Tempting Darkness - Book 1
- 107.4K words
First, they killed my parents. So, I did the most rational thing at the time. I ran. Now I find myself at crossroads, as I am being hunted by werewolves in an unfamiliar city, and I had to weigh up my alternatives, both unappealing. Neither option had any sense of hope for me. I would be condemned. Fae were the most powerful creatures in the world. As long as we had magic and our mate. Not one of my four mates was a good option, each one as brutal and cruel as the other. Darius was a demonic-Fae, Tobias Vampiric-Fae, then there is Lycus he is a Were-Fae, and last was Kalen, Pure Dark-Fae, and they had been hunting me just like these wolves for years. But now, running low on magic and faced with death. I am left with two choices, let off a flare of my magic and beg for help, or die. Now, I have found myself forced into a bond I never wanted, but I was out of options, and I just had to pray they would have mercy on me.
Something felt off this morning. I didn’t know what, but something felt different as I glanced around the crowded room. Leering eyes watched me from where I sat alone in the mess hall. My usual spot was taken, preferring to be closest to the exit where I remained mostly unnoticed. Closer to the door was safest because it gave me an escape route.
Their sleazy gazes had me on edge as they watched me hungrily. I hated this place. There were no other women here. Most of all, I hated being the subject they loved to torment. All made worse by the fact that I was powerless to stop them.
In a room full of men, I stuck out like a sore thumb, and I did my best to keep to myself. The surrounding chatter quieted down and made me quickly glance around before I ducked my head when I noticed them. Darius had entered the room with my other three mates. They walked to the back of the room and took seats at the back, which I thought was a little odd; I rarely saw them here. It appeared they had something to talk about with their recruits because Darius spoke about some crap I showed no interest in knowing. Keeping my head down, I ate quickly, wanting nothing more than to get the hell out of there.
However, the moment I stood up and went to chuck my rubbish in the bin, my muscles spasmed, my feet faltered as I tried to take a step away from the table, and my entire body locked up with one command.
“Aleera, freeze,” came a voice. I recognized the voice instantly and dreaded what he would do this time.
My entire body stopped at the command. I couldn’t move an inch, and everyone erupted with laughter. Oh, how I tried, but I couldn’t so much as wiggle a toe. What were these savage men going to subject me to this time? They never usually went this far. Usually, they tormented me, chased me, hurt me. However, this was the first time they used compulsion on me, and it felt wrong as every muscle in my body tensed.
My eyes went to my mates at the back. Darius, Tobias, and Lycus watched from the far table. They were always happy to witness my suffering. Kalen, however, glanced around the room before he looked at me and dropped his head.
My stomach dropped when Zac, one of the recruits under Darius’s thumb, got up from his seat. My lungs constricted at the cruel smirk plastered on his face. Zac sauntered over before he stopped in front of me. His eyes hungrily looked me over from head to toe. Zac was the worst out of all the recruits I had come across here. The vile bastard had no boundaries. He was usually behind my worst degradation. Zac walked around me slowly and plucked the sandwich wrapper from my fingers while I remained unmoving.
“Stand up straight,” he ordered, and I gritted my teeth. My forced body was doing as commanded as Zac’s cold magic caressed me. A violent shudder ran through me in repulsion as I tried to fight against the command, but it was pointless. I was a puppet on strings, and he was the puppet master.
“Nothing to say, Aleera?” he chuckled, and the entire room erupted with laughter. Except for my mates, who watched from the back with expressionless faces.
“Nothing I say will stop you. Did you want me to beg? Beg for you not to do whatever vile thing it is you intend to do?” I spat at him.
Being trapped in this place, I learned quickly not to beg. It just made the torment worse when I did. They didn’t care that I was female; they didn’t care I was powerless. All they cared about was the control they had over me.
“You’re right. It wouldn’t stop me. The guys and I want you to put on a little show for us,” Zac said in an amused tone. I glanced around the room to find the men were all leaning forward eagerly; one even winked at me while another licked his lips.
My eyes darted to the table where my mates sat. Not a scrap of emotion was shown on their faces for what I was about to endure. They would not help me, not that I expected them to. They never did. If only they had just told them who I was to them, if only their soldiers knew. I wouldn’t have to deal with this shit daily. However, I knew they would deny it if I spoke up. Darius had threatened to kill me if I told anyone here who I was to them. So I had kept my mouth shut. They hated me, and the feeling was mutual. Yet, I couldn’t bear to see them hurt, so how could they watch my humiliation with no expression at all?
My eyes went back to Zac, who looked me up and down. Was he going to make me dance? What did he mean by a show? I was already on display. How much worse could it get?
“You could always say no?” Zac teased before he scoffed. “Oh, that’s right, you can’t. Poor helpless Aleera, always so easily influenced, so easily overpowered. Must truly suck being the weakest form of fae,” he mocked. His demonic eyes ran the length of me in a sleazy, obscene way. His gaze stopped at my breasts, and I felt my stomach drop somewhere deep and cold within me. I knew what he was going to say before he said it. I prayed I was mistaken, but his following words confirmed my thoughts.
