A shouting voice woke her, and Thea lay in bed wondering if she'd imagined it. In the daytime, things tended toward the quiet and she used that time to sleep, not always an easy feat with the sunshine they denied her heating the cabin and rendering her room, with its boarded-up window, stifling. She rolled over on the mattress, ignoring its poking springs and brown stains, and closed her eyes.
Doors slammed in the hall, accompanied by excited snarls. Hmmm, sounded like something provoked the freaks keeping her captive. Maybe a giant bunny hopped into the camp. Or someone came back with dog treats from the store.
She tuned out the cacophony and shifted yet again, looking for a nonexistent, comfy spot. So long as they didn't bother her, she really didn't give a damn. Thea didn't stir even when she heard the commotion arrive right outside her door. Why bother? Energized by David's death, she'd looked for a way out. Fought to no avail. All it gained her was Roderick's sick attention--and that wasn't something to aspire to. It was easier to give up again. With David dead and the madman in charge, forget any rays of sunshine. She'd inhabited this hellhole long enough for the cops to find her, if they even bothered to look. As for escape, even if they accidentally left the door unlocked, her hard, rounded belly couldn't exactly handle the hard run that she'd need to escape wolves.
Now there was a shocker right up there with the vampire. Who would have thought the legends of people turning into slavering beasts was true? She certainly hadn't, but she changed her mind quickly the first time one of the rancid-smelling bastards shed his clothes and turned furry. The howl wasn't the eeriest part, nor the stomach churning she endured as she watched limbs reshape themselves and fur sprout. No, the worst thing was the eyes and seeing the intelligence, that oh-so-human awareness, mixed with madness, watching her. Tracking her every movement. It's just not right.
Then again, knowing werewolves existed, along with bloodsucking undead freaks, paled in comparison to another discovery. According to the vampire, she was a monster, too, a decree she refused to believe. Roderick was a liar who loved to say things, shocking things, to watch the reaction of his victims, soaking in their terror and misery. So his announcement, she'd one day turn furry on the full moon? No way was she swallowing that one. I'd know if I wasn't human, wouldn't I? Of course she would. But she couldn't help thinking of David. David was a werewolf, so what did that make her b
The door flung open and hit the wall with a crash, derailing her thoughts. Startled at the intrusion, her head swiveled and she saw a man in the door. And what a man. Naked, he had a tanned and smooth body, and he rippled with muscles as he stalked into the room. It was enough to make her breath catch. Good-looking or not, though, his state of undress could only mean one thing: he was a wolf.
She backed away from him, huddled into the corner, and tucked her knees up, protecting her belly. The startling blue gaze, one she'd not met before, took her in, his eyes scanning her frame. She couldn't miss how his already half-erect cock twitched, and she flinched. Had the vampire lost the leash on his dogs? Was this stranger here to rape her? Kill her? A whimper escaped her as she wrapped her arms tighter around herself, a protective measure that would do nothing if he decided to attack.
"Thea?" His knowledge of her name did nothing to abate her fear. He reached out a hand, a big one with long, calloused fingers, and if she could have merged with the wall, she would have.
"Go away," she whispered, caving to fear. "Please. Don't hurt me."
His dark brows drew together, but before he could reply, he whirled to meet an attacking furry body. The mottled wolf snarled and snapped at the stranger. They grappled, their struggle taking them out of the room to ricochet in the hall.
What the hell was going on? Why were they fighting each other? Were they allies or enemies? He knew her name. Could he have come to rescue her?
Unlikely given he was a wolf, too. It seemed more likely he'd gotten caught trying to play with the vampire's prisoner and now paid the price.
Forget the handsome man with the startling blue eyes, though. The door! He'd left it wide open. A trick? Or a mistake?
On bare feet, she crept to it, flinching at every crash and snarl, expecting at any moment for someone to come hurtling through that door and yank her precious hope of escape away. She made it to the doorjamb and froze. She peered around the edge and noted the empty hall. The sound of fighting echoed still, but it appeared to have moved elsewhere.
