Sylvia's Torment (Enforcers and Coterie Book 2) (3 page)

Bing.

The doors slid open, distracting him. People crammed into the tiny space, and Derek shouldered his way in, not caring who he flattened. Zmitro followed suit. Mages and other werewolves crowded together in the elevator, the excitement tangible.

Everyone exited on the same floor, heading for the meeting room. The name was a bit of a misnomer as it took up most of the twenty-first floor. Neat rows of chairs, several aisles between them, faced a small stage at the front.

No one sat. All were too eager for the mission.

The Mage and Werewolf Coterie, the leaders of the Enforcers, waited stoically up front. Representing each race, thirteen members normally held a seat in the Coterie. Currently, only twelve held a position. A few months ago, they’d learned that Logan, one of the Werewolf leaders, had been torturing, hunting and eating humans. He’d died the same way as his victims had, torn apart by wolves.

Whispers rose and fell as excitement buzzed through the crowd.

He glanced around, more familiar with this building than he’d like. As a Top Alpha, he met with the Coterie on different issues regarding werewolves. He helped enforce the rules and punished those who broke them.

Derek had no illusions as to why his pack obeyed him: many due to fear, some because of respect and a tiny handful out of love.

The whys didn’t matter, so long as they fostered obedience. An iron fist without the velvet glove. His harsh rule meant harmony amongst his pack and the different races. Fifty years as an Alpha had taught him much, including the need for structure and hierarchy.

Clearing his thoughts, he focused on the stage.

Mara and Roan, the two Mage Coterie leaders, stepped forward, demanding everyone’s silence. When the person asking for quiet can turn someone into a toad, teleport the unruly elsewhere or permanently remove the offending voice, it’s best to shut up and listen. Derek had witnessed too much over the years to even think about irritating them.

Roan had been a Viking in his previous life. Or perhaps in his much younger years. No one knew his age. Just that he was really,
really
fucking old. His massive, reddish beard reached mid-stomach with two thin braids hanging down on either side. A girly look, except that the short dirty-blonde hair, penetrating green eyes and towering, muscular body was anything but. Roan was one of the few people Derek knew taller than he was. A rare occurrence, given Derek’s own height of six feet eight inches. As Roan strode to the front of the stage,
several sighs
were hastily converted to coughs.

Roan didn’t seem to notice.

His tiny counterpart, Mara, hovered just above the five-foot mark. Blonde curls framed her face, lending her an angelic appearance. All sweetness and light. Derek knew better. He’d seen her unleash incredible amounts of power, a sight that made his skin crawl to this day. When she smiled at the crowd, the scent of lust peppered the air.

He grunted in disgust. Some days having a werewolf’s sense of smell worked against him.

Derek skimmed the crowd, wondering if any of them would be distracted. The yearning on his second-in-command’s face caught his attention. He elbowed Zmitro in the ribs. No good ever came from a mage/werewolf union, especially when one was on the Coterie.

“Pay attention,” he hissed. Distractions would not be tolerated.

Zmitro slanted him a glance and nodded. All expression was wiped from his face. He wouldn’t fuck up.

Aaron, currently the sole Werewolf Coterie leader, allowed the mages to take charge. Although Sylvia was technically one of his, Europe and Asia were his territories, not the Americas. He stood motionless near the back of the stage, missing nothing. His amber eyes reflected the light, a silent predator stalking his prey.

His shaved head, sharp canines and facial piercings all created the image of a mean motherfucker. Heavily muscled, he looked willing and able to tear someone apart with his bare hands. Menace rolled off him, daring anyone to challenge him. Derek, with all his power and strength, doubted he could take the other man.

Roan’s voice rumbled through the crowd. “We’ve found Sylvia, and today we’re bringing her home. Mara will
mind-speak
the location and battle plans to everyone in this room. She’ll give you an image of the building along with the blueprints. Pay attention to your role and, damn it, follow instructions. Punishment will be high if you fuck up.”

Markus stepped from the shadows, underscoring Roan’s threat upon failure. An audible gulp echoed in the room as many realized the consequences. Markus, the embodiment of Mage Enforcer. Smart, ferocious, a master at his craft – illusions – and absolutely loyal. When his younger partner, Julia, had gone missing, he’d torn the city apart looking for her.

