When I wake, I wake alone, but I can hear my father outside my room speaking in a harsh whisper to some unknown person.
“You said the wards would keep him out,” my father hisses, “that he wouldn’t be able to break through.”
“He must have had a witch with him to weaken them,” a feminine voice responds, but she is not meek or afraid of my father’s anger.
“I thought you were the most powerful witch?!”
“In my universe, I am,” she retorts and I shake my head in attempts to alleviate my dizziness.
“Fix them,” my father commands, “make sure he cannot come back here.”
“I will do my best,” the woman responds, her steps receding further down the hall.
Rakin will be back, he said so, he won’t stop until he has me again and my father doesn’t seem to be able to stop him.
“You’re awake,” Leighla says from where she sits near the bookshelf, “Are you ok?”
She keeps her distance, her eyes stay focused on me and she keeps herself close to the door; she seems nervous.
“I’m fine,” I say, sitting up as a nagging feeling tugs at my stomach.
“Rowaelin,” my father says, stepping into the room, “you’re awake.”
I get out of bed and look to him, he has guilt written all over his face and his head hangs low.
“Why didn’t you stop him?” I ask, anger feeding into my blood, “Why didn’t you kill him for what he did to me?”
My father sighs.
“It’s complicated,” he says, he extends his hand to me, “but I promise you that I will protect you.”
“Why?” I ask, wanting to know the reason.
“I can’t,” he says, “I can’t kill him.”
“Why?!” I demand, the pain in my stomach worsening as anger fills my veins, “do you care for you brother more than you care for me?!”
“No!” my father gapes, “by the heavens no. If I could, I would kill him in an instant! The truth is that I can’t because we are all under a spell.”
“A spell?” I echo, raising my eyebrow in doubt.
“Yes,” My father sighs, “when we were turned, my father wanted to make sure that no one could kill his legacies and the only one who could kill a legacy, is a legacy. So, my father, had a witch bind our lives together, if one harms another then they too are harmed.”
The burning anger broils in my stomach I lash out and push my father back by his chest, how dare he? How dare he not even try?
“So you’ll just let him take me?!” I demand, my fists pounding at his chest.
“No,” my father says, grabbing my wrists and holding me close, “No I won’t.”
I pull out of my father’s hold and glare at him, before turning my back and grabbing a bag.
“What are you doing?” my father asks watching as I stuff clothes into the bag.
“I’m leaving,” I say, wiping my tears hastily as my hands tremble, “When Rakin comes, I will not be here. I will not go back to the darkness.”
“Rowaelin, I promise,” my father starts.
“No,” I snarl, throwing my bag to the side, “I will not.”
My father stands shocked at my outburst, his eyes widen and his jaw becomes slack.
I don’t let him stop me, as quick as I can, I leave. Not wasting a minute of daylight, I reach the cottage by nightfall and decide to stop for a moment, to catch my breath and to feed the nagging feeling in my stomach.
“You know,” Alec says, appearing in the doorway with a large, black umbrella tucked under his arm, “running off like that, without a goodbye, really hurt my feelings... Rowy, what are you doing?”
“I’m going back to the hunters,” I say, keeping distance between Alec and myself, “At least they can keep Rakin back.”
“Your father can protect you,” Alec says, folding his arms over his chest.
“No, he can’t,” I say, picking my bag back up off the floor.
There’s a knock at the door and a young man steps inside looking sheepish and nervous.
“Alec, I saw you leave,” the boy says, “I need to head into town and was hoping I could come along with you.”
“Sure,” Alec sighs, rolling his eyes and following me and the boy out of the house.
Alec follows me, trying to convince me to turn around. And the boy, he turns out to be Leighla’s brother, he talks quickly.
The boy talks about his past, about his present, about his plans for the future. The boy is sweet and innocent, with bright eyes and a smile so wide it sines in the moonlight.
“And that’s why you need to kill me,” the boy says, his words sending a shock down my spine.
I stop mid-step and turn to the boy, whose pupils are now dilated and wears a lopsided grin of his face.
“What did you say?” Alec asks, he too is shocked and frozen in place.
“You have to kill me,” the boy repeats and my head starts to spin.
I don’t get time to even think, the boy lunges forward, attacking me with his hands.
I move back, putting distance between me and him as Alec grabs him and pull him back, pinning his arms at his side.
“No!” the boy snarls, “She has to kill me, or else more will come.”
