When I wake, I’m not sure where I am, when I feel an arm over my chest, my heart begins to race and I throw the covers back.
I find Adrian snuggled into my side, he is as naked as I am and his arm is draped over me; his hand cupping my exposed breast.
I don’t remember what happened, not at first, my mind is hazed and my head throbs dully.
The sun is draping over us, warming my skin and assaulting my eyes.
Slowly, I creep out from underneath Adrian’s hold and escape to the bathroom. I take two steps and then my stomach turns on itself and I find myself kneeling in front of the toilet, gagging as everything within me is expelled like poison.
I want to curl in on myself, I want the world to swallow me whole.
Why do I feel this way? What did that pill do to me?
I take several calming breaths before stepping into the shower and letting the scalding water burn my skin, wiping away the marks from the night before.
I can’t breathe, my lungs are burning and my throat is closing as I try to think of something, anything else other than what happened last night.
Why do I feel this way? What did that pill do to me?
Adrian wouldn’t have hurt me, not like this. He wouldn’t have touched me without my consent. Maybe I told him to, I must have; surely he wouldn’t have touched me if I didn’t tell him to.
This is just a nightmare, I’m just associating last night with a previous bad experience, and the drug is messing with me, making me remember things wrong.
I can hear moans in my ear, his. I can feel his breath on my neck along with thousands of others.
There’s a sharp knock on the door, my heart freezes and my blood runs cold.
“Row?” Adrian calls out, “Are you ok?”
“Yeah,” I hear myself answer, forcing myself to speak, knowing that if I didn’t he would more than likely come into the bathroom.
“I have to go into the institute,” he says and I can hear his feet shuffling on the floor outside, “We caught the jester last night, we’re hoping he’ll lead us to the king. It’s all thanks to you! I’m so proud of you!”
Adrian walks away as gunshots echo in my mind.
“I’m ok,” I say to myself as I wrap my arms around my waist, trying to calm my trembling nerves, “I’m ok, I’m ok, I’m ok...”
I push myself through the day, forcing myself to keep busy so that I’m not weighed down by the regret of what happened.
I clean, I cook, I keep myself busy and moving so that my mind doesn’t have a second to re-live or remember what happened.
I burn myself out, I keep myself busy, running myself down until it’s impossible to keep going.
When I come home, it’s early in the evening, Rowy has a note telling me dinner is in the fridge and I find the house cleaned and smelling of fresh-baked cookies.
I find her on the couch, fast asleep her breathing steady and her eyes moving behind closed lids.
I reach out, my fingers graze over the soft skin of her shoulder. Instantly, she’s awake, she turns to look at me as if I’ve frightened her.
“I didn’t mean to wake you,” I apologise, my fingers still gently dancing on her skin, “you looked so peaceful.”
A soft smile comes to her lips as I lean down and kiss her forehead.
“Are you alright?” I ask and her smile tightens.
“I’m fine,” She says, “Last night was just a lot.”
I’ve been thinking about last night all day, it made concentrating on interrogations very difficult.
“You took a big step,” I say proudly, I take her hand in mine as she stands and moves around the couch.
Her hands are so soft in mine, her skin is radiant and her eyes shine like emeralds. I kiss her, my lips desperate to feel her’s against them, my tongue aching to taste her.
Rowy gapes, she steps away from the kiss, her eyes wide and her hand covering her mouth in shock.
“I want to touch you again,” I say, closing the distance she’s put between us, “Rowy, last night was so good, I want you to feel that way again. I want to keep making progress with you.”
When I take her hands in mine she doesn’t step back, and when I kiss her, her tongue greets mine with a gentle flick.
My hand lowers from her cheek to the hem of her skirt to slowly lift it up on her thighs. The skit is tight, I helped her pick this skirt out when we went shopping, it’s black and very scandalous, I told her it was my favourite; she must have put it on for me for this exact reason.
She wants me.
Afterwards, we lay in her bed, I lay on her chest and her arm is around me while her fingers gently rub against my head.
“Oh,” I say, remembering something I forgot, “Your father is here, staying at the institute for now, but he wants to meet you.”
Rowy doesn’t say anything, the only way I know that she heard me is that her fingers still in my hair and her heart races.
“I said I would bring you to the institute to meet him tomorrow,” I say, “He’s excited to meet you.”
“What did you tell him?” Rowaelin asks, her voice soft yet full of excitement.
The next morning, I wake with Adrian still by my side, he watches me, his blue eyes never leaving my body as I crawl out of bed to get dressed.
“Your room is a mess,” he laughs, looking to the clothes that are spewed around the room.
“I’ll clean it,” I say, gathering some clothes and retreating to the bathroom.
Yesterday, while cleaning, I felt uncomfortable in my skin and in my clothes, I must have changed my outfit several times before passing out on the couch.
Adrian takes me to the institute, I am greeted by Stella, who congratulates me on my performance.
“Where are the survivors?” I ask, looking around as if to find them wandering the halls.
“The victims?” Stella asks, “I’m afraid there were no survivors.”
“What do you mean?” I ask, looking to her in shock, “Not one person survived...”