Ruthless and harsh.

Whispers still lingered in the air about the man he’d captured and tortured. A man who’d threatened Julia and had a hand in Sylvia’s kidnapping. Though infamous throughout the supernatural community, Markus wasn’t an Elite Enforcer, despite the Coterie begging him to accept the position. Derek had no clue why he refused – Markus wouldn’t tell him – simply that he did.

A vicious grin exposed Derek’s sharp canines. Markus as incentive meant no one would chance fucking up. They would follow instructions to the letter, wanting to prove their worth to the legendary Enforcer.

Derek didn’t care about their worth or their pride.

Sylvia. She was his goal.

Images of a building appeared in his head. Layout, personnel, security details and orders filled his mind, and he briefly closed his eyes against the onslaught. He gained control quickly, knowing he didn’t have the luxury of time. Skimming the crowd, he saw most had assimilated the information and awaited further instructions.

Even with the grim task ahead of them, hope snuck in and made itself at home.

The Coterie had gathered their top Enforcers and several Elite Enforcers. Elites spent their time protecting the Coterie and honing their lethal skills. Only one or two a year were accepted for training out of thousands of applicants.

With little effort, Sylvia could have been an Elite, but she refused to apply and wouldn’t give Derek a reason why. She said she was happy as his Beta and an Enforcer and left it at that.

“We will have three teams going in. First wave, stand by Markus. Second wave, Roan, and the extraction team by me. Markus will open a portal into Fae. We have permission to cross their land, but we must stay on the exact path. If you stray, the Fae will take you. And we will not rescue any who get taken. You will stay in Fae as their permanent guests. That’s the only stipulation to us using their portals.” Mara’s angelic look belied the hard steel in her voice. She made it quite clear anyone stupid enough to be taken by the Fae deserved it and she wouldn’t bother wasting resources to get them back.

Roan added, “If at all possible, do not kill. We want answers as to what’s happening, and we need people to interrogate. And while it’s possible, I hate questioning the dead. They’re chatty little bastards who give you no information.”

Derek strode towards Markus, glad he was in the first wave. Anger clawed at his throat, a rumbling he didn’t bother containing.

“Prisoners,” he spat out.

They deserved slaughtering. Her despair and pain proved there were no innocents. He’d lived the agony she’d suffered, unable to soothe her, unable to tell her it would be all right. Now he had a chance to redeem his failure, to save his packmate, and if a few died by his hand, then so be it.

Zmitro kept pace with Derek, and they reached Markus at the same time.

After the group gathered, Markus calmly told them, “You’ve all received your assignment and what’s expected of you. Fuck up and I’ll talk to you later.”

No one mistook his meaning. A few took an involuntary step backwards. Derek, however, stepped forward, eager to leave. The tingle of magic across his skin hardly registered as his entire being focused on the upcoming bloodshed. His inner beast strained against its cage. It took all of his self-control to stop the change.

Soon
, he told himself.

Soon, he’d atone for his packmate’s pain.

Chapter Four

Awareness came swiftly
to Sylvia and on its heels, agony. The pain staggered her, slithering through her mind, squeezing until her world narrowed to a sliver of existence. Slow breath in, exhale out.

“Interesting. The bone fractures in her leg started healing before we x-rayed it. See here. Knitting together.”

Murmurs of agreement came from two other men to her left.

A scream built in her throat, fighting for release. She silenced it through sheer determination. Blackness surrounded her as she refused to open her eyes. Not yet.

“What about her hand? The guard shattered it,” another voice asked.

A near-silent whimper escaped her lips as her attention focused on the hand in question. Moving it proved impossible. She couldn’t even twitch her fingers.

What had they done to her?

A third voice chimed in, “No healing yet on the hand. Perhaps her body does prioritize. Leg is needed for escape if wounded. Hand, not as important.”

Fuck you!
she screamed in her mind, trying hard not to pant in pain.

“Hey, remember what we talked about yesterday? Well, I’m doing it. I’m inviting a friend over tonight. See if Amy is up for it.”

The shift in conversation startled her. Weren’t they discussing her injuries, the ones they gave her?

“No! Really? Does your friend already know?”

“Yep, she’s all for it. Said she can’t wait to fuck me and Amy.”

