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I thought I, at least, had Chance as a friend, and he’s always made me feel strong.

But not tonight.

I feel weaker than one of those little chicks.

Chapter 24


I glance up at Chance, not even bothering to hide the fear I feel for him. I know how strong he is. He could easily snap my neck, just like he said when we met.

He shakes his head, his expression hardening. “Don’t look at me like that.”

I pull against his hold on my arm, but it only makes his fingers tighten around me.

“I couldn’t warn you. It’s tradition.”

“Tradition?” I spit the word at him.

After tonight there’s not an ounce of virtue left in me.

A wave of anger washes through me again. “You said I could trust you.” The accusation is thick in my voice. “You lied. Just like the emissaries.” My eyes burn with rage on him. “You’re no better than them.”

I try to pull free, but Chance yanks me to his chest. He leans down until our faces are only an inch apart, anger tightening his features.

“Don’t ever compare me to those fucking bastards.”

The raw brutality coming off him in waves both terrifies and intrigues me. Even after everything, this man still makes my heart skip a beat.

I lift my chin, refusing to back down. “You betrayed me.”

“I fucking saved your ass. Again,” he roars.

The air is so tense between us, I’m sure if you lit a match, it would burn us alive.

My breaths burst from my lips, my body trembling from the cold and anger. “Don’t expect me to thank you.”

Chance lets go of me with a shove, and I stumble a step back.

“Jesus Christ,” he mutters as he stalks away from me, only to swing around and come right back. “This is the way things are done at the ward.”

“I don’t care.”

He gives me a look of warning. “Careful, little girl.”

“Or what?” I take a step forward, my anger making me braver than I’ve ever been. “You’ll punish me?” I shove a finger at his chest. “You stole my first kiss. You stripped me down to my underwear and tied me to the nest in a storm.” A burst of laughter escapes me. “What’s next?” I lift my chin, challenging him. “Are you going to use me?”

Don’t poke the bear.

‘Oh, shut up,’ I tell the voice in my head. ‘I’m done being a pushover.’

Chance leans down again until I feel his breath on my lips. “Don’t fucking tempt me, little girl.”

“I’m not a fucking little girl,” I shout, my entire body shaking from the chaotic emotions ravaging me.

Chance's eyes sweep over my body, then the corner of his mouth lifts in a smirk. “I can see that.”

I glance down, only to see the white shirt got wet from my underwear, and my nipples are hard peaks.

I cross my arms over my chest and turn my back to him. Exhaustion creeps into my bones, and I lower my head.

I hear Chance take a deep breath, then he says, “Fighting won’t get us anywhere. Every single person in this ward has been tied to the nest for initiation. You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last.”

“Doesn’t mean I have to approve of your methods,” I mutter.

“It does if you want to stay here.” I swing around to look at him, then he adds, “You’re always welcome to try your luck out there with the rebels and trackers.”


Chance knows I won’t survive on my own out there, and it’s the perfect weapon to use against me.

I nod, my shoulders slumping because this is not a war I’ll win. Keeping my arms crossed over my chest, I mutter, “Message received, loud and clear. Can I go?”


My eyes dart to his. “Why not?”

“You have to sleep here.”

“What?” I gasp. “Why?”

“Idris can’t see you walking around yet. Normally people stay up for longer.”

“How much longer?” I don’t even know how long I was up there.

“Don’t ask questions you don’t want to hear the answers to.”

“How much longer?” I demand.

“Overnight.” He shrugs. “Sometimes two days.”

My lips part in a gasp. Crap, I’d die up there if they left me the entire night.

“Why did you take me down?”

Chance lifts his hand to my neck and wraps his fingers around my throat. He doesn’t cut off my air supply, instead, his touch feels intimate and possessive. When I look into his eyes, there’s a fluttering in my stomach.

Even though I’m angry and hurt, there’s no denying this man makes me feel things I’ve never felt before.

“I took you down so Idris and Kenzo wouldn’t, because I want to train you.” He presses closer to me, and it makes it hard to breathe. His eyes drift over my face, and all my warning bells ring loudly. “I worked my ass off to keep you alive. You belong to me.”

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