The man slapped Valerie across the cheek to silence her when Legend slammed the door open. “Legend!” she shrieked. Grunting, the man gave her another blow across the cheek, her vision slightly blurring from the hit. Bellowing in rage, Legend lunged at him, tossing him off of her and caging her in with his arms. Valerie’s eyes had slid shut, her hand squeezing his wrist before she fell unconscious. He saw red in his vision. He dared hurt what’s mine. Kill him. Rip his throat out.
“A human, Legend? With your mark?” Legend snapped his teeth at him and collected her into his arms in response, cradling her head against his chest. “How interesting.” Legend’s eyes flickered bright blue, this was the danger he had sensed at the restaurant. He had been watching this entire time. “I had wondered what human blood tasted like, but it seems I’ll have to wait if I wish to find out,” he murmured absently. Legend didn’t go after him when he jumped out the window, he didn’t even raise his face to see if there were others. She was hurt and it was because of something he’d ignored.
“Wake up, human!” he barked. He scooped her up into his arms, barking at her viciously and occasionally lowering his voice to a gentle murmur before he went right back to barking at her. “Valerie,” he murmured. Her body tensed in unconsciousness. Her mind screamed at her body to move, but she remained numb, her body completely aware of how his skin touched hers, soothingly stroking the bruises that marred her flesh. When his arms disappeared from around her, she couldn’t help but feel a slight panic flood through her, making her whimper. He heard her cries and tucked her against his chest, murmuring low words in her ear until her body was no longer tensed, but instead relaxed against him. Legend’s fingers sifted through her hair, a growl of approval escaping his chest when she relaxed against him. When she woke, she frowned at his angered expression. But she almost sighed in relief when he rasped, “Did he hurt you?” Not angry towards her……angered at her attacker. The mention of him made her stiffen, her eyes darting around the room. “He’s gone,” he assured her and she leaned back into the bed.
“Did he hurt you?” he repeated. Valerie blushed, turning to break away from his gaze but he wasn’t having it, he grasped her chin and turned her right back to him. “What did he do to you?”
“He….touched me,” she admitted. Legend gnashed his teeth, eyes flickering bright blue before he clenched his hands.
“Where?” he bit out.
“Why are you asking that?” she gasped, blushing.
“Where?” he barked. Cheeks a bright shade of pink, she reluctantly peeled off her torn nightgown and showed him the dark bruise covering her chest. Legend grasped her breast and growled when she winced in pain.
Pulling the sheet over her, Valerie turned on her side to face him when she asked, “Who was he?” Legend ran a hand through his hair, lowering the sheet to glower at her bruise before answering.
“A shifter of the enemy clan,” he growled.
“No, panthers,” he snarled.
“Is he the one that held you captive?” she asked. He shook his head hard, the memory making him sink his claws into his palms.
“Their king is the one that held me there.”
“What did they do?” Legend’s eyes flickered bright blue, his body stiffening. She threaded her fingers between his and realizing she made him feel calm, he shoved her hand away from him. A look of hurt flickered over her face and she awkwardly crossed her hands over her chest. He immediately felt guilt wash over him and bit down on his tongue until he tasted blood. “Sorry, I didn’t realize-“
“That you’re still not over it,” she finished lowly.
“Only the weak let their past affect their future,” he bit out. An unrecognizable emotion passed through her eyes before she turned her head away.
“I guess so,” she murmured. “Sure does explain why I’m still not over my parents’ deaths.” He didn’t pull her back into his arms, instead he propped himself up on one elbow and grabbed her shoulders to turn her back to him.
“How did they die?”
“Touchy subject…sorry,” she whispered. He frowned, there was something off about her, something that marked her differently from humans, but what the hell was it? He hated mysteries and this one was beginning to make his hackles rise.
“Then tell me something you’ve never told another before,” he growled.
“My name is Valerie.” Legend felt his lips twitch and shook his head with a sigh. “What about you?”
“I’ve had trouble controlling my temper ever since I escaped,” he growled. The admission was obviously something he was not keen on sharing, which is why it made Valerie’s heart swell in her chest.
“Ever since my parents died I’ve hardly spoken to others,” she murmured. The corners of his lips quirked and he absently rubbed her lower lip with his thumb.
“That explains your low soft voice,” he breathed. She took a shaky breath and he checked for a reaction when he stroked the thin scar across her cheek. “Did I frighten you?” he asked. She brushed her fingertips over the scar and nibbled her lower lip.
“A little,” she admitted, quickly adding, “But not as much as the panther.” Valerie’s stomach gave a loud growl at that moment, Legend’s eyes darkening in reaction to the sound. He looked at her and she shook her head, again refusing to eat.
“You are giving me little choice,” Legend threatened. She shook her head again. He sighed, would she be disgusted with what he had planned? He shook his head, to hell with what she thinks! He needed her alive, he didn’t care if he had to shove food down her throat to do it. With that thought, he had her pinned underneath him in seconds.
“Take any more blood and you’ll kill me,” she hissed. He raised an eyebrow and felt his lips curl. Ah, so that’s why she kept herself weak, to ensure herself that he would not harm her.
“No, I won’t take any,” he murmured in agreement. “But you will.” She kicked him across the jaw before he could lunge at her. Snarling, he grabbed her ankle and slid her underneath him, biting into his other wrist until blood dripped from it freely. He pressed his wrist to her lips, pinching her nose with his hand until she opened her mouth with a loud gasp. She bit into his wrist, tearing at skin to try and get him to remove his hand, but he kept it pressed to her mouth, snarling when she attempted to wound him. His blood was warm, full of energy that gave her skin color, her aches and bruises disappearing right before his eyes. When she could take no more, he removed his hand from her. Right before she kicked him in the face, sending him stumbling back with a howl. He snarled and sat up, snapping his teeth at her. Her hand was over her mouth, hands shaking uncontrollably as tears tracked down her face.
“What have you done?” she whispered.
Locked in the bathroom, Valerie peered at herself in the mirror, a nightmare smiling back at her. The bastard has no idea what he’s unleashed! Now he would surely notice a change in her, not only physically but soon it would become mentally as well. She no longer was the small, fragile female she had showed herself to be. Instead she was now a danger to herself and others as well. Tiny barely visible fangs replaced her teeth, her blue eyes now flickered with sharp emotion, hips were narrowed widely, bringing attention to her rounded backside, and her breasts appeared larger, perkier even. Her breaths turned into heavy gasps for air as she fumbled through the medicine cabinet, pulling out a new razor. Her hand shook when she pressed the blade to her wrist, breath held when she swiftly and quickly slid the blade across her wrist, blood gushing from the wound and landing in the sink with loud splashes. And, the wound healed right before her eyes, leaving only the blood as proof of its existence. “No.” It couldn’t be. Sobs shaking her, she pressed her back against the shower’s stall door and slid to the floor, throwing her head back and releasing a blood curling scream.
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