“Damn. You better give us details tomorrow. Better yet, see if you can get pictures.”

Rage swept through her as they laughed. Sylvia tuned them out before she lost complete control and attacked them, hurt or not. They discussed their personal lives while she laid here broken as if she meant nothing. She didn’t even warrant a full conversation.

An unsteady inhale followed by a shaky exhale as she strived for calm. Torture she could handle. The pure hatred, though, was harder to rein in.

Emotions contained and sectioned off as useless, she focused her hearing to the right. Faint breathing indicated two other people. Possibly male and facing away from her. A few moments passed with no other sounds.

Five men in total then. On a good day, these odds would’ve made her laugh.

This was not a good day.

Taking a chance, she cracked open her eyes just enough to view the room. Somehow she had missed one person. The scientist who had drugged her. He stood at the foot of her metal bed.

Silent and watchful. Lethal. The coldness in his eyes chilled her. His attention, however, wasn’t on her. He focused on the other men, the three to the left.

An eerie glow appeared in his dark blue eyes, darkening until they appeared black. A touch feathered across the sole of her right foot. She almost sighed, almost forgot their audience. Flexing her toes and her fingers proved her suspicions.

He’d healed her.

Strength surged through her. What was that spell? Did he inject her with pure adrenaline? Her body practically hummed. Had she ever felt like this before? Doubtful, and never during her time in this nightmare.

Eyes darting around under lowered eyelashes, she located the three men to her left. They crowded around a pair of computer monitors. Each wore a white lab coat and one had a clipboard in hand. Pretending to be real scientists and not butchers.

One of the screens, forgotten in their discussion of sexual positions, contained an x-ray. Three separate, and very noticeable, fractures on the thick thighbone.
Her
thighbone. The other screen, almost hidden from her, showed another x-ray. She squinted, trying to decipher it. Was that her hand? It didn’t seem possible. So many tiny fragments and shards.

Shit, they caused that much damage to her?

Unable to stomach the evidence of her shattered body, she glanced away and studied the room. No windows, and a single door was the sole exit from here.

While the medical field didn’t interest her, she’d watched enough TV shows to recognize a few items. Several microscopes, Bunsen burners, glass beakers and racks filled with test tubes littered the countertops. On the walls were illustrations, sheets with formulas and whiteboards with notes scrawled across them.

And photos of her body. Images of wounds, broken bones, and missing digits in various states of healing.

Bile rose in her throat, and she swallowed hard to keep it down. Her claws itched, needing release.

They’d taped pictures of her bleeding, broken body to the wall.

Fucking monsters.

Calm, she needed calm. It wasn’t yet time. She pulled her attention away from them and focused on the two men to her right.

They, too, wore white lab coats, also masquerading as scientists. Their bodies blocked her view, hiding their work. Their low murmurs reached her ears with ease.

“Need to be quick when we harvest the eggs. She’ll heal fast.”

“What about silver? That’ll slow the healing process, correct?”

“Yes, but we don’t want to poison her. She’s our strongest one.”

“Take them all at once then or chance doing the procedure multiple times?”

“All at once. Better to freeze them before they get too old. We can find some donors to create embryos.”

Steal her eggs? All her eggs? Like humans, werewolves had a finite amount. Unlike humans, they were fertile once a year due to their long lifespan. This would sterilize her, make it impossible for her to ever have children.

They wouldn’t even need werewolf sperm to fertilize her eggs. One werewolf parent was all it took. As a dominant gene, it guaranteed a life of howling at the moon. Children were born with a ticking clock until puberty hit. Up until then, they looked, smelled, acted and bled like human children. They were also sterile until they merged with their wolf.

She squeezed her eyes shut, cutting off the tears that threatened to overwhelm her. While she hadn’t given any thought to children, she didn’t want these sadistic bastards stealing that choice from her.

Cautious and stealthy, she tested her restraints. Nothing. No straps around her wrists or ankles. No bindings on her chest or thighs. Did they trust in their drugs that much? No one had woken early before and attacked?

A miscalculation on their part. Or they hadn’t expected one of their own to weaken the drug dosage.

A drug made for werewolves, one that didn’t metabolize within minutes. Her whole race was vulnerable. The Coterie needed this information, needed to find a way to counteract it.

