Gunner is ready to give up on life. Imprisoned for eternity is not how he'd envisioned returning to the Doppelganger realm. He's been pushed, punished and tortured, but nothing has been able to break him. Until she comes on a three-moon night.
Melanie is a Wraith seeking revenge. She hadn't planned on tangling with Gunner, but he provides what she needs to survive.
Begging for an end, Gunner is startled when the strange king offers freedom, but it comes with a price.
As Melanie searches for her killer and Gunner works toward his freedom, will they discover their paths are heading in the same direction? And is this direction toward something better, or toward the void of darkness neither can seem to elude?
Bad Gone Better
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Copyright ©2012 Ayla Ruse
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7th Level of the Aanyon Prison
Melanie stifled a sigh and pulled her tattered cloak tighter around her full body. The king still spoke to Gunner. A glance through to the open sky above showed two moons already up. It shouldn't be long until the third made its ascent, marking her time to come out.
She noticed the king, Thomas, looking upward as well. She hummed low in her throat, projecting her voice toward the king, pushing him to move along. She didn't know what Thomas spoke to Gunner about every night, and she didn't care. The space they were in was cavernous with an opening above instead of a roof. Voices tended to travel up.
There had been a time she would have eavesdropped, if for no other reason than to gain an understanding of the ever-changing vernacular of the time. She'd been a Wraith so long now that the nuances of what served as modern speech came to her easily.
No, their conversations were their own. The only reason she was here in the first place was because Thomas had told her Gunner might be a good candidate from which to feed, to keep her alive until she could take her vengeance.
It twisted her inside, having to wait. She was a Wraith, a feared and shunned creature. She should not have to be at the mercy of another. Unfortunately, she wasn't in the human realm, so the same rules didn't apply.
Booted footsteps echoed on the stones leading out of the spacious area. Thomas stopped to clear his throat, as if she wouldn't know he was leaving. Just because he couldn't see her didn't mean she couldn't see every detail of him. She didn't acknowledge him, but waited until he'd passed out of the protected gates before turning around to take her fill of the imprisoned Doppelganger called Gunner.
Thick blond hair that almost touched his shoulders always caught her eye first. The black streak along his temple gave him an air of mystery, and his defiant stance belied his situation. He stood tall and surprisingly muscular for having been in prison for so long. Five years, she'd thought Thomas had told her. No matter. Strung up like he was, he wasn't going anywhere. Besides, he maintained enough humanity from his stint on the human realm to serve her needs: to stay alive.
Knowing she depended on him made her insides twitch again. A part of her wished she didn't have to do what she did, or at least, she wished their time could be different. The constant recollection of why she was here in the first place stamped out any mercies that would have resided inside her soul, if she had one.
"The third moon is out," Gunner announced into the silent night. "This is when you show up, isn't it? Where are you?"
She gritted her teeth in annoyance. He sounded bored and put out. Damn the man. Damn the unfound Doppelganger who'd put her in this position in the first place, and damn the bubbling anger stirring up inside her over this whole damn situation.
She glided toward her victim. It was easier to think of Gunner as a victim. He made her feel things that were... foreign, so the quicker she could take what she needed, the quicker she could leave to continue her search. Besides, time was of the essence, because the sustenance he provided lasted only a short while.
He lifted his head as she approached. He couldn't see her yet, as she'd kept her cloak tight around her body, but she could tell he sensed her. She'd been coming to him every night for a week, and each time he seemed more attuned to her.
"Are you going to let me see you tonight?" he asked.
She blew out a whisper. "No."
He sighed. "I don't know why you're so secret. It's not like there's anyone here. Are you going to tell me how you get in here?"
"Fine." He braced his feet as far apart as the shackles allowed and wrapped his hands around the chains attached to his wrists. These chains led up and away from his body, so that he stood spread eagle. He almost reminded her of the Indians she'd known when she'd been alive, standing tall and proud against an enemy.
"Do your worst," he challenged.
She paused. He stared straight ahead, his naked body gleaming in the three moons' light. Thin scars crisscrossed nearly every inch of his body. She wondered what could have made them, but she pushed the thoughts away. She wasn't here to get to know him. She wasn't here to play nice or to make him like her. She was here to survive. She had to remember only this.
She dropped her arms so he could see the outline of her cloak, but little else. She circled him, letting the material brush his body. He jerked, and she smiled to see his cock harden.
"I'm here now." She pushed the whisper to his ear. "I'm here to take what I need. To take what you give."