His eyebrows danced in excitement as he rubbed his hands, smiling. His triumphant smile quickly turned to a frown when he saw me leaning back against the wall, running my hand down my face, fixing my jeans.

“What you done now?” he asked with a shit-eating smirk.

Don’t f**kin’ ask. Now, where’s the f**ker? He talking? I signed.

“Nope. Not a damn peep.”

Smiling a hungry smile, I signed, Perfect. Just what I need right now. Let’s go.

Chapter Thirteen


One hour earlier…

I was a child when it happened. A tiny, innocent child…

“Salome, come with me.”

“Where are we going, Sister?” I had asked, as Sister Eve took my hand and dragged me down the corridor from the safety of my room. Her hand had squeezed my hand so tightly that I recall feeling intense pain. For reasons I could not fathom at the time, Sister Eve would not look me straight in the eye.

“You are to be taken to the great room.”

The great room. I remember feeling my stomach churn on hearing those words. I had tried to resist Sister Eve, tried very hard to pull her to a stop. She had looked down at me and her pale eyes seemed to soften a touch. This was so strange that I had become anxious. Sister Eve did not like me, never had. I was a Cursed. One of the segregated sisters. There were four of us and she hated us all. Told us we were inherently evil. Born baring the original sin of Eve.

“Why have you stopped, child?” she asked calmly, her cold voice devoid of any affection.

“W-why am I to g-go to the g-great room?” I enquired in a shaky voice over which I had no control. I remembered Jezebel had been taken to the great room for the first time three years prior. She had not been the same since that day. She had changed; she became angrier, withdrawn, and colder. She never spoke about what happened. I even recall I asked Jezebel five times about it, but I was rebuffed on each occasion. She point blank refused to say a word to me or anyone else for that matter. Nevertheless, Jezebel went to the great room every time she had been summoned by Gabriel. She had no choice. Lilah had been the same several months prior when she had been called in too. Maddie and I had never understood why it changed them so. But I knew at that point I was about to find out.

“You are of age now, Salome. You must do your duty as a sister.” Sister Eve sighed loudly and bent down from her tall height to meet my eyes. “I will not lie to you, Salome. Today will be a very strange and uncomfortable experience for you, but it must happen. You have reached the appropriate age. There is no way around it.”

“What will happen? What am I old enough for?” I had asked.

Sister Eve simply stood back up and tugged me until I again fell into step. I tried to ask more questions. But Sister Eve refused to answer. She would not listen to me. After many more vain attempts to obtain information, I had reluctantly fallen silent and dutifully followed her to the great room.

What I witnessed had made me simper with fear. I remember the air was hazy with a thick earthy-scented smoke. Large bottles with pipe contraptions littered the large space. White cushions and bed mattresses covered the floor; all were occupied. The brothers—the disciples—were all without clothing, behind sisters of all ages, young and old, doing something to them. The sisters were bare too. They were bent over with their heads to the floor, hands clasped behind their backs. The Prophet David sat on a raised stage with three older sisters. He had touched their naked bodies. Then he had touched himself… there, as he watched the many couples positioned around the room.

Sister Eve felt me resist as I scanned the room. She then bent down and whispered, “If you refuse, you will only make this harder on yourself. Believe me, girl, the punishment for your lack of cooperation will be much, much worse.”

I remember nodding slowly in trepidation. I knew I could face the lash no more.

Terror gripped me as I followed Sister Eve to one side of the room and Brother Gabriel had watched me pass. He had smiled at me even as he rocked back and forth behind a dark-haired sister on the floor. I did not understand what he was doing to her at that point. The sister stayed silent as he grunted and groaned loudly and his hands had pawed at every inch of her bare skin.

I remember watching in horror. Sister Eve then whipped off my gown and pushed me to the floor, positioning my body—head down, hands gripped behind my back… mirroring every sister in the room. In panic, I struggled to stand, but Sister Eve’s heavier weight pinned me down. This made me struggle even more.

Sister Eve sighed in exasperation. Suddenly, I was freed of her downward pressure and I slowly sat up. But I remember all too well blanching when I realized what the sister was about to do.

Sister Eve quickly walked back to me, holding a device. It looked like a bear trap: two metal hand-like claws held together by hinges, each claw had large, spiky teeth. I remember I stopped breathing as she knelt beside me.

“I will place this between your legs. Move and the claws will cut into your skin. We use it to encourage the sisters to keep still. A word of advice, think of a good place and take yourself there. Learn to block out the pain.”

Pain? I thought. What did she mean by that?

Sister Eve then turned me back to face the floor. She repositioned me. As my legs widened, she then thrust the device between my thighs. The sharp metal teeth dug into my flesh as soon as I struggled to free myself. I recall crying out in great pain as the metal teeth sank into my flesh, then delved deeper into my thigh muscles as I struggled for the last time.