateful that at least she was fully dressed; having come home late from a music recital at school, she had been outside when the bomb had exploded. At the very least, it allowed her to run comfortably.
I'm going to die, she thought, her mind frantic, her panic and desperation slowly circling in. The growing roar of the motorcycle completely covered the now-distant whine of sirens. I'm going to die I'm going to die I'm going to die....
"Got you!" the voice grunted a moment before an arm whipped out and grabbed her around the waist. Jaime shrieked as she was yanked off her feet and backwards, hauled through the air until she found herself forced onto the back of the motorcycle, its leather-clad rider harsh and unyielding. Her back slammed against his chest, which was lean and hard beneath the padding of his jacket. His arm was like steel and wrapped around her. She screamed, letting go of all control and ripping and tearing at him.
"Let me go, fuck you, let me the fuck go, you asshole-!" She didn't even know what she was saying anymore. The bike skidded slightly as it weaved along the street, yet commendably the rider did not lose control, despite her struggling and cussing. She kicked, trying to hit the handle bars, her long chestnut-brown hair flying in her face. She couldn't see anything clearly, but she only knew one thing -- her parents' killer now held her in his firm, capable hands.
"Shit," the man grunted, his voice deep yet somehow smooth and cultured; the cuss didn't seem to fit on his lips. "Sit still!"
"Fuck off!" she shrieked, and wrestled even harder. He slowed the bike down and tried to grab her around the throat -- she bit down firmly on his hand.
"Dammit!" This time when the bike swerved, Jaime took her chance. Without hesitation she flung herself away from her captor, not caring what speed they were moving or how many of his cronies were around them; she had to get away! Her side clipped the handlebars and then she was free, flying through the air for a brief second before she hit the pavement, slamming into it with more force than she could have prepared for. With a soundless oof the air was knocked out of her, and she went skidding across the pavement, protecting her head with her arms but scraping her entire right side. Pain lashed through her immediately, cutting through her ribs, burning over her skin as it ripped and tore. She finally came to a stop when she hit the base of a brick wall, and she lay there for a moment, broken and sobbing, pain making it almost impossible to breathe. She couldn't move. For a long moment, she couldn't even hear or see; she was sure something was broken. She could taste blood in her mouth.
"Fucking bitch, where'd she go?" she heard voices shouting, then the distinct sound of frantic sniffing as her pursuers tried to catch her scent. Thankfully she knew that they were still close to her apartment and the smoke from the fire was clogging the air, muddling everything along with the already thick scent of car oil and exhaust. They could smell her, but they couldn't pin her down, thank God.
Wincing, she opened one eye -- the other was fast swelling up. Somehow she had managed to land behind a fairly concealing line of bushes. She peered out from them now, her head close to the ground -- not twenty feet away there was a group of about fifteen people striding back and forth, their motions high-strung and tense. A few more arrived on the scene as she watched. She held her breath, trying not to make a sound, squinting against the harsh glow of the street lights. It had to be almost midnight; she wondered what her chances were of them leaving her there. She looked around carefully after a few more seconds, but couldn't find any reasonable means of escape; if she made even the smallest move, it would alert the hunters, since their senses were so heightened.
A pair of black boots strode onto the scene, immediately drawing her attention, and the rest of the group paused. She watched the black boots cross the pavement and stand in the midst of the others; they were given a wide berth.
"Crazy bitch jumped off your bike, Alpha," a young man growled.
"Quiet, Chase," that deep, silky voice answered. Definitely a man's voice. It sent cold chills down her spine, and briefly she remembered the strong arm around her, the crush of that rock-hard chest. The hair rose on the back of her neck. Those boots began to walk again, this time slowly, casually wandering around the area. Jaime bit her lip -- she wanted to pant and sob from the pain in her side and the blood she knew was seeping through her shirt, but she couldn't make a sound. It would mean her life.
Those boots wandered frighteningly close -- so close that she could see the scuff marks along the sides and the rubber treads along the bottom.
"I know you can hear me, little one," that silk voice again; but there was something evil there, something deep and chilling. "You are probably wondering why you are still alive... I assure you, it is not because you have escaped."
Jaime winced as her ribs complained sharply; the pain was getting worse by the second. Her adrenaline was slowly wearing off as her body grew exhausted. The boots stepped closer.
"Your pack was going to be killed, anyway," the man said. "Your parents knew this, your Alpha knew this... they just didn't know when. So they planned ahead -- your parents and I made a deal."
Right, and you killed them, you bastard, she wanted to scream. She was still having trouble processing that concept; she was alone now in the world. She had nowhere to go, no place to run or hide. Alone. They were all dead.
"They promised their daughter to me... gave you into my care, little one. In return, I would spare your life. I would protect you."
Jaime frowned and shook her head, trying to clear it. What was he saying? It didn't make any sense; her parents had promised her to this man? As in... what, her life? Her self? Werewolf law was outdated and complex in these things, but she refused to accept it; no, her generation was different, she would either find her lifemate or choose a mate in her own time. There was no "promising" or "arrangements" -- especially not with the man who had killed her family!
And why would he spare her life over such a simple deal? She wasn't any more valuable than the next wolf -- was she?
Nothing was making sense anymore, the whole night had been nothing but one horrible shock after another. A feeling of unreality set in and Jaime pressed herself lower to the ground, bearing the pain and holding her breath.
