Authors: Veronica Del Rosa
An Enforcers and Coterie Novel
Veronica Del Rosa
Sylvia’s Torment Copyright 2014 Veronica Del Rosa
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, organizations and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or organizations is entirely coincidental.
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Cover Art by Veronica Del Rosa
Editing by Elizabeth from Razor Sharp Editing
Table of Contents
First and foremost, I want to thank my husband – his unending patience with my bouts of insanity, keeping our kid happy and out of my hair, and just putting up with me. Without him, I would’ve given up on writing ages ago. He was even kind enough to share his photoshopping knowledge with me so I could create the cover art.
To my wonderful beta readers, Jessica, Michelle and Megs. They encouraged me to continue, enjoying the world I’d created. They let me pick their brains as to who they liked, what they liked and how the story could be better.
And to the absolutely amazing Elizabeth from Razor Sharp Editing. Both as a beta reader and an editor, she did a fantastic job. She helped me shape an alright story into a damn good one. :) Instead of dreading her edits, I looked forward to them thanks to her insightful humour. Without her help, Sylvia and Derek wouldn’t have shined the way they have.
I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. There were many tears, laughter and joy. These two werewolves have a special place in my heart for all they have endured.
Derek woke up
drenched in sweat. His heart pounded, threatening to burst from his chest. Dread, despair and helplessness crashed through him. He sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. Elbows resting on his thick thighs, he dropped his head onto his hands. Scrubbing hard at his face, he tried clearing the cobwebs of sleep. When his fingers brushed a lock of black hair hanging across his forehead, he pushed it back, combing through his short mohawk.
Anger – this time his own emotion and not hers – had him standing, fists clenched at his side. He prowled over to the en suite bathroom. Muscles rippled as he moved. His massive body graceful and lethal.
A predator hiding in human skin.
His shoulders brushed the edges of the doorway, and he ducked to avoid hitting his head on the door frame. It was sheer habit, no longer conscious thought as he’d lived here for decades.
He flung back the shower curtain, turned on the taps and let the water warm up. Settling the curtain back into place, he jumped into the shower and pulled the knob. Water cascaded over him, failing to soothe his temper. He slammed a fist into the tile, wincing as it cracked under the onslaught.
How long could he stand this? How much more until he snapped?
His cell phone rang, a special tone indicating it was his mother. His sensitive hearing picked out the faint noise above the rushing water. He sighed. Ignoring her was not an option. She’d just call back until he eventually picked up. He didn’t have to look far for where he’d gotten his own stubborn streak.
Cursing, he turned off the water and grabbed a nearby towel to hastily dry off. Slinging the damp terry cloth around his hips, he stalked over to the nightstand.
, he reminded himself and forced a calming breath before picking up the cell phone.
“Hello, Mama.” Respect and love seeped into his voice. While he didn’t feel fit for company, he couldn’t deny the peace that enveloped him when speaking to his mother.
“My son, how are you?” Amaka asked, a hint of worry shadowing her words.
She must be very worried to let it colour her words. Amaka was the Top Alpha for all of Africa, a brutal position that required she maintain iron-clad control at all times. Emotions were a weakness.
“I’m fine, Mama. A little tired.” He tried to appease her concerns, but she would have none of it.
“Do not lie to your mother,” she replied sharply. “I can still thrash you. Now, let’s start again. How are you?”
He repressed a sigh, knowing she’d hear it over the phone. “I’m upset, Mama, tired and weary of this. I can’t sleep, and I want to rage at everything. I fear I’m losing my mind. I feel her beating at me, her hopelessness and her fear. We haven’t found her, and I’m going insane.”
“Oh my dear boy. I didn’t realize you could feel her. You didn’t tell me,” she accused him lightly.
Damn, he hadn’t meant for that part to slip out. It showed just how distraught he was. Normally he was tight-lipped about anything personal, even with his dear mama.
“Well, there isn’t much you can do, so I figured no reason to burden you. You have enough to deal with. I heard about the traitor. You’ve taken care of the situation?”
He knew better than to express any concern over his mother. It’d be viewed as doubt of her abilities. She’d been an Alpha for almost as long as he’d been alive and was more than capable of handling her pack.
Ice-cold steel hardened her words, and he was grateful he wasn’t on the receiving end of her displeasure. “Yes. He challenged me and lost. He’s dead.”
Rustling in the background and a soft, insistent whisper. “Amaka, we must go. Now.”
“Derek, I must leave. I’ll contact you when I can. You have my number if you need me. Do not worry. I’m sure you will find her soon. I love you, Son.” He barely had time to reply before she’d hung up the phone.
Restless now, his skin was tight and itchy. Long strides took him to the bathroom, and he tossed the towel into the hamper. Stalking naked to the nightstand, he tossed his cell on it, worried he’d crush the delicate device in a fit of anger.
