Chapter 107 - Hopeless
Robert appeared in their doorway with his usual soundless approach, but in the month since Marianna died, they found they could sense him from some distance away.
This stage of pregnancy brought a new sensitivity to the things around them that only added to their heightened senses. The silence of the caverns, and the hollow echoes of every sound in the passages, made their hearing almost painfully sensitive.
They missed the sounds of nature, the wind in the trees, the crickets chirping, the scurry of night animals on the prowl, and the scents of the world above ground; grass, fresh air, green things growing, the sting of sea salt on the ocean breeze, food cooking, and the familiar lull of people talking.
“The master wishes your presence,” Robert ordered more curtly than usual. When you got to spend as much time with him as they did, and studied the subtle patterns of his behavior, it was warning enough.
“We’re not yet dressed,” Alena balked. They wore silk robes since they just returned from the bathroom and they hadn’t put on their nightclothes.
“Immediately,” Robert countered, and his voice brooked no argument.
They slipped their feet into silk slippers and followed him without another word. They didn’t expect him to lead them to a part of the caverns they hadn’t entered before.
Belvare motioned Robert away to give them some privacy, something he’d never done before, but he watched them with hawk-like intensity.
“Undress,” Belvare ordered, and they hesitated only because something in his manner made them uneasy. His eyes never wavered as they complied. Instinctively they locked their emotions tightly away, not knowing how much he could sense.
“I see my future children are growing well,” Belvare drawled, and their blood ran cold. They were under no illusions, not anymore, as he took their last ace from the hole.
“Did you think I didn’t know?” His gaze unnerved them as he toyed with their fears, always ten steps ahead of them. They knew then that he suspected that they intended to kill him, and he still thought them no threat.
“I only allowed them to settle more firmly in your bellies, but now my patience is done,” Belvare rose to his feet in one silky smooth movement, and they braced themselves for whatever would come next.
Rowan showed more prominently in the slight roundness of her muscled belly, and he traced her stomach with his hands. She tried not to show her disgust by shrinking from him.
“This Marcus has more spirit than I expected,” Belvare commented condescendingly. “It will be a pity that his offspring will make a quaint addition to my family and that he will never know them. If you’re good, they may live to be servants in this house,” he said almost pleasantly, but he did not fool them. His malice was a living thing beneath his pretense at placid unconcern.
“I will tell them about their great father, who sent two women to do a man’s job,” Belvare laughed sardonically. Only the bitter lessons of the past kept them still with their facial expressions carefully neutral, even though they trembled inside with both fear and hatred.
His threat was unmistakable; as long as they obeyed his every wish, their babies would live. His arrogance was born from his experiences, and he falsely believed that they were no threat to him.
“Kiss me,” Belvare ordered, and with only the slightest hesitation, Rowan obeyed.
She kept her mind blank of all thought and feeling as she kissed him the way she would kiss Marcus, but with none of the tenderness and all the animal passion Belvare expected. He ended the kiss.
“No wonder your Marcus is so enamored,” Belvare drawled. He pulled Rowan against him and kissed her more thoroughly this time. She didn’t hesitate again, as she returned his kiss.
Rowan would have been ashamed of her body's reaction to him, had she not expected that more drew women to him than his magnetic personality.
Belvare let her go with one last lingering kiss. Triumph showed in his eyes, and if she thought that she would have the slightest chance of defeating him, Rowan would have taken a swipe at him, but she didn’t, and she dared not. Not yet.
Belvare left Rowan and approached Alena. She followed her sister’s example and kissed him the way she would a lover. He enjoyed her capitulation, and he smirked at them with satisfaction. In his eyes, this battle was over.
“Put your robes on, and come with me,” Belvare ordered curtly with something dark stirring in his eyes. Until that moment, they’d been wary of him, but set in their purpose, but now they were truly learning to hate them.