Chapter 75 - Harm
Alena came instantly awake when her subconscious mind picked up on movement outside her door. She instinctively prepared to defend herself as something entered the dark room, and as her night vision flared, she recognized Claire. She looked pale, tension radiated from her frame, and she seemed distraught. Alena flitted from beside her bed to right behind Claire, in the blink of an eye.
“You shouldn’t be here,” Alena said in a menacing voice, and anybody else would have had a heart attack, but Claire seemed to expect it. She turned and touched her hand to Alena’s mouth while she shook her head in a negative motion.
“I’ll be quiet, but you shouldn’t touch me like that,” Alena warned. The Watchers provided animal blood in small amounts, and the mere odor of human blood pulsing in Claire’s veins tested her fortitude.
Claire looked into Alena’s eyes with an absolute lack of fear, and it was somehow as if she could see deep into Alena’s soul with those luminous eyes. It was as if she knew more than she should, and again Claire shook her head.
Claire extended her hand, and curiosity made Alena take it. Whatever drove Claire to seek her out, had to be urgent. She followed Claire, and it was like following a shadow. Alena quickly realized where they were headed, and still, she followed as trepidation turned to dread in her bowls.
They came to a standstill outside Rowan’s room. Claire pointed from the door to Alena in an obvious, and urgent instruction that Alena should go inside. When Alena moved to obey, Claire touched her arm in a gesture that seemed to caution her. Alena felt her dread turn to something deeper. Claire disappeared down the hall, but Alena didn’t even notice. She detected the smell of blood, both that of Rowan and human blood.
Alena opened the door, not knowing what she would find and not expecting Rowan to sit on the bed, hugging her knees while gently rocking back and forth.
Only as Alena came closer did Rowan glance up with a blood covered face. She’d fed, and the scent of more than one human clung to her; Alena didn’t need Rowan to say a word.
Alena sat down beside Rowan, who shook as if she were cold to her soul and hugged her close. A low wailing sound escaped from some broken place inside Rowan. She allowed their link to open fully with no restraints and Rowan allowed Alena to feel and see it all. Alena hugged Rowan even closer as she witnessed the horror of what happened to Rowan.
Alena didn’t fight the anger that came to life in her, and she was angrier than she had ever been in her life, but Rowan needed her, so Alena tempered those emotions with an iron will.
She felt Rowan’s grief congeal into a cold fury, and she whispered words of comfort in the old language, never even knowing if Rowan heard or understood.
Alena picked Rowan up with ease, and Rowan didn’t only allow it, she fell asleep against Alena’s shoulder while on their way to Marcus’s room. He opened the door as if he expected them and took Rowan from her with a gentleness that betrayed his feelings.
He didn’t ask a question or demand an explanation as they undressed Rowan and cast the blood-soaked clothes into the fire. They washed her with water that Alena brought from the kitchen and heated inside the fireplace. There were several deep gashes in Rowan’s skin, but the wounds were already healing. They also noted a myriad of fading scars which spoke of earlier injuries.
They dressed her in one of Marcus’s shirts, and she barely stirred in her sleep. They covered her with blankets, and she finally stopped shivering. Marcus looked up at Alena; his eyes were blazing, his fangs were out, and they glistened in the lamplight.
Alena saw him this angry only once before, and she was only glad his fury wasn’t aimed at her.
“Tell me?” Marcus demanded.
“Why don’t I show you instead?” Alena asked. He frowned but nodded. Marcus suspected what she wanted him to do, and in the asking had a reason. It wasn’t an easy thing, not like the bond between Alena and Rowan; not a thing that could happen from a simple touch.
“Visualize it,” Marcus demanded, and she knew he thought she wouldn’t be able to sustain the image long enough for him to see it clearly. Alena wanted him to understand what she couldn’t tell him out loud, in this place where people watched them even in their sleep, nor could she warn him.
Marcus bit into her wrist, and she kept the images clear in her mind. Both of them underestimated the strength of her blood and her gift. Marcus saw as clearly as if he were with Rowan, and he experienced her emotions with merciless clarity.
Marcus released Alena’s wrist, sealed the wound with a few drops of his blood, and she shuddered. He cleaned her skin with gentle fingers before he wiped his mouth, but his eyes were hard as a rock and as cold as the depths of the underworld.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” He asked, and she realized exactly what he spoke of; the bond that Helena forged between her and Rowan.
“I could only show you,” Alena said, and after a moment his eyes sought Rowan, who slept curled in a tight ball like a small child.
Marcus touched her cheek, and when he glanced at Alena, she reluctantly nodded and left without a word. What needed doing, only Marcus could do, and she would wait.
She knew what happened to Rowan, but she didn’t understand Rowan’s reasons. They both guarded their emotions well, and those moments of sharing were usually restricted to events that were too powerful for them to contain.