The path to freedom wasn't supposed to include falling in love.
Identical twins Ali and Amir are in serious trouble. They’ve been imprisoned, accused of a crime that only one of them committed. As they await trial, they must learn to survive as inmates in a prison filled with sadistic guards—and werewolves. Good thing they’re werewolves too.
Ali has no idea how to survive in this brutal world. It’s almost a relief when the cellblock alpha, Morgan, takes a liking to him and helps him adapt to prison life. Ali can’t resist the frightening, wild, and beautiful man, but too soon he learns that Morgan’s protection comes with a price.
Amir’s struggled to cope since their mother’s death, letting Ali take care of the family. But now he’s terrified for his kind, sensitive brother trapped in the other cellblock with the prison’s notorious “alpha.” And for his teenage sister, trying to survive on her own. He finds a confidant in Ben—a transfer from another prison—who’s everything he isn’t: calm, careful, and charismatic. The pair grow closer, but Ben has a past, and Amir can’t risk sharing his own while freedom hangs in the balance.
Afraid and alone, both brothers struggle to survive while the clock ticks on towards their trial. And overhead, the moon grows ever larger.
Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes:
Drug Use (references)
Caution: The following details may be considered spoilerish. Click on a label to reveal its content.
Themes: abandonment, abuse, acceptance, alpha/alpha, angst, anxiety, atonement, bullying, family, financial gap / class disparity, first love, fitting in, found family, hurt / comfort, isolation, mental illness, police brutality, politics / power struggle, power imbalance, protection, self-confidence, self-discovery / self-reflection, trust issues
The police came at 3:03 a.m.
Amir was awake. It felt like he’d been awake for hours, lying in bed, staring at the clock on his bedside table, palms sweating, breathing shallow. Waiting.
He’d expected sirens. Maybe a helicopter, like in the movies. Instead, there was just a knock. Loud, heavy, persistent. The warning came at 3:04 a.m. Brief, muffled through the walls, but clear enough to make out a few words. Surrender was one. Consequences was another. But there was only one word that really mattered. One word they said over and over again. Warrant.
It was 3:06 a.m. when they finally used the power that warrant gave them and kicked down the door.
“Living room clear!”
There was a bang as the door to his brother’s bedroom was flung open.
“He’s in here!”
“W-what’s going on?”
“Get on the floor!”
“I don’t unders—”
“Get on the floor now!”
That was what made Amir get up. Not the police. Not the thump of their boots on the carpet or the slam as they shoved open another door. It was the sound of his brother’s voice. Small. Scared. Alone.
He pushed back the sweaty tangle of blankets, clambered to his feet, and pulled open his bedroom door just in time to see a bald man in body armour shove his brother face-first into the carpet.
“What are you doing? He’s not resisting. He’s not resisting!”
“Shit. It’s the other one.”
Amir held up his hands as a second officer turned to point what he hoped was a Taser at him.
“He’s not resisting,” Amir said again. It wasn’t just his palms that were sweating anymore. His whole body felt clammy and cold. His heart was going at Mach four. “I’m not resisting.”
“Then get down. Right down. On the floor. And keep your mouth closed.”
He did, eyes flicking between his brother and the weapon pointed at his face. Fuck. It didn’t look like a Taser. It really didn’t.
When he was on all fours, the officer pushed him the rest of the way down and put a knee into his back, holding him in place. He gritted his teeth and forced himself not to fight as his arms were yanked behind his back and cuffed. A second pair of cuffs with a longer chain was clipped around his ankles as, a few metres away, the bald officer began reciting their rights.
“. . . warrant for your arrest. Whatever you say or do may be used in evidence . . .”
Amir tried to make eye contact with his brother. Tried to see if he was all right, if he was hurt, if he was scared. But his angle made that impossible, and his wriggling caused the knee in his spine to be driven in harder.
“I wasn’t! I—”
“The rest of the house is clear,” one of the officers called out.
“You sure?” another answered, voice high and jittery. “There is a third bed back there. Wasn’t it full moon the other night? What if another one jumps out and—”
“Hey man, chill, it’s empty. And, even if it weren’t, it wouldn’t matter. These are the two we want.”
“Positive. Look at the driver’s licence photos. These are the ones. No idea which is which though.”
“Does it matter?”
“Guess not. Let’s get muzzles on them and move out so forensics can earn their keep.”
Amir was trembling though he didn’t know if it was with fear or anger. They weren’t even going to talk to them. They weren’t even going to asktheir names. They were just going to muzzle them and leave. A part of him had known this would happen. He’d been preparing for it as he lay in bed and waited for the sirens that had never come. It was standard procedure in these sorts of cases. But knowing something would happen and experiencing it were two very different things. “We’re not resisting,” he said again, voice low, wretched, and shaking. “Fuck. We’re not going to bite. We’re not fucking mons—”
His words were smothered as something big and foul smelling was pulled down over his face. It snapped closed at the back of his skull with a loud double click and pressed hard into the bridge of his nose and the point of his cheeks. Before he could adjust to the oppressive scent and the heat of his own breath, he was being hauled gracelessly to his feet and half walked, half dragged towards the door.
He tried to turn his head. Tried to see his brother. The hands on his shoulders just got rougher and pushed him forward.
He did. There was nothing else to do. Fighting would make it worse. A lot worse. So he walked when he could, stumbled when he couldn’t, and eventually made it out of their small, shitty house and into the back of a waiting police van. The doors slammed closed behind him. A moment later he heard a second set of doors close nearby.
The doors on a second van. The one where his brother was probably, like him, standing barefoot in threadbare pyjamas and too-tight handcuffs. Ali.
“Fuck,” he said into the muzzle and closed his eyes. “Fuck.”
They should’ve run. They should have taken the money under the sink and disappeared. It would have been hard, Amir didn’t know the first thing about being a wanted criminal, but it wouldn’t be the first impossible challenge he and Ali had overcome. If it wasn’t for Aisha, maybe they would have. Maybe they should have.
No. He crushed that thought down. Don’t think like that.
This was a mess. No. More than a mess. This whole situation was one big shit-filled dumpster fire. But it was too late. It was too late to do anything other than what they were doing.
It didn’t matter. This would work. It had to work.
They would get through this. No matter what, they would get through. Both he and his brother. He would make sure of it.
Police Radio Traffic, 11:37 p.m., twenty-ninth of June 2018.
Dispatcher: Any units west side? I’ve got a code grey at 34 Porter Street.
