Redeemed (House of Night #12)


by P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast

CHAPTER ONE

Zoey

I’ve never felt this dark.

Not even when I’d been shattered and trapped in the Otherworld and my soul had begun to fragment. Then I’d been broken and battered and well on my way to losing myself forever. I’d felt dark inside, but the people who loved me most had been bright, beautiful beacons of hope, and I’d been able to find strength in their light. I’d fought my way out of darkness.

This time I didn’t have any hope. I couldn’t find a light. I deserved to stay lost, to remain shattered. This time I didn’t deserve to be saved.

Detective Marx had taken me to the Tulsa County sheriff’s office instead of sticking me in jail with the rest of the criminals who were newly arrested. On the seemingly endless trip from the House of Night to the big brown stone sheriff’s department building on First Street he’d talked to me, explaining that he’d made a call—pulled some strings—and I was going to be put in a special holding cell until my attorney could make arrangements for my arraignment, so I could get released on bail. He’d looked back and forth from the road to my reflection in the rearview mirror. I’d met his eyes. It didn’t take more than a glance to read his expression.

He knew I had no chance for bail.

“I don’t need a lawyer,” I’d said. “And I don’t want bail.”

“Zoey, you’re not thinking straight. Give it a little time. Believe me, you’re going to need a lawyer. And if you could get out on bail, that would be the best thing for you.”

“But it wouldn’t be the best thing for Tulsa. No one is going to let a monster loose.” My voice had sounded flat and emotionless, but inside I was screaming over and over and over.

“You’re not a monster,” Marx had said.

“Did you see those two men I killed?”

He’d glanced at me in the mirror again and nodded. I could see that his lips had pressed into a line, like he was trying to keep himself from saying something. For some reason his eyes were still kind. I couldn’t meet them.

Looking out the window, I’d said, “Then you know what I am. Whether you call it monster, or killer, or rogue fledgling vampyre—it’s all the same. I deserve to be locked up. I deserve what’s going to happen to me.”

He’d quit talking to me then, and I’d been glad.

A black iron fence surrounded the sheriff’s department’s parking lot, and Marx drove to a rear entrance where he had to wait to be identified before a massive gate opened. Then he stopped and led me, handcuffed, through a back door and a big, busy room that was sectioned off with cubical dividers. When we walked in, cops were talking and phones were ringing. As soon as they saw it was Marx and me, it was like an off switch had been thrown. The talking stopped and the gawking started.

I stared straight ahead at a spot on the wall and concentrated on not letting the screaming that was going on inside me come out.

We had to walk all the way through the room. Then we went through a door that led to one of those rooms that look like the ones you see on Law & Order: SVU where awesome Mariska Hargitay interrogates the bad guys.

It had given me a jolt to realize that what I had done had made me one of the bad guys.

There was a door at the far end of the room that led to a little hallway. Marx turned left. He’d paused to swipe his ID card, and a massively thick steel door opened. On the other side of the door, the hall dead-ended in just a few feet. There was another metal door on our right, which was open. The bottom was solid, but about shoulder high bars started. Thick, black bars. That was where Detective Marx stopped. I glanced inside. The room was a tomb. I suddenly had trouble breathing, and my eyes skittered away from the horrible place to find Marx’s familiar face.

“With the power you have, I imagine you could break out of here.” He’d spoken quietly, as if he thought someone might be listening to us.

“I left the Seer Stone at the House of Night. That’s what gave me the power to kill those two men.”

“So you didn’t kill them by yourself?”

“I got mad and threw my anger at them. The Seer Stone just gave me a boost. Detective Marx, it was my fault. Period, the end.” I’d tried to sound tough and sure of myself, but my voice had gone all soft and shaky.

“Can you break out of here, Zoey?”

“I honestly don’t know, but I promise I’m not going to try.” I’d drawn a deep breath and let it out in a rush, telling him the absolute truth. “Because of what I did, I belong here, and no matter what happens to me, I deserve it.”

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