The empty throne room held nothing but cold and darkness. Jill curled into a ball on the hard stone floor but she could find no warmth or sleep. She drew in short breaths hoping they'd hurt less. They didn't. The pack had dumped her unceremoniously on the floor at the Wolf King's feet. He offered nothing to ease her pain, seeming pleased at her discomfort and commanded she spend her first night of captivity in agony and solitude before being put with the other prisoners, a lesson of sorts she couldn't comprehend. She remembered her father's woe filled howls echoing through the night but he hadn't come, to her relief. The guards had been doubled at the King's insistence hoping for a chance to catch him in his distraught state. Lastly she remembered Robbie cradling her in his arms, fighting against the guards as they took her from him and calling her name as he was taken away. Now, alone in the dark, Jill let the tears flow.
A door creaked open before a soft click sounded. Soft footsteps padded toward her. Jill froze and shut her eyes, afraid of more impending tortures to come. Soon a thick woolen blanket covered her. A gentle hand wiped the hair and tears from her eyes.
"I'm not going to hurt you," a young voice whispered. Jill opened her eyes to face a young she wolf crouched beside her. She set a small bowl on the floor and squeezed the juice of two small white berries into it. Next she carefully lifted Jill's head so she could drink. The cool, slightly sweet liquid quenched the burning of her dry throat. She hadn't realized how thirsty she was until she tasted it on her tongue.
"Thank you," Jill whispered, "But you better leave before they find you here. Your King will be angry. I don’t want you to get hurt." "He can't hurt me any more than he already has," the she wolf said. "I am Layliana but you may call me Layla. "The drink I gave you will help with the pain. I'm sorry he's being so cruel to you."
"It's not your fault, Layla," Jill said. Her constant shivering finally fell away and the warmth started to sink in.
"Yes, it is," Layla said. "It's all my fault. The King is my father. He's become cruel and evil. He hunts your father because of me." Layla pulled her cloak tighter and lay on the floor next to Jill. Her face bore a grief she couldn't mask.
"I am his only child. I'm sure he wished for a son but he tolerates me until he can mate me with a worthy successor to his throne. He chose The Gray, who is just as cruel and power hungry as he is. But I fell for someone else, a much younger wolf. He had long gangly legs and a dark coat that shimmered almost blue in the moonlight. Loupe was kind and compassionate and strong. He would have been a good leader but my father saw him as weak and forbid me from seeing him."
"But you were in love with him," Jill said.
"Yes, we were in love. But father wouldn't listen. The second I mentioned Loupe, he would get angry. I would sneak out early to see Loupe on a daily basis. We were careful and very selective of our meeting places. One day it came to us, a way to make father accept us. A way that told him and the world that we were meant to be together." "Oh," Jill said, catching her meaning. She could tell it didn't end well for the modern day Romeo and Juliet. "Father send his best guard after Loupe and told him I had been attacked, the punishment, instant death. Tomas found Loupe after tracking him for several days but Loupe pleaded his case. Your father ordered Loupe not to run, or else he would kill him. Tomas sought me out and I told him the truth. He confronted my father on the matter but father accused Tomas of being a traitor and sentenced him to a horrible death. The Gray found Loupe." Layla stopped and sniffed back the tears. "I'll help you escape but you must do something for me," Layla said. "I will try, Layla." "Take me away from here." Without prior warning the door crashed open and guards rushed in. Jill reached for her new friend as hands like meat hooks hauled her from the floor. The Gray pulled Layla from the ground and held her by her throat. "When you are my mate, I will not tolerate your defiance," he said to her. "Take the human prisoner away and put her with the others. I'll deal with this one," he said.