Hound in the Coverts: Hound in Wait
Marina panted her way up the stairs to her floor, burdened both by the kits in their harness and the heavy bag of school books and class notes. She’d not been in particularly good shape to start out, and the extra weight didn’t make getting up the stairs any easier. Especially not since she had avoided the stairs during the later stages of her pregnancy.
If reaching her landing was a relief, turning her key in the lock to her room was nothing short of undiluted nirvana. Finally, she’d have some time to — relatively speaking — relax. Sure, the kits were fussy and would need to be fed, but that at least could be accomplished half-lying on her bed.
She opened the door and froze.
She knew he was there before she saw him, his scent filled her with dread. Then he was in front of her, so close his chest brushed against hers when he reached past her and pulled the door shut.
“You know you’re not allowed to be here.” Her voice was barely a whisper.
“Adds excitement, don’t you think?” He touched her wrist and on cue she dropped her book bag. He hadn’t changed yet, if she didn’t give him too much trouble he might not. “Forbidden romance. I’ve missed you, Ina.”
“Please, Jake, go.”
“Awww, you don’t really want me to leave yet, do you? Not before we’ve… Relived the good old times.” His palm connected with her cheek. “Stupid bitch.”
Her ears flattened on their own accord. “Please…”
“Oh, how I’ve missed to year you beg,” the dark-haired senior rumbled, his hands moving to unbutton her blouse. “You were so good, Ina, always my favorite.”
She could well believe that, but her interpretation of his words was no longer tinted by her desperate wish that he care for her just so there’d be someone who did. He’d liked her because she’d believed his lies, because she’d taken his abuse in stride like a good girl.
“Jake,” she whined, “go away, please.” She still couldn’t help begging, she tried to twist away from his hands before he could notice the cubs. Let him do whatever he wished to her, as long as her kits were not hurt.
“Oh, and what have we here?” Jake had one of the kits by the scruff of its neck, the rubellite tod that most took after their father. At least as far as the black spots across its shoulders and rump went. “Did you get sloppy with your pills, Ina?”
As though it wouldn’t have been at least half his fault if the kits had actually been his. Still, he might spare them if he thought they were his, and hearing the kit’s pathetic whimpers was outright painful to her. So she nodded, meekly.
That seemed to amuse him, as he chuckled and turned the young thing this way and that, as though studying a curiously designed knick-knack. “Those are funny spots he has,” the werewolf mused, tugging a little at the kit’s tail and drawing an angry squeal from it. “I wonder where they come from…”
Uwghlock, grant me the cunning to save myself and my young… Now was the time for prayers. She knew the second deity she was going to plead to didn’t have much reason to listen to her, but maybe, just maybe, He would see fit to do so for the sake of Saevrin’s twin sons. Caarok, though I am not one of Yours, I beg of You, please protect Your own.
Oh, to be an actor like Saevrin, that she might also be a better liar. But she would try; she had to try. “He’s probably a throwback.”
“Okay.” Jake shrugged, dropped the kit to the floor like one might discard a toy, and she could only watch in horror as it changed mid-fall to land softly on its feet. That was not something she’d be able to explain; a raev capable of that level of shapeshifting wasn’t exactly unheard of, but a one-tail able to work much more than simple illusions, much less at that age, was. Though Jake was many things, stupid was not on the list.
She took advantage of his confusion to cast a simple shield around the kit, something that might be able to protect it from a blow or two, and reached for her phone. Jake was going to be angry, she needed Lore here now.
“You little bitch. You worthless, lying cunt!” He caught her hand, squeezed it until she yelped out in pain, then ripped the phone from her and threw it across the room, onto her bed. “You are such a filthy slut, Ina.” He came even closer, she felt the sole of his heavy boot on top of the toes of her right foot. “You were trying to trick me, weren’t you? While you’ve been doing that smug freshman cat. Fucking whore.”
“Jake, please…” she whimpered, trying desperately to placate him.
He ripped her blouse open the rest of the way, buttons falling to the floor, and fished out the second kit. The amber-yellow tod growled, and she instinctively reached for it. It was her baby, she needed to protect it.
Jake’s boot came down, and she barely managed to bite back a scream as his weight snapped the small bones. She’d learned once, and it was rapidly coming back to her, that the only way to survive Jake was to keep him as happy as possible.
