My little baby girl had been taken. Taken on my watch at the gates. I'd never be able to forgive myself if she didn't make it out of this alive. I paced the room, anxiously awaiting the news from Adrian.
"Janine, sit down. You're wearing a hole in the carpet." Abe chastised, trying to get me to calm down. I shot him my fiercest glare, but it was useless. Abe was fearless, just like Rose. There was no point in even trying to scare him into shutting up, so I sat, jiggling my leg, trying to relax and failing miserably.
I noticed Dimitri in the corner looking like he wanted to die. I was curious as to why he was so choked up over the loss of Rose. Sure, he should be upset that his student is in danger, but by the way he looked at his feet, close to tears, I had a feeling that their student/teacher relationship wasn't just that.
As I studied Dimitri, Adrian began to stir, slowly coming back to us. I did not have the patience to watch him slowly stretch and yawn while he awoke from his little catnap. I shook him, waking him up immediately. Every second counted, and I just didn't have time for this.
"Easy! Easy! No need for that!" He whined, rubbing his shoulders where I had grabbed him. I rolled my eyes.
Pussy, I thought, giving him a scary look, but he was unfazed and flashed me the signature Ivashkov smile.
"Enough. Did you contact Rose?" Abe demanded, taking a seat in front of him and looking very much like a pissed off interrogator.
"Yes, I did. She has no idea where she is. They have her zip tied to a chair in an all white, little, concrete room with no windows and one door. Outside her room there's a long hallway with rows of doors along each side. She knows of three Strigoi that come to torture her, but she assumes there's many more, considering she doesn't recognize any of them from her kidnapping. The leader's name is Freya Morana, and she wants information on Lissa and the Guardians, information that Rose refuses to give, so they torture her." I took a sharp intake of breath, thinking of the pain Rose was enduring just to keep Lissa safe.
Eddie turned and punched the wall, leaving a large hole in the drywall. I hadn't expected that reaction from stoic Eddie. It took me a moment, but I finally recalled how he'd been taken and tortured with Rose, Christian, Mia Rinaldi, and Mason Ashford, though Mason was killed as they were trying to escape. I remembered how they were tied up with zip ties as well, preventing them from easy escape. The similarities between the two must be killing Eddie.
He turned back, his face damp with tears that he quickly dried. "How bad is she?" he asked, he voice wavering.
"She showed me. I made her show me everything they did to her, like it was a movie, and I'll be scarred for life. It was horrible what they did to her. I…" He paused, as if deliberating whether or not to tell us the truth, "I don't think she's going to last much longer." He murmured, sending Lissa into hysterics. She bent over, clutching her stomach, sobbing. Christian attempted to console her, but it was useless, Lissa had lost it.
"Did she say anything else?" Dimitri asked, hopeful.
"She told me to tell you guys to stop looking for her, to give up on her. She thinks she'll be turned if she doesn't tell them, and she doesn't want us to be there if she does get turned. She wants us to stay safe, as far away from her as possible. She said that if she's lucky, they'd kill her quickly, instead of forcing her to become a monster." I lost it, sobs wracked my body as I put my head in my hands, leaning over my news and letting the tears fall to the floor.
Dimitri stormed out of the room, not even bothering to close the door behind him. By the looks on everyone's faces, they were just as distraught. I took a deep breath, wiped my tears away, and followed him, intent on finding out why he was so upset.
I was lost. I no longer knew what to do. Without Rose, I was incomplete, completely useless. We had no idea where she was, we had no plan of action to rescue her because we didn't know her location, and to top it all off, their leader was one of my old friends, Freya. She had gone to St. Basil's Academy with Ivan and I. She was funny, smart, and kind, and we'd become fast friends. I remember how I'd asked her to my first dance at school. She had been a dhampir girl training to guard her best friend, Izolda, one of the few, especially around that part of Russia where most women became 'bloodwhores' and joined dhampir communities, letting the dhampir males do the guarding.
