My father appeared at the end of the hall, a large, shapeless, black bag in his hand that provided no clue about what was inside.
The alarm bells inside me were at DEFCON 1 now, my wolf flickering around inside of me, desperate to get out—if only I was old enough.
If only Caspian and River were older as well. My father was huge. An alpha whose aura was seemingly a million times more powerful than any other alpha I’d met.
He was terrifying and barely had to lift a finger to beat us when we disappointed him.
“Please, Father. Can I have something to eat?” Caspian cried, his lower lip trembling. Panic laced through River’s features as he pinched the back of Caspian’s arm, both of us desperate for him to be quiet.
I expected a blow to the head, a hand around the throat, a kick to the ribs…something. But it was as if my father hadn’t heard him. He brushed past us into the garage without a word.
River’s wide gaze shot me a terrified look, and he pulled Caspian closer to him.
“I promise we’ll get you food right after this, bud,” I murmured, hoping I was telling the truth.
Where the hell was he taking us?
He was already in his truck when we shuffled into the garage. The garage door was closed, but the truck was going, its fumes beginning to fill the whole space. He was just staring ahead, his lips moving silently again.
The picture of a crazy person, really…
Suddenly, his head turned, his eyes staring daggers at us as he watched us with a gaze full of…suspicion?
I hustled my brothers towards the truck and made sure they were buckled in the backseat before I hopped in the front. My father would never deign to make sure they were safe in the car.
He backed out of the garage quickly, the move sending me shooting forward, the seatbelt locking against my chest in a harsh vice.
I shot a glance into the backseat and saw that Caspian was silently crying, his little hands shaking as he held onto the side of his car seat. River’s hand shot out and he patted his knee soothingly.
“Demons. Everywhere!” my father suddenly muttered in a panicked voice as he lurched off the brake and began to drive like a bat out of hell.
“Have to get rid of the demons,” he muttered, before humming a strange tune I’d never heard before.
“Father?” I questioned hesitantly, bracing myself for the backhand. He’d broken my nose several times while I was in this seat.
But he ignored me, his eyes flickering around our surroundings wildly, like he was expecting someone…or something to pop out of the woods around us at any moment.
“Demons!” he shouted loudly again.
Caspian’s silent tears had turned into loud, scared sobs in the backseat, and I shot River a look to try and get him to quiet before Dad did something I couldn’t stop.
“Let’s just go back to the house,” I started soothingly.
The hit I’d been bracing for earlier came out of nowhere, sending a blood spray all over the dashboard and glass in front of me as my nose broke.
I growled and threw myself harshly back into my seat, my hands coming up to my nose as my eyes watered and pain exploded across my face.
“Filthy, wicked demons. In my own home! They are everywhere. Filthy. Wicked. Demons.” His chant didn’t let up and he didn’t spare any of us a glance as we continued to race down the road.
My mind was racing, trying to figure out a way out of this.
But I was coming up blank. The throbbing, agonising pain pulsing through my brain wasn’t helping me have any clear thoughts either.
We turned left down a dirt road, barely slowing down at all as the tires spun in the loose dirt.
“Almost done. Almost free. Filthy. Wicked. Demons,” he chanted.
I couldn’t take it.
“Stop the fucking car—”
Another hit to the same place and the world began to spin, fragments of bone splattering through my skull, sparks filling my vision.
I howled, faintly aware that River was screaming something from the backseat, and Caspian’s cries had grown louder.
And through it all was that same, terrifying chant.
“Almost done. Almost free. Filthy. Wicked. Demons.”
I writhed in my seat as we continued to drive, losing consciousness at times and then coming back to the same terrifying hellscape.
I was so delirious with pain that it took me a second to realize when the truck actually stopped. Capillaries in my eyes had burst from the impact, and it felt like there was blood trickling from my eyeballs.
“Just get it done. Just get it done,” my father whispered next to me. I heard him get out of the truck and then River saying something to me, but it was as if everything was underwater. My head was pounding so bad, I couldn’t move it. I didn’t think this was something my shifter healing powers could fix. He’d really done it this time.
Was I going to die?
My door opened just then, and I fell to the side, my seatbelt catching me before I could tumble out of the truck.
“Demon!” my father seethed by my ear, and then I felt a pinprick in my throat.
What was that?