Cinder x, p.10
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       Cinder X, p.10

         Part #2 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 10

 

  “That’s impossible… It’d mean he’d have to have Reaper blood. And he can’t have Reaper blood because then it’d mean Asher would have Reaper blood in him, and I know that’s not true,” I say, my voice sounding a little off pitch. I can’t help having some doubt. I know hardly anything about Asher’s father, and from the few conversations we had about him, I got the impression that Asher’s father wasn’t that great. Still, it doesn’t mean he’s a Reaper.

  I push Cameron off me and kneel up on the bed. “Quit messing with my head. If Asher’s father was a Reaper then he would have told me. And you would have told me a long time ago. ”

  “Why would I have told you sooner?” Cameron asks, pressing his hand to his chest where I shoved him as if my touch burned. “I barely tell you anything that’s true. ”

  “Exactly. ”

  “Believe what you want, princess. But before you go deciding things, get your facts straight. ”

  “And how am I supposed to do that when my entire life is a fucking mind game at the moment. ”

  “Maybe by going to the source and asking him. ”

  “I would love to, if I could, but since I have no idea where Angels go to get punished by their leader, that’s not happening anytime soon. ” I pause, assessing Cameron’s reaction closely. “You wouldn’t by chance know how to bring him back, would you?”

  He looks at me like I’m a moron. “Do you think if I did, I’d tell you…” He trails off, tipping his head back with his eyes to the ceiling as he smirks. “Wait a minute. We have company. ”

  My forehead creases. “What—”

  Before I can finish, Cameron poofs into thin air with only a wisp of smoke that takes the form of a shadow left behind.

  “Oh, Emmy,” Raven singsongs, and my entire body stiffens. “Can you come downstairs? I need to talk to you. ”

  Weeks of silence and suddenly she’s barging into my home like we’re still friends? My initial reaction is to run and hide, like I’m a little kid, but I’m not a little kid and I know if I stay up here, then she’s just going to come up. So I reach for the knife I leave on my nightstand—the one I stabbed the guy with—then walk out of the room.

  When I reach the top of the stairway, I spot her standing in the foyer, twisting a strand of her bubble gum pink hair around her finger. She looks like she always does; sapphire eyes framed with glitter, glossy lips, wearing black high-heeled boots and a short dress that matches them. There are only two differences between the Raven I met when I was a kid and this one standing in front of me. This one has a fresh scar on her throat where the fake detective—that was really part of the Anamotti—slit Raven’s throat.

  “What do you want?” I start down the stairway, slipping the pocket knife into my back pocket, knowing there’s no way I’d actually use it on her, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use it on the Anamotti.

  She beams at me like there’s nothing going on, as though we haven’t been ignoring each other for weeks and that she never had secret rendezvous with my brother every night. That she’s not possessed by the Anamotti, even though the X branded on her arm suggests otherwise.

  “I just wanted to say hi to my best friend, silly. ” She meets me at the bottom of the stairs and then loops her arm through mine. I wince from the contact, her death smothering me like a heavy blanket. Standing on the ledge. Someone begs her to jump, so she does, falling to her death. She glances down at my wrists, noting the gloves I have on to cover up the lines on my skin from drinking Cameron’s life. “What’s with the arm warmers, you weirdo? You’re not even outside. ”

  “I always wear stuff like this,” I say, which is the truth and normally she wouldn’t question it.

  She flicks the edge of the fabric with her finger. “Not when you’re just hanging at the house. ” She dithers, releasing my arm with a suspicious look on her face. “Wait a minute… are you going out on a date or something?”

  “You know I have no one to go out on a date with,” I remind her; or whoever’s controlling her. “Unlike you, who seems to be going out with my brother at the moment. ” It’s a challenge. I’m not sure they’re still meeting up, but I’d like to find out.

  She doesn’t miss a beat, managing to breezily dodge my question and focus the conversation back on me. “Maybe you have a date with that guy that moved in across the street. You know, the one that creeper Cameron lived in. ”

  “His uncle?” I ask. “He’s really old. ”

  She shrugs with a malicious twinkle in her eye. “Maybe you like old dudes now. I mean, I feel like I barely know you anymore. ”

  “I’m the same as I’ve always been. ” I maintain her gaze, wishing I had that book again so maybe I could figure out a way to bring my friend back. “I think you’re the one that’s changed. ”

  “No, you’re different,” she replies. “In fact, you seem even crazier than when we first met. ”

  I shake my head, knowing she’s trying to get a rise out of me. “Raven, why are you here? Other than to insult me. Did you just stop by to see Ian?”

  “Why would I want to see Ian?”

  “Um, because you’ve been letting him paint you. ” I resist an eye roll at her feigned lack of remembering. “I know you’re his secret muse that sneaks into the house. ”

  “Oh, I haven’t done that in a few weeks,” she says, discounting the truth. “I only came over here to see you. ”

  My mouth sinks to a frown. “Why?”

