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Word Count: 2005

~Meara

I heave open the last door in this barren facility, revealing a bright light I have to shield my eyes against.

Once they finally adjust, I draw in a sharp breath. Snow, everywhere.

I step out, suddenly grateful for the thick jacket Sire willed me into before he took me here. Surrounding the building are towering mountains, rearing up into the dusk sky, capped with thick clouds.

My mouth falls open. How far from civilisation has Sire taken me?

Steeling myself, I start off in front of me. With the bond, there is no way Sire will let me die of exposure out here. I'm going to march for as long as I can manage, and either he comes to get me out of here, or I find my own way.

And I do. I walk and I walk through the snow, cursing my lack of weather appropriate gear.

Time loses all meaning as I force one foot in front of the other, keeping my head lowered against the bitter wind. My eyes tear up, then the tears freeze. My fingers have lost all feeling forever ago, even as they are tucked beneath the sleeves of my jacket, and my ice has since melted into my boots.

No matter how far I walk, there's not a wink of civilisation anywhere.

Eventually, I collapse into a thick heap of snow. My limbs refuse to obey me, despite my biting determination to keep surging on.

I let out a long exhale. Sire will be here at any moment.

Dusk has shifted into night. Moonlight casts an ethereal glow over the mountainous expanse. Before me is a solid frozen lake, looking magically beautiful.

I would admire it more if I weren't freezing half to death.

"Don't tell me you've given up already."

I yelp, turning my head.

All my hope for saviour immediately melts away into nothingness as I see Kyro standing a few feet away from me, hands seated in his pockets, an almost sadistic smile on his face. Beside him is a witch, who sneers at me.

"You scared me," I whisper.

"That's probably a warranted reaction." Something in his eyes gleam. "I'm assuming there is a reason why you're out here in the graveyard of Sire's old Pack, freezing half to death."

My eyes widen and I look around.

"This was his Pack?"

There is not an ounce of civilisation anywhere, although I suppose it was centuries ago, and Kyro and his descendants - I'm shocked the son he had before his death would want to carry on this monster's legacy - would have destroyed this entire place.

"Part of it," Kyro notes, looking around distastefully. "Not all of it is a cold wasteland, although his favourite parts were."

I force myself to my feet, nearly toppling back over into the snow. "It doesn't matter why I'm out here. I'm here to give myself over to you in exchange for the antidote for my friend."

Kyro's brows raise before his smile grows too wide and celebratory. Up close he is so much creepier than I could have ever imagined.

His eyes are so pale they could be excused as supernatural. His hair too, is almost white, the snow dotting on it seemingly disappearing. He could be handsome, in other circumstances, but knowing who he is, what he has done, has soured his looks completely.

"Haven't you been told? Hazel is doing fine," he exclaims.

I narrow my eyes suspiciously. "I don't believe you."

"Sire has befriended some witches, it seems, because he was able to source an antidote on his own," Kyro explains, rubbing his hands together in front of him.

I glance at his witch, then back at him, trying to discern the truth. "He did?"

By how irritated Kyro sounds explaining my mates triumphant, I believe him. Sire really pulled it off...

"I thought he thwarted my plan. That was until a witch of mine told me you had tracked out many miles away from your mate." The creepy, wicked smile returns. "I had to come see for myself."

"Shit. How?" I'm assuming I managed to walk past whatever magical border Sire erected to keep me undetectable.

"The beauty of a bond forged by witches is it doesn't take them long to find a way to control it. It took my witches mere hours to toy with the bond, so Sire cannot sense you."

I bow my head, immediately hit with a wall of defeat.

No wonder Sire didn't come here the moment I walked past the magical border. Now my arm is throbbing for no reason, and my mate is incapable of coming to save me.

I hold my hand out to him, knowing there's nowhere to run, and even if I could run, my limbs are so frozen they wouldn't answer to my commands anyway.

A flicker of surprise briefly flitters through Kyro's gaze before he takes my hand, yanking me close to him.

I wince, my tired, cold body protesting.

"Dariah. Take us back," he says softly, like he's decided my lack of protest has made me too weak to make fun of.

The witch grabs his arm. "Yes Sir."

As the world dissolves around us, I squeeze my eyes shut. This is a good thing...it can be a good thing.

As long as Kyro doesn't kill me the moment we reach the cave, which I doubt, since he could have unceremoniously done it in the snow with little resistance, then I can do something to help.

I'm the only one who can get close enough to Kyro. If I can distract him for long enough, Hazel can disable the witch's power, reconnecting Sire and I's bond. Then, he can find where we are, and have Kyro killed.

My feet hit the ground again and I immediately collapse.

No one catches me. Kyro merely steps back, watching me crumple on the stone floor.

