The back of her head throbbed. The floor was hard and cold, and she was lying in an uncomfortable position. Something bit into her wrists.
When she sat up and tried to lift her hands to rub at her eyes, her arms were jerked back down to her sides. It took her a minute or so in her groggy state to realize she’d been chained up.
The metal was thick and, swiveling her head, she saw the chains extended about ten feet behind her where they were wrapped multiple times around a bulky pipe.
She grabbed a handful of the chains and gave a fierce tug, but the pipe didn’t budge. She fixed her grip and thought heat and bright orange glowed between her cupped hands.
But nothing happened.
She released the fire and sat back. Not even a second later, her palms started to burn. It felt like she was holding a white-hot branding iron. She cried out and swatted at her skin that was becoming red and blistered.
It faded quickly, but the pain remained.
It hurt so bad, and Shay didn’t know what else to do so she pressed her palms flat against the cold concrete floor. It offered little relief.
She blinked away the tears that formed in her eyes.
Oh, God. What the hell was that?
Maybe it was stupid of her, but she had to test a theory. She sent a spark of electricity into the metal and convulsed as she felt a shock of the same voltage course through her in return.
Wonderful. Just wonderful.
Don’t be a baby, she yelled at herself. Ignore your hands. You’ve been burned before. You’ll be fine. Now look around. What do you see?
She was in a small room, about forty feet by forty feet, with the walls and floor and ceiling all formed from concrete. There was a door on the side wall and glas bottles of different sizes and shapes were strewn around in one corner. The only window was high up on the one wall and barely big enough for even her head to fit through. Dull sunlight shone through it. A strange bronze pot with intricate carvings hung from a hook on the ceiling. Some hay had been laid down near her, but she didn’t want to think about what it was for.
And she was alone.
Where there should have been noise, there was silence. A silence so profound that every little breath she took, no matter how quiet she tried to make them, sounded overwhelming and just reminded her of how utterly and wretchedly alone she really was.
She wondered what the others would think when she didn’t come back.
Maybe they’d assume she ran away, like Mother Lilura when Shay had disappeared on Samhain. They might look for her, but they would eventually give up. Sienna would cry, and Vivienne and Phoenix would stay strong for her, but inside they’d be hurting. She didn’t think Jack would cry; he had Lacey now. Chalice might miss her, but she didn’t think Ace would.
Would they find a way to tell Theo and the twins? Shay was glad Isobel had Ivory to comfort her.
Kendall would let Aubree go now that she had Shay, and no one else would be hurt because of her.
None of them needed her. Not really.
When she died—and she was sure it was going to happen, and she accepted that with a sort of calmness that surprised her—another Daughter of Hecate would be born to take her place, just like Grandmother Clarissa had said. There were always six in the world, and maybe they’d be able to track down another.
When she died, she’d be able to see Matt and Rowan, and everything would be alright.
She was a bit sad that she wouldn’t be able to say goodbye, and she didn’t like that everyone would be grieving over her as if she were a saint or martyr because really, she wasn’t, but there was nothing to be done about it.
She had regrets like everyone else, and there was nothing to be done about that either.
But if I could do one thing over, Shay thought, I would have told Matt I loved him sooner. And when I see him, I’ll tell him a thousand times to make up for it.
The door to the room suddenly opened, and Shay’s head snapped up.
A girl peeked her head in. Shay recognized her from the alley that one night. Her lips were pressed together and she looked at Shay’s burned hands before slipping in.
“Little Vigilante,” she said. “Kendall said you were going to try and burn through the chains. They’re laced with black magic so any spell you use will be channeled back to you.” She set a bowl of some sort of poultice on the ground and nudged it towards Shay with her foot. “She told me to give this to you. It’s chickweed and plant . . . Plantan?”
“Plantain.” Shay touched the stone of the bowl with her fingers and pulled it closed. Even though she’d accepted her fate, she was still there, and there her hands were screaming at her.
Shay smeared the poultice of mashed leaves across her palms. It instantly soothed her skin and left behind a cool, tingling sensation. She watched the slanted forest green eyes that stared at her grimly from under wisps of dark hair.
“What’s your name?”
The green eyes blinked in shock. “Cleo. I’m not supposed to talk to you, but there’s no one else to talk to. The others are so condescending.”
“The tiny brunette? She’s alright. We’re not allowed to bite her,” Cleo replied. “I shouldn’t tell you anything else though.”
“You’re different since the last time I saw you. Quieter. Did we hit your head too hard?”
“I don’t think so,” Shay said. “And you’re different, too. Nicer.”
“If you corner a wild animal, are they nice?”
“So you’re just defensive,” Shay mused. “But if you’re not all bad, then why are you working with Kendall?”
“I didn’t say that I’m not all bad,” Cleo replied. “And she saved my life. I owe her.”
“Gratitude is a good reason.”
“Not so much gratitude as the devil to pay.”
The door opened a second time, and the girl with a bob cut from the night of the party poked her head in. “What’s taking so long?”
“None of your business, Anna,” Cleo snapped.
“Kendall said no fraternizing. If you’re incapable of following orders, Elijah would be happy to take care of her.”
Cleo shot a quick look in Shay’s direction. “No. It’s fine.”
Anna held the door open for Cleo. She waited for Cleo to pass through before she sneered disdainfully at Shay. “Goodbye, Shay.”
She closed the door with an aggressive slam that bounced off the concrete walls. Shay sat and stared after them as the silence returned once more like an unwelcome guest.
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