I was awake when Adrian left, I didn’t want to face him. Once I hear the door shut I pull myself up off the floor and Max follows me to the kitchen.
I feel like trash, my body is sluggish and my head is pounding. I don’t like feeling this way, but I don’t hate how I felt last night, I liked dancing under the lights with the other girls, I wasn’t afraid to be out in the dark and I wasn’t feeling so broken.
Max indicates that he needs to go outside, so I change out of the clothes I wore last night and into a pair of jeans and a thick shirt.
The city is quiet and calm, with people meandering between the open shops it gives me solace even though I’m alone, I feel calm with the ability now to think.
As I walk Max through the morning dew in the park, my mind wanders, the girls in the club last night said that I should break up with Adrian, they said that he was no good to me. I vaguely remember how he grabbed me and dragged me out of the club, he threw me over his shoulder and took me to his car, no matter how hard I protested, he didn’t listen to me.
I try to think of all the reasons why he would do that. I know he cares about me, but is it in a way that is genuine or is there something selfish motivating him. Maybe he knew something I didn’t about the club, something dangerous. Maybe-
“Hey girl,” a man says, breaking my concentration as he approaches me.
Max braces himself against my legs, and watches the man cautiously, his lips curl in warning as the man tries to step a little too close.
“You look like you’re itching for a fix,” the man says, gesturing to my hand, which is scratching at my shoulder, “I’ve got something fun if you got some cash.”
The man looks clean, dressed in nice clothes with tidy hair, but on him, I can smell something familiar, he carries drugs similar to what I ingested last night.
“How much?” I ask, even though Max tries to pull me away.
“Fifty,” the man starts, “that will get you this.”
He pulls out a small white cigarette, but this one is packed of something other than tobacco. It smells strong and sweet, without any other thought, I pull the money from my pocket and take what he offers.
The man tips an invisible hat and then scurries off, shoving the money into his pocket.
I take Max back home, he doesn’t seem too pleased with what transpired, and as I sit on the balcony with the cigarette in my hand, he watches me closely, his eyes full of judgement.
I know that I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t smoke this and I shouldn’t be searching for something else to take, but I want to feel the way I did last night, I want to feel good again; unafraid and normal.
As I take a deep drag of the cigarette I feel my body open and absorb the drug quickly, my skin feels electrified and my head clouds with happiness.
I feel as if I am as light as a feather, and now I want nothing more than to float away and find someplace nice, someplace bright and full of happiness.
The next thing I know, I’m standing someplace high, looking out at the city as it glows from below. There are trees all around, filling the air with the scent of pine.
“Rowaelin?” a voice calls.
When I turn around, I am standing in a field of lavender, and off in the distance stands a small cottage, cozy and warm with the soft glow of lights breaking through the closed curtains.
“Alec,” I breathe, finding the vampire standing in the doorway of the cottage.
“What are you doing out here?” he asks, stepping back to avoid standing directly in the sun.
“What are you doing out here?” I hear myself giggle as I move over towards him, “I just went out to walk.”
“Are you high?” Alec asks, as he sniffs at me and then recoils.
I just giggle and look at the house he stands in.
“I know this place,” I breathe, stepping inside as I look around, “I’ve been here.”
“It’s your father’s,” Alec informs, following me closely, “Does the hunter know where you are?”
“He’s working,” I hear myself say as I run my hand over the spines of a hundred books that line the wall of a library.
“Does he know you’re addicted to drugs?” Alec asks, keeping his distance from me.
“I’m not addicted,” I laugh, but I spin too quickly and lose my footing for a moment and my knees buckle.
Alec is by my side, he grabs my arm to keep me from falling, but the feeling of being touched sends a shiver down my spine and I skip away from him.
“Don’t touch me,” I hiss, putting space back between us.
“Ok,” he says, his hands going up in surrender, “I just didn’t want you to fall.”
Alec steps closer towards me, his pupils narrowing on me.
“Rowy,” his voice is soft and alluring, “Listen to me, you’re going to go home, and you’ll never touch drugs again.”
His voice is filling my mind and singing to my brain.
“No!” I say, snapping out of his compulsion as I blink rapidly, “No, you don’t get to control my life!”
Alec steps back and blinks in confusion.
“You are not my father,” I continue to hiss at him, “you don’t get to boss me around.”
“Let me take you home,” he says, his voice calm but not compelling.
My mind is swirling, and I feel as if I might be sick, so I take his offer and allow him to drive me home in his heavily tinted car.
Once back at the apartment, I race to the bathroom and my stomach heaves its contents into the toilet.
“Don’t touch me,” I groan as I feel Alec step close.
“Ok,” he says and he lingers in the doorway with Max by his side, “Are you ok?”
“Do you want to fuck me?” I ask, feeling bitter at his constant need to touch me, “Is that it?”
“What?” Alec asks, recoiling from me, “No.”
“It’s all men want, especially when they’re nice to you,” I snarl, rising to my feet and wiping my mouth, “So come on, let’s get it over with.”
“Even if I liked sex, I would not be with you,” he says, stepping away from me, “You are like my sister, I care for you and don’t want to you suffer down a lonely road.”
My stomach launches again and I fall back down to the floor by the toilet as my stomach empties again. My stomach cramps and my spine feels as if a fist is coiled around it and pulling it out through my knees.
“Now how you feeling?” Alec asks once I stop.
