Deep Redemption

Page 28

I stared at the tiny gap in the wall and wished more than anything that I could see Harmony’s face. The more she spoke, the more I wanted to know her. Her voice, since she had arrived, was my savior. I wanted to look into her eyes and see the fire that she harbored inside. These past few months I had been perpetually cold in my heart. I wondered if she could melt its ice. Silence the loud screams of doubt in my head.

“What are you thinking?” Harmony asked, gently soothing some of the pain within.

My lip twitched. She had read my silence for exactly what it was—worry. “I was thinking that I would like to see you. I . . . ” My stomach flipped. “I like speaking to you, Harmony. More than you could ever know. I like that you are here beside me.” I glanced down at the gray stone. “You arrived when I needed a friend most. Someone to trust, when I believed there was no one out there that I could ever let in again.”

Harmony sucked in a sharp breath, but replied, “Rider . . . I am here for you.”

The twitch on my lip morphed into a small smile. I rolled awkwardly onto my back, to relieve the ache in my joints, to find a moment of reprieve from the uncomfortable position on the floor. As I did, I caught sight of the white tallies on my wall. My eyes dropped to the sharp rock that I had used to mark the stone. An idea came to my head.

I reached out and clutched the stone, its jagged edges rough in my palm. “Harmony, I’m going to try something.”

I brought the sharpest edge of the rock to the patchy cement that kept the brick below our gap in place. Using my uninjured hand, I began working the pointed tip along the crumbling crack. My heart raced when the cement began to fall away. Flickers of light beyond the stone began coming into view.

Light from Harmony’s cell.

“My tray of food is still in my room,” Harmony said. “There is a knife. It is blunt, but it may work.” I heard the sounds of Harmony’s feet on the floor, moving away then coming back, then the sound of scraping on the other side of the brick.

I smiled, and worked the cement harder. When the cement above the brick was eradicated, I caught a glimpse of blue beyond the wall. “Harmony,” I whispered, the heat of excitement building in my chest. She stilled, and I saw a flash of what looked like blond hair. “Work the sides,” I directed and began moving the tip of the rock against the broken cement on the right. Harmony worked on the left, and after several minutes warm, humid air passed freely between the gaps.

“What now?” Harmony said softly, eagerly.

“Hold on,” I said, shifting my hands to find purchase on the stone brick. It was only small and narrow, but if I could remove it from its place . . . I would see her some. Even if it was just a little, I would see her in the flesh.

Just as I was about to move the brick, a sudden fear hit me. I would see her. But she would also see me. At least she would see some of my face.

She had seen Judah . . .

My hands fell away from the brick and I closed my eyes, disappointment rushing through my blood. I dragged myself to my feet and staggered to the sanitary part of the cell. Above the old basin was a small cracked mirror. Placing my hands on the edge of the basin to keep steady, I looked up at my reflection. I had avoided it for weeks; I had no need to look at my face. In fact, I had purposely evaded it. When I looked at myself, I always saw my brother. Would forever see Judah glaring back at me.

But now I looked . . .

My brown eyes widened in shock when I saw the state that I was in. My face was blood-spattered and covered with dirt and grime. My beard was long and stuck into clumps. My hair was heavily matted and had gathered in long, scraggly chunks. Even my eyes were bloodshot, the surviving white base tinged with gray —evidence of the endless punishments I had endured.

I barely recognized the man staring back.

Yet I could only feel relief in it. There was little resemblance to the twin that had locked me away out of sight. Judah had gone . . . Hell, Rider had gone. Harmony would not see the mirror image of the pretender prophet. She would see a dirty, beaten man. A prisoner, just like her.

“Rider? Where are you?”

Harmony’s sweet voice came drifting across the cell. I slowly walked back to the wall. My legs tingled as the blood rushed through my starved muscles. Slumping to the floor, I pushed my fingers into the gaps around the brick and pulled on the stone. Dust clouded the air as the old stone began to pull away. The stone suddenly got stuck. I opened my mouth to tell Harmony to push from her side, but the rock moved before I could.

My heart swelled. She had done it without being asked—she wanted to see me too. I pulled on the brick with as much strength as I could muster.

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