It feels like I’ve slept for days, I can’t tell for sure as my phone is no longer working.
My stomach growls in hunger as the smell of something truly delicious beckons me into the kitchen.
I find Alec in the kitchen, cooking eggs and bacon.
“Figured this would wake you up,” he says, his back still towards me, “Have a seat.”
I sit at the dining table and Alec places the plate down in front of me.
“How long has it been?” I ask, grabbing a sauce bottle.
“That’s not sauce for you,” Alec says, taking it from me, “It’s been two days.”
“Adrian must be worried sick,” I say, watching as Alec squirts the thick red sauce onto his food, whatever that sauce is, it smells sweet and delicious.
“Why do you care?” Alec asks, there’s a hint of annoyance in his voice, “The hunter abused you.”
“No, he didn’t,” I defend, “he saved me, and cared for me.”
“So that gives him a pass for raping you?” Alec asks with a raised eyebrow, “And planting a tracking device in your neck?”
“He didn’t... wait what?” the last of Alec’s sentence catches up to me, “he didn’t put a tracking device in my neck.”
“So you didn’t know about it,” Alec says, softly as he rubs his chin in thought.
“He wouldn’t do that to me,” I say defiantly as I start to eat.
Suddenly, Alec is behind me, poking at a tender part in my neck, causing me to leap from my seat and hiss at him.
“That’s where it is,” Alec says, “I first noticed it at the party, when it’s activated you can see the red blinking under your skin. Luckily the EMP that is constantly radiating through this place makes it impossible for tracking devices to work. But we will need to take it out of you before going to your father’s, once we leave this house, the signal will turn back on.”
I can’t believe Adrian would do that to me, I sit back down in disbelief and remember how my neck has ached over the past weeks. I rub the back of my neck, and I can feel the tracker, it’s small, but I can feel it under the raised, scarred skin.
“Why me?” I ask, looking to Alec, hoping he had the answers, “What have I done to deserve such torture, such suffering?”
Alec says nothing, he has no answers for me.
My nails dig into the tender skin at the back of my neck as red hot tears burn my cheeks.
“Rowy, stop,” Alec gapes in horror as my blood starts to spill.
But I don’t listen to him, I grit my teeth and my fingers come in contact with the small device, with a sharp tug, I pull it out and throw it across the table. The device is a small chip, something that people put into dogs and other pets.
Was I just a pet to Adrian? An animal to be registered and tracked at his whim?
“Take me to my father,” I say, standing and glaring at Alec.
Alec has no words, he snaps his jaw shut and then nods his head.
We leave at sundown, we trek for hours through the woods, we walk uphill for a moment, and then down. The woods are dense and it’s hard to know just which direction we are going in.
“Here,” Alec says, handing me a wrapped sandwich.
“I’m not hungry,” I say, pulling my coat tighter around my body as the frigid temperature lowers even further.
As we trek through the woods, my mind can’t help but wander back to Adrian, wondering what he might be feeling, what he might be going through, does he really think I’m dead?
She’s not dead, she just can’t be.
After Rowaelin was taken, the other vampires fled as well, disappearing back into the night at incredible speeds.
But before the last vampire left, something was thrown onto a mine, and the woods were devoured in explosions.
The pole that Rowaelin was tied to was completely destroyed and many hunters were wounded in the chaos, myself included.
And now I sit in the infirmary, constantly refreshing my phone in hopes that Rowaelin’s tracker will be active.
I just wanted her to be safe, I wanted to be able to find her if she was ever in trouble, but now she is in trouble, and the tracker isn’t working.
Why isn’t it working?!
“Adrian, she isn’t coming back,” Stella says, watching me from the chair at my side.
“I have to go and find her,” I say, wincing as I drag myself out of bed, “She is with them again, she’s alone and frightened, I have to find her.”
“She’s dead,” Stella says, pushing me back down into bed, “She’s not coming back!”
I look to Stella in shock, Rowaelin is her niece, why would she be so quick to give up on her.
“I’m sending you to Italy,” Stella says, sending a cold bolt of fear to my heart, “when you’ve healed, it will give you time to grieve and separate yourself from this matter.”
“You can’t do this to me!” I exclaim, fear coursing through me, “Rowaelin needs me!”
“She’s dead!” Stella snaps with tears in her eyes, “She isn’t coming back!”
Stella is mourning too, she has lost her niece, the only connection she still had with her sister, and undoubtedly she blames herself for what happened, for failing a second time at the same trap.