Her hand twitched, reacting to her urgency. The scientist at her feet pinned her in place with his silent glare. Damn, that man had the most empty, frigid eyes. Animal instinct woke in her, demanding she escape his presence. He was the biggest threat in this room.

Not yet. Patience. Soon, you can attack. You’ll know when.
His voice drifted through her mind, weaker than before. The spell was fading.

“Who are you?” she mouthed to him.

Cameras watched every move here as well, and she tried avoiding them. Doubtful she succeeded, though. Then again, what did she care? Either she soon escaped or they’d recapture her. And subject her to another round of torture.

Revenant.

The ghostly response drifted through her mind. How fitting. Revenant, another name for ghost. The phantom who scared even the Coterie. No trace of his existence aside from his vigilante acts. No friends or family claimed him. Who or what he was, unknown by all.

Those marked for death by him made their funeral arrangements. He never missed, never hesitated and never took pity.

Stories circulated the races about him, each more horrifying than the last. He’d killed an entire thirty-strong werewolf pack by himself. By hunting humans for sport, the werewolves had rendered their lives forfeit with their actions. The Enforcers had investigated, searching for evidence. Instead, they’d found dead bodies from both races. Revenant had beaten them to it.

Fuck, here was the meanest, spookiest badass of their world. And he was working to save her life.

She closed her eyes. Hope, the stubborn bastard, clawed its way forward. Revenant on her side increased her chances of escape.

Thoughts of home, of her pack and her parents crowded her mind. She might see them again! Had they given up on her, or did they still search for her? Did her parents mourn her?

Tears gathered, threatening to fall. This line of thinking wasn’t helping. It would distract her, make her weak.

Derek, Top Alpha of Ontario. He wouldn’t give up, not while he had breath left in his body.  Stubborn and bullheaded, just like her. Their similar personalities had caused more than one fight between them. And she loved every minute of it. Men backed down when faced with her wrath.

Not Derek. He stood toe to toe with her, not once giving her deference because of her sex. No pretty words, insincere smiles or empty platitudes.

Lifting her lashes, she peeked at Revenant. When would they attack? What was the signal?

His vacant gaze unnerved her. Still as a statue, uncaring of those around him, he stared at the ceiling. Why wasn’t he paying attention? Who the hell zoned out before a rescue attempt?

Crazy human or whatever the hell he was. Could Revenant be human? Seemed impossible with all the stories she’d heard about him.

Ozone hadn’t accompanied his spell when he’d healed her. Every mage smelled of ozone. How was it possible? Even Fae magic had an aroma, hazy and indistinct.

She sniffed, and his scent triggered a wave of familiarity. A memory tantalized her, slightly out of reach. And with it, the knowledge that he wasn’t human.

Which race, though, she had no clue.

Curiouser and curiouser…

The non-humans she’d seen or scented here were the ones locked up.

How did he manage to fool them, and what race was he? Mage, demon or Fae?

Vampires and werewolves were unlikely. Their weaknesses were too hard to hide. Vampires had the little quirk of combusting in the sun and needed blood for survival. The silver-threaded walls would have caused burns on werewolves, again outing them with ease.

Demons and Fae had glamours meant to mask them. A skilled mage could do the same.

Except her superior sense of smell would’ve picked up the differences.

Ozone clung to mages, while the demons were more sulfurous. The Fae had a dreamy quality to their scent, like rainbows and mist. Revenant smelled like none of these, just hauntingly familiar.

For once she wished she was a mage. Their ability to identify by aura alone would’ve been handy. It was next to impossible to fake or mask an aura, or at least she’d never heard of it happening.

A light pinch on her big toe brought her full attention to the man in question.

You’ll know when to attack.

She could hardly hear the words in her mind now, a faint whisper from a forgotten dream.

A mage
, she thought,
he had to be a mage
.

How else could he cast a
mind-speaking
spell? Rare cases occurred where a human had an affinity to magic, although this was the last place she’d expect one.

She watched from the corner of her eye as he left the room, silent as his name. The other men paid no attention to him, engrossed in their conversations. Anger burned in her chest again, sharp and vicious, and her claws threatened to burst through her skin.

The waiting scraped her nerves raw.

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