The news of her turning shook me, she had been a talented guardian, fierce and strong, just like Rose. I assumed Izolda dead or Strigoi, since Freya refused to leave Izolda's side. They reminded me of Rose and Vasilisa, which scared me more than I wanted to admit.
"Guardian Belikov!" I whipped around to find Guardian Hathaway storming towards me. This was odd, Rose had always said her mother wasn't one to show much emotion or care.
"What can I do for you, Guardian Hathaway?" I asked, trying to be polite in my distress.
"You can tell me what exactly is going on between you and my daughter." She growled, making it very clear that I was to tell her immediately.
"I'm not sure you want the answer to that, Guardian Hathaway." I looked at my feet, uncomfortable. I didn't want to be the one to tell Janine that I'd broken her daughter's heart.
"You can call me Janine. Now, spit it out." She demanded. I sighed, this was not going to be pretty.
"Right, Janine. Well, I guess I should start from the very beginning. I was the one to bring Rose and Vasilisa back to St. Vladimir's Academy…" I went on to tell her the story of how we fell in love, trying to avoid our encounter in the cabin as much as possible before lightly brushing over the fact. She raised an eyebrow at that, giving me her best 'if-my-daughter-didn't-love-you-you'd-be-so-dead-right-now' glare. I kept going, all the way up to how she saved me from my undead state.
"She left not long after that. Why?" She asked. I sighed deeply, completely unenthused at the prospects of telling Janine exactly how I'd mercilessly torn her daughter's heart out.
"When I came back from my undead state, I didn't think I was capable of love. I was disgusted with myself for everything I'd done as a Strigoi, and so I alienated myself from everyone I'd hurt as a Strigoi, which was Rose. I pushed her away, because being around her reminded me of everything I'd done to her. I told her that I was incapable of loving, but still, she stood by me, doing everything she could to help me, so I told her that my love had faded, and that, that broke her, so she left. It took me until the day I was told of her leaving that everything I'd done to push her away was a mistake. I was a coward and shied away from the love I felt for Rose, and it cost me. I regret it with every fiber of my being." I was sincere, but timid, awaiting her reaction, and counting on it to be violent.
To my surprise, she nodded. I blinked, astonished at her non-violent reaction. Was Janine really accepting our relationship this easily? "Okay." she said as she took a deep breath, taking it all in.
"That's it? No punches? No killing? No fight?" I asked, shocked.
"No. There's no need for it. You're both in love, obviously, it's not my job to kill you, that would be Abe's. I'm just happy that Rose found someone to love. She's only 20 years old, and her life has been fuller than my 38 years, and now, now there's a good chance it may end, and I'm just glad she had someone, especially since I wasn't." I watched as the tears rolled down her cheeks.
"There's no need for tears, we're going to find her. We have to find her." I sighed, deciding on going back to the suite. We needed a plan, and fast.
The tears weren't helping. I still felt the hole of Rose's absence. It was the scariest thing I'd ever felt, scarier than Victor taking me, or staking Strigoi-Dimitri, or even when Rose slapped me. Losing Rose was like losing part of my soul, and that's when it clicked.
I shot up, my tears immediately stopped. I had an idea. When Rose was gone, I had tried to use the bond to find her, hoping she was close. The Strigoi that had taken her wouldn't have taken her too far, she was unconscious the entire ride, but you can only be out for so long unless you're in a coma.
The bond wasn't two-way, but I'd always been able to find Rose in a crowded room. I had an uncanny sense of the bond and Rose's proximity to my location. I could tell how far away she was, and a sense of which direction to look to find her. It wasn't much, but I was sure I could find her. However, if I tried to locate her aura, it would go much faster. All I needed to do was feel the bond. It was like a Spirit induced bondmate GPS system. I almost laughed with joy.
"What's going on, Liss? Did you figure something out?" Christian asked as everyone stared. I nodded, my face lighting up as I started to feel Rose's aura.