Silence shrouded him, pure silence in his mind. His own chaotic thoughts to keep him company and nothing more. Where was she?
Grasping his skull with his fingers, he threw back his head and screamed in rage and frustration. It ended in a mournful howl as his body went through the painful transformation from human to wolf.
It was cowardly to hide in his wolf form, to push aside his humanity. However, even worse than her despair was the silence that followed. The worry that this time she’d slipped away into death. The minutes, hours, until he felt her again were always agony. His nerves were shot after enduring close to three months of her pain, of encouraging her to hold on.
Sleep was next to impossible with only short bursts here and there. He was becoming irrational, short-tempered and a danger to his pack. He should step down as Alpha, but he refused to sever the one link holding them together. If he stepped down it meant he gave up the pack link, the psychic communication he had with his entire pack, including her.
He paced the room, walking past the bed to the door and back again. He caught sight of himself in the mirror and growled with aggression. A huge, dark gray wolf, larger than most wolves, he neared four feet tall at the highest point on his shoulders.
The intelligence gleaming in his bright amber eyes pissed him off. He didn’t want his human side so close to the surface. He wanted to escape into his animal’s baser instincts, to run free without worry and fear. He didn’t want to think about what was happening to her, how he’d failed to save her.
The urge to slam into the mirror took hold, and he almost gave into it. Splinter his reflection, destroy it, fragment himself. It seemed fitting for his reflection to echo his state of mind. Pinning his ears back, he exposed his teeth in a snarl and turned his back on the mirror. None of this was helping her.
For three months, he had searched for her. He had called in every favour, sent his whole pack out each night and had not a single lead on his missing packmate, his Beta. She was still alive, he sensed her, yet he was no closer to finding her than the day she went missing.
He told her that involvement with that damn Mage Enforcer, Jackson Thorne, would cause her trouble. But she was too fucking stubborn and pig-headed to listen to him. She was very by-the-book when it came to her job, but she refused to follow orders about her personal life. And look where that had gotten her: kidnapped, tortured and who knows what else.
Sylvia had told him the showing at the Art Gallery of Ontario was for pleasure. Nothing more than a night out to enjoy some culture. She had wanted time away from her duties as both a Werewolf Enforcer and a Beta. She had failed to explain that her night out was with an informant. Failed to arrange for proper back up when she met with an unknown person.
Intellectually, Derek understood her need to help Jackson, a close friend, and circumvent the rules. After all, he was a fugitive from the very organization Sylvia and Jackson worked for, the police of the supernatural community. She claimed he’d been falsely accused. Who better to help than one already on the inside?
Emotionally, it made no difference. His Beta had paid a hefty price for her friendship with Jackson.
He shook his head, trying to free his mind of human thoughts, wanting to lose himself in his other half. Tonight, he was going to hunt. He needed blood in his mouth, the ripping of flesh and the taste of meat. A green space in the city, the woods behind his house teemed with wildlife and his muscles quivered in anticipation.
Dashing out of his bedroom, he pounded down the stairs and through the hallway. He had enough presence of mind to use the sliding door in the kitchen and not break the window, unlike the previous time. His packmates were getting tired of cleaning up broken glass.
Astonishing. She survived
a near beheading.”
“I told you she would. 4626 has taken more punishment than any of the other subjects. The weaker ones died. It’s time. We start the next phase soon. She has the genetic code.”
Voices penetrated the hazy fog. The words made no sense. Beheading? No, not possible. She tried to shake her head, deny their cold, dispassionate statement, and pain ripped through her neck. Trembling fingers touched the tender area and the raised tissue of healing skin told her the truth.
They’d cut off her head.
Or damn near close to it.
Curling into a tight ball, arms wrapped around her knees, she squeezed her eyes shut and refused to cry.
Exhausted to the bone
, Sylvia laid
on the floor and wondered again why they continued to torture her. They didn’t ask a single question, didn’t want any information beyond what the bastards wrote on their clipboards. Just stared at her like she was a bug beneath their notice except for what they learned from her.
A lab rat, an experiment.
She thought they wanted secrets. They did, but not any she could tell them.
Vivisection occurred on a daily basis. Each time they drugged her, she’d wake up with a new pain. The scars lasted long enough for fresh ones to appear.
The miracle of her regeneration.
The curse of it.
Curled on the floor, she huddled not for warmth, but for comfort. The brightly lit room lacked a bed and blankets. They wouldn’t even allow the dignity of clothes. Kept naked with nothing to cover herself, she spent much of her time in this position.
Then again, given the number of times she woke up bloodied and mangled, it made sense they wouldn’t waste time and money on clothes.
