When I heard Rowaelin cry out it was like I was forced to go after her, her cry was so full of pain and it made my heart ache. When I saw her tears all I wanted to do was to take her into my arms and never let her go.
I stand out in Eva’s large lounge room, everything about this place is large. All of the other victims sit around with haunted expressions on their faces, but they still chat amongst themselves. They talk about the colour of the sky and the way the water felt on their bodies. Some don’t talk at all, they just stare at nothing. Eva’s helpers move around the room like hens, fussing over everyone, making sure that they get food and drink.
Eva steps into the room and all eyes are on her, behind her is Rowaelin.
Her eyes are wide and overwhelmed by the amount of people in the room, Eva sits her down in a chair and her helpers begin ‘clucking’ over her, giving her a plate of food and a glass of water.
Rowaelin sits uncomfortably and holds the plate and glass in her hands, not eating or drinking. She just sits there and stares at nothing. I want to help her, but before I can open my mouth I hear cars pull up outside. I walk to the front door and meet a group of hunters.
“Adrian,” James greets nodding stiffly, “How are they?”
“Shaken,” I report, “But otherwise unharmed.”
“Good,” he says coming further inside, “Let us begin.”
“Begin?” I ask in confusion, “Begin what?”
“Protocol,” James says stiffly, “We have to make sure that they won’t tell anyone about what happened to them. We have to make sure that the vampires remain only legends in storybooks, step aside woman. Remember your place before you fall out of it.”
James steps around Eva and walks into the lounge room, all eyes are on him.
“Leave the room,” He commands Eva’s workers, they all look to Eva and she glares at James.
“We stay,” she says stubbornly, James rolls his eyes and then addresses the victims in the room.
“My name is James,” he starts and everyone looks to him with wide eyes, “I run the organisation that just saved your lives.”
“Thank you!” one of the girls says standing up and walking over to him, “We owe you our lives.”
“Do not throw your lives to me,” James says putting his hand over his heart, I roll my eyes and predict what comes next, “Pass them into God’s hands.”
The room goes silent and I suppress my laughter as the victims all look to each other in confusion.
“Anyway,” James says clearing his throat, “I’m here not for your lives, but for your silence. Most of you have family that are eager to get you back.”
“You mean that we get to see our parents again!” one of the boys says with a wide smile on his face.
“Only if you realise that what you have been through is very rare,” James says looking at the boy, “Not many people know, or believe in vampires, and we would like to keep it that way. We do not need the public in a scare. If you vow to keep your experiences a secret, then you can go home.”
“Are you saying that we should forget this whole thing?!” The boy argues, “That we should just think that it was some bad nightmare?”
“How could you ask that of us?!” a girl says standing in outrage, “We have been slaves to the vampires for most of our lives! Our bodies have been used without our permission!”
“No you don’t!” The girl interrupts, balling her hands into fists, “How could you understand what we have been through? The world should know what evil is out there so that this doesn’t happen again.”
“To do that, people will need to be trained,” James argues, “And the vampires will riot. They will kill innocent people before they get a chance to be trained.”
The girl rolls her eyes buts she sits back down. I look to Rowaelin and she is looking out the window, picking at the bread of her sandwich and watching it crumble.
“Do you talk, girl?” James says noticing Rowaelin’s silence where all the other victims mutter amongst themselves.
Rowaelin looks at him, her eyes dark and haunted with her past.
“She won’t speak,” Eva says stepping forward
“Her name is Rowaelin,” one of the girls says, “Rowy has been there longer than all of us.”
My heart aches for her, she turns and looks out the window again.
“Perhaps she can help us,” James mutters, “We can’t identify all the vampires, perhaps she can.”
“She will do no such thing!” Eva says horrified.
James and Eva begin to argue and the other hunters sigh and begin making arrangements for the victims to go home. But not all can go home. Rowaelin is without a family. Her mother is her only known relative, her father is not listed on her birth certificate.
There is too much noise, everyone is talking at the same time, I cover my ears, it hurts my head. I clutch my head and close my eyes tight. There is too much noise.
“Rowy?” Adrian whispers kneeling at my feet.
I open my eyes and stare into his deep brown eyes. I uncover my ears and he smiles at me sympathetically.
“Come with me,” he whispers taking my plate and glass and putting them down, he then takes my hand and leads me quietly outside.
When the sun hits my skin I want to cry, it is to warm and bright. I tilt my head back and feel the wind touch my skin. I close my eyes and listen to the sound of nature. The birds and the trees, they are all so alive and I feel so dead.
I walk on the grass and feel it tickle my feet for the first time in what feels like forever. I smile and then go down to my knees and put my hands in the dirt, I am free.
For the first time in over seven years, I am free from the vampires hold.