Officer: Copy that. Code grey. M146, en route. That’s the old cinema, right?
Dispatcher: Affirmative. We have two reports and more coming in. Still not sure exactly what’s happening. The information is mixed. As far as we can tell, the suspect is Middle Eastern. Red jumper, black pants. Half shifted. Last seen with white female, early twenties, purple hair, in the parking— Wait.
Officer: Go ahead, dispatch.
Dispatcher: Just got more info. The female is injured. Sending the paramedics.
Officer: What type of injury?
Dispatcher: Didn’t say. Get there quick, guys.
Officer: Code three. Will do.
The recording clicked as it came to an end.
The room remained silent as the next audio file was highlighted and then opened.
Police Radio Traffic, 11:40 p.m., twenty-ninth of June 2018.
Officer: M146 responding to code grey at 34 Porter Street! Code eight! The female is down!
Dispatcher: Copy M146. Calling all units.
Officer: It’s a bite. It’s a goddamn bite.
Dispatcher: Copy that M146. Code four. Paramedics ETA one minute.
Officer: Shit. Shit!
Dispatcher: Stay with me, M146. Is she awake?
Officer: She’s . . . Yes. Affirmative. She’s awake. But she’s bleeding. No sign of the suspect. Miss? Are you okay? Miss? Do you know where you are?
The recording cut off.
“Officer Michaels,” the prosecutor said, her voice soft but strong.
“In your own words, could you please describe what you saw when you arrived at 34 Porter Street that night?”
The man nodded. “Yes. The female, Darcy Flint, was in the cinema car park lying on the ground. When I approached, I saw blood on her sleeve and what appeared to be an animal bite on her left shoulder.” The man’s eyes stayed fixed on the prosecutor, not turning towards Amir, Ali, or the public defender sitting stiff as a board between them. “She was awake but in shock. She didn’t speak until the paramedics arrived.”
“What did she say?”
“She said it hurt. She said she was sorry. She said it was a wer— Um . . .” He shot an uncertain look at the magistrate watching on from behind an imposing bench.
“Go ahead, Officer Michaels,” the prosecutor prompted.
“Forgive the crude language, ma’am, but she said it was a werewolf.”
“We got scans of every lycanthrope’s driver’s licence in the city,” Michaels went on. “Miss Flint refused to speak to us, but there were several witnesses who all identified the same photo. Well, photos.”
“The one of Amir Bashir. And one of Ali.”
The magistrate’s gaze wandered over both of them.
“They must be very similar,” the magistrate said softly.
“Yes, Your Honour. We needed to take their fingerprints to tell them apart. Shame there were no prints at the scene.”
“Were you there when they were arrested, Officer Michaels?” the prosecutor asked.
“Could you describe that event?”
The man shifted uncomfortably on his feet. “Not well. It was the lycanthropy special operations unit that broke down the door and made the arrests. I was just there as backup. We did find a lot of evidence on that property though. Blood. Clothing. But both suspects had showered and were in bed by the time we arrived. There was no way to tell who had committed the crime, so we had to arrest them both.”
“But you were sure it was one of them?”
“What made you so sure?”
“The witnesses, the evidence on the property, the lycanthropy strain detected on the wound. One of them attacked Darcy Flint. I wish I could tell you which one it was.”
“Thank you, Officer Michaels. No further questions.” The prosecutor turned.
Amir expected her to look smug. Or, at the very least, satisfied with the result of her questioning. She didn’t. She looked sombre. Her expression drawn and careful even as she walked by them to return to her seat.
The magistrate waited until the prosecutor had settled herself before speaking. “Does the defence wish to cross-examine the witness?”
The public defender at Amir’s side jumped a little. A kid called out in class. “No, Your Honour.” They were the same three words he’d been saying since the hearing started.
Under the table, Amir clenched his hand into a fist.
“Very well.” The magistrate turned back towards the witness. “I have one further question for you, Officer Michaels.”
“Yes, Your Honour?”
“You said by the time the arrests took place both suspects had showered.”
“Yes, Your Honour.”
“How did you know that?”
Officer Michaels frowned. “Eh, well, they both had wet hair, Your Honour.”
“What time was this?”
“The arrests took place just after 3 a.m. on the thirtieth of June.”
“So.” The magistrate leant back in her chair. “Despite the late hour, they had just showered when the police arrived.”
“Both of them.”
“And this was what made it impossible to know which of the two assaulted Ms. Flint?”
Amir couldn’t take it anymore. “Heaps of people shower at night,” he snapped, voice muffled by the muzzle. “It doesn’t mean anything. This is bullsh—”
“Get control of your client, Mr. Baker.”
“Yes, Your Honour, I’m sorry. Ali—”
“Amir. I’m Amir.”
“Amir. Yes. I’m sorry. Please don’t talk until—”
“If you don’t want me to talk, then maybe you should. What the fuck is this? You’re meant to defend us not—”
“Amir.” Ali’s voice was small. “Be quiet. Please.”
He glanced at his brother but couldn’t see much of him. Ali’s eyes were down, hair forward, and features obscured by the bulky leather and metal muzzle caging his jaw.
“Please,” Ali whispered again. “Just this once.”
Amir swallowed the mess of words threatening to spill out of his mouth and looked down at the pair of cuffs locking his wrists together. They were a dull battered grey and had already left raw marks on his skin.
Ali was right. He needed to stay calm. He needed to stay in control. He needed to get through this as quickly and smoothly as possible so they could go home. Both of them.
When he looked up again, the magistrate was studying them, a strange expression on her face. “Thank you for your testimony, Officer Michaels,” she said when it became clear the exchange was over. “You may sit down now.”
The courtroom stayed silent as the man stepped out from behind the podium. It was only when he was seated in the back of the room that the magistrate let out a weary sigh.
“Does the prosecution have any more witnesses they want to interview at this time?”
“No, Your Honour.”
“Very well.” She started flicking through the papers in front of her. “In regard to this hearing, even without the testimony of the victim, there is enough forensic and circumstantial evidence here to submit both cases for trial. Before we do that, I want to reassess these pleas. Ali Bashir.”
“Yes, Your Honour?” His brother’s voice was painfully soft in the large room.
“You stand accused of unprovoked assault, wounding with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and obstruction of justice. You pled not guilty. In light of the evidence presented today, do you wish to change your plea?”
Amir held his breath.
“No, Your Honour,” Ali said.
The magistrate studied him. “Tell me, in your own words, what were you doing the night of the twenty-ninth?”
