Most people don't even remember the packhouse has a dungeon. I do though. I have a little room in the back that used to be a solitary confinement cell. It smells of old piss, vomit, and blood. You get used to it. I have a cot and an old tattered blanket to keep me warm. I even scored a lamp out of the trash. It still works, so I have light to do my homework. Home sweet home and all that jazz, right? I mean, at least I'm not a rogue.
Oh yeah, I should introduce myself. My name is Iokaste Latmus, but I go by Kas. No one calls me Iokaste except for teachers on the first day of school. I'm a werewolf in the Silver Moon pack. Since I'm an orphan, I'm not completely sure how old I am but pretty sure I'm sixteen. Also, I'm an omega which means I'm a servant. My job is to make the meals for the werewolves who live in the packhouse. Between making breakfast and dinner for over a hundred wolves, cleaning up after them, and restocking the pantries of the ranked members' apartments on the third and fourth floors, I do normal teenager stuff. Except, I don't really have a lot of spare time to do normal teenager stuff. So homework, homework is the extent of my normal teenager stuff.
Right now, it's eleven-thirty at night. I'm putting the finishing touches on my English essay when I hear the door of the dungeon slam open. Great. Now what did I do? It doesn't take much. Alpha Graham Connors is an alcoholic. It's really difficult for werewolves to get drunk, which means you have to drink really heavily to feel the effects. Which means he probably had a fight with Luna Caroline about his drinking. Which means she locked him out of their room. Which means he has come down to take out his anger on me. Just an average Tuesday night in the packhouse.
The sharp smell of whiskey hits my nose well before he appears in front of my door. I know the drill. I'm already on my feet waiting for him.
Oh crap oh crap oh crap. I'm thinking in my mind.
“Alpha Graham, what can I do for you?" I ask with my eyes looking at the floor. I keep my hands clasped in front of me, trying to look as small as possible.
Without a word, a whiskey bottle whizzes past my ear and smashes against the wall above my cot. I flinch and can't help but start to tremble and hug myself. We're beyond 'Oh crap', we're in 'Oh shit' territory now. Whatever is about to happen it's going to be worse than usual.
He lunges forward and grabs me by the throat with both hands. I feel tears coming to my eyes as the lack of oxygen turns the edges of my vision dark. I desperately claw at his hands, trying to escape his grip but it's no use. He picks me up by the neck so I'm at face level with him. His eyes are pitch black indicating his wolf Ruckus is at the surface. His breath stinks from drinking and his face is red with anger.
I start gagging and choking from the lack of oxygen. Without warning, he throws me across the room as if I weigh nothing. My body slams against the wall and I land on my back on the cot. The shards of the broken bottle pierce the skin on my back through my thin t-shirt. The whiskey makes the cuts burn. I try to muffle a scream as the pain sears through me. He comes across the room and picks me up roughly by the hair. I feel the shards of glass cutting deeper as he pulls me up.
He slaps me as hard as he can before throwing me to the ground. He kicks me in the gut and stomps on my back over and over. The glass bits are grinding deeper into my back. I can feel blood soaking through my shredded shirt. I don't dare move and make him even madder. I feel my ribs snap when his foot makes contact. One of his kicks lands on my jaw. I feel a sickening snap rattle in my brain. The metallic taste of blood instantly fills my mouth.
Alpha Graham has been using me as his personal punching bag for years, but this was way more intense than it has ever been before. Usually, he slaps me a few times, then whips me until I'm bleeding and raw. In the past couple of years, he started dipping the whip in wolfsbane, which makes me heal slower, so now I have gnarly scars across my back and arms.
“Apha Gahm, sthoph. Pleesh," I manage to eke out. My voice is small and garbled between the broken jaw and blood pouring out of my mouth. He abruptly stops and walks out of the room. He comes back a moment later with the whip and starts lashing my back relentlessly. The whip is dripping with wolfsbane. The lashes, combined with the glass shards still in my back, combined with the wolfbane is too much.
My vision turns blurry and I black out.
