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Unbroken, Page 3

Jessica Sorensen

  I have seconds to respond as her hand finds my neck and wraps around it. She pulls me toward her, looking me in the eye as she digs her fingers inward. "You think I'm weak?" she questions in a low voice that doesn't even sound like it belongs to her. "That a fucking kiss is going to stop me from doing what's burning in my blood? Stop the painful desire to spill your blood out? Stop the throbbing need to end your life?"

  When she tugs me even closer, our foreheads slamming together, I don't bother fighting it as my body falls on top of hers. My weight lands on her as she leans up and nips my lip, sucking it into her mouth and grazing her teeth across it. Blood pools out and the taste of salt and rust floods my mouth. "You like me better this way, anyway; if you'd just admit it to yourself," she whispers against my lips.

  My veins are pulsating under her rough touch as I gasp for air quietly, not wanting to give her the satisfaction of seeing me weak and powerless. "You have no idea what I like," I choke, gripping handfuls of the blanket beside her head, trying to hold my weight up off of her in a lame attempt to get away.

  She tries to wiggle her hand out of the other bind as she continues to strangle me, her eyes filled with both desire and terror. She wants to do this, yet she doesn't want to, which means my Gemma still lies inside there somewhere, and I have to get her out somehow. The only way I can think of is to push her to her limits. Let her get close to killing me. Let her think I'm about to die. Then maybe her true feelings will come out and override what my father has done to her.

  I've seen this done once when a Keeper became possessed by a Lost Soul, which is basically a mummy that possesses and steals souls. A Witch brought the Keeper back by testing them; pushing them to the point where they were either going to have to completely give into the Lost Soul's possession or fight their way back. I know Gemma is a fighter, but the problem is that I don't know her true feelings for me, or if she even has any at all. I guess I'm about to find out.

  I let her keep choking me; suffocating me, strangling me. I see life in her eyes flicker then diminish. Her emotions turn on and off. She's conflicted. This is good. It means she cares about me; has feelings for me; wants me enough that she's not sure she really desires my death. The idea both enthralls me and scares the shit out of me. All my life, I've felt nothing for anyone, and that's how I've liked it because feelings equal hurt. Pain. Loneliness. Shut everyone out and no one can hurt you. Turn it off and you'll be stronger. That's what I've been taught.

  That was the great thing about dating Stasha. I never had any feelings for her. She didn't make me happy. Piss me off. Get under my skin. Floor me to the point where I felt like I was going to explode.

  Gemma on the other hand... She does all of that and more. My emotions are so tangled up inside because I want her so fucking much, yet I'm afraid to want her so badly.

  "You can't do it," I choke as my breath dwindles, my lungs constricting. It's becoming harder to breathe. The room is spinning and the lights above our heads are dimming. "You care for me too much."

  "Stop saying that," she growls, her face reddening with anger.

  "No," I say, however it sounds more like a groan. "I won't."

  "Shut up!"

  "You care for me. Admit it."

  She leans even closer and speaks slowly. "Think whatever you want, but the truth is, I feel nothing for you." Her grip tightens. Suddenly the lights in her eyes turn off and there's nothing there anymore. No life inside. No emotion. No Gemma. Maybe I've jumped to conclusions. Perhaps I've been wrong. Maybe she doesn't care about me like I've thought she does. And if so, I'm not sure what to do about it now that I've realized how much I care about her. There's no reversing that. She owns me now.

  It feels like I should fight back, but I don't. I have no idea whether it's because I'm confused or if I'm simply so dizzy that my strength is gone. I start to fall. Sink into darkness. I think I'm dying and Gemma is the one doing it--killing me. I can't breathe and the buzzing of the sparks is fizzling. I need to fight, yet I feel nothing...

  "I think I might love you," Gemma whispers in my ear as she holds onto me. "But I'm confused."

  "About what?" I ask, trying not to smile as I kiss her neck, my eyes shut, the cool air brushing across my skin as I breathe in her scent; lavender and vanilla. "About love?"

  "Yes," she says softly. "I'm not sure if what I'm feeling is that. Love or something else... can you tell me?"

  I tense, my eyes remaining shut. "Tell you what?"

  "What love is?" she whispers with a desperate plea in her voice, begging me to explain it to her, begging me to understand it.

  I open my mouth to say something, but no noise comes out. I want to tell her everything--exactly what I feel--but I hesitate. Confused. Terrified. If I say it aloud, then everything changes. I'll no longer be what I am. I'll be weak. Vulnerable. She'll have the power to break me, just like everyone else in my life has. My father. My mother.

  "Gemma, I..." I trail off, pulling back to look at her, but I can't see anything except darkness. It's everywhere, yet I know she's still there because I can feel the faint heat of the sparks and the touch of her breath.

  "You don't love me, do you?" she sounds on the verge of tears. "Oh, my God, I'm so stupid."

  No, you're not, I want to say, but my lips are fastened, my voice dead. I want to shout that I do love her, however for some reason I can't go to that place where I surrender.

  And with each second that slips by, I feel her drifting away...

