There was a scent on the wind. The same as the car. Magda started to follow, then got whiff of a more familiar scent. She stopped in her tracks. “What are you doing here?”
Stephan shrugged. “You left the station.”
“It’s the weekend.” She turned toward him.
“We’ve got a missing cop, and you decide to actually take a weekend?” He shook his head. “What’s going on, Magda?”
“Needed to clear my head.” She twitched a shoulder.
“So, you pick the jogging trail that was the recent site of a couple joggers getting mauled by a bear?” Stephan raised an eyebrow. “What, are you planning on challenging it to a fistfight or something?”
“Mood I’m in, I could take a bear.” She hesitated. The scent was on the wind, but with Stephan here… If it was what she thought it was, it was more danger than her partner could handle.
“Talk to me, Magda.” He gave her a concerned look.
And if she didn’t follow the trail now, she risked losing it. “Walk with me.”
“If you want.” He nodded.
He didn’t say anything when after a while she led him off the trail, following her nose. The scent cut across paths, taking shortcuts. Didn’t comment on how weird she was acting, or why they were going through the woods in the middle of the night. He just followed, trusting that she knew what she was doing. And he kept his eyes peeled, watching her back as she followed the scent.
They came out at a parking lot. Despite the hour, there were two or three cars still there. She followed the scent to one space, and then nothing. Whoever it was had gotten in the car and driven away. She crouched, but the treads all overlapped, rendering any pattern too indistinct to be useful. With so many vehicles, there was no way to tell for certain which scent was the right car.
There was a wolf hunting in her territory. She took a deep breath, and looked up at Stephan. He was just watching her. “At the warehouse —”
“The woman looked like she’d been torn apart by wild animals.” Stephan nodded. “You think it’s like one of those weird cartels where they’ve got a pet jaguar or something?”
Relief filled her. He’d made the connection on his own. Wrong, but it gave her something to build on. “The thought crossed my mind, I mean…” She shrugged. “When was the last time anyone saw a bear out here?”
“Where’d you learn to track?” He looked around, frowning as he observed the lot.
“My dad used to take me hunting.” It was close enough to the truth. “Not sure I picked up enough of a trail to go on, but…” She slowly nodded. “I think the cases are related.”
“Let’s go have a word with the rangers, see if any of them spotted anything odd.”
Ash followed Sima on his hands and knees. With the blindfold on, he had to trust her leash for guidance. He hadn’t been allowed the use of his eyes in days. Maybe longer. He had no real idea of how long he’d been a prisoner. Yesterday when Sima had called him a good boy and petted him he’d caught himself rubbing his head against her hand like… like a fucking dog.
Carol made him do tricks. Sit up and roll over, feeding him scraps of jerky from her hand and laughing with delight. Sima made it clear refusing to play along was against the rules, and breaking the rules would get him put back in the box. The thought of being there again, cramped and unable to move while pain coursed through him made him want to whimper.
Surely they were looking for him, weren’t they?
Lisa’s voice. He fought the urge to cringe. She liked to hurt him, even when he was being a good boy. With a start, he realized he had moved behind Sima, like a cowering… dog. “Sit up, Ash,” Sima told him.
He went into a kneeling position, hands on his thighs and his back straight. Sima petted his hair. Lisa reached over and took hold of his chin, tilting his face up. “When are you going to take the blindfold off?”
“When he trusts me.” Sima kept petting his hair.
“Hmph.” Lisa ran her thumb over his lips. “I liked his eyes. Such a pretty, innocent blue. I want him tonight.”
“Of course.” Sima kept rubbing his head. He wished he didn’t find the motion comforting.
“Ash.” Lisa tapped his cheek before removing her hand. “Speak.”
He wanted to scream, to curse, to rail against her. Instead, he barked. “Good boy.” Sima petted him before feeding him one of the small candies she carried. A ‘treat’ for her pet. “If you’ll excuse us, Lisa, Ash needs his exercise.”
“Oh, yes.” Lisa moved away. “Have him do some pushups. I like those shoulders of his. Maybe some situps too.”
The leash tugged, and he started following Sima again.
Carol lay back on the bed, panting happily. Sima’d been right. All their captive had needed had been practice, and helping him develop those skills was certainly fun. She looked down at his tear-stained face. Lisa stood behind him, holding the belt. She’d used it liberally whenever Ash had shown signs of slowing or waning enthusiasm for his task. The feel of him crying out in pain against her clit had been breathtaking. “Come here, Ash.” She beckoned him closer.