Ali’s voice was small. “I came home from work, showered, and went to bed.”
“Do you have anyone who could corroborate that story?”
“No, Your Honour.”
“Do you know the whereabouts of your brother that night?”
“No, Your Honour.”
The magistrate’s gaze turned to him. “Amir Basher. You’re also accused of unprovoked assault, wounding with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and obstruction of justice. You also pled not guilty. Do you wish to change your plea at this time?”
“No,” he ground out.
“What were you doing the night of the twenty-ninth?”
“I came home from work, showered, and went to bed,” Amir echoed his brother.
He could tell by the look in the magistrate’s eyes that she knew where this was going and wasn’t impressed. “Is there anyone who can corroborate your story?”
“Do you know what your brother was doing that night?”
The woman motioned to the guards. “Take off their muzzles.”
“Your Honour,” the public defender finally protested. “In cases involving a confirmed bite with an L-positive individual it is standard practice that—”
“I know what the standard practice is. I’m deviating from standard practice. Take off their muzzles.”
“But . . . what if one of them bites?”
“They won’t,” she said evenly. “They’re much too smart for that. I would like to see the brothers that are so alike that no one, not even forensic experts, have been able to tell them apart.”
The public defender made an unhappy hmm but didn’t protest further as a guard stepped forward and used a key to unclip the muzzle from the back of Amir’s skull and yanked it off his face. He heard the same happening to his brother and, when his face was free, turned towards him.
Ali’s did the same and, for the first time since this all began, their eyes met.
There were shadows under Ali’s dark eyes and marks on his brown skin where the muzzle had been pulled too tight on his face. But, despite that, he looked okay. Not good. No. He was a long way from being good. But he was okay.
“Eyes up front, gentlemen.”
Both Amir and Ali turned back towards the magistrate.
She took her time studying them, first Ali and then Amir. “They are remarkably similar.”
“Yes, Your Honour,” the guard said. “Identical twins.”
If the man’s stating of the obvious annoyed the magistrate, she didn’t show it. When she spoke, she spoke to them. “Congratulations, gentlemen. You’ve done it. You’ve fooled us, at least for a little while. Until we gather more evidence, we don’t know which of you committed this horrendous act against Ms. Flint.” A pause. “But you do. You both do. One of you knows because he didn’t do it. The other one knows because he did.” Her stare remained pinned on them. “I am speaking now to the one that did. Your brother is about to go to gaol for a crime you committed. Perhaps—as I suspect—he’s conspired with you to make it hard for us to prosecute. Perhaps he hasn’t. Perhaps he really is as ignorant as you both pretend to be. But you’re not. You know exactly what happened . . . and you know it’s your fault. You can spare him. All you have to do is tell the truth. All you have to do is change your plea.”
A painfully long silence.
The magistrate’s eyes moved between them, first studying Amir, then Ali, and then Amir again, her gaze hard and unwavering. Waiting.
Finally, after what felt like an age, she sighed. “That’s disappointing.” She pulled two pieces of paper from the stack in front of her. “Ali Bashir. You are hereby formally charged of all allegations brought against you today.” She signed one page with a quick scribble. “Amir Bashir. You are also formally charged with all allegations brought against you.” She signed the other page. “For the safety of the public I cannot grant an unstable lycanthropy-positive individual bail. As such, you will both be held in custody at Her Majesty’s Australian Lycanthropy Correctional Centre Longreach until the preliminary trial, which will take place in approximately thirty to forty-five days. You can change your plea anytime between now and then.” She folded the pages together and passed them to the waiting bailiff. “The matter is committed to trial. Court adjourned.”
The minute the magistrate was out of the room, their muzzles were back on. Amir didn’t protest. There was no point. He’d only been in police custody for a few days, but he’d learnt that, despite Officer Michael’s restraint during the hearing, there really was only one thing these people thought of when they looked at him.
But it was worse than that.
They weren’t just werewolves, they were brown werewolves.
One of the guards yanked on Amir’s muzzle.
“Good. Let’s move out.”
They were marched in a procession, first Ali, and then him, out of the courtroom and through a series of interconnected, near identical hallways. Amir didn’t try to make sense of it. He knew where they were going. Prison. The route didn’t matter. So he just followed his brother. Left down one corridor, right down another.
Then it happened.
It was in a hallway. One exactly like all the others . . . only this one was a T intersection.
His brother was led to the left. When Amir tried to follow, the men on either side of him hauled him roughly to the right.
“Wait.” He dug his heels into the carpet. “Where are we going? Where are you taking him?”
The guards didn’t answer.
“Where are you taking him? We’re going to the same gaol. The magistrate said we were going to the same—” He twisted to see Ali. He was almost at the end of the corridor on the left, almost out of sight. “Ali! Ali!”
Ali looked over his shoulder.
For a split second their eyes met. Then Ali was around the bend in the hallway and, just like that, he was gone.
Amir stared after him, his stomach twisting into a series of knots.
He’d known this would happen. Of course he’d known. They would never be allowed to stay together. Not when everyone thought they were criminal accomplices. But for some reason, he hadn’t thought it would happen so suddenly.
He’d thought he’d be able to say goodbye.
He didn’t take his gaze off the bend his brother had disappeared behind as the guards manhandled him down the corridor. They took him to a holding cell. He sat in the corner of it and wondered how long it would be before he would see his brother again. Hours? Days? Weeks? Months?
If this didn’t work, it could be years before they were together again.
Ali was his twin. They had always been together. Always. When their father died, it had been Ali’s shoulder he cried on. When their mother died, it had been Ali who had started taking care of Aisha. When he’d got drunk, Ali had been the one to pick him up. Ali had been the one who’d held the family together. Ali had held him together.
Could he go years without seeing him?
No. Don’t think that.
The prosecution might have witnesses that pointed to both of them but, if the hearing was any indication, they didn’t have proof that singled out just one. That meant, as long as he and Ali both stuck to the story, no jury would be able to convict them. Not when, from their perspective, there was a fifty percent chance they were sending an innocent man to prison.
Reasonable doubt. That was all they had. It seemed like a flimsy shield. But it would be enough. He had to believe it would be enough.
It was an hour later when the guards returned.
They pulled him out of the holding cell without a word and marched him back through the tangle of corridors, back to where he’d last seen Ali. Amir knew he wouldn’t be there, but he couldn’t stop himself from holding his breath as they turned that bend in the hallway . . . only to see another stretch of hallway.
