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    When Bethany next woke, she was in the same room. The windows were dark, and a slight snoring came from a chair in the corner. It was the small woman, Swan, who she’d attacked earlier. She felt a pang of guilt at the awkward angle of the woman’s neck, knowing she’d have one hell of a crick once she woke, but it wasn’t her fault they’d opted to assign her a jailor.

    Bethany’s hand smoothed over her belly as she took stock. The room was warm, and for the first time in many nights, she was cozy in the soft bed and flannel sheets. Sighing quietly, she peeled the cover back to eye her wounds. She’d eaten some and slept, but to her disappointment and confusion, the bite marks that marred her body still refused to heal.

    Wiggling her toes, she rolled one leg then the other before scanning her hips and then lifting her eyes to study her hands and arms. Nothing was broken, but she was sore as hell. No. Sore was insufficient. She felt like someone had taken a pillow case, filled it with bars of soap, and had a go at her, but she’d live.

    In the chair, Swan mumbled something and turned to one hip, facing away from her. Bethany eyed the bathroom door and then the bedroom door. Fuck it! She’d pee once she got outside.

    Inching off the bed, she winced as her toes met the cold floor. She desperately wanted to crawl back into the cozy bed and sleep for a week, but she needed to get away. She summoned all her reserves and was glad that her captivity in the hillside bunker had at least honed her stealth. She tiptoed to the door with painstaking effort. The knob turned, and the door opened without a sound. In the darkened hall, scents assailed her. Shifters. A lot of them. She sniffed quietly, scenting both males and females, but no humans.

    Not wanting to chance alerting Swan, Bethany left the door open and inched down the hallway. Her muscles moaned and her head reeled. She was starving, but she’d see to her needs once she was clear of the house.

    Halfway down the hall, she had to brace a hand on the wall to keep from falling over. She was still extremely weak, and it was terrifying. As a shifter, she was born with accelerated healing capabilities and could always rely on her inner wolf for reserve strength, but the monsters that had fed on her for so long had done something. Something terrible. She wasn’t healing like she should, and her wolf was just as fatigued as the woman. Worse, her wolf had recoiled at Bethany’s failure to get them out of the bunker where they’d been held captive. On several occasions, opportunities had presented for Bethany to escape. She just couldn’t bring herself to leave the other women behind, and her wolf hadn’t been pleased.

    Bethany took a few more steps and tried to quiet her accelerated breathing. Christ! She wasn’t even down the stairs, and she was already fading. Her hand slid along the wall, and she leaned forward to rest her head against the back of it, breathing rapidly.

    “You alright?”

    The male voice shocked her. She hadn’t scented or heard anyone sneak up on her. It was a testament to what bad shape she was in. Hell, she hadn’t even startled. No, her head remained on her hand, and her shoulders rose and fell rapidly with the exertion merely standing required.

    “Fine,” she lied.

    “Let’s get you back to bed.”

    “No.” It was the only protest she got out as she was scooped off her feet and cradled in strong arms. Looking up, she saw a strong jaw line that jutted proudly as her savior kept his eyes pinned on their destination. Her senses were quickly fading, but she couldn’t miss the air of authority that circulated around him. Alpha. Evander Kane. He was handsome, and exuded such an air of confidence and strength that she almost wished she could fall asleep in his arms, protected by his watchful gaze, for at least a hundred years. She knew the thought should be startling, but she was just too damn winded to muster up a good self-recrimination.


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