Book 1: Captivated, Cursed
Puffs of my breath floated through the freezing cold air. I pulled my collar tighter around my neck, trying to both keep warm and hide myself.
I should not have been out this late.
I knew staying behind to finish my work was dangerous, but I couldn’t afford to have any of my wages docked. Being a baker’s apprentice had seemed like a dream job until the low wages and heavy workload became almost unbearable.
Staying after dark to finish decorating a cake seemed ridiculous, but it had to be completed before tomorrow.
A chill ran through my spine as I started to jog. Every sound was more frightening in the dark. I was more than halfway home; I just needed to keep my head down.
It wasn’t illegal to be out after dark, but it was strongly warned against. Cities on the outskirts of the kingdom didn’t have the same kind of policing, so we were more susceptible to crime.
Eerie sounds echoed through the chilly, deserted streets. Every time I checked behind me, there was no one there.
It’s just my imagination.
It’s just my imagination.
It’s not just my imagination.
The lanky silhouette of a tall, thin man appeared from the side of a building just up ahead. He was much too thin to be a wolf. Maybe he was an abnormally tall human.
A sound from behind me confirmed my suspicion that he wasn’t alone. I rolled my shoulders back and walked quickly down the street, crossing before I reached him. If there were only two of them, maybe I could fight them off.
Against my better judgment, I peeked over my shoulder. I was in trouble. There were now two shadowy figures crossing the street to walk behind me.
I considered my options. I could shift and try to run away. If they were vampires, I wouldn’t be able to outrun them, but I could put up a fight and get a few good licks in.
But I definitely wouldn’t win in a fight against three of them. I could try to just ignore them and walk home. I was nearly there. Maybe I was being overly panicky and they wanted nothing to do with me.
Or I could ask them what they wanted and confront them head-on. I took a deep breath and turned around.
“Can I help you gentlemen?”
A deep chuckle sounded from the lone stranger who was now behind me. He walked around, joining the others. When he stepped under the streetlamp, I was able to get a good view of his face.
Definitely not a wolf or vampire. His eyes were unusually deep-set, beady, and so pale they were frightening.
“We’ve been searching for a pretty little she-wolf just like you for weeks!” he said.
Maybe running would have been the better option.
“Don’t even think about running, you’re coming with us.”
Before I could even react, exhaustion suddenly hit me like a brick. I teetered on my feet, swaying for a moment, before everything around me was swallowed up by darkness.
A bone-chilling cold that seemed to have settled into my soul roused me from sleep. I blinked in the dark. Wolves have exceptional vision; why couldn’t I see?
Restraints jerked against my arms as I tried to pull myself up to sit. Metal clanked loudly against metal. I was strapped down to what felt like a lumpy bed.
I listened for any sounds in the unnaturally quiet darkness. I should have been able to detect even minor noises, but I heard nothing. There were no sounds, just utter silence. It was unnerving.
More concerning than the situation I found myself in was the apparent disappearance of my wolf. I focused on trying to shift, but nothing happened. Panic and fear gripped my chest.
I rubbed my legs together to try to generate a little bit of warmth. Where were my clothes and shoes? I was wearing a nightgown, but it felt thin and scratchy like it was made of paper.
I considered yelling out into the darkness but decided against it. Whoever had grabbed me might not know I was conscious. I should keep it that way.
I pressed my fingers together, trying to make my hands as small as possible. After pulling until my wrists were bloody and raw, I stopped fighting.
The silence was terrifying. Wherever I was must be desolate because there weren’t even the normal nighttime sounds, not even the chirp of an insect.
I pulled against the restraints again as I lay back in the bed. I refused to sit still and wait. As long as I was conscious, there was a chance that the restraints could break.
I felt my sanity starting to slip.
How long have I been here?
My stomach ached from hunger, and my wrists were ripped open to the bone. It felt like years had passed, though I knew that couldn’t be.
The thump of footsteps caught my attention. It was the first sound I’d heard since I’d been here. A door creaked open, and enough light spilled into the room to illuminate the silhouette of a woman.
I bit back a growl.
“I’m here to give you your supplements,” she said casually. “Vitamins and hormones to aid in quality egg production.”
“Umm, I’m sorry…egg production?” I sputtered. I had had a speech planned, a scathing mouthful for the people who were holding me, a rage-filled rant. But now, my mind was blank.
When she stepped closer, she grabbed my arm in her icy hand and shoved a syringe into my skin.
“Yes, egg production.”
She quickly finished injecting me with who-knows-what and left me baffled, alone in the dark room.
My arm ached where she had injected me. I lay in complete silence and darkness again with my mind reeling.
Where am I?
This feeling was worse than before. Now my fear and dread were coupled with a piece of very unsettling information that only produced more questions.
I shuddered at the thought of what they could want with me. Every scenario I played in my mind was terrifying.
I couldn’t believe I had put myself in this situation so that I could decorate a cake.