|21| The Mysterious Woman
They say sometimes fate takes a role in the life and existence of one. That everything happens for a reason. But sometimes, is it fate who does it?
With eyes on her body and face on my hand, I watched Amari breathe. Her chest rose and fell with every slow but steady breath she took. As a vampire seeker and someone who has lived enough, I’ve gotten to know when someone is sick or suffering from something.
Since the moment I laid eyes on her, I knew she was unique and had a secret. The rune was something I saw before she even knew of it. As a seeker and with the gift of seeing the other’s power or magic they could use, I knew of her abilities. But there was also something peculiar that I couldn’t point out on her. Amari kept a secret, one she was afraid to say.
When I heard she was afraid of witches and she would even hurt because of them. That moment I knew she had suffered from a witch hand. But what did they do to her?
Devika and I had talked before about this minor issue. We both had our differences, but we both concluded that a witch hurt Amari some way or another.
When Amari moved, I started monitoring her. She was beautiful but delicate and sensible. Her fear of things and how she thought of things made me wonder why she denied my offer so much. But after getting to know more about her life, I understood.
I was sending some spies over to her father’s empire a while back. I had learned that Amari was abused, tortured, and neglected by her family, that it was her father who sold her to Maximus. I never mentioned it before and will never until she decides to.
I respected her, and knowing more of her and knowing the real her made me have feelings that I never expected to feel for someone else. Amari was a ray of sunshine, one I didn’t want to give away to anyone. And my dark side would think the same. Even so, I respected her, and any decision she would take, I would respect it. It’s her choice, not mine to make.
Now seeing her like this, all pale, with a high fever and unconscious, made me wonder what happened. During the dance, I kept my eyes on her, even when she was with Maximus. I knew Azriel was also looking from afar. And the only thing I got a glimpse of was Amari staring to the front. When I looked at the person she was staring at; it was gone. That’s when Amari collapsed. It’s been two days, and she’s getting worse.
“Brother, why don’t you go to rest?” Lilith asked as she took a seat on the other side of the bed.
When Amari lost consciousness during the dance, Maximus and I took her away. I was leaving Azriel and Alastair in charge. But things got out of control when Azriel lost his temper. Making everyone present kneel to him.
I knew Azriel had deep feelings for Amari, even if he didn’t show them. But like his brother, I know him well. So finding out he went on a rampage because of the incident made me realize he was serious about her. We all had feelings for her, even the rock of a brother I have, Alastair. But Alastair wanted something else, sex.
In contrast, Azriel looked at her as a mate. I looked at her as my queen. Someone who I could rule with.
Now it’s been two days, and Azriel has been trying to get to the witches. He is blaming them, but we are not even sure why Amari got sick. So it was troublesome. And Maximus was making a mess of things, blaming everyone around, including me, for not taking care of her.
“Brother?” Lilith’s called. I looked at her and smiled weakly. “You’ve been here for two nights; why not go and rest?”
“Lilith, don’t worry,” I said, grabbing Amari’s hand.
“But Lorcan?” Lilith tried to argue. I glared at her and shook my head.
Staying quiet, I move my eyes back to Amari. Closing my own, I laid my head down and fell asleep.
Hearing a loud thud, I sat up abruptly. What was that?
Turning the lights on, I get up and walk to the door. Was something happening outside? Trying to hear any sort of sound, the doors suddenly open. Slamming on my face.
“The hell!” I retorted, grabbing my face.
“Lorcan?” Alastair said, surprised, “What were you doing?”
“Me? I heard a noise, you asshole. What is happening?” I asked angrily.
“Nothing, just spring cleaning,” Alastair said as he raised a bloody hand.
“What have you done?” I asked him as my eyes moved outside the door.
“A spy. No, wrong, let me rephrase that, brother. A witch spy,” Alastair said, making me frown.
“Are you sure?” I asked, confused, “But wait, why would it be a spy?”
“She was speaking with another person who I didn’t get to see. I overheard their conversation and took care of it,” Alastair mumble walking to the bathroom. I followed, leaning on the door.
“You’re saying then that the witches might be the ones responsible?” I asked, crossing my arms.
“Yes, and not only that, Azriel talked with Devika, and it seems she is hiding something,” Alastair said, smirking.