“What does that mean?” Alec asks as the boy struggles against him.
“He’s been compelled,” I state, keeping back.
“She said that you had to kill me, that I had to make you kill me,” the boy says, no longer struggling as tears fall from his eyes, “If someone else kills me she’ll send more, she won’t stop until you’ve killed. So it’s either kill one or have millions killed.”
I want to run, I want to run as far away as I can, I want to go someplace they’ll never find me.
“Leighla is next,” the boy says and my heart turns cold.
“Rowy,” Alec says, his voice sympathetic, “You have to.”
“No, I don’t,” I say, taking a step back, shocked that he’d suggest such a thing, “I can’t. I’m not going to kill anyone.”
“It’s either that or I kill him and every other that comes after you,” Alec says, “And that guilt will weigh on you for all eternity.”
“Then kill me,” I say, staring down Alec with fire in my eyes, “kill me and no one else will have to die, the fighting will die with me.”
Alec’s face blanches, his eyes widen and his jaw hangs slack. I don’t know why, but he suddenly lets the boy go and lets him charge at me, swinging his fists and snarling obscenities at me.
I try to keep the boy back, I try to dodge his fists, but he is too quick, he hits me several times and then grabs me by the throat.
“Fight back,” he snarls, squeezing so tightly that I see stars, “Fight back.”
My blood is burning, my head spins. I don’t want to hurt this boy, but as breathing becomes difficult, I realise that I don’t want to die, not like this.
The change is quick, one moment his hands are squeezing my neck and the next, his heart takes its final beat in the palm of my hand.
I’m not entirely sure how I did it, but the boy falls and his heart remains in my hand. My stomach pangs and pinches, cramping as my mouth runs dry.
I killed him, his heart is in my hand, it’s still warm and spurting blood from its arteries.
I drop the organ to the ground, it hits the dirt with a splat. My own heart is racing, thrumming in my ears as my chest tightens and my stomach clenches, threatening to dump its contents on the ground near the heart.
I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be here!
I must have passed out, for one moment I’m standing in the woods, the next, I’m standing outside the apartment.
It wall all a dream, a nightmare. I step into the apartment, opening it with my key, and am instantly greeted by Max, who jumps up at me, barking and wagging his tail excitedly.
Seeing Max sends a feeling of calmness washing over me, it lasts only for a moment as a person steps forward, someone who isn’t Adrian, someone who now holds a gun levelled at my head.
“Who are you?” the man demands, his arm locked and perfectly steady, “how’d you get in here?”
“With my key. How did you get in here?” I ask as Max plants himself in front of me and braces for attack.
“Oh, you’re Raelin,” the man says, lowering his weapon, “I thought you were...”
“Taken by the vampires?” I finish, “I was, but I managed to free myself.”
“Oh,” the man says, holstering his weapon, “Adrian isn’t here, he’s in Italy. I’ve been house sitting and looking after Max here for weeks now. Um, do you want me to call him or...”
“He’s on his way back,” I say, rolling the small tracking chip between my fingers.
I don’t know why I took the chip, perhaps I took it so that Adrian may come to me and find me, but I’m sure that by now he’s seen it active again.
“Are you hurt?” the man asks, looking at my hand, which is stained red with dried blood.
“I’m fine,” I say, tucking my hand behind my back, “there was trouble getting out.”
“Are you ok?” the man asks, with genuine concern and worry on his face.
I look at the man, and my eyes drift to his neck, to the marred skin that stretches all the way around.
“I am,” I say, looking back to his eyes, “that’s quite a scar.”
“Hmm? Oh!” his face turns beet red and his hand goes to cover his neck, “Yeah, but then again, I guess every hunter has one... well, except for Adrian.”
He’s right, I’ve never seen a single scar on Adrian’s body, and I’ve seen every inch of his skin, from head to toe and there’s not a single pale scar on his skin, not even a tiny nick.
I look to the man, who shifts uneasily on his feet.
“I can stay,” the man says hesitantly, “keep you company until Adrian comes home.”
I don’t want this hunter around, I don’t want him to see what I’ve done. I shake my head and then watch the man leave, nodding his head politely.
“Here,” he says, handing me a piece of paper as he walks out the door, “that’s my number, just in case you need anything.”