Eyes tight against the harsh glare that never disappeared, she breathed slow and even. Another tactic to break her. Constant light. Destroy her sleep cycle and keep her off-balance. Made no difference, though. Her wolf always knew when night fell. The rare time joy coursed through her body in this hellhole. Each night she howled in abandon, welcoming its presence.
And to mind-fuck them.
It was the little things that kept her sane.
They monitored every move, every breath she took. They didn’t realize she could do the same. Exceptional hearing meant little escaped her attention. Not like she had much else to do while recovering.
Sure, they’d sound-proofed her room, but for a human’s weak set of ears.
When her howls echoed through the hallways and her captors wondered why, she hid a smile from their cameras. Underground with no windows, they missed the setting sun. The sun sank below the horizon earlier and earlier each day by a few minutes, summer inching its way into autumn.
She counted days by the change from night to day and back again.
Ninety-three hellish, painful, hopeless days.
Three months ago today, they’d abducted her. Taken her from AGO when she met with her informant. A hazy memory surfaced, one of him snickering over her moments before she succumbed to the drugs. He’d set her up, dangled enough information to interest her and betrayed her. Another man had snuck in behind her and shot her with a tranq. When she woke, her world had narrowed to this small room.
The experiments began soon after.
Small ways of outsmarting them and destroying their complete control over her became a life raft she clung to in desperation. They would not break her. She refused to crumble for these cowards.
As an Enforcer, her training covered this. Made her stronger than them.
Her claws lengthened, reacting both to her anger and the need to release her wilder side. She hid the evidence, curling her fingers into a tight fist. Not once had she shifted. It wreaked havoc on her, denying the other half of herself, but they wanted to study her wolf.
Again she took great pleasure in thwarting their plans.
Drugged most of the time, her wolf would be nearly useless if she tried to escape. Reaction time slow, critical thinking almost nil. Even now in her harshly lit cell, they kept her drugged with a low dose. A month ago, she stopped puzzling over how they had found a drug that worked on werewolves.
She no longer cared.
Opening her eyes to the glare, she gave them a moment to adjust. Even though she’d studied this room a thousand times trying to find something useful for an escape, she looked again.
For an inane moment, she marveled at the cleaning staff’s dedication. No dust in her room, spotless and smelling of disinfectant. Did they hire out or have internal personnel?
What would they put in the job description?
Must have high threshold for blood and torture, a love for sterile environments and able to clean without being seen.
Maybe they had brownies on staff, their passion for housework well known among the supernatural community. She snorted quietly, recognizing the insanity of her thoughts. Who cared how the place got cleaned?
Turning her sluggish mind back to the problem at hand, she tried to create an escape plan. Soon they would go too far and kill her. Or worse, break her. Her pack would never accept her if she broke. The Enforcers would remove her from their ranks. A weak wolf didn’t last long in her world.
Most of her adult wolf life, she’d trained to deal with situations like this. Many considered Werewolf Enforcer training torture and inhumane.
Good thing she wasn’t human.
The bare room, no bigger than a storage closet, had one wall made out of bulletproof glass. All the better to spy on her. Not like she hadn’t already spotted the cameras hidden in the ceiling. She had no moments of privacy. They recorded everything she did.
Her toilet was little more than a hole in the floor, and once a week, they hosed down both her and her room.
The remaining three walls and the floor were made of concrete. Even if she had the energy, it would take too long for her to dig or break her way through the hard, thick material. Accidental touches of the walls revealed its painful secret.
They had mixed silver in with the concrete, causing burns on her skin whenever she accidentally touched it. She was thankful – ha, thankful in this hellhole – they didn’t add silver to the floors or she would’ve cracked long ago.
Glancing upwards, she saw nothing of importance on the ceiling, save for the two cameras and several manmade holes. No cracks, no wear and tear, nothing to aid her escape.
A part of her had given up on escaping.
That sense of hopelessness destroyed her more thoroughly than anything these “scientists” put her through. The realization that she may die here, on their whim, sunk her deeper into despair.
Her regenerative abilities meant she could take almost anything they thought up. And these bastards were a cruel, sadistic lot. Her Enforcer training now seemed like time spent with children. Harmless, playful children.
Agony now walked hand in hand with her, whispering all its grim secrets in her mind.
Her near-immortal life span weighed on her, an albatross choking her. Could she spend years, decades or more here without going insane?
Never to see her family again or her pack. Never to see Derek.
A memory took hold, distracting her from the pain. At the age of thirty, she’d been close to her Change, considered an adult by human standards but only a teenager in the eyes of werewolves.
“Mom, do you really think I should go? I’ve heard he’s tough and mean. He doesn’t even smile. I’ve seen pictures of him, and he’s always scowling.”