“Of course, he didn’t measure up to me, did he, Ina?”
She wanted to tell him the truth, but didn’t dare, so she simply shook her head. That seemed to please her ex somewhat, he stepped off her broken foot.
He touched one of her breasts; she forced herself not to flinch away from him. If she could only get a hold of her kits, she had the shadow of a plan. She had been foolish to leave the ward Lore had given her in her nightstand, but she hadn’t thought Jake would dare do anything in the presence of other students, and hadn’t dared dream he’d somehow manage to get in when she wasn’t around. The thought had simply been too terrifying for her to even consider it.
“What do you want?” she whispered, tails between her legs, looking up at him in the most submissive manner she could manage in bipedal shape. He’d always liked that.
“Why, you, of course.” He spat in her face. “Not that you deserve it, slut.”
She hesitated for a moment, then realized she wouldn’t be telling him anything he hadn’t already figured out. “Just don’t hurt my kits, Jake, please?” She still wasn’t sure what she could do, had to buy herself time. It wasn’t as though she could run very fast with a broken foot, either.
He smiled at her, a smug smile that told her he thought he’d won. “Who do you take me for, Ina? Of course I wouldn’t hurt them. Unless you were to force my hand…”
She shook her head, whimpering. “Just don’t hurt them.” Oh, to have Saevrin there. Or Lore. But Saevrin would be in his Curses class for yet some time, and Lore wouldn’t know something was wrong unless she got a hold of him… With a phone that was even more out of her reach than her kits were. All she needed was to get a hold of them, then she’d be able to do something. But she wasn’t stupid enough to think she wouldn’t lose at least one son if she didn’t wait at least that long.
“That’s a good girl.” He held the kit up, out of her reach, and stepped closer, fondling her chest more roughly. “Hurry up now, before my arm gets tired, Ina. Come on, beg real nice for me, I know you remember your tricks.”
She considered her options. She didn’t particularly fancy the thought of going down on Jake, and kneeling she’d be more vulnerable and in much less of a position to get herself out of the bind she was currently in. On the other hand she couldn’t afford to make Jake any more angry than he already was. She was, reluctantly, moving to follow his directions when her phone rang.
The sudden noise distracted Jake, making him turn his head and lower his arm a little. It was a split-second decision to jump, tug his arm the rest of the way down and take the kit in her jaws, then stagger forward and scoop the other one up in her arms.
Not much time not much time not much time…
She leapt for the bed, heard Jake growl as he changed and saw him leap over her for the phone. Let him think that was what she was after.
Teeth clenched against the pain lancing up her leg from her broken toes, she somehow managed to open her nightstand table and get a hold of the ward. Considering the reaction she’d seen Saevrin have to the small enchanted silver-and-wolfsbane charm, she had no doubt it would stop Jake in his tracks.
When he reached for her, she blindly shoved the charm in his face, limping towards the door. Just judging by his pained roar and the fact that she wasn’t being knocked down to the floor, it had done its job.
She had to get away.
Somehow, she managed to open the door without dropping the kits, and moved out into the corridor, closing the door behind her and leaning on it. None of her floormates in sight, so no help to be found there. She couldn’t be sure Jake wouldn’t follow her, however, and she wasn’t going to be capable of running any great distance on her injured foot. Though maybe if she could keep it off the floor…
She remembered the spell she’d used to move iceboxes the night the twins were concieved. It might work.
Running with one of her feet basically levitating was still painful, and she was slightly imbalanced by the gained height, but it was still better than the alternative. Right now, she had to get to Saevrin. Saevrin would be able to hold his own against Jake, Saevrin would no doubt protect their young. That was her sole priority; the moments of divine clarity had passed and she was absorbed by fear and maternal instinct.
She didn’t really see the massive feline bruiser coming the other way as she turned a corner; her senses didn’t recognize it as Saevrin and so she rushed ahead down the corridor, until she found herself caught in its arms.
For a moment, there was panic, and then it was as though a blanket of calm was spread across her senses. There was the sudden knowledge that this being was Saevrin’s kin. She would be safe. There was no need to run any further. All she could do, then, was lean against it and sob in relief.