He came up to her, and she pulled him close, cuddling him gently as she laid his head on her breast. Lisa lay down on the other side of him, and ran her hand lightly over his arm. Just a few years ago, the idea of having such a man in her bed would have been strange. Having him in her bed and completely subservient to her would have been laughable. If a guy like this had looked at her, it would have been to make a joke at her expense. The quarterback lay in her arms, at her mercy. It was a hell of a rush. She looked up at Lisa. “You want a turn?”
Lisa smiled, and leaned forward to speak into his ear. “Ash. Get on your hands and knees.” He obeyed.
She sat up, getting comfortable. A smile came to her face as she watched her cousin fuck the prom king.
Almost two months, and nothing. Every lead had gone cold. They’d run in a jealous boyfriend only to learn Ash had already worked things out with the guy and neither had ended up with the girl. They’d even run in the girl, but she’d been in Europe during the abduction. The rangers had found nothing.
Madga frowned. Had they somehow found out this was taken territory and moved on? No. If she was dealing with a pack, they’d have challenged if they realized she was here. They’d have either driven out or taken in the loner. Could it be a sole survivor of… She frowned. Ash was a nice, handsome, prime male specimen. Had a pack taken him for… Her fists clenched as she thought of one of her pack in that sort of situation.
Stephan set a cup of coffee on her desk. “Thanks.” She sipped the terrible liquid gratefully.
“Yesterday, I was at the store.” Stephan sat back in his chair, and ran a hand over his buzz cut. “Saw one of those stupid clocks with the numbers all mismatched like they’d fallen. Thought ‘hey, when is Ryan’s retirement party?’.” He sipped his own coffee. “Hit me all over again. I mean, fuck. He was a good man, a good cop.” He set his cup down. “You know I got a lot of looks when I first walked in here. Ryan gave me shit about my paperwork, and I confronted him. Asked him if he had a problem with me because I was black. He said…”
“No, I’ve got a problem with you because you’re a goddamn rookie and they don’t actually teach you shit in those LEO classes. Now pay attention and do it right.” Magda smiled. “Got the same speech.” Her smile faded. “Lennert called again this morning, wanting an update. I get the fun of breaking his heart every day at nine AM.” She sighed. “I told him I’d bring his kid home.”
“Ryan was the one that told me not to make that promise, as much as you want to. Cause the worst part about this job is sometimes you can’t.” Stephan sighed. “Sometimes the monsters win.”
“I miss the old dog.” She took another drink of her coffee.
Sima petted the head of the young man laying curled up in the shower. He made a small whimpering sound. Lisa had stripped him from head to toe after he had balked at letting the alpha fuck his throat with the strap on. She was a little worried a couple of the marks were going to leave scars. “You must always obey the alpha, Ash. That is rule number one. You belong to the alpha, and you will obey.”
He made another whimpering sound. Lisa enjoyed hearing him bark, and thus the right to speak had been taken from him entirely. It had been weeks since she’d last heard his voice. There was still defiance in his eyes at times, a form of hopeless desperation. He had not yet wholly surrendered, though he’d given up active resistance. Still, she was fairly certain if she left a weapon where he could reach, he would use it. The part concerning her at this point in his training he was likely to use it on himself. Lisa and Carol had pushed to early, before he’d been properly broken.
Maybe Lisa wasn’t a suitable alpha. She continued petting Ash, shifting so his head lay in her lap. The woman was strong, certainly. There was no way Sima would win in a battle for dominance. And even if she won by other means, there was still Carol. The other woman’s loyalty to her cousin was absolute. Ash slowly began to relax under her caresses. Carol was young, still coming to terms with her gifts. Still in an angry teenage mentality, and given power. Not a good thing. Carol, however, preferred to simply humiliate Ash, which had helped Sima break him down. Lisa was the problem. To her, Ash was a fun toy, but Lisa didn’t take care of her toys. Not when she could so easily replace them.
“Ash.” She stood. “Come.”
He followed her on his hands and knees. She led him past the room where he was normally caged, and saw him pause just briefly before continuing to follow her. Sima went into her room, then patted the foot of the bed. “Up, Ash.” When he climbed up onto the foot of the bed, she petted him again. “Lay down.” He obeyed, curling into a ball. “That’s my good boy.”
Ash woke, more rested than he’d been in a while. He stretched, then felt his mistress petting him. He rubbed his head into the caress, then froze as he woke the rest of the way up. He felt sick to his stomach when he realized he’d spent the night unbound and behind an unlocked door. It hadn’t occurred to him to try to escape, to flee the mistr… Sima. Her name was Sima, not mistress. He was a cop, not her dog. Not her… “Ash.”
