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Chapter 64 –Damages– Raine's POV

Alaric and I were accompanied by a small army of guards as we walked back across the compound to his residence. I was eager to check on Ivy.

Alaric texted Talon to let him know we were in route.

Talon's reply spiked my curiosity: Would it be all right if you let yourself in rather than for me to answer the door? She is finally asleep and I don't want to wake her.

When we arrived, we entered the apartment silently. I was a little stunned at the sight in front of me. Talon was sitting on the couch. His head was back and his eyes closed. Ivy was asleep, lying on the couch next to him with her head cradled in his lap. He had pulled the throw from the back of the couch over her body to keep her warm. His hand rested on her hip protectively.

I whispered, trying not to startle him, "Talon."

He jolted, his head coming up fast. He swore, "Shit, I am so sorry mistress! I was just going to close my eyes for a minute, but must have fallen asleep." He looked worried.

I reassured him softly, "Talon, its fine. I know it's been a long couple of days for all of us. What happened with her tonight? Did she eat? What did she say?"

His expression was tight as he recounted the details of their evening, "She barely ate a few bites of a sandwich. Vasile stocked the refrigerator with additional meals, so hopefully she will be ready to eat more tomorrow. I was able to get some juice down her."

I nodded in understanding, glad that Vasile had thought to have enough food already on hand to last for a few days, while we sorted out the details. I repeated my prior question, knowing this answer was going to be much tougher, "Did she say anything...about what happened earlier?"

Fire crossed his expression. He hissed furiously under his breath, "That fucking bastard!" He stopped suddenly in a panic, his eyes wide, as he realized he said the words out loud.

Alaric chuckled quietly to alleviate his expression of fear and lighten the mood. "We completely agree."

Talon's features relaxed, but then tensed up again in anger. "She told me what he did to her. She didn't want to, but I've been a pet for long enough now, I convinced her she didn't have anything to be embarrassed or ashamed about, not from me."

I smiled sadly and murmured, "Yes, that was exactly the reason I wanted you to care for her tonight. I knew you would understand her struggle. I am sorry those things happened...to both of you."

Talon looked at me in surprise and whispered gruffly, trying to contain his emotion, "I'm out of it now. And so is she. I don't really know how to express my gratitude for freeing me. I know I am still a pet, but I feel free now...because of you. Thank you, mistress."

Now, I  had to work to contain my emotion. It took so very little compassion to make such a huge difference in his life. I was fairly certain that both Talon and I would be learning from each other far into the future. I spoke quietly, "I don't plan on releasing her to her mother at this point, for her safety. As long as I own her, she isn't at risk for what happened earlier today. I'm not sure how she is going to feel about that."

He replied hesitantly, "I think she will be okay. I am not certain...how soon...she even wants to see her mother again."

Another wave of sadness washed over me, but I wasn't surprised that she was angry and blamed her mother. It was clear she and Talon had discussed quite a bit of her feelings. She had connected with him much better than I had even hoped for. I looked around the apartment. "Talon, how would you feel if she lived here with you for a while? I am hesitant to have her living alone right now and it's clear that she has built trust toward you."

He looked at me in shock, stunned that I asked for his opinion in the matter, and whispered, "I wish for whatever you desire, mistress."

I nodded and addressed Alaric, "How many bedrooms does the apartment have? Would she have access to a private bathroom?"

He stood to his feet and extended his hand toward me. "Let me show you around, so you can see for yourself."

I followed him through the apartment. It was much larger than I first realized. I was surprised to find there were four full bedrooms and three private baths. We returned to Talon. I spoke quietly, trying not to disturb Ivy's slumber. From Talon's earlier text, I got the impression that sleep hadn't come easily for her. "Okay, when she awakens, please let her know she will be staying here for the time being and to select the room she wishes. We will have supplies and clothing delivered tomorrow. We are also having additional items delivered for you as well. Tell her I will return in the next few days when I am able."

He spoke hesitantly, fearful that he was being too forward, and whispered, "Mistress, if I may ask, she did not know how you convinced Marku to give her away."

"Of course you may ask, Talon. And you are welcome to share the story with her if she wants the answer before I return." I explained the details of my contract with Marku in exchange for Ivy's ownership.

Talon's mouth dropped open as he listened. When I was finished, he muttered, "Damn."

Alaric grinned in agreement.

I stood to my feet as we prepared to leave, however Talon interrupted. Anxiety ran hard through my veins when his face contorted in pain as he tried to speak. "Mistress, she is going to need a doctor..."

Oh no! My heart sunk. It never occurred to me that Marku's guards might have abused her. Alaric's hands clenched into fists. I gritted my teeth and replied, "We will arrange for her to see a gynecologist tomorrow."

Talon shook his head. "No, mistress. She didn't mention being raped. It is her back..."

I looked at him in confusion.  Marku had ordered her to be whipped. But he had also commanded she be healed. I hadn't seen her back when she was naked earlier, but she had to have been healed to some extent or she wouldn't have been able to walk and there would have been blood everywhere.

Understanding crossed Alaric's expression and he explained, "Depending on the severity of the injury and the vampire's blood which healed her, there can be residual damage and scarring."

Fury coursed through my system. I asked through clenched teeth, "What is the extent of her suffering?"

"She is scarred with red and painful welts. It was another reason I didn't want to move her once she fell asleep," Talon answered.

I looked to Alaric for guidance. He was obviously more familiar than me in this matter. He supplied, "We will have someone return this evening with proper pain medication, and a healer will attend to her tomorrow to see if any improvement can be made in her symptoms."

I was shocked and angry once again when I realized there was a significant chance she would never be healed completely from the torture she endured. For now, it was the best we could do. After saying goodbye with Talon, we slipped out of the door.

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