Adam destroyed himself to save me. At first, I doubt if I have the strength to go on. But with every second that passes, I seethe and curse the Prophet. My time as a Maiden is over. I refuse to be a toy in his game any longer. But there"s always more ways for the Prophet to get to me, to use me, and to keep me under his influence. Will I be strong enough to break free"Books in Series:The Cloister Trilogy Series by Celia AaronBooks by Author:Celia Aaron Books
I spit the come out of my mouth and stand, using the sleeve of my habit to wipe the remnants from my lips.
"You spit"" The guard frowns at me then zips up. "I figured you Spinners would be old-school swallowers."
"Can I go now"" I stand and edge around him.
He grabs my arm and squeezes until it hurts. "Five minutes. That"s it."
"Go." He shoves me, and I almost fall, but the gravel is forgiving, my flats skating over the surface as I gain my feet.
Brushing the dust from my black skirt, I hurry into the punishment circle. It"s eleven-thirty, and the Prophet is in the middle of his sermon. I won"t be missed if I make this quick and get back before he"s done.
The three crosses beckon, the center one heavier than the others. Adam hangs there, his head drooping and his body limp. My throat closes, a sob threatening, but I bite it back. I"m good at that.
I hurry to the cross. "Adam."
He opens his eyes.
"Adam, it"s me."
"I know who it is. What do you want"" His voice is still gruff, but scratchier now. Raw.
I say the first words that come to mind. "I"m sorry."
"Always with the sorry." He shifts his feet on the tiny scrap of wood beneath him, doing his best to support himself.
Blood still oozes from the wounds in his hands, and I know they"ll scar horribly. I"m deeply familiar with flesh"how easily it"s marred, how quickly it can bleed, and how long-lasting the damage can be.
I"m fascinated by the rips in him, the man I used to think was invincible.
I look him in the eye again. "Your mother is working to get you down as soon as possible."
He smirks, his personality still intact even if his body is bruised and broken. "What"s her plan" Murder another innocent and ask the Father of Fire to intervene" No thanks."
"No." I reach out and touch the cold wood, the texture rough and ugly under my fingertips. "She"s going to speak to your father."
"Because that works so well." He grimaces and shifts his feet again.
So much pain. That"s what this entire place is"pain. Given and taken. I"m a walking testament to it. But I play my part, like I always have. I bide my time. I hurt whoever gets in my way, and I won"t stop until Adam is by my side and the Prophet is buried in a shallow grave.
"She can do more than you think. But I need you to trust her. To trust me." My voice shakes as I speak the deepest desire of my heart"to mend the trust I broke, to bring back that spark of love that I extinguished with my foolish devotion to the Prophet.
He spits on the ground next to me. "Never."
"Adam, please." I reach up toward him, but he"s so far away"just like he"s always been since " Since she died.
"How can I trust you" You"" He shakes his head and winces. "I can"t."
"You can." I grip the cross so hard my knuckles crack. "I can show you."
"How, Jenny" How""
He uses my name. My real name, and some small piece of me is reborn.
"I"ll "" I lean my forehead on the wood. "I can maybe ""
"Delilah," he grinds out her name.
I recoil. "What about that whore""
"You take care of her, and I"ll trust you."
"What"" I want her dead, not under my wing. The moment she came to the Cloister, the moment she touched my Adam, she"s been a never-ending source of trouble. I"ve been pushing for the senator to take her as soon as possible. Delilah is nothing more than another harlot who thinks she can tempt Adam. I"ll be damned if I do anything to save her from her well-deserved fate with Senator Roberts. "Why would I ever do anything for her" She"s the reason you"re here. She led you down the wrong path with her virgin pussy and freakish looks. If it weren"t for her, you"d""
"Jenny!" He struggles to stand, more blood spilling from his palms. "You heard me. You protect her, keep her away from that senator. If you can do that"if you can show me that you"re capable of doing what I ask in that regard"then, and only then, will I trust you." He ends on a harsh breath, as if it"s his last.
I walk around the cross, as if playing a harmless game of "Ring Around the Rosie," as I think about what he"s said. Do I feel threatened" No. Of course not. I laugh the thought away. Delilah is nothing, no one. She doesn"t have the history that Adam and I have. Once she"s gone, he won"t even give her another moment of his time. He"s mine. He"s always been mine, and one Maiden with a shitty attitude can"t change that.
"Well"" he grates.
I stop in front of him and peer up at the man who owns half of my soul and all of my heart. "If I keep her away from the senator, then you"ll take me back""