It led to a door, beyond which was a parking lot occupied by a single white van with the words Longreach Lycanthropy Correctional Centre emblazed across the side.
He looked up.
A man was standing on a bin holding a massive camera over the top of the car park fence. The shutter clicked in rapid fire. A small collection of other people were trying to film through the mesh.
“Are you Ali or Amir?” one yelled.
“Did you bite that girl?” another screamed.
“Are you covering up for your brother?”
He turned away, the strange sick feeling roiling inside him growing as the guards loaded him into the van and slammed the doors closed behind him. There was a window in the rear door. Through it, he watched the people continue to snap photos as the van pulled out of the car park and merged into the traffic.
They drove for a while. Ten minutes. Maybe twenty. Amir had no way to tell. He watched the city go by out the window. He saw people talking on their phones, eating takeaway, and waiting in line for the bus. It all seemed surreal in its normality.
Sometime later, the van stopped and the back doors opened. Amir tensed.
To his surprise the guards didn’t pull him out. They pushed someone else in.
A man. Tall, black, and bony with curly brown hair. Like Amir, he was wearing a belly chain and a muzzle. Unlike Amir, he was also wearing a bright orange jumpsuit with the words Freemantle Lycanthropy Complex printed across the front.
An inmate, Amir realised with a lurch. The first he had seen.
But it wasn’t the sight of him that was stilling.
It was the scent, strong enough to make out even through the stench of the muzzle.
Like earth, ash, and fire.
Wolf. Just like him.
The man must have smelt Amir too, because he paused in the doorway. Their eyes met, and for a few seconds, neither of them did anything. They just looked at each other. Amir wasn’t good enough at reading people to know if it was a curious look, a cautious look, or a calculated look. Whatever it was, it didn’t last long.
“Keep moving, Berkley!”
The man shuffled forward obediently and took a seat opposite Amir as the doors slammed closed behind him. Almost instantly the van began moving again.
For a while, they sat in silence.
Then . . .
Amir didn’t respond.
The inmate wasn’t deterred. He stuck his hand out as much as his belly chain would allow. “My name’s Ben. I’m a transfer from Perth. What about you? Where are you coming from?”
Amir looked at Ben, down at his offered hand, and away. “Just pled not guilty.”
“Really? Oh shit. So you’re brand-new, huh?”
“Yeah,” Amir admitted.
“I remember when I was brand-new. Don’t worry. It’s not as bad as it seems. I mean, it’s shit, but most of the muzzles and chains go away once we’re in the cellblock.” Ben’s hand was still extended towards him, waiting.
After a moment, Amir took that hand and gave it a single shake. “Amir. My name’s Amir.”
Ben’s eyes crinkled. A smile. He was smiling under his muzzle. “Amir. Nice. I’ll remember that.”
They lapsed into silence.
Ben itched absently at his neck.
Amir returned to staring out the window, watching the shimmering glass towers transform into cement blocks. Finally, when all the shops and apartments had given way to industrial buildings, the van slowed.
Amir’s stomach leapt into his mouth as, for the first time, he saw it.
Big and brick with fences and watchtowers all around it. It looked the way prisons did in movies.
But if he was seeing it out the rear window, that meant they were already past it.
The van slowed and turned into a smaller driveway and drew to a halt. Amir heard the driver talk to someone. A moment later they were moving again, and Amir saw a man drag a large metal gate closed behind them.
“You okay?” Ben asked.
“Yeah,” Amir lied as the van lurched to a stop and the engine cut off. When the doors opened again, the cold cut of wind hit him like a knife.
“All right,” a man called out. “You can get out, lads. Slowly now.”
Ben obeyed. Amir followed.
Longreach Lycanthropy Correctional Centre was a small square building walled off from the greater prison complex by a series of fences. The walls were grey brick and the windows hidden behind metal mesh.
“Keep moving, lads! We haven’t got all day!”
Amir ducked his head and followed Ben up the driveway, through an unassuming door, and into a small office. Inside the air was dry and artificially warm. An iPhone in the corner was quietly playing pop songs from the early 2000s. A woman in cheap office wear sat behind the desk.
The man beside Amir grunted. “Traffic was bad.”
“Sure.” She wiggled and clicked her mouse. “Name?”
Ben was closer to the desk, so he answered first. “Benjamin James Berkley.”
“Berkley . . . B-E-R . . .?”
She typed it in. “Birthdate?”
“Third of July 1989.”
“Wow. Happy birthday.”
His eyes crinkled around the edges of his muzzle. Another smile. “Thank you.”
“All right. There you are,” she clicked her mouse a couple of times to open up a window. “Transfer. Three months left.”
“All right.” She waved him through. “Next.”
Ben moved aside and Amir shuffled forward.
“I’m Amir Ba—”
“Bashir. Born August tenth, 1992,” she finished for him, typing in the information. “No allergies. No medication. Here on remand until trial, date yet to be set.”
“How did you—”
Before he could say anything, he was pulled into the next room, where Ben was already out of his muzzle, getting his photo taken up against a white wall. It was the first time Amir had seen his face unobstructed, and the sight stopped Amir in his tracks. He wasn’t much into guys. He wasn’t much into anyone. But even he could tell Ben was beautiful.
Smooth symmetrical features, warm dark skin, and full lips, pulled up at the corners.
Smiling. He was smiling again. For his mug shot.
Amir snapped back to himself as the guard uncuffed his right hand and brought it up to press his fingers into an ink pad and then onto a piece of paper. It wasn’t the first time he’d had his fingerprints taken since his arrest. He ignored the small angry voice inside him that wanted to remind these people that he could put his hand on an ink pad by himself, and let it happen.
When they had all of his fingers, they pushed him back against the wall and finally took off his muzzle so he could get his photo taken.
He didn’t smile.
After that, he and Ben were stripped naked, checked for parasites, and finally given green tracksuits and freshly printed IDs.
Amir thought that was it until something heavy and black looped around his throat.
In a flash of panic, he reached up to claw at it, but, before his fingers could find purchase, he saw the same thing happening to Ben, and froze. It was a . . . collar. They were putting collars on them.
“It’s okay,” Ben said softly, evidently seeing his horror. “Just let them do it. It’s okay.”
“Okay?” Amir rasped in disbelief.
“Don’t talk,” one of the guards said.
The collar locked into place with a loud click, and out of the corner of his eye, he saw a small green light flicker to life.