“Strip, Aleera,” Zac said, his voice coming out like a purr. I blinked at him, trying to fight his compulsion with everything in me, even though I knew it was pointless. My eyes burned as tears threatened to spill, and my hands shook as I tried to resist doing what he asked.
“All of it. I want to see you completely bare.” My fingers forcibly undid the buttons on my black blouse. My breathing became harsher as I tried to resist his compulsion. A sob tore from my lips that sounded more like a whimper. My vision blurred as my top fell open and revealed my black bra. Zac gripped my shirt and yanked it, my shirt tearing painfully from my body under the force he used. My scars were on display for everyone to see. The worst was the burn that went from my shoulder down to my hip.
The men watching hollered and whistled, and some even poked fun at my burned, scar-ravaged skin. Was this high school? Were they truly this immature? They were fully grown men, and they were all subjecting me to this. Worst of all, my mates just watched. Although, I noticed Kalen looked away when my eyes fell on him; he almost appeared to look guilty, like he wanted to step in and stop it. My fingers were still working to undo the buttons and zip on my black slacks. My eyes stung from the tears that brimmed and spilled over as I bent over to remove my pants.
“Please stop,” I choked out as I stood upright. How could they all be so cruel?
“All of it,” Zac commanded again.
My entire body shook at his command, my cheeks burned with the humiliation, tears ran down my cheeks and dripped off my chin, and I could hear them all talking and laughing.
My bottom lip trembled as my hands reached behind my back and fumbled with the clasp of my bra. A hiccupped sob left me as it unclipped. I couldn’t handle it, so I clenched my eyes shut, so I didn’t see their faces watching me. I hoped it was stuck, but, of course, it would come undone easily and expose me more.
Zac’s hand ran down my arm from my shoulder to my elbow as he pulled the strap of my bra down. My eyes flew open at his touch, his other hand moved to my hip, and I felt the bile rise in my throat. The feel of his hands on me disgusted me. I wondered how far he would take this. Looking over at my mates, Kalen got up and walked out along with Lycus. Darius and Tobias, however, were enjoying my torment.
“Hurry, Aleera, take it off, take it all off,” Zac purred as he tugged my bra strap off my other shoulder. I stared at Darius. Was this what he wanted? Was this still not humiliating enough? His eyes darkened when Zac ran his hand up my side before grabbing my breast roughly. He twisted my nipple painfully, making me cry out, and I felt more tears spill over as my bra fell away. The room erupted with whistles and vulgar taunts.
Darius and Tobias could stop this, and I pleaded with my eyes for them to step in, just this once and not subject me to this. My hands shook violently as they reached for my panties. It was the last article of clothing I had left, the one place left untouched.
One month earlier
Their heavy footfalls on the ground behind me were getting closer. I had been running through this godforsaken city for nearly two hours, trying to lose the wolves chasing me. Fae blood is addictive to the werewolves, and the moment I stepped into this city, they welcomed me with this hunting party. There is nothing more welcoming than being given the opportunity to become werewolf food. Stupid mutts!
As I turned up a darkened street, I nearly lost my footing on the wet ground. I heard the howls in the distance as more joined the chase. Shifters could smell a fae easily; they could smell the power in my veins even as weak as mine was right now. I knew I should never have tried to get into the city at night. But I was desperate and hadn’t eaten in four days, and the water sources outside the city were polluted.
What a mistake that turned out to be because now I was being hunted by werewolves and god knows what else through a city I was unfamiliar with. This was not part of the plan.
How was I supposed to know it was a shifter city? It wasn’t like they had a huge-ass neon sign at the city limits saying “Shifters Only.” However, it certainly explained the stench of wet dog!
The light coming from the full moon lit my way. That was the worst time to be in a werewolf city surrounded by savage beasts that loved nothing but the chase and killing for sport.
Running past some garbage bins, I twisted my wrist, letting my magic flow from my fingertips. It exploded, sending rubbish everywhere, hoping to slow them down. Puddles splashed my legs, and my clothes were drenched, making it harder to run. Technically, since we were all fae, you would think we would get along just fine. Nope, were-fae were savages, and my scrawny ass was about to be dinner.
Ninety percent of the world was dark fae. A plague had killed off all the white fae, leaving only their dark brethren and variants like these were-fae that were hunting me. So, let’s just call them werewolves. It’s easier to remember and essentially what they are. Most of us would stick with our own kind, but mine no longer existed. I was the last of my species, a unique blend of fae that no longer existed. Magic is inherent in all fae, and some, like myself, have the potential to possess enormous power.
My mother was a white fae. She should have died, but my father was dark fae, and when the plague hit, her entire bloodline died out except for her. Dad said it was because she was pregnant with me, and I was the last harmony fae in existence. I was the Light and the Dark, the last of my kind. I was the ultimate weapon when fully powered.