Blackness and numbness surround me. Is this what being dead is like? It's peaceful, but a little bit boring. At least I don't have to feed the pack. Oh dang, I didn't get a chance to turn in that English essay. It was a good one too. The constant soft beeps are soothing. I don't know how long I've been dead, but I feel like I want to open my eyes, ready to take on the afterlife.
After what seems like forever, I'm able to open my eyes and find I'm alone in a soft comfortable bed in a brightly lit, clean room. This is the afterlife? Maybe this is some sort of waiting area, but where's the lobby? Is there a receptionist? My mind slowly becomes more clear and I realize I'm not dead. I'm in the pack hospital.
I need to leave before the Alpha finds me outside the dungeon. I try to get up but I can barely move my body. Every move causes excruciating pain. I start to panic, making the beeps in the room become faster. Oh, I'm hooked up to a bunch of machines. I try to figure out how to unhook them so no one hears the noises. Too late, I hear people in the hallway getting closer. I try to sit up. I need to ignore the pain. I have to escape. I slowly slide off the side of the bed. My legs were wobbly. The tubes and wires sticking out of me preventing, me from getting too far.
The door opens and the pack doctor comes in with a nurse. The doctor is an older man. He has black hair that's turning gray on the sides. The nurse is young with blonde curly hair, pulled back into a ponytail.
“Ah, Kas. You're awake. Let's get you back in bed, shall we?" The doctor says gently. He and the nurse come to either side of me and reach out to hold my arms. A deep growl escapes my chest.
“Don't touch me," I snap, shaking them off. My voice is scratchy and raw and my mouth feels like a thousand needles are poking into it.
“It's alright, Kas. No one is going to hurt you here. We're trying to help you heal. Let's get you back to bed and get you a drink of water," the doctor raises his hands in surrender.
I look at him hesitantly before accepting their help back into the bed. The nurse hands me a cup of water with a straw. It hurts the whole lower half of my face to drink, but the water feels good on my throat.
The doctor sits in the chair beside the bed as the nurse checks my vitals and starts messing with the tubes and wires attached to me.
“Kas, you had surgery to remove hundreds of shards of glass from your back, we also had to reset some ribs, your jaw, and you had a lot of wolfsbane in your blood. We gave you a transfusion to clear it from your system so you could heal," the doctor explains, "You're lucky you didn't die.”
Sure about that last part, doc? I think to myself.
“When the pack realized breakfast had not been prepared, Beta Tate went to get you and found you on the ground in your...uh...room," he looks at me with sympathy. "Kas, who did this to you? It's a crime that could be grounds for banishment from the pack. Based on the scarring, this isn't the first time you've been attacked.”
I can't answer him. I stare at my hands on my lap quietly. How can I tell him Alpha Graham is the one who caused this? There's no way he'd believe me, even if he did, what are they going to do? Banish the Alpha? Fat chance of that. I decide my best move is to just shake my head no. I don't want to get kicked out of the pack for lying. I have nowhere to go. I would be a rogue.
“Okay. Let's move on to the next question. When do you turn seventeen?" He looks at papers inside his folder.
“I-I don't know exactly, sir," I say honestly. He looks at me with a furrowed brow. He glances at the nurse and asks her to give us privacy for a few minutes. Oh crap, am I in trouble? I just woke up, I don't know what I could have done while I was sleeping. She finishes what she's doing and leaves the room.
“You don't know your birthday, Kas?" he asks, confused.
“M-my father brought me here when I was a baby. He was a rogue. Alpha Graham, well...he..." I feel my face turning hot with embarrassment. My hands tremble and tears threaten to escape my eyes. I didn't think I would have to tell this story to the doctor. I thought everyone already knew.
My father was a rogue. Alpha Graham murdered him for coming onto pack territory without permission. They didn't realize he was carrying a baby until they unzipped his jacket and saw I was tucked inside. It was a miracle I survived. Since I was just a baby, they couldn't just get rid of me but they didn't know anything about me. I was wrapped in a blanket that had the name 'Iokaste' embroidered on it. So, that is what they called me. My father could have actually been a kidnapper for all I know. The only reason they gave me the last name Latmus is because after they killed my father, they looked through his wallet to identify him. The only form of ID he had was a library card that said Andy Latmus on it. I've tried an internet search for his name on the computer in the school library before. Nothing comes up in the search.