  Chapter 5


  I've only blacked out once that I can remember.

  My father thought that the best way to teach me how to swim was to row me out into the middle of the lake and make me get into the water. After that, he left me there, saying the fear would force my swimming instincts to kick in because up until that point I had seemed to lack them. I was around ten years old, and although I had a good grasp on my emotions by then, I was still scared shitless as I struggled to stay afloat in the cold water while my father rowed away toward the shore. I gave a good fight, though; fought until the very end. I kept my eyes on the castle in the distance, hoping that if I stared at it, that somehow it'd come closer to me or I to it. Eventually it began to disappear; to slip out of my sight. I couldn't hold myself up above the water anymore, so I started to sink. Water filled my lungs. My heart struggled to keep beating. I ended up blacking out. I thought I would die-- thought that I'd never see the sky, the land, the castle again--and the scariest part of that was that there was very little fear in that thought.

  I did wake up again, though; on the shore, coughing up water with the sky above me. I thought it was my father who'd saved me, that he'd seen that I wasn't going to be able to swim and had come back to rescue me; that he cared enough about me that he didn't want me to die. But it wasn't. Aislin had been the one who swam out and saved me.

  My father had been enraged. At me for giving up. At Aislin for helping me. He'd said we were useless. That we'd never amount to anything. That he wished I'd died instead of giving up. I should have been angry at him, but instead, I felt ashamed. I spent the next week in the lake, sinking and nearly drowning until, finally, I was able to swim.

  I've tried not to rely on anyone ever since; tried to never be weakened by human emotion.


  "Can you hear me?" someone says through the haziness in my head. "Nod your head if you can?"

  I try to wobble my head around, but I can't find the strength to do it, so instead, I lie wherever I am, my body as heavy as cement.

  "Jesus, Alex," they say and I recognize the voice--Aislin. "I thought you were stronger than this?"

  I want to retort with an insult, but my lips feel weighted, sealed together. I attempt to lift my hand, yet again, I have no motion in my body.

  "Oh, for the love of God." She sounds more irritated than worried, which is typical. Aislin and I have always had one of those brother-sister relationships where we argue a shitload and get annoyed easily with one anothe

  Seconds later, I feel water splash across my face, which is ice cold of course. I'm jolted awake, my eyes shooting open. I instantly recognize where I am--on the floor of the bedroom where I've tied Gemma up. Aislin is standing above me with an empty cup in her hand. Her eyebrows are raised and her hair is singed at the ends, which means she's recently done a spell that's backfired, so nothing new.

  "Thanks," I say sarcastically as I sit up, wiping the water from my face with the back of my hand.

  "You're welcome," she replies in an upbeat tone as she sets the cup down on top of the dresser.

  I get to my feet, vertigo still evident, and the room sways, throwing me off balance. I stick out my hand and brace myself against the bedpost. "Where the hell have you been?" I ask, glancing at the bed where Gemma is laying with her eyes closed. I'd worry she's dead, but I can see her chest rising and falling with her breath. She looks at peace, sleeping, but the question is, why? What happened after I passed out that has made her go under?

  And why did I dream what I did... it didn't even feel like a dream. It felt more real than this moment right now.

  Aislin touches her hair as she frowns. "I ran into a bit of a problem at the Wicca Shop."

  I blink my eyes a few times then let go of the bedpost when I get my bearings. "Why am I not surprised? Trouble seems to center around you."

  She aims me a disgruntled look and then looks at Gemma. "Like you're doing any better. What the hell happened after I left?"

  I sit down on the foot of the bed beside Gemma's feet, feeling the electricity, which is surprisingly quiet; it's barely there, fading. It makes me nervous. "She's possessed." I lean over and point to the mark on her arm. "And from what I picked up, our lovely father put this on her," I tell her, my voice dripping with bitterness.

  She shakes her head, her eyes enlarged. "But how is that even possible?"

  I shrug and then explain to her in detail what little I know, hoping she'll have a magical solution to fix this. I can tell though, by the time that I'm finished explaining stuff to her that she's as lost as I am on what we should do,.

  "I can't believe she attacked you." She sinks down on a chair in the corner near the door that leads to the back.

  "Why?" I ask, leaning in so that my hip is against Gemma's leg, if for no other reason than because I desperately need to touch her. I get a nip of sparks, but softer than usual. "She's possessed by evil. It'd be weird if she didn't attack me."

  "I know, but..." she mulls over something deeply. "It's just crazy. I mean the mark... it's only supposed to show up on those that are evil."

  "She said she had evil blood in her," I explain. "But I'm guessing that's the words of our father, not her."

  She pulls a hesitant face. "How can you be sure, though? I mean, we hardly know anything about her family... her mother was so secretive about her father. For all we know, he could be Malefiscus."

  "Watch it," I warn. "Don't you dare go there."

  She slumps back in the chair and puts her arms on the armrests. "I have to because you're sure as hell not going to. You never think clearly when it comes to her."