Birds chirp and fly over me and land in a giant oak tree. I stand to my feet and walk over to the tree and look up into the branches. The birds have blue feathers and they look at me in curiosity, I stare up at them with the same curiosity they regard me with.
I look over to Adrian and find him staring at me, his head is slightly tilted and his eyes regard me with wonder, his face is painted with an emotion that I’ve never seen before. He walks over to me and looks up at the birds.
“There is something you should know,” Adrian says looking down from the birds to my face. I look at Adrian with wide eyes, what should I know?
“Adrian!” a girl calls. Adrian rolls his eyes and turns to greet her, “There you are!” she says with a wink, “I’ve been looking for you everywhere.”
“Well you found me,” he says unimpressed, “What do you want Rose?”
“Just to update you on the hunt,” she says, then she sees me, “Oh! You must be one of them. The girls we rescued.”
“This is Rowaelin Black,” Adrian says stiffly.
“Oh! The girl whose mother was slaughtered,” she says, my eyes widen and my breath catches in my throat, “Your mother went mad looking for you, even when the police gave up. I saw the crime scene, her body was torn open it was horrific.”
Adrian grabs the girl by the upper arm and drags her away.
My mother never gave me up? I had always thought she sold me. And now, she is gone, slaughtered by Thana or one of her nest members. My heart races and tears fall from my eyes, I sit at the base of the giant tree and let the grief take me.
I put my knees to my chest and try to contain my cries.
“Rowaelin?” Adrian murmurs kneeling in front to me, I look up to him and wipe my tears with the back of my hand.
“Tell me it isn’t true,” I whisper, my voice still getting lodged in my throat,
“I am so sorry,” He says placing a hand on my arm.
I flinch and move away from him, my heart races. I stand up and Adrian looks up to me and stands, I look at the girl named Rose and she smiles at me, it is the same smile I’ve seen the vampires use, it is wicked and tells me that she holds a secret.
I cannot trust her, can I trust any of them?
I look at Adrian and my heart races.
I run, for the first time in several years I run. I stumble at first but regain my footing and continue.
Adrian calls my name, but I ignore him, I run away.
I feel the grass under my feet and the air in my lungs, I stumble again, the tears in my eyes blur my vision and I fall to my knees.
“Rowaelin!” Adrian calls catching up to me. He puts his arms around me and I let him. He pulls me close and I fall into him.
“I am so sorry,” he murmurs as I hold onto him and cry, “I was going to tell you, not like that.”
I pull away from him and he lets me go.
“Adrian!” Rose calls, anger boils in my chest at the sound of her voice, “James wants to see the girl.”
“Tell him no,” Adrian says, not taking his eyes off of me.
“It’s not an option,” Rose says.
I wipe my tears and force all my anger, rage and sadness deep down and lock it away. I will play their game for now, but only because my prize will be my absolute freedom. I stand up and walk over to Rose, she smiles at me, I walk straight past her and into the house, where the Priest greets me. I can’t trust him.
“Are you agreeing to cooperate?” he asks and I nod my head, “Good, this way please.”
He leads me back outside to a car.
“We will take you back to our headquarters,” he says opening a door for me, “You can stay there until we have completed business.”
I nod my head and get in the car.
“I am coming with you,” Adrian says appearing next to the priest, who rolls his eyes, “I have just received word from my superior, she says to stick with this girl, she is of import to us.”
“Fine,” the Priest says, Adrian smiles and then looks at me before going to his own car.
My door is shut and the car is started, the driver speeds off, my stomach launches, the movement of the car is irritating.
I call Stella as I follow the car closely.
“Adrian,” she laughs, “you haven’t called in a while, I was beginning to worry.”
“The hunters are interested in one of the victims,” I say and she goes silent, it is odd for a hunter to show interest in victims, even for identifying, “I told them that you want me to stick with her. That she is of import to us. I think they are up to something.”
“Very well,” Stella sighs, I hear her ruffle through some papers, “Who is she?”
“Rowaelin Black,” I say and Stella goes quiet as she finds her file, “The vampires killed her mother not long after I came into town. She is the only one the vampires tried to leave with. They have an interest in her.”
“I believe you are right,” Stella says, “Stay with her, make sure she is safe, not only from the vampires.”
“Understood,” I say and the line goes dead.
I follow the car to the church, I watch her fall out of the car when they open her door and my heart leaps into my throat. I pull into a park and watch as she throws up. The hunters with her roll their eyes and wait for her to finish, anger boils in my chest. I get out of my car and go to her side, I kneel next to her and hold her hair away from her face.