He bit his lip and fought back the revulsion. He hated muzzles. They were dehumanising. But at least a small part of him could see the logic in them. He was accused of biting someone. In a muzzle he couldn’t bite. But this . . .
A door at the other end of the room opened, and two women stepped through. They could not have been more different from each other. One was middle-aged and wore an unassuming guard uniform, face remarkable only in that there was nothing remarkable about it. The other was tall, thin, and wearing stiff expensive clothes that looked like they belonged on someone twice her age.
It was the second woman that spoke first, in a high, nervous voice.
“Thank you, gentleman. We’ll take it from here.”
“Sure thing.” The man tightening Amir’s collar gave it one more experimental tug. “They’re all yours now, Miss Chan.”
“Ms.,” she corrected him quietly.
The man either didn’t hear her or didn’t bother answering as he turned and walked through the same door they’d entered through. It was only when they were gone that Amir realised he was unrestrained and in the room with someone else for the first time in days.
The younger woman looked like she knew it. Body stiff and hands clasped in front of her as if to stop them shaking.
“Welcome to Longreach Lycanthropy Centre,” she said, the words practiced and performed, her gaze on the wall behind them. “My name is Lisa Chan. I’m an expert on lycanthropy psychology and am currently the administrator overseeing operations at this facility. This is my colleague CO Johnson.”
The older woman smiled a small, pleasant smile. “Hello, boys.”
“She manages the day-to-day affairs of the inmates. If you have any problems anytime during your incarceration, you may speak to her. Otherwise, I will see you in a couple of days for a mandatory psychiatric assessment. Until then, I leave you in Johnson’s capable hands. I hope you have a productive and reformative stay.”
Chan stepped back and without another word fled the room as fast as her pencil skirt would allow.
Once the door had shut behind her, CO Johnson’s smile bloomed in earnest. “My, my. Three in one day. It must be Christmas.”
“I suppose we should get started. As the little college graduate said, my name is CO Johnson. What she forgot to mention is that CO stands for ‘correctional officer,’ which will tell you I work here but doesn’t tell you that I am the most senior CO in this facility. That means it’s my job to give you a quick orientation so you can better adapt to your life behind bars. Now, Berkley, is it? You’re a transfer, so this is going to be nothing new for you. But, Bashir, you’re a first-timer, so I’ll take things slow.”
She held up one finger.
“First, this is a small piece of a big prison. That means the governor—aka little Miss Flighty’s boss—is busy dealing with gen pop and maximum security up on the hill. He asked me to make it very clear that he does not want to be receiving letters, complaints, or requests from inmates staying in the lycanthropy facility. That means if you’ve got a problem, you come to me. Got it?”
They didn’t say anything.
She studied them. “Okay, second thing you need to know. When I ask a question, you answer promptly and respectfully. So, let’s try that again. If you have a problem, you come to me, got it?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Ben said.
“Yes, ma’am,” Amir echoed a little too late.
Johnson’s eyes slid to him. “Excellent. Now, the third thing you need to understand really is quite simple, and it’s got to do with those things around your neck. Berkley, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Bashir, I’m sure you can figure it out. But, just in case . . .” She pulled a small black box from her belt and held it up. “Every CO in the facility has one of these. It’s pretty straightforward, really. Point . . .” She pointed it at Amir. “. . . and click.” She squeezed the box.
A white-hot surge of pain shot from his neck down his spine.
“AH!” He staggered back. “Fuck!”
As suddenly as it had arrived, the pain was gone, and he was left standing there, clutching the collar, shaking.
When he looked up again, CO Johnson was smiling at him. “Electroshock has been demonstrated to reduce incidents of shifting and violence in lycanthropy correctional facilities up to two hundred percent. And, I must say, it has improved behavioural standards exorbitantly as well.”
“That’s fucking sick.”
She lifted an eyebrow and the pain was back, worse this time. He writhed, clawed at his collar, then fell to his knees with a gasp as it subsided. Fuck.
“A slow learner, I see.” Johnson’s voice was light, conversational. “Must run in the family.”
It took a few seconds for his brain to rewire itself and make sense of what she had said. When it did, he went still. Ali. Ali was here. That was why Johnson said three in one day. That was why the woman behind the desk had already known his name. Ali was already here.
Johnson had done this to his brother. He stared up at her. Short, unassuming, with a round face, dull brown hair, and a smile that didn’t touch her eyes. In that moment, he couldn’t have hated her more.
“Now, now,” she chided him quietly. “I’m just teaching you the rules. No need to get angry. Oh, and if you were thinking about mouthing off again, keep in mind that was the low setting. While normally I would be happy to show you what else this little thing of mine can do, when we raise the shock strength, it also tends to broaden the area of effect.” She cast a pointed look towards Ben.
Ben was no longer smiling, but staring at Amir, his face slack with shock. The green light on his collar was reflected in the golden brown of his eyes.
The threat was obvious.
Amir gritted his teeth, bowed his head, and slowly, carefully, pulled himself back up onto his feet. He didn’t say anything else.
Johnson grinned. “Good boy.” She slid the remote—because it was a remote, a remote for his shock collar—back into the holster on her belt. “You have both been assigned to Cellblock West. Dinner for that cellblock will be served at five thirty. That gives you two hours to settle in.”
The door opened.
“Ah.” Johnson beamed. “Just in time.”
A guard stepped in, a bulky pillowcase in each fist.
“Sheets and toiletries,” she promised as she took one pillowcase and threw it to Ben. He caught it. “Anything else you need, let me know.” She tossed the second pillowcase at Amir. Only this time her throw was short. It landed at his feet.
Her smile didn’t waver. “Pick it up.”
Amir was still shaking as he stooped to obey.
“Good boy. Now, keep up.” She turned and strode back towards the door. Ben followed and, a moment later, Amir did as well. There was nothing else to do. No matter how much he wanted to push her against the wall and crush the remote in her belt to a million tiny pieces, he couldn’t.
All he could do was take this one step at a time.
He stepped through the door after Ben, sucked in a breath of air, and froze.
He could smell them.
Wolves. More than he’d ever smelt in one place before. More than he’d ever met before. Dozens. Maybe hundreds. The intermingled scents thick and strong. Like fire, blood, and home all rolled into one.
“Keep up, Bashir!”
He beat down the small instinctual part of him that told him he was invading another pack’s territory and followed Johnson as she led them along a series of corridors, each colder and greyer than the last. As they got closer to their destination, the scent got stronger.
