By: Stacey Brutger

He refused to give them any opening. So, instead, he slowly scraped the mortar from between the stones until the skin around his nails bled.

At the current rate, he’d be free in six months.

If he lived that long.

Any hope of sleep vanished with the storm, but it also meant his nightly torture session would be cut short.

Couldn’t have him drowning and waste his blood.

Bunched muscles relaxed infinitesimally.

He’d survive another day.

He glared at the bars. He’d have to give the assholes credit. They’d planned everything down to the smallest detail. The metal bars were coated in silver. Each time he yanked on them, his flesh sizzled and the smell of charred meat filled the small space. The blasted door didn’t even budge.

Each exposure to the silver weakened him, until he was as ineffectual as a human back when the prison had been first constructed.

He could take the torture.

It wasn’t the first time.

Boredom or his wolf would kill him first.

A howl worked up his throat, and he gave in to the urge and released all his pent-up rage.

Chapter Two

Shayla strode over the Scottish moors, snapping pictures at random, her mind on the destruction of her hotel room and not the beautiful countryside.

She’d arrived in Scotland three days ago for a job. A once-in-a-lifetime trip. She should be thrilled. She would be, too, if the trip hadn’t been an escape from the horrible mess she’d made of her life.

For the first time in months, she was finally safe. No obsessively looking over her shoulder. No late nights waiting for the bastard to strike. She’d let down her guard and permitted herself to believe, just for an instant, that it was finished.

It didn’t take long to discover her stalker had followed her thousands of miles across the Atlantic. Plastic creaked, and Shayla forced her fingers to relax their strangled hold on the camera. It was a poor substitute for his scrawny old neck.

Earlier that morning, she’d dropped her best friend off at the train station, assuring James, yet again, that she’d be absolutely fine on her own. She was safe. But when she’d returned to her room the door had been ajar.

Paralyzing fear had grabbed her by the throat.

It had taken all her willpower to put one foot in front of the other. She had to know. Her hands had shook so badly, she’d dropped her bag twice before working up the courage to shoulder open the door.

Everything had been trashed.

Every belonging she hadn’t taken with her had been smashed or shredded. The bed had been gutted, sliced in half like some kind of animal sacrifice. Inches of pillow feathers twirled across the floor. But what drew her horrified gaze was the obscene message spread across the walls in thick, dripping letters in blood-red paint.

Thou shall not suffer a witch to live.

After three hours with the police, she’d been desperate to get away. There had been no physical attack on her person, nothing was taken, no evidence left behind. The police here and home couldn’t do anything but file a report. Told her to keep on her guard, not go out alone, and take meticulous notes on any future attacks.

Which was absurd.

She’d met her stalker six months ago. She’d actually done a job for him. Maybe too well. The sixty-year-old retired priest had since dogged her every step, searching for proof that she was a witch.

At first, she brushed him off as harmless. Then he began leaving notes with her neighbors and fliers on cars in her neighborhood, detailing intimate information about her life. She’d joked it off as a cruel prank, but people began to avoid her. She wasn’t sure if they believed the lies or just didn’t want to get involved.

She couldn’t blame them.

Then things escalated.

Slashed tires.

Threatening letters and emails.

Hang-up phone calls at all hours. She hadn’t slept for more than thirty minutes at a time in weeks.

The old guy had stamina. She’d give him that.

When he started hounding her family, he’d gone too far. She went to the police. But when she got to the part her stalker was a priest, she saw the doubt. Saw the look in their eyes shift from victim to troublemaker.

Even with the evidence she’d collected, they could do nothing.

She kicked a rock off the path, cursing the justice system. Not one to meekly give up, Shayla did her own digging

And found something even more disturbing.

There was no record of a priest by the name of Father Patrick. His parish had never existed. He’d paid cash for her services, so she had no leads.

He was a ghost.

The rotten bastard had lied about everything.

Shayla had enough. She didn’t feel physically safe anymore. Her younger brother had insisted on self-defense training, working over every inch of her until her muscles screamed for mercy. He might be a pain in her ass, but as far as he was concerned, no one messed with his sister but him. The next time she saw the old goat, she’d give him something to worry about besides badgering her.

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