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Wicked: Family Ties

Wicked: Family Ties

Ginger Elinburg

Copyright© 2014 Ginger Elinburg

All rights reserved as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, transmitted in any form or by any means, or store in a database or retrieval system, without the prior permission of the Author. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the publisher

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, are coincidental.

To my brother, Hurshel and my sisters,

Lisha and Trina, thanks for all your

support and encouragement.

And for my girls

Amber, Tiffani and Paige

Other Works by Ginger Elinburg


Wicked Welcome (Book 1)

Beyond Wicked (Book 2)

Wicked: Family Ties (Book 3)

Pantar (Book 4)

Damien: The Guardian (Book 5)

Dimitri: Deadly Obsession (Book 6)

Donovan: Unleashed (Book 7)


Hunted by Death

Always Girl

Sharp Edges

Whispered Deceit

Killian's Pass


Hunted by Death II

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10



Tréan’s head snapped up and his eyes scanned the surrounding forest. Lifting his nose to the wind, he breathed in deep and shuddered as he tried not to vomit. The scent of death was strong and his gut tightened from the familiar odor of danger.

Rushing down the steps, he scooped Sasha up into his arms and held her close, eyes still scanning the woods, trying to find the source of danger.

“You smell that, papa? It stinks.”

His heartbeat quickened as he stared into his daughter’s eyes. “I smell it, bébé fille. I think it’s time to go in and see what your maman is doing.”

Entering the house, he sat Sasha on her feet before turning back to look out the front door. “There’s something watching us, Mon amour, and it wears the scent of death.”

Closing the door, he locked the dead bolt and sealed the entrance with a warding spell to ward off any evil that may try to enter. Moving from room to room, he repeated the spell on all the windows and doors leading outside. Going into the kitchen, he leaned against the counter and watched Morgan as she helped Sasha wash her hands before giving her a snack.

“Stop looking so worried, you’ve sealed the house and I can’t feel any presence of danger.” Looking over her shoulder, Morgan gave him a reassuring smile.

“What about the tunnels? How sure are you that those are completely sealed?”

Making sure that Sasha was distracted, Morgan walked over to Tréan and looked up into his eyes. “I’m one hundred percent sure they are sealed. Nothing and no one will be coming through those tunnels ever again. Not only are they caved in but we placed a protection spell on all of the openings.”

Tréan didn’t want to doubt her abilities but the smell of death was one he remembered from his early days in Paris. “This evil, it’s not something you’ve ever faced before.”

Walking away from him, she laughed low in her throat. “Are you forgetting Marie? Now that bi…. witch was pure evil.”

“Marie was nothing, an infant dabbling in something she didn’t understand; this…this is so much more.” He watched her as she moved about the kitchen, picking up toys and wiping down counter tops. “Morgan, are you listening to me?”

Sighing, she turned to face him and nodded toward the table where Sasha sat eating her carrots. “I’d rather we didn’t discuss this right now, husband.”

Looking at his daughter, Tréan smiled when he saw her talking to her carrot before taking a bite. “Bien, but later, we will have to talk about this.”

“Understood. Now, could you take this sweet girl up to her playroom so I can start preparing supper? Nadia and Caleb will be here shortly and I want to have supper almost complete when they get here.” Giving Sasha a kiss on the top of her head, Morgan lifted her up and carried her over to Tréan. “We’ll be fine, my love.”

Once she heard Tréan moving in the room above the kitchen, she pulled her cell phone from her pocket and scrolled down until she found the number she wanted. Sitting down at the table, she chewed her jaw as she waited for the phone to be picked up on the other end.

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know yet, but it’s bad enough that Tréan is freaking out.”

“How can you not know?”

“Beats the shit out of me. Tréan says there’s evil nearby but I don’t sense anything out of the ordinary.” Looking up at the ceiling, she followed the sound of Tréan’s footsteps with her eyes. “Can you check on your way in and see if you can feel anything?”

