Home > Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5)(9)

Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5)(9)
Richelle Mead

My head and stomach calmed around dawn, and I managed some kind of fitful sleep back in my own bed. That was interrupted a few hours later by a knock at the door. I think it was actually pretty soft, but with the lingering remnants of my headache, it sounded like a sledgehammer.

“Go away,” I said, peering bleary-eyed at the door.

Trey stuck his head in. “Adrian, there’s someone here you need to talk to.”

“I’ve already heard what Merry Marcus has to say,” I shot back. “I’m done with him.”

The door opened farther, and someone stepped past Trey. Even though the motion made my world spin, I was able to sit up and get a better look. I felt my jaw drop and wondered if I was hallucinating. It wouldn’t have been the first time. Usually, I only imagined Aunt Tatiana, but this person was very much alive, beautiful as the morning sunlight illuminated her chiseled cheekbones and blond hair. But there was no way she could be here.

“Mom?” I croaked out.

“Adrian.” She glided in and sat down beside me on the bed, gently touching my face. Her hand felt cool against my fevered skin. “Adrian, it’s time to go home.”

CHAPTER 3

SYDNEY

I COULD FORGIVE THE ALCHEMISTS their light-show shock tactics because once I was able to see reasonably well again, they offered me a shower.

The wall in my cell opened up, and I was greeted by a young woman who was maybe five years older than I was. She was dressed in the kind of smart suit that Alchemists love, with her black hair pulled back tightly in an elegant French twist. Her makeup was flawless, and she smelled like lavender. The golden lily on her cheek shone. My vision still wasn’t at full capacity, but standing beside her, I became acutely aware of my current state, that I hadn’t truly washed in ages and that my shift was little more than a rag you might use to scrub the floors.

“My name is Sheridan,” she said coolly, not elaborating on whether that was her first or last name. I wondered if she might be one of the people behind the voice in my cell. I was pretty sure they’d worked in shifts, using some sort of computer program to synthesize it so it always sounded the same. “I’m the current director around here. Follow me, please.”

She turned down the hall in her black leather heels, and I followed wordlessly, not trusting myself to say anything yet. Although I’d had some freedom of movement in my cell, I’d also had limitations and hadn’t done a lot of walking. My stiff muscles protested against the changes, and I moved slowly behind her, one agonizing barefoot step at a time. We passed a number of unmarked doors along the way, and I wondered what they held. More dark cells and tinny voices? Nothing seemed to be marked as an exit, which was my immediate concern. There were also no windows or any other indication of how to get out of this place.

Sheridan made it to the elevator long before I did and waited patiently for me. When we were both in, we went up one floor and emerged into a similarly barren hall. One doorway led to what looked like a gym bathroom, with tiled floors and communal showers. Sheridan pointed to a stall that had been supplied with soap and shampoo.

“The water will last for five minutes once you turn it on,” she warned. “So use it wisely. There’ll be clothes waiting for you when you’re done. I’ll be in the hall.”

She stepped outside the locker room, in a seeming show of offering privacy, but I knew without a doubt I was still being watched. I’d lost all illusions of modesty the moment I got here. I started to strip off the shift when I noticed a mirror on the wall to my side, and more importantly, who was looking back from it.

I’d known I was in bad shape, but seeing the reality of that face-to-face was an altogether different experience. The first thing that struck me was how much weight I’d lost—ironic considering my lifelong obsession with staying thin. I’d certainly met that goal, met and blown past it. I’d crossed from thin to malnourished, and it showed not just in the way the shift hung on my thin frame but also in the gauntness of my face. That hollow look was intensified by dark shadows under my eyes and a paleness in the rest of me from lack of sun. I looked like I’d just recovered from some life-threatening disease.

My hair was in bad shape too. Whatever decent job I thought I’d been doing at washing it in the dark was now proven a joke. The strands were limp and oily, hanging in sad, messy clumps. There was no doubt I was still a blonde, but the color was dull, made much darker now by the dirt and sweat that scrubbing with a washcloth just couldn’t get off. Adrian had always said my hair was like gold and had teased me about having a halo. What would he say now?

Adrian doesn’t love me for my hair, I thought, meeting my eyes. They were steady and brown. Still the same. This is all exterior. My soul, my aura, my character . . . those are unchanged.

Resolved, I started to turn from that reflection when I noticed something else. My hair was longer than the last time I’d seen it, a little over an inch longer. Although I’d been well aware my legs needed a good shaving, I’d had no sense in the cell of what the hair on my head was doing. Now, I tried to remember how fast hair grew. About a half inch a month? That suggested at least two months, maybe three if I took the poor diet into account. The shock of that was more horrifying than my appearance.

Three months! Three months they’ve taken from me, drugging me in the dark.

What had happened to Adrian? To Jill? To Eddie? A lifetime could’ve passed for them in three months. Were they safe and well? Were they still in Palm Springs? New panic rose in me, and I staunchly tried to push it down. Yes, a lot of time had passed, but I couldn’t let the reality of that affect me. The Alchemists were already playing enough mind games with me without my helping them.

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