Embers (Inferno 3) - Page 22

He’s not easily intimidated from what I’ve been able to gather in the years I’ve known him, although I haven’t tried yet. The crowbar was my best shot so far and that backfired faster than I thought it would.

This punishment is worse than anything he’s put me through. The nights in the oubliette, the lashings with his belt, the forcing himself on me when I would first try to fight him off.

He’s left me a mother with no children, and I can’t think of a time I’ve ever felt more empty or useless than now.

I can’t help but think that this is how Jocelyn felt before the end too.

It’s a nice afternoon out and Daddy decided that he wanted to go for a walk. He asked me if I wanted to join him, and I jumped at the chance.

A good little girl always does what her daddy asks her to do and I’m still playing the part of the doting daughter.

The air is cool, but not cold. The skies are clear, but not completely blue. And my heart—it’s still as empty as it was when he left with Cleo and came back without her. My soul is as dark as the cloud that fell over it when he took my two remaining children and hid them from me.

But I still wear a smile on my face for their sake. I don’t know if I’ll ever see them again, but the memory of them is the only thing that keeps me from breaking down completely.

It’s also the hope that he might take pity on me. That he’ll show me some kind of mercy and at the very least tell me what he’s done with them.

Hope; the one thing that will end up destroying me in the end if I let it consume me, is the one thing that I so desperately cling to now.

Dad begins talking, pointing out the different kinds of trees we have on the property that I never paid much attention to. The same ones that I’d watch my kids play near, and my heart breaks just a little more.

He squeezes my hand when we cross treeline and tells me to stay close to him.

“I got a little surprise for you, Darbs,” he tells me with a lopsided grin on his ruggedly, handsome face. “A part of this family’s history that I’d like to show you.”

“Okay, Daddy,” I say softly.

We walk deeper into the woods until we reach a clearing. It’s circular and seems so oddly out of place for some reason. My ears perk up when I hear the rustling coming from the trees, but Dad tells me that it’s just the wind and pulls me into the center of the opening.

“This is where your Grandma died,” he begins with a smirk on his face. I try to take a step back out of a natural reaction but Dad tsk, tsks, and pulls me to his side. “Is that anyway to behave when I try to tell you a story, little girl?”

He’s becoming agitated and I know that this is another battle I’ll have to concede and listen to every horrific detail that I know is coming.

“No, Daddy. I’m sorry,” I say as I step closer to him, wrap an arm around his waist, and look up adoringly into his eyes.

What kind of hideous thing do you do here?

“As I was saying,” he continues with an eye roll, “Laura died here. Had the youngest boy show her what he was made of before he killed her too. I think that’s the one time I ever felt proud of that kid.”

I do my best not to shudder as I continue to listen with a faux eagerness that seems so real, that it makes me wonder if some sick part of me isn’t honestly enjoying this little regalement.

“Man, the way he fucked her, you’d think he’d been hiding secrets behind my back. The kid worked her over like a pro, but being my son, I know it was just a natural thing, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Oh yes, Daddy,” I reply a little too eagerly.

Reel it in, Darby. You’re starting to sound like you mean these terr

ible things you’re agreeing to.

“And over there,” he says pointing toward the side of the clearing, “is where he left her bones to rot. Well, he tried too, anyway. Your mother dragged them back all into the heap and I think some wild animals eventually got to them or some shit.”

“Was she sad?” I ask quietly.

“Who? Your mother?” he inquires, arching an eyebrow. I nod and he shrugs, “Fuck if I know. I didn’t exactly stop to ask her, Darby.”

I look away from him. I need to be able to blink away the tears—to hide the humanity that’s still left inside of me that I know he’ll look disapprovingly on.

“You okay?” he asks curiously.

Tags: Yolanda Olson Inferno Dark
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