Missing scene from 'Bone Crossed'.

"They're all dead?"

Stefan didn't move. He didn't need to. Adam's scent was unmistakable, overpowering, even if his footsteps were silent. He smelt of alpha magic, wolf and anger, though he was outwardly calm.

Stefan continued to stare at the cell's ceiling, barely moving his lips as he answered. "Yes."

"She killed them?"


"And she tortured you?"

At that, Stefan moved his head slightly, to see Adam standing by the cage facing him, arms crossed. Did he think the deaths of his people were not torture? Or was he so disgusted by vampire kind as to think that his 'sheep' were not to him what pack was to Adam?


"Starved you?"

Stefan didn't say anything.

"Beat you."

This time Adam's non-questions were followed by a smell of anger, hard-edged and fiery... Stefan could guess the next words out of the Alpha's mouth.

"....And dropped you at Mercy's feet with every hope that you would kill her in a fit of blood lust?"

Stefan went rigid, but his eyes locked with Adam's; "yes" he hissed the word out. Adam did not flinch, an Alpha wouldn't, even when staring into the eyes of a vampire....

After a long bout of silence, and without blinking, Adam spoke his next words in a low rumble; "Guess that means you're out of the seethe then."

Stefan broke eye contact first, going back to stare at the ceiling.

He could still hear the noise. That pitying, wounded noise, high-pitched keening. Human beings degraded by pain into the animals they are underneath everything else. And he liked it. A part of him, that part that Marsilia had drained and starved and beaten, that part of him heard their cries and wanted to taste the pain. Wanted to clamp down on that sorrow and know what it tasted like. Sweet and gushing. Mad with hunger, the cries of his people excited him, and she knew it.

And when his charred and limp body salivated and thirsted for life's blood, when the noise of his people peaked his hunger, she let him go.

"You want her? You kept her all to yourself for ten years, put the family at risk because of your obsession...."

Her lips brushed his ear, a tender reprise to times long since past, never to be rekindled.

"...You want her so badly?"

She snapped his iron shackles. An unnecessary decoration since he was so weak he could barely lift his own head.

She planted a kiss on his lips. Her robust, bow lips, red and perfect tasted bitter and cold. He had shivered, and when she pulled away, her lips hovering over his...

"...May she show you mercy."

The blood in his stomach curdled at the memory.

He had wanted her. Remembered the taste of her.... hot and spicy, singing in his veins, the perfect curve of her neck..... the smell of her, wild woods and.....Mercy. Her scent; oil, brownies, coyote and....Mercy.

He had craved her before his starvation.... had wanted her even before tasting her. For years. When did the wanting start? He didn't even know anymore. All he knew now was that the thought of hurting her.... If her Alpha mate had not been there....

"I would never have hurt her." Stefan spoke the words, but could not be sure himself if they were truth or lies.

Adam waited a beat, huffed, then shifted slightly.

"Truth." Adam whispered, Stefan heard him and allowed a moment of surprise.

It was truth. Above all else he would never hurt Mercy. Could never....

"How long have you been in love with her?"

Stefan's head jerked. Then he sat up, and looked Adam right in the eye.

"How long?" Adam asked again. The anger was toxic, suffocating.

Stefan blinked, unnecessarily, and lowered his eyes slightly.

"A long time." He finally answered.

"She doesn't know." Adam's voice rang with certainty.

"I doubt it." Stefan agreed, begrudgingly. Did she remember the kiss? Did she truly not know why he killed for her, risked her anger and disappointment....?

"She is mine."

"I know." The words were bitter on his tongue.

"I don't need to threaten you, do I?"

He didn't. The mate-bond was strong between them now. When did that happen? When had she accepted him so completely? While he was under Marsilia's cruel hands? Before then?

But the strength of their bond now meant that Adam would not hesitate to kill for her.... in protecting her, protecting what was his, the beast would take lead...

"No. She is yours."

Adam gave a curt nod and turned toward the stairs, where Samuel was sitting with elbows on his knees.

Adam paused for a moment, looking from Samuel to Stefan down below, and back again.

A small, cruel smile tugged at the Alpha's lips, clearly the irony was not missed.

Samuel lifted his eyebrows slightly, and Stefan gave a small nod.

Ah, the irony not missed on any of them. The three of them, all with one thing in common...

Oh, the irony of Mercy's men.