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The Underworld, Page 33

Jessica Sorensen

Page 33


  Just as I was closing my eyes to take off, the front door to the dome house swung open, and Nicholas stepped out.

  “Gemma. ” His voice echoed over the ice. “Don’t even think about leaving. ” He started to run toward me, moving slowly— feebly, like the stone had drained him of most of his energy.

  I shut my eyes, and quickly conjured up a mental picture of the massive SUV, hoping Laylen and Alex would still be at the gas station.

  “Gemma. ” Nicholas’s angry voice sounded closer.

  I squeezed my eyes shut, picturing the leather backseat of the SUV and how I had been lying down on it. I heard Nicholas call out my name again, but I was already gone.

  Chapter 29

  I landed on my back. My eyes were open and I was staring up at the vinyl ceiling of the black SUV. I shot upright, breathing heavily as I immediately skimmed my surroundings. To my amazement, the SUV was still parked at the gas station, only now instead of being parked to the side of a gas pump it was in a parking space in front of the gas station. The sun was still shining brightly, so I must have not been gone for too long.

  But where were Laylen and Alex?

  Right as I thought it, I spotted them standing not too far off in front of the car. They looked like they were arguing, stern expressions set on their faces, their arms flying as the spoke heatedly.

  I threw open the car door. “Hey,” I yelled and they both jumped.

  As soon as they saw it was me, they ran over and hopped into the car.

  “Where the heck have you been?” Alex asked, not in a rude way, but in an extremely freaked out one.

  “We have to go,” Not knowing how long it would take for Nicholas’s Foreseer power to return to him, I knew we needed to get on the road fast.

  Alex and Laylen looked at each other and then a few moments later the tires were spinning as we peeled out of the parking lot, leaving the gas station behind in a cloud of dust.

  I think it took Alex about a minute before he started firing off questions at me. Where were you? What happened? Why are your wrists bleeding? Are you okay? The last one threw me for a bit of a turn, but I answered each one, and made sure to include all the details about the Fey and the Blood Promise. I even took it upon myself to be the one to tell him that his father was definitely a descendent of Malefiscus. I also told him about Nicholas’s new mark.

  I thought when I told Alex all of this, he would freak out. Well, I mean freak out in the sense that he would deny, deny, deny, and refuse to believe such a thing about his father. Yeah, he did change a little bit over the course of the last few days, but some of the things I told him were big.

  So I was shocked when he shrugged and said, “Of course my father is a descendent of Malefiscus. I already knew that. ”

  Laylen’s head whipped in Alex’s direction. “What! I mean, yeah we all guessed he was, but…. you knew. ”

  Alex slumped back in the chair. “When I was little, my father would tell me stories of Malefiscus. ”

  “Everyone’s parents did,” Laylen pointed out as he merged the SUV into the left lane so he could pass a very slow moving minivan.

  “Yeah, but my father would tell me different stories. ” His jaw tightened. “Darker stories. ”

  “How dark of stories?” I asked, leaning forward on the console.

  “Stories of how one day a descendent of Malefiscus,” he ran his fingers through his hair, letting out a stressed breath, “would bare Malefiscus’s mark. ”

  “Those were the kind of stories your father told you when you were little. ” I stared at him, horrified. Jeez, maybe Marco and Sophia weren’t that bad.

  He shrugged. “I was a little kid, so I thought it was normal. I honestly didn’t even remember his story until you mentioned your vision and how he…” He swallowed hard. “How his parents cut off his mark. I knew then that my father had to be the descendent he always told me about. ”

  I shook my head at him. “And you didn’t bother mentioning any of this to us because…”

  “Because I don’t bother mentioning a lot of things to you. ” Alex stared out the window, with his arms folded.

  As I sat there thinking about Alex, and the way that he was, the thought that he might have been marked by Stephan, just like Nicholas had, crept back up into my mind.

  “So did you know your father could mark people with the Mark of Malefiscus?” I asked, looking at Alex.

  He shook his head. “That I didn’t. ”

  I rested my arms on the console and leaned forward even more, trying to get a better look at his face, so I could watch his expression when I asked the next question.

  “He didn’t…I mean he didn’t mark…you, did he?” I felt horrible for asking it, but we needed to know.

  He just stared at me, unblinking, not saying a word.

  “Sorry, but I had to ask,” I muttered.

  He kept staring at me with this serious look in his eyes. “Do you think I have the mark?”

  “I don’t…a…I don’t know. ” I sounded like a babbling idiot. “I don’t know what to think anymore, not with everything that’s happened. ” I tried to make eye contact with Laylen so I could signal to him to help me out with this, but he was focused on the road.

  “So what do you want me to do?” Alex cocked an eyebrow at me. “Strip off all my clothes and prove to you that I don’t have the Mark of Malefiscus anywhere?”

  “No,” I said, and then I turned my head away and bit down on my bottom lip, hoping he couldn’t feel my increasing body temperature.

  “Okay, then, I guess you’ll just have to believe me. ” There was a hint of laughter in his voice.

