Home > Deep Redemption (Hades Hangmen #4)(8)

Deep Redemption (Hades Hangmen #4)(8)
Tillie Cole

I would only stand out more.

The pilot entered the cabin and opened the plane doors. Humid air drifted in from outside. I heard the sound of vehicles rushing toward the plane. We had a few vehicles in Puerto Rico, but when I saw these ones stopping by the plane, I could see they were much bigger.

My pulse was hammering in my neck as the pilot let down the stairs. I heard the low murmur of voices, then footsteps jogging up to the cabin. A man appeared at the top, dressed all in black, holding a gun across his front. His assessing eyes roved over the small cabin, until they landed on me. I felt Sister Ruth and Brother Stephen tense.

The man, who I guessed was a disciple guard, smiled in my direction. His smile instantly made me feel as if I needed to bathe. His eyes lit up with excitement.

The guard quickly dropped his smile and addressed the people behind us. “I am Brother James. The front row will be leaving last. Everyone else must leave now. You will be taken to your new quarters and assigned your duties.”

The people did not need to be asked twice. They gathered their belongings and quickly disembarked. Our commune’s own disciple guards, Solomon and Samson, spoke to Brother James, and he issued them separate orders. They fit in perfectly next to the New Zion guards. They appeared physically menacing and lethal—exactly how the old prophet liked his harshest disciplinarians to look. Looking at Brother James, I was convinced that Prophet Cain was no different.

I stayed completely still, until the plane was empty. The guard flicked his chin. “Follow me.”

I stood on trembling legs and straightened my dress. Brother Stephen led the way, dressed in his best tunic, his black hair cropped and smart. I followed. Sister Ruth, dressed in her finest long gray dress and white headdress, brought up the rear.

The air became stickier and hotter the closer we got to the door. When I reached the top of the stairs, I saw a large black vehicle at the bottom. Four guards waited in front of it . . . all with their eyes fixed on me.

I ducked my head and made my way down the stairs.

When I reached the hot asphalt, I glanced up at the guards. “It is true, there is another Cursed,” one said, excitement flashing across his face. “The prophecy will be realized.”

I could feel the building excitement pulsing from the men in waves. Brother James gestured for the other men to move aside. He opened the door of the vehicle and ordered, “Get in.”

Brother Stephen, Sister Ruth and I climbed in. Brother James got into the driver’s seat. I turned my attention to the window to escape the scrutiny of the guard, who was staring at me in the mirror.

We traveled down a gravel road, lush green trees blurring past. Everyone in the vehicle was silent. It seemed as if we had been in it for an eternity before we stopped outside a block of stone buildings.

We were led into a small stone building set to the left of a longer gray one. As we entered, two men, dressed in black, rose from their seats behind a table. Immediately, their eyes focused on me.

My stomach lurched when I recognized that they were in charge. They were the men closest to the prophet. The darker of the two stepped forward and spoke to Brother Stephen. “You are the brother who lived with her?”

“Yes, sir,” Brother Stephen replied. “And so did Sister Ruth.”

The guard raised his eyebrows. “But neither of you declared that you had a Cursed in your commune? You kept it from the prophet? You ignored a direct order to turn over any potential devil-whores to New Zion for inspection?”

“We did not suspect Sister Harmony of being a Cursed,” Brother Stephen explained.

The guard pushed past Brother Stephen and unclipped the veil from my face. The humid air kissed my bare cheeks, and I felt them pale as the disciple guard’s eyes drank me in. He pushed the headdress from my hair, the blond, waist-length strands cascading down my back. The guard stepped away, his head tilted to the side.

Keep calm, I reminded myself. Do not break.

An angry expression set on his face. “Not once did you think that this woman was a Cursed? I have been in her presence less than two minutes yet I can see her unrivaled beauty and feel her sinful pull. Her innate evil practically pollutes the purity in this room.”

Brother Stephen and Sister Ruth were silent. The guard stepped closer to me. “How old are you?”

I swallowed the nervous lump in my throat and whispered, “Twenty-three.”

His eyes flared. “The perfect age. The prophesized age.” The guard glared at Brother Stephen and Sister Ruth. “The Cursed Sister will be kept in seclusion until she is needed. We cannot risk her tempting the men of the commune before her wedding to the prophet.” The guard’s eyes drifted back to stare at me and travel down my body. “She is far more attractive than even Brother Ezrah divulged. The prophet will see this and brand her with the official Cursed status, I am sure.” The guard flicked his wrist. “You will both be secluded too, as punishment. Armageddon approaches, yet you hide our only chance at redemption in your grasp.” He shook his head in fury.

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