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All Chained Up (Devil's Rock #1)

By´╝ÜSophie Jordan

All Chained Up (Devil's Rock #1)
Author: Sophie Jordan


IT LOOKED EVERY bit as intimidating as she thought it would. The broad, three-­storied building was almost colorless beige. The minute the thought entered her head, she knew it didn't make sense. Beige was a color. In fact a lot of her wardrobe consisted of beige. Beige shoes. Beige slacks. Maybe a sad testament to her sense of fashion, but there it was.

Through the car window, all light seemed to end in the shadow of the building. As if the sun's rays could not quite reach past the electric fence with its coiling barbed wires and the looming watchtowers with armed guards. All light, all life, ended right before its walls. A small shiver scraped down her spine as one cold fact sank in. She was going in there.

They passed through the brick sally port and stopped at the gatehouse. Dr. Walker spoke with the guard on duty, handing him both their IDs. The guard examined them, his eyes lost behind the shiny lenses of his sunglasses. After a moment he looked up and scrutinized them inside the car. Briar tried for a smile, but it faltered at his impassive expression.

She caught a glimpse of her reflection in those gleaming lenses. She had tamed her unruly hair into its usual ponytail. At least at first glance she looked professional. Only from behind was the wavy mass even visible. She could almost forget that it was as coarse as a horse's tail.

The guard handed back their identifications. "Dr. Walker. Ms. Davis. Follow the signs around to the admin building."

"Thank you." Dr. Walker gave him a cheery wave and drove on, following the winding road as though they were on a country drive, and not entering a maximum security prison. Laurel said she was nuts for doing this. Briar was beginning to wonder if maybe her sister was right.

"You sure you want to do this, Briar?"

At the question, she blinked and tore her gaze away past the looming prison with its small windows that watched her like so many dark, soulless eyes. Dr. Walker glanced over at her, his gaze kind behind his spectacles.

"Yes. Of course."

He smiled indulgently and she felt like a child caught lying. He knew she wasn't being honest, but for whatever reason he didn't call her out on it. He was probably just grateful to have her help. She was the only nurse on staff to respond to his call for volunteers, after all.

He parked the car in the staff parking lot, and they stepped out into the sweltering heat. He pressed the lock on his key chain and the BMW beeped several times behind them as they made their way inside the prison, stopping outside a control room populated by two more guards.

Again they showed their IDs as Dr. Walker signed them in. A door buzzed and slid open. A ruddy-­faced guard waited for them on the other side, his thumbs hooked into his heavy belt. "Welcome to Devil's Rock Penitentiary. I'm Officer Renfro."

He was fit, his barrel chest narrowing to a trim waist. The sight of him offered some reassurance. As did the keys, radio, cuffs, baton, gun, and other paraphernalia she couldn't even begin to identify attached to his belt. He looked ready for anything. She fought to swallow against the perpetual lump in her throat. Unlike me.

"I'll be escorting you to the HSU." At her cocked head, he explained. "The Health Ser­vices Unit." He gestured for them to follow. Dr. Walker fell in behind, his dress shoes tapping sharply in Renfro's wake. She brought up the rear, the tread of her tennis shoes silent on the concrete floor.

She'd chosen to wear her purple scrubs. They seemed the least feminine. It was troublesome how many of her scrubs were pink or floral patterned. At least scrubs were thankfully shapeless. Not that she was rocking some siren's body, but this place was full of dangerous men who didn't see too many females. It was best that she not flaunt her gender. At least, that was her logic.

They were buzzed through two more doors. She glanced around as she moved forward, taking in everything. The strategically placed cameras in every corner. The blank stare of the guard that passed them in the long hallway. They stopped at a third door. Renfro punched several numbers onto a keypad that opened a heavy steel door. They stepped out onto a skywalk that stretched over a yard full of inmates wearing white uniforms.

She sucked in a small breath. It was like being on a film set of a prison movie. Except these weren't actors. And this was real.

She scanned the grounds below. Inmates worked out on several crude pieces of gym equipment. Some played basketball. A ­couple tossed a football. Some simply loitered around, smoking, talking in groups. Sitting. Standing.

Dozens of guards milled around, in addition to the guards watching from the surrounding towers. A trio of inmates sat on a bench, working a beat with their hands and feet. Their voices carried across the yard louder than any radio. A small audience gathered around them, nodding in rhythm to their rap.

"Aren't you concerned?" Dr. Walker asked as he slowed to a stop and pointed to the workout area. "Could they use the weights and other equipment as weapons?"

Officer Renfro glanced down. "The area is enclosed. Only a certain number are allowed in at one time. Warden Carter thinks inactivity is more dangerous."

Dr. Walker nodded. "Progressive man, your warden."

"You know what they say. Idle hands and all . . ."

"Indeed." Dr. Walker nodded.

They were noticed up on the skywalk. Even this far away, she felt the stares, the hot-­eyed curiosity of the inmates. It was only a moment but it felt like it stretched on forever as they hovered there for the scrutiny of so many hard-­faced, dangerous men. Sweat rolled down her nape and slid between her shoulder blades. Not even ten in the morning yet and it was already sweltering.

"Coming?" Renfro's voice grabbed her atten