This is another teaser from a short in the Love & Agony collection. This is actually the first dubious consent piece K. and I ever wrote, and we know we want to tell Seth and Talon’s story in full in a novel, but that’s at the bottom of the to write pile. Still, readers can enjoy this glimpse at them!
Seth shivered in the corner of his cage. A cage. He was in a cage. He was in a cage, and he was naked. Everything had been taken from him. He was left with only a wide leather collar buckled around his throat, a D-ring at the front. In a matter of days, he’d been reduced to an animal. His sire had lost the city to the wolves, and now the vampires were nothing but animals in cages.
Hunger rolled through him. That was how they did it. A vampire could go a long, long time without feeding before true death ever came to him. Even after four days, Seth was parched, his veins like dry husks inside him. He looked at every passing human and wolf with desperation, hoping they’d remember him. But, they never looked. Never stopped. All he could do was sit in his cage, try to hide his nakedness, and wait for whatever ultimate sentence the alpha wolf would pass down.
A big, broad man—smelling of blood and wolf and sweat—stopped in front of his cage and crouched down. He grinned at Seth, all yellowed teeth and rotting breath. “Alpha is ready to see you,” he ground out. He held up a leather leash. “You going to be a good puppy? Heel and not bark or bite?”
Anger boiled up in Seth, his fangs sliding from their housings behind his incisors, and he hissed, exposing the dangerous teeth. “Fuck you.”
The wolf snarled. “You’re either a good puppy and do what you’re told, or you stay here until you’re nearly dead from hunger, and then we’ll drag your sorry, blood-sucking ass out of there and to the alpha.”
Seth almost preferred the latter option. At least then he wasn’t giving in. His sire would be ashamed if he gave in, but if he cooperated, maybe the wolves would offer mercy. Not that the vampires had ever offered a captured wolf mercy… and that was the bit of knowledge that held Seth back. The wolves wouldn’t be kind, just as the vampires had never been kind. The wolves had been powerful pets and disposable warriors. Now, it seemed, it was the vampires’ turn to be the disposable meat in the den.
“Tick-tock, puppy.” The wolf grinned again. “Make a choice.”
He didn’t have long to decide, and so Seth moved on instinct. He crawled close to the door of the cage and lifted his chin, exposing the ring on his collar. If he’d had enough blood in him, he would have blushed with the humiliation of the act, but as it was, his face remained pale, his eyes glaring daggers at the wolf.
“Good puppy,” the wolf rumbled. The leash was latched on through the cage, and then the wolf opened it, pulling the leash through, and then giving it a tug. “Heel!”
Seth bit back a yelp as he was yanked forward, and he thought to actually bite into the wolf’s heel. He dismissed it an instant later, not daring to do something so harsh in his current position, but it was still a thought he took pleasure in, if only for a moment. He crawled stiffly, inwardly embarrassed by his own lack of grace. After spending so much time curled up in that cage, his muscles refused to follow his commands at first. The wolf sneered at him, tugging him along with cruel jeers and the occasional slap of the leash loop to his bare ass.
Every word and gesture made him acutely aware of how exposed he was, how vulnerable to attack, and he had to force back the urge to cower every time another wolf passed. Even when they didn’t bother acknowledging him, it was humiliating to crawl and stumble his way after the wolf. Every movement ached, as if it pulled at skin already stretched far too tight over his blood-starved body. He concentrated on moving one hand in front of the other, his knees following on instinct as they moved from the common area down a long hallway. He vaguely recognized the path, and a chill raced through him as he heard the heavy doors of the Master’s old room open, sending a draft through his short, unkempt hair.