Morgan heard mumbling in the background before she got a reply. “Caleb wants to know why you’re blocking.”

Morgan’s eyes widened in shocked anger. “What? I am not blocking anything! I have a family now and to block means putting them at risk, you know I’d never put them at risk.”

“Morgan, it’s Caleb, Nadia tells me that you can’t sense the danger that Tréan is sensing. Are you sure you’re not blocking?”

“Don’t you think I’d know if I was blocking?”

“Don’t you be getting sassy with me, little lady. I’m trying to help you figure out what’s going on, but if you don’t want our help….”

“I’m sorry, Caleb, it’s just….”

He waited for her to finish her sentence. “It’s just what?”

Morgan heard Tréan coming down the stairs. “I’ll explain when you get here. I need to go. Drive safe.”

Pressing the end button, she dropped her phone back into her pocket and stood up just as Tréan entered the kitchen. “Is Sasha playing upstairs?”

Tréan narrowed his eyes as he watched her walk into the pantry. “She’s sleeping. What are you hiding?”

Morgan came out of the pantry carrying a bag of russet potatoes and a bag of red onions. “Hiding? What makes you think I’m hiding something?”

“Oh, I don’t know, maybe the fact that you are blocking me from your thoughts?”

Morgan slammed the knife drawer before turning to face him. “Why the hell is everybody saying I’m blocking?” Pointing the knife at him, she took a step forward. “I’m not blocking you or anything else, and I’m damned sick of people accusing me of it.”

Holding up his hands, he took a step back. “Easy there, I’m not accusing you anything. I’m just saying I can’t hear your thoughts or feel your emotions.”

Morgan stared at him for a second before getting a colander and sitting down at the table. Pulling the potatoes toward her, she started peeling them without answering him.

“Come on bébé, talk to me. Tell me what’s going on.” Getting a knife from the drawer, he sat down at the table with her and started cutting up the onions.

“I’m not sure, Tréan. I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out why I can’t sense the danger that you’re feeling. You honestly can’t hear my thoughts?”

Staring into her eyes, he concentrated all his efforts into pushing his thoughts to her. “I want to throw you on the floor and have my way with you.”

Morgan’s expression never changed.

“You can’t hear my thoughts either.”

“But…. how can that be? Not twenty minutes ago, we could communicate without speaking just fine. What the hell is going on here?” Morgan’s voice trembled with anger. Feeling her body start to shake she sat down her knife and waited for the change that threatened to overcome her. As her teeth elongated she looked up at the ceiling and then back at Tréan.

“Don’t worry, I will protect her.” Getting up he walked into the mudroom and unlocked the door. Morgan’s sleek black body rushed past him as soon as the door was open.

Standing in the doorway, he watched as she raced across the lawn towards the woods, huge paws throwing up tufts of grass. His beast roared for release as he watched his mate disappear into the forest. Taking a deep, calming breath, he closed the door and once again sealed it to keep evil out.

Turning into the kitchen his shoulders sagged when he realized that he was going to have to start supper, which meant peeling an entire ten-pound bag of potatoes by himself. “Merde….”

Morgan ran until she reached the edge of the lake. She stared at her reflection, her large purple eyes swirling with hints of red. With a roar of anger, she swatted the water with her paw before turning and racing back into the forest.

Coming to the front edge of her property, she slowed into a walk and sniffed the air, searching for a trace of the evil Tréan felt. When she neared the road, she finally smelled the rotten stench of death. Shifting to her human form, she took a deep breath but the smell was gone. Looking through the woods toward her home, she tried to talk to Tréan. “Can you hear me, my love?” When she got no reply, she willed her beast forward just enough that she found the smell again. “Tréan?”

Morgan! Je vous entends. Are you okay, amour?”

I’m on my way back, husband. We need to talk.”

Oui. Nadia and Caleb are here. I thought they weren’t arriving until later?”

