The Fortunates (Unfortunate #2) - Skyla Madi

Chapter One


A buzz rings in my ear, the result of a deafening silence. My eyelids are heavy, as if sandbags hang from my lashes. I blink, slowly, and the sharp lines of the world blur into dull shades of grey. If my brain powered down for a second, sleep could be possible.

The metal bars of my cell are cool against my burning cheek and I flinch as a small, rogue drop of rainwater falls from a crack in the ceiling and splashes on the tip of my nose. It sobers me, but not enough to make me want to move my head.

I’m still alive…

Still locked up…

Still a pending Fortunate…

I can’t even begin to wrap my head around it. How can I go from being an Unfortunate to a Fortunate? From dirt to gold? As per usual, my life is hanging in the balance…and so is Kathryn’s. If she lied about being my birth mother I’m dead, and if she’s telling the truth…she’s dead.

Kade hasn’t visited me and I don’t know if I should feel relieved or disappointed. Both emotions wage war inside me. I expect him to be in the city by now, completely impartial to what’s happening in my life. He killed his father. He got what he wanted. Why would he stay to defend me? I’m just a girl who caused him more trouble than I should have. Still, my lovesick heart twists painfully in my chest and I grit my teeth…God. I miss his face and his dark eyes. I even miss the stern way he purses his lips when he’s not pleased with me. I hate that I miss it. I hate that I miss him…after everything he’s done.

After everything we’ve done together.

Vince has visited me. Three times I’ve sat in silence while he has tormented me with explicit stories of Thirteen. He mimicked her cries and the way her hands would clench into fists every time he forced himself into her body. With every word, my heart squeezed uncomfortably in my chest and my eyes welled with tears, but I never let them fall.

Not for Vince.

I wouldn’t give him the pleasure.

I drag my stare from the cold, concrete floor to the barred window in the top left corner of my tiny cell. Pinks, blues, and oranges paint the sky in a pretty mess of colours and it sends thick rivulets of dread into my stomach. I don’t think I’ve ever been happy watching a sunrise. I heard the term “a new day brings a new beginning” once. Fortunates tend to use it a lot, but it makes no sense to me. For Unfortunates, a new day brings a new set of nightmares. The only thing remotely motivating about a new day for us is the possibility of it being our last. Can you imagine? Praying the sun doesn’t rise every night before you fall asleep? It’s abysmal. It’s a slap in the face to Mother Nature—or whoever put us here.

A heavy thud and a high pitched squeal rings throughout the tiny room as the main door opens. The only visitors this room gets this early in the morning are usually for Kathryn so I don’t lift my eyes. Her family doesn’t “risk” visiting her in the middle of the day because others might “talk.” God forbid another Fortunate witnesses them visit a loved one in prison. It’s always about image with them—how they look to everyone else. Apparently, it’s been seventeen years since a Fortunate has been jailed and killed because they broke the law. An interesting fact, I think.

I close my eyes and swallow hard. My tongue almost glues itself to the dry roof of my mouth and my throat sticks together. So much for moistening it. I haven’t had food or water for days and I can barely lift my arm without it sending excruciating pain throughout my body. I ache all over—in my bones and in my muscles. I wonder how Kathryn is holding up in the cell on the other side of the thick concrete wall I rest against. I’ve experienced this pain before. I’ve been starved, dehydrated, and sore countless times. I doubt she has.

Now that I think about it, she hasn’t begged for my forgiveness for a few hours now. Her privileged body has probably gone into shock and given up on her. I don’t think they could kill me by deprivation of liberty. I grew up deprived. I was raised by it—shaped by it. Deprivation doesn’t hurt me…and I