Click here for chapters one, two, and three.
They arrived at the next town early the next morning. Rowland hadn't said a word since they left his village, and Rebecca had responded in kind by not looking at him for an equal amount of time. Puppy purred and took turns rubbing up against both of their legs, either oblivious or simply not interested in the tense mood. The wagon creaked to a halt and Rowland could hear they neighing and sputtering of the horses out front.
"Get back in that chest and don't come out until I tell you to," Rebecca said without looking at him. Rowland picked up Puppy and followed her instructions, weary of conflict.
Rowland could hear the back door open and what sounded like the same man as before--the Grandmaster-- spoke to Rebecca.
"I don't think we'll be needing you for the opener, dear. Rest up for the show tonight."
"Of course, Grandmaster," she replied. "Good day."
The door squeaked gently closed. Rebecca walked angrily over to the chest and kicked it as hard as she could, making Rowland jump and hit his head once more on the lid of the chest.
"Ow," he moaned as he lifted the lid and Puppy pushed off of his crotch and out of the chest. "I'd like if we could take turns with the physical and emotional beatings. Both at the same time is getting to be a bit much."
"It's no one's fault but yours, Rowland."
"Oh, definitely not. You're the one sending mixed messages. Do you like me or not? Because the love-hate attitude is really confusing."
"That isn't even relevant. You can't come with us. As soon as the opening performance starts, you're getting out of this wagon and you're staying here."
"Well, unfortunately, you haven't given actual answers to any of my questions. If you would do that, I might be more cooperative about getting out of your hair."
"You are unbelievable, Rowland."
"Why can't I go with you? You said they'd kill me. Why?"
"Because," Rebecca sighed in defeat, "these people, in this group, we aren't good people. We aren't normal people. And we don't take kindly to strangers."
Rowland sat down next to Rebecca and put his arms around her.
"Then teach me to be one of you."
"It isn't that easy. And if you knew, you'd never want to do it."
"I want to be with you, Becc. I'll do whatever it takes." Rowland brushed her golden hair out of her face and lifted her chin gently so that she was looking at him for the first time since they left his village. She kissed him passionately, and he held her tight to him. She kissed his cheek and down his neck.
Rowland felt her teeth sink into his neck quickly, and then back out. She looked at him, with tears in her eyes, as his vision began to blur and he became dizzy. He heard her whisper, "I'm sorry," and then everything went dark.