It’s SINful Sunday!
Take a look at the last episode of.. book one…
"Don't move," Sin says calmly. I pull the blanket up to my neck as he steps off of the mattress and walks to the corner. I watch as he scratches the side of his face before he rips the thing down, or tries to rip it down. A thin rope tied tightly around a doll's neck hangs from the ceiling, but the rope is tucked under a ceiling panel.
Sin pulls the rope off of the doll's head and brings it over, dropping it on the bed. The doll is covered in dry blood. "A doll," I confirm.
"Someone was in here," Sin says, returning back to the hanging rope.
I lift the doll from the bed and take a closer look, noticing the blond, yarn hair and the blue eyes, and the pink satin dress. It looks like a doll I had as a child, exactly like the doll I had. I had put the hair into pigtails like my hair always was. And the pink dress is one my mother had sewn for me because pink my favorite color and the doll came with a purple dress. I turn the doll over and unclasp the top button. Swallowing hard, I peel the fabric to the side, feeling a sickness grow in the bottom of my stomach. This is my doll. My name is written down the spine. I wrote it there. "This is my doll from when I was a child," I tell Sin.
He nods his head, but with a confusion set in his eyes. "No one comes in or out of Chipley except—"
"Well, Jackson Crownwell has a care taker drop in prisoners once every few weeks. It's like the food drop, except, well, with people. But they're usually unconscious when they arrive." Sin turns back around to fuss with the rope, yanking at it harder, but it doesn't budge. "I'll end up taking the ceiling down if I pull any harder." He punches the ceiling tile until it loosens and moves to the side. He hoists himself up and looks around for a second before dropping back down.
"Did you see anything?"
"Yeah, we’ve got a problem." I peel my shirt off the ground and pull it back over my head. Sin must have a million thoughts running through his head by the look in his eyes. I keep forgetting he should be resting, but I'm guessing if I even mentioned that to him right now, he'd snap. "We can either do this the hard way or the harder way."
"What do you mean by that?" I know whatever it is, is going to require us to keep moving. I slide my legs off the mattress, still feeling a tingle in places I've never felt anything. Slipping my feet into my boots, I glance back at Sin again. Sweat is glistening over his hard and very defined chest. He's much larger with his shirt off—muscles everywhere and tattoos. Lots of them. I try to determine what the artwork is of over his shoulder, but it looks like words in a different language. There's a skull on his opposite arm with smoke coming out of the eyes. Then there's the whole left side of his body, which is covered with bars, like prison bars.
"Hey, eyes up here," he says with a wry grin. "You can focus on me later, but right now, we need to go into my dad's house."
Snatcher. "Will he be there?"
He tugs on the rope again, pulling harder this time, and I hear a thump. "Yeah, he'll be there."
"But, Sin…" He captured me, tortured me, and held me as a prisoner for three years. Surely he doesn't need to be reminded this.
He walks over to me, pulling me up from the mattress. "Look me in the eyes, Reese."
I do as he says, wanting to look nowhere else right now, wanting to pretend nothing else exists right now, wishing to pretend like my life is not as it seems, and I'm going to wake up at any moment to find that this has been nothing more than a bad dream. But then Sin would be a part of that, and I don't want him to be a part of this bad dream. "I won't let him hurt you. I won't let him take you. I will kill him if he tries."
"He's your dad," I remind him, only because I could never imagine saying something as easy as I'll kill my dad. Actually, I would do anything for my dad to be alive. Life takes away the good and leaves us with the bad. That has been so clearly defined to me over the past three years. Why me? Why here?
"That doesn't matter to me." I give him a look because I don't understand how anyone could feel that way about their parents. "A dad is more than just the person supplying sperm, and that's pretty much all he's done besides torture the shit out of me and my mother." Was Sin tortured too? I want to ask him if Snatcher is the one who really killed his mother, but I'm not opening that can of worms again. Sin is innocent, I know it. He has to be.
"Okay," I agree. Although I want to fight him on this, I have to assume his reason for going in there is a good one, but there's a part of me questioning everything, as I should be. "Why?"
"Because I'm getting us out of here." Such a simple answer, yet from what I can tell, it is the least likely outcome. Although any attempt at escape is a good enough reason for me. I just have to wonder why Snatcher hasn't gotten himself out of here if that's the case. Does he want to be here? I can't imagine anyone wanting to be here.
Sin opens the closet door and swooshes all his mother's clothes to the side. "Ready?" Without waiting for me to answer, he kicks his foot into the wall. Or as I get closer, I see that it's a door inside of the closet. The lock on the door breaks off and a set of unlit stairs greets us.
"Did you grow up here?" I ask before he starts walking.
