Home > The Ravishing(8)

The Ravishing(8)
Author: Ava Harrison

Our parents were clearly unstable.

This house was more like a prison than a home.

Once inside the forbidden zone, I opened drawers and rummaged through papers in Dad’s desk. If he caught me in his office, I knew I would have a bruised eye like Archie.

Inside the bottom drawer of my father’s oak desk was a piece of paper caught in the drawer. My curiosity spiked, and I tugged it gently so as not to rip it. Easing out the yellowing paper, I saw it was a document—a copy of a deed for a cemetery plot in Lafayette Cemetery.

It might not be the clue Archie had been searching for, but it was sketchy.

Heart thrumming, I slid the drawer closed.

Within minutes, I was throwing on my flats and sneaking out the back of the house. I should have changed out of my dress, and grabbed a coat, but I couldn’t risk someone catching me.

The last time I’d risked leaving here was when I went to see the float Mom had decorated for Mardi Gras. I’d gotten away with it that time, though no such luck the following winter. They’d caught me before I even left the house.

It was easy to punch in the numbers now since I memorized the code and once I did, I snuck out.

This wasn’t about being defiant. This was about finding answers.

Finding the truth.

Taking the same risks that my brother had. I was doing this as much for him as I was me. Up Third, turning onto Prytania Street and along Washington Avenue, I made my way toward Lafayette Cemetery. I’d often peeked out the window and watched the crowds amble by the front of our house on their walking tours. Now, in the dead of night, the streets were empty.

A rush of adrenaline surged through me from being outside—a forbidden trek along the path, hurrying by intriguing multicolored houses with their cast-iron fences and lush foliage that complemented their well-tended gardens.

Making it to Lafayette Cemetery quickly, I found the gate open and went on through

I pulled out the map of the burial plot and walked carefully upon the rubble pathway that ran alongside a stone wall, recalling Archie telling me this cemetery dated back to the eighteenth century.

Each weathered above-ground tomb differed from the next, and many were in states of decay. It made me sad to think that the relatives had either moved away or had died and could no longer tend to them.

As I hurried along the outer wall and took a sharp left into the center of the graveyard, I marveled at the stillness—as if even the wildlife knew to be respectful.

And there it was, the generously sized Glassman tomb.

I felt a jolt of intrigue when I climbed the short three steps of the structure, vast compared to those that flanked it on either side.

Whoever had visited recently hadn’t secured the door properly because a padlock hung open. It wasn’t like I could go back home and warn Dad. The thing would have to stay this way. I wondered if Mom ever came here. Maybe it was her who’d left it open.

Thoughts of who my birth family were swirled around my mind—I pushed them away.

I nudged open the door and stepped inside, the sound of my soles echoing on the stone floor. Heart pounding, I held my breath as though being here might offend the dead.

My eyes adjusted to the dimness.

Running my fingers across each long marble tomb, I estimated about ten of my relatives were buried here. If I was adopted, maybe not. Maybe I was only related by name.

What the fuck?

My throat tightened—Archie Stephen Glassman was inscribed on the far side of a marble coffin. Nausea welled as I moved to peer down at the one beside it. My focus blurred when I read the neatly engraved name of Anya Helena Glassman. They’d even given my middle name to her—no, wait, it was me who had been given hers.

This was where they’d ended up.

A sob formed for an unknown child who bore my name. If not for being shown those photos by Archie, I didn’t know what I’d have done. If it wasn’t for Archie, I’d just slip away from the Garden District and never look back.

The hairs pricked on my forearms, and I knew, knew with every cell of my being that I wasn’t alone.

Someone was standing at the door.

The air thickened, and dust danced within the rays of the moon flooding in. Light reflected off minute particles like a hex had been cast on this place.

The walls of the crypt felt like they were closing in.

I looked into those dark eyes that were glaring back at me.

The thought of what he’d done to Archie rushed through my brain.

“Hello, Anya.”

“What happened to them?” I asked weakly.

My father stepped in, his suede shoes crunching on the unswept ground as he faced the resting places of his lost children.

“Dad?” I coaxed.

“We were trying to protect you from this.”

“From what?”

“It’s complicated.” He gave an unnerving smile, meant to comfort, I suppose.

“They have our names?” Emotion made my words heavy.

“We wanted to recreate the family we’d lost.”

I observed him.

Reminded of the spirited punishments he’d delivered in the past, I put some distance between us.

He noticed me stepping back and gave a careful nod.

“Your mother and I love you dearly, Anya. You know that. We’ve wrapped you in cotton and done our best to keep you safe. It hasn’t been easy on you.” His eyes darkened. “Or us.”

“How did they die?” My question echoed in the lonely chamber.

“Don’t worry about that now.” He shook his head thoughtfully.

I studied my namesake’s tomb, and a shudder swirled up my spine. I tried to shake the thought that one day I might lie within one of these.

“Did something bad happen to them?” I needed him to say it.

“How did you find out about them?” He eyed me. “From Archie?”

My thoughts flashed to what Dad had already done to him. Dread welled, and my belly ached.

“Found the receipt for the plot in your drawer.” I fixed my stare on him to convey Archie had nothing to do with this. “Bet when you were my age, you had a similar curiosity, Daddy.” I threw in.

“My office? You’re not allowed in there. But you already know that, don’t you?”

“I’m sorry.”

“Let’s go home, sweetheart.” He closed the gap between us.

His closeness sent a chill up my spine, but I walked with him toward the door, feigning compliance.

He threw an arm around my shoulders to guide me back the way I had come. What a rarity this was, him showing any kind of patience. But I knew the truth. It was a lie.

He was waiting until we got home.

There was something more going on here, and as we left the cemetery, it hit me.

He wanted me to find that tomb. Or that’s how it felt.

His Mercedes was parked outside Lafayette Cemetery. He drove us back to Fifth Street in silence—the distance short. My fingernails dug into my palms all the way there.

I tried to cope with the consequences of what I’d done.

Once home, dad guided me toward his office. That look in his eyes told me to prepare for his impending violence.

As we were about to enter his office, a loud bang echoed from outside the front door.

Then a blood-curdling scream carried from somewhere in the house.

“He’s here!”

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