She begins dry retching, I rub my hands on her back and she shivers and then moves away from me. My heart melts, she doesn’t like contact. She coughs a few times before slowly standing on shaking legs and blushing deep red against her pale, porcelain skin. She wipes her mouth and one of the hunter's grunts and grabs her by the arm, he leads her inside and I follow closely behind. They take her down the winding halls and into a room.
“This will be your room while you are here.” The hunter says, “You will stay in this room until we collect you, you will stay in this room unless escorted by another hunter. Is that clear?”
“Yes,” She says meekly.
“Good,” the hunter says leaving her in the room, “There have been clothes provided, food will be brought to you. We will collect you in an hour to start identifying.”
They leave her and close the door behind them.
“Why are you so cruel?” I ask the hunters and they roll their eyes.
“She is an abomination,” one says, “A dirty whore.”
“She was raped!” I hiss and they roll their eyes.
“Even by you?” he says and I blush deep red, “James has shown us footage, she enjoys sex.”
“She did what she had to do to survive!” I growl at them, “If I were you, I would treat her nicer, or you’ll be dealing with me.”
“I ain’t scared of you,” The hunter says, his partner stays quiet, “You’re in our country now, you follow our rules.”
I glare at the stupid hunter before going into Rowaelin’s room.
She jumps when the door opens, when she sees that it’s me she relaxes slightly. She walks around the room, avoiding the bed.
“Are you ok?” I ask, she glares at me and then walks into the bathroom. I sigh and my phone starts ringing in my pocket.
“Yes?” I answer
“Adrian,” Eva says, “You left your dog behind, a girl is asking if she can take him to you.”
“Fine,” I say, “Anything else?”
“Keep an eye on that girl,” she says dropping her voice to a whisper, “She is special.”
“How?” I ask
“That is all,” she says hanging up abruptly.
I roll my eyes and look up and see Rowaelin staring at me.
“I’ve got to go,” I say and she stares at me as if asking why she should care, “I will be back later.”
I leave Rowaelin behind in her room and then go back to my car and grab my bag and Screamer.
“Are you moving back in?” Cedric asks as I go back to my old room
“Yes,” I sigh, “My superior wants me to keep an eye on Rowaelin.”
Cedric shrugs his shoulders and opens my door, I go in and place Screamer’s case on the bed.
“Will you be staying long?” James says coming into my room, “Your job is done.”
“You said that Thana and a few others managed to escape,” I say and he nods, “Then my job isn’t done. I came here to kill her, the victims aren’t safe while she still lives.”
James rolls his eyes and then leaves my room.
“He doesn’t like me much, does he?” I ask and Cedric laughs and shakes his head, he leaves me to my business and closes the door behind him.
I pull Screamer out of his case and begin cleaning him on the floor. I wipe the blood off with a damp cloth then I dry and oil it. I sharpen Screamer and then leave him lying on my bed as I go for a shower. I let the water run over my body and realise how close Rowaelin is, she is only one room away from me, and the thought of her gets me hard. Her body is a work of art. I curse at myself and hope the hardness will go away.
She doesn’t deserve this; me getting hard over her is so wrong, especially after everything that has happened to her. I groan and make the water freezing cold and think of something else. I watch my hardness fade and when it’s gone I turn the water off and dry myself. I wrap my towel around my waist and go back into my bedroom.
Where I see Rose holding Screamer with her back to me.
“What are you doing?!” I exclaim rushing forward to take Screamer from her, I take the hilt from her hands and put him back on the bed.
“I’ve never seen a sword like that before,” She says with wide eyes, “it’s so pretty.”
“Doesn’t mean you get to touch him!” I hiss and she rolls her eyes, Max looks up from his bed and then lays back down, “If you touch him again I will cut your fingers off.”
“Touchy,” Rose says rolling her eyes, “Is this the thanks I get for bringing your dog back?”
“Get out,” I groan and she looks me up and down with a smile before turning her back to me and walking out.
“Do you want to get dinner together?” she asks and I roll my eyes.
“No,” I say and she pouts and then leaves.
“American’s,” I sigh looking over to Max who looks hurt that I left him behind, “like I care what you think.”
He huffs and lays his head down.
“You did a good job,” I sigh and he looks up and me and wags his tail, I grab a treat out of my bag and he smiles and bounds over to me and engulfs the treat before I can blink.
I rub his head and the feud between us is over. He barks happily and jumps around like a puppy.
“Go away,” I laugh and he goes back to his bed where he lays down.
I change into a pair of jeans and then sit on my bed with my laptop. I open the security feed for the club and go back to the day Rowaelin arrived at the club. I watch Rowaelin. She is treated differently, Thana favoured her. But why?
I go through Rowaelin’s record, there is nothing outstanding. Her mother worked at a hospital as a nurse, Rowaelin was conceived when her mother was only nineteen years of age. There is no father listed and no other relatives, which is not odd, her mother could have been ex-communicated from her family, or they could be all dead. I go back and forth, reading the file and watching the vampires around her.
