Chapter Forty-Four

1.5K 120 42

"My father is dead."

Nicolas's gaze was unwavering as he studied the features of her face and there was almost a hint of adoration in the way he did it.

"I can assure you I am very much alive."

She looked away, swallowing hard.

"You are to me." She whispered. "You died the moment you chose the Mark over us."

"Chose the Mark over you?" He searched her face, trying to make eye contact. "Is that what Ruth told you?" Out of her periphery, she saw him shake his head.

"She lied, Rachel. Your mother lied to you. She left me. She took you away from me, took your brother away too before I even had the chance to meet him."

"I'm sure she had her reasons."

"You defend her because you do not know who she is."

"I know who she is and I know who you are. You've turned an entire nation into puppets and you think wanting to protect your children somehow absolves you of your mistakes. But it doesn't. That doesn't justify enslaving thousands of people. It just doesn't work that way."

"I am not the monster you make me out to be. Let me prove it to you." He gestured towards the doorway. Nothing could be seen beyond the stainless steel doors but she could hear a whirring and clicking sound. Soon the door flung open, revealing Nicholas standing within a narrow cylindrical space, one hand tentatively stretched out in front of him. She glanced beside her, where the hologram still stood. He waivered for a moment before disappearing completely.

Her head was spinning a little—she had to grab the edge of the bed to steady herself but the way it hovered above the ground made her lose her balance and slump down onto the mattress instead. Nicolas rushed to help her but she swatted his hands away.

"Don't touch me."

"Let me show you the truth. Please, Rachel. At the very least can you give me the benefit of the doubt?"

She stood, ignoring his still outstretched hand and squared her shoulders. Maybe this was her only chance to try to break out. If she led Nicolas to believe she was on his side, maybe he'd trust her enough to let his guard down. He'd come in person, that was already a sign of his weakness.

"Let's go then."

"This way." He led her out of the room and onto a rectangular platform waiting right outside the doorstep.

"Hold still." He said. A floating camera rushed towards them, making Rachel duck with fear of having it strike her in the face.

The little camera came to a halt. A beam of red light erupted from it as it scanned Nicolas's eye.

"Nicolas Wilson. Access granted." A female voice announced. Next it whizzed to Rachel, the red light penetrating her vision.

"Rachel Nicole Wilson. Access denied. Unmarked."

"Grant access. Administrator override." Nicolas ordered.

"Password please." The little floating gadget announced.

Nicolas glanced at her, shot her a small smile that almost looked embarrassed. "Rachel," He said. She tried to ignore the fact that his password was her name, that her name was important enough for him to use it in his day to day life.

"Access granted for Rachel Nicole Wilson. Administrator override."

The platform they stood on plummeted to the ground, eliciting an embarrassing scream from Rachel. Nicolas reached out a hand to steady her and she didn't stop him. She held on to him for dear life, for the first time in her life discovering what it was like to have a father to lean on.

Marked ✔️Where stories live. Discover now