Home > Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5)(11)

Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5)(11)
Richelle Mead

As we journeyed up another floor, I noticed that my head felt clearer and my senses seemed sharper than they had in months. Probably with good reason. They wouldn’t be subjecting me to that gas, not with Sheridan around, so this was likely the first pure air I’d breathed in a long time. Until now, I hadn’t realized what a shocking difference there was. Adrian could probably reach me in dreams now, but that would have to wait. At the very least, I could practice my magic again, now that my system was no longer polluted, and hopefully fight off any of the tattoo’s effects. Finding an unwatched moment to do that might be easier said than done, though.

The next corridor we entered had a series of identical rooms, doors open, revealing narrow beds inside. I continued keeping track of everything we passed, each floor and room, still searching for a way out that didn’t seem to exist. Sheridan led me inside a bedroom with the number eight written outside.

“I’ve always thought eight was a lucky number,” she told me. “Rhymes with ‘great.’” She nodded toward one of the two beds in the room. “That’s yours.”

For a moment, I was too taken aback by the idea of a bed to recognize the larger implications. Not that it was very comfortable-looking—but still. It was leagues away from my cell floor, even with its hard mattress and thin sheets made of a material similar to my old shift. I could sleep in this bed, no question. I could sleep and dream of Adrian. . . .

“Do I have a roommate?” I asked, finally taking note of the other bed. It was hard to say if the room was occupied since there were no other signs of personal belongings.

“Yes. Her name is Emma. You could learn a lot from her. We’re very proud of her progress.” Sheridan stepped out of the room, so apparently we weren’t lingering. “Come on—you can meet her now. And the others.”

A hallway branching off of this one took us past what looked like empty classrooms. As we headed toward the corridor’s end, I became aware of something my dulled senses hadn’t experienced in a while: the scent of food. Real food. Sheridan was taking us to a cafeteria. Hunger I hadn’t even known I possessed reared up in my stomach with an almost painful lurch. I’d adapted to my meager prison diet so much that I’d taken my body’s deprived state as normal. Only now did I realize how much I craved something that wasn’t lukewarm cereal.

The cafeteria, such as it was, was only a fraction of the size of Amberwood’s. It had five tables, three of which were occupied with people in tan scrubs identical to mine. These, it seemed, were my fellow prisoners, all with golden lilies. There were twelve of them, which I supposed made me lucky thirteen. I wondered what Sheridan would think of that. The other detainees were of mixed age, gender, and race, though I was willing to bet all were American. In some prisons, making you feel like an outsider was part of the process. Since this one’s goal was to bring us back to the fold, they would most likely put us with those of shared culture and language—those we could aspire to be like if we only tried hard enough. Watching them, I wondered what their stories were, if any of them might be allies.

“That’s Baxter,” said Sheridan, nodding toward a stern-faced man in white. He stood in a window that overlooked the dining area and was presumably where the food came from. “His food is delicious. I know you’re going to love it. And that’s Addison. She oversees lunchtime and your art class.”

It would not have been clear to me that Addison was a “she,” if not for that introduction. She was in her late forties or early fifties, wearing a suit just as prim if less stylish than Sheridan’s, and was stationed against the side wall with sharp eyes. She kept her hair shaved close to her head and had a hard-angled face that seemed at odds with the fact that she was chewing gum. The golden lily was her only ornamentation. She was pretty much the last person I would’ve expected for an art teacher, which in turn led to another realization.

“I have an art class?”

“Yes, of course,” said Sheridan. “Creativity is very therapeutic for healing the soul.”

There’d been a very soft murmur of conversation when we’d entered, one that had come to a complete stop when the others had noticed us. All eyes, detainees and their supervisors alike, swiveled in my direction. And none of them looked friendly.

Sheridan cleared her throat, like we weren’t already the center of attention. “Everyone? We have a new guest I’d like to introduce you to. This is Sydney. Sydney has just come from her reflection time and is eager to join the rest of you on your journeys to purification.”

It took me a second to realize “reflection time” must be what they called my solitary confinement in the dark.

“I know it will be difficult for you to accept her,” Sheridan continued sweetly. “And I don’t blame you. Not only is she still very, very shrouded in darkness, but she has been tainted in the most unholy of ways: through intimate and romantic contact with vampires. I understand if you don’t want to interact with her and risk that taint yourselves, but I hope you’ll at least keep her in your prayers.”

Sheridan turned that mechanical smile on me. “I’ll see you later for communion time.”

I’d been nervous and uneasy since getting out of my cell, but as she turned to leave, panic and fear of a new sort hit me. “Wait. What am I supposed to do?”

“Eat, of course.” She looked me over from head to toe. “Unless you’re worried about your weight. It’s up to you.”

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