And the voices, muffled by the walls, quiet enough he hadn’t noticed them before, got louder.
Johnson took them through a door with C.B. WEST stamped onto it, then through a barred gate into what Amir assumed was the cellblock.
Large, lined with cells, and filled with men.
Men who all wore the same green tracksuits and collars that he and Ben did.
Men who were all turning to look at them.
Men who reeked of wolf.
“Aw! Fresh meat!”
“Welcome to the pound, puppies!”
“Now, now, boys!” Johnson called out in a tone far from discouraging. “Play nice.”
Amir scanned the inmates’ faces, searching for his brother. Nothing. Even as they came to the centre of the room, he couldn’t see Ali.
Johnson led them to two cots with bare plastic mattresses in the very middle of the room. “Berkley there; Bashir, you’re there. Have those beds made by dinner. Other than that, take some time, settle in, and make some friends. I’m sure you’ll be fine.” She began to walk away.
“Ma’am,” Amir called after her, hating that he had to address the woman who’d hurt him, who’d probably hurt his brother, so civilly, but he had no choice. He was desperate for information, and she was the only one who could give it.
Johnson stopped. “Yes, Bashir?”
“Is this the only place to sleep?”
A lifted eyebrow. “You don’t like it?”
“I just need to know. Is there another—”
“Cellblock?” she said mockingly. “With other inmates? Perhaps another inmate in particular?”
She knew he was asking about Ali. “Is he—”
“He’s looked after. I made sure of that.” She continued walking. “Get that bed made, Bashir. I don’t want to have to ask again.”
He stared after her. Sick, angry, but at least now he knew. Ali was close. He was in another cellblock, but he was close.
“Shit,” Ben whispered when Johnson was out of earshot. “What the hell, man. Are you trying to get zapped?”
Amir didn’t say anything.
“Hey,” Ben’s voice softened. “Are you okay?”
“Really? I’ve never seen a CO shock someone just to show them how a collar works before. That was messed up. And I know she said that was low voltage or something, but I saw where the dial was set. She had that thing on three and then a four. That’s not low. I mean, it’s not high. These things go up to ten. But it’s not low either. Back at my old prison, they only ever gave you a level-one shock unless you were showing fur or fangs or something.”
“They had collars at your old prison too?”
“Uh-huh.” Ben bobbed his head. “Collars are everywhere. If you refuse to wear one, they put you in a muzzle twenty-four seven, which makes eating pretty hard so . . .” He shrugged.
“Why?” Amir asked. “We’re not animals. We’re people with a virus.”
Ben hesitated. “That’s . . . okay. I guess. But you’ve got to admit, it’s a kind of special virus. I mean, it’s not like people with the flu turn into raging murder monsters. Besides, it’s not too bad. You get used to it. They took my collar off during the transfer and, I swear, my neck felt so naked. I kept touching it. This . . .” He ran his hands around the bulky black strap looped tight around his neck. “. . . is normal.”
Normal. Collars, muzzles, people who hurt other people for fun.
Amir turned to his bed and yanked the first sheet out of his pillowcase, began roughly wrapping it around the mattress. Part of the plan. Part of the plan, this was all . . .
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
. . . part of the plan.
The thing Ali would always remember about his first night at Longreach Lycanthropy Centre was the noise. Footsteps as inmates walked by his bed, voices as they whispered in the darkness and, a couple of times, the unmistakable rattle and thud of a barred gate opening and closing somewhere in the facility. All of it built a terrifyingly unfamiliar soundscape, one alienated from the simple quiet of his bedroom at home. No matter how tightly he closed his eyes or how deep he buried his face in the stale scent of his pillow, he couldn’t escape it. He couldn’t pretend he was anywhere except where he was.
And he wasn’t alone. Somewhere, probably behind a dozen locked doors, Amir was here too, dressed in rough green clothes, sleeping on a plastic-wrapped mattress, and wearing a collar that buzzed when the room was quiet enough to hear it. His little brother, the one his mother had told him to watch out for, in here because of him.
Ali felt sick thinking about that.
Amir had protected him. Amir had lied for him. Amir was in custody, risking everything for him, and Ali . . . Ali wasn’t sure if this was the right thing to do. He wasn’t even sure if Amir had really realised what was at stake, what his plan might cost them.
Amir was like that. Strong, angry, protective. He fought first and thought second, and Ali had let him do it. Ali had let him do it because he wasn’t brave enough to do it himself.
And now they were both in prison hoping to God that the forensic experts didn’t find any new evidence while Aisha was out there alone.
She was eighteen, but only just. Would she be able to focus on her exams while both her brothers were in prison? Would she be able to pay for groceries with the money she made from her after-school job?
What if she needed to go somewhere? She hadn’t passed her driving test yet and public transport wasn’t cheap.
What if, after all this was done, she never wanted to speak to him again?
To his shame, none of those questions echoed as loudly in his skull as that one.
He didn’t know if he slept. He didn’t know if he dreamt some of the strange sounds he heard echoing down the corridor. All he knew was that when the lights snapped on—bright, buzzing, and followed by a chorus of groans and very real growls from the inmates—he was more exhausted than when they had gone off.
“Rise and shine, boys! Rise and shine!”
Ali cracked open his eyes to see CO Johnson stride down the line of cots, drumming her handcuffs against the metal frames of the beds. One of the men snarled at her, blue eyes bright, teeth a mangled mess of jagged points.
She snorted. A tap on her remote, a flash of orange light, and the inmate was on the floor, gasping.
Ali scrambled to his feet in shock. He’d known what the thing around his neck was. Johnson had told him during orientation the day before. But he hadn’t seen it—hadn’t really believed it—until now.
“My, oh my,” Johnson said, her voice calm and cordial. “I thought we were past this, Hodges. Those bad manners of yours. Now pick yourself up, there’s a good boy, get those bedsheets, and go stand by the door. We’re going to breakfast.” Her eyes turned to Ali. “You hear that, Bashir?”
“Breakfast?” he echoed dumbly. “But . . . it’s still dark.”
“You’ll get used to it,” she said and strode back down the line.
Thankfully, he didn’t have any time to contemplate that. Most of the men had already stripped the sheets off their beds and were carrying them in tangled bundles towards the far wall of the cellblock. He yanked the fabric off his pillow and mattress, gathered the used bedding into his arms, and jogged after the other inmates.
It was only when he was standing in line waiting for the gate to the common area to be unlocked that he noticed three of the cells were still closed.
