New Kingdom: European Court Ch. 06byMicKay©
"Watch your words with my mate, brother. Let her finish."
Iona looked to her sister for support and then took a deep breath. When she exhaled, she turned to face Gabriel and started to explain, "I truly believe this is where Edward and I were kept when we were captured."
"In my home?" Antony asked.
"Antony," Gabriel said holding up one hand, "be silent for a minute. Iona, this is not where you were found."
"I know. But we were kept in a cell together and then separated. I know we were moved to another location because the building was different and the air felt different. I'm sorry Gabe. I know telling you that a place smells the same doesn't explain anything but this place is so familiar that it scares me."
"Can I speak now?" Antony inquired but did not wait for a response. "I understood that you remembered nothing from your first change. How can you know this ... feeling is anything similar to the truth?"
"I was human when Edward and I first met," Iona answered. "I have vague memories of leaving home the night I was taken and things that happened to me. I know I was given something and I can remember a man telling me that the pills would help me sleep. And no, we were not in your house but we were in this city."
"Iona," Gabriel said standing and approaching her, "I'm sorry to ask this but will you show me everything you remember?"
"Remember and show your sister. She will then show me."
"Gabriel, don't ..." Edward said from his seat.
Gabriel looked at his brother knowing he would have made the same request if Alena had been asked to relive a painful memory. Shaking his head, he motioned for Iona to join Edward. When she was sitting next to her mate, wrapped in his arms, she looked up at Gabriel with a silent plea.
"We are here with you," he said, "and if I find those who hurt who I will kill them for the pain they caused your then and what you must remember now."
Nodding her head, Iona closed her eyes but refused to think about anything except the feeling of Edward's arms, warm and strong, holding her close. After several minutes of silence, Gabriel shook his head and then turned when he heard his mate gasp. He raced to her side, seeing her eyes wide open too terrorized to blink.
Flashes of scenes appeared in his mind as he watched the disconnected memories of his mate's sister. He knew the timeline was scattered when he saw mental pictures accompanied with emotions. He watched her laugh with friends at a party, argue with her sister in their home, getting into a car with a faceless man, and finally waking to the terror that changed her life.
He tried to brace his mind against the images of the abuse she had suffered several times. He needed to know their enemy and had to keep his emotions in check. More importantly, Edward could never see what the fragile human had miraculously survived.
After several more minutes, her memories faded to black. When he thought she could no longer continue, he watched her vision change from darkness into blinding bright colors. He could see movement in the colors and could feel the pain in her body as she tried to escape the moving form.
"Please don't hurt me," she had cried.
"You have already been hurt," Edward had replied. "I believe you have been brought here to be destroyed."
Gabriel moved away from Alena as he felt the weight of pain crash through his body. He was angry to see the trauma the young woman had suffered and he felt the misery of his mate as she watched the abuse of her sister but he thought his heart would stop when he saw his brother imprisoned.
Edward had never shared the abuse he had suffered and had successfully blocked the memory from his mind. No others of the Third Creation had ever been abducted. Gabriel had decided that the matter was only proof that the enemy had grown stronger. What he had seen in Iona's mind proved that neither he nor any of his brothers alone could defeat the power behind their enemies.
Gabriel abandoned his own thoughts when he felt Alena tense again in response to her sister. He watched Edward's face move in and out of her sight as she would wake and then slide back into welcomed sleep. Finally, she opened her eyes and slightly turned her head to focus on the motion and voice talking to her.
"Awake at last," Edward had simply stated.
"I thought you were supposed to kill me," she whispered.
"True enough. But I would die before I destroy my people."
"What does that mean?" she could barely ask.
"There's water and something repulsive that nourishes human flesh. Drink. Eat. Live."
The girl moved slowly wincing when her body reminded her of the several injuries she had received. After reaching the cup of water, she struggled to hold the container with fingers that were swollen and sore. Placing the cup to her mouth she knew she would spill more than she drank because her lips were too swollen to feel the rim. She managed to swallow a small amount feeling the burn of the liquid on her sore throat. She placed the cup back on the ground and leaned against the wall exhausted from the small movements.
