Redeemed (House of Night #12)(4)

“But I said not to follow me! I said I deserved to face my consequences.” I was crying as hard as Stevie Rae now.

“Then live and face them! And I’ll be right here as close to you as I can get through the whole thing!” Stark hurled the words at me.

“I can’t. I’ve already started rejecting the Change.” I sobbed.

“Child, your grandmother spoke the truth. Unless your body’s rejection of the Change was already fated, our presence will stop it,” Thanatos said.

“You’re not dying! I won’t let you!” Stark shouted through his tears, and started to come into my cell.

“Hold on there, boy! I said only one of you at a time can go into her cell.” A guy in a sheriff’s uniform stepped up from behind my group of friends and placed himself between them and my cell. “Detective Marx told me I had to allow you vampyres in the building if you showed up, but I ain’t bending the rules enough to let her have more than one visitor at a time. Her Grandma’s family. The rest of you can wait in the interrogation room.” He gave Grandma a stern look. “You have fifteen minutes.” Then he slammed the door.

“Fifteen minutes.” Grandma made a small sound of disgust. “That isn’t a proper visit. That is a hard-boiled egg. Well, then, I’ll not dillydally. Zoeybird, blow your nose and stand for me. You need a good smudging. Oh, the gentleman who searched this certainly made a mess of my basket.”

She was already rummaging around in her bottomless picnic basket, so I had to take her hands in mine to stop her and get her attention focused on what I was saying.

“Grandma, I love you. You know that, right?”

“Of course, u-we-tsi-a-ge-ya. And I love you—with all my heart. That is why I must smudge you. I wish there was a bathtub in here, or even a sink, to help cleanse you even more. But the smudging will have to do. I worked all night and finally chose to smudge from this oyster shell you and I dug when we followed the Mississippi River to the Gulf the summer you turned ten. Do you remember?”

“Yes, of course, but Grandma—”

“Good. I’ve ground and mixed together sage, cedar, and lavender. Combined, they make a powerful smudge for emotional and physical cleansing.” She was pouring dried herbs from a black velvet pouch into the oyster shell. “I’ve also brought an eagle feather and my favorite piece of raw turquoise. I know they might take it from you, but let us try to hide it within your mattress. It should serve to protect you while—”

“Grandma, please stop,” I interrupted her. Meeting her eyes without flinching, I said, “I killed those two men. I don’t deserve to be cleansed or protected. I deserve what was happening to me before you all showed up.”

I hadn’t meant to sound cold, but my words made her flinch, so I softened my voice, but not my resolve. “The vampyres may have made it so that I won’t drown in my own blood, but that doesn’t change the fact that I did a terrible thing—a thing that I have to be punished for.”

She paused in the preparation of my smudging and her sharp eyes met mine. “Tell me, u-we-tsi-a-ge-ya, why did you kill those two men?”

I shook my head and brushed my tangled hair from my face. “I didn’t know that I killed them until Detective Marx came to the House of Night. All I knew was that they’d made me mad—they were hanging around Woodward Park looking for people, mostly girls, to scare into giving them money.” I paused and shook my head again. “But that doesn’t make what I did okay. Once they realized what I was, they were going to leave me alone.”

“And move on to find another victim.”

“Probably, but not one to kill. They were panhandlers not serial killers.”

“So tell me what happened. How did you kill them?”

“I threw my anger at them. Just like I’d shoved Shaylin earlier and knocked her on her butt. Only I was even madder in the park. Somehow the Seer Stone amplified my feelings and gave me the power to attack all of them.”

“But you did not kill Shaylin,” Grandma said logically. “I saw the child at the House of Night just before I came here. She looked very much alive to me.”

“No, I didn’t kill her. Not that time. Who knows what would have happened if I hadn’t taken off and found my way to the park—and vented my anger on those two men? Grandma, I was out of control. I was a monster.”

“Zoey, you did a monstrous thing. But that does not make you a monster. You turned yourself in. You gave up the Seer Stone. You allowed yourself to be imprisoned. Those are not the actions of a monster.”

“But Grandma, I killed two men!” I felt tears well in my eyes again.

“And now you will have to face the consequences of your actions. But that does not mean you may give up and cause the people who love you even more pain.”

I bit my lip. “My whole point was to take responsibility by myself so that I didn’t hurt anyone else, especially not the people I love.”

“Zoeybird, I do not know why this terrible thing has happened. I do not believe you are a killer.” She held up her hand to quiet me when I tried to speak. “Yes, I am aware the two men are dead, and that you appear to be responsible for their deaths. And yet even you admit the Seer Stone played a major role in the accident, which means Old Magick is at work.”

P.C. Cast, Kristin C's Books