My heart hit overdrive, beating roughly against my ribs and making breathing hard.
Can't be happening. Please, no.
I open and shut my mouth over and over but I can't force the words out. I'm not sure if I want to. Once the question is out, I can't unknow the truth.
A new monster?
Of course I knew there was a possibility he would still go for it, but I'd hoped that by ruining his first attempt and pointing out to the casters that the plan would have backfired that it would be done now. No such luck.
Dalton helps his father to his feet, steadying him into his mother's grasp before bending back down to help me up and tucking me beneath his arm and against his side. I can feel his deep intake of breath and I look up and see the fear in my heart on his face.
Please. Not Pedro.
Dalton lifts his eyes to meet his father's and sighs. "Who is it?" His voice is strained, barely scraping up and out of his throat. Someone two feet away wouldn't have been able to hear him.
Nathaniel reaches out a shaking hand and places it on Dalton's shoulder and then looks over at me. I take another deep breath, forcing air into my lungs.
"It's not Pedro." He sighs and my heart sings. A smile stretches across my cheeks and Dalton's grip on me lossens. I let the tense set of my shoulders relax and the wheels in my head start turning again.
How do we go about this? There has to be a way to end the monster. But how?
"Rose," Nathaniel's voice demands my attention and I find sorrow in his eyes.
Just as quickly as my relief came, it vanishes.
"Who is it?" I ask, wracking my brain.
"A man you know." He whispers. "He's very close to you, with blonde hair..."
Mom shakes her head furiously and Dad pulls her into his chest. My mind is slow, like I'm thinking I'm a fog. Why is mom so upset? Why is everyone looking at me like that?
Then it hits me.
"No!" I shout. "No, Logan has nothing to do with this! They don't even know where they are! He's with Octavia!"
"How?" Mom shouts, her eyes blazing. "How do they even know who he is?"
A group of rowdy drunks come around the corner, smiling and laughing together, not giving a care about us or our lives that are being ripped apart.
At least I don't think they care, until the man in the front stops short, eyes wide like saucers as he stares at me.
"My queen." He drops clumsily to one knee and his friends follow suit, muttering out their praises. Unsure of what to do, I duck my chin to them, trying to hide the tears in my eyes threatening to flood over.
"Let's speak in private." Tiwen whispers, taking my elbow and leading me into the closest room. The walls are covered in shiny blue and silver tiles like the walkways and the room seems to glitter in the light of the crystal chandeliers that line the length of the room. It's only a little bit smaller than my room back at Castrum, but the bed is twice the size. I would be struck by the beauty of it all if it weren't for the painful aching in my chest.
Dalton, Lance, Mom, and dad follow me in and the close the door. As soon as the door clicks I dig out my cell phone.
I hit speed dial number #2, the man who I love as a father. The man who raised me when my real dad couldn't.