He made himself take a deep breath before looking back at her. “Come here, Ash.” She patted the bed next to her.
Slowly, he moved up to where she indicated. She smiled, then ran a hand behind his head and kissed him. Her lips were warm and gentle, and he found himself returning the kiss. Her other hand caressed his body. “You’ve been a good boy, Ash.” Her hand removed the vile thing from his groin before she began caressing him again.
A low moan escaped him as she gentle pushed him back down onto the bed before straddling him. “My good boy.” She ran her breasts over him, then guided his left hand to touch them. He caressed her, then sat up and brought his mouth to her breast. An approving noise came from her as his tongue over her nipple. “That’s my good boy.”
She guided his erection into her, then began to ride him. Slowly at first, then with increasing speed. His back arched beneath her as she had her way with his body. She caught both his hands and pinned him to the bed, moaning as her hips moved. Ash squirmed beneath her, helpless against her greater strength even as he sought the release he was ordinarily denied.
He cried out and shuddered when he came, and heard her answering cry before she half collapsed atop him. For a few moments, they just lay there, panting. She kissed his jaw. “That’s my sweet pet.”
Despite himself, he couldn’t help but feel pleased at her words. The part of his mind that screamed and cursed at her seemed further away every day. I am not her dog, he told himself. I am not her pet. I just have to keep playing and… The part of his mind that screamed and cursed at her let out a sob as she fastened the leash to his collar. He kept it from his face as he crawled off the bed and followed her, on his hands and knees, to the shower.
Sima washed him before instructing him to wash her. He performed the task as she’d instructed, and she was panting with pleasure by the time he was done. She shoved him to his knees, moving his head between her legs. Water ran down his face as he licked and suckled at her, making her moan and squirm. “Oh, that’s a good boy.” There was a rush of juices as she came, and the warm water washed them away.
The vile thing was put back on him. He wasn’t allowed to cum or have pleasure unless they allowed it. Carol had forgotten to put it back on once, and he’d come from the sensation of the vibrator the red haired woman had placed up his ass. As ashamed as he was of that, the punishment he’d been given after had been brutal. Sima had left him in the box for two days, then made him apologize to Carol before putting him back in for two more. He found himself almost grateful for the vile thing now. It prevented any chance of him losing control again. A slave’s body belonged to his mistress. Sima. Her name was Sima. Not mistress. He was Ash, a cop. Not a slave or a pet. Not a dog.
Lisa moved through the woods, her eyes on the lone jogger. There was no one else around for a mile in any direction. A scare, then watch him run. She was closing in when she caught the scent. She froze, turning her head this way and that. Another had been here within the last day or so. Eagerly she followed the scent.
She’d watched the news. No killings save her own had been reported. Either a young one, not fully come into their power… Or one old enough to have learned control. The first was an exciting prospect. The second was cause for wariness.
The scent went cold at the parking lot. She walked around, thinking she’d lost it, when she caught another whiff. Two men were coming out of the ranger’s station. The white man wore a ranger’s uniform, while the black man wore a suit. She walked toward them. There was too much light, too many witnesses to hunt here. She sniffed. The scent came from the black man, but it wasn’t his. Someone he’d recently been close to, then? Lisa planted a polite, normal expression on her face, and strode over, swaying a little as she walked. “Excuse me?”
“Ma’am.” The ranger actually tipped his hat.
“I don’t mean to…” She assumed a vulnerable expression, one she knew made her look young. “I heard some other joggers talking about someone being killed and was just…”
“I’m afraid it’s true.” The ranger sighed. “We had a bear attack a few weeks ago. Detective Evans here was actually just following up on that. Thought it might be someone’s exotic pet that escaped.”
Detective Evans? And they thought she was a bear. People really were so stupid. “Is that true? Someone had a pet bear?”
“We don’t have any verification of that, ma’am.” The cop gave her an appraising look.
“We are asking people to stay off the far trails.” The ranger nodded. “And keep to the…” He trailed off, then shook his head at a couple teenagers at the other end of the parking lot. “Excuse me.” He nodded to them before walking off.
She gave the cop a flirtatious smile. “I’m Lisa.” She held out her hand.
“Detective Evans.” His handshake was firm. She could have crushed his hand to a bleeding pulp if she’d desired.
