Chapter 105 - Gambit
“Sire?” Robert interrupted Belvare, and his master frowned fiercely.
“What?” Belvare demanded as he let go of the scroll he studied.
“We may have a problem,” Robert informed Belvare, and the Damphir knew his minion well enough to follow wordlessly. Robert stopped outside the room, although he was inside less than five minutes earlier.
Belvare’s frown turned to a scowl at the scent of blood, and he brushed past Robert to come to a standstill just inside the door.
There was no need for explanation. The room was splattered with blood, and his kin were covered in it, while Mariana lay on her bed like a broken doll. They had obviously fed off their victim.
“Finish it,” Belvare ordered, and Rowan brushed past him to Robert, who handed her his single-edged sword. Rowan cut Marianna’s head from her body in one fluid movement.
Belvare moved swiftly, taking the blade from Rowan’s hands and holding it against her throat. She felt fear then, but she kept it inside herself.
“Look at me!” Belvare ordered, and Rowan obeyed.
“Are you so eager to take her place?” Belvare mocked before licking the blood from her mouth, chin, and throat. Rowan stood very still under the ungentle hold of his hand. His teeth were out and very near her throat.
“She tried to poison Alena, and she was on her way to finish the job,” Rowan stated as calmly as she could.
“Poison will do you little harm. What proof do you have?” Belvare asked as he stared hard into her eyes.
“Ask Robert, Master,” Rowan answered, and his grip tightened to the point of pain. His fangs sank into her neck so swiftly and savagely that Rowan almost panicked. Robert held Alena back with a firm hand.
He drank with strong greedy gulps, and just as fear gripped Rowan’s chest, he closed the wound with his own blood. She’d never been so afraid of anyone in her life, and yet she felt angry. She knew he wouldn’t kill her, but she hated that he could make her fear him.
“I deal justice in my house,” Belvare barely kept his anger in check. “You ever act without my permission again, and you will regret it,” he promised, and she believed him.
Belvare kissed Rowan with rough and possessive passion. The odd taste of peppermint, mixed with the taste of her own blood on his lips, felt wrong. She loved Marcus and this possession of her mouth in such an intimate manner, felt like a betrayal. It was a feeling she would have to conquer if she wanted their plan to have any chance. She shut herself off from the thought of Marcus and kissed Belvare back as if she wanted him.
He grew still, torn between taking her there and then, and his innate distrust of them. Belvare pushed her away from him and left the room without another word. Rowan would have fallen to her knees, were it not for Alena and Robert. She was shaking inside and disgusted with herself.
Belvare’s appetite for blood was unnatural. His venom affected her, and she was weak from his onslaught. Alena and Robert supported Rowan.
“I’ll take care of the mess,” Robert said as he picked Rowan up with as much ease as if she were a child and carried her to the bath chamber.
He sat Rowan down on one of the upturned crates and left, Alena walked over to Rowan, inspected the wound and Rowan caught onto her like a lifeline. Alena let her arms settle around her sister.
“Shit,” Rowan said with a shudder and Alena held her even closer.
Alena sat with Rowan while Robert had the bath’s filled. She tended the wound to Rowan’s neck as best she could, but it would not heal. It would leave a ragged, and ugly scar.
She helped Rowan undress and helped her scrub the blood off. She helped Rowan out of the tub and rinsed her off in the clean water in the other tub. Poor Marianna had bled profusely, and the wound on Rowan’s neck only just stopped bleeding.
Rowan was recovering swiftly, but she was still shaky. Alena scrubbed the blood off her in the dirtied water before getting out and rinsing herself clean in the other tub. Rowan was dry, and she was drying herself when Belvare strode in. They had no clean clothes, and no time to retrieve the two fluffy robes Robert put down as his master arrived.
Belvare studied them with intense interest and an odd yearning in his eyes. Whatever he felt made him angry, and Alena instinctively placed herself between him and Rowan. Her movement didn’t go unnoticed, nor her intent. The anger drained from his face to be replaced by the familiar cordial mask. Neither of them trusted the abrupt change since they could still almost taste his rage.
His eyes went from one to the other, took in their defensive postures, and this time when he took in their state of undress with leisurely thoroughness, lust reflected in his eyes when he walked over to them. This unsettled them more than his anger.
“Sit down on this bench, Rowan. Let me tend to your wound,” it was the last thing on earth either of them expected him to say.
“Let me see,” Belvare ordered when Rowan obeyed his request. She sat very still as he inspected the ragged wound he had caused.
“I did not mean to mark you so cruelly, but by now you should realize I have neither pity nor compassion,” Belvare almost apologized as he drew out his knife. Rowan and Alena both tensed.
“Are you going to sit still so I can restore your flawless beauty or should your sister hold you?” Belvare asked, and his intentions became clear to both of them.
Alena stepped forward without a word, she understood what he needed to do, and his anger seemed to have cooled. Rowan flinched when he pulled a sharp knife from his belt, but Alena’s calm kept her still.