The room gradually chilled as dusk turned into night,
enclosing them in the comfort of darkness. The baby stirred and whimpered, and
the young girl held her close, cradling her in her arms. “Shhh...” she shushed
as she rocked gently back and forth. “We mustn’t wake Husband or Mother.”
Her gaze went to
the bedroom door, her heart pounding and her thoughts muddled by the
conversation she’d overheard. Her lower lip trembled as she whispered, “Husband is going to take a new bride,
Hope. He told Mother he was leaving in the morning and would return before
She shuddered as an image of Isabella’s battered and
bloody body crept into her mind. In less than a week, he would come for the child,
and soon thereafter he would come for her, and two more graves would line the
banks of Devil's Creek.
why the old woman has been starving me since the baby was born. She wants me
weak so I can’t fight when she comes to take Hope. And even if I try to run, I
won’t get far.
Holding the baby closer to her heart, she brushed her
lips against the soft skin of her cheek and rolled onto her side as she searched
for memories of her own mother. Her real mother, not the old bitch Husband
forced her to call Mother. The effort caused an immediate headache. They had
stripped her of everything over the years—even her own name.
“You’re the best thing that ever happened to me,” she
whispered. “They told me I couldn’t name you, but I did. I called you Hope
because that’s what you gave me.” Hope snuggled against her. “I’ll find a way
to save you.”
A light snow was falling outside the window, and the
temperature in the room continued to drop. God, if there was one, would show
her the way to save the baby. She’d prayed for three years to die, and instead
He’d given her a reason to live. A real
God wouldn’t do that unless He had a plan, would he?
She closed her eyes and willed herself to sleep. With
Husband gone, tomorrow would be the only chance she’d have to escape. Even if
they froze to death, at least they'd be together, and freezing would be less
painful than the torturous death the devil had planned for them.