Chapter Twenty Five.

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"How could you let this happen?" Calvin's voice reverberates off of the walls of the small hotel room. I except to find him glaring at me, I'm the one who failed after all. Twice now. But he's saved his venomous stare for Lance.

The poor boy sputters under the eyes of the man he has known since he was a boy.

"Sir, I-I."

I step forward, more than prepared to take my fair share of the blame here. I should have seen it coming. I know that girl as well as I know her mother and when Dalt went missing, I should have been on the lookout for a scheme of hers. Did I think she'd go this far? Heaven's no, but still. I was the guardian they entrusted her to and I am the one who should be taking the weight of this failure.

To my surprise, it is Dalton himself who places his body between Calvin and Lance.

"It isn't his fault," He comes to his defense and I stand ready for the blame, but again, it doesn't come. "Lance was following all protocol when he took her up top, he had no way of knowing. She had this planned herself." Dalton's slowly regained his strength once the juniper was washed from his body and the rag laced in it was pulled from his throat. He still looks hollow though. Even as he stands at the mercy of Rose's father.

"Are you blaming my daughter for this?" Calvin's eyes shift in color and I step forward at the same time as Rachel, both of us ready to stop him from killing the poor boy if it comes to that. I'm ashamed to wonder who would win in such a fight.

"No, Sir." Dalton hangs his head, rule number one is never break eye contact with you competitor, yet he bows his head in shame.

I'm almost touched, I've never seen Dalton concede to anyone. Not even as a human.

My moment of wonder doesn't last long, Lance takes the opportunity to slam his shoulder into Dalton's ribs, sending him flailing forward before he steadies and turns back, shoulders slouched forward and ready to attack. "She did this for you!" Lance yells angrily. "She traded herself to save you." His words let the winds right out of Dalton's sails.

He doesn't have anything to say back, because he knows it is true.

Knows it just like the rest of the room.

I place a comforting hand onto his shoulder, but he doesn't acknowledge me. "We all let her down here." It's meant to ease the tension in the room, sober us all enough to begin to plan our next course of action, but instead it lights more of a fire under Calvin.

He grabs Dalton by the neck, forcing him to meet his eyes. I haven't seen this Calvin in quite some time. His muscles in his back coil and his eyes are jet black stones in an angry setting. "Why would she do this?" He demands, shaking him. "What could she possibly be thinking? For you? Why?" He's angry, that's clear to see, but his voice is undercut with the same fear we are all feeling.

"I'm sorry." Dalton gasps, not fighting back against Calvin's grip on him. "I heard the witch talking to her. I tried to tell her no." He looks utterly broken. I have the overwhelming urge to hug the poor boy. I've never once seen him show an ounce of weakness, and now he stands before us all a shell. "I couldn't change her mind. It's all my fault."

Calvin's chest heaves and falls rapidly and I watch Rachel carefully as she slides around him, putting her hand onto Calvin's forearm. "Calvin," She says softly, his eyes coming back under her touch. "You know why." She tells him, and I do too. Calvin doesn't want to let go. He wants someone to blame, but he softens his grip little by little until he finally turns his back, letting Dalton slump forward and collect himself.

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