“Devika?” I asked, surprised, “I think you have a misunderstanding.”
“No,” Alastair said sternly, “I’m not. Have you forgotten what I’m capable of?”
“No brother, but Devika would never hurt Amari,” I said, defending her.
“I know, but still never trust someone too much,” Alastair said, passing by me and walking back to the room. Getting on the bed, he lays down and looks at Amari. “Call Devika over.”
“Now?” I asked, baffled.
“Yes?” Alastair answered back. His sarcastic tone didn’t go a miss.
Sighing, I walk out of the room. Devika’s bedroom was on the opposite side of the palace. Walking down the hall, I bump into Azriel.
“Brother?” I said as I noticed him hissing at me.
“Move, Lorcan,” Azriel said, pushing me.
“Wait, what’s the matter?” I did not understand his behavior.
“I just need to see Amari,” Azriel said, yanking his arm, “Is she alone?”
“No, Alastair is there,” I said. Nodding, he walked away. I pinched my nose as I looked for Devika.
Finally reaching her room, I knock twice and wait for her answer.
“Devika?” I said, knocking again. After a while, she opened her doors. She was in a nightgown and with the stench of alcohol. I back away from her. “Someone’s not in the mood.”
“Is something the matter?” Devika asked with a yawn.
“Could you come and check on Amari, please?” I said, “she still has a fever.” Nodding, she grabbed her long sweater and closed her doors. For some reason, she was quiet.
When Amari felt sick, Devika came to check on her. We had another mage come and a doctor. But no one understood what was happening to her. The only things they found were fever and that she lost her consciousness. It bothered me because something more serious was happening. All I wished was to know what.
Walking down the hallway, Devika suddenly stops and turns to look at me. I raised my head and frowned.
“Something the matter?” I asked.
Devika sighed and crossed her arms.
“Amari,” Devika whispered.
“What with her?” It confused me. Why was she acting strange?
“Lorcan, I think I know what’s wrong with her,” Devika said.
“Go on,” I mumble. Devika looked around before continuing. She looked scared.
“I think Amari is dying by some type of curse,” Devika whispered as her eyes met mine. I stayed quiet, just watching her. Was she serious?
“Devika, a curse is not given and left like that,” I said. I knew my history of curses, and most got used on the spot. No curse lasted for more than a year. “Also, curses have been banned by the witch council.”
“I know,” Devika said, sighing, “It sounds strange, but Lorcan, I’m serious.”
“Devika,” I said laughing, “None of the witches have given any curse to anyone for the last century. So why say that? If someone cursed a person, they would execute him or her. And the family of the cursed one should notify the council. If Amari was cursed, we all should have none by now.”
“But still, it’s not like we can’t have that deduction,” Devika said, flustered.
“Tell me, why are you persistent?” I asked, feeling her too suspicious. Was Alastair right on his deduction of Devika?
“Just forget it. I may be overthinking this,” Devika said, walking away. I glare at her back. Now I had my suspicions.
Reaching the bedroom, I open the doors for her to walk in. Stopping, I stare at the scene that was unfolding before me.
“What the hell is going on?” I asked angrily. Both Azriel and Alastair were fighting with an unconscious Amari in bed. “Care to explain, Alastair?”
Alastair just growled and pushed Azriel.
“This fucker started it!” Alastair said, fixing his shirt.
“You started it, asshole. I’ve told you countless times, don’t fucking mess with me,” Azriel barked back.
“ENOUGH!” I said aloud. Azriel just glared at me. His pitch-black eyes gave me a warning. “Don’t you look at me like that? Amari is in bed, and you have not an ounce of decency to keep that temperament in check.”
Azriel looked surprised by my answer, but he knows I was right.
Noticing Devika, they both looked at me.
“She’s here to check on Amari,” I explained.
Taking a seat, Devika checked on her.
“Her fever hasn’t lowered?” Devika asked with a confused face, “How come?”
“I don’t know,” I said, shrugging my shoulders, “We still don’t know.”
“What about Lilith? Did she find anything?” Devika asked as she opened one of Amari’s eyes.
“No, we have no clue Devika. It is strange for us,” I said, sighing, hearing some voices. The bedroom doors opened, and Maximus walked in.
