Slowly opening her eyes and waking up from deep tiredness, Daphne stretched her body. Her fingers rubbed her eyes, stripping away the remnants of her sleep. First, she noticed the pleasant temperature that her whole body was grateful for. The warmth invited her to close her eyes again and abandon herself to slumber.
Sitting on the bed now, her gaze fell on the clothes resting on a chair. Getting up, she grabbed the fabric and started to inspect it. A long, wide-sleeved linen shirt had been left for her.
Without waiting any longer, Daphne took off her torn blouse, realizing at the same time that she didn’t feel any pain in her back. Being curious, she looked for a mirror inside the room, finding it on top of a jug of water to wash her hands. As she approached, she turned and saw how the scars stayed on her skin. The mark was still there, only she noticed a distinct difference. It was changing its shade.
Frustration and anger filled her. While others knew the mark’s meaning, she, the one who carried it, had no idea what it was all about. That was precisely why she was so upset, because of her stupidity in remaining in absolute darkness about this matter.
Reluctantly, she put her shirt on and slipped it down. The fabric was thin and loose to her body.
Collecting water with her hands, she began to freshen up and clean her face. Finally throwing the towel next to the jug, she headed for the door.
There was no one in the living room. Daphne proceeded to the outside. Opening the other door, the last flashes of sunlight welcomed her.
Tranquility reigned all around. The faint rays of light painted her face. Where was this place?
“How do you feel?” The masculine voice drew her attention.
Turning around, she saw Lorcan. Her eyes focused on that exposed flesh where part of his unbuttoned buttons revealed. A few lightly exposed hairs could be seen from that small opening. His complexion was undoubtedly strong, indestructible, and sinisterly inviting.
“I am better. Thank you.” The corners of her mouth rose slightly, and Lorcan stopped there.
His gaze made her flustered. He couldn’t help it. That mere gesture made him remember the genuine smile he had seen at that dance.
“Where are we?” she asked, pulling him out of his reverie.
“In the Realm of the Mortals”
“Nothing. I thought we’d be in another Realm.”
“Come. You must eat something.” Lorcan entered the cabin, not waiting for her. Daphne followed him. The table that was empty a few seconds ago now had ham and roast chicken, potatoes, a fresh round bread, bunches of grapes, and a bowl of soup, which looked very hot. Dumbfounded, she approached the smells that pulled her in irresistibly. Her mouth became watery.
“Where did you get this food?” she asked as she sat on the chair, grabbing the wooden spoon and sinking it into the soup.
“Courtesy of the Dragon Kingdom.” He answered, still standing and watching her every action.
As she listened, she put the spoon down. “Did you say dragons? Do you know that place?”
“Eat first.” He ordered. And she, without refuting him, followed his order.
After she had eaten the soup, she tore off a piece of bread and picked up a loaf of ham. Everything tasted so delicious. Not once had she spoken to him again, but she felt his penetrating gaze. And although she was quite anxious, she was hungry.
Her stomach felt full, and she was satisfied. Swallowing one last grape, she sighed. “Thank you for the food, Lorcan.”
“Good. I’ll be back tomorrow.”
“Will you leave me here alone?” She got up.
“Don’t tell me you’re afraid to be alone.” He raised an ironic eyebrow.
“Of course not, but I don’t want to stay here. Waiting for you every night. I can’t, not when Eve is in danger.”
The idea of her waiting for him every night pierced him like a lance of puzzling emotions.
“I told you I’d help you. You must be patient,” Lorcan said in a cold tone.
“I don’t want to stay here. I want to be with my brother. Wherever you keep him, leave me with him there. Otherwise...”
“Otherwise, what?” the aura of power began to exude from him. He approached her, and she did not retreat. She lifted her chin, showing that she was not intimidated. However, she could not avoid the strong palpitations in her chest. And Lorcan revealed a triumphant smile as he listened to her heartbeat.
“Otherwise,” she began to say. “I will go and rescue Eve myself.”
At her response, Lorcan’s smile was gone, and a straight face took its place. He had no doubt that she would do exactly what she said. He could see it in her eyes clearly. Lorcan came closer, and her look gave away the nervousness when he reached her waist.
The clearing of a throat pulled her out of her stupor. She searched with her eyes and found the mocking face of Teias and Stelios. With a frown, she distanced herself from Lorcan, realizing later that she was no longer in the cabin but now in a library, judging by the shelves full of books.
“Miss Brooks, long time no see,” Stelios spoke.
Teias bowed his head slightly. “A pleasure to see you again, Ragoth-”
“Teias!” Lorcan suddenly shouted.
Strange about the situation, she didn’t want to give it much thought. “Where are we? Where is James?”
“We are in the Kingdom of the Dragons,” Teias answered.
“I will look for James,” Stelios said and then disappeared.
Her eyes recorded every detail of the place, a lighted fireplace, a sofa, another chair, a desk, huge windows where sizeable dark green and velvety curtains fell from them. Teias watched Lorcan with particular interest, or rather in derision, and he, in turn, sighed with annoyance.
“So, Miss Brooks, how have you been feeling?” Teias asked.
“Fine.” She looked at him strangely.
“What’s wrong?” he asked again.
“Why are you suddenly addressing me like that?”
“Like that? How?”
“With too much courtesy, I would say respect.”
Lorcan cursed Teias. “Teias, go and request a meeting with Queen Avina.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
Being alone, she turned to him. “Who are you really?”
“Why the question?” Lorcan said.
“The General of Legions obeys your orders as if-” she hesitated to finish or not. It was ridiculous what went through her mind for a moment.
“As if?” he asked, interested in knowing what she was really thinking.
“As if you were really the King of Demons. And not just Teias, but the rest of the Lords. Also, the King of the Vampires knows you very well”.
“That’s the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard.”
“And yet it’s the one that makes the most sense to me. But there’s one thing that’s not quite clear to me yet. Without a doubt, you are someone of power. Someone so mighty that the King of Demons himself, Rothvaln, fears. And yet, being free, you haven’t gone looking for revenge”.
“My business with Rothvaln does not concern you,” His gelid voice and his severe gaze made her stop to continue revealing her theories.
“Sister!” James’ voice was suddenly heard. James pulled her into his embrace, lifting her off the floor. Lorcan saw for the third time the smile that had aroused a knowledgeable and unwelcome emotion.
“James! Are you okay?” she grabbed his face with both hands.
“Yes, and how about you tell me?”
Daphne nodded, relieved to be able to see her brother in good shape.
“I have to show you this place. It’s incredible! Come” James made a point of taking her away, but Lorcan’s voice stopped them.
“She can’t go anywhere, at least until Queen Avina approves it.”
“Come, my friend. Later you can be with her.” Stelios ran an arm over James’ shoulder, carrying him off the site.
A stillness filled the space between Lorcan and Daphne. She looked everywhere but him. She had never felt such tension over the presence of a man. Well, not at least the way she thought under this man’s gaze. Because her anxiety felt like the fluttering of thousands of butterflies in her stomach.
She did not know at that time what in her heart was beginning to unfold. Because her reason still prevailed over any matters of the heart. After all, it was impossible to be drawn to this demon.
To her relief, Teias resurfaced. “Queen Avina is waiting for you in the garden.”
Lorcan nodded and looked at her. “Let’s go.”