"Kind of," he says. "I lived here for five years before I was convicted." Convicted for murder. Of his mother. What if Sin isn't who I think he is. What if I'm walking into the lion's den? Is that what this is? A trick. A plot to get me trust him so he can lock me back up, torture me, or worse. He made me fall for him, and now…and now I don't know what I should do.
"Let's go," he urges in a loud whisper. I stand, staring at him, debating what I'm going to do. "Reese." He waves his hand in the air to break my cold stare. "We need to go now. He's going to hear us, and I don't want him to be waiting for us at the top of the stairs."
"Maybe I should wait here. You already said he won't come down here, so maybe I'm safer staying here." Yeah, I should stay here.
"I'm not leaving your side, Reese. So either you come with me, or we die here." But you said we would survive.
Sin backs away from the door and reaches for my hand. "The doll is a warning. Okay? You want to look like that? Because I'm guessing not. So trust me, and let's go handle this the way I know this has to be handled."
"Why do you think the doll was covered in blood? Whose blood do you think it is? Tell me what you think it means, Sin."
"You can ask me anything you want, but I don't have an answer for you, and I won't until we go up there and find out."
"You don't have a weapon. How would you kill him?" I ask.
His eye twitches as he lets out a small sigh. "With my hands." You could kill me with your hands too.
"Look, I want to get the hell out of this place, so if you don't come willingly, I'll drag you upstairs. But after the nice moments we had a few minutes ago, I'd rather not be rude or…an asshole as you like to put it." I have no choice. I take the steps toward him and slip my hand into his. My heart is achingly pounding against the inside of my chest. My throat is dry and I can hardly swallow. Please God, don't let this be a trap.
I walk up the steps in Sin's shadow, one by one, regret growing larger the closer to the door we get. "Sin, I don't think this is a good idea."
"My mother didn't think it was a good idea either," he says. My hand slips out of his and I nearly fall backward down the steps, but he grabs me by the arm. "That's not what I meant."
"You killed your mother, though."
"No, Reese. I take back what I just said. I wasn't thinking properly. I—" he sighs. "I didn't kill her, okay. Just, please keep walking. I'll explain everything later."
I’m shaking beneath his grip, he must feel it. "I want you to explain everything to me now. You didn't kill her?" We're almost at the top of the stairs now. "Because you said—"
"I know what I said."
He twists the knob on the door and it opens with a swishing sound. Sin pulls me into a tarnished kitchen, lit only with orange lights. Pots and pans are stacked in the sink and the trash is overflowing. It smells like something died in here, so I do my best to breathe in through my mouth and not my nose.
Sin's hand grips tighter around my arm as he tugs me into an adjacent room, with burnt-orange carpeting and wooden paneled walls. It's like we just stepped back into the fifties. The room smells of smoke and urine—how could anyone live here? As we walk into the room, we find Snatcher sitting in a torn up, brown recliner, one leg crossed over the other. He's watching a small box TV in black and white with more snow than picture. Snatcher looks over at the two of us, and at our now clasped hands, then up at me directly. "There's one thing you need to know, Reese. You may have escaped, but—" he laughs a wheezy laugh. "You can't escape Chipley. I was trying to keep you alive and safe. You probably see that now. "Sin here, he took you away from safety. He introduced you to the hungry prisoners of this town, people who wouldn't bat an eyelash to cannibalism. That's what hunger does to people, girl."
"Why am I here?" I ask him, gritting my teeth, ignoring my wrenching fear.
"Well that's easy. You're here because of Sin." He pulls a cigarette out of his pocket and places it between his lips. "You can call it retribution."
"For what?" I beg.
"Dad," Sin says, looking at him with an expression I can't decipher.
"And you. It shouldn't have taken you so long to bring her back here. You know better."
No. No. No. Please, no.
***Recommended for anyone 18+ due to upcoming dark themes and adult language***
Don’t forget this is an interactive story. Each week you have a chance to lend ideas to Shari’s story. Check out her website for more details. And click HERE to leave comments on this week’s Episode.
Stay tuned for the release of Book One of No Way Out:SIN Coming soon…
About the Author:
Shari J. Ryan is an Amazon Top 100 Bestselling author, a Barnes & Noble Top 10 Bestselling author, and an iBookstore #1 Bestselling author.
She hails from Central Massachusetts where she lives with her husband and two lively little boys. Shari has always had an active imagination and enjoys losing herself in the fictional worlds she creates. When Shari isn’t writing, she can usually be found cleaning toys up off the floor.
To learn more, visit her at, www.sharijryan.com.
Brought to you by the Author, Shari J Ryan and Paging Through The Days.