The room seemed hazy as I opened my eyes. A feeling of loss rushed through me as though I had misplaced something precious. The remnants of a dream played on the edges of my mind, inciting sadness and happiness at the same time.
Pulling back the duvet, my feet embraced the cold floor. I stumbled as I tried to stand. My strength disappeared, and I had to grab onto the corner post of the bed for support. The room swayed back and forth like I had a bad case of vertigo, and my stomach churned from the motion.
Forcing my feet to move, I slowly took step after step until my fingers found the knob of the bedroom door. It took a moment before I had enough strength in my hands to turn the metal globe and pull the heavy door open. Sweat fell from my brow as I stumbled through the doorway onto the carpeted floor of the hall.
My body hit the floor with a thud and my stomach gave way. My throat was on fire as tears fell from the corners of my eyes from the pain. After a time (I don’t know how long), I was able to make my way down the hall to the stairs.
I managed to descend the first three stairs before my foot slipped and I fell. My head hit the wooden railing, and I could hear the sound of bone breaking as I tumbled down the stairs. My body felt numb when I finally came to a stop at the bottom of the stairwell. I vaguely remember footsteps drawing near and a strange voice calling to me before I lost consciousness.
It wasn’t until some time later that the sound of a man’s voice pulled my consciousness back from the depths of the darkness that had consumed me.
“She isn’t all that attractive, brother. If I had known this type of girl would get your skirt in a knot, I would have introduced a few of them to you sooner,” said a man with a husky voice. “I thought you would never take a wife. After a thousand years, you finally claimed one and she tried to flee.” He laughs.
A cool towel was placed against my head providing little relief to the heat of the room. I tried to move to pull myself up from where I laid, but my arms and legs wouldn’t obey. My body was numb. Fire coursed through me, but I was paralyzed and unable to escape the torturous flames.
“She didn’t try to flee, Dreven. She has been sick and experiencing hallucinations for three days now,” said a familiar voice (my savior). “If I thought it would pass, I wouldn’t have asked for your help.”
“Asked,” exclaimed Dreven. “You nearly tore my front door from its hinges when you came to ask for my help.” I could feel a sharp pinch in the bend of my arm as a needle was plunged through my skin. A cold liquid entered my veins and flowed up through my arm into my chest.
The fire within me instantly started to suffocate under the icy tendrils reaching through my body. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before. A war between fire and ice waged within my veins using my body as their battleground.
“How long until the serum works?” My savior asked. I thought I could hear concern in his shaky voice, but that couldn’t be. I dismissed the thought as soon as it popped into my head.
“Calm yourself, Cassius. Your little wife will be just fine,” Dreven replied.
Cassius. My savior’s—no. That’s not right. He was once my savior, but that was before I was brought here. That was before he held me here against my will, enslaved. He was no longer my savior. He was my captor.
Feeling started to come back into my fingers as the numbness began to wear off. The fire within me continued to burn, but it had died to a smolder compared to what it had been. The embers of my body that remained intact were painfully reminding me that I was still alive.
I tried to get up again. Although I wasn’t able to open my eyes or sit up, I must have succeeded in moving something. Rough hands grabbed my wrists and held them in their warmth.
“Persephone.” My captor squeezed my fingers between his own as he softly spoke my name. “Persephone, can you hear me?” My eyes slowly opened to find his alluring brown eyes staring back at me. His irises, the same ones that held flames within them the first night I had met him, were wide with concern. Although the flames had disappeared, his eyes still seemed inhuman with colors more vivid than any other human eyes I had seen before.
He’s not human, Phoebe. Get a hold of yourself. Pulling my hand from his grasp, I back as far away from him as I could—which wasn’t far considering I was lying on a small couch that could hold no more than two people sitting at one time. It was a good thing I wasn’t that big, or I might have woken in a more precarious situation, like say the bed in his room.
