Reparation of Sin (The Society Trilogy #2) - Natasha Knight Page 0,1
up at the barred window. Is that where they’ll come from? I look around the square space, the corners too dark for me to see if there are any holes. I’m sure there are, though. On the floor are the corpses of small animals. Most are rotted to the bone.
The dress Mercedes chose for me is a ruin of dirt and tears.
Looking at the tray set on the small table, I see a blanket folded beneath it, so I get to my feet and rush to it. I set the tray on the cot and unfold the blanket to wrap it around myself. It’s rough, not a blanket at all. Something a mover would use to protect the furniture or maybe something a painter would lay down to protect the floors, but it will do.
A small bowl of soup with a spoon sticking out of it, a piece of bread, and a glass of water are on the tray.
I take a sip of water first, then set the glass down, figuring I should ration the water at least. I pick up the soup but realize why I didn’t smell anything. It’s cold. I don’t bother with the spoon but bring the bowl to my lips and tilt it. I think it would be good if it were hot, but this isn’t even lukewarm. I drink it anyway. I don’t want to lure any rats or other animals, and I need to eat to keep up my strength.
The bowl is small, and it’s only half-full, so I finish it quickly, set it down, and break off a piece of stale bread. I eat that too but leave the rest for later and get up, go up the stairs. There are half a dozen. The cellar is built into the earth. I try the door even though I know it’s locked. There’s no way I have the strength to break down this steel monstrosity that must be at least a century old.
I return to the small window and look up at it. The sun is fading, so it’ll be pitch-black soon. This will be my first night here when I’m conscious. I wonder how long I was out.
It’s too high to reach, not that I’m going out that way. I take the bucket he’d left for me—I guess to use as a toilet—and turn it over to stand on it. I climb up and still have to stand on tiptoes to just barely see out. Moss grows thick on the bars and against the walls of my cell.
I breathe in, then close my eyes to ward off the panic and the inevitable dizziness. I hold tight to the bars, icy and damp. Once it passes, I climb back down and sit on the mattress, pulling my feet up again to curl into the blanket.
Is Santiago dead? No. My kidnapper didn’t say he was dead. He said I should hope for my sake he’s not. Which means he’s alive.
Then what happened, and where is he?
I think back to the party. To talking with Colette. To the elegantly dressed men and women. The food. The champagne. To how Santiago looked darkly handsome even though I hated myself for thinking it.
I think back to my room at The Manor. To the tiny window made bigger. To Antonia. Her warmth. And I drop my head into my knees because as bad as all that was, I know now it can always be worse. Because this is worse.
There, I am hated. But there’s something else too. Something between us, Santiago and me. A dark thing. A gnarled thing. I feel it inside me, inside my stomach, my chest.
After wiping my cheeks on my knees, I draw the blanket up to cover my face and lie down to close my eyes. I don’t think about the rats or the skeletons surrounding me, this burial ground, this mausoleum.
I think about him.
I’m startled awake when I register the sound of metal against metal. It’s different than the sounds of the night with the insects and other animals out there. After a moment, the fog clears, and I sit up and squint in the shadowy dawn light as the lock turns and the door opens.
I gasp at what I see, but it’s not that I’ve forgotten where I am.
My captor stands in the doorway in his dark cloak, the hood pulled up. I remember how Santiago had come into my bedroom the night before the wedding. How I’d been half