Stopping, he looked at us. Moving his eyes to Amari, he sighed. He looked tired and stressed.
“Nothing?” Maximus asked tiredly.
“No,” I shake my head, “Devika is here to see what she can do.”
Nodding quietly, Maximus laid next to Amari. His hands were reaching for hers. Closing his eyes, he kissed her hands. For a second, I found it odd. Maximus wasn’t this sort of person.
“Maximus, can I have a word with you?” I said sternly. Maximus frowned but got up. Walking out of the room, I stop and turn to face him.
“Is something the matter Lorcan,” Maximus said, bored.
“Tell me, why are you like this?” I asked, mad.
“Like what?” Maximus asked.
“Like this,” I said, annoyed, “As you care for her.”
“I care for her, Lorcan!” Maximus grumbled angrily, “I don’t know what would make you think I don’t.”
“What?” I hissed, stepping near him, “Your behavior, that’s what would make me think. You said she was a pawn, someone to die for you.”
I was getting angry.
“I know,” Maximus suddenly said and lowered his face. Pinching his nose, he sighed and looked at me. “I’ve changed Lorcan.”
Scoffing, I laugh.
“Change?” I said, laughing hard, “You think I’m stupid?”
“No,” Maximus said, frowning. “You are not, but I have changed. Can’t a person change?”
Smirking, I walk closer and stare at his red eyes.
“Maximus, someone who has been a killer since years ago can’t change. Or do I need to remind you how you killed that fiance you had before?” I spat venomously. “How you not only killed her but killed your one and only sister?”
Growling, Maximus pushed me. Holding me from the neck, he growls.
“SHUT UP!” Maximus said through gritted teeth, “Don’t fucking mention that again.”
“Why?” I said, staring at him. “Scared Amari would know? That I would tell her how you killed your sister just because she was in love with someone who was a mage? That you killed that fiance because she was also a pawn?”
“Lorcan!” Maximus said, squeezing my neck. That didn’t bother me.
Laughing, I scoff at him.
“No one can change, especially someone like you. Amari would never be safe in your hands!” I said, punching him. “Amari deserves better!”
Spitting, Maximus stands up and laughs back.
“Someone better, I see,” Maximus said, cleaning his mouth, “Someone like you?”
Squinting my eyes, I stare at him.
“I would say yes, but my answer would be no,” I spat, taking him by surprise. Maximus turned and stopped as he kept his eyes on me. Sternly, I glare at him.
“Lies,” Maximus scoffed.
“No,” I said with a serious tone. Fixing my shirt, I turn around.
“Then who?” Maximus asked, making me stop and turn. I glanced at him.
“Azriel,” I said, turning away.
Even though it bothered me, I knew my words were valid. The only person who was good enough for Amari was Azriel. Not even I was good enough for her. After all, I was a sinner like Maximus.
Once morning reached. I groan and stretch. My neck hurts as I turn and look at Amari. Her pale figure worried me more. Walking up to her bed, I lean over and kiss her forehead. I backed away and looked down at her. Was her fever gone?
Sighing in relief, I walk to the bathroom. I needed to get change.
Twenty minutes later, I feel refreshed. Wrapping my towel around my waist, I walk out to the room. My hair dripped with water as I looked around for an extra towel. Noticing some movement, I stop and stare towards Amari’s bed.
“Amari?” I whispered in surprise.
Amari sat in bed, ruffling her messy hair. When her eyes met mine, I turned around and smiled.
“Amari, you’re awake?” I whispered. Eyes wide, she looks up and down my body. A small red blushed spread on her freckled face. Happy to see her awake, I walk over and hug her.
“You’re finally awake,” I mumble. Amari’s tiny hands caress my wet back.
“L-Lorcan, you’re naked,” Amari stuttered. Moving away, I kneeled and looked at her red face.
“I don’t care. Don’t you like what you see?” I said, teasing her.
“Lorcan!” Amari said, blushing harder. Finding it cute, I kissed her cheeks.
“Thank the goddess you’re awake. How do you feel?” I asked. Amari frowned for a second.
“How long have I been asleep?” Amari asked, confused.
“Almost three days,” I said. Amari gasped in shock.
“I… what happened?” Amari asked worriedly.