“Please don’t send me away,” I beg, tears fall from my eyes as I can’t stop thinking of what Rowy is going through.
Stella doesn’t say another word, she stands and leaves me alone, no longer discussing the conditions of my transfer.
We walk all through the night, trekking through thick woods until we come across a less dense area where bats are flittering among the treetops, chattering amongst themselves.
“Ren,” a vampire hisses, dropping from the trees as a bat and landing in human-like form.
Alec pushes me behind him and snarls at the vampire in front of him.
“Does the master now that you are returning?” he asks, not yet seeing me.
“I have what he asked me for,” Alec hisses, baring his fangs dangerously, “Let us pass.”
The vampire looks to me and then huffs, standing aside before leaping back into the air as a bat.
“I didn’t know vampires could do that,” I say, my eyes looking up to the hundreds of eyes that seem to watch me and only me.
“Most choose not to,” Alec says, as we arrive at a door.
Alec turns to me, his eyebrow raised.
“Well?” he asks, gesturing to the door with his head, “Do you have the key?”
I look at the door, at the strange, large lock hole.
The weight around my neck feels heavy and I pull out the large gold key from where it was tucked under my shirt. I’ve worn the golden keys around my neck ever since finding them, they hang with my mother’s pendant against my chest.
I place the larger key into the lock and the door opens wide, creaking on its hinges.
“This way,” Alec says, leading me down a dark hallway.
“Where is my father?” I ask, looking around the stone halls hesitantly.
“You’ll see him soon,” Alec says, his eyes focused forward, “But first we must see the king, inform him of your arrival.”
“Fine,” I say with a tight jaw.
Alec leads me through a maze of halls until we come across another door, from beyond light and music drift under the door, making me feel an inkling of calmness.
“Wait here,” Alec says.
“What?” I exclaim, “Here?”
“Yes, here,” Alec says with another sigh, “I’ll announce you to the king and come right back to fetch you.”
“What if a vampire comes and wants to eat me?” I ask, panic filling my veins.
“You will be fine, I promise,” Alec says, reassuring me with a kind smile before ducking behind the door and shutting it back in my face.
I’m left alone for a brief moment that feels like an eternity, my heart racing in my chest as every sound that echoes off of the stone walls feels like a vampire closing in on me, with their fangs ready to devour my blood.
“Come on,” Alec says, appearing back at my side with the door now wide open behind him.
As I step into the light, I find that the music has stopped and the room is empty where I swore before I could hear voices and laughter coming from within.
“My king,” Alec says, “This is Rowaelin Black, Fredrick’s daughter.”
From high up on a throne he sits, the king, his face set like stone, hard and unreadable as his dark red eyes glare down at me.
“Welcome to my court, Miss Black,” the king says, his voice dark and alluring, “bring in the girl’s father.”
A stranger is brought into the room, he is human, tall with a lanky build. He wears circular glasses that seem to just hang on the end of his nose and a three-piece suit.
“My girl!” the man beams, stepping towards me with a giant gait, “oh my daughter, how happy I am to see you again.”
The king watches from his throne, his face dark and unchanging.
“You’re not my father,” I say, stopping the man in his tracks.
“Uh, my dear, I’m afraid that I had you compelled... t-to forget who I am,” the man says, glancing every so often to the king.
“No, my real father compelled me to forget who he was,” I say, my eyes meeting the kings, “Didn’t you, father?”
The king’s mask cracks, his eyes fade to blue and he stands from his throne. The other man is dismissed and my father now stands in front of me, there are tears in his eyes and his face has softened.
“My girl,” he breathes.
At that moment I do not care that he is the vampire king, I don’t care that he is a vampire. All I care about is that he is here, finally standing in front of me, his eyes just as I remembered them.
I feel as if I am a little girl again, a child who has been hurt and only a father’s embrace could fix my pain.
I run into his arms, crashing into him as tears fall from my eyes. My father holds me and I feel as if nothing further could ever harm me, he smells just as I remember too; like snow pine and seawater.
“It’s ok,” My father soothes, stroking my hair, “you’re home now, I’ve got you.”
For a moment I let myself be comforted by my father’s embrace, his arms tighten around me as my forehead presses against his chest, and tears continue to fall.
But the bliss can only last so long, questions start to rise.
“Where were you?” I ask, stepping out of his hold and looking to him with bloodshot eyes, “Why didn’t you come for me?”
“I tried,” my father says, wiping a single tear from his cheek and trying to hide how his voice cracks, “I tried so hard to find you.”