  Believe him. Was that possible? A week ago I’d have said there was absolutely no way I could believe him. But, I don’t know, things change. The idea of believing him didn’t seem as absurd as it once did.

  “Well, what are we going to do now?” Laylen asked suddenly.

  “We’re going to keep driving east. ” Alex dropped open the glove box. “We’ll make a plan when we meet up with Aislin. ”

  “A plan to go to The Underworld and save my mother, right?” I said.

  “If we can get the Ira back, then yes. ” He started digging though the glove box and I slipped the Ira ball out of my pocket and placed it on top of the console in a Ta-da! way. He glanced over his shoulder and his eyes widened. “Where the heck did you get that?”

  “I swiped it from Nicholas’s house before I left,” I said proudly.

  “Nice job. ” Laylen flashed me a smile through the rearview mirror.

  “Impressive,” Alex added, looking very much impressed. He picked up the Ira, lifted up the lid to the middle console, and dropped the Ira down inside. Then he returned his attention back to rummaging around in the glove box.

  “What are you looking for?” I asked, flopping back against the seat.

  “For this. ” He pulled out a first aid kit. “Your wrists need to be cleaned up. What happened to you by the way?”

  I glanced down at my semi-mutilated wrist. “Nicholas chained me up to the wall and every time I jerked at the chain the metal cuffs cut into my skin. ”

  Alex’s jaw tightened. He hopped over the console and into the backseat, opened up the first aid kit, and took out a roll of gauze and a bottle of peroxide.

  He held out his hand. “Here, let me see one of your wrists. ”

  I gave him my left one first because it looked like it’d taken the worse of it. I sat there, letting him dabbed my skin with a cotton ball soaked with peroxide, and tried hard not to wince. But then the sparks tickled at my skin, and it numbed some of the pain away.

  Even dressed in his worn out clothes, Alex was still as gorgeous as ever. I thought about Stephan being his father. Maybe that had contributed to why Alex was such a jerk most of the time and why he was the way he was. I thought about the younger Alex I saw and how he was so much different—so much more caring. Could
it be possible that that Alex still existed?

  After Alex finished cleaning my left wrist with peroxide, he asked for my other wrist. He dotted the cotton ball on my cuts, but when he was done, he didn’t wrap my wrists with gauze like I thought he would. In fact, what he did next shocked the heck out of me. He raised my wrist to his mouth, so there was only a sliver of air between his lips and my skin. Then he blew softly on my wound, causing my heart to flutter and the electricity to shimmer. I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing. He switched to the other wrist, doing the same thing, and I tried not to gasp. When he released my wrist, I opened my eyes, and found him watching me with the most intense expression on his face.

  There was something different that happened between us then. I don’t know how to describe it. The prickle was there, on the back of my neck, but I couldn’t quite place my finger on what feeling was trying to emerge. I didn’t move away when he leaned toward me, even though I knew he was going to kiss me. In fact, I was more than willing to let him kiss me. I wanted him to. But then the car came to a brake-slamming stop that sent me flying forward, but Alex caught hold of me before I made it too far.

  “Sorry,” Laylen apologized. “I thought I saw a deer in the road. ”

  I glanced around outside, but all I could see was the sage brush covering the flat land. There was nowhere for a deer to hide.

  “Do you need me to drive so you can get some rest?” Alex asked.

  Laylen shook his head. “No, I’m good. ”

  He sped up the car again, and Alex bandaged each of my wrists with gauze. I didn’t pay attention to him much, though. I was too distracted by Laylen and how strange he has been acting. Ever since he bit me, he has been acting a little off. He hadn’t done anything major, like run the streets biting people, but I was still worried that something was wrong. But I didn’t want to bring it up to Alex because I figured he would be unsympathetic. But I’ll make sure to keep an eye on him.

  Just in case.

  Chapter 30

  We drove for days. Yes, days. We drove all the way to the other side of the country, to the beautiful, but very humid, state of Maryland. The air was so heavy and moisturized there, it was like being in a sauna.

  Not too far off from the little beach house we were hiding out in was the ocean. From the room I was staying in, I could sit out on the deck and watch the ocean’s waves crash against the sandy shore. It was a fascinating thing to watch for someone who had never seen the ocean.

  The house belonged to a friend of Adessa’s, which was a good thing because that meant Stephan didn’t know where it was, nor Nicholas. When we arrived, we informed Aislin and she transported here. She had also put up some location charms, which were supposed to help make tracking us down more difficult. But at this point, I was prepared for the fact that at any given moment someone could turn up. It was only a waiting game. The question wasn’t if someone was going to show up, but when someone would. And who? The list was long.

  It was our second night here. We had all been resting from the insanity of the last few days we had. Alex was still recovering from being in the City of Crystal, and I was drained dry from all the bouncing in and out of visions. Everyone, including me, figured it’d be best to rest for a few days, and then I was going to give it a go at using the Ira. I wasn’t going to lie and say I wasn’t afraid of going to The Underworld. I’d been there before and that had been in a vision. Real life was going to be a lot worse because I wouldn’t be invisible. But I had to do it.