Chapter 86 - Together
A small sound disturbed Marcus. Rowan, he realized as he picked up her scent and pretended to sleep as she crawled into bed beside him. She was almost asleep before she settled herself against him.
Marcus’ smile faded. This happened more and more often. Their time in Ballgarod was growing short, the thing they were seeking was out there, and the growing restlessness in the two women worried him.
He woke a second time as his bed shifted and adjusted to another presence. Alena wasn’t a person to seek comfort; she handled her problems on her own, but the tension in them intensified daily, along with their fear and unease.
Marcus woke again before sunset to find their hands entwined on his chest, but that wasn’t what woke disturbed him. They twitched in their sleep, probably dreaming, and he would bet they were having the same nightmare, which meant that it wasn’t a nightmare, but some outside interference.
He reached out to loosen their grip and froze, some inner sense warning him not to break their connection to each other; instead, he put a hand on each of their wrists with his thumb on their pulses so they could feel his slow, steady, heartbeat.
For a while, nothing happened, and as he closed his eyes, Marcus wished he could see what they saw, but their bond excluded him. With a sense of finality, he finally understood the truth.
Destiny never intended them for him. It meant them to be together, and yet each their own master; a new rule and he would never see it.
Alena woke to find Marcus already awake. She leaned over and gave him a sisterly kiss on the mouth - a thank you before she rose and left.
Marcus watched Rowan sleep for a while longer and then woke her with a kiss that wasn’t brotherly. She reached for him instinctively, although they came together only twice since they arrived at Balgarod.
This connection between him and her, this love was strong, and Marcus wished it was enough. He pushed the reality of their future from his mind as he taught her the depths of their passion and helped her explore the urgency of their need.
His unbridled passion communicated more to Rowan than he realized. She sensed his fears despite the fire he stirred in her. She’d learned to distance herself from her emotions without distancing herself, allowing her thoughts to form.
Rowan understood his fear of losing her, but she couldn’t ease his trepidation, so she gave in to his passions until both of them were spent. Yet neither of them could fight the urgency inside them. It made them restless, and instead of falling asleep as they usually would, they washed, dressed, and made their way to the practice room.
Alena’s expression betrayed that she hadn’t expected them to join her for at least a couple of hours, but when her eyes met those of Rowan, she knew. After their dream of the night before, it was clear that they would soon meet their destiny.
Alena smirked at them, and Rowan raised a lazy brow before they were all business again. The lassitude quickly got lost to adrenaline, and then he joined them. They made quite a team as he watched them work together. They circled him, but it was their individuality that had his senses raised to the maximum.
Then it happened, Alena got through his defenses and in the heartbeat it took to check her, Rowan moved in a way Marcus had never seen another move. Alena swiped his legs out from under him, and Rowan toppled him.
He lost his balance, and even as he fell, they never stopped coming at him. Marcus experienced a sharp, searing pain in his chest and relaxed. They defeated him. It should prick his ego, but he experienced this immense pride that allowed him nothing but love.
They were lying by his sides in a parody of that morning, but their eyes glittered with victory and adrenaline. He didn’t even know which one of them had ‘slain’ him.
Alena kissed him quickly and ruthlessly, all Victor in her moment of glory. Rowan kissed him as if to draw the soul from between his lips, and then they were both up before he recovered his senses.
“Come, Old Man, we want to do it again,” Alena laughed as she challenged him, and he suspected they would.
Marcus drove them to the edges of their endurance that day and every day after that. They fell asleep at night before they were properly in bed, and he would wake them too soon.
He felt an urgency to teach them all that he knew about war, and strategy, just in case he couldn’t teach them what they needed, once they left the safety of their mountain hideout.
They changed under his tutelage, grew, worked through their problems and differences, sometimes a little violently, but it worked.
A week later, Marcus realized their time at Ballgarod was up. The women barely slept at night as their nightmares increased, and in single combat, they had an edge that tested his skills.
He had to give everything to win, and when they teamed up to defeat him, it cost him dearly, but they were too haunted to enjoy their victories. They were too jumpy to be still for even a little while.
“We leave tonight,” Marcus announced at dinner, a meal both of them had barely touched, and they looked relieved.
“We don’t have enough food to reach the coast,” Alena reminded, and he didn’t even blink.
“We will make do,” Marcus decided in a tone of voice that brooked no argument and that they associated with the teacher.