“I feel like my head is going to explode,” I groan, my eyes flicking up to him.
“You should get in the shower,” Alec says, stepping past me to turn on the water, “I’ll get you some aspirin.”
As I strip out of my clothes my neck twinges, I stretch it out and step under the warm water and let it relieve some of the tension in my shoulders.
Alec brings me a tablet and a cup of warm tea, I sit on the shower floor, sipping the tea as he sits on the other side of the mottled glass, making sure that I’m alright.
“How were you made?” I ask, wanting to hear something other than the sound of falling water.
“I was born in Egypt,” he says, “I was made there too.”
“What was your human life like?”
“I was a slave,” he says, his voice dark and low, “I started in the mud.”
“How were you tuned?” I ask, setting my tea aside.
“As I grew I was deemed desirable and attractive,” he continues, “many men and women desired me, I served them for years, until a war came and I was forced to fight for my pharaoh. When I was gravely injured I was thrown into a pit. My master found me, asked if I wanted to live, he told me what I would become, I said yes. The next night when I awoke, I laid waste to the pharaoh’s kingdom. I killed many people that night...”
Alec remains silent, he sits on the floor outside of the shower, lost in his memories.
His head perks up after a moment of silence.
“He’s back,” Alec says his voice has an edge to it as he disappears, leaving without a trace that he was even here.
I stand in the shower, letting my mind wander, letting it run blank as I feel the water flow over me, splashing on my face and numbing my mind.
“Ok?” Adrian suddenly says, snapping me out of my thoughts as he pulls back the shower door.
“Ok?” I echo, unsure of what he has asked me, or if he’s asked me anything at all.
The next thing I know is that I’m sitting in his car, listening to him talk over and over again about some experiment as he drives me somewhere.
My head is pounding, I only hear every other word that he says, he talks too much and it’s starting to make my head pound.
“Why are we at the institute?” I ask as Adrian pulls up in his space in the parking garage.
Perhaps I don’t speak loudly enough, Adrian doesn’t talk to me, he takes me down, down, down until we arrive in a cold room made of chrome.
I recognise some of the equipment, it’s the same equipment from the American church.
“No,” I gape, my heart starting to pound as Adrian’s hand tightens on my arm, “No, I don’t want to do this...”
Rowaelin has changed her mind, but it’s too late, we need her to remember.
I help Sorin lift her onto the table, as we strap her down guilt wreaks through me as I listen to her pleas for us to let us go.
“Please, please, please,” she begs with tears in her eyes, “Adrian, don’t do this.”
“I’m sorry,” I say, brushing her hair out of her face, “It’s going to be ok, it won’t be like the last time.”
The machines are hooked up and immediately the machines start screaming with the sound of her racing heart.
“Alright,” Sorin says, gripping the electric paddles as I put a rubber block between her jaws.
I kiss her forehead and then step back as Sorin lines up the paddles with her temples.
The machines hum and Rowaelin’s panic worsens, her chest is heaving and her body is trembling.
“Maybe we shouldn’t-”
It’s too late, Sorin electrocutes Rowaelin, the smell of burning flesh fills the room and Rowy tries to scream around the rubber block, but it comes out as a painful moan.
The machine monitoring her heart starts to scream, showing red alerts on the screen, her body seizes and her head slams on the table.
Sorin removes the electricity and then attaches more wires to read Rowaelin’s brain activity.
“Stay still,” Sorin snarls, holding her shoulders down so that the machine can get a clear reading.
Her father watches the screen carefully, interpreting the wild lines.
“She’s close,” he says, picking up the paddles again, “Look there, she’s going to remember.”
I don’t know what he’s looking at, but surely he knows what he’s doing. The electricity is switched back on and Rowy screams and tries to pull away, she looks to me, pleading with her eyes.
“We shouldn’t do this,” I say, looking to Sorin as he lines up to electrocute her again.
“Toughen up!” Sorin snarls, “we need her to remember, she could lead us to a great victory, to the extinction of all vampires.”
He doesn’t hesitate, he shocks Rowaelin, his daughter, again, amping up the power to induce stronger memory function.
The rubber block becomes dislodged and Rowaelin screams, it becomes the only sound I can hear, she screams and it echoes a thousand times, vibrating through my entire soul, rattling my bones and causing my heart to still in my chest as a boom calls out in response.
The world falls silent for a moment, just a small moment, then it erupts in screams of fear as something shakes the very foundation on which we stand.
“Vampires,” I breathe, as fear fills me.
Rowaelin falls slack on the table, losing consciousness as the institute falls under attack.
“They can’t get in,” I say once I realise that the fighting is happening outside, where vampires are hurtling explosives at the church above.
Sorin and I leave Rowaelin where she is and assist the hunters above at holding the vampires off. In the onslaught I spy a familiar face, Zakai, he finds me too and bares his fangs at me.
After a gruelling fight, with many vampires slaughtered, they retreat, leaving us to our victory.
“They know where we are,” I say, my chest heaving as I lower my sword, “Should we look at relocating?”
I turn to Stella as she wipes down her wooden stake with a cloth.
“No need,” she says nonchalantly, “They’ve found us before this, they cannot breach the church, they’ve never been able to... what drew them here?”
“Rowaelin did,” Sorin says, stepping into the light as he too wipes the blood off of a short sword, “I know what she is; she’s a siren.”