I find Rowaelin in the bathroom, curled up on the floor with Max hugged to her chest.
Max glares at me and when I take one step into the room his lips curl silently, warning me to stay away from him and Rowy.
“Dumb dog,” I mutter as I leave him be.
I go back to Rowaelin’s room, her clothes are spewed all over the floor and it irritates me. I scoop up the clothes and take them to the laundry.
I hang out her laundry and all the while she sleeps on the bathroom floor, I check on her and again Max glares at me.
Rowy is lucky to have me in her life if I wasn’t here to look after her, who knows what would’ve happened.
Last night was so out of character for her, as far as I know, she’s never had alcohol before, so no wonder it’s hit her so hard.
After one more check on her, I leave the apartment, heading to the institute at Stella’s request.
“Sorin has found something,” she says as soon as I step inside.
I find Rowaelin’s father in the tech center, sitting at a computer. On the screen is a small cut of footage from the brothel in Harlem.
“What have you found?” I ask as his eyes scan over the screen again and again.
“Look at this vampire,” he says, pointing to a tall man with broad shoulders and dark skin.
“I remember him,” I say recognising his sharp face, “Zakai, I think.”
“Looking over this with new eyes, I’ve noticed new things,” Sorin says, “this vampire is always steps behind my daughter. Look-” he clicks a button and another picture comes to the screen one taken from the camera Rowy wore on the night of the Jester’s party, “when he grabbed her he covered the camera, but thanks to the camera’s quality I was able to slow it down to a frame per millisecond and...”
The vampire is looking directly at the camera, his eyes flame red and his fangs elongated, my blood turns cold and I am thankful that we charged into the room at the right time to stop him from biting Rowy.
“Who is he?” Stella asks, leaning in for a better look.
“Maybe the ‘jester’ could shed some light on this vampires identity,” I suggest and Stella shrugs her shoulders and turns her back, letting me know that she isn’t going to stop me.
In an interview room, the king’s jester sits alone, wearing a false smile of arrogance to hide the true terror he feels.
“So what’s your real name?” I ask as I step into the room, rolling my sleeves up, “surely you don’t go by just jester.”
“Call me whatever you want,” the vampire leers, “I’ve had many names over the centuries and I’ve seen far scarier than you.”
“Well that’s only because you don’t know me,” I say cockily as I place the picture of ‘Zakai’ on the table, “who is he?”
“Ren?” The jester says, leaning into the picture, “that bastard stole away my girl.”
“Who is Ren?” I ask, “is he the king?”
The jester laughs at me and then leans back in the chair he is bound to.
“Tell me about him, your king,” I say, the jester’s laughter stops.
“Now why would I tell you a thing like that?” He asks, his eyes flaring red.
“Because we’ll let you go,” I say, there’s a smack on the glass from the other side of the viewing mirror, one which I ignore, keeping my eyes on the vampire.
“You’ll let me go?” The vampire echoes.
“If the information you give us is good.”
“The king lives away in some big fancy castle that he’s hidden away from the world, only a select few know of its location,” the jester says.
“You’re the ‘King’s Jester’,” I say, using air quotes to his name, “how do you not know the location of his so-called ‘castle’?”
“That’s only what I call myself,” the vampire says, rolling his eyes, “I just procure blood for the king and Ren delivers.”
“Then tell me about Ren.”
“Ren is his progeny, his favoured son, he is trusted with the king’s errands and the king’s location at all times. Ren is one of the most powerful and most protected vampires in the world, he is also externally arrogant and a total dick. Killing him is every vampire's dream, however Ren is one nasty dude, he has power within him, one that allows him to change his face and disappear. He is stronger than most and filled with a hunger that I’ve never seen satisfied.”
“And what would he want with her?” I ask, putting down several photos down of Ren and Rowy standing together.
“That’s the girl he stole from me,” the jester says, staring at Rowy’s picture, “Thana’s girl.”
“What do you know about her?” I ask, the vampire’s eyes flick up to me.
“She’s with the hunter’s now?” he asks, I don’t say anything, “Thana will not be pleased.”
“She’s been trying to get the little minx back since she was taken,” the vampire says, “From what I heard she is a delectable snack, one that tastes sweeter than honey. I was meaning to grab her for a taste at my party, then I was to send her back to Thana. But if Ren is after her, well, you better kiss the pretty bitch goodbye, because she does not have long left to live.”
My fists clench and my knuckles go white as the vampire speaks.
“The king wants her, Rakin wants her, what’s so special about her,” The vampire muses, staring at the picture, “She’s a hot piece of ass, I’ll give her that, and when I smelled her, I couldn’t tell if I wanted to eat her, or put my cock-.”
The vampire doesn’t get to say another word, I stand and unsheathe Screamer, before the vampire can comprehend, his head is rolling on the floor, his mouth still open in a shit-eating grin.
“You had me worried for a second there, Sylvanus,” Sorin says, stepping into the room.
“Like I would ever let this fucker go,” I scoff as a cleaning crew step in to dispose of the body.
“Two off the oldest known vampires are fighting to have my daughter,” Sorin says, watching as the jester’s body is dragged out, “why?”
“I don’t know,” I admit, as he and I walk back to the tech room.
“I heard that the hunters in America tried to break her compulsion with electroshock,” Sorin says.
“They thought that she knew something,” I confirm.
“Did it work?”
“To a degree,” I shrug, “she ended up remembering some things but the electroshock ended up hurting more than helping, she went silent for a long while and it broke a part of her mind.”
Sorin hums to himself and rubs his chin in thought.
“We could try again,” Sorin says, “This time in a more humane way, one where she won’t but hurt as badly...”
“No way,” I say, digging in my heels, “it’s not right.”
“She may know the location of the vampire king,” Sorin argues, “or she could know more about Rakin that could help us find him, and then he could lead us to his brother.”
“It’s too risky.”
“What if it wasn’t?” Sorin asks, “We’re smarter than the American’s, we aren’t as cruel and our research is far more extensive than theirs, Rowaelin will be fine, I promise.”
I think on it for a moment, Rowy’s father has a point, if she could lead us to the vampire king or his brother, it could mean big things, not to mention a big payday and the possible eradication of all vampires.
“I’ll ask her,” I say, not promising anything, “But her health comes first.”
“Of course,” Sorin nods, “She’s my daughter, I want nothing more than to see her safe and healthy.”
I head back to the apartment after a few more hours at the institute, working out the finer details.
When I get home, I find Rowy standing in the shower, all I see of her is her distorted silhouette as she stands under the water.
“Row,” I say, letting her know that I’m here.
Rowy hums in answer and I watch as she turns towards me.
“I’ve got to talk to you about something,” I say and she hums again, “We think that you might be the key to finding Rakin or the king of vampires, your father and Stella want to try to break your compulsion again. But this time, I swear it won’t go as far as it did last time, and you’ll be safe and if at any time you want to stop, we can.”
Rowy hums again and I step forward to pull the glass screen back so I can see her.
“Is that ok?” I ask, she turns to look at me, her eyes are round and wide.