Morgan smiled at the panic she heard in his words. “I’ll be there in a few minutes. Relax, now you won’t have to cook supper.”

His laughter filled her head as she started back toward the house.


Jackson scratched at his beard as he sped down the dirt road. Grabbing the steering wheel again, he wrinkled his nose in disgust as he looked at his fingernails. Blood and dirt covered his hands and was embedded under his long nails. Gritting his teeth in frustration, he skidded to a stop and scratched his head and face until he was bleeding once more.

“Why? Why won’t she love me? What did I ever do to deserve this…. this punishment?”

Stop whining like a little bitch! For once in your life, be a fucking man!”

Jacksons head slammed against the door window, shattering the glass. Clutching his head, he screamed, trying to drown out the voices.


Tensing his body, Jackson waited for a blow that never came. Lowering his hands, he looked around the interior of the car and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that he was alone. Putting the car into gear, he pulled back out onto the road, scratching his beard where the lice were biting.

Morgan shook her head at Tréan as he moved toward her when she entered the kitchen. “I’m fine.”

His eyes scanned her half-formed face. “What’s going on? Why are you like this?”

Walking over to the sink, Morgan touched the faucet to turn the water on. Leaning over, she cupped her hands under the running water and drank.

Nadia opened a drawer in the antique wardrobe, took out a hand towel and handed it to Morgan. “Why haven’t you shifted completely?”

Drying her hands, Morgan looked around the room at the faces of her loved ones. Holding up a hand, she gestured for them to wait. Closing her eyes, she slowed down her heart and willed her beast back. “Some days it’s easier to send her back then others.” Sighing she rolled her head from side to side, the sounds of her neck cracking were loud enough to be heard by everyone. “Now, to answer your questions, I discovered that by half shifting I can smell what, or rather who has been hanging around our home.”

“So, you know who it is?” Nadia crossed her arms and started pacing the kitchen. “Well, who is it? And what the hell are they after? I swear to you all, I will personally kill any fucker that tries to hurt my Sasha.”

Throwing out his arm, Caleb caught Nadia around the waist and pulled her down into his lap. “Easy there, little lady, I’m sure you wouldn’t get the chance. Our boy here will have the problem handled before you even hear about it.” Shooting Tréan a look, he narrowed his eyes at him. “Isn’t that right son?”

“You should know better than to even ask. I’d give my life for my girls and my boy.” Catching Morgan’s eye, he smiled at her shocked expression.

Caleb tightened his hold on Nadia as she tried to jump up. “You’re…. you’re pregnant again? When were you going to tell us? I’m going to be a nana again?”

Morgan stuck her tongue out at Tréan. “Thanks for spoiling the surprise.” Turning her attention to Nadia, she ignored the laughter rumbling from across the room. “I had planned on telling you guys tonight over supper. And we will talk about it later but, right now, I think we should discuss the fact that there’s a very large threat to this family.”

Nadia lowered her head to hide the fear in her eyes. “Do you know where the threat is coming from?”

Morgan chewed on her jaw and looked in Tréan’s direction. “I can’t be one hundred percent certain but I think…. I think it might be Jackson.”

Tréan’s eyes flashed red and he bared his teeth. “I knew that bastard was going to be trouble. You should’ve let me kill him three years ago.” The glass in his hand shattered and blood dripped from his closed fist.

Rushing over to him, Morgan tried to pry his fist open. “Open your damn hand so I can see how badly you’re hurt.”

The look he gave her would’ve frightened anyone else but it had no effect on Morgan. “Stop looking at me like that. I said I’m not sure it’s him.”

Opening his hand, he watched while she wiped away the blood and began a healing spell. “Why do you think it might be him then?”

Morgan was silent for a minute, watching as Tréan’s cuts began to close. “I smelled him, but it was only a trace of his scent. And I smelled someone else, something else, as well.”

