Say Goodbye (Romantic Suspense #25) - Karen Rose Page 0,1

the baby needed it. No painkillers. At all. Just a bed with stirrups and straps.

Hayley didn’t want to know what the straps were used for.

She did know that women died in childbirth here. She’d heard the whispers.

It would be God’s punishment for her sin, one woman had said.

She’s a whore, another had added.

And then one old crone had whispered words that had chilled her to the bone: Sister Rebecca will take the baby and raise it as her own.

Even if she lives? the first woman had asked.

Even if the whore lives, the crone had confirmed. God wouldn’t want any baby to be raised by that Jezebel.

Hayley cradled her stomach with both arms. No fucking way in hell. Even if Sister Rebecca had been a good person, which she was not. She was Brother Joshua’s “first” wife—the highest-ranking of all the sister-wives. Brother Joshua had a total of four wives and Hayley was at the bottom of the list, which meant she had to obey the other wives as well as her “husband.”

Hayley wanted to spit the word out of her mouth. He is not my husband.

He was a horrible person, snide and cruel. Unfortunately, Sister Rebecca was also a horrible person as well as being barren. That was the word the other women had used. Barren.

It was like living in a costume drama from the 1800s.

Sister Rebecca had three children, all taken from other women in the compound. Two of the women had apparently died in childbirth. The third had been birthed by an unwed mother. Like me. No one had mentioned what had happened to the unwed mother and Hayley wondered who she was.

Nobody’s taking my daughter from me. Nobody. They’ll have to kill me first.

Which . . . if she was caught in the clinic was a real possibility.

So get moving, Hayley. Get into the office and—

She stifled a shriek when the outer door opened and closed quickly. Spinning to see who’d entered, she let out a harsh breath of relief. “Graham,” she hissed. “What are you doing here?”

Her brother Graham crept across the room, reminding her of a spider, all gangly, skinny limbs. He was taller than she was, even though he was only twelve.

He’d be thirteen soon. Which meant he’d be apprenticed to one of the tradesmen in the community. Which, in a place other than Eden, might not be so bad.

But people whispered. “Bad things” happened to some of the boys.

Bad things. The words were whispered in the same way that the women whispered about the sex their husbands forced on them or the “fallen” who’d tried to flee this hellhole.

Hayley had an idea of what those bad things were. And there was no fucking way she’d let that happen to Graham. Not while she drew breath.

“What are you doing here?” he hissed back. “I followed you because you got that look on your face like when you’re planning something. You’re going to get us thrown in the box.”

The box. It was basically an outhouse, with little ventilation. One got locked inside for a period of time that suited the crime. Whatever the hell that meant.

“I’m trying to get into the office,” Hayley whispered.

Graham’s brows lifted. “Why? There aren’t any drugs in there.”

She rolled her eyes. “Like I’d use while I’m pregnant? There’s a computer in there, assface. I’m sure of it.”

Graham’s eyes widened. “Here? In Nowheresville?”

“Here, in hell.” She gestured to the locked door that led to the healer’s office. “I was in here yesterday for my appointment.” Which was a joke. The healer basically weighed her and told her to eat more vegetables. “I heard a printer. I know it. This door was cracked open and the healer went real still, like she heard it and was afraid I’d heard it, too. I pretended I didn’t, but there is something in there. If it’s a printer, there has to be a computer.”

Graham frowned. “How is it running? There’s no electricity here. How is it connected? There’s no cable, no Wi-Fi.”

Hayley wanted to scream. Graham was all about the why of things. “I don’t know. I don’t care. If there’s a computer, I can get a message to Cam. He can get us out of here.” She swallowed hard. “I can’t have my baby here, Graham. They’ll take her from me. I heard the women talking. Even if I live through it, they’re going to give my baby to Sister Rebecca.”

Graham’s mouth set in a firm line that Hayley recognized all too well. It