One step. Two. By the third she was walking quickly, unsure of where to go where they wouldn't recapture her, but she was determined to try. An exit. She needed an exit. Or a big window. Anything to get her outside.
A naked man, a different one, sporting short red strands, freckles, and slabs of muscles blocked the end of the corridor. Friend or foe? She didn't wait to find out. She darted into an open doorway and quickly slammed the door shut. But would the flimsy portal suffice? She slid a dresser with peeling paint across it and panted from the exertion as she looked around.
No other doors graced the room, but she spotted an unboarded window. A yank on the sash accomplished nothing. Time and humidity had warped the frame. The doorknob behind her jiggled, and she heard voices murmuring.
I need to get out. How the outdoors would prove any better, she refused to think on. One step at a time. First, get out of the room. Then ... she'd wing it.
There wasn't much in the room to use as a weapon, but an old chair provided just the right momentum to smash through the dirty glass. Oh, crap, that was noisy. And if the silence on the other side of the door was an indication, it didn't go unnoticed. She ignored the few remaining shards as she scrambled out the window, hissing as one pointed piece sliced across the side of her thigh and left a lengthy gash. Ignoring the welling blood, she hopped to the pine needle-laden ground. Not stopping to get her bearings or look around, instead she quickly walked, her bare feet protesting the rough ground, her heart hammering in her chest.
I'm outside. Unbelievable. She'd made it that far. It seemed like a miracle. The edge of the woods beckoned, but she halted as a silver-coated wolf with red eyes stepped into her path.
It stalked her, its lip peeled back in a snarl as it trod toward her on big, hairy paws. She retreated, flicking a glance to the side only to see another furry beast with an equally violent expression. The other side proved open, and despite knowing she couldn't outrun the fleeter creatures, she tried. She hugged her belly as she jogged, her captivity and lack of firm muscle tone before the kidnapping working against her. The wolves gave chase, snarling and growling. To her credit, she said not a word, more because she couldn't, each indrawn breath a sharp, wheezing pain.
A yelp sounded behind her, and she couldn't prevent herself from craning to look. A third wolf with dark fur had arrived, and he battled the two chasing her. God, the savagery of it. She didn't ogle the violence long because she smacked into something hard and bounced back. Hands reached out to grab her arms, steadying her as she turned back to see who'd caught her and ended her short-lived escape.
The face she saw hit her like a punch to the gut. Golden-haired, his lip bloody, and familiar brown eyes alight with ferocity, he stood there and she sucked in a breath. It couldn't be.
"David?" Her soft query didn't go unheard.
"No. I'm his brother, Trent. I'm here to save you. Both you and David. Do you know where he is?"
His brother? She stared closer. The resemblance she'd initially espied resided on the surface only, she realized. Although Trent and David shared the same thick blond hair and brown eyes, even the same general face structure, everything about this man was bigger, harder, from his expression to his body. In other words, he looked like a meaner version of David, which wasn't reassuring. She cringed from him and held out her hands in a plea.
"Please don't hurt me."
His brows shot up, and his expression turned grimmer. "I wasn't intending to. Just what happened here?"
Happened? What hadn't? A hysterical bubble of laughter threatened to burst free, and she bit the inside of her cheek to halt it. He held out a hand and beckoned. She stood frozen instead. Naked like the other men she'd encountered, he was a wolf, too, or so she could only assume--just like his brother. The knowledge didn't reassure.
Impatience darkened his eyes. "Come on, we need to go! I doubt the diversion is going to last long, and I don't have the numbers to hold them off if they come back."
Escape? With him? She peered back at the battling wolves, now down to two, with the scruffy one who'd initially confronted her lying prone on the ground.
"Don't worry about Darren. He'll keep that rogue off our back."
"You're here to save me?" She couldn't help the incredulity in her tone.
He nodded and again held out his hand.