This kind of shit was some déjà vu that Cora just didn’t need right now. Derek had promised to keep her safe, but she couldn’t say she was surprised that he hadn’t followed through on that one. Derek was a shitty Alpha—who threw out their betas at a time like this?—and as Kali was saying for like the thousandth goddamn time, Derek just wasn’t the Alpha Cora needed.
Not that Kali was. (Although Cora probably liked her better than the other ones.)
At the moment, Cora was trapped under Kali’s hips, Kali’s dumb Alpha toes wiggling slow and measured at her sides. Cora had felt the slash of those toes when she’d first been captured.
“I like this one,” had come Kali’s voice, cutting through Cora’s senses.
And Deucalion had said, “Alright, Kali. Play with her but don’t kill her.”
Cora wondered if Kali had even asked permission this time. Nobody else had come. Not the twins, not Ennis, not “the apex of apex predators” (oh please). And this house—currently empty but with a minivan out front and play equipment in the backyard—was not a place Cora had ever been before.
They were in the garage. The concrete floor was bruise-hard against her back.
“What is this, huh?” she said, baring human teeth. “Some illicit little Alpha booty call? Where’s the Demon Wolf?”
“Deucalion couldn’t make it.”
Kali’s expression was harder than usual, held less frantic glee. It unsettled Cora a little, because she was used to sparring, and though she wouldn’t have mentioned it to anyone, something had happened to her beta instincts during those three months. When she’d seen the moon, finally, her wolf had longed for Kali to bring it peace. At the moment, a little pang sounded in her chest, like the wolf was pawing there, trying to get her to see what was wrong with the Alpha. Clearly Kali’s mood was off, but Cora could give a shit.
Kali stretched her fingers out and trailed the pointer talon down Cora’s neck. Instinctively, Cora leaned her head back. But she scowled, her only real defense against Kali’s grin. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it,” she said, “Alpha-beta bonding. I’ve missed you.” And it just wasn’t fair, the way her smile dropped over the words, the way the sentiment made Cora squirm underneath her.
Yes, yes, I’ve missed you too. “Let me go.”
“No. Not now that I’ve got you. Not until Deucalion finds out what I’ve done.” The nail at Cora’s neck dug into the skin, making the beta whimper. “Don’t worry, little sister. I won’t do anything bad.”
“You mean like kidnap me?”
“Let me rephrase that. I won’t do anything your wolf isn’t begging for.”
It made Cora sick how much she liked the wound on her neck: the warmth of the blood, the pain, the fact that it was from an Alpha. Kali wasn’t her Alpha, but she was the closest thing to one that she had. Derek and Cora had had so little time to understand things. (And he was being so mean, doing everything wrong.)
Kali forced Cora’s head back further with a hand upturned under her chin. “This might be the last time I see you for a while.”
Pain seemed to lick up Cora’s spine—pain in the heart of her wolf—but Cora still managed to grit out, “Good.” Part of her wondered if Kali was going to kill her. She was the one who’d said it, after all, at the loft; that killing one of her own had been liberating.
But Kali was only licking her, the flat of her tongue wiping clean the blood there. The action brought a throbbing between Cora’s legs, and hot embarrassment to her skin. Kali inhaled against Cora’s neck, growling low. With both arms pinned—one under Kali’s hand, the other under her knee—Cora couldn’t reach up like she wanted, not to push Kali away and not to bring her closer.
Cora was always so angry, but sometimes her anger dissolved, a hollow front. With her instincts so strong, Cora felt hopeless, went limp. When Kali reached into her pants, her talons pulled back, Cora’s eyes welled and spilled. She hadn’t meant to cry, but that happened sometimes, when people touched her in the wrong way, when they exposed her.
“You like this,” said Kali.
To which Kali removed her hand and wiped the slick over Cora’s cheekbone. The scent made the throbbing worse, but then Kali noticed the tears.
“Cora.” It was a tone she didn’t use very often, a tone to bring Cora to attention. Cora slid her eyes onto Kali’s, open and brown. “Don’t cry, beta. I’ll make you feel good.”
And maybe it was weak, to give into it this time, but Cora was so tired. Kali’s fingers were gentle between her legs, sending soft waves of pleasure through Cora’s form. Kali held the eye contact; Cora didn’t fight it.
“Why won’t I see you for a while.”
The upturn of Kali’s nose and upper lip read ‘fury.’ She slipped a finger into Cora, pressing it in and curling it, sending an involuntary moan past Cora’s lips. “I’m not allowed to have betas.”
Cora’s arms strained to rise. “I’ll end up being Derek’s then.”
“Shut up.” Kali sent still, but she didn’t remove her finger. She just breathed, hard, and averted her eyes. “Mine,” she said. “Mine to touch, mine to play with. Mine to love.”
The words, so foreign, brought Cora’s tears back, a violent swirl of emotion she couldn’t swallow down. And then Kali’s hand was moving again, one finger and then two, pushing in so hard that it ached. But Cora didn’t mind when it ached, the pain like hearing a sound when you were half asleep.
Kali was there, but not there. Though she didn’t change, she was out of her eyes, looking at nothing at all.
Cora bucked her hips up as the pressure built. She wanted to go back to the vault, kind of. Where there was nothing to do but wait and wait, to listen to the heartbeats outside. To listen for Kali’s.
Her orgasm cut through her head. It seemed to put things back to normal, or close. Anger washed back into her veins, but Kali wasn’t normal, and when she stood, she cradled her hand, the one that had been inside Cora. Her fingers were tinted red with Cora’s blood.
“You need to go home,” she said.
Cora didn’t know where she was. She didn’t know how to get where she was going, but it would be better to be free. Wouldn’t it? To be away from—away from her Alpha.
Standing, Cora shook with broken rage. “Why don’t you tell me why all the Alphas around me send their betas away.”
Nothing—nothing made sense, but Kali’s eyes did, when they were red and focused on Cora. “To protect you. NOW GO.”
It was an Alpha’s order, so Cora had to obey.