They all seem to comment on how she tastes, which is apparently better than all the others. I watch her during the raid and find something odd, one of the vampires trying to take her, the one that hurt Max, he exploded, I’ve never seen that happen.
Then Zakai tried to take her away, and when she refused he just left her. He left her and went out in the full sun, when I try to follow him outside, he is gone. I rewind the camera outside and wait for Zakai to appear, but he doesn’t. When the door opens but I don’t see him step out. He just vanishes.
I replay the clip over and over again, trying to find out where he went, but I cannot find him.
My stomach growls and I decide to get dressed and find food. I walk into the kitchen with Max on my heels and make myself a sandwich and stack my plate with fruits, as I am walking back to my room I pass Rowaelin’s door, I pause for a moment and then knock on the door. There is no answer, I wait for a moment and then go to walk away. But just as I turn my back I hear the door open, I turn back around and see Rowaelin’s giant green eyes staring right at me.
“May I come in?” I ask, she looks around and then down at Max. He seems to regard her carefully, she nods her head at me and then steps back.
There was a knock on my door; that never happens, no one knocks, they come in, take what they want and then leave. I considered not opening it, after all, if someone knocks they are asking to come in, I do have the option of saying no.
But I find myself opening the door anyway. I see Adrian walking away from me, but then he turns and asks to come inside. He has his animal with him, a big golden brown and black dog. It stares at me as if contemplating whether or not to trust me. I open the door for Adrian, not sure if I should let in the dog, I saw what it can do to vampires. Adrian walks in and the dog follows, he immediately jumps onto the bed and lays down.
“Max, no,” Adrian commands and then dog looks at him and tilts his head, “get down,”
The dog, Max, gets off my bed and then walks over to me. Adrian closes the door to my bedroom and I consider reopening it. Adrian sees the expression on my face and opens the door without a question. Then he sets his giant plate of food down on the desk and sits in the chair I was just in.
“I thought you might be hungry,” Adrian says offering me half of his sandwich, I take it to be polite, but I just hold it in my hands, I don’t want to eat. I sit on the edge of the bed and stare at Adrian as he eats happily, his dog stares up at me and then looks at the food in my hand, I break a piece off and give it to him, he eats it and continues to stare at the food.
“You should eat,” Adrian says as I give another piece to his dog, “you will get sick if you don’t.”
I give the rest of my sandwich to the dog and he eats it in one bite.
“Bread makes you fat,” I mumble, the words feel thick in my mouth and I realise that I am speaking Italian.
“What did you say?” Adrian says looking up at me with wide eyes.
“Bread makes you fat,” I say repeating myself, “I haven’t eaten bread for years.”
“Then what do you eat?” Adrian asks me and I eye off the fruit on his plate, “you can have whatever you want.”
I inch myself off of the bed and then move slowly over to his plate, I grab a slice of orange from his plate and eat it happily, the taste explodes into my mouth, it is bitter on the first bite and it gets sweeter and sweeter.
I look at Adrian again and he smiles and moves the plate closer to me. I eat most of the fruit on the plate and listen to him talk, mostly about nothing, just about how things have changed. He stays with me for hours and it feels nice not to be so alone. His dog stays close too, bumping his head on my thigh occasionally when he wants a pat.
“I have to go,” he says checking the band on his wrist, my heart leaps into my throat, I don’t want to be alone, “I will be back later.”
I nod my head and he stands and calls his dog to follow, they both leave the room and I am left alone. I sit on the bed and stare at the wall.
Adrian doesn’t come back, I’m left in this big room with no windows, the clock on the nightstand chimes and the time reads seven o’clock. Usually, I would be out on the floor, serving alcohol and making sure my breasts were out and showing. Now I am sitting on a large bed by myself, clothes cover my body and I feel safe.
I walk around the room a few times, boredom sets in and it’s a feeling I haven’t felt in a while. I lay down in the bed and it is too soft. I drag a pillow onto the ground but I still can’t fall asleep. I am not used to this schedule, I need to do something, I need to move. I stand up and walk over to the door, I am not locked in so I decide to look around. I walk into the halls and look around quietly.
I walk into what seems to be a church, I sit down on a bench. And look up to the cross on the wall. I remember sitting in church with my mother, she told me that it was important to keep up our faith with god. I sit in the silence, again, it isn’t something that I am used to.
I look at my wrists and to the faint scar lines where fangs used to pierce me over and over again, I touch my neck and I know there are scars there too. There are probably some on the tops of my breasts and on the inside of my thighs too. No matter how far away I get from the vampires they are still going to be with me, hidden in the scars on my body.