“Don’t you remember?” I asked her, frowning. Amari held her head and frowned. Groaning, she holds her head. “Amari, are you ok?”
“Yes, just give me a second,” Amari said, panting.
“Why don’t you lay down? I will accompany you,” I said, helping her back to bed.
“Put some clothes on, Lorcan,” Amari said, pushing me.
“Don’t you want me like this?” I said, getting in bed. Amari started pushing me and laughing. “Come here.”
“No Lorcan, stop!” Amari said, giggling. I love hearing her laugh. And now that she was awake, I felt more relaxed. “Lorcan!” Amari laughed.
Hugging her, I flip her over and make her straddle me. Her hair made a curtain around our faces as she laughed. A beautiful shade of red covered her cheeks.
“Lorcan, stop it!” Amari said as I tickled her. Stopping, she giggles and looks down at me. I smiled at her as I saw her looking better.
Sitting up, I caress her face. Amari smiled brightly.
“I missed that smile,” I whispered to her. Amari’s blue eyes looked down at me. Falling silent, we stare at each other. Leaning closer, I caress her face.
Amari smiled sweetly at me. As I lean to kiss her, the bedroom doors open, and Maximus stops halfway, staring at us.
“Amari?” Maximus says, shocked. My lips fell in a thin line as I glared back at him.
“Maximus?” Amari whispers with her messy hair. Her cheeks were still red as she looked at Maximus. Hurt crossed Maximus’ face as he smiled wryly.
“I shall go and get changed,” I said, leaning and kissing her cheeks.
“Ok,” Amari said, frowning.
Leaving them alone, I get change. All the time, Maximus didn’t say much. I just asked her how she was feeling and if she needed anything. Amari looked kind of indifferent to him, and I enjoyed that.
“AMARI!!” Lilith said, yelling as she barged into the room with Alastair. Hugging her, Lilith checks on her body.
“Where is Azriel?” I asked Alastair.
“Azriel?” Alastair frowned, “I haven’t seen him since last night.”
“What do you mean?” I said as I called a butler. “Please call for Devika and have her come over, please.”
Excusing himself, I watch the butler go.
“Where is Jonathan?” I asked Alastair.
“He’s investigating around the palace. I gave him the order to have his ears and eyes on anything related to Amari,” Alastair smirked.
“Good,” I said, patting his shoulder, “Now, all we have to do is find who the woman is.”
“Are you going to ask her?” Alastair asked.
“No, you will,” I said, smiling towards Amari, who was being overwhelmed by Lilith.
“Oh, you sneaky bastard,” Alastair said, walking towards her bed.
I laughed as I watched him. If someone could know more about the woman and anything that Amari could hide was Alastair.
“The queen is awake!” Alastair said as he ruffled Amari’s hair.
“Good to see you too,” Amari smiled while rolling her eyes.
“So tell me, I’ve been wondering who was the woman?” Alastair said as he moved Lilith away.
“Woman?” Amari asked.
“Yes, the one you saw. It was a woman, right?” I said. Amari turned pale and looked away. After some moments of silence, she lifted her head and nervously looked around.
“Maximus, please leave,” I order him.
“Excuse me?” Maximus said, snapping at me, “Why should I?”
“Because she’s uncomfortable,” Alastair answered without looking at him. His eyes were on Amari.
“You!” Maximus tried to argue, but Amari shook her head.
“Leave, please,” Amari said, making him flinch. Sighing, I grab Maximus and drag him away. Sometimes it made me feel bad for how Amari pushed him away. But there are things I couldn’t control, and that is Amari’s heart.
“I will call you later,” I said, pushing him.
“Lorcan!” Maximus said, “She is my fiance!”
“I know, but she has the right to choose. Can’t you for a second think about her feelings?” I said, annoyed, “Just let her breath.”
Slamming his fist on the wall, Maximus turns and leaves. I sighed tiredly. Closing the doors, Amari watches me. I frowned. Why was she looking at me?
“What did you see?” Amari asked me.
“Excuse me?” I asked, confused.
“On the dance floor. You asked who the woman was. Did you see her?” Amari said, but this time with urgency. Like she wanted to know something.
“No, when I looked the same way. She was gone. Why?” I asked curiously.
