Home > Redeemed (House of Night #12)(6)

Redeemed (House of Night #12)(6)
Author: P. C. Cast


He cut me off. “No, we can’t just ignore it. Zoey, you’re a lot of things, but you’re not a killer.”

“I slammed two guys against a wall, and they’re dead. That makes me a killer, Stark.”

“See, I have a problem with that. I think that makes your Seer Stone a killer. That’s why you gave it to Aphrodite, isn’t it? Because it was what channeled your anger at those two guys.”

I’d opened my mouth to start trying to explain to him what I didn’t understand myself, but the sound of feet running down the hallway interrupted me. The guard, red-faced and wide-eyed, appeared at the door.

“Let’s go, let’s go! Gotta get out. Now!” he told Stark, gesturing wildly at him. “One of you vampyres can stay, but it has to be out here in the hallway. The rest of you gotta get outta here—go back to where you came from.”

“Wait, it hasn’t even been five minutes, let alone fifteen,” Stark said.

“Nothing I can do about that. Everything’s going on lockdown. There’s an emergency downtown.”

I followed Stark to the door, feeling like an ice cube was making a trail down my spine.

“Where downtown? What’s going on?” I asked.

“All hell’s broken loose at the Mayo, and they need every cop the city can spare there.”

The door to my cell slammed closed, leaving Stark and me to stare at each other through the bars.

“Neferet,” Stark said.

“Ah, hell,” I said in complete agreement.

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

Neferet

It had been midmorning on a sleepy Sunday when Neferet commanded her threads of Darkness to open their embrace and allow her to drift from their thick cloud of blood and death to the sidewalk in front of the Mayo. She straightened her white Armani suit and swept back her long auburn hair. Neferet was ready for her glorious return to the penthouse that awaited her amid marble and stone and velvet on the rooftop. She opened the vintage brass and glass door and then paused just inside the entrance, sighing happily at the vast ballroom that opened before her, resplendent in white marble, statuesque columns, grand 1920s fixtures, and a double staircase that curved up to the promenade with the grace of a goddess’s satisfied smile.

Her dark brows lifted. Her emerald gaze sharpened. Neferet studied her surroundings with renewed interest.

“It is, indeed, a building exquisite enough to be the temple of a goddess.” Neferet smiled. “My temple. My home.”

“Miss Neferet! Is it really you? We have been so worried that something terrible happened to you when your penthouse was vandalized.”

Neferet looked from the grand ballroom to the young woman who beamed at her from behind the reception desk.

“My temple. My home. My supplicants.” She knew what she must do. Why had it taken her so long to think of it? Possibly because she had never absorbed as many deaths at once as she had just moments before arriving at the Mayo. Like her faithful tendrils, Neferet was pulsing with power, and that power focused and clarified her thinking. “Yes, that is exactly how it must be. Every human in this building must worship me.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I don’t understand what you mean.”

“Oh, you will. Very shortly you will.” The receptionist’s beaming smile had begun to fade. With preternatural movement, Neferet glided toward her. She glanced at the girl’s golden name tag. “Yes, Kylee, my dear. Very shortly you will understand me completely. But first you are going to tell me how many guests are currently staying in the hotel.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am,” Kylee said, looking thoroughly uncomfortable. “I can’t give out that information. Maybe if you told me what you need I—”

Neferet leaned forward, stroking her hand along the rich marble top of the reception counter, cutting her off and capturing the girl’s gaze. “You will not question me. You will never question me. You will do as I command.”

“I-I’m sorry, ma’am. I didn’t mean to offend you, but information about guests of the hotel is confidential. Our—our p-privacy policy is one of the things about which we are most d-diligent,” she stuttered, her hands trembling nervously as she clutched at the gold chain that held a crucifix around her neck.

Even had Neferet not been psychic, she would have known the extent of the girl’s fear—little Kylee reeked of it.

“Excellent! Now that you are going to be following my commands, I will expect you to be even more vigilant about privacy—my privacy.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. Do you mean that you have purchased the Mayo Hotel?” Kylee’s confusion intensified along with her fear.

“Oh, much better than that, and much more permanent. I have decided to make this lovely building my first Temple. But did I not just command you not to ever question me?” Neferet sighed and made a tsking sound. “Kylee, you are going to have to do much better in the future. But do not worry your little blond head. I am a benevolent Goddess. I intend to be certain you get the help you need to be my perfect supplicant.”

As Kylee gasped like a fish bereft of water, Neferet turned her back to her and faced the sea of tendrils that, unseen by the doltish Kylee, lapped over the marble floor and washed caressingly against her legs. “Children, you have fed exceedingly well. Now it is time you repaid me for the bounty I provided.” They writhed excitedly, a nest of mating adders, and Neferet smiled fondly at them. “Yes, I have given you my oath. That was only the beginning of our feasting. But you must work for your food. I refuse to have children who are miscreants.” She laughed gaily. “Now, I shall need one of you to possess this human. No! You may not kill her,” Neferet clarified when a dozen or so tendrils began to slither with excited and obvious purpose toward Kylee. “Follow my mind into hers. Use my pathway to her innermost thoughts, wishes, desires, then coil there, around her will, and squeeze. Not enough to kill her, or rob her of whatever she has that passes for reason. I won’t have a Temple full of gibbering idiots. I will have a Temple full of obedient servants. Possess her, so that I may be certain of her obedience!”

Neferet whirled around to face the girl, whose face had paled so dramatically that her brown eyes looked like dark bruises within it.

“Miss Neferet, please don’t hurt me!” she said, beginning to cry.

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