Wild Lands (Savage Lands #2) by Stacey Marie Brown

Chapter 1





Sweat trailed down my face, my arms shaking as I lowered myself an inch from the floor. Puffing air through my teeth, I locked my jaw and kept my focus straight beneath me, zeroing in on the grainy cement floor.

Gray.

That’s all there was. Floor, ceiling, walls. The uniform they put me back in. Even the blanket and pillow on my cot.

Gray.

I think the pillow used to be white, but time and use had discolored it.

Funny. Germs, dirt, and secondhand items used to bother me when I was the girl who went to glamorous parties and fought because she was good at it, not because her life depended on it. Before prison, I used to be a lot of things, and sometimes I couldn’t decipher if I’d changed for the better or not. Another thing lost in the in-between.

Gray.

A mix of two things that weren’t even considered colors, which seemed perfect for my current state. Suspended between darkness and light, between life and death. I hovered in nothing.

Waiting.

“One hundred.” I marked my last pushup before dropping and rolling onto my back with fatigue. My gaze traveled over the small windowless cell, my new home deep under Lord Killian’s castle. The scents of dirt, decay, and grain still lingered in the walls. I could tell it had been converted from a food storage cupboard to a cell quickly, like he hadn’t been prepared for a prisoner until moments before my arrival. Inside the ten-by-ten room were only a cot, portable toilet, and sink, which had been crudely bolted to the wall.

All gray.

I was starting to wonder if the void of color was its own torture, expanding the days into years, cruelly killing me by dullness and boredom. The days in the House of Death were hell, but at least I had been busy. Here minutes blended into hours. I only filled my time by exercising, aiming to regain the muscle mass I lost in Halálház. But boxing shadows and doing pushups only filled so many hours.

Able to keep time by counting the food trays delivered to my chamber, I estimated I had been here roughly two weeks since that night.

Since him.

My chest filled like a balloon, causing me to sit up against the cot with a huff. Razor-sharp emotions of hurt, anger, and embarrassment churned in my body. How had I fallen for his act? I couldn’t believe I’d let his half-fae ass twist me into a pretzel and make me believe he actually gave a shit about me. That there had been something between us—something visceral, sliding and rolling against my skin, grazing my soul.

Even now, I swore I felt him skittering around me, tapping at the edges of my unconsciousness. In the moment between sleep and waking, I would hear my name, a tug on my soul, his presence coiling around me like a viper. Then it would be gone.

“Fuck him,” I muttered and pulled my legs into my chest, my nails digging into my palms. Half of my fury was aimed at myself. I was the one imagining him trying to reach me, that through space, time, and against all logic, he was here, trying to comfort me in some way.

How pathetic was that?

The man completely betrayed me, cut me so deep it was hard to breathe, and I still thought I could feel him like some fucking ghost. Like the myth he was. Warwick Farkas, The Wolf, the legend. The ultimate betraying asshole.

Working out helped me forget my moment of weakness. I put a wall up around myself, fighting against my deeply disturbed psyche that called to him instead of Caden.

Caden.

Sucking in, I dropped my head to my knees. The image of my best friend tore another hole in my heart. I had been so close. To home. To him.

Click.

Locks scraped across the metal door, a shrill sound through the cubicle like the wail of a newborn. I lifted my head slowly. I had grown numb to guards coming and going without a word or threat. Day in and day out, they dropped off a tray, took the old one, and did not respond to any of my questions.

Standing up, clothed in just a sports bra and loose pants that hung off my hips, I grabbed my shirt off the end of the bed. I focused on the door swinging open as a guard stepped into the room, his gaze finding me. It was almost insignificant, but his notice dropped to my toned stomach and barely covered chest before darting away.

A ruthless smile curved my lips as I sat back on my cot coyly, my eyes rolling over the pretty fae guard as he scanned the space.

“I cleaned my room, Daddy. Can I go play now?” I taunted, leaning back on my hands, my voice full of underlying meaning.

His cheeks turned red under his pale skin, his teeth clamping together. He looked all of eighteen, but with fae, appearance was deceiving. He could have been hundreds of years old, but this guard seemed especially young and naïve, too easily flustered when I teased him. I had to find my fun where I could.