“You’re the king of vampires,” I state, “how is this possible? Is that why they took me? Did they know who I was? Why did you let them? You’re the king how come you didn’t stop them?”
My father stops my pacing by taking hold of my shoulders and turning me to face him.
“Do you know what I’ve been through?” I ask, looking into his eyes as confusion and hurt turn into anger.
“Do you know what I’ve been through?!” I say, putting my hands on his chest and pushing him back, “And all this time, all this time you’ve been here?! Not doing anything!”
“Rowaelin,” Alec says, undoubtedly trying to intervene and calm my rage, “your father-”
“It’s alright,” my father says, holding up a hand to silence Alec’s defence, “It’s ok to be angry, I understand... and I’m sorry for how long it took... as for what you’ve been through... no, I don’t know, but I can-”
“I was raped,” I say, the rage burning through my chest and sliding down my cheeks, “I was beaten, I was fed off of... I was eleven, for seven years, I was kept in the dark, a slave to Thana... to Rakin.”
My father’s eyes flare red.
“Is it true? Is he your brother?” I ask, my father’s shame-filled expression is answer enough.
My stomach turns and I feel as if I’m going to be sick, I swallow the lump in my throat as I come to terms as to what that really means.
“This is your fault,” I say, glaring at my father in anger, “it’s your fault, why didn’t you stop him?!”
“I am sorry,” my father says, falling to his knees in front of me, “Row, my daughter, I am so sorry.”
It’s not good enough, my father’s apologies are not good enough, I want someone to pay, I want someone to die, for what happened to me.
I feel as if my heart is beating too fast, it’s drumming in my ears as my blood boils and my body trembles, why did I come here? What did I hope to achieve?
“Rowy,” my father says, his voice breaking through the noises in my mind, “you’re having a panic attack.”
“Don’t tell me what I’m going through,” I snap taking another step back.
My hands curl into fists at my side and clench and unclench relentlessly as I try to calm my nerves that feel as if they are half alight with fire and half freezing in ice.
“I can’t breathe,” I say, stepping further away from the vampires as the stone walls seem to close in on me.
“Look at me,” my father says, his eyes locking on mine, “You’re ok, you’re calm, the pain you feel no pain.”
My father is trying to compel me, I can feel it in my body, I can see it in his eyes as his pupils dilate.
“Don’t think you can push this away,” I snarl, tearing my eyes from his, “you don’t get to wash this away like it never happened!”
My father seems shocked that his compulsion doesn’t work, he steps back and looks to Alec as if searching for an answer as to why it didn’t work.
“Come with me,” my father says, looking back to me.
My father takes me to a private room, one on the other side of the castle, the room is massive and open, with glass walls that show the woods outside.
I step closer to the glass and look out to the massive stretch of trees that stand before me.
“This was your mother’s room,” my father says as my nerves begin to calm, “I had it made for her.”
I look around the room, from the massive bed to the floor to ceiling bookshelf filled with a thousand titles. The room is fresh and natural with wooden furnishings that are upholstered with plush materials, a fireplace with a fur rug in front of it.
“I haven’t been in this room in almost nineteen years,” my father says, looking around the room as awestruck as I am.
I look back to my father, the vampire king who, in this moment, does not look like a king. He looks sad, remembering a life lost and mourning a woman he loved very dearly.
“You can stay here as long as you like,” my father says, “This castle can be your home, you will not be harmed here, I swear it.”
I wrap my arms around my waist and look back to the woods, finding a doe walking through the trees, calm and at peace in her surroundings.
“I want to be alone,” I say, my mind still reeling with too much noise, too many questions and so much pain.
“I understand,” my father says, though he cannot hide the hurt that reflects in his eyes, “if you need me, for anything, all you have to do is call.”
My father leaves, allowing me the space I desperately crave.
“Rowy,” Alec says, reminding me of his presence.
“I said I want to be alone,” I snarl, glaring back at him.
“Don’t hate your father,” he says, his voice calm yet not compelling, “he did all that he could to try and find you.”
“He should have done more,” I say, still angry and hurting from my past, “Maybe I should have stayed with the hunters.”
Alec takes a step back in shock, anger flickers across his face before he leaves my room, shutting the door behind him to let me wallow in my anger and in my pain.
I feel stupid and selfish, I know Adrian would feel the same way, he’d be angry at me for feeling the way I feel. It has been so long since I was freed that I shouldn’t be still hurting from it.
So why can’t I let it go?
*Short Chapter update, having writer's block massively, but hopefully, this dump should clear some filler info and b