Caleb cleared his throat. “What I don’t understand yet is why couldn’t you detect them earlier? I mean, you’re the most powerful supernatural creature to ever exist, but you didn’t even know there was danger near your own home.”

Morgan looked at him over her shoulder. “I don’t know. Don’t you think I’ve asked myself that same question? He was after Sasha today but something stopped him and it wasn’t Tréan or me.”

Squeezing Tréan’s wrist, she held on as he tried to pull away. “I’ll kill that son of a bitch! So help me, he’s a dead man.”

“Well, you’re right about one thing. He is a dead man.”

All eyes turned toward Morgan.

“What the hell does that mean? You can’t really expect us to believe he’s…what, a zombie?” Caleb’s nervous laughter echoed through the silent room.

Nudging him in his chest, Nadia stood up and walked over to the fridge, pulling it open and taking out a pitcher of tea. “Don’t make such jokes, love; stranger things have been known to happen.”

Crossing her arms, Morgan started tapping her foot as she looked from Nadia to Caleb. “Are you two finished?” When they both nodded, she narrowed her eyes at them. “May I finish?”

Nadia gave her a motherly glare. “No need to be a bitch, dear.”

Morgan stiffened and returned Nadia’s glare. “Would you really like to go there right now? Because I can take it there, if that’s what you want?”

Tréan walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “Amour facile.” Bending, he whispered in her ear until she relaxed in his arms. “You’ll have to excuse my mate; those damn pregnancy hormones tend to bring out the worst in her.”

Nadia took a sip from her glass and looked at Morgan expectantly.

Gritting her teeth, Morgan forced herself to say, “I’m sorry.”

With a triumphant smirk, Nadia walked back to the table and pulled out a chair to sit in. “Apology accepted.”

Growling low in her throat, Morgan pulled away from Tréan and walked across the room to sit at the breakfast bar. “As I stated before, when I was out in the forest I noticed that I could smell the intruder….”

“Jackson.” Tréan growled the name.

“The intruder.” Morgan cast him a warning look. “I could smell him as long as I was in my animal form. But the smell was completely undetectable to me when I shifted back to my human form, which is why I was only in mid shift when I returned.”

“But that’s dangerous, you know that. What if you wouldn’t have been able to shift back completely? How would you have explained your appearance to Sasha?” Tréan looked toward Caleb and Nadia for support.

“I’m aware of the risk I took but I’m glad I did it. Now, I need to find out why I suddenly can’t ‘hear’ Tréan or detect danger while in human form.” Hearing Nadia’s shocked gasp Morgan looked in her direction.

“You can’t communicate with Tréan even though you’re bonded?”

Shaking her head Morgan opened her mouth to explain but closed it with a snap when she heard Sasha’s scream of pain. Before anyone could move, she was gone.

Reappearing outside Sasha’s bedroom door, Morgan turned the handle and calmed herself before she entered the room. “ShaSha…. what’s the matter, baby?”

Sasha sat in the middle of the bed with the blankets covering her entire body. When she whimpered instead of answering, Morgan raised her hand and with a flick of her wrist, the covers flew across the room. The blood on Sasha’s cheek caused her to roar out in anger, making Sasha scream in fear.

Hearing her screams, Morgan drew in a deep breath and willed her beast back down. Rushing over to the bed, Morgan pulled Sasha into her arms and hugged her tight. “Sha, what happened? Tell momma who hurt you.”

“Bu… bu… bad man. Bad, mean man mommy.”

Without releasing Sasha, Morgan stood up and looked around the room, hoping to see the person who had hurt her baby. When she felt someone trying to tug Sasha from her arms, she turned on them, hissing in anger, teeth bared ready to attack.

“Let me have her, bébé.” Tréan waited for Morgan to loosen her hold before lifting Sasha out of her mothers’ arms. He wiped the blood from her face, looking for any sign of an injury. Turning, he held her out to Nadia. “She’s not hurt. Take her, keep her safe and make sure she doesn’t come back up here until we’ve searched this entire floor.”

