They reached for my mother’s hasha to clean the mess. I’ll admit it: I lost it right then. I started screaming and screeching. Yelling at them to stop. To just stop.
I was fighting almost as hard as I had been when they carried me away.
That hasha… “No! It’s all I have left of my mother! Don’t ruin it! Please!”
I was hysterical. I pulled against the green hasha still binding my wrists, though looser than before. I tried to roll from the bed to get to mine. Anything.
Just…not my mother’s hasha. That’s the most important possession I have.
“Quiet her before she draws attention!” Cahum ordered. He tossed my hasha aside, thankfully.
He must have decided his brothers weren’t working fast enough. Then he was there.
He scooped me from the bed. He pressed my face against his neck as the demonspirin spilled on the floor. He held me in place with one rock-hard, muscle-roped arm. Muffling the sounds I was trying to make. There was no way for me to fight him. His hands were so strong. “You will quiet. No one will harm that damned hasha. Hells, female, we could have tortured you, and you wouldn’t have fought as hard as you did over that stupid cloth. Do you have no sense, then? We’ve spent hours hunting for our sister with no answers except your name. We were told you were in on it.”
His arm tightened around me again, holding me in place.
Could have tortured me? What exactly did he think this was, a meet-and-greet?
I thought about biting out his throat.
I was just that angry.
But he had three brothers there. If I did that, they would kill me.
I am not stupid.
One of the brothers came at us. Navix. He had a dagger in his hand. I flinched and fought, certain he was going to use it to kill me. To silence me before they made me disappear.
I felt sick again, too.
I am going to die here, at the hands of my own Kind.
For a moment, I hated every male Dardaptoan not of my own blood. Irrational perhaps, but true.
I definitely despised every wealthy, high-ranking male Dardaptoan in this hotel right now, with the possible exception of Barlaam and Tol. They think they have the right to destroy the lives of those who don’t have what they do. Because they hold all the power.
And the rest of us—we are powerless.
I kicked and fought. And I bit. Right there on his neck. I sank my teeth into him so deeply I just knew he would scar. Would always remember me.
He roared, then hissed. His blood filled my mouth and I knew I needed it.
I wanted to hurt him. I wanted to leave a wound so deep it will scar, so he would never forget me.
They might kill me tonight, but I am going to make them pay for it.
Apparently, I said that very thing aloud when I pulled away from the hot, fresh blood.
“No, baby, no. No more biting, no more fighting.” His tone had turned soothing in an instant. That disconcerted me more than anything. His arms were hard around me. One hand cupped the back of my now sweaty and tangled hair. “We’re not going to hurt you. I promise. Just questions. And drink from me if you need. It is the least I owe you.”
The last was said at a whisper.
To my shock, he nuzzled my forehead.
He almost rocked me. Like I was a child he wanted to take care of.
“All I did was sit with him in the dining room because I didn’t know anyone else in there. And he saved my life yesterday when the demons came for me again. That is all. That is all.” I was saying it over and over. “I don’t know anything. I don’t. I don’t. I’d help if I could. M-meyka is my friend, too.”
I am ashamed to say I broke down. Weak.
Kellis would never have broken down like that. Neither would Ambrea. Or Riv.
But I am not as strong as them. I am not.
I just couldn’t take any more of this. I couldn’t.