Chapter 27

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I lay on my stomach at an angle over the black bed, the top sheet covering my lower half. My left arm stretched out above my head, glittering with the ring that rested there. My hair was swept up along that arm and my other lay near my face on the sheet, where I stared at nothing. My only response to my door being opened was a long labored blink of my eyes. I could feel their minds taking in the state of things; me laying lifeless, the bed stripped of everything but the sheets, the room with the bedding and clothes strewn about, the smell. I breathed in in on every breath; Viktor's rutting, my pain, my fear, the violence, the blood. You could smell it all wafting through the air of the black room.

Viktor had left an hour ago to catch his plane but I hadn't moved. "Shit," Drogo growled when his eyes landed on my exposed skin. His anger flamed so hot in my mind that it almost burned, as he looked at the horrendous state of me. I already knew what I looked like, not needing a mirror to know; I had been through this enough times that I could picture the terrible coloring all over, scattered with bites, nail marks and blood. So much blood. It was still flowing from me in certain places, particularly between my legs. I was healing but the worse the damage, the longer it took. I had hoped I would be healed before they had come to find me but the poison had slowed things for me.

I didn't look over at them, even as they neared. "That bastard," I heard sweet Peter whisper in anger. Tears leaked from my eyes but I didn't move; I couldn't without hurting. They were all horrified. They were all burning up in anger. They all now had a clearer picture of what it would mean for me to be Viktor's Bride. I drew in a breath and shifted slightly, the sheet slipping to expose more of the damage. Bruises in the shape of handprints were all over. My wrists were so black there could be no mistake he had broken them during the night, holding me down. "We can't move her for a bit. She needs to heal more," Nicolae told his brothers, his voice heavy with emotion.

I blinked again as I felt them carefully join me on the bed. They didn't touch me; they couldn't without causing pain. I felt Nicolae's comfort wash over my mind, causing me to take a deep breath and then sigh, as I closed my eyes. The strength it must have taken them all to not come bursting in, in the middle of the night, must have been substantial indeed. Viktor was never quiet and his violence didn't allow for me to be. Listening in on their minds, I found myself wanting to comfort them. I opened my eyes to see Drogo laying in front of me. With great effort, I reached out with my hand that had been near my face and slid it along the sheet to his face.

I closed my eyes resting in the comfort that their presence brought me, even if they couldn't comfort me with their touch. Nicolae's comforting presence in my mind lulled me to sleep and I sighed at the relief as I slipped under. When I woke they were all still there. They had watched me slowly heal while I slept; only the worst bruising remained as yellow patches and the blood spattered across my body. "Can you move now, Sasha?" Nicolae asked me. I looked up at him and tested how I felt. Sore in some places but well enough to move. I started to sit up when his gentle hand on my shoulder held me in place. "I'll run you another bath. The hot water will help." I nodded.

I sighed as I felt Peter very carefully move to spoon me, putting his face at the back of my head. Drogo moved closer as the sound of the bath filling met my ears. Neither of them tried to really touch me, they just brushed their bodies against mine, too afraid to cause me pain with caresses. They brought me such comfort and relief none the less. I brushed Drogo's worried face and gave him a small but sad smile saying, "I'll be alright. This isn't the first time. I always recover, right?" He didn't say anything but I still wanted to reassure and comfort them.

"Your bath is ready," Nicolae said. "Can you walk?" I nodded. Probably by now. The brothers sat up to help me do the same and Nicolae carefully helped me up off of the bed and walked me into the bathroom, the others following to help if they were needed. They had all seen me naked but for some reason I wanted to cover myself from their sight after Viktor had touched me; I felt unclean and shamed. Nicolae grabbed a towel and wrapped it around me before he said, "This was not your fault, Sasha." It didn't matter. Viktor was everywhere; his smell was all over me, all over my room. I could never be free of him.

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