Embers (Inferno 3) - Page 8

I get it.

He’s an insufferable bastard that seems to want to make whatever years he has left on this Earth as uncomfortable for the rest of us as he apparently feels, and I’ve already promised myself that if the clock doesn’t run out on him soon enough, I’ll find a way to save my kids from the Hell I know he has waiting for them.

I put my hands on my hips, waiting impatiently for him to appear in my line of sight, but then swallow hard when I see he’s carrying a clearly terrified Cleo. She looks stressed and I’m hoping it’s because of something he may have said to her, rather than did.

Not that she should have to suffer either indignity, but this is truly a hope for the lesser of two evils.

Dad grins when he sees me looking up at them and bounces our youngest in his arms. He whispers something into her ear, and she nods, burying her face into his neck. He rolls his eyes as he attempts to wrestle out of her iron tight grasp, then sets her down on the grass surrounding the oubliette.

“Just like I told you, okay?” he asks her, as he leans down and ruffles her hair. She nods, placing her fists to her mouth and waits as she watches him in clear distress.

“Good girl,” he says as he tosses the rope ladder down into the darkness. I raise an eyebrow and put my hand on one of the rungs, assuming I’ve done a good enough job that he’s letting me out, but the look he gives me tells me otherwise.

“Go on,” he instructs Cleo, keeping his steely stare on me. “Go down there with your Momma.”

“What?” I ask in shock.

Cleo carefully grips the top of the rope and begins to slowly inch her way down to me. I grab her as soon as she gets close enough and hold her tightly against me, telling her that it’ll be okay.

Dad begins to pull the rope out of my reach and when he’s got it all the way up, he lets it fall on the side of the structure, before he leans down, hands on his thighs, and grins.

“You wanted a night with her to make her understand how shit goes right?” he quips. Before he continues, he closes his eyes tightly as he turns his head to cough, then turns his attention back to us. “Now you’ll have it. I expect you both to be obedient little girls when I come collect you in the morning.”

He doesn’t give me a chance to protest, and as he callously ignores Cleo’s much louder sobs, I watch him put the wooden gate back into its place and sit down on the dark, cool dirt with my daughter in my arms.

He’s trying to break me the same way he did with Jocelyn.

And I can’t let him.

I don’t know what time it is, but my body is shaking. Not because I’m afraid of where I am, but because my body needs rest and I refuse to give it any. I hold Cleo close to my chest and continue to rub her back as she sleeps quietly against me.

This hole in the ground isn’t very large and I know that whatever’s left of my mother has to be close by.

I’d love to be able to talk to her now, to ask her how she survived Dad as long as she did, and if he ever put her in the well before the last time I ever saw her. Was she strong? The way he speaks about her sometimes makes me believe it.

But if she was so strong, why couldn’t she save herself or her brothers? Why wasn’t she able to give us all a chance outside of Dad’s home?

I know I’ll never get the answer to any of the questions I have because Dad won’t talk about things he can’t control, but I know he misses her.

The constant comparisons to her when I’m doing my best to please him—emotionally or sexually—tells me as much.

I’m glad she’s dead.

She shouldn’t have to live to see what we’ve become, and even though she didn’t save us, I forgive her. I know that standing up to Dad is a scary thing to do, but if she had me, then she lasted longer than she probably thought she would and that’s a bravery I can appreciate.

Cleo’s shifts in my arms. I lean down and gently kiss the top of her head because I don’t want her to wake up in this abyss. I want the sun to shine on her skin when she opens her eyes again, and I want her to be out of this damn hole running around with her brother and sister.

I would stay in here if that’s what it would take to make Dad happy, but I can’t. Not when I have children to protect from him. Not when I see how much disdain he has for one, and barely cares about the others.

That’s how it always starts with him though. At first, he treated me like I was gold—the most precious jewel in his crown of deviance, and then I was treated like a burden. Even after the first time he held my body close to his, kissing me in a way, that even then I knew, a father should never kiss his child. But when he finally had broken me in to his liking, he lost interest in me … until I was able to give him children.

And now I do my best to keep his depraved lust focused solely on me. I don’t want the cycle to continue, and no matter what happens, I’ll make sure that it ends with me.

I let out a sigh as I cradle Cleo in my arms and rest my cheek against the top of her head. My body is envious of the sleep she’s getting, but my heart is stronger than my mind, and I know that I can stay awake as long as I need to.

I begin to hum quietly.

A mirthless tune, something without merit, but hopeful that the vibration coming from deep inside me will keep her safely in a world of dreams far away from Dad.

Tags: Yolanda Olson Inferno Dark
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