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Angel (DCI Ryan Mysteries, #4) by L.J. Ross Read Online (FREE)

Angel (DCI Ryan Mysteries, #4) by L.J. Ross

Read Angel (DCI Ryan Mysteries, #4) by L.J. Ross online free here.

“I was a strong lad and survived; but the poison was in the wound, and the wound remained forever open.”

—Vladimir Nabokov

 

PROLOGUE
Easter, 1990

The hallway was quiet as the grave.

Early morning light shone through the grubby window panes and sent dust motes dancing on the air, which smelled of old wood. The floorboards creaked as the girl tiptoed along, as quickly as she dared. She counted off the nuns’ quarters as she scurried past, keeping to the shadows.

One, two, three, four.

Reaching the doorway at the end, she twisted the old brass knob and slipped inside the communal bathroom. She cast furtive glances to either side and dropped to her knees to peer underneath the rickety stalls. When she was sure she was alone, she made directly for the end cubicle and climbed on top of the cracked toilet seat, then pushed her spindly legs onto the peeling window sill above it. Layers of old paint had sealed the window permanently closed but over the past weeks she had chipped away at it. When she shoved her weight against the dirty brown pane, it began to crack open.

Sweat beaded her forehead as she struggled with the window but eventually it swung wide open, letting a rush of cold air into the stale cubicle. The girl raised her face to the wind, like a caged animal scenting freedom.

It was intoxicating.

Eager for more, she eased her skinny body through the gap and onto the sloping roof beyond. Her bare feet clutched at the mossy tiles and she began to crawl towards the guttering. A loose tile broke away and clattered loudly over the roof, landing distantly on the ground below. In the silent morning, the noise seemed deafening. She froze until she could be sure it had not disturbed the people inside, but she heard only the rush of her own frantic heartbeat drumming in her ears.

She shuffled towards the edge and peered over, jerking back at the sight of a fifty-foot drop to the hard ground below.

Struck by doubt, she glanced behind her, back towards the tiny bathroom window. For a moment, the window became a dark, angry eye.

Come back!

She shivered and turned away from it to look out at the fields and woods lying beyond the perimeter of the grounds. She crouched there, surveying the landscape of her birth and hope bloomed at the prospect of a brighter future, one she had never allowed herself to imagine until now.

Carefully, she swung her legs over the stone wall and wrapped them around a drainpipe, which strained against her weight and let out a long metallic whine, as if it were crying out a warning to those who still slumbered inside.

Her body was shaking with fatigue by the time she managed to shimmy halfway to the ground. Her legs were cut and bleeding and the first wave of adrenaline was wearing off, leaving her chilled and hungry. She faltered, her muscles shaking as she fought to hold on. Her fingers scraped at the old metal and a sob escaped her, echoing out into the quiet morning.