“You don't need to finish, I know what happened to your father.”
“Well, after that...happened...Luna Caroline took me in until I was old enough to start school. Then she moved me into the dungeon. I've kinda been on my own since then. I never found out when my actual birthday is. To be honest, you're the first person who has ever asked. I mean, I guess I'm sixteen. My wolf hasn't woken up yet.”
The doctor nods, looking at me with pity. Almost like he actually cares. He asks me a few more questions about my medical history, but there's nothing to really speak of. I don't remember ever being treated by a doctor before.
“I see," he closes the folder and tucks his pen into his shirt pocket, "Well, I know you haven't had a chance to look in the mirror yet, but when you do, you may find you look a little different. Don't be alarmed. I believe it's a sign that your wolf is starting to wake up. I've done as many tests as I could think of. It is not medically related.”
I look at him with confusion, "Y-yes, sir."
I assume he means I'm healing faster but, why did he need to warn me? Why not just tell me?
“Now, I sent the nurse downstairs to collect fresh clothes for you and she said there were none,” he pauses, looking at me. I look down at my fidgety hands again. I wear the same clothes every day. If I find a bar of old soap in the trash, I wash my clothes and myself in the little sink in the back of the dungeon. There’s only cold water, but it was better than nothing. At least I'm not a rogue. My father was and look how he ended up. The nurse walks in with a duffle bag and places it at the end of the bed, “We got you a few things to wear. Nothing fancy, but they are clean and should fit.” “Thank you,” I smile back. “You’ll be here another two days. Stay in this room. No visitors until we find out who did this to you or you're fully healed, whichever comes first. Diane will let you know when you can leave,” the doctor orders and walks out. I look at the nurse who is staring at me. When she realizes I caught her, her eyes dart away. What's that about? Okay, lady. Rude. “I'll leav
I hear Alpha Graham's footsteps walk back down the hallway as he leaves the dungeon. Ryan tightens his grip on my neck, extending his wolf claws, making me yelp. As soon the door slams, Ryan releases my neck and kneels in front of me. His face is contorted with anger. His eyes flicker black as his wolf, Dagger, comes to the surface. He grabs my shoulders, shaking me roughly, "What the Hell did you do to make him so mad?" Why isn't he beating me like he told Alpha Graham he would? I stiffen my whole body, avoiding eye contact with him. I'm shaking so badly, I can't even speak now. The thought of two people beating me regularly for the rest of my life...it just can't be real. Can it? How can the Goddess allow this to happen? I want to die. That's not an exaggeration. That's not me being dramatic. Please, Goddess, don't let this happen. Just let me die. I shake so badly that I fall to my knees. I start to sob hysterically and my brain shuts down from being able to think rationally. R
The next month and a half are the worst of my life. Thank Goddess for Lex. She keeps me going. Any motivation I ever had is gone now. Instead of just breakfast and dinner, now I make lunch too and I'm still on pantry duty. Every moment of my day is filled with work from the time I wake up until the time I crash in my bed. Lex convinces me to enjoy the time that she and I get to spend together, which is when I'm cooking meals. I find I actually do enjoy cooking while Lex is with me. No one comes to bother me, so we get to have great conversations without interruptions. In the end, I have created something people will enjoy. I even found a couple of recipe books in the back of one of the kitchen cupboards and taught myself some new techniques and dishes to make. Everything else in my life is complete shit. Alpha Graham allows pack members to hit me and verbally abuse me and they take full advantage at every opportunity. He comes to my room multiple times a week to beat me and berate me
