Monday, November 23, 2015

Unmasked: Part 7: Compulsions

He said it like he found the idea preposterous. She wasn't sure why. Most Geo Kin could produce food as easily as she could, probably more efficiently if she were honest with herself. She just wanted to go back to her garden and grow her potatoes. She didn't want to be cooking rabbit stew for three massive wolves, one of which who was squatting naked right next to her and another claiming he owned her. She turned away from the pot to the side without a naked man and collected the meat from the quiet man at the table. She threw it into the pot a bit more cavalierly than she should have. The naked man hissed as hot broth splashed onto him.

"Watch yourself, woman!" he snarled.

"Put some damn clothes on and you won't have to worry about burning yourself." Rodrick said, a hint of anger in his voice.

The other man stood and stomped petulantly over to his pile of clothes near the door and began stuffing his over-sized limbs into the stiff fabric. Conna covered her mouth, trying to hide her smile. Perhaps her plan was a bit mean, but it worked. Rodrick seemed upset enough with his man to believe it was an accident. He might not even care if he learned that it wasn't, but she didn't really want to find out. Once she got control of herself, she caught up her knife, chopped up the onion and threw it in the pot with the rest.

When she turned around, she wanted to hide again. The big one, the one called Jurgen, was eyeing her predatorily. The quiet one was washing the blood from his hands. Rodrick was staring at her too. Catching her gaze, he beckoned her with a pat of his thigh. Conna pursed her lips, but didn't move. Those eyebrows lifted again, golden eyes flashing. There was danger in that look. A tingle ran down her spine, propelling her forward.

Well, then, apparently he didn't need to speak to compel her. That was going to get annoying.

She walked stiffly over to him. When she got close enough, he pulled her into his lap. "Tonight we will bed down in the barracks, and tomorrow we will head back to the Den. Then we can discuss the Kin's...proposal with the Deltas."

"Will the females even accept her?" the quiet one said.

"They will do as they are told."

"They won't be happy about you keeping her."

She felt him laugh. "They are welcome to offer challenge."

The other man's lips thinned. "Be wary, they might challenge her directly."

Jurgen snorted.

Rodrick rubbed her belly in what she assumed was meant to be a comforting gesture. She just found it odd. "She is outside the pack structure, and that's not how things work. They wouldn't waste the effort."

"I am simply saying that it is something you should be prepared for," he said, throwing up his hands.

"Reiner, if you are referring to your sister, then I will remind you that it is your responsibility to keep her and her ambitions in check." His grip tightened around her middle.

This was just getting better. Not only did she have to deal with the brute holding her captive on his lap, now she had to worry about she-wolves trying to fight her. Were she-wolves great giants like these men? She had never fought anything more ferocious than a stubborn weed. Any physical confrontation between her and a wolf would be down right laughable. Sure, she'd managed to survive her scuffle with Rodrick in tact, if not wholly unscathed, but he wasn't actively trying to harm her. Yet.

She tried to pry his fingers from her belly. He pinched her thigh. Giving up, she sat silently until the food was finished. The wolves continued talking about a number of matters, none of which she really understood, having no context. Rodrick finally released her from his lap to eat, sliding her into the seat beside him. She picked at her food in silence while they devoured theirs at a sickening pace.

She continued to sit there while the one named Reiner scrubbed out the bowls and put them away. He then went over to a ring bolted to the floor and lifted it, revealing a staircase descending into the ground. Jurgen jogged down the stairs. Rodrick stood and moved toward them, holding a hand out to her again.

"The barracks are downstairs." He left it open. There was no command in it. No compulsion. But, really, what choice did she have?

She stood slowly, still trying to absorb all that had happened. Her muscles ached from the tension she was only starting to release. She laid her hand delicately in his, small and pale against his large, rough palm. He led her to the stairs as if her were escorting her to some affair, not leading her down into the depths of the earth, to the unknown. Gingerly, she followed him down the steps, using his hand for balance. About twelve steps down was a hallway that resembled a cave more than a hall. She saw two doorways on opposite sides of the hall. Jurgen and Reiner disappeared into the left one, and Rodrick led her to the one on the right.

The room was dimly lit by a series of lanterns with fat candles burning behind the glass. A number of fat pallets lined the walls, blankets lying in disarray atop them. In the center of the room stood a dead fire pit. A large satchel sat on a pallet towards the back of the room. Rodrick went to it and moved it off the bed and began stripping off his armor. As he peeled off each piece, he laid it aside, watching her as he did so. Conna stood near the door. The dim light cast him in an array of shadows that made him seem larger than he likely was. He finally tugged the  tunic over his head and tossed it aside.

She couldn't help but stare. He held the tunic in his hands, watching her as she examined his thickly muscled arms, his flat belly, and the indentations at his hips. She had never seen a man's torso before. She felt a distinct urge to touch those hard planes, to know what they felt like beneath her fingers. Where she was soft, he was hard. Where she was smooth, he bore a dusting of black and silver hair or some pale scar. She grabbed her fingers with her other hand to resist the urge to reach out. A corner of his mouth lifted ever-so-slightly as if he was aware of the conflict in her mind.

He crooked a finger at her. "Come here, please."

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked


  1. Oh I love the build-up in this, the conflict at the end. I look forward to the next part :)

    Rebel xox

  2. You write such rich prose! Gorgeous~

  3. Wonderful!!! . . . and I'm dying for the next instalment!!!