“That woman,” Amari whispered, gripping her bedsheets, “She,”
“She looked at you with surprise?” Alastair mumbled, making me look at him. “Like she saw a ghost?”
“Yes…” Amari breathes. “Could you stop reading my mind?”
“I had to,” Alastair smirked.
“Asshole,” Amari said, pushing his arm.
“Can you behave for a second,” Alastair hissed.
“Once you stop prying in my mind,” Amari barked back.
“Enough both of you. Amari answer me. Where exactly was she standing?” I asked. According to my memories, Amari was looking towards the front where the seats of the witches were.
Amari looked at her hands. A small creased forming on her forehead. Kneeling next to her, I lift her chin. I needed to know if my guess was correct. The witch Amari saw was one of the queens.
“Tell me, no one here will say a word,” I said, smiling.
“She was on the front, standing,” Amari said, closing her eyes. She was near one of the thrones.”
“Not seated?” Alastair asked.
“No, she was standing that I’m sure off,” Amari said as he opened her eyes and frowned. “There was something strange. When I saw her, my entire body turns cold, and my mind started getting fuzzy.”
“Maybe you have seen her before?” Lilith said. I had forgotten she was present. All this time, she’s been quiet.
“No, I haven’t,” Amari whispered, thinking, “The first witch I met was Devika. I’ve never seen a witch before.”
“Never?” I asked as she frowned.
“Yes, why?” Amari asked, gripping the bedsheets.
Leaning, I cage her in bed. I wanted to ask her something, but for this, it meant I would have to let her know of my little discovery.
“Amari,” I whispered, looking into her blue eyes that waver, “I would like to ask you something. And this is something serious. If you want everyone else to leave, tell me, and just you and I shall talk about it.”
“What is it?” Amari asked with trembling lips. I hated putting her on the spot, but I needed to know this through her.
Opening my mouth, we heard an explosion. We all turned and looked outside. Alastair was the first o move and look.
“What was that?” I asked as Alastair opens the balcony door and steps outside.
“FUCK!” Alastair cursed.
“The other side of the palace is on fire,” Lilith said, looking at me over her shoulder, “I shall investigate.”
“Wait, let Alastair go with you,” I said.
“Yes, I am going. I’m not missing this shit,” Alastair said excitedly. Sighing, I wave my hand and dismiss them.
Once the double doors shut, I look at Amari. She had her head lowered.
“Your family,” I started, “Your father. What did he do to you?”
Amari snapped her head up. Fear crossed her delicate face.
“Tell me because I want to know. Your father, what did he do to you? And don’t hide it, Amari,” I said sternly. Amari’s eyes were wide.
“Nothing,” Amari lied.
“Don’t lie, Amari. Your father, your family, abused you,” I said, “Why?”
“They didn’t!” Amari said as her hands started shaking, “they never touched me.”
“How about a curse then?” I spat, realizing I let the words slip. Since last night’s talk with Devika, I’ve been curious. I had planned on telling Amari, but not this way.
Amari started laughing nervously. Standing up from bed, she started pacing the room. Stopping suddenly, she looks at me.
“Curse?” Amari repeated in a trance, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I could see a slight twitch in her eyebrow. She was lying. What was Amari hiding?
“Amari?” I hissed in warning. I had to pressure her.
“Lorcan, why would I lie?” Amari growled.
“Because you are?” I said calmly, “You are lying to me.”
“I’m not! Ok, I’m not! There’s nothing of that sort. Anything! No one did anything!” Amari said as she turns around.
“Amari!” I said, approaching her. Turning around, she throws the lamp that was on the night table.
“I said there’s no one! Don’t you understand!” Amari said, almost yelling.
I looked at her in shock. She looked desperate, angry.
“There’s no one. So please, I beg you, Lorcan stop asking about it,” Amri said as her body swayed. Scared, I moved and held her in my arms. I could feel her entire body shaking and cold.
“Fine,” I whispered. I wasn’t giving up. I knew Amari hid something, and no matter what, I would find out. “I’m sorry.”
Hugging me, Amari hid her face in my chest. I held her quietly. I was waiting for her to calm down. Once she falls asleep, I would go and revisit Devika. I needed to know more of that suspicion than she had.