Chapter 81 - Gut
Marcus and Alena were both aware that the journey to Ballgarod was a dangerous one. It would take them over inhospitable terrain, halfway up a treacherous mountain and then inside it. To reach that mountain they would travel for twelve nights while hiding in secret shelters and caves along the way.
The ground would provide treacherous footing for horses during the day, but at night the rocky terrain would prove a nightmare to navigate which would cause them to lose precious time, but they needed the horses to carry supplies. Horses did not see as well as vampires, and they would have to lead the beasts on foot.
“Byron could send someone with the horses, but they wouldn’t find the safe routes on their own, and we cannot allow a human see the path there,” Alena mentioned when Marcus explained their dilemma to Rowan.
“Balgarod is one of our last remaining strongholds, even though it was mostly empty these last twenty years,” Alena explained. Rowan thought the mountain stronghold of Balgarod a myth until they mentioned it. She also didn’t know it belonged to their family.
“Then we go without the horses, what good are they to us if they cannot run?” Rowan asked, practically.
“They would have to carry up supplies, and we will need at least enough for three to four months,” Marcus interrupted.
“Ballgarod is desolate, and every time we transport supplies, it can expose our position. Apart from bears, mountain goats, and rodents, nothing else lives up there. I don’t think we need any of our friends or enemies to interfere now,” Marcus explained with finality, and a touch of ruthlessness. A tiny flutter of trepidation stirred in the pit of Rowan's stomach.
“We will have to trust Byron,” Alena decided, and Marcus hesitated a while before he nodded.
“I trust him, but I'm not so sure about the rest of the crew,” Marcus raised his concerns.
“If you say you trust Byron, you will just have to trust his judgment too,” Rowan stated in a flat tone of voice. Marcus leaned forward and kissed her gently but with possessive pride.
“Does your heart or your gut tell you that?” He teased, and their eyes met. She didn’t back down before him, and he loved that she wasn't hostile as she would have been in the beginning, but just stood her ground.
“No, his eyes,” Rowan answered, and Marcus pretended to frown, but he'd seen that steely look in Byron's eyes on a few occasions.
“Had a good look?” He asked as he nipped at her lips again, but she avoided him, and he smirked. Rowan wasn’t smiling.
“I realize that I trusted the Watchers, and you have no reason to trust my judgment but I could tell you for a fact that Byron has fought and killed. I can tell that from the way he speaks and acts. I would bet he could be as cold as you,” Rowan warned, and this observation made Marcus and Alena reevaluate what they knew. They saw the truth in her words.
“He would not be a good man to cross,” Alena concluded, and Rowan sat back.
“Byron feels he owes us. We saved his life, and somehow, it has bound him to us and our fate,” Rowan explained, and it was nothing Marcus hadn’t considered before, but it felt different to hear it in words.
“Byron knows what we are, and still, he stays. He guards our secret. He’s a good captain, and a good man to have on our side, but he needs to feel responsible to someone. It’s all he knows, and he’s comfortable with it. Another man would have taken this ship and what it carried.” This time Rowan leaned forward to hold his gaze with hers.
“That my gut tells me, and I am finally learning to listen,” she leaned back again, and Marcus smiled that sexy, dangerous smile of his. Alena sighed.
“Do you two want some privacy?” She asked with fake exasperation, and a tiny stab of longing for what they had, but Rowan shook her head.
“We have work to do,” Marcus commanded firmly as he rose to his feet with the innate power and grace of a predator.
Without question, they followed in his wake as he went to find Byron on the moonlit deck. Byron stood at the wheel, and they had expected nothing else from their conscientious captain.