Home > Sanctum (Asylum #2)(2)

Sanctum (Asylum #2)(2)
Madeleine Roux

Strange to think that a place as dangerous as Brookline had brought them together, and normal life was pulling them apart.

A half-eaten peanut butter sandwich sat on the plate next to his laptop. At his feet, his AP History textbook collected leaves. The crisp fall air normally helped him focus, but instead of doing homework, like he really ought to, he was busy going through the file he had made about Brookline. After the prep program ended, Dan had made sure to organize the notes he’d made, the research he’d done, and the photographs he’d collected, and turn it into one neat file.

He found himself returning to browse through it more than he should. Even with all these original documents, so much of the warden’s history was still missing. And after learning that he might actually be related to the warden through his birth parents—that this horrible man might be his great-uncle and even his namesake—Dan felt like this was a hole in his personal history, a mystery that he very much needed to solve.

At the moment, though, the file was just a distracting way to pass the time while he waited for Jordan and Abby to log on. What was that phrase his dad always liked to use? Hurry up and wait. . . .

“Could I be any more pathetic?” Dan muttered, pushing both hands into his dark, messy hair.

“I think you’re just fine, sweetheart.”

Right. Better to keep the gloomy asides silent in the future. Dan looked up to see his mom, Sandy, standing on the porch, smiling at him. She was holding a steaming cup of cocoa, one he hoped was for him.

“Hard at work?” she asked, nodding to the forgotten textbook on the floor at his feet.

“I’m almost done,” he replied with a shrug, taking the cocoa from her with cupped hands, his sweater sleeves pulled over his fingers. “I think I’m allowed a break every once in a while.”

“True,” Sandy said, offering him an apologetic half smile. “It’s just . . . well, a few months ago, you seemed so excited about applying early decision to Penn, but here we are in October and that deadline’s coming up fast.”

“I’ve got plenty of time,” Dan said unconvincingly.

“Maybe for the essay, but don’t you think the admissions people will find it odd that you stopped doing all your extracurriculars your senior year? Couldn’t you get an internship? Even if it was just one day on the weekends, I think it would make a big difference. And maybe you should visit some other campuses, too—you know, early decision isn’t the best choice for everyone.”

“I don’t need more extracurriculars as long as I keep my four point oh. And besides, NHCP will look great on my apps.”

Sandy’s pale brow furrowed, a chilly wind ruffling her shoulder-length hair as she looked away from him, staring out at the trees surrounding the porch. She hugged herself and shook her head. This was how she always reacted when NHCP came up; unlike Jordan and Abby, who had been able to spin and massage the truth for their parents when it came to Brookline, Dan’s parents more or less knew the whole story. They had been there when the police questioned Dan; they had listened as he recounted being attacked, pinned to the ground. . . . Just mentioning that place in their presence was like whispering a curse.

“But sure,” Dan said, blowing on the hot chocolate, “I could look for an internship or something. No sweat.”

Sandy’s face relaxed and her arms dropped to her sides. “Would you? That would really be amazing, kiddo.”

Dan nodded, going so far as to open a new browser window on his laptop and Google something. He typed in “zookeeper internship” and tilted the laptop slightly away from her.

“Thanks for the cocoa,” he added.

“Of course.” She ruffled his hair, and Dan breathed a sigh of relief. “You haven’t gone out much lately. Doesn’t Missy have a birthday coming up soon? I remember you going to her party around Halloween last year.”

“Probably,” he said with a shrug.

“Or your other . . . your other friends?” She stumbled over the word friends. “Abby, was it? And the boy?”

She always did that, asking about Abby as if she didn’t remember exactly what her name was. It was like she couldn’t believe or accept that he had actually gotten a sort-of girlfriend. To be fair, Dan could hardly believe it sometimes himself.

“Yeah,” he said with a noncommittal grunt. “They’re busy, though, you know . . . school and work and stuff.”

Dynamite job, Dan. Your Oscar’s in the mail.

“Work? So they have jobs?”

“Subtle, Mom,” he muttered. “I can take the hint. . . .”

“I’m sure you can, sweetheart. Oh, before I forget—the mail came. There was something in there for you. . . .”

That was unusual. He never got snail mail. Sandy flicked through the various envelopes that had been tucked in her jacket pocket before dropping one in his lap. The letter looked like it had gotten run through a washing machine and then dragged through the dirt. Dan checked the return address and a cold pain shot through his stomach.

Sandy hovered.

“It’s probably junk mail,” Dan said lightly, tossing the envelope onto his books. She took the hint, giving him a thin-lipped smile before turning away. He hardly heard the door close as Sandy disappeared back into the house. Dan scrambled for the letter.

Lydia & Newton Sheridan

Sheridan? As in Felix Sheridan? As in his former roommate, the one who had tried to kill him over the summer, either because he went crazy or because he was, what, possessed? When he closed his eyes Dan could still see Felix’s maniacal grin. Possessed or not, Felix had absolutely believed he was the Sculptor reincarnated.

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