He frowned. All the other cells were open, the inmates that occupied them lining up along with those who, like him, had cots instead of cells.
Ali stood to attention as a CO walked down the line with a clicker in one hand and a clipboard in the other. “All here!”
Ali’s eyes danced to the three closed cells and back to the man, but he didn’t say anything. Johnson was already unlocking the gate to the common area and waving the inmates through. Ali moved with them and followed suit as they dumped their bedding into a large laundry trolley parked in the hallway, before continuing to a small dining room.
The air was icy cold and the sky through the wire-meshed windows was black.
Breakfast was baked beans with toast. There was also watered-down apple juice, orange juice, and a massive kettle of not-quite hot water for tea and coffee. Ali wanted a coffee but he made a tea instead because he accidentally picked up a teabag and didn’t know if he was allowed to put it back.
He waited until the other inmates had sat down in their groups, already talking loudly and shovelling food into their mouths, then chose an isolated spot on the very edge of a table and began to slowly pick apart his meal. It wasn’t much and what was there smelt wrong . . . freezer burnt and oddly acidic. He swallowed as much as he could anyway and gulped down the tea to try to purge the strange taste from his mouth.
He was considering getting a second cup when a hand landed on his shoulder.
It was one of the inmates who worked in the kitchen. His uniform was identical to Ali’s but hidden behind a white apron that he’d tied off on his collar. “Here.”
Before Ali could speak, the man dropped a tinfoil-covered tray onto the table in front of him. Ali didn’t need to peel back the foil to know that, whatever was under there, it was a hell of a lot nicer than baked beans and bread. He could smell it. Meat. Cooked but still bloody with pepper, egg, and something deep fried.
“You take the Alpha his breakfast.”
Ali felt the blood drain from his face. “A-alpha?”
“Cell 114.” The man dropped two other trays on the table in front of him. “These two go to 113 and 115. You can leave them outside, but take Alpha’s in and put it on his desk.”
“I don’t think I—”
“He likes his coffee black.” Without another word, he turned on his heel and left.
“W-wait!” Ali called after him. “I don’t kn—”
He disappeared into the kitchen without a backwards look.
Ten seconds passed.
It took almost a full minute for Ali to realise he wasn’t going to come back.
If any of the inmates had seen the exchange, they didn’t care enough to comment on it. Most were already getting up to leave, dumping their breakfast scraps into a bulky black garbage bin and adding their trays to the messy stack by the door.
He should follow them.
He stood to do just that . . . and then hesitated.
The three trays sat where the man had dropped them, small tendrils of steam escaping around the edges of the foil wrap.
Could he leave them there? That seemed like a mistake. He didn’t know who, or even what, an Alpha was, but pissing him off probably wasn’t a good idea. But what else could he do? Pick up the trays and walk back to the cellblock? No. He wasn’t sure what all the rules were yet, but taking trays complete with cutlery outside the dining area had to be breaking at least one of them.
He couldn’t break the rules. Not on his first day in prison. Not when his trial still loomed on the horizon.
It wasn’t worth it.
He took a few steps away, then hesitated again.
What if failing to take the food meant he never made it to trial? He was in prison, in a facility for lycanthropes. There were violent criminals in here, and they didn’t have to sharpen a toothbrush or stuff soap into socks if they wanted to hurt him. They could all sprout teeth and claws at a whim.
He looked back at the food, a flutter of panic starting to squirm in the pit of his stomach.
If Amir were here, he would have told him to leave it. Don’t let anyone push you around. If Aisha were here, she would have told him to take it. Don’t give anyone a reason to hate you. But neither of them were here. It was just him, and he didn’t know what to do.
CO Johnson. She’d said if he had any problems, he should talk to her.
But the only guard he could see was a middle-aged man standing by the door, absently tapping on his phone, ignoring the steady stream of inmates filing out beside him.
Ali had a feeling he could have walked by him with the trays and the man wouldn’t have noticed. A small wild part of him wanted to do that. To turn around, pick up the trays, and walk out. But he didn’t.
He hurried towards him.
“Sir?” Ali said.
The man scowled, clearly annoyed that Ali had interrupted him. “What is it, inmate?”
“I . . . I’m sorry . . . one of the other inmates told me to take those trays over there to—”
“Those trays.” He pointed at the table. “Someone told me to take them to the cellb—”
“Then you better get moving.”
The man stared back, unflinching.
“I . . . No. I don’t think you understand. He was—”
The man’s hand plunged with sickening speed to rest on the remote on his belt. When he spoke again, his voice was quiet. “Are you saying I’m stupid, inmate?”
“N-no! I . . .” Ali met the man’s glare—hard, unforgiving—and quickly stepped back. “I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean . . . I made a mistake.”
“Yes,” the man agreed darkly. “You did.”
He turned around to see a few inmates smirk at him.
“Better hurry up, food bitch,” one of them called out. “Alpha doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”
Ali looked at the man, looked back at the guard who had already returned to his phone, and gulped down the lump in his throat as he realised what he had to do. Without a word, he hurried to his table and clumsily stacked the three trays on top of each other.
“Coffee,” another inmate said under his breath as he passed, his voice slightly kinder than the last man who’d spoken.
Ali didn’t have time to thank him. He dashed over to the drinks and scooped a pile of instant coffee into the nearest mug with shaking fingers. The not-quite-hot water didn’t do a good job of dissolving the powder, and he had to stir for a while before it resembled coffee. By that time the dining room was nearly empty.
“Get a move on, boys!” CO Johnson’s voice echoed down the hallway. “Common area will be closed in fifteen minutes! If you don’t have everything by then, you’re going without!”
Ali rushed to his table, realised he hadn’t cleaned up his own tray, and abandoned the coffee for a moment to do that. When he finally gathered the foiled meals, he was well and truly last out the door.
It didn’t matter. The CO didn’t look up from his phone.
He stepped into the hallway, paused for a moment to watch all the other inmates walk down the hall, then turned and headed the opposite direction, to the cellblock. He didn’t know where they were going. He couldn’t even think where they would go this early in the morning. All he knew was, wherever it was, it was where he would rather be.
The journey back to the cellblock did nothing to ease the hammering of his heart. Not only did he have to carry three trays of food balanced precariously on top of each other, he also had to hold a too-full cup of coffee and hope he didn’t run into any CO who cared about what he was doing more than the one he’d left in the dining room.
The flat metal plates of the collar pressed against his throat as he swallowed.