"I've been to hell and I still have my sister to face," she mumbled.
"You may not be fortunate to ever see your sister again," the man replied.
"Oh I will see Alena. She will move heaven and earth until she finds me."
"Then for both of our sakes, let's hope we see her soon. She sounds formidable and I would like to meet this woman."
"You'll have to suffer her speeches of 'hope you learned from this experience' and 'what should you have done to avoid this outcome' but otherwise she's ... well, she's perfect."
"That sounds like a friend of mine," the man said with a chuckle. "I'm sure he too has tried to move heaven and earth looking for me. It's a pity they haven't met and joined forces."
"Actually, I hope no one finds me like this," she said opening her eyes. "Where are we?"
"I do not know. I remember boarding my plane and then I awoke here. Chained to this wall."
"Why are you chained and I'm not?"
"I'm considerable stronger than you child."
"Child? You talk like a grandfather."
"I feel like a grandfather. I'm older than I appear and this cell is almost as old. I can smell the decay."
As the girl looked around the small room, Gabriel sharpened his focus seeing every detail of the tiny room. The lack of light did not hide the marble floors or drawings on the walls. It did however confirm the fact that the cell was far beneath the city streets. The smell of decay was intensified by the soil surrounding the walls of this elaborate prison. When the girl's eyes moved to her companion, Gabriel broke contact with his mate unwilling to see his brother, beaten and drained, reduced to the most dangerous form of his kind.
Still, Edward had remained noble. He had chosen to befriend the young woman when he could have easily moved within the chain's length and grabbed the source of his freedom. Even a small taste of her blood would have strengthened him. But he had been starved and drained for too long to stop with a taste. He would have taken her last drop and ended her life. At that point, he would have been able to snap the chains, kill any man who tried to stop him and return home.
He could have returned to his home and been condemned to death for committing the cardinal sin of taking an innocent life.
"Enough," Gabriel commanded aloud. "Edward, she will need you," he said without looking at his brother.
"Do you think we were here?" Edward asked pulling Iona's shaking body close to him.
"You were. I don't know the location but I can tell you that it appeared elaborate, marble floors and columns, and it is underground."
"The temples," Antony said. "I had heard an excavation team had located them but it was never confirmed."
"We need to find them," Gabriel stated.
"Forgive me if I don't agree," Edward stated. "What can we possibly discover in my former prison?"
"Your former prisoner."
Gabriel and Antony walked in silence through the castle. They descended the grand staircase and continued through the main floor until they reached the stairs leading to the cellars. Before Antony could open the door, Gabriel stopped him but paused before speaking.
"It's painful for you. I know. And I hate to ask," Gabriel started. "But it doesn't change the fact that I need to know. What happened when you killed Eloise?"
"I snapped her neck," Antony whispered. "She was dead. Instantly. I chose that because it would be the quickest ... and yes, even the most painless way to end her. I know Edward thinks ..."
"This isn't about what Edward thinks. I need to know that there is no doubt in your mind that she was dead. We change the dying, not the dead. A silent heart cannot beat again."
"Gabriel, I swear on all that I am, Eloise's heart was silent. And it was silent for hours before I asked Alesso to take care of the body."
"Alesso? That's interesting. He was only person who knew that Alena was taking the children to the maze and then we find rogues there."
"Do you think he's a mole for the enemy?"
"Are you willing to wait and see?" Gabriel asked. "Antony, let's split up and deal with this alone. You tend to Alesso and I will take care of the woman downstairs. It's not Eloise."
"Thank you," Antony said. "I know it's not her but that woman downstairs is proof that I failed her. Three times now and all three times ended in her death."
"She was never an innocent," his brother replied. "But you have an innocent in your protection and you're not serving her very well. Stop what you're doing and make things right," Gabriel advised, "Or let her go."
"What should I do with Alesso?"
