Chapter 68 - Betrayal
Their road led them to Rome, and there it petered out; disappeared in the city where the treasure once filled the coffers of an emperor.
Their road ended, and even the taunting messages had stopped. They had lost the trail, and it made them quiet, tense, and short with each other. Rowan felt a sincere regret as she realized there was only one way forward. She feared the results of what she had to tell them, but she dared hide her past no longer.
“I lied to you about the Watchers,” Rowan admitted to Marcus, and he frowned.
Alena stiffened. The night Rowan and Marcus returned from the ruins, she saw how happy they were; a little uneasy about her reaction to their new relationship, but Alena chose to not remark upon their change in status. She knew what happened between them; her senses told her that, and despite not being in love with Marcus, it wasn’t easy seeing them together. She wanted a love like that, and she didn’t know if she would ever find it.
Alena wasn’t jealous of them, but it was what she wanted for herself. She was happy they could have their love; who knew what the future held or what might happen to any of them? A taste of true love would be better than a life without it.
“I don’t only know someone with the Watchers; I’m one of them,” Rowan admitted, and it was as if she dropped a keg of black powder on them. Marcus flitted from where he stood until he was so close to her that she sensed his anger beat against her emotional defenses. She could barely stand in the presence of it, and she didn’t realize he was capable of such powerful hatred.
Vampires deeply distrusted these watchers, people who knew their secrets and yet did nothing, but whatever Marcus felt, its origins lay much deeper than distrust.
“What else have you lied about?” Marcus demanded, and Rowan looked so sad just then. She never expected this volatile a reaction from him.
“How the hell did you think I survived? You people hunted me. Victor only remembered my existence when it suited him or his purposes. I was some half-wild thing that no one wanted?!” Rowan bit out, and she saw the way her words hit home inside him.
“They found me in that house where my new foster mother hung crucified against the wall with her entrails nailed to the fucking ceiling,” she spat out the words with more hatred and venom than he had ever seen in her. Her eyes were wild, her teeth were out, her hands clawed, and she was suddenly so near going feral as her emotions escaped her tight grasp. He’d rarely heard her swear before, and it made him hesitate.
“They hurt her because of me, and I fed off her; took the last of her life. It was my fault. I sullied everything I touched with my tainted hands. I took a half-broken sword, forced it into my rib cage, angled it upward, and I pushed. Except that the blood from my fingers slipped the blade past my heart, and I couldn’t get it out again. I was so pathetic I couldn’t even kill myself without messing it up!” Rowan revealed, and Marcus felt everything inside him become still.
“I clawed at that sword for days before the Watchers arrived. They helped me even though I fought them, and begged them to end my miserable existence,” she told them with a restlessness to her movements and an anger that threatened to rupture the last of her control.
“They barely stopped the bleeding when the killers returned to finish the job, and the watchers ran with me until the vampires stopped hunting us. They healed my body and my soul when no one else gave a damn. They clothed me and taught me to fight, and in return, I worked for them,” Rowan took a few deep breaths, but although she visibly became calmer, her hands shook, her eyes had become deep wells of misery, and her fangs cut her lip.
“Then Victor found out what I was doing, and he sent me a message. If I continued in my stubborn persistence to aid these people, he would hunt down every last one of them,” silent tears of anger, and misery escaped Rowan’s eyes to run down her cheeks unheeded.
“I told them the truth, and I left the only safe haven I ever knew. Victor sent Martin to insinuate himself in my life. I was alone, vulnerable, and I thought he loved me. At first, he was everything I needed. Teacher, confessor, friend, comrade, and family, but he wasn’t any of those things. It was all a pretense. He toyed with my feelings, he manipulated me, used me, and it wasn’t long before he seduced me. I didn’t realize that he saw my physical surrender as his due payment for his waste of time with a mere child,” the anger in her words betrayed a world of hurt.
“It wasn’t long before Martin became bored. Victor wanted me educated, but not in the way the watchers educated me. He wanted to see if I could be tamed and manipulated and fool that I was, I allowed it. Martin changed; he became possessive and consumed by his passions. He felt trapped by the situation, but couldn’t escape it until Victor decided that I was ready,” Rowan sneered when she said this.
“Marius took his frustrations out on me. His tastes became more perverted. One night he did something I didn’t like, and I slapped him. His anger overcame him, and he beat me up so badly that I couldn’t pick myself off the floor. He liked it, and it turned him on. I told him to go screw himself, and he laughed,” they’d never seen such pain and humiliation in her eyes.
“I told Victor that you’re a waste of my time. You’re just a little foulmouthed bitch that will never be anything more than a cheap screw. You’re a waste of his bloodline, and he should have killed you before you were ever born, Martin taunted me, and even though I had a feeling he would never have the guts to say such things to Victor, the words caused me great harm,” Rowan said, and it was easy to see that it still did.
“Your dearly beloved father sent me to make less of an animal out of you. Did you think all of this was a coincidence, that I would waste my time with the likes of you? Martin asked, and I just stood there as my world tore apart at the seams,” Rowan briefly closed her eyes as if she wanted to shut the memory away.
Her raw emotions leaked into their bonds and touched them with the maelstrom of her agony, but in a sense, she also shut them out. She put a distance between them that reminded of the way she was when they first met.