**Trigger Warning - This chapter has sensitive content related to S.A.** Sam scoots back on his backside away from me, wide-eyed, then clambers up and runs away as fast as he can. Suddenly, I'm thrust back into my normal state of mind and I fall back to the ground, exhausted. My hands are no longer glowing but they feel like they are on fire and full of static electricity. "Lex! What was that?" I scold her, but mostly because it scared me. "I couldn't help it. He was threatening us." "Okay, but what was with the glowy purple, burny hands thing?! That's not normal!" "Kas, we've been through this. We are a child of the Moon Goddess. We are special. The 'glowy purple, burny hands thing' is a gift from our mother. There is more too. You will see after we shift for the first time. Until then, I'm not strong enough to show you. Besides, it isn't like I hurt him; his wolf will heal him before he is back in his office." "I-I don-, wait, you mean the Moon Goddess is my actual mom? Like
I finish pantry duty, making sure everything is set in the guest rooms. I had Sam order bouquets for each of the suites as an extra touch. In the guest Alpha's suite, I also add a bottle of champagne. If this is the last thing I ever get to do, I want it to be something that makes someone else happy. It is almost one-thirty in the morning before I plop into bed, exhausted. It has been a shit day. If Luna Caroline has anything to do with it, it will probably be my last. Lex is exhausted too. She stops sulking long enough to tell me she needs me to shift, but I can't. I have no time or energy. I keep promising her I will, but I feel like I've broken that promise. I float off to sleep to the sounds of her whimpering in my head while I cry into the pillow. To my surprise, my alarm wakes me in the morning. Lex makes me promise to hang on for one more day. We go through the motions of the life I hate. While I'm getting ready, I look in the mirror to find my hair is completely silvery white
I make a four-course meal of Caesar salad, bacon-wrapped shrimp appetizers, beef wellington with braised Brussels sprouts for the main dish, and a key lime pie for dessert. I also make bruschetta, crostinis, tomato fritters, mini calzones, assorted veggie trays with dip, and chocolate truffles to serve for the party. I finished the desserts and veggie trays between breakfast and lunch so there was less for me to worry about now. I realize Lex's advice of finding happiness in cooking has helped me enjoy making this dinner. Maybe because I'm serving people other than my pack or maybe it's because I'm making special food, not just the regular stuff I make for the pack? Either way, I don't mind my work today. I feel a sense of pride in it. There are servers for dinner service since it's a formal event. I stay in the kitchen and make sure everything is plated and going out the door in perfect condition. I'm in the zone, as they say. I peek out from the kitchen after each course is served
I wake up feeling woozy, laying on my stomach in my bed. What the Hell? Was last night some sort of weird dream? I think the Alpha from Blood River attacked me. No. That doesn't seem right. As hard as I try, I can’t remember the details. I hear unfamiliar voices in the hallway but I also hear the doctor and nurse Diane. There is a large man, wearing all black, standing in the doorway with his back facing me. I realize I'm not wearing a shirt. I'm only covered by a sheet and my back is covered in bandages. "Lex, are you there?" I ask, suddenly feeling scared. "I'm here, Kas," Her voice is soft and far away. "Are you okay, Lex? I'm so sorry," I can feel her weakness and pain. Tears sting my eyes. "You have nothing to apologize for, Kas. I'll be alright. You were strong. You held out as long as you could. I tried to slow down time to give you more time to get help but it made me weaker." "Wait, that was you?" "Well, yeah, but it didn't work the way it was supposed to. I can explain
Bronx's POV As soon as my guard, Tyree, told me an omega was trying to get in my suite, I left the party and rushed upstairs. My wolf, Saint, urged me to hurry. “Something’s wrong. We need to get to her now,” he growls. I don’t have any pack secrets in the suite but that doesn't mean I want a stranger going in without my permission. As we turn the corner, we see a scrawny little girl at the end of the hall struggling to push open the heavy door of my suite. The scent of fresh rain and lilacs wafts in the air, somehow making me feel less angry. The girl looks up at us from under her baseball cap when Tyree yells at her. I can’t see her face from the shadow of the hat, but I don’t need to. I’m immediately drawn to her. My heart almost skips a beat. “Mate,” Saint cries out, taking over control of my body. He strides over and roughly pushes her against the door. I feel my fangs extending as I deeply breathe in her scent. “Saint, don’t you DARE mark her,” I warn, pulling on his con