“Come to grand-mère, mon bébé.” Holding Sasha close, she cast one last look in Morgan’s direction before walking from the room.

“It was here, Tréan. It was here, in this room with my baby and I didn’t even know.” Blood dripped to the floor as her claws dug into her palms. “How could I not know? Why didn’t any of us know?”

Tréan wrapped his arms around her waist and held her against his chest until she stopped trembling. “I don’t know what’s going on, Morgan, but we’ll figure it out.” Looking over her shoulder, he scanned the room for any sign that someone had been in there. “Caleb?”


“Do you think you could search the rest of this floor while we go down and talk to Sasha? I’ll send Nadia up to help.”

Caleb started toward the door. “That won’t be necessary; it shouldn’t take me but a minute.” Turning back toward Tréan, he smiled before he disappeared down the hall.

Morgan stepped out of Tréan’s embrace and wiped the tears from her cheeks. “Can you smell it? The scent of the death is so strong in here. How could whoever was in here leave so fast?”

Taking her hand, Tréan led her from the room and toward the stairs. “Let’s go down and talk to Sasha. If she saw where he went then we will track him down and make sure he never comes after her again.”

Morgan stopped at the top of the stairs and lifted her face, nose twitching as she sniffed the air. “I don’t smell anything anymore. There was blood on Sasha’s face, so I should’ve been able to smell him as soon as he entered our home.”

“We all should’ve been able to smell him, Morgan. The fact that we didn’t suggests that he’s using magic to block his presence.” Caleb laid his hand on her shoulder as he stepped up beside them. “I didn’t find any sign of him or any place he could’ve entered from.”

Nodding his head, Tréan led Morgan down the stairs, keeping his hand on the small of her back. “Let’s go see what Sasha can tell us. That bastard got in here somehow and he left the same way.” Feeling Morgan stiffen up, he balled her shirt up in his fist, bringing her to a stop. “We’ll find him soon, I promise.”

Morgan jerked free of his hold and continued down the stairs. “I hope you’re right.” At the bottom, she turned and looked up at them, purple eyes flashing with anger. “If anything happens to Sasha, someone will pay with their life.”

Tréan and Caleb shared a knowing look before following her.

Walking into the kitchen, they saw that Nadia had set the table and was working on making homemade biscuits. Sasha was sitting in the floor playing with her baby doll and tea set.

Morgan walked over, sat down in the floor beside Sasha and started braiding her daughter’s hair. “Sha, can you tell mommy and papa where the bad man came from?”

Instead of answering, Sasha shrugged her shoulders.

Kneeling down in front of her, Tréan lifted her head with his fingers until she looked him in the eye. “Did you see where he came from, bébé?”

Sasha bit her lip and nodded but instead of answering, she pointed at her head.

Cocking his head, Tréan looked up at Morgan with questioning eyes. “Honey, did you dream of him.” Morgan continued to calmly braid Sasha’s hair but on the inside, she was shaking with rage.

“Yes momma. He was in my sleep wanting me to go with him. He’s a bad man, mommy.”

“Sasha, honey, can you tell poppy where the blood came from?” Caleb was sitting at the table, arms propped on his thighs, the fingers of his hands linked together to control their trembling.

“He was there when I woke up and he touched my face.” Turning her head, she looked up at Morgan. “Mommy, why was the bad man’s hair bleeding.” Wrinkling up her little nose, she covered her face and spoke through her hands. “He smelled bad too.”

Tréan stiffened and hid his hands behind his back as his claws extended. “When he was in your room, where did he go? Did you see where he went?”

“Uh huh…he went into the wall.”

Caleb was on his feet and heading toward the stairs.

“Can you show us where, Sha?” Morgan wasn’t surprised when she shook her head. “You don’t have to go up there, sugar, just….” Reaching over to the toy box, Morgan pulled out a black crayon and crudely drew an outline of Sasha’s bedroom on the kitchen floor. Holding out the crayon toward Sasha, Morgan waited for her to take it. “Show mommy and papa where the bad man went.”