"Your parents knew they were going to die," he spoke again, repeating the words that made her heart pound. The tone was matter-of-fact, almost taunting. "They wanted to save their precious baby girl... you do realize what has happened tonight, don't you?" A pause. "You're alone now, little one. Come to me, be at my side and join my pack. It's for the best, my dear. It's what your parents wanted."
Suddenly Jaime felt something snap inside of her. Her heart raced and her blood boiled, and abruptly she saw red -- rage rushed through her, pure and clean, washing away her pain and weakness. She felt her canine teeth lengthen and sharpen, pricking into her tongue. She had never experienced her wolf senses before, but suddenly all she could think about was sinking her teeth into his neck. She wanted to attack him, to rip and tear at him, to taste his blood. She craved it.
"Come now, little one," another step in her direction. "What have you left to lose?"
"You fucking bastard!" the roar ripped from her throat. Jaime wasn't thinking anymore. She launched herself from the bushes, feeling her teeth lengthen in her mouth, her eyes flashing with pure rage. She flew through the air, one hand outstretched and nails lengthened -- she was going to claw the fucker. She was going to gash his eyes out, rip him open, feel the flesh beneath her fingers....
He caught her mid-air, easily. Hand outstretched, he somehow bipassed her sharpened nails and snatched her by the throat, gripping her firmly with a rough laugh. She shrieked in anger, thrashing and biting, clawing at him, trying to hurt him in any way possible -- but he continued to hold her by the neck, hefting her up into the air until her feet couldn't even touch the ground. She was choking; she couldn't breathe. Fuck, she couldn't breathe!
He held her like that as her struggles became weaker and weaker, and the bloodlust faded from her eyes. They had turned an electrified yellow, but slowly dulled back down to their regular hazel-brown. He studied her, staring at her face as she calmed, until finally she could stare back at him with coherent thought. She finally registered the man she was looking at -- she couldn't see his face fully, since only the visor of his helmet was raised; but she could clearly see his pale, intense eyes. There was a keenness in his expression that spoke of acute intelligence.
"There now," he said quietly, once she had fully recovered from her outburst. "Found you."
She spit at him, snarling, but he laughed and shook her slightly. "Enough of that, little one, I will let you go soon enough... I just wanted to get a good look at the one who will serve as my mate."
"Never!" she growled, though it was hard to push the words past the hand at her throat.
"It is too late for that, my dear," he murmured again, and a cold grin passed over his face. "Your parents promised you to me... and for good reason. Werewolf law cannot be broken in these things... but I suppose you are too young to understand that yet." He leaned his face close -- so close that she could catch a whiff of his cologne, bringing his presence sharply into focus. "You do realize you don't have a choice -- don't you?"
"I fucking hate you!" she wheezed, kicking her legs out at him though she was so weak she could barely move. "I'll kill you!"
He laughed again; it grated across her skin, almost as painful as the asphalt had been. "I would expect nothing less from my future mate," he grinned. Then abruptly his expression changed, and the coldness she saw there sent fear skittering through her system. "And you will be my mate, young one. You cannot escape me, no matter how far you run."
Jaime would have said something, but at that moment he raised his helmet and pressed his mouth against hers -- the kiss was demanding, harsh and unyielding, taking her mouth and not asking questions. His lips controlled hers, moving over them, parting them easily as his tongue entered her. Jaime wanted to bite it off, but somehow she couldn't -- she was frozen to the spot, completely in shock, and utterly confused as a strange and exciting emotion suddenly swept over her. She couldn't name it, but it was hot and frantic, and settled in her belly like a wild thing.
The kiss turned hard towards the end and he pulled her bottom lip into his mouth, sucking on it before biting down, sudden and sharp, blood blooming between them. She gasped, surprised, her head whirling.
Then he released her. It took her a moment to realize her feet were on the ground; he wasn't holding her anymore, though when he smiled she could still see the smear of her blood on his mouth. She stared up at him stupidly, dazedly noticing his height, the width of his strong shoulders -- he was not a giant, but definitely of formidable posture, and his dark hair was shoulder-length and wild.
"Run, little girl," he murmured. "I will come for you when you are of age... and remember," his hand reached out and gripped her hip suddenly, sliding into her waist where her wound was. He pressed his hand cruelly against her. "This belongs to me."
Jaime stared at him for a moment longer, shaking, rooted to the ground -- he smiled. Then she turned and fled. She couldn't take it anymore; she knew she couldn't fight him, not with his whole pack there. If he was giving her leave to run, then by God she was going to do it. She didn't look back; she didn't even think. Her feet hammered over the ground, carrying her in the first direction she turned, and she didn't pay attention to where she was going. She touched her lip -- it was still tingling. He had kissed her. The asshole that had destroyed her pack had taken her mouth just as he had taken everything else. She was alone now, just as he had said. Alone, and she would die before she ever joined him. He had called her his mate; the idea of it made her want to vomit.
Yet somehow her body was still humming.
I'll kill him, she vowed. One of these days, I'll fucking kill him.
She ran down the dark, midnight streets, as fast as she could go until she collapsed in a cold sweat. She didn't know where she was, but she didn't care. In the morning she would worry about her life. In the morning she would figure out the future.
For now, she wanted to die... but she would live to kill him first.