  I want to yell at her and deny what she's saying, but the truth is, I don't have a clear head when it comes to Gemma. Between my lust, befuddled emotions, and the sparks all connected to her, my head's foggy every time she's near me. It fucking sucks, yet at the same time, I like the feeling of no control.... I'm extremely conflicted.

  "So do you think you can figure out a spell to take the mark off her arm?" I ask, changing the subject as Gemma lets out a loud exhale, trying to roll on her side in her sleep. The binds around her legs and one of her arms restrain her from moving too much, though, and she ends up on her back again.

  "Well, I might have," Aislin says, impatiently tapping her foot on the floor, "if your ex-girlfriend hadn't stolen my spell book. I mean, what the hell was that about? She's not even a witch." She mutters something under her breath, shaking her head in annoyance. "You know, I've always hated Stasha."

  "You and everyone else," I tell her. "Including me."

  "Then why did you date her?"

  "Why does anyone date anyone? Because they're bored."

  "That logic is a little misconstrued, Alex," she says with a sigh. "Jesus, you're so messed up sometimes." She rubs her hand across her face as she thinks for what feels like hours when in reality it's probably just a few minutes. She glances at Gemma then gets up from the chair, walks over to the bed, and examines her. "I'm surprised you used your little gift on her."

  "I didn't want to," I say, getting to my feet and wandering to the other side of the bed to stroke Gemma's cheek with my finger. "But it was my only choice."

  "Yeah, but it's her... despite how you act, when it comes to Gemma, you've always been... How do I put this? than you are to most people."

  My initial instinct is to argue, but deep down I know she's right. "There's nothing wrong with being nice sometimes," I say defensively. I then trace a line down the palm of my hand, remembering when we made the promise in a desperate act to hold onto our friendship at time where I could feel it slipping away all because of my father. "Besides, sometimes it feels like I have to be that way with her."

  Aislin glances up at me with a questioning look in her eyes. "Because of the promise?"

  "Maybe." I don't say anything further because I don't want to explain it to her; that I don't think what I'm feeling has anything to do with magic. That it's my emotions making me feel obligated. Hell, obligation may not even be the best word either since I want to protect Gemma no matter what.

  "Well, I think it's good that you're finally showing signs of being human," she says with a small smile.

  "If you say so," I mutter, letting my hand fall to my side.

  Aislin sighs then tips her head to the side, returning her attention to Gemma, who starts to stir, wiggling her fingers as if to get out. Instead, she lets out a quiet breath and relaxes as she drapes her one untied hand over her forehead, revealing the scar on the palm of her hand. Aislin leans over to study it, then her eyes land on me and light up. "I think I have an idea."

  "Good because I think I'm tapped out of them." I sit down on the bed, rake my fingers through my hair, and rest my head in my hands. "Which is a first for me, and I'm not a fan."

  "Oh, quit being a baby. You don't always have to be the one to save the day," she says, rounding the bed and stopping in front of where I'm sitting. "What I'm thinking of isn't going to take off the mark, but maybe it will get rid of the power in it temporarily until I can find a more permanent spell."

  "Okay." I raise my head and glance over my shoulder at Gemma lying on the bed. God, it's so fucked up, but she looks so sexy now; eyes shut, soft breaths escaping her parted lips. I want her--I've always wanted her. "Get it done then."

  Aislin bites on her fingernails. "It's not something I have to do." She reluctantly aims a finger at me. "It's something you have to do. Or at least it'll work better if you do it, I think."

  My brows furrow as I stand up from the bed. "What do you mean?"

  "I mean," she opens her hand, palm up, and traces a line across her palm, "That you're going to make a blood promise with her."

  I roll my eyes and shake my head with disappointment because, there for a moment, I've thought she had a real plan. "That's not going to work. Blood Promises aren't more powerful than the Mark of Malefiscus."

  Now she rolls her eyes. "Maybe under normal circumstances, but with you two, I'm betting it'll work. The connection between you is way more intense than any normal connection out there. You've both got the star in you and you have a lot of power." She taps her finger against her lip. "I'm guessing with the right promise, we can release her for a bit from the power of the mark."

  "What promise it going to do that?" I gape at her, not buying into her theory that this is going to work.

  "One you're not going to like," she says, twisting a strand of her hair around her finger as she stares at Gemma. "Then ag
ain, maybe you will."

  "Which is?"

  "Getting her to promise to listen to someone else."

  My jaw drops. "You want me to seal her to a blood promise where she has listen to me--where she's be under my control? That's fucked up."

  "It's better than the alternative," she says with a shrug. "And it's all I've got at the moment."

  "I'm not so sure about that. Making her... controlling her like that... it's wrong... She's already had too much of it in her life."

  Her brow arches with speculation. "You really do care for her, don't you?"

  Squirming uncomfortably from her accusation, I change the subject. "Even if I did make the promise, how are we supposed to get her to recite whatever I say? There's no way. Not when she's under the control of the mark."

  She ponders over this for a while, as if the thought hasn't even crossed her mind until then. The longer it goes on, the more puzzled she appears. My hope in finding an easy way out of this is dwindling. Nothing's ever easy, though. I should know that by now.