Sasha’s eyes were wide and her mouth was hanging open in disbelief. “You’re not supposed to draw on the floor mommy.”

“Mommy will clean it up later, after she finds the bad man’s hiding place. Now, can you show us where he went?”

Instead of taking the crayon, Sasha pointed to a spot near the head of her bed. “He went in there.”

Kissing the top of Sasha’s head, Morgan stood up. “Stay here with Dia and behave okay?”

“Okay, but why was the man’s hair bleeding?”

“His head was bleeding?”

Sasha looked at Tréan. “No papa, his hair. On his face.” Puffing out her cheeks, she poked her face. “He had blood here.”

Tréan looked up at Morgan and shook his head before looking back at Sasha. “I don’t know why he was bleeding, honey. He must have hurt himself.” Ruffling her hair, causing her to duck away from his hand, he smiled at her before standing up beside Morgan.

Nadia, watch her closely please.”

Without turning to face them, she nodded her head and punched the dough that was on the counter. Tréan winced at the angry growl he heard in his head. “You find that fucker, you bring him to me, understand?”

He might not live that long.”

Morgan was half way up the stairs when he caught up with her. “It doesn’t sound like the man she saw was Jackson.”

“It’s him. It has to be. Who else would want to hurt our family?” Her voice was gravelly when she spoke.

Stepping above her, Tréan looked at her and realized she was once more only half shifted. “Mon Dieu, what are you doing?”

Instead of answering, she willed her beast forward a little more. Lifting her muzzle, she breathed deep and growled when she caught the scent of the intruder. Without thinking, she fully shifted and ran toward Sasha's bedroom.

Tréan ran after her and skidded to a halt when he entered the room. Morgan was throwing her massive body against the wall and roaring with fury as she bounced off without breaking through.

“Morgan, stop! Morgan!” Seeing that his shouts weren’t going to make her stop, Tréan lowered his head and rumbled low in his chest.

Panting, Morgan shook her head and bared her teeth at him. She crouched, ready to attack, as he took a step toward her.

“Calmez-vous, femme.” Cautiously, he walked past her and looked at the wall by the bed. Pushing against it, he listened for the sound of a latch releasing. Pressing against the wall, closer to the ceiling, he stepped back when he heard what sounded like a motor start to hum.

He watched in disbelief as the wall silently eased open. “What the hell is this?” Turning he met Caleb’s eyes. “There’s another room here, a child’s room.”

Caleb stepped up beside him and looked into the opening. “But how can that be? This makes no sense. The dimensions of the house would be off, wouldn’t they?”

They both turned when they heard Morgan speak. “Right below us is the brick oven and the pantry in the kitchen. We’ve never used the oven because Jackson told us the chimney to it had been filled in.”

Morgan stood there, wrapped in Sasha’s bedspread, and looked into the room in front of her. It had everything in it that a person would need for a child. A crib sat against the far wall, its blankets covered in a thick layer of dust. Toys lay scattered about the floor, some broken into pieces. Large footprints leading from the door to the closet caught her attention. Brushing past the men, she walked over to the closet and jerked on the door, using all of her strength trying to open it.

Caleb gasped and turned away as the bedspread she had wrapped around her body, fell to the floor.

Walking over to her, Tréan picked the cover up and wrapped it back around her. “Go put on some clothes love. Caleb and I will get this door open and we’ll wait for you before entering.”

Looking at him for a second, she pursed her lips before disappearing.

“Shit! Morgan? Morgan, where are you?”

The door in front of him swung open, the doorknob catching him on his hip. Morgan stood, naked, on the other side. “Now, I’ll go get dressed.”

Before he could say anything, she was gone again.

Dropping his head, Caleb tried to hide his smile. “She still doesn’t like to be told what to do, huh?”

