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My muscles were tight and I took a moment to do a quick Jintue breathing exercise to calm myself. I had to be ready for anything on the other side of the door; I glanced back at Natham. From my distance of a few steps up we were almost face level. I looked into his dark eyes, so full of pain, his full lips pulled tight and flat. As screwed up as this situation was, all I wanted was to be close to him. My fury rose hot and fierce when I saw blood dripping from his back to the floor. I would kill them all for him if I had to, in order to make him safe with me.
I turned back to the door. It was hard to turn the handle of the door with my talons stiff and ready but I managed. The door swung on its hinges outward and I shoved it open sharply in case someone was hiding behind it. I rushed through the room and quickly spun in a circle looking for anyone coming for me from behind.
I was in a large room, narrow but long. The floor was still concrete but the walls were metal and I could just barely see in the dim light that filtered through the grimy windows set high up in the walls. There were large circular scars on the floor, white rings in regular patterns running up and down each long side of the hall. Large boxes were set here and there and there were a lot of vehicles parked inside.
I could clearly see the van that the Carthera who abducted us used as well as several trucks, SUV’s and a very fancy sports car. I could see a large roll up door in the far side of the wall with a smaller opening beside it. That had to lead outside. I felt a moment’s relief. Escaping was turning out far easier than I thought it would be.
I turned to go back to Natham and saw his eyes widen as he looked over my shoulder. I instantly dropped to the floor. I heard a whirr and a thunk. Pushing up with an arm, I looked up at the wood door jamb and saw a circular blade buried deep in the tan trim. I quickly rolled onto my back and sprang to my feet. I could see several men coming for me. Quickly scanning each one I revised that.
One large man, obviously a cop since he was still in uniform, was coming for me along with four Carthera.
“Stay there Natham,” I said urgently. He’d had a hard time making it up the stairs. Fighting was beyond him.
“Don’t give me that shit. If you are taken they’ll capture me again too. How many?” he asked.
A momentary pride in my mate’s fierce nature didn’t distract me from the approach of our attackers. Still…
“We have a bit of a roadblock. Don’t worry; I’ll take care of it.” I missed my weapons; I hadn’t armed with more than a knife before heading to the mall and they had taken even that from me. Pulling the circular blade out of the wall, I ignored the stinging cut I got on my palm. I didn’t wait for them to circle me as I launched myself in the air. The effort of pulling my shackles off the ceiling made itself felt in my sore muscles but after having been bound I relished the freedom I had in the air.
I hovered near the ceiling about thirty feet off the ground. Small movements of my wings made my body a constantly moving target as I studied my opponents. Which one had thrown the blade?
The brief pause to assess each other ended as human fired at me and I dropped toward him, dodging the bullet. I could not see the other Carthera holding guns so I needed to take him out first. I tucked my wings in close to my body, darting at the stocky cop as I dropped from the height of the tall ceiling. He frantically tried to sight on me, moving his gun jerkily.
I easily dodged the next few shots he took and then snapped my wings out, flying in the gap between the human and the Carthera a few feet from him. Twisting my body, I swiftly reached out and drew razor sharp talons across his neck. Red bloomed beneath my claws and his eyes widened. He dropped his gun as he fell choking to the ground, his eyes still wide in disbelief.
I felt a deep pain in my lower back as I flew higher and away from the attacking Carthera. I cried out as the strong movements made the pain grow worse. Reaching back I felt the handle of a knife. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to fight or fly long with it in my back so with a grimace I pulled it out and my wings faltered at the searing pain, and I plummeted a few feet before I managed to catch myself on a beam running along the ceiling.
I felt warm trails begin to roll down my back and with a fierce shriek; I drove the pain from my mind by diving right for the Carthera who had targeted me. He was a Hyena; his clan easy to tell from the short stature, broad shoulders, and wide sloping forehead with a jutting jaw. They were cunning creatures in certain situations but easy to confuse in the midst of battle. They tended to be followers rather than leaders.
The hyena’s mistake was to look to his leader rather than at me. I was loathe to give up the knife now that I had one so I threw the star blade like a frisbee, the deadly edges twirling around and around. My aim was true and a red line bahis siteleri appeared across his throat before his eyes widened and he felt the cut. He had time to bring up one hand to the wound before he fell to the ground. I hoped that the wound was deep enough to keep him from recovering before his heart or lungs gave out but I still had three more Carthera after me.
