Dominic (Benedetti Brothers Book 2)

By: Natasha Knight

Rowan swallowed, awaiting Commander Norrin’s response, which came quickly in the form of him taking the switch and breaking it in half. He turned to Rowan then back to Captain Amro before taking the two steps to reach her.

“Look at me,” he said to her.

Rowan kept her gaze to the stone. She shouldn’t look him in the eye, it wasn’t allowed. Commander Norrin was the highest-ranking officer of all the colonies.

“I said look at me,” he repeated.

Something told her Commander Norrin saving her from Captain Amro would not bode well for her.

Slowly, she turned fiery green eyes up to meet his.

“She is a breeder, captain,” he said, looking at Rowan all along, his gaze traveling the length of her before he reached to grip a handful of hair and lift her face up as if to show it to the captain. “Or have you somehow failed to see that?”

“Sir, she would have been put to death if she were not a breeder. I showed mercy.”

Commander Norrin then looked at her bottom, the backs of her legs, his eyebrows rising. “I see your brand of mercy. Unbind her,” he told the guards who immediately ran to do just that. He took one menacing step toward Captain Amro and in that moment, Rowan knew this man was not to be fooled with. “Without the breeders, we die,” he said through clenched teeth. For a moment, Rowan thought she glimpsed a battle behind his eyes, but his next sentence left her feeling cold. “Besides, there are other ways to punish one so valuable.” This last sentence was directed at her and the look in his eyes as he said it turned her blood to ice.

She rose slowly as her bonds were removed but before she could rise fully, Commander Norrin reached out a hand and, without even having to look at her, gripped her by the back of her neck and dragged her forward to face the people.

“People of Andorra,” Commander Norrin began, addressing the crowd who instantly quieted. “The crimes this breeder has committed against the state, against Andorra, and against all of you, are horrific. If she were not a breeder, she would be publically executed,” he said, pausing for effect. “However, as she is a breeder, you must rest assured that her punishment will be carried out to the fullest extent of our laws. For now, I ask you all to go home. This spectacle is over.”

The crowd began to dissipate, their sighs and mumblings making their disappointment obvious.

“Take her to the examining room. The doctors are ready for her. Bind her if she gives you any trouble,” he ordered the guards who had brought her to the platform. “Captain, come with me,” he finished.

The guards took her roughly by the arms, every one of their movements agony on her bruised body as they made their way into the massive building that housed the breeders. As they marched her down the corridor and to the stairs that would lead to the medical rooms, she heard a roar she would have thought only an animal could make. When a door opened, she and her guards all turned their heads in the direction of the commotion. There, a giant of a man who dwarfed even the six-foot-tall men of the colony, gripped a guard by the throat and pushed him hard against the wall.

“Do. Not. Touch. Me. Again.”

Rowan’s mouth fell open and she stopped breathing altogether at the deep, dark rumble that was his voice. His black hair was thick and his face was covered with a beard she’d only ever seen in old pictures. Since the epidemic that killed so many and rendered the majority of the population sterile, the men no longer grew facial hair, or if they did, it was nothing like this. She watched as he lifted the guard who had his attention off his feet, still holding him by his neck.

The guard gurgled and kicked his legs, his face growing redder, but the man, the man she knew was one who lived in one of the settlements outside of the colonies, held him there and looked over each of the other seven guards who stood and watched in disbelief.

“I am not your prisoner,” he said. “Do not make that mistake again.” With that, he let go of the man he held and let him fall with a thud to the floor.

It was in that moment that he turned his gaze in her direction. His eyes were a color she’d never seen within the colony, a bright, clear, almost magnetic cobalt blue. Within them, she glimpsed something she did not expect to find there: intelligence. The men from outside of the colonies lived like beasts. They were violent, barbaric. It’s what she had been taught all her life.

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