Looking toward the door where Caleb stood, Tréan shook his head. “You’d think after all these years I’d have learned that by now.”

Both men walked around the room, examining a few of the odder items, while they waited for Morgan to return. “Hey Tréan, what do you supposed this is used for?”

Turning to see what he was holding, Tréan busted out laughing. “That, my friend, is a breast pump.”

Caleb’s face wrinkled in disgust as he looked down at the metal cup with a syringe attached to it. “That’s fucking painful looking.” Turning it over, he angled it toward the light so he could see inside it.

“What are you doing?”

Looking up at him, Caleb’s cheeks grew red. “I’m trying to see how this would work.”

“It’s a breast pump, Caleb. I’d guess the owner put it over their breast and pulled the plunger back.”

Placing it back into the wooden box that he had taken it out of, Caleb vigorously rubbed his hand on his pants. “This is a creepy ass room. Why do you suppose it’s hidden away like this?”

“I don’t know but, from the look of things, it was never used.” Opening a dresser drawer, Tréan removed a brown wrapped package that still had the original twine holding it closed. “Everything in this dresser is still wrapped up. And, even though some of these toys are broken, they still have the price tags hanging from them.”

Morgan walked back into the room, working her hair into a bun on top of her head. “You guys ready?”

Without waiting for answer, Morgan walked through the open closet door and disappeared into the darkness.


Opening his eyes, Jackson groaned as he stared at the dirt wall in front of him. Slowly sitting up, he looked around, trying to figure out where he was. The dirt floor was cold and wet beneath him and he could hear water dripping from somewhere in the room. As the room became clearer, he noticed a few lit candles scattered about the room, their flames dancing from a draft of wind.

Getting to his feet, he picked up a candle and, cupping his hand around the flame, walked around the room looking for a way out.

Walking into the darkness, the cold draft blowing around his ankles, he followed the sound the dripping water. Rounding a corner, Jackson realized he was no longer in the room that he had woken up in. His feet skidded from underneath him as the floor suddenly sloped away.

With a yelp of surprise, he threw his hands out to grab a hold of the wall on either side and cursed when the candle flew from his hand. His hands slid along the walls and he cried out as he felt his fingernails tearing away from his flesh. Cold air rushed over his face and the sound of running water drowned out his screams of pain as rocks sliced into his back. Pushing his heels against the ground, he tried to stop his downward slide.

Suddenly, he was airborne and his breath froze in his lungs when he shot through the icy waters of a waterfall. His screams reverberated throughout the cavern that the falls spilled into and, landing in the river below, he sucked in water as he sank toward the bottom. Jackson smiled and let his body go limp as his wet clothes pulled him down further. Fighting his body’s natural instinct for survival, he opened his mouth and filled his lungs with water. As his heartbeat slowed to a stop, he waited for death to take him.

“Wait, did you hear that? It sounded like a scream.” Cocking her head to the side, Morgan tilted her head and held her breath. Looking back over her shoulder, she saw both men nod. “He’s still in here but he’s not close.

Lifting his head, Tréan took a deep breath. “I can smell his filth but only faintly. Let’s go, I don’t want that bastard getting away.” Pushing around her, he started running down the tunnel.

Coming to the small room where Jackson had woken up, they skidded to a stop and looked around.

“It looks like someone has lived here before.”

Though small, the room held a bed, a small table, chair, and a bucket with a toilet seat on top of it.

Looking at it, Morgan covered her nose and mouth. “Oh, that’s just fucking nasty right there.”

“Look at it this way; at least they didn’t shit on the floor.” Caleb’s words were muffled through his hand and he tried not to breathe through his nose.

Morgan walked around the room, studying the floor, looking for footprints. Finding what she was looking for, she followed them to a wooden door near the back of the room. Opening it, she blinked against the light from the sun shining down through an open door at the top of the wooden steps in front of her. She was standing on the bottom step when she heard Caleb’s voice echo through the room behind her.

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