Chapter 25 - Betrayed
Marcus didn’t want Alena to let down her defenses. He thought it would be foolish of her, and he didn’t want her to get hurt. It was the first time he showed concern and didn’t act as if she were a stubborn inconvenience he inherited with everything else.
Alena was familiar with the ways of other vampire lords. By rights, Marcus could take her as his woman and kill her if she denied him. Other lords kept many chattels, usually weaker half-breeds they acquired for their pleasure and little else, Marcus showed no such interest in her.
He treated her like a younger sister or an irritating child most of the time, and she was glad. She didn’t want a man like him; a master, and didn’t view herself as property. Alena didn’t want to take the chance of ending up like her mother. Carla loved Victor, and Victor never learned to love her back. It broke her.
Marcus needed someone as strong as him. A woman that didn’t bow to his will, or depended on his charity. Few women could equal him, among their kind.
Rowan returned, and Alena ripped herself from her irrelevant reverie. What good was speculation when they might have no future?
Rowan was oddly distant as if her mind traveled far paths and she was just a little different. Her manner had changed in some indefinable way.
Her mind was on painful paths she had to travel in the face of what Marcus said. Was he right? Was her life so pitifully inadequate that she had no purpose outside of hatred and vengeance? Had all she learned, at such a dear price, been irrelevant? Did her sacrifices only serve to amuse a vampire who destroyed her life, at her father’s instruction?
She had no idea of the elaborate trap Martin conceive. She thought he loved her. He became her world, and Rowan shut out everyone, and everything to be with him. She was only a child in his eyes, a toy to mold to his hand and he altered her in every way.
Rowan was little more than a wild thing when he found her. The lesson she learned once in the gentle hands of Moira she repressed in her all-consuming hatred. He taught her to stop and smell the evening rose, to marvel at the flight of an owl, and to listen to the nuances of the night.
For two years she blossomed in his care, and then he stole from her the light. She could bear the sunlight as a child, but only sensitive to it as an adult, and then he took it all away along with what humanity she had left.
Rowan was passion drugged by his lovemaking, and she suspected nothing when he nuzzled her neck. He sank his teeth into that tender flesh, and she felt the weakness of the victim, learned the terror.
Martin took his fill of her, and she feared he would kill her when he lifted her from their bed. He carried her to the roof, made her kneel, and with one last kiss of his lips, he drove a silver-edged blade through her heart.
She awoke alone in their bed with little memory of what happened after he had stabbed her. Her thoughts filled with confusing images that made no sense and seemed all out of proportion to reality. She tasted his blood in her mouth, and she knew he completed it.
Rowan painfully turned her head and noticed a sword of breathtaking design on the side table and a note. The note said merely; a gift from your father. All the hate she felt before paled to what she experienced. She vowed that one day she would take that blade and plunge it into Victor’s chest. She would pull it out and cut his head from his shoulders.
Martin betrayed and used her. She let down her guard, and he stabbed a sword through her heart. She was no longer the Damphir, but one of them. Stronger than most vampires, but less than them.
She hunted those who hunted the humans, just to kill something and all the time she searched for them. The thirst was a part of her since she came of age, but now it was a living thing, perhaps no more or less than hunger, but magnified by her hatred.
Rowan learned to control it and with control came the realization that no matter how many she killed, there would always be more. Rowan took charge of her life and helped those that would have her help. If she got to kill a few vermin? That was fine too.
Martin taught her more than he ever realized and less than he should have. The elders and the pure born were not like the newborn or the lesser halfbreeds. They weren’t raging, insatiable, mindless monsters, but they were dangerous, and sometimes unforgiving adversaries, even heartless.
Vampires needed the halfbreeds, but mostly those that didn’t die were useless. A wolf starving of an unquenchable hunger that couldn’t be let loose among the sheep, and these they killed.
They had to protect the myth. Humans that were not part of their world, needed to guess at their existence and yet have no proof.
Some humans didn’t die when bitten but turned. Turning was a different process than being bitten, only one as old as Martin or better yet, an elder, might achieve success.
Martin was nowhere near as strong as her father that he dared not risk; she would have been a threat to Victor. She never encountered such strong vampires out there in the world; they used lesser vampires to do the dirty work.
Marcus was stronger than Martin; she sensed that and Alena too. Alena was nowhere near as powerful as Marcus, but she could hurt or kill Rowan with ease, and that knowledge stung.
Ilza’s body had diluted Victor’s blood, Martin strengthened Rowan, but it wasn’t enough to take on either of these two.
Marcus became restless as one day bled into the next, and he channeled his nervous energy into tutoring Alena. Watching them fight with and without weapons, cemented her inferiority to them.