Home > The Ravishing(2)

The Ravishing(2)
Author: Ava Harrison

“Tell me,” I pleaded with Mom.

Tell me who did this!

“Glass—” She coughed a spray. Red rivulets trickled out between her lips and soaked her chin, her throat, down and onward until it met the dirt, pooling there. Her complexion had turned pale. A dusky hue.

Glassman.

My own chest tightened knowing it was my fault. I hadn’t prevented this.

I wiped away the stain of blood that soaked her face and trailed her jaw.

“Get help!” I yelled at my sister, pointing toward the house.

She shook her head, frantic. “We can’t go that way.”

Mom’s hand grasped my sleeve. “Cas.”

She was bleeding out, dying in my arms, and there was nothing I could do about it.

“I’ll go,” I told my sister.

“No.” Mom’s grip held me fast.

“Mom, we have to move you.” My voice was firm. Commanding.

“Can’t.” Her gaze tore into me.

I placed my hands behind Mom’s back, and moved her upright to try to keep her awake. I needed to keep her alive until my father or one of his men came to help us.

Mom’s eyelids flickered open and squinted. Failing to see. She took a breath as if she was summoning the last of her strength to speak to me. “T-take your sister. K-keep her safe.”

“I’m keeping you both safe,” I bit out through gritted teeth.

“No.” She shook her head. “T-there isn’t time.”

“I won’t leave you.”

“It’s too late for me. . .” she wheezed. “Your father. . .”

My eyes darted to look at Sofia. What was she saying? Mom was delirious. That was what this was. . .confusion from the blood loss.

Mouth bone-dry, I asked, “Where’s Dad?”

Sofia shook her head. Unable to speak. Unable to say what I knew in my gut.

“Please. . .” Mom implored. “Save”—she swallowed hard—“your sister.”

“Mom, please!” Sofia begged. Her face was ashen.

“Go,” Mom pleaded. “They-they will find—” Her voice broke on a cough.

“Mom, I’m going to carry you to the chapel.” But as I spoke those words, I knew she couldn’t bear it.

Refusing to believe this bitter truth, I tried to lift her again.

She cried out.

I couldn’t bear the agony in her voice. The pain.

No, I won’t say goodbye. Not like this. Not here in the dirt. Not when it was just my sister and me. She needed the best care, and she deserved the best doctors. She deserved to live. She deserved for us to fight.

“Mom. . .”

Her eyes fluttered open, and when she stared at me with that knowing look, I lost my will to speak. She grasped my hand with a strength I didn’t know she had left in her.

“P-protect y-your sister.” She tried to force a smile, but winced. Hers closed on a deep inhale. “She’s all you have now.”

An icy breeze swept past us. An omen.

And then it happened.

The glacier froze over.

Mom’s eyes went wide and stilled, staring at nothing and at everything all at the same time. As if seeing the world anew. I lowered her to the ground, feeling unworthy of holding her in this state of stillness.

“Mom?” Sophia begged.

I raised my hand to quiet her.

A gunshot rang out.

Ignoring my sister’s scream, I pressed a finger to Mom’s carotid to check for a pulse but felt nothing.

“Mom’s dead,” I told her, forcing her up onto her feet. “We have to go.” I stared at my sister. “Are you hurt?”

Tears streamed down Sofia’s cheeks. “No.”

“We need a phone,” I said.

Raw emotions swelled and roiled, and I forced myself to endure them.

Be strong for Sofia.

Crack. Crack. Crack.

The bullets spewed in endless streams.

Springing to my feet, I grabbed the back collar of my sister’s shirt, trying to drag her with me but feeling her resistance.

Dazed, she moved her feet slowly at first, reluctantly following.

With Sofia’s hand in mine, following like a rag doll behind the power of my hold, we scurried across the lawn toward the chapel, back the way I’d come.

A shadow appeared in the doorway, cutting us off.

“This way.” I yanked Sofia’s arm left, frantically pulling her in the opposite direction. Everything in my gut told me this was the only way toward that shelter, exposed but known. Off across the sprawling lawn, voices carried in the darkness behind us.

Yelling.

Closing in fast.

Those first hedges of the maze stretched wide, threatening to swallow us whole as we disappeared within its sprawling walls. Enveloped by its darkness, both of us had long memorized the pathways, the turns, and the corners.

The leaves drowned out the noise of our footsteps.

Our pursuers followed us in, desecrating the maze with each step.

Looking for us.

Hunting for us.

Their voices carried over the height of the hedges. They were right on the other side of the greenery, so close they could reach through the shrubs and touch us if they knew we were there. They stormed through, searching every crevice, every angle, every conceivable space they expected to find us.

Leaning low, we continued on, weaving this way and that, avoiding contact, following familiar pathways, trusting what only we intimately knew—this place and all its secrets. As well as we knew each other.

We crouched inside our four-walled leafy hideout, cowering in the center, my hand cupped over her frightened mouth.

Shielded by familiar lush greenery, the foliage encased us like a womb. With my arm wrapped around her to comfort and protect her, I drew Sofia even closer against me to shield her with my body.

I should leave my sister here, safely camouflaged where she wouldn’t be found.

I should go out there and face off with those men. Fight them with my bare hands. At least try for what they’d done.

“Protect your sister.” Mom’s haunting last words sabotaged my plan.

My fury formed a shape.

Claws.

They ripped me apart, shredding my nerves.

Gnawing into my flesh. Their marks absorbed bone-deep, marrow-deep, leaving a new me in their wake. Invisible talons reshaped my essence, forging something malevolent, dark, and disruptive. A craving so real, I felt my cells mutating, sculpted into the purest vengeance.

Adrenaline surged through blistering veins, bringing clarity.

Bringing death.

I would kill him.

But before that, I would dismantle his life piece by piece.

And once that was done, I would find the one thing he loved most . . .

And destroy it.

 

 

14 Years Later . . .

Anya, 18

 

A flurry of nervousness rushed through me.

I knew I had to move, but my feet felt weighted to the ground, refusing to go down there and mix with all those people I didn’t know.

Peering out and down at the lawn from behind my bedroom window, I watched a group of teenagers trampling over our well-tended garden.

Some of them explored the bouncy castle. Some hungrily shoved cake into their mouths.

Others were watching a nightmarish clown whip up balloons in the shape of weird-looking animals.

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