"It is time for your confession, Hudson."
John reached out and pulled the tape off to let her speak. Joey let out a quiet groan and glared at him. They were in John's special room where he handled the confessions, but for Joey, it was John's playroom for torturing people. The lights were dimmed and one lamp beside her was on. It was like she was about to be interrogated. She was probably correct.
John grabbed a chair from the side and sat down in front of Joey. He was smiling but there was no smugness shown. He smiled like he was her friend, gentle and welcoming. Joey wasn't going to let her guard down for that. It was all part of his act he was used to doing.
"You should be glad... That we managed to save you. But you haven't reached the atonement, not yet... Which is why I need you to confess your sins," he leaned closer," Let's start off with something easy. Tell me... your first name."
"Because I haven't heard it. I don't want to call you by your last name since confessions are supposed to be personal and private," John smiled even wider to encourage her.
"...It's Joey," she put it bluntly.
"Joey... Joey Hudson, I like it. And tell me, Joey, have you lived your whole life in Montana?"
"Is Hope County your hometown?"
"Yes, it is. What are you trying, Seed?" Joey was getting irritated with John's casual questions. John kept on smiling at her which was making Joey feel uneasy. The Seed family was unpredictable and John was surely the most unpredictable out of them.
"I just want to get know you better. It interests me why a pretty woman like you wanted to become a cop. Was it difficult to get in?"
Joey couldn't get away from this so she chose to play along. Making John angry was not a good idea since she was tied to a chair.
"There were not many deputies working at the Department and I was one of the best on the list..."
John nodded and gestured her to go on.
"I was the only female there when I started... Some did doubt me but I proved them wrong."
"You are a strong woman after all. I can see it in you, Joey..."
She raised her face. No one had called her strong before. It felt good to hear it from someone. This reaction didn't go unnoticed by John and he immediately reached out and rested his palm on her shoulder. Joey flinched but soon relaxed.
"I mean it... To me, it seems like you have come far. Were there any problems or crises while growing up?"
Joey went silent again and lowered her gaze to look at her lap. She was not letting this creep get inside her head. Yet resist the urge to speak was getting hard. Every word John said sounded genuine to her as if he was truly interested in listening.
"Hey, it's alright to tell... My duty is to keep my mouth shut about other people's confessions. You can trust me on this one because I'm serious of my duties. No one won't know, not even Joseph," John moved his hand on her chin to make Joey look at him. There was nothing suspicious nor evil in his eyes, only kindness.
"Fine... I was the only child in my family. I lived quite normal childhood, nothing huge happened."
"Is that all? Your eyes say else... C'mon, I won't judge."
Joey couldn't believe herself for trusting this guy. It was wrong to give John what he wanted. He would use her past as a weapon to trap her into the cult. Joey breathed in and out. No matter how tough she acted, Joey never saw herself strong enough. Her former partner's death had proved it.
John waited patiently for Joey to speak up. Patience was not one of his stronger characteristics, but forcing faith was not the way. That's what Joseph always told him. He had to be patient and caring to achieve their goal. He was making progress yet it was not easy to change his old habits.
"My dad...," Joey started," He wanted to have a son. He was very disappointed when he got a daughter. It affected our whole relationship from the beginning... I tried my best to impress my dad and make him proud of me, at least for once. I was a boyish girl... I hated dresses and dolls and I always played with boys," she let out a quiet giggle," Mom used to scold me for messing my clothes."
John's gaze wasn't leaving hers and he listened to every word. Joey continued:
"I think my dad never spent time with me. He was busy with running his gun shop. That's how I got into shooting. Years passed and I got into the Police Academy. I did all that and still... Dad never said he was proud. I grew distant from him for a reason..."
"I see, I see... I can tell your father is behind your decisions in your life. You became a cop to show him how capable you are. You have created this mask to hide your weaknesses from him and you have kept it on for years..."
John was right. Joey bit her lip to keep her from sobbing. She had wondered if she ever had become a cop if it wasn't for her dad. Was it a good thing or not? Being a deputy in a small town, it was enough yet Joey never let herself imagine other choices she had. She couldn't blame her dad for it. He never demanded her to be something for him.
Now Joey was in a vulnerable state. A smirk was creeping on John's face but he bit his tongue to stop it. Joey was not ready for the next step. It was unclear which sins she possessed. No, John needed Joey to trust him, make her beg to be atoned. And to reach atonement, you have to say 'yes'. After that, the person will truly confront their sin. John had to give Joey an impression that only he could set her free.
John wiped the tears off Joey's face and put his both hands on her cheeks. Joey looked at him with clear green eyes. She was no longer afraid of John's touch. Next, she felt lips on her forehead. It would've been strange but it was a gesture of love they used in the Eden's Gate. Joey closed her eyes for a second.
"You cannot imagine how proud I am of you, Joey...," John's lips brushed her head as he spoke. He kept holding her face in his hands," You didn't do wrong for opening up. In Eden's Gate, no one is judged for exposing their weaknesses because we love you..."
John looked directly into her eyes. He could see the struggle which was going inside of her. One little push and she would break.
"You might see me as a monster for hurting people. But that's how it's done... You only learn from pain and life is full of it. Saying 'no' will only make you feel worse... Your sins will haunt for eternity until you confront them... If you say 'yes', a new being is born within you."
Joey tried to swallow her tears. She could always refuse and get thrown back in that cage. Rook was coming for her soon. She just needed to survive long enough. Say no, say no, say no... Joey repeated those words in her head. Her mouth said the opposite:
Joey let her tears flow and she let out a quiet whimper. She couldn't refuse. She had promised herself to not fall into John's trap and she was unable to do it. Above, John was smirking at her.
"You won't regret this... I promise," and with that, he pulled her into his embrace.
"Welcome to Eden's Gate."