When he finally put me down, we were standing outside an open door. He led me through to a bedroom. It was cold, just like the rest of the castle, although the room was comfortable—luxurious even—with its velvet curtains and thick duvets.
The vampire turned to leave.
“No! You can’t just walk out on me like this,” I yelled, running after him. “I need answers!”
He slammed the door shut, and the key twisted in the lock.
Chapter 17: Rose
After about an hour of screaming and bashing the front door, it was clear that nobody was going to let me out. My fists raw from pounding against the rough wood, I walked back into the bedroom and drew open the balcony doors. I stepped outside onto the balcony and looked around.
That witch never said anything about locking me in here. I’m supposed to be a guest.
First I looked out toward the sea—it appeared to be night now, since the sun no longer glistened against the waves outside of the boundary.
I shuddered. Below me was a steep drop of hundreds of feet, down onto jagged mountain cliffs. I was on one of the highest floors of the building. It would be suicide to escape this way. There was nothing to hold on to. Just rock.
There were rows of balconies, both on my level and also the level above. But the balconies were too far apart for me to jump safely from one to the other.
I left the balcony and looked around the bedroom. I headed straight for the closet and was relieved to see a warm, thick robe. I wrapped it around myself and felt a little warmer, though still frozen to the bone.
There didn’t appear to be central heating in this castle. Although there was an old-fashioned fireplace in the corner of my room. It was filled with dry logs and some coal. Grabbing a set of matches on the mantelpiece, I lit the fire until it was stoked enough to warm the room. I lay in bed and huddled beneath the blankets, finally feeling my body return to a healthy temperature.
That was when the door unlatched. I rushed out of the bedroom in time to see the door slam shut and the key turn again. On the floor was a tray. There was a jug of water, an empty metal cup, and a metal bowl. I bent down closer to sniff the bowl. Oatmeal.
Oatmeal, huh. If this is what you feed your guests, I hate to think what you feed your prisoners.
I drank the water, but I didn’t have any appetite for food. Especially not oatmeal.
I shuddered as I wondered if Ben was being treated any better. Somehow, under Stellan’s rule, I doubted it.
Once I’d finished drinking the water, I curled back in bed beneath the covers and tried to fall asleep. But I couldn’t. I lay for hours, staring at the chandelier hanging from the ceiling. I couldn’t get the harrowing images of Ben being sucked back into that black submarine out my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about how worried our parents would be once they found out we weren’t in Scotland.
It must have been well past midnight when a thump reverberated across my ceiling. Then another thump. It sounded like it was coming from the room directly above mine. The thumps got louder and more violent until the chandelier was swinging in its place.
What in the world?
“Stop,” a man shouted, making my heart leap into my throat.
Glass smashed. Then more shouts.
I got out of bed and walked out onto the balcony, shivering as I drew the robe closer around me.
“Don’t make me do this.”
The voice was clearer this time. The balcony door upstairs must be open.
Then a female, shrill and breathless: “Why do you make this so difficult?”
More crashing and thumping on the floor.
Another thud against my floor and then a groan of pain.
“I think we’re done for this evening,” the female voice said.
Her voice was clearer that time, as though she was standing right by the balcony. Clear enough to realize who was up there with him: the witch.
I crouched down and listened with bated breath as footsteps disappeared. A door slammed shut in the distance. Then footsteps sounded again on the balcony above. I ducked down closer into the shadows as two hands gripped the banister above. I heard heavy breathing.
I stayed in my spot, even though my bare feet were beginning to freeze, until he left the balcony and the doors closed behind him. I did the same with my doors and climbed back into bed.
I tried to close my eyes and finally fall asleep now that the noises had stopped, but now I felt more awake than ever. I couldn’t get the sounds of the violence going on up there out of my head. Even though they had stopped, they continued to echo around in my mind—most of all, the way Caleb had groaned out in pain.
What was that witch doing to him?
Chapter 18: Rose
I ended up climbing out of bed in the early hours of the morning and, placing my blanket and pillows near the front door, lay there. I obviously wasn’t going to get a wink of sleep that night, so I figured that I might as well wait by the door in case someone came to give me breakfast in the morning. I needed to catch whoever it was.
I was right in my presumption. At about nine o’clock according to the old clock in my corridor, the door creaked open. I scrambled to my feet and stuck my foot in the gap, wedging it open. Gripping the door, I pried it open further.
Standing in the doorway was Frieda, another tray of what appeared to be more gruel and a jug of water in her hands. She almost dropped the tray from the surprise of seeing me.
I had to think fast. “Frieda,” I said, “I really can’t stand oatmeal. In fact, I’m allergic to oats. I didn’t eat the portion you gave me yesterday. Can I please have something else?”
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