"Don't kill him. Remove him from our path but give him a false lead. We can track him and prove just how guilty he may be."
"And if he's guilty?"
"Then I'll kill him myself. I still feel the need for vengeance for the attack on Joshua today."
"They attacked Emma, too."
"We each have an object of our affection. Get to work. We'll meet later."
Emma shivered waking from sleep. Something was wrong. She could not remember what had gone wrong but she could feel it in her heart. Trying to remember anything was painful. Her head felt like she had been hit with a sledgehammer. Maybe she had been in an accident. That was it. She had been in an accident and was now in a hospital. Someone could explain the details to her later but right now she just needed rest. Moaning, she turned her head closer to the interesting rhythm that soothe her headache and snuggled closer into the warm bed.
Antony closed his eyes when she moaned. He grimaced when she snuggled closer to his body. He knew it was foolish to hold her now. If she had waken and found him lying with her, she would certainly erupt like a volcano. He dreaded the inevitable battle that they would certainly have. Yet, he was here and nothing would move him now or when she did wake.
Since carrying her to his room several hours earlier, Antony had rehearsed hundreds of explanations that he could offer Emma. Explaining his actions would not be easy and only the truth would be accepted by her. In summary, he had been a self-serving bastard for his entire existence. Telling her would not be difficult. Admitting it to Edward would be unbearable.
He could change. He would change. It was the only way she would stay with him and he knew he could not survive without her.
"And I wouldn't want to live without you," he whispered and gently kissed her forehead.
Holding her close Antony remembered the nights that he would visit her apartment, touching her and then feeding from her, cringing in shame. She was forgiving last night but she was also being seduced. And for the millionth time, he dreaded the fight they would have when she woke.
Emma took a deep breath and felt the stabbing pain in her head. Apparently sleep would not cure her injuries. There was no shame in asking the nurse for drugs. Taking a steady breath, she slowly opened her eyes and stared at the man who was the source of her pain.
Suddenly, she remembered. There had been no accident. There had been a dance. A slow seductive dance with whispered promises and a romantic rush to his rooms only to be greeted by his ...what was she?... his mate. Alena had explained that being mated was a stronger bond than being married. Now she was here, in his bed again, with him while his mate was somewhere in this house.
Suddenly angry, she wanted to be as far from him as possible. As soon as she moved, the pain shot through her body.
"Oh god!" she cried as blinding light flashed behind her eyelids. Gritting her teeth, Emma struggled against the hands that gently rubbed her scalp and then accepted his comfort as it eased the pain in her head.
"Emma," he whispered. "You were given something to drink that was a bit stronger than your usual whiskey."
"I've never had whiskey."
"You need to get the substance out of your body," he said gently.
"Puke?" she asked without opening her eyes.
"No way," she said moving from him. "This is gonna hurt like hell but I'm getting out of here. I have finally learned that there are worst things than being ignored and alone."
Emma moved to the edge of the bed cursing herself for leaving the comforts of her shabby apartment close to the university campus. For all of the wealth that Antony could boast, she had never felt so miserable in her life. If she could just get to Alena. Certainly, Alena would be a friend and help her return to the States.
Stepping on the floor, Emma screamed as the pain moved through her nerves burning her skin. She fell to a heap on the floor sobbing from the electrical sensations coursing through her body.
"Emma!" she heard Antony saying. "Listen to me girl. Let me help you and then if you want to leave ... you will be able to do so."
Only able to nod, she instantly felt better when he lifted her into his arms and pulled her onto his lap as he settled back on the bed. He would soon bite her and removed this poison that seemed to be killing her. Bite. In the past, the word sounded brutal and painful. Now, it seemed like an act of intimacy that would be mocked by the fact Antony's mate was somewhere in this house.
"Emma, the woman is gone," he whispered against her cheek. "She was never my mate but the woman who you saw was not even the person that I had once known. Please, if you believe nothing else I say, believe me when I say she was never my mate."
"Just help me," she said between sobs.