  She grins. “Because we’re friends and I want to hang out. ” Then she grabs my arm again and starts to drag me towards the front door. “I thought we could have some fun like we used to. ”

  “You haven’t talked to me in weeks. ” I plant my feet firmly on the floor, refusing to budge. “And now suddenly you want us to be friends again?”

  “So I was thinking we should go bowling tonight. ” She tugs on my arm, ignoring me.

  “Bowling? Seriously? That’s why you came over here?” I refuse to move and walk into whatever trap is lying ahead of me.

  “Yeah, it’d be fun,” she says with a huge smile plastered on her face.

  “Aren’t you supposed to be in class?” I ask. “You take art on Tuesdays, right?” With Professor Morgan, who I’m supposed to be calling in like an hour.

  “Aren’t you supposed to be in class?” she retorts in a whiney sing-song. We stare each other down until she ultimately lets go of my arm and then stomps her foot against the floor. “Oh, come on, go bowling with me. Please? It’ll be fun. ”

  “No way,” I say, retreating for the living room. “It would be weird and awkward like this whole conversation. ”

  “What do you mean?” She tilts her head, confounded. “There’s nothing weird about this conversation. We’re just two best friends hanging out. ”

  I stop backing away when I reach the doorway of the living room and then point at the front door. “No, we’re not and you should go. ”

  Now, Ember, is that any way to speak to your best friend. Cameron’s voice reemerges in my head.

  How the hell do I get you out of my head? I say loudly inside my head.

  You don’t.

  I hate you.

  No you don’t. You want me, more than you’d like to admit.

  “Shut up. ” I don’t mean to say it out loud, but it slips out.

  Raven gapes at me like I’ve lost it. “Em, are you okay?”

  I cross my arms over my chest. “Oh, like you already don’t know that I’m not okay. That nothing is okay. ”

  She doesn’t know about me, Cameron hisses in my head. I already told you I’m not part of the Anamotti and that Reapers hate me and my family, and if you know what’s best for you, you won’t utter a word to her about me.

  Well, if that’s what you don’t want me to do, then it’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m not really planning on telling her, just making a threat. When I open my mouth, my jaw snaps shut of its own accord.

&nbs
p; I guess we’re going to do this the hard way then. He sighs, like he’s so disappointed. I really would rather not, but you give me no choice.

  Suddenly, my mouth turns upward into an enormous grin as I span my hands out to the sides of me. “I’d love to go bowling. ” The voice belongs to me, but I’m not controlling it; I’m suddenly nothing more than a puppet, just like everyone else at school.

  Cameron, knock it off! I try to run towards the stairs and grab ahold of the railing, but my feet remain planted in place.

  No, you need to go with her. It’s important. He sounds serious, which is weird for him. It might help us figure some stuff out.

  Us? There is no us. With a loud grunt, I manage to get my foot up and then step back very ungracefully, bumping my hip into the corner table.

  “Shall we?” I ask Raven in a very cordial tone.

  Cameron chuckles. Shall we? I guess I probably should have done better than that.

  I feel a hot sensation whisk through my body and then he swiftly takes over, making my legs move, bringing my knees up a little too far so it looks like I’m marching in a parade. Raven follows after me with a perplexed look on her face as I stumble to the door.

  “Are you sure you’re okay?” Raven asks as I open the front door and stumble over the threshold. Sunlight shines down on me, yet I feel like I’m stuck in the shadows. In the cold.

  You’re feeling me, he explains. I know it’s not the best sensation, but bear with me.

  “I’m fine. ” My mouth moves as I trip down the stairway and onto the lawn. “I’m perfectly okay. ” I plaster a smile on my face, but on the inside I feel completely hollow. So cold. As though I’m losing control of who I am as well as what makes me feel things. I think I could do anything at the moment—good or bad—and be okay with it.

  Cameron, what is that? Why is everything so cold? It feels almost like that night in the room when the shadow dove into me.

  I have no idea what you’re talking about, he says. I can’t tell if he’s telling the truth or not. But that coldness you feel is the feeling of death, he explains. You’re feeling me right now and the energy of the souls I’ve stolen. I’m part of you at the moment, Ember; part of your mind, body and soul. I just wish I could figure out how to take it. And who knows, maybe you’ll break down and tell me.

  Part of my soul?

  Oh, God. I’m in deep shit.

  Chapter 6

  The cops that are always parked out in front of my house are gone, probably taking one of their very rare breaks. The sun is shining down on the neighborhood, but it’s eerily quiet with everyone too afraid to step outside or something. Leaves shower from the trees and land on the frosted ground, crunching underneath my boots.

  “I made them leave,” Raven states as we cross the piece of lawn between our houses to her car parked in the driveway next door.