Redeemed (House of Night #12)(2)

“You understand what you’re saying, don’t you?” he said.

I’d nodded. “I know what happens to a fledgling who isn’t around vampyres.”

“So basically, you’re sentencing yourself.”

He hadn’t phrased it as a question, but I’d answered him anyway. “What I’m doing is taking responsibility for my actions.”

He’d hesitated, and it seemed like he had something else he wanted to say, but Marx had ended up shrugging, sighing, and saying, “Okay, then. Good luck, Zoey. I’m sorry that it has come to this.”

The door closed as if sealing a coffin.

There was no window, no outside light except for what peeked in from the hallway between the bars on the door. At the end of the cell there was a bed—a thin mattress on a slab of something hard attached to the wall. There was an aluminum toilet sticking out of the middle of a parallel wall, not far from the bed. It didn’t have any lid. The floor was black concrete. The walls were gray. The blanket on the bed was gray. Feeling like I was in a waking nightmare, I walked to the bed.

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.

P.C. Cast, Kristin C's Books