However, when our magic runs out, we are essentially human. I could hear the snarling beasts as they chased me down, getting closer with each step while I was getting weaker. Plus, I had a stitch and rolled my damn ankle two streets over. I really needed to up my cardio. Funny considering how long I had been on the run. You would think I would be used to the running part by now.
Growls tore out behind me, and I heard one knock something over as it gave chase. I felt its aura as it tried to gain on me, yet adrenaline kept my feet moving despite wanting to pass out. I fought the urge to give in and accept my fate. My magic fizzled in my fingers as I searched for another way to lose them. Yet there was no escape.
Unfortunately, these monsters weren’t the only thing I had been running from. I had spent the last six years on the run from my mates. I swore I would never be theirs and that I would get revenge on them one day. They burned my house with my parents trapped in it to the ground. Only now did I realize why they’d spared me. Now I was actually considering calling on them for help.
The snarl that left one as he pounced had me instantly ducking. The wolf missed jumping clear over me and slid across the ground. A shriek of fear left my lips at the motion as he smashed against the wall of a building. There was no way I could outrun these monsters chasing me, and I didn’t have enough power to save myself from being torn to pieces or, worse, taken back to their Alpha and subjected to unimaginable horrors for crossing into the wrong city.
I knew there was only one way out of this. That was by setting off a flare of my magic to them. All I had to do was alert them to my location and pray they would come and not ignore it like I had ignored their calls. With my magic running this low, I had no other choice.
They would come. My mates needed me to reach their ultimate power. As long as we had magic and our mate—it turned out I had four, and not one of them was a good option. Unfortunately for me, to maintain power, I also needed them.
Faes’ power is shared with their other mates. That was how we remained strongest, and I was the link to all of them. I was their keeper. Without me, they were powerless or supposed to be. Power keepers like me were the anchor, the only ones that could transfer their magic and mine, sharing it equally among mates.
My mates should have run out years ago, yet somehow they found another way because they remained strong. Strong enough to still rule over the fae, strong enough that everyone feared their names.
Just when I thought my luck couldn’t get any worse, the street turned out to be a dead-end and made me spin around as I looked for another escape. There was no getaway. That was when I realized they had herded me here. Fuck!
A growl shoved me into reality again, and I spun on my heel. Nine werewolves were closing in around me. Oops, make that ten. I didn’t see the one on the roof drooling down its chest, wanting to munch on me like a damn chew toy. I was about to become chum dog food because I still couldn’t bring myself to let off a flare of my magic to them. Neither option was appealing, and I had to decide. My life was doomed either way.
Cornered, the wolves circled me, tried to get behind me to jump me, and I kept turning while trying to watch them all at once. Their silver eyes sized me up, and teeth snapped in my direction. They were waiting for me to attack, yet I had barely any magic to use in my defense. Certainly not enough to save me.
The wolf on the roof jumped down and landed behind me. The wolf’s big heavy paws landed on the dumpster with a thud. Please, fates, don’t let me die! I want to live, not die a virgin and hungry. Aren’t I supposed to get a last meal? If you’re going to kill me, at least feed me first. Seriously, if fate wanted to fuck me, at least do it gently, ease in, and would it kill them to add some damn lube?
My fingers twitched toward the mark with their fours names branded into my skin. I was going to call on them, which felt like a low-frequency buzz over every inch of my body, making me want to go to my mates. I had ignored that buzzing feeling for six years, and now it felt more like an itch. One I just couldn’t reach to scratch.
A growl behind me made me jump, and I watched my entire life flash before my eyes in that split second as they closed in.
Lifting my hand, I placed it over the markings and sent a spark of my magic into it. Each of us had the same markings. Yet they only appeared when our powers manifested. My wrist burned painfully, making me scream and clench my teeth. The sheer agony in my voice made the wolves back off, wondering what had gotten into me.
The mate symbol glowed red and throbbed. I knew it only hurt like this because I waited so long to answer their call for me.
The world around me spun violently, and I fell to the ground. Both my hands and knees were driven into the road painfully. My power had become too low. A few more minutes, and it would fade out.
Teeth bared and snarling, a big black one rushed at me, and I closed my eyes and waited for my death. The surrounding air rippled, and the turbulent noise made me cover my ears. I recognized the whooshing sound of a portal opening up. Keeping my head down, I opened my eyes.
Four sets of feet hit the ground before the colored light of their magic was all I could see. It swallowed my vision. Their closeness made my reserves shudder, and I had to stamp down the urge to pull on it before they realized. Flames missed me by millimeters, the heat so hot, I cried out when it burned the flesh on my arms when it rushed past me.
When the howls and whimpers stopped, everything fell silent. My heart was pounding in my ears. Their domineering auras surrounded me threateningly as they took up each side of me and made me want to flinch away.
Can I take it back? I choose death. I choose fucking death fates. Nothing good would come out of me calling on them. The angry ripple of energy surrounding me told me they were livid, and these men were not ones you wanted to anger.
Paralyzed by fear, I remained frozen until boots stopped next to me. I clenched my hands into fists to stop them from trembling. They stepped closer, caging me in with their legs, making me feel tiny where I sat at their feet.