Deep Redemption

Page 30


Harmony’s eyes dipped in a sudden shyness, a simple action that melted my heart. Her head turned slightly, then everything stilled. There was a large red mark on the side of her face, the skin mottled and swelling underneath.

“What happened?” I asked abruptly, through gritted teeth.

Harmony’s eyes snapped back up to mine and I saw a hint of anger on her face. “Prophet Cain,” she whispered and brought her hand up to cover the mark, wincing as it made contact. I couldn’t speak. I was so furious, so incensed, that my voice was stuck in my throat, my heart beating a harsh rhythm like the loudest of drums. “I . . . I tried to stop him from touching me . . . ” Harmony said, a deep red flush engulfing her face. She clenched her jaw, and angry tears formed in her eyes. “I took hold of his wrist.” She paused. “And I held it with all of my strength. In a moment of madness, I tried to stop the leader of our faith from taking what he wanted from me. I resisted. I foolishly and stupidly resisted. I do not know what I was thinking.”

I had balled my hands into fists so tightly they ached. But at the same time, a rush of heat spread across my chest—pride. I felt proud that Harmony had done that, that she had tried to shield off Judah’s unwelcomed touch. “Good,” I managed to push out.

Harmony froze as she looked at me. “Good?”

I nodded my head curtly, as much as I could in this uncomfortable position on the floor. “He should not be allowed to do that,” I replied. “It is not his right.” A small flicker of relief hit me as I spoke those words. I was relieved because I knew, with one hundred percent conviction, that I would never force my touch on a woman. No matter how much power I gained, I would never have done that.

At least in this, I was the polar opposite to my twin.

Harmony lifted her hand to her face. It took me a moment to realize that she was wiping away tears. But I could see they weren’t tears of sadness. They were hot tears of anger, of frustration. The fire I had wanted to see in her beautiful face was being bared to my eyes.

“It should not be acceptable,” she said tightly. “He should not be allowed to take whoever he wants, whenever he wants . . . no matter how young or broken they may be.” Harmony sniffed and her eyes searched mine. “Why? Why is it that this can happen? All those children in the Lord’s Sharings, there without choice. The awakenings forced upon us without a say, the Cursed accusations at such a young age, forever changing the path our lives take . . . ” Her voice quieted to silence. I watched her try to fight back her fury. It was a battle she failed. “I know the scriptures teach it so,” she burst out. “I know it is a practice that has been carried out for years. But why do only a few of us question it? How has it not already been stopped?”

As Harmony gasped for breath, I said, “Harmony, Prophet David set the precedent years ago when he said that God revealed it to be so. The people believe it is what God wants of his chosen tribe—us.”

“I do not believe that,” she stated, her voice thick with conviction. “If there is a greater power, He would not sanction men violating children. Taking away any form of choice from women.” Harmony laughed a humorless laugh. She stared off to the side. “I met him . . . I met Prophet David, Rider. A very long time ago. And I hated him on sight, like I do all the disciple guards and most of the men I have ever encountered. But today, Prophet Cain was something else entirely.

“He had a chilling wickedness in his stare.” She let out a harsh laugh. “He is a beautiful man; his looks are the most pleasing I have ever seen.”

I released a breath I didn’t even know I was holding. Because if she thought Judah beautiful . . . she would find me so too. But that vain excitement was quashed when she added, “But as I looked into his eyes, all I saw was an ugly soul. I disliked Prophet David for what he allowed to happen to little girls . . . to me . . . ” She didn’t finish that sentence. She schooled herself again, then continued angrily, “But when I looked into Prophet Cain’s eyes, I felt real fear, Rider. That man . . . ” Her skin paled. When she looked at me, I felt her fear. “He will get what he wants, no matter the cost. He will hurt our people, and they will blindly follow him . . . he will hurt me, too. And this time, I am not sure I will come back from it. I have known men like him. They never stopped. When they wanted something . . . someone . . . they never stopped until they had broken them to nothing, or worse . . .”

“Harmony.” I pushed my body to the side, as close to the wall as it would go. I wanted to hold her in my arms. I wanted to make her feel better. Something within me wanted to make everything better for her.

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