"Welcome to my temporary home," Kyro greets, holding his arms out. "Man, I'm itching to get back into that estate, although it's not really how I remember it."

"Centuries have passed, remember?" I mumble, sweeping my gaze around the place.

We are underground. The stone has been chiselled away, revealing a cave of sorts that has been furnished with enough for Kyro's operation to work. Witches mull about, casting me strange, wary looks.

"Sorry. It feels like I was murdered just yesterday." Kyro adjusts the lapels of his jacket, shuddering.

"Sire will figure out I'm here eventually," I say, forcing myself to my feet. Mercifully, this place is blissfully warm, which I assume is the work of the witches.

"This place is warded against his powers, and against the witchy bond, in case my witches power isn't enough to hold it closed," he explains, smirking, obviously proud of his plan.

I roll my eyes, following him to sit on one of the couches clustered at the edge of the room. My body is in desperate need of a rest.

"How much do you know about us?" I question.

He tilts his head, stretching his arms over the back of the couch. "Everything."

"So then, are you going to kill me?" I peel off my soaked boots, letting them fall to the floor. I'm pretty damn vulnerable right now. I'm just betting on Sire's plan being incomplete.

He's silent for a moment, the amusement fading from his face as he looks over me thoughtfully.

"I'm still deciding."

"Really? Why?" Of course he is. That's what I figured.

"There's essentially two schools of thought," he leans forward, facing me, bracing his elbows on his thighs. "I could either torture then kill you, make the most of Sire's weakened state from your death, and end him by my own hand."

I fidget uncomfortably. That's not exactly favourable.

"What's the other option?" I ask warily.

His cruel smirk returns. "I seize Sire's power with all my witches, I keep him imprisoned, and I make him watch while I bend you over and fuck you like he did to my wife. Every day he will have to watch his mate be used by me, for my own pleasure, then when I eventually get bored, I'll kill you, then him."

I have to physically mask my shock and disgust. This is all about revenge to him, even after he took Sire down and claimed his Pack for his own...he still wants to punish his old friend.

"He wasn't lovers with your wife. He told me so," I bite out.

Kyro's eyes narrow slightly. "And you believe everything he tells you?"

"More so than I believe anything you have to say." Don't let him get into your head.

"Trusting him has been your first mistake," Kyro growls, shaking his head.

I refuse to fall victim to Kyro's manipulation. He beat his wife so badly she had to find refuge with another man, and when that man was gone, she killed Kyro for it. He knows nothing about love, about trust.

"He's my mate, of course I trust him," I bite out. "It's not a concept I ever expect such a vile, disgusting monster to understand."

I'm probably playing with fire insulting him so much. He clearly values his ego. Surprisingly, he doesn't even flinch. He just stares at me with an intensity that could burn holes into my skin.

"Why were you out there, in the middle of an icy tundra, all by yourself?"

My fingers roll into fists. "None of your business."

"Because instead of letting me anywhere near you, Sire would rather risk your friend's life and have you locked far away." He smiles at my expression, knowing he's assumed right.

I scowl. Sire will have to answer to that later. That doesn't change how much I trust him. He fought to save Hazel, when it would have been easier to focus his efforts on taking down Kyro.

"He pulled it off."

"And if he didn't?"

"Make your point already," I snap. I'm sick of him building this story when he knows the crescendo is what he wants to spit out the most.

"I'm just saying, he can't be trusted." He shrugs. "He will follow his own agenda, regardless of anyone else. You will never matter as much as power does to him. If it comes down to it...really comes down to it, he will pick being Alpha over you."

I swallow thickly. He's playing into my doubts, exploiting them. How can he get into my head so easily? He's only been out of his own tomb for mere hours, and it feels like he's been studying us for weeks, months.

"You're wrong," I growl.

He doesn't blink. "Am I?"

"Yes. Sire was your friend and you betrayed him," I remind him coldly, not backing down, even as his expression morphs to one of rage. "He did the right thing by your wife, and you're taking all this out on him."

"You know nothing." His voice raises with every word.

"I know enough. I trust Sire." I have no other choice. I have to trust that my mate knows what he is doing, and when the time is right, we are all going to strike. Together.

Kyro stands, summoning a breath to calm himself. He clearly has anger problems, which isn't surprising. What is a shock is that he hasn't hurt me yet.

"Your trust for your mate will change soon, I assure you," he mutters.

"Never."

He gives me one last look, the side of his mouth quirking up slightly. "Well, sweetheart, if you don't start siding with me, the first option is going to be your fate."

💛••💛

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"...I've never had an orgasm before!" I blurt out, backing away a few steps.

He sits up, dark hair ruffled and messy from the fingers I ran through it. His eyes, once wide, slowly darken.

"You what?" He breathes.

~Midika 💜🐼

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~Midika 💜🐼

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