Maternal love shone in her mother’s dark blue eyes as she brushed a strand of red hair from Sylvia’s cheek. “Sweetie, I wouldn’t send you if I thought you couldn’t handle him. You’re headstrong and stubborn. A weaker Alpha would be ground under your feet. Derek will help you control your wolf, teach you how to merge and understand your instincts.”
“What if Derek’s a chauvinist jerk like Perry?”He was part of the reason for this transfer. She’d talked back on too many times, and the Alpha didn’t like it. In his world, women were pretty things to sit quietly and be admired.
“No one’s like Perry.” Perry didn’t realize Alice was the reason so many of the women werewolves no longer sat on the sidelines, content with a housewife’s existence. She held weekly meetings and discussed ways to gain equal rights within the pack. But even with her mom’s quiet campaign, Sylvia was suffocating.
“Thank goodness,” Sylvia muttered.
“And if he is, then prove him wrong. Where’s your backbone? We didn’t raise a timid woman,” her mother chided.
“I don’t know what it is, but Derek scares me.” His deep, unfathomable eyes pulled at her even in pictures. The dark brown irises almost glowed in contrast to his black skin. She dreamed about him, almost obsessed over him during her waking hours.
Pausing to consider Sylvia’s words, she finally responded, “Do you think he’ll hurt you? We’ll stop the transfer then.”
“No, don’t,” Sylvia rushed to respond. “He won’t hurt me. We would’ve heard rumours if he abused his pack. I’m just being silly, letting fears of the unknown worry me.”
Alice opened her arms. Sylvia gratefully accepted the embrace.
Sylvia almost smiled. Derek had exceeded her panicky expectations. While he didn’t smile often, he had made her welcome in his pack. The other members had opened their hearts to her. They’d become her family, a tight-knit one she missed almost as much as she missed her freedom.
Her ears twitched.
She gave no other response to the sound. No reason to give away her strengths to the enemy. Staying prone on the floor, she waited, wondering what they had in store for her today. She had no way of fighting them off. Aggression just made them increase the drug dosage.
Initially, she had refused all food and water, afraid of consuming their drugs. She had quickly learned they had no need to tamper with her food. Tiny holes drilled into the ceiling allowed them to pump knock-out gas into her cell. The glass wall/sliding door had a small window so they could shoot a tranquilizer dart at her.
And when they felt daring, they used a needle to inject sedatives right into her vein.
The first time they had used the more personal approach, she had attacked, clawing one of them across the face. They’d tranqed and savagely beaten her in retaliation. Whenever she saw that man’s scarred face, fierce satisfaction rolled through her. He’d never forget her, even after they tossed her in a shallow grave.
Idly, she wondered which method they would favour today, unable to drag up any emotions to care one way or the other.
A scientist stopped at her glass wall and gazed at her. His dirty-blonde hair was shaggy and in need of a cut. Stubble covered his chin and cheeks and his lab coat was wrinkled. He looked as if he’d spent too many nights sleeping at his desk.
Any sympathy she might’ve had was erased as soon as she met his stare, the cold, empty stare they all adopted. In their eyes, she was little better than an animal, a lab rat to be experimented on – for the good of humanity, of course.
Heaven forbid they have problems sleeping at night.
“Experiment 4626, stay where you are,” he said as he slid open the door.
Standing in the doorway, he pulled a needle from the pocket of his lab coat. He removed the cap and pushed the stopper to remove any air.
A thought fluttered in her brain. An air bubble would stop her heart. Perhaps for good? A permanent end to her suffering?
Berating herself, she pushed the suicidal thought away. She was stronger than them.
They would not break her.
With eyes glazed from previous druggings, she watched as he stepped closer to her, no fear or hesitation. For a fleeting moment, she wanted to rush him, rip his throat out and escape out the door. But where would she go? How far could she get before they captured her?
Listen to me, Sylvia.
The sound of her name startled her. For the past few months, they had addressed her as 4626. She’d almost forgotten her name. She cocked her head to the side, curious as to who spoke. The scientist’s mouth hadn’t moved. It felt like the pack link, but he wasn’t a werewolf. She’d smell it if he was.
I’ve cast a spell to let me speak to your mind. We don’t have much time. The drug I’m giving you is diluted. It’ll last for approximately three hours, and then your metabolism will break it down. You’ll have a chance to escape. I’ll create a distraction and free as many prisoners as possible. Take out any guards you find. Snarl at me if you agree.
She rapidly went over the implications of this. Could she trust him? Was this a trap or was he serious about helping her escape? Why, why did he want to help her? His dead expression gave nothing away, and yet there was something about his scent. It teased her, told her she could trust him. Hoping she wouldn’t regret it, she snarled at him, giving him her agreement.
Without hesitation, he crossed the small room and stopped within inches of her. Faster than she expected, he slid the needle into her arm and injected her. Sylvia’s vision blurred, darkness edged in, and her last sight was of a slight grin from the scientist.