I was pleased that none were bird clans so the advantage was in my favor but I was not assured victory. They had more weapons and I was weakened from hanging in the chains and fighting off the pain and despair my mate had been broadcasting.
I saw one move toward the doorway where Natham waited on the other side and I instantly flew at him, my body an arrow of deadly wrath. I used my talons this time to tear deep gashes in his flesh, aiming for his belly and throat as I drove him from the one path to my mate. I hovered over the doorway, now facing the two hale Carthera and one wounded, angry beast.
They couldn’t move forward without me attacking them and three were not quite enough to overpower me while I still had the air. A full grown Carthera with mature wings would be able to stay in the air indefinitely. My wings were lightweight and immature and based on my energy levels now I would not be able to hold them off for long. I vowed not to let them know that. I would not fail.
They were creeping closer when my entire plan changed.
“Stop right there!” The voice came from behind me where I’d left Natham on the stairs. A chill shot up my spine as I recognized it. I had last heard that deep rumbling voice as it snapped orders at Trest. I half-turned to look quickly; I didn’t want to take my attention off the Carthera still facing me for very long.
“Come down,” he shouted.
I was frozen, my attention no longer on those behind me but focused solely on Natham where he stood in front of his father. His naked body was still bleeding and his left arm was wrenched up behind his back in a position that had to be painful. His expression was blank, his muscles slack, but his eyes were worst of all. Once again my promise had been proven false; he’d been captured by his father. The pain, mental and physical, must have been too much.
Worse than the fear, worse than anger and fury, was the look of total apathy. Bad things were going to happen again, things he couldn’t stop, and in order to protect some small vestige of himself he had given up again.
I was instantly angry with him and then felt sick and guilty for that anger. I was risking everything to save us and he kept giving up on me; giving up on us. Even if I died it would be fighting to revenge my father and my mate. If my mate didn’t feel that I was worth the same I had nothing left. I desperately wanted to feel him along our bond but he had shut it down and I could not focus long enough to force it open.
“I said come down, now!” roared the leopard. “If you don’t, I will break his arm!”
He pulled up on Natham’s arm until my mate was on his tiptoes and crying out from pain. The tears coursing down Natham’s cheeks broke the last ounce of my self-control. I shrieked my fury and attacked. Diving straight at them, I clawed at the jaguar’s face. He hissed at the men who tried to interfere and they moved back. That gave me enough time to wheel around and dive for him again. This time, I managed to rake my talons in two deep scores from his forehead to his chin.
My shriek of triumph echoed from the corners of the warehouse as I hovered about Natham’s father.
“You’re going to die!” I shrieked.
To protect his eyes he had dropped Natham’s arm and then pushed him away. He crouched and then sprang at me, his muscles working in ways I had never seen and was unprepared for. He grabbed me around my knees and dug in his claws. I fought to stay in the air, my wings beating harder than ever before but I couldn’t support his weight as he shredded my thighs. I was unable to stop us as we fell together to the hard concrete floor.
I screamed in pain as I hit the ground first and felt the delicate bones along the top of my wings snap under the weight of his heavy body. The agony blinded me as they lay twisted beneath my body.
The leopard laughed cruelly. He jerked his claws out of my legs and knelt on top of me. He pressed down on my shoulders, grinding my wings into the concrete. My screamed echoed louder than my shriek from before as I writhed in agony. I was unable to fight back; the pain was so great I was close to passing out. I couldn’t breathe, much less think. The feel of claws tracing a burning path from my neck to my waist barely even registered but the sick gloating voice hissing in my ear pierced the fog.
“You made me bleed youngling. Not even your father managed that much before I gave him to my men and then had him killed by your own mate. Now I’m going to make you pay for that. I’m going to really enjoy making you pay for that.” He bit my ear, the blood mixing with his dripping onto my shoulder. canlı bahis siteleri He lapped it up eagerly.
His claws dug into my jeans over my crotch, pricking my skin before he twisted and ripped the fabric. I felt his hand on me and the cold air of the warehouse hitting my exposed flesh. I choked and bucked my hips, trying to struggle, ignoring even with the pain in my wings. He leaned down, his mouth opening and his inch long fangs shined in the light. I tried to push him away, my arms shoving ineffectually against his chest.
