A hazy night of screams, blood splashing the walls...

Yet another scene arose. Malkom dreamed of a crying girl combing her black hair in front of a mirror. He saw her reflection as though through her own glinting green eyes.

Carrow?  It had to be her as a child. Even amid the reverie, Malkom knew that this scene had taken place, that this was one of her memories, taken from her blood. Some of the vampires had possessed that talent. The Viceroy had. And 'twas his blood that had infected Malkom's own.

I am witnessing her past.

Someone rang a bell, calling for "Lady Carrow." Lady meant nobility. He'd suspected she was highborn.

When the bell rang again, this young Carrow dashed the back of her hand against her tears. He could feel that she was miserable, heartsick far beyond her years, but he had no idea why.

"All right, all right," she said, drying her eyes, while musing, I'm actually invited to eat with them?

Though she spoke and thought in Anglish, he understood the words.

She exited that room into an even larger one, as large as any dwelling in the city of Ash. Her bedroom? Silks draped the windows and her bed, enough fabric to make hundreds of robes. It looked as if all the silk in the world had been contained in that room.

She was rich. So how could she possibly have been unhappy?

From her room, servants escorted her down a hall into a warmly lit ban"uet room. A table stretched nearly the length of the spacious area, the surface covered with food. Steam wafted from the dishes - what had to be a year's worth of fare - and uniformed servants lined the walls.


At one end of the table, a man and a woman sat together. As Carrow trudged to the other end, she addressed them in a toneless voice, "Mother. Father."

The woman inclined her head, her many jewels sparkling in the light. "Carrow." But she didn't look at her daughter. Malkom wondered if she was blind.

Her father was clean-shaven, his hair short and kempt. Their clothes looked strange to him but were unmistakably well-made.

These are her people, this is her life. Malkom was struck by how clean and plentiful everything was. Silver gleamed, crystal refracting the light from a chandelier above. Clean, shining abundance.

I was clad in tatters, my body filthy, my face unshaven. No wonder she'd bathed him. Even in sleep, he suffered a spike of embarrassment....

Servants rushed to meet their every need, seating and serving Carrow. She didn't eat, merely pushed food around on her plate. Her stomach felt sick, growing worse with each minute her parents spoke to each other in haughty tones, ignoring her.

"Mother, Father," she suddenly said, "I have something I want to talk to you about."

By now Malkom had begun understanding her words from his own previous knowledge of Anglish. With each minute, he remembered more.

"I want to go to Andoain."

Without glancing at Carrow, the father replied, "We're not discussing this with you again. You can't go to spell school because you have no powers yet. Besides, it's for common folk."

Spell school? His mate was a witch, a channa. Which meant that just because fate had marked her as his, she wouldn't necessarily want him back.

"Then I'm going to run away with a pirate," Carrow said. They didn't respond. "I'm going to jump off a bridge and steal your sole heir from you. That's why you had me, isn't it? For an heir? I can't think of another reason - "

Carrow's father snapped his fingers, and two similarly dressed women seized her under her arms.

As she was dragged away, Carrow screamed to her parents, "Look at me, look at me, look at me! What is wrong with you?" Her voice breaking on a sob, she said, "Wh-what is wrong with me?"

Malkom woke from the dream in a rush, agitated, feeling as if he were behind in some task.

I want to make up for how they treated her. She'd been devastated, truly heartsick. My mate, ignored, hurt.

Rolling onto his back, he pressed her sleeping form against his side, and she curled into him with a sigh. He drew her tight against his chest, her body molding so perfectly against his.

He'd had no family. Hers didn't deserve her. Then we will be family.

Never will I be separated from her. His voice hoarse, he told her, "Carrow is mine."

He didn't realize until long moments had passed that he'd spoken her tongue.

Chapter 21

H-o-m-e. With a stick, the demon painstakingly scripted the letters in the sand.

"That's perfect, Malkom." He groused at the praise, but she could tell he liked it.

Three nights ago, he'd taken that stick, twirled it in the sand, and then handed it to her, saying, "Carrow."

And that was how his lessons had begun. In front of the fire, he'd learned to write her name, and she'd taught him how to write his own. This morning, they were working on home and food.

Carrow had spent these last few days in the mine with him, fed, loved on, protected, and empowered - literally - by his satisfaction.

Though that first morning, she had woken with a heavy sense of guilt. The demon had given her the sexual night of her life - even without actual sex - and had been gazing at her with that same wonder in his eyes.

She'd thought, Never was he supposed to be like this. Betraying the crazed vemon who'd attacked her would have been easy. Betraying this tender, proud lover, however...

In stilted English, he'd grated, "God morn."

"Good morning?"

He'd given her a patronizing expression as if saying, That's what I said.

Carrow had remembered the isolated report of his speaking English. "You know more of my language than you let on, don't you?" What if she could explain to him why she was here, even ask for his help? Would she dare risk it?

"Did you once speak English? We've got to talk a lot, then." Like in Dances with Wolves, multiple walking-and-talking montages. "Do you like to make the talk?"

He'd understood nothing. So she'd spoken more slowly while assessing his reactions. She'd been able to see recognition with some words, but not enough to truly communicate.

Yet with each hour, he was recalling more. He'd begun speaking haltingly, in that thick Demonish accent.

He knew please, thank you, are you hungry/tired/thirsty? He could understand just about any one or two syllable words. When she'd told him what she was, he'd even understood the word witch.

He could also ask her if she was needing, as he put it. She refused to teach him the word horny. Of course, by now he'd heard her telling him she was about to come so many times that he could inform her of the same in English.

They were rubbing along but not able to talk freely, definitely not enough to test the waters, to see how he'd react to her predicament.

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