When he tilted her head gently, Antony brushed her hair away exposing the white perfect skin of her neck. Moving his lips close to her throat, he brushed a soft kiss to the pulse beating below the surface.
"No," she whispered struggling to push his face away. "Not like this. Put me to sleep like you did when you came to my apartment. I don't want to know what you are doing."
With her eyes closed, she could not see the pained expression that crossed his features. She simply felt his hands touch her forehead and then warm darkness welcomed her again.
Sometime later, Emma woke alert and alone. She looked in the bed and then around the room to verify that Antony was indeed absent. Burying her immediate feeling of loneliness, she braced herself for the work that she needed to do. She would need to find Alena and borrow clothes and money. Someone would have to drive her to her apartment so she could retrieve her meager possessions and passport and then drive her to the airport.
Walking from the bedroom she stopped as she realized two facts. She was dressed in a very nice outfit and she had no more pain from whatever Alena had given her to drink. Apparently, Antony was not even trying to change her mind about leaving.
Moving from his apartment, she wandered through the corridors trying to find the suite where the Philandros family was staying. She hoped fate would kindly eliminate any sight of the children. Leaving this place would be painful enough without actually having to say goodbye to her two young friends.
"I will help you," she heard Alena say behind her. "But you will need to listen to me for a few minutes. No one disagrees with you for choosing to leave. Not even Antony. Edward has made preparations for you to use his company plane to fly home where you will then be offered his protection and employment in one of his offices."
"Is there a catch?" Emma asked. "Because the offer sounds pretty good to me."
"No catch. It is a good offer but is it what you want?"
"I think," Emma said with tears filling her eyes, "that I have finally learned that I will never have what I want. And the more I chase after it, the more it hurts."
"Come with me," Alena said pulling Emma into a room. "I don't know how but somehow, all of this is going to work out."
"How can you say that?"
"Because no one should suffer this much pain," Alena whispered.
Edward snapped his cell phone shut and looked at his brothers. Although he still believed Anthony could have prevented this mess, he did not enjoy watching his brother suffer as he was obviously doing right now.
"The car will be here in five minutes," Edward said. "If she wants to leave the country immediately, we can have someone go to her apartment and pack her things to be sent later."
After a few minutes of silence, Edward tried again. "Antony, after a few months, after we have fought this war, you should come visit the American Court. She may be willing to ..."
"No," Antony whispered. "You know when she leaves what will happen to me."
"I don't think it works that way, man" Edward replied. "You won't fall over dead the minute she walks out the door. Gabriel and Alena were separated for eight years and he survived."
"I had hoped my brothers would never know that pain," Gabriel said. "You'll live because you are not fully mated but every moment will be intolerable."
"Stop trying to cheer me up, Gabriel," Antony said putting his head in his hands.
When they heard the doorbell, the men looked at each other and then nodded when Antony stood and left. He walked to the foot of the grand staircase and lifted his head to see her descend them one last time. She no longer looked at his home with appreciation as she had only the day before. She now looked like a young doe, tracked and cornered by hunters, eagerly searching for an escape.
She would have her glorious escape within seconds. Edward can be a dutiful king watching over his loyal employee but he would not be the benefactor helping her through life. Antony had stated without argument that he would be the one to provide Emma a home and fund her bank account. She would have everything she desired. Except him.
When she reached the landing, she kept her eyes focused on the floor but paused in front of him. Antony had a thousand things to say but knew this was her moment to speak. And he had missed his chance for explanations anyway.
"Antony," she started but was interrupted by the sound of the doorbell. "Well, I guess I should go. Goodbye."
She walked to the door, only lifting her eyes when she reached for the handle. Quickly passing over the threshold she pulled the door closed and smiled at the driver waiting by the opened door of the limousine. She climbed into the car and waited for the door to shut before releasing the hold on her tears.
"He couldn't even say 'Goodbye'", she sobbed.
If she had lifted her gaze while standing with him, she would have seen that he had lost the hold on his emotions before she did.