Branded Captive: A Reverse Harem Omegaverse Dark Romance (Wren's Song Book 1)

Chapter 8

 

It was so quiet without the boys running in and out. Alec wasn’t coming back anytime soon; not until his temper was spent. Wren had come to terms with that, but she hated having ten-year-old Mikael gone.

She hated that not one knock had come to her door. No one wanted her wares now that the rumor must have spread that Caspian had come to call.

How was she to salvage this?

A person couldn’t exactly start over in the Warrens. This was it, there was nowhere to go. And she couldn’t afford passage to a higher neighborhood, not for all the kids and herself. And even if she could, there would be little honest work for a woman marked Defective.

How would she feed them?

All valuable salvage was hidden under the sinking, mud-spattered Warrens.

Pointing her toes, flexing them, and pointing them again, Wren counted the cracks in the wall.

This home wouldn’t last much longer. It would sink in a year, two tops. Already it was dangerously close to the waterline. A single tremor and she’d be drowned.

The boys deserved better.

In order to provide it, Wren had to get off the floor.

But everything ached; her mouth was cotton, and her eyes could not be trusted. She kept seeing men in her room. First the shaved head invader who’d given her back the dress tucking a scratchy blanket around her. Then the shaggy haired gunman pressing water to her lips.

And now… now it almost looked as if Caspian stood in her door.

“You haven’t eaten in three days.”

A slow blink and Wren closed her eyes.

“You have not repaired your nest.”

That thing was no longer a nest. It was a cesspool where she’d been used and abandoned. Not fit for rats… or even a mouse.

“Don’t you want to know how Mikael is doing?”

This dream was cruel, cruel enough to trick her into opening her eyes again.

The phantom Alpha had come even closer. “I have brought you food.”

She wasn’t hungry.

“And clean water.”

The water she provided was fine.

The ground grew lumpy as if the foundations were already bursting apart. Soon the mud would rush in and she’d be buried like the kids outside.

Except she didn’t sink down, she rose up.

Thumping against warmth, the frost infecting her limbs began to sting.

“You shouldn’t have left me alone,” her eyes said when they met muted brown. “You wrecked everything I built.”

A warm cheek in need of a shave scrubbed hers. “Even when I’m angry with you, I can’t help but think that you’re a sweet little mouse.”

Her nostrils filled with a spice that perked up her lungs and set her stomach twisting.

Gruff, warm and male, the voice at her ear promised, “If you keep looking at me like that, I won’t feed you first…”

The idea of food sounded lovely. Minced mushrooms on sour bread. Maybe a juicy hunk of opossum.

That was not what a fat finger poking between her lips set upon her tongue once he’d sat.

It was something familiar and heady, seasoned with salt and some kind of herb. Meat that squished without bone fragments or gristle when chewed.

Heavenly.

So damn good that, in her haze, she latched onto the finger that offered savory reward and sucked every last drop of juice away. When the flavor went from meat to man, she spit out the digit and launched her own attack on the carcass nestled in a plastic sack on her coffee table.

Chicken.

God, she had forgotten what it tasted like, gobbling down this impossible dream without thought for manners or consideration for the purring beast who braced her on his lap. Finger in her mouth, licking the juice from her palms, Wren hardly drew breath between swallows—only pausing long enough to wrap her greasy hands around the glass of clear water set nearby.

She ate until it hurt, and then she ate some more.

She gorged until she realized this wasn’t a dream, and lacked the will to care that an awful man would mock her for this later.

She cleaned that whole damn chicken, panting at the boney aftermath as if she were offended it had run out of meat.

And then she began to suck the marrow.

And he let her.

He let her lick and gnaw. Let her stoop over the meal as if she were ready to fight to the death for it. All the while rubbing her back in slow circles.

He even reached past her carnage to lift up a cistern and refill the grease-smeared glass. “Drink more.”

Wren didn’t do it because he’d ordered her. She did it because she was so fucking thirsty and water was hard to come by. The way she slammed the empty cup down on the pockmarked wood said that loud and clear.

Again it was refilled.

But she couldn’t hold another drop.

“Mouse.” A nose nestled into her tangled hair, large hands slipping where they would. “I’m angry with you.”

Too full by half to be anything but satisfied, Wren let him touch and sniff.

“I looked in your storage. There wasn’t any food.”

Yeah… only rich people stored food. Warrens rats fought to find it daily and most of them didn’t have to feed two growing boys.

“And your water is shit—distilled until there are no minerals left and hardly wiped of rust from your garbage machines.”

Well, fuck you too.

Glancing over her shoulder, Wren looked the purring male in the eye. He didn’t look angry at all. In fact, he looked extremely content to sit on her couch and keep her settled over his thigh.

Simple signs said, “I do my best.”

Though he could not have understood, he nodded. “Of course you do.”

Well, that was…

Her brief moment of respite drained down to her toes. He hadn’t come here to spoil her with food and share his water. He’d come here for sex.

He, the man who knew where Mikael was.

And they had a deal.

Reaching for the hem of her dirty shirt, she lifted it up so they might get it over with. Breasts bouncing free, hair disheveled, she pulled it off and faced him.

Mud brown eyes went to pink nipples, a darting tongue wetting Caspian’s lips. “Kiss my neck and tell me that you’re grateful. Show me that you want me.”

What Wren wanted was to curl up into a ball, digest all this food, and rest. But she obeyed and pressed her exposed breasts to his clothing-covered chest until dry lips met male skin.

She couldn’t find it in her to kiss him. It wasn’t willfulness, it was…

It was sadness.

He’d asked for a kiss. Wren chose instead to wrap her arm around his neck and embrace the enemy. Cooing and shushing as she would have one of her boys, she nestled. Careful fingertips danced over the tense muscles of Caspian’s neck, then dipped under that disgusting coat and kneaded tension away.

She gave him a feast of everything but lust. True attention. Generosity of spirit.

And when his head rolled back against the sagging cushions of her couch, Wren gave him a purr.