Where had he acquired the scent? She took a quick glance at his hands. No ring. “Look, um…” She shifted her weight, making her movements a little shy and awkward. “Okay, this is really forward of me but would you be interested in having coffee or something or…” She fidgeted again.
He smiled. “Well, ma’am, I’m on duty at the moment but…” He shrugged before nodding. “If you’ve got a number?”
Lisa nodded, and gave him the number for her burner phone. He wrote it down before offering her his card. She watched him head back to his vehicle. Older than Sima’s toy, but definitely had a nice ass. She looked down at the card. “Stephan Evans.” She shrugged. “You’ve got something I want, detective.” She headed back to her car.
Lennert Achterberg sat, staring out the window. Magda thought he looked twenty years older than the last time she’d seen him, only a couple weeks ago. He turned toward her, glancing over his shoulder before going back to staring out the window. “You haven’t found anything, have you?”
“I haven’t given up.”
“I keep hoping I will wake. That this has all been some terrible dream and he’s just off at college still.” He rose, and led her through the house.
She followed him into a bedroom. Ash’s room. There were a couple posters on the closet door. Autographed posters from concerts. She’d never heard of either band. Pictures were affixed around them. Ash and his friends, out being young and alive. A corkboard had newspaper clippings on it, stories about the local PD. She was surprised to see her own picture on one of them, and walked to take a closer look.
“He met you, in junior high. Career day.” Lennert’s voice was quiet. “You gave talk. Spoke to him after, shook his hand and told him you hoped to see him on the force one day. He was still my Bernie then. He did not become Ash until high school.”
The memory came back to her. A young, eager boy with huge blue eyes. It took her a moment to reconcile the boy with the man. “I remember. Most of the students asked about guns or what action we had seen. Ash asked about how we determined how big an area to cordon off for a crime scene. He was pretty disappointed to learn we mostly just guesstimated, then started asking about chain of evidence.”
“He saw article about you in the paper after that. Cut it out, put it on the board. You saved the day, and you took time to talk to him.” Lennert’s voice broke a little. “His hero.”
“I haven’t given up, Lennert.” Magda put her hand on his shoulder. “I won’t.”
“Excuse me, I can’t…” He nodded. “You may stay, if you wish, but I can’t…” He shook his head. “He is too much here.” Lennert turned and left the room.
Magda looked around again. A couple high school wrestling trophies shoved to the back of the bookshelf. His certificate from the LEO program placed front and center. Rocks of various sorts, many polished and labeled. There was a rock tumbling kit on the bottom shelf off the bookcase. An amateur geologist. Just a small touch of nerd. A half assembled wooden trebuchet sat on his desk, next to a laptop labeled ‘property of Miskatonic University’. Maybe more than a small touch.
There were still traces of boy in the room. A couple assembled lego kits on stands, Star Wars themed. A simple brown comforter on the bed, hiding Star Wars sheets. And a Star Wars poster hanging over the bed. She turned, and caught a glimpse of her reflection in his mirror. Perhaps it was a good thing Lennert had left. She closed her eyes, and took a few deep breaths before reopening them. Normal brown again. “We’re still looking, Ash. We won’t stop. I promise.”
She turned, and left the room.
Carol threw the stick, then watched with a smirk as he crawled over, picked it up in his mouth, and brought it back to her. He even held onto it a moment, tugging playfully before letting her take it from him and throw it again. Where the hell had this been all her life? She looked up at Sima. “Girl…” She laughed.
Sima smiled. “You approve?”
“Can we get another one?” Carol sat up eagerly, taking the stick from Ash and throwing it again. “One for me?” She gave Sima a hopefully look.
“You’ll have to talk to Lisa about that.” Sima smiled.
“I want one more like a cat.” Carol smiled dreamily at the notion. “Chasing string and stuff. If I pick one out, will you train him for me?” She threw the stick again. “I know Lisa will say yes.”
“Cats are harder to domesticate. You’ll have to start with someone who has such tendencies to get the proper result. But if you find someone suitable.” Sima nodded. “I can teach you.”
“Good boy, Ash.” Carol rubbed his head, then took the stick from him and set it aside. “Can I take the thing off him and ride him properly?” She raised an eyebrow. Sima had said denying him pleasure was an important part of the training. Something about him having to learn that they controlled that aspect of his life or something. She hadn’t been paying attention. But watching him play fetch had made her so horny she could hardly stand it.
“He’s been a good boy, today.” Sima nodded. “I think he’s earned a treat.” She patted his head. “What about it, Ash? Do you want to keep playing with Carol?”
Ash barked in response. Carol laughed.