He casually backhanded me and my head rocked to the side. I lay stunned, unable to move as he bit into my chest right below my nipple. I felt his teeth sink in as he yanked with his hand still buried in the cloth of my jeans. I screamed in pain and fear as I felt his claws dig into the flesh of my lower stomach just as he took a bite of me.
He leaned up, chewed noisily and then spoke in a throaty whisper, like a lover in my ear, “Mmm, you taste like fear and sweet young meat. I wonder if you will taste as good down here.” He gave a throaty chuckle, as if the thought turned him on as his tapped along the length of my limp penis.
In horror, my screams filled the empty building as I felt his claws begin to caress my flesh exposed by the gaping rip in my pants. They began to dig in; denting my skin until with small inaudible pops the razor sharp points of his claws pierced me and began to curl in. I shook and I screamed, no longer even fighting as I was completely broken in horror and fear.
Suddenly his weight was torn off my body. Consumed by my terror, I could do nothing but curl onto my side and roll into a ball. I didn’t hear the breaking glass and screaming metal or the furious sounds of battle raging all around me. I was locked in the broken parts of my mind, the fear that I was going to be eaten; starting with those most vulnerable bits of my body had been enough to damage my mind and erase all thoughts of fighting back.
I shuddered over and over. Trying to protect my vulnerable spots, I tucked my knees up and grabbed them. I could hear hoarse cries in the room but ignored them, keeping my eyes closed tight. I didn’t want to see them coming to eat me bite by bite. I jerked away from the hands that reached for my shoulders, shoving myself back. I cried out as I hit the wall but it was safety from one side. I curled back up and locked my arms around my knees.
“No… No… No…,” I squeezed myself tighter.
“Don’t touch him!” I heard a voice growl. ‘He’s mine.”
I moaned in fear.
“Velaku,” the voice said softly from in front of me, “It’s me, Natham. Please look at me.”
I shook my head. It was a trick. Natham had given up on me; he had left me to face the monster.
“I’m sorry,” the voice sobbed, “I didn’t mean to leave you alone.” I felt a hand softly touch my face and stroke my cheek. “Please look at me, please. I won’t leave you again, I swear. Don’t you give up either.”
I was confused by the touch that didn’t hurt. I wanted to believe that it was Natham and he was protecting me but I couldn’t risk this being a trick of the leopard, just another one of his sick tortures. I was silent, refusing to answer.
“Just a trick,” I muttered.
I jerked my arm away from the hand trying to pull it away from my knees, tucking my face down farther. A loud noise and a scream made me hyperventilate, my breath coming in short, sharp gasps as I panicked again.
“This is not a trick. It’s me, really it’s me.” I was tight up to the wall; I couldn’t pull away as I felt strong warm arms close around me and hug me tight.
It hurt but not like before.
One hand began to stroke my hair away from my face. I took a deep breath as I caught the scent of the man holding me. The smell was right. The feel of the body was right. I rubbed my face into the warm chest in front of me, strong muscles covered in soft skin.
I remembered that feeling from our times spent snuggled in my bed with my mate.
I shuddered. “Natham?” I whispered.
“Yes, love, I’m here. You’re going to be okay.” I was squeezed into an even tighter embrace.
I whimpered at the pain. “Hurts. I… I can’t…” I shuddered again and again and my breath began to speed up again. My body was locked into a reaction I couldn’t seem to control even as my mind raced.
“Shhh,” he whispered, “just hush. Breathe, its okay now. You’re okay now.”
I shook my head, too hurt and scared to believe I was safe.
“I’m here, we’re safe. Look at me, Velaku. Look at me and you’ll know it’s me.”
I gathered what was left of my courage, the tattered shreds just enough and opened my eyes. I knew I needed to see him before I would believe. In the back of my mind this could somehow still all be a trick. I tried to roll off my side to look up at the face of the man holding me; the man I hoped was my mate. I screamed and writhed in blinding pain when my weight landed on my broken canlı bahis wings before the darkness fell over me as I passed out.
I woke up lying on my stomach. I could feel pain radiating from my wings and back and I tried to stay motionless until I figured out where I was. A pillow was cushioning my head from the mattress and it felt like a soft sheet was pulled up to my waist.