“They were drained of their blood before we had a chance to save them,” Stella sighs as she leads Adrian and me through the institute, “we found them dead.”
The sound of gunshots ring through my ears, I remember Alec putting himself between a bullet and me multiple times, he was shot by bullets that may as well have been aimed at me. And if he was shot, what’s to say that they didn’t shoot the others?
I am taken into a large, cozy room, it’s an apartment attached to the institute.
“Is this her?” someone asks, suddenly a great big man steps forward and stares down at me.
The man has dark eyes and darker hair peppered with streaks of white, he has wide shoulders and looks well for a man of his age.
“Rowaelin this is Sorin, your father,” Stella introduces with a wide smile.
“My daughter,” the man gapes, his face softens and he holds out his hand to me, “it’s so good to meet you.”
This man is not my father.
“Rowy, Sorin has come a long way to meet you,” Stella says as she notices how I don’t take the man’s hand.
“You look just like your mother,” he says, “Beautiful.”
“You’re not my father,” I say, still not taking his hand.
Stella gasps in shock and Sorin’s eyebrows shoot up in astonishment, I notice how Adrian copies Sorin’s movements.
“I can assure you, I am,” Sorin says, lowering his hand, “Your mother and I were married, and your birth coincides with... well.”
“I’ve met my father,” I say, stepping back, “I’ve never met you.”
“You’ve probably met some man that your mother made to play the part of your father,” Sorin says, “But I am your real father.”
“How do you know?” I ask, confused at this man’s confidence.
“Because your mother loved me,” he says, “She’d never betray me.”
“Then why didn’t she tell you about me?” I ask, “why did she leave?”
Sorin looks to the ground and then he looks back to me.
“Your mother knew that I wanted a child,” he says, “I wanted someone to carry on our legacy. Crina... she never wanted any part in it, she didn’t want to raise a child into this life.”
“And yet, look how it turned out,” Stella sighs, her voice full of hurt and disappointment and Sorin nods his head in agreement, “If she had just stayed... everything would have been fine.”
Her words rocket through me, they’re blaming my mother for what had happened to me, they’re blaming her for her own death.
“I would very much like to talk with you more,” Sorin says, “Would you lunch with me?”
My mind is reeling, do I really want to know this man further? He isn’t my father, that I’m sure of, it doesn’t make sense for him to be my father, we look nothing alike and I can feel it in my stomach that this man is just another stranger.
“Fine,” I say, ignoring my instincts, in hope that my instincts are wrong and that I may find some sense of family in this man.
Lunch isn’t what I expected, we sit in the institute cafeteria, and he talks about his life, about his ‘favourite hunts’ and about his life and his accomplishments.
“I want to spend more time with you, daughter,” he says, standing and offering me his hand once lunch is over, “I want to teach you about this world and how to protect yourself from it.”
“You to teach me to fight vampires?” I ask in shock as I take his hand.
Sorin nods his head and for a moment I consider his offer, to learn how to defend myself, to learn how to stop those who wish me harm.
“We can go on hunts together,” he adds and all thoughts stop.
“Hunts?” I echo, “I don’t want to hunt.”
“Why not?” Sorin asks, raising an eyebrow in question.
“I don’t want to be actively seeking out vampires,” I say, taking my hand from his and stepping back, “I don’t want to put myself in that kind of danger.”
“But if you learn to defend yourself...”
“You have bite marks,” I argue, pointing out the scars on his skin, “So do many other hunters, knowing how to defend myself does not guarantee my safety, it doesn’t guarantee that I’ll never be taken again. Seeking out vampires will just put me in more danger, regardless of whether I know how to fight or not.”
“You’re my daughter,” Sorin says and that word coming from his mouth makes me cringe, “I would never let anything happen to you. You are my legacy.”
“I don’t want to be your legacy,” I snap, stepping back again as he steps towards me.
I walk away from him, leaving Sorin behind, trying to escape his convoluted dreams. I find Adrian and he takes me back to the apartment.
As soon as we step through the door, Adrian’s hand takes mine and he pulls me close, his lips kissing my cheek.
“What are you doing?” I ask as he wraps me in a tight hug and continues to kiss my cheek over and over again.
His kisses are burning, his touch is like fire, every single moment that he has his hands on me it makes my stomach churn.
“Stop,” I groan, pushing him off of me as his lips seek mine.
Adrian steps back, his eyes wide in shock.
“What’s wrong?” he asks, his voice full of hurt.
“I don’t want to be touched right now,” I say, wrapping my arms around myself and keeping a wide gap between him and me.
“... I just, don’t,” I answer, “I don’t want to be touched.”
Adrian’s face falls, his eyes darken and he sighs deeply.
“Fine,” he says, he walks away from me, going to his room where he shuts himself in, slamming the door behind him.
Adrian stays in his room for the rest of the afternoon, when he finally emerges I offer to cook him dinner.
“Don’t bother,” he scoffs, he grabs his keys and his jacket and then says, “I’m going hunting, don’t wait up.”
Adrian leaves, slamming the door behind him as he leaves me alone, standing in the kitchen, confused as to why he now seems to despise me.