She sprinted through the woods, her heart racing as she pushed toward the boundary.
"We can make it..." she whispered as she got closer to the border, trying not to be so hopeful, knowing she might just get caught again as she had twice before.
"Just run," she repeated, willing herself forward even though fatigue was creeping its way in.
We're almost there! her wolf hollered in their head as they ran faster.
Her heart was pounding in her chest, her whole body catching fire with adrenaline and hope as they crossed the pack border, refusing to stop until she either died from exhaustion or got far enough away to never be found again.
At this point she was fine with either one.
"DO YOU ENJOY THIS?! WHY DO YOU KEEP MAKING ME HAVE TO DO THIS?"
Todd towered over her, his face beet red as his anger continued to rise.
Summer sat on the floor, her hand cradling her stomach as the pain from his hard blows surged through it.
Once again he claimed she had embarrassed him, and once again he had hit her.
When they had found each other five years ago, she was so excited. He was so handsome and so charismatic. He doted on her and she fell in love with him almost instantly.
The first time he hit her, she was so shocked she had convinced herself for a while that it hadn’t actually happened.
Her mate would never hurt her, especially on purpose. He was meant to love and protect her, the way she loved him.
But that was then.
She clenched her stomach tighter as he stood over her. She could feel her wolf growling in the back corner of her mind.
Freya wanted out, wanted to beat that sorry excuse for a man to a bloody pulp. She wanted to rip his horrible hands off and feed them to him.
But Todd was bigger and stronger.
The second time he had hit her, Freya had pushed through and shifted, hoping to protect her. That night he ended up beating her so badly she couldn't walk for two days.
She had lost count of how many different bones he had probably broken, how many bruises she'd had to hide.
Not that anyone ever noticed or cared.
"YOU SLUT! HOW DO YOU THINK IT MAKES ME LOOK WHEN YOU COME ON TO ANOTHER WOLF!? HMM? WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY TO THAT, HMM?"
"I..." she stammered quietly. "I'm sorry. I wasn't, I promise."
"Are you saying I'm wrong? That I didn't see what I saw?" he shot back darkly.
"No, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to... I wasn't..."
Summer didn't know what to say. She knew she hadn't hit on that man. He had asked her a question and made friendly conversation in line about the meal at the packhouse dinner.
She flinched as Todd got close to her face, his steely blue eyes burning with fury as his large hand gripped a fistful of her long brown hair.
His screams echoed loudly in her ears as she once again listened to how useless she was and how horrible a mate she was to him.
After he’d let out his fury, he walked away, leaving Summer in a slump on the living room floor.
Summer took a pained breath, whimpering into her hands so he wouldn't grow angry again at her cries.
We can't do this anymore, we NEED to get out of here, Freya whispered angrily in her mind.
"We can't…he'll just find us again. He always catches us. We have nowhere to go."
One of these days he'll end up killing us...we have to try...
Summer knew she was right. It was only a matter of time.
Her mind wandered to the last time she had run away. She had almost made it out of the border before he had caught her.
He ended up beating her right there in the middle of the woods and practically dragging her back to the house.
She was brought back to the present when she heard Todd walk back out from the bedroom, his footsteps slow as he stopped at the end of the hallway. He leaned against the wall and stared down at her.
"I'm sorry, baby."
Summer took a deep breath, the pain in her stomach finally beginning to subside. She looked up at him with a smile, "I know."
He ran a hand through his hair with a sigh as he stepped forward. "You just...you don't know what you do to me. Sometimes I just get so angry."
All the time... Freya grumbled in her mind.
"You know? Is that all you can say?" he said loudly as his anger began to surface again.
"No," Summer stammered, scooting backward as he stepped forward.
"I just meant that I know I made you angry...I'm sorry. It was all my fault today. I shouldn't have been so careless. You were right."
Todd paused for a moment and Summer knew he was trying to decide if he wanted to let it go. She hoped her pitiful apology was enough.
She stood slowly, gripping the couch as she straightened herself.
Todd stood closer, his rough hands gripping her arms gently.
He kissed her cheek, making Summer’s whole body want to recoil. She stood still, stiffening at his touch. He kissed her cheek softly again.
"I love you."
"I love you too," she whispered, inhaling sharply when he quickly turned away, her whole body constantly on edge.
That night she lay awake in bed, her mind an endless jumble as she tried to figure out a way to escape. A way that she would finally be free.
We could always kill him. He's asleep right now, completely helpless, Freya grumbled.
She smiled at her wolf's bravery. "Knowing Todd, he'll wake up the minute I try it," she replied in her mind.
Summer’s mind suddenly cleared as she decided at that moment that she was going to leave.
She knew she wouldn't be able to try again, so her plan would have to either be fool-proof or she'd have to die trying. Because there was no way she was going to come back.
As she laid in the dark beside her worst nightmare, she finally came up with her plan.
Now all she needed was the right time.
"All we need is the stars to finally align, for fate to finally be on our side... and I think we'll make it out of here," she whispered to her wolf.
Freya grinned in the back of her mind, ready for the chance to finally break free, ready for them to finally be safe. This time it will work. This time, he'll never find us...
"This time it will work," she echoed.
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