Life Arranged - Book cover

Life Arranged

Kelsie Tate

Chapter 3


Kiera stepped out of the car she’d borrowed from her landlord for that evening and walked down the road toward the trailhead, excitement and anxiety pulsing through her at the prospect of having a run.

She hadn’t gone for a run in months. She could feel her eyes darkening as Poppy pushed against her, wanting so badly to be let out.

“Calm down... we have to make it into the woods first…,” Kiera muttered before walking to the trailhead. She looked around, hoping there was nobody close by watching for trespassers. Technically at sundown, the park closed.

She made her way a bit deeper into the forest before taking a deep breath and relinquishing control to Poppy, who excitedly took the reins.

They sprinted through the woods. Mud and grass and leaves splattered across her body as they pushed farther into the forest.

She could feel the adrenaline and endorphins pulsing through her as they ran, giving both of them a high as they bounded over logs and boulders.

The moon was high in the night sky as Kiera stopped at a creek, the cool water offering relief from her long run. She splashed around, washing all of the mud and leaves from her body.

She sat beside the creek to dry a bit, drinking and relaxing as she listened to the sounds of the forest.

She turned back, deciding to head home before it got too late.

The cool night air blew through her fur as she bolted back through the trees.

Suddenly she stopped. Something didn’t feel right.

She looked around, suddenly very aware of her surroundings and the fact that they didn’t look familiar at all. She could feel the hair standing on the back of her neck, realizing she wasn’t alone.

She gave off a warning growl, letting whoever was out there know she meant business. Poppy bared her teeth. Turning in a circle, she found herself surrounded.

One of the wolves shifted, standing tall as he called out to her. “You are trespassing on protected lands. Come easily, rogue.”

Kiera shifted back, hoping they would be less willing to hurt her if they talked to her.

“This isn’t protected land,” she said. “This is a state park. Your borders, wherever they might be, don’t cross here.”

The man let out a low growl. “You should have paid better attention to where you were running. You crossed into our border. The park ends about fifteen yards behind you.”

Kiera’s eyes widened when she realized what that meant.

“I didn’t know... I’m sorry… I’ll just be on my way.”

Kiera turned around and stepped toward the border, earning growls from the group of wolves surrounding her. Poppy pushed forward, taking control and forcing them to shift back quickly. They knew they might need to protect themselves.

“Rogue!” the man yelled from behind her. “You have crossed our border. It is seen as an act of aggression and will not be taken lightly. Submit!”

Poppy growled again, her teeth bared as she took a defensive stance, warning the patrol to let her go. There was no way they were going to be taken.

One of the patrolmen launched himself forward, his teeth bared as he attacked her.

Poppy dashed out of the way, taking advantage of the break in ranks, and ran past him toward the boundary line.

Suddenly, she felt a stinging pain and her feet fell out from under her.

She looked down to see her hind legs caught in some sort of silver rope, sending searing heat through her legs at the contact. She let out a yelp—the pain and the realization that she was about to be taken overwhelming her.

They stood above her, anger in their eyes at the defiant rogue who had dared to cross into their borders.

“Shift,” the man said as he stood over her.

Kiera knew she had lost. She let out a whimper before shifting back.

The silver rope was removed from around her ankles. They threw a shirt over her and tied her wrists together before walking her into their territory.

Kiera could feel the adrenaline rushing through her as she thought of a way to get out of this. Suddenly, her moment came. One of the guards loosened his grip on her arm.

She pulled her arm from him violently, sending an elbow to his face before twisting her other arm out of the second guard’s hand.

She kicked at him, her foot landing in his stomach and sending him backward. Her hands were still tied together, but she could run.

She turned around, throwing her tied hands directly into the third guard’s eye, earning a groan from him as he bent over in pain, clutching his face. She ran hard, struggling against the ties on her hands so she could shift and escape.

Kiera let out a yelp as she was yanked from behind and thrown to the ground, her head throbbing as it hit the dirt. She looked up to see the same man standing above her.

“When will you rogues learn?” he muttered before motioning to the guards she had just beaten up to take her.

They grabbed her tightly, glaring at her in fury through their black eyes and swollen lips.

Kiera chuckled as Poppy yelled off a slur of unkind things toward them as they once again made their way deeper into the territory.

As the treeline thinned, Kiera could see a massive mansion before her.

She let out a quiet gasp before being pushed forward again. She glared at the guards and struggled against their grip for a moment before deciding to just “accidentally” kick their shins as they walked.

They let out low growls at the pain, making Kiera give a smug grin.

She was taken to a side building, the heavy steel doors creaking as they opened. She looked inside with wide, fearful eyes at the bunker. It was a long row of silver-lined cells. She could hear the howling from wolves already imprisoned inside.

Panic filled her as they walked down the corridor, finally stopping at an empty cell.

“This is you,” the man who had captured her said firmly as the door was opened. “We will get you some clothes. For now, make yourself at home. You will be spending the rest of your short life here, unless King Harrison suddenly decides to be merciful and let you go.”

Kiera was shoved into the cell, the door quickly slammed shut behind her.

It was a small, cement room with a cot and what looked to be an uncomfortable, musty mattress. There was a toilet and a sink on the other side and a very tiny window high up on the outer wall.

She collapsed on the bed, the adrenaline wearing off and the shock setting in.

Tears filled her eyes as she realized she would probably never see the light of day again, let alone her crappy apartment.

She spent the rest of the night crying into the dusty pillow, mourning her freedom.

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