Reparation of Sin (The Society Trilogy #2) - Natasha Knight
I am blind.
I reach up, my wrists bound, to touch the blindfold. Instinct.
A hand captures one arm. Strong. Cold. I smell leather and realize it’s a glove.
“Keep it on,” he orders.
I nod, but I’m not sure if he can make that out because I’m shaking so badly. The dampness of this place has gotten into my bones, the stone cold beneath my bare feet, dirt wet between my toes. I smell a forest. Is that possible? Where am I?
“What’s happening?” I ask for the hundredth time since he brought me to this cellar-like space.
“You take it off while I’m here, and I’ll bind your arms behind your back again. You don’t want that.”
“No,” I agree although I’m not sure he was waiting for my reply. I’m sure he doesn’t care.
I’m still dressed at least. Though the gown is ruined.
Has it been hours or days since he took me? Hours or days since Santiago lay dying—dead—on the floor of the formal dining room set for an elaborate, elegant dinner. That was ruined too. Tables and chairs turned over. The finest crystal shattered in the chaos when the lights went out.
“Where is Santiago?” I ask, knowing he won’t tell me. He has hardly spoken to me since he brought me here. “Where am I?”
I hear him move around and turn my head to follow the sound even though I can’t see him. He’s careful not to touch me, and when I feel him close, feel his clothes brush against me, I shudder and pull away.
But when I hear him open the heavy metal door, I rush toward it, arms outstretched even though I know there isn’t anything to fall over. I’d managed to get the blindfold off before he’d come back.
Powerful hands close around my shoulders, catching me. Fingers dig into bare flesh, my body forced to a jarring stop.
“Please!” I cry out, tears wet on the blindfold. “What’s happening? Please just tell me what’s happening!”
He makes a sound from deep in his throat. A groan. Like I’m a nuisance. Like he doesn’t have time for me.
Then he shouldn’t have kidnapped me.
“Santiago,” I start, clearing my throat when I choke on his name. “My husband.” Another pause. “He’s…is he…?” I can’t say it.
“Eat. If you don’t eat the food, the rats will come to have it.”
“Rats?” I panic.
“You don’t want that, either.”
He walks me backward, skeletons of small dead animals crunching under his shoes, cutting the skin on the bottom of my feet. The backs of my knees hit the metal bed frame with the smelly, ancient mattress on top. He pushes me down abruptly, then releases me.
I remain seated because I know not to fight this man. I hear him walk away. To the door, I guess. To leave me alone in this darkness again. Maybe I should be grateful, though. He hasn’t touched me. Not like that.
The door creaks as he pulls it closed. He’s almost gone.
“Please just tell me if he’s okay,” I plead in a whisper. “If he’s…alive.”
He stops, and I can just about make out the silhouette of his giant body through the blindfold. He’s big. Like Santiago. And just as strong. I wouldn’t get past him if I tried.
“Would you have me believe you care?” he asks.
His approaching steps are rapid then, and I scramble backward, my back hitting the damp stone wall just as his gloved hand closes around my throat.
“Dead,” he says, and I’m not sure if it’s a question or a statement of fact.
My hands are on his forearm, but if he wanted to strangle me, if he wanted to break my neck, I’m sure it would take little effort. Like the snapping of the bones of dead mice beneath his shoes.
“Is he?” I choke out.
“You should hope for your sake not.”
I push the blindfold up to my forehead as soon as I hear the lock turn. My heart is racing, but at least he’s bound my wrists in front of me. They were at my back at first. I draw my knees up onto the disgusting mattress and hug them, the thick rope tight on my already raw wrists. I shudder when a cold breeze comes through the tiny square of a window high up on the forest floor. I’m at least partially below ground. An outdoor cellar from what I can make out with stairs that lead up to a door. But at least I have that window.
“If you don’t eat the food, the rats will come to have it.”