Home > Redeemed (House of Night #12)(2)

Redeemed (House of Night #12)(2)
Author: P. C. Cast

Six steps. That’s how long the cell was. Six steps.

I went to the side wall and walked across the cell. Five steps. It was five steps across.

I’d been right. If you didn’t count the distance to the ceiling, I was locked in a tomb the size of a coffin.

I sat on the bed, drew my knees up to my chest, and hugged them. My body shook and shook and shook.

I was going to die.

I couldn’t remember if Oklahoma was a death penalty state. Like I’d actually paid attention in history class while Coach Fitz played movie after movie? But that didn’t matter anyway. I had left the House of Night. Alone. With no vampyres. Even Detective Marx understood what that meant. It was only a matter of time before my body began rejecting the Change.

Like I’d hit a rewind button in my head, images of dying fledglings played against the screen of my closed eyes: Elliott, Stevie Rae, Stark, Erin …

I squeezed my eyes shut even tighter.

It happens fast. Really, really fast, I promised myself.

Then another death scene flashed through my memory. Two men—homeless, obnoxious, but alive until I’d lost control of my temper. I remembered how I’d thrown my anger at them … how they’d crashed against the stone wall beside the little grotto at Woodward Park … how they’d lay there, crumpled, broken …

But they’d been moving! I didn’t think I’d killed them! I hadn’t meant to kill them! It really had just been a terrible accident! My mind shouted.

“No!” I spoke sharply to the selfish part of me that wanted to make excuses, wanted to run away from consequences. “People convulse when they’re dying. They are dead because I killed them. It won’t make up for what I did, but I deserve to die.”

I curled up under the scratchy gray blanket and faced the wall. I ignored the dinner tray they slid through a slat in the door. I wasn’t hungry anyway, but whatever that was on that tray definitely didn’t tempt me.

And for some reason, the bad food smell reminded me of the last most awesome food smell I’d experienced—psaghetti at the House of Night, surrounded by my friends.

But I’d been too stressed out by my Aurox/Heath/Stark problem. I hadn’t appreciated the psaghetti, not really. Just like I hadn’t appreciated my friends. Or Stark. Not really.

I hadn’t stopped to consider the fact that I was lucky to have two such amazing guys love me. Instead I’d been pissed and frustrated.

I thought about Aphrodite. I remembered how I’d heard her talking to Shaylin about watching me. I remembered how I’d stormed in and shoved Shaylin with the power of my anger focused through the Seer Stone.

The memory made me cringe in shame.

Aphrodite had been absolutely right. I had needed watching. It wasn’t like she’d been able to reason with me. Hell, when she’d tried, I hadn’t been anything close to reasonable.

I cringed again as I remembered how close I’d come to throwing my anger at Aphrodite.

“Ohmygoddess! If I had, I could have killed my friend.” I spoke into my palms as I covered my face with my hands in shame.

It didn’t matter that the Seer Stone somehow, without me really asking it to, amplified my powers. I’d had plenty of warning. All those times I was annoyed and the stone got hotter and hotter. Why hadn’t I stopped and thought through what was going on? Why hadn’t I asked someone for help? I’d asked Lenobia for boyfriend advice. Boyfriend advice! I should have been asking for an anger intervention!

But I hadn’t asked for any help with anything except what my tunnel vision had been focused on: me.

I’d been a self-absorbed bitch.

I deserved to be where I was. I deserved my consequences.

The lights in the hallway went out. I had no idea what time it was. It seemed like years instead of months since I’d been a human—a normal teenager who had to go to bed too darn early on school nights.

I wished, with everything inside me, that I could call Superman and have him fly backward around the earth until time turned back to yesterday. Then I’d be home, at the House of Night, with my friends. I’d run straight into Stark’s arms and tell him how much I love and appreciate him. I’d tell him I was sorry about the Aurox/Heath mess, and that we’d figure it out—all two point five of us—but that I was going to appreciate the love that surrounded me no matter what. Then I’d yank that damn Seer Stone off, find Aphrodite, and give it to her to keep it safe like she was my Frodo.

But it was too late for wishes. Turning back time is only a fantasy. Superman isn’t real.

I didn’t sleep. It was night, and night had become my day. Right now I should be at school with my friends, living my life, having what was (for me) a normal “day.” Instead I lay there, hugging myself. I should have been smarter. I should have been stronger. I should have been anything except a selfish brat.

Hours later I heard the slot in the door open again, and when I turned over I saw that someone had taken away my untouched tray. Good. Maybe the smell would go away, too.

I had to pee, but I didn’t want to. Didn’t want to use the bare toilet sticking out of the wall in the middle of the room. I stared at the corners of the walls where they met the ceiling. Cameras.

Was it legal for wardens to watch prisoners pee?

Did the regular rules even count with me? I mean, I’d never heard of a fledgling or a vampyre being put on trial in human court, or going to human prison.

I don’t have to worry about that. I’ll drown in my own blood way before I go to trial.

Weirdly enough, that thought was a comfort, and as the light in the hallway came on, I fell into a restless, dreamless sleep.

It seemed like ten seconds later when the slot in the door banged open and another aluminum tray sloshed into my cell. The noise jolted me awake, but I was still groggy, still trying to fall back to sleep—until the scent of eggs and bacon had my mouth watering. How long had it been since I’d eaten anything? Ugh, I felt terrible. Blearily, I got up and walked the six steps to the door, picking up the tray and carrying it carefully back to my rumpled bed.

The eggs were scrambled and super runny. The bacon was beef jerky hard. There was coffee, a carton of milk, and dry toast.

I would have given almost anything for one bowl of Count Chocula and a can of brown pop.

I took a bite of the eggs, and they were so salty they almost made me choke.

But instead of choking, I began to cough. Within that terrible cough I tasted something, something metallic and slick and warm and weirdly wonderful.

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