He could do this. He just needed to move quickly and re-join the other inmates. If someone caught him, he would explain what happened. It would be okay. It was all going to be okay.
The main cellblock was empty when he stepped back into it, the cots stripped to their bare mattresses and the cell doors hanging open. All except for three: 113, 114, and 115.
He hurried towards them and, as quietly as he could, placed a tray outside of 113 and another outside of 115. He paused outside of 114 and debated leaving the food like he had the others. He wished he could say it was bravery that spurred him to finally turn the knob. But it wasn’t. He wasn’t brave. He’d never been brave. Just desperate.
Like the rest of the building, the room beyond reeked of wolf. Unlike the rest of the building, there was only one man that Ali could smell, his scent heavy and musky, like earth after rain. The room was also dark, the single source of light a dim sunrise visible through the mesh-covered window. With that light, Ali could barely make out the main features of the narrow space. A shelf stuffed with books, a boxy old TV mounted on the wall, and there, up against the far wall, a bed.
In it was a man.
Ali couldn’t see much of him. The shape of his body beneath the blankets, the small green light on his collar, and a single pale arm hanging off the edge of the mattress. Even in his sleep, he had claws on his fingers.
Ali looked aside and moved as quickly and as quietly as he could to what seemed to be the desk, a simple surface built into the wall. There wasn’t enough space for the tray, so he pushed aside the clutter until he could gently set the tray and mug down. Then, holding his breath, he retraced his steps.
He was about to step outside, when the man spoke. His voice was low, rough from sleep, and coloured with a distinctly American accent. “Who are you?”
Ali froze, hand on the doorknob, and looked over his shoulder.
Somehow, without making a sound, the Alpha had rolled over, propped himself up on an elbow, and was watching him. In the darkness, all Ali could see was the shape of his face, strong, sharp, and shadowed by the messy tangle of blond hair, which was long enough to fall past his chin.
“I-I’m new. I arrived last night.”
“Johnson told me the transfer was going in the other cellblock.”
“I’m not a transfer.”
The man’s head tipped to the side. “What are you?”
“I . . . I don’t . . .”
Ali obeyed, slowly, fighting off some wild animal instinct inside him that was screaming at him to run, get out of there, even though he knew with every fibre of his being that would be the worst thing he could do.
When he drew to a stop beside the bed, the man reached out and, without a word, ripped the ID off Ali’s uniform.
Ali flinched but stayed where he was.
“Ali Bashir,” the Alpha read. “Twenty-five years old. One-eighty-one centimetres. Lycanthropy ty—” He squinted at the card. “Type A?” Looked up at him. “You’re type A?”
Ali bobbed his head in a nervous nod.
“You were born a werewolf? You weren’t bit?”
Ali fought the part of him that recoiled at the ugly word and nodded again. “Both my parents were lycanthropes. My whole family is.”
The Alpha sat up, and for the first time, enough light fell on his face that Ali could see the vivid, almost eerie blue of his eyes fixed on him.
“You can shift—really shift, four legs and a tail—when the moon’s not full?”
“I . . . did a few times when I was a kid,” Ali admitted. “But I haven’t for years.”
The man studied him for a long time. Then . . . “Bring me my coffee.”
Ali hurried to obey, dashing across the cell to pick up the cup and bring it to him. The Alpha took it from him, downed the contents in one long swig, and handed the empty mug back. As Ali watched, he cracked a few joints in his body and stood.
His uniform was only half on, and there were scratches. Long, vicious scratches on his forearms, shoulder, and chest that most certainly hadn’t been tended to by a doctor.
Claw marks, healing unnaturally fast due to his lycanthropy but still raw, new, and unmistakable.
Ali looked quickly aside. “Is there anything else I can do for you?” he asked, desperate to be out of there.
“Yeah,” the Alpha muttered. “I’d really like my cock sucked if you were up for that.”
Ali gaped. “I-I-I don’t . . .”
“Relax. I’m not the sort of guy that likes fucking people who don’t want to fuck. It was a suggestion.”
“Oh . . .” Ali managed, heart still hammering, and watched out of the corner of his eye as the Alpha finished stretching and started turning Ali’s ID over and over in his hands.
When he spoke again, his voice was low, soft. “You’re afraid of me.”
He was. Ali didn’t think he’d ever been more afraid of one man in his life. “Yes.”
“I’m just . . . I’ve never spoken to an Alpha before.”
The man snorted. “Yeah, well, don’t worry about that. That’s a bullshit word that means I’m good at playing a part.”
Ali stayed silent.
“My name’s Morgan. I take care of Cellblock South. My only rules are no drugs and no lagging. That means you don’t take anything, you don’t sell anything, and you don’t say anything. If you follow those rules, we’ll get along fine and you won’t need to be afraid of me.”
“Okay,” he said, not sure what else there was to say.
“Look at me, Ali.”
Morgan’s gaze was even more piercing, the blue even more bright, when it was at eye level with his own.
There was something in those eyes. Something that sucked all the air out of Ali’s lungs and made his heart beat faster. Oh fuck, he’s . . .
“Gorgeous,” Morgan said with a sigh. “Shame you don’t want to fuck.” He clipped Ali’s ID back onto his shirt and then nodded towards the door. “Go on. Get out of here.”
Ali didn’t need to be told twice.
He fled the room as quickly as he could.
Once he was in the empty cellblock, the door shut behind him, he stopped and shook. He shook and shook and shook and shook.
He hadn’t had a panic attack since he was a child, but it seemed his brain remembered how. Only this time he didn’t have his brother to sit by him and wait it out. All he had was the cold air and strange heavy scent of the prison.
He shouldn’t be freaking out like this. He really shouldn’t. The Alpha—Morgan—hadn’t been anything like what he’d expected. Morgan wasn’t a snarling monster or a sneering kingpin. He was just a guy. A guy with some rules. A guy that seemed a hell of a lot more reasonable than CO Johnson, who smiled one minute and shocked them the next.
Just a guy. He was just a guy. Just a—
Ali glanced up.
Cell 113 was open and a large bald man with brown skin and two sleeves of swirling tattoos was leaning in the frame. His neck was so thick his collar could probably slip up over his head. He held the breakfast tray Ali had left earlier and was chewing on a sausage, his teeth sharp and eyes locked on Ali.
Word Count: 110,000
Page Count: 410
Cover By: L.C. Chase
Release Date: 05/03/2021
Release Date: 05/03/2021