As it were, I found myself in a type of parlor with my savior before me and a man holding a brown leather bag standing next to him. At the head of the couch was a small table with a single lamp to light the room. The man (Dreven I assumed) placed several medical looking instruments that were on the table into the bag in his hands.
“Well, Cassius, it looks like your new bride is awake.” Dreven reached down and placed his hand on my forehead. I flinched away from his touch but not quick enough. Although I felt uncomfortable, Dreven’s smile was friendly and warm. He pulled his hand away from my forehead and returned to packing his bag. “You are lucky, princess. If your husband didn’t call me when he did, you would be deceased by now.”
“He’s not my husband,” I replied with a croaked voice. My throat felt raw and I desperately needed a drink of water.
“Oh?” Dreven paused and stared at me with raised brow.
“We have yet to consummate our marriage,” Cassius replied sharply. “She fell ill on what would have been our wedding night.”
Dreven’s gaze fell back to the bag in his hands. With all the instruments packed, he snapped the latch of the bag and prepared to leave. “Cassius, you know the rules. The High Priest will not allow a human to live in the tower unless they are bound.”
“She is bound,” Cassius replied as he stood to his feet. His chest bulged as he stood before Dreven. “The consummation of our marriage will happen as soon as she is well.”
“See that it does,” Dreven replied. I could hear the sound of a threat in his voice, although I didn’t understand why. Dreven glanced at me once before turning to leave the parlor. Cassius stood with clenched fist as he waited for Dreven to close the parlor door. Whatever just happened between these two was not a friendly encounter. Their relationship seems to be a thin line between friendship and enemy.
Why was I worried about their relationship? Who Cassius befriends had nothing to do with me.
Cassius’s stance relaxed as the door to the parlor closed leaving he and I alone in the room. If Cassius thought he could claim my body just because he saved my life, he should think again. I will take my own life before he can defile me and take my purity away.
Cassius settled down on the couch next to me. Squeezing myself against the armrest, I wished the couch was larger to allow for more space between us.
“What did you do to me?” I asked.
He stared into the fireplace next to the couch, and without looking at me, he answered. “A revenant’s blood has power. By ingesting it, you should have fallen under my control. I should have calculated the possibilities.”
“What possibilities? What are you talking about?” Revenant blood has power. What does that mean?
“Never mind,” Cassius said as he stood and ran his fingers through his hair. He looked frustrated, with furrowed brow and tight lips. He walked over to the wall and pulled a black rope that hung down from the ceiling. The rope looked similar to the one he had used in his room. Within a few minutes, two ashen men came into the parlor. “Take my new bride back to our room to rest. I need to go out for a bit.”
They bowed their heads to Cassius before helping me to my feet. While gently maneuvering around my arm, which happened to be bound tightly to my chest with a thick cloth, they ushered me into a chair that had a wheel attached on either side.
“I will be back in the morning,” Cassius said as he turned to leave the room. Where he was going, I didn’t know, nor did I care. I would find a way to escape him and leave this place. I would rather take my chances with the cannibals outside the walls of the city than spend another night in this place.
There was nothing left for me within the city, anyway. Pappy was gone, and if I went back to the nursery or my apartment (if it hadn’t already been taken by some other occupant) the consulate would find me and either bring me back or they would cast me from the city.
Either way, I was screwed.
I thought about Val and Danny. If I wanted, I knew Val would let me stay with them. They would hide me. But what if the consulate found me? Both Val and Danny would be punished right alongside me.
My hope of escape slowly died as I realized the only other option was to stay put. If I stayed, Val and Danny would be safe. I wouldn’t give the consulate a reason to hurt the only two people in my life that I love. I wouldn’t let them suffer just to save myself.
My resolve broke. All hope disappeared as I crawled into the bed and laid my head upon the pillow. The smell of lavender and pine that I had once associated with the feeling of peace and security had now turned into the source of my oppression. It was the smell of both my captor and my prison.
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