I take the man’s number and then close the door, I ignore my hand until I stand in the shower and scrub my skin viciously with hot water. Pushing the sounds, the feelings, out of my mind as the water turns from light pink to clear.
She’s home, the tracker places her back at the apartment. Rose isn’t happy how quickly we leave Italy and get ourselves back on the private jet to fly back home.
For the entire flight back home, Rose sits in her seat, arms folded over her chest with her bottom lip stuck out.
“So did it mean nothing?” she asks as the plane touches down in Romania.
“It was a mistake,” I say as I quickly stand and gather my things, “We were drunk.”
“But you wanted me,” Rose says, “You can’t deny that.”
“Of course I can’t,” I sigh, slinging my bag over my shoulder, “Of course I wanted you, but I love her.”
Rose hisses under her breath, but I have no time to sit and argue with her, I have to get home, I have to get back to Rowy.
When I get back to the apartment, I burst through the door and find her stepping out of the kitchen with a steaming mug cradled in her hands.
My name has never sound so good, it breathes past her lips like a song.
I rush to her, relieved to see her alive and unharmed, I take her into my arms and hold her tightly as I lift her off the ground and spin her around.
“You’re ok,” I breathe, pressing my face into her neck and breathing in deeply, “Oh god.”
From behind us, Rose clears her throat, reminding me of her presence.
“We came here in your car,” she says, tapping her foot.
“Then go,” I say, throwing my keys to her, “Pick me up tomorrow.”
Rose catches my keys and then huffs as she turns and walks away, slamming the door as she leaves.
“What happened?” I ask, turning back to Rowaelin as her nostrils flare at me, “How did you escape?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she says, her voice soft and quiet.
She’s so scared, I can see it in her eyes and in the way that she keeps a space between us, she’s been through something traumatic and she doesn’t want to talk about it.
I don’t want to talk about it either, I just want her to be in my arms, so I hold her tightly, piecing her back together with a gentle kiss to the top of her head.
I take Rowaelin to our room, which has been kept the same ever since she left.
“You look tired,” I say, pointing out the dark circles under her eyes, she looks like crap, “Sleep now, I’ll watch over you.”
Rowaelin doesn’t go to sleep, instead, she takes my hand, and drags me into bed, she presses her lips to my neck and my skin becomes covered in goosebumps as her tongue flicks against my flesh.
“Please don’t let them take me again,” she whimpers, her hands running over my body, “they won’t stop coming from me.”
“I’ll kill them all,” I promise as my lips graze against hers, “I’ll keep you safe, I promise.”
I have to make sure that he’ll protect me, I have to make sure he doesn’t ask questions as to how I ‘escaped’. So I let him kiss me, I let him put his hands wherever he wants on my body, regardless of the fact that I can still smell Rose’s perfume lingering on his skin.
As soon as I saw them, I knew what they had done, I could smell the sex lingering between them, I could see the jealousy in her eyes when he ran to me and not to her. I could hear Rose grinding her teeth when Arian dismissed her and I could practically taste the bitter hatred she harbours for me.
But that doesn’t matter, what they did doesn’t matter, I need to make sure that Adrian stays by my side and that he will do anything and everything to keep me from Rakin’s claws.
So I kiss him back, I touch him in ways that make him melt in my palm. My palm, the palm that can still feel an echo of a heart beating.
Adrian strips himself of his clothes, tossing them aside before crawling back to me.
I sit on top of Adrian, my hips straddling his as his eyes become glazed with lust; he is mine. I have him wrapping around my finger and the lower I kiss, the tighter he binds himself to me.
As I place my lips to the soft inner side of his muscular thigh, my stomach clenches and I find myself thinking that this is the place to bite, that here one small bite will have his blood flowing so easily and smoothly.
“Hey,” Adrian hisses as my teeth nip at his skin, “What are you doing?”
I look up to Adrian, my eyes round and innocent, I don’t answer him, instead I move my attention to the stiff member above my head.
It doesn’t take long for Adrian to cum, he’s missed me and my body, he’s missed having me to himself.
Thank god that Rose didn’t succeed in luring him to her side.
Afterwards, I wipe his orgasm from my face and neck, watching him as he lays back in bed, his chest heaving as his cock still twitches against his abdomen.
I snuggle into his side, listening to his heart beating and coiling myself into his mind, making sure that I am the only one he thinks about.
“I’ll never let them take you,” Adrian says again, as he holds me close and tries to lull me to sleep.