The only scents I could smell were mine and Natham’s. It felt like my bed at home but the last thing I remembered was being on the cold concrete floor of the warehouse with Carthera surrounding me. I wasn’t sure if I could trust my senses. I wasn’t sure if I could trust anything like I once had.
“Velaku?” a voice whispered in my ear, pushing my hair back from my eyes. I flinched away.
“Can you open your eyes and look at me? We’re safe. You’re hurt, but not too bad. Just don’t move until the doctor can get here.”
I shook a little.
I pulled in a deep breath.
I could smell his warm scent just inches away, a bit of the musky scent of a cat and the comforting scent of my mate. I could still smell a hint of blood but not the heavy blanketing scent from before.
He spoke again, “Trust me.”
I squinted my eyes shut tight and drew in a big breath. As I let it out, I opened my eyes to look into deep brown pools so dark they looked black overshadowed by strong eyebrows drawn down in worry. “There you are,” he said, relieved. His full lips curved up in a smile.
“I was somewhere else?” I said hoarsely. My throat was sore and I couldn’t speak above a whisper. I touched it and then grimaced as I tried to swallow.
“Here, have a sip.” Natham held out a cup of water with a straw. I lifted my head and took a few small sips of the lukewarm water, wincing as muscles pulled in my back as I moved. “Is that better?” he asked.
I whimpered as I finally swallowed. My throat felt raw. “What happened to my throat?” I asked.
“You… you’ve had some nightmares since we were rescued. You kept screaming.” He looked distressed and tears glistened in his eyes. I put my hand on his cheek, shuddering as I felt his warm flesh and knew he was really with me and alive.
I remembered my dreams; just as I always had. Images of him being tortured, being eaten before my eyes even as I was slowly devoured bite by bite; watching as he was tortured by the sadistic Snake with whips and canes. Seeing his violation and experiencing mine over and over. They flashed through my mind again and I shuddered. With images like that in my head, I wasn’t surprised I was screaming though I resented the fact it didn’t wake me from the nightmares as it usually did.
Tears began to spill down my cheeks and I sniffled.”I’m sorry.”
He pulled me gently toward him and cradled my head in his neck, just under his chin. “Shhh, don’t be sorry, love. Don’t be sorry.” I could feel the deep breaths he took and the hot tears that fell to mingle with mine as we cried together. We cried in guilt, in sorrow, and in relief.
Somehow we had come out of this together. I could feel his breath easing out and his body going lax just as my eyes closed and I fell asleep with his arms still cradling me.
We slept for an unknown length of time, the darkness of my room competed with the darkness in my dreams as my eyes snapped open. The sound of my door opening and a male voice startled me from the ever present nightmares. I was instantly awake and reacting to what I felt like a threat.
But instead of attacking, I shrieked and attempted to fly backward off the bed. My instinct was to put the wall to my back and hide.
“What? What is it?” Natham said in alarm. His voice was thick with sleep.
My shriek coupled with my sudden lunge away from him had woken Natham. He looked around to see what had scared me, his cat eyes shining a yellow green in the darkness. I let out a strangled sound as my wings shifted against my back as I half jumped and half fell off the bed.
“Oh gods,” I gasped. I hadn’t felt the cuts in my legs earlier but I could now. It felt like blood was dripping down my thighs.
“Velaku!” my mother cried.
I didn’t look up when the light was flicked on. The lamps on the nightstands would cast enough light to see by, shining off the polished stone walls of my room. I hid my face against the bed; in pain and too afraid to move. I wept silent tears, my shoulders trembling. I’d been dreaming of my father. I had a nightmare and he was sitting in my room, comforting me as I huddled into his warm strength. Then he was ripped away by a sadistic man with a mocking laugh.
I knew I was awake but I missed my father’s comfort fiercely and without his strength I huddled on the floor like a small fledgling, unable to overcome the tremors I still shook with.
I felt hands on me and I jerked away, shoving against the corner between the nightstand and the wall. I whimpered at the pain but didn’t move. I stared at the people in the room wide eyed, tears still hanging on my eyelashes. Natham was crouched on the edge of the bed, Dr. Pannar was standing by the door and my mother was on her knees on the blue and white rug she’d made me that looked like the sky.
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