Spy Glass Page 44

“No. But some are serving life on the installment plan.” He noticed my confusion. “They keep getting into trouble and coming back.”

The officers at the gate scanned the papers Eve handed them. One of them scrawled a signature and I was officially delivered to Wirral.

“Good luck, Rhea. I hope you survive,” Nic said as a female CO led me inside.

I thought I was scared before, but entering the prison created a whole new level of panic and fear. It had been easy to plan this when I was comfortable and free. Valek had been right, actual experience was another story entirely.

Taken to a bare room, the CO unlocked the manacles and ordered me to strip. She stayed and watched. Her face remained impassive as I removed the jumper.

“Undergarments, too,” she ordered.

I added them to the pile. She kicked them aside. “Turn around, lean on the wall with your hands on the blue prints and your feet on the yellow prints on the floor. That position is called Secured. Remember it. The guards will frequently order you to assume it.”

The blue prints were above my head and the yellow foot-shaped ones were spread far apart. When I did as instructed, I felt more vulnerable and helpless than when Devlen had chained me up. At least then, I had clothes on. And I would rather endure the pain of a pressure point than be strip-searched ever again. The woman’s rough hands left no part of my body untouched. Her fingers found holes and creases I didn’t even know I had, and thoroughly explored the ones I was well aware of until they ached.

A knock stopped the search. Thank fate.

“Don’t move,” she ordered.

Voices and a bang. Then another set of hands was on me, rougher than the first. Alarmed, I looked over my shoulder and protested. “She already—”

“Shut up and listen.” Her fingers dug into my skin. “We’re in charge. You have no rights. You gave all that up when you murdered your husband. So if we want to recheck a search, you’ll stand there until we’re satisfied. Even if it takes us twenty times.”

I bit my lip as I was searched again. When she finished, she tossed a gray prison jumper at me. “Get dressed.”

All my own clothes were gone. My lock picks and few other tools hidden inside the fabric gone with them. She hadn’t given me undergarments and I was smart enough not to ask.

When I finished, she studied me. Her light brown hair had been twisted back into a knot. She had dark brown eyes and a lean build.

“I’m Lieutenant Cicek. You’ve been assigned to my block. This means I decide everything for you. When you eat, when you sleep, when you work and when you get fresh air. Keep me happy and you’ll do well. Cause trouble and you’ll end up in the SMU with Lieutenant Finn. I’m an indulgent mother compared to him.”

The LT led me through a maze of doors and lantern-lit corridors until we reached a set of metal doors. She unlocked them with a flourish and revealed a long block of cells. “Welcome to the Black Widows’ Wing. Your home for the rest of your life.” Nodding to the correctional officer who sat at a utilitarian metal desk, Cicek pulled me along.

The dank smell of body odor and fear hung in the air and clung to me as I followed the LT down the row. The other prisoners watched me through their bars but didn’t make a sound.

“We like it quiet in here,” the LT explained. “Outside this wing you can scream all you want, but if you want the privilege of fresh air, you’ll keep your mouth shut.”

She stopped and opened the fourth cell on the right. Pushing me inside, she slammed the door. After the metallic echoes died, the silence rushed in.

I needed to endure the rest of the day to orient myself and plan. Valek and I had chosen my crime with care. Murderers were housed in two adjacent wings—one for men, the other for women—and one floor above the SMU. However, with all the turns and stairs to arrive at my cell, I needed to be certain they hadn’t changed the location. And I needed to make sure the COs’ shifts remained the same. Hopefully, the LT would leave tonight. Cicek appeared way too competent for my comfort.

Lunch was the first time I was allowed to leave my cell. LT Cicek and two other COs escorted all of us—a dozen Black Widows—to the dining hall. The place reeked with an unidentifiable stench that overpowered my senses and made me gag. I forced myself to eat to keep up my strength.

After the meal, we were marched down four flights of stairs to the exercise yard. I scanned the square space. It was nestled in the center of the prison. Almost sheer walls surrounded it. High above, a patch of blue sky let dim sunlight reflect down, casting shadows on what appeared to be a training course with obstacles, weights, a running track and an open area.

As my fellow Black Widows hurried to meet up with friends, Cicek pointed out the armed COs standing up on the third floor balconies. “They have crossbows and tend to shoot first and don’t bother to ask questions.”

I noticed COs stationed in the yard didn’t have any weapons. And now that I thought about it, the LT was unarmed, as well. I asked her why.

Her face hardened. “Even though it’s unlikely, there’s a slim chance one of the inmates could take our weapons. We’re trained to handle ourselves without weapons. Remember that.”

Her gaze drilled into me until I nodded. She waved over one of the COs in the yard. His dark skin resembled the Sandseed Clan members, and his bald head reminded me of Moon Man, Yelena’s Story Weaver. Moon Man had died during the Warper Battle. A sudden wish for Devlen’s comforting presence washed over me.

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