Darkness breaks, p.10
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       Darkness Breaks, p.10

         Part #2 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
Page 10


  “Okay…” He waits.

  “I think you might have some of my memories inside your head,” I explain again, now that he’s listening. “I think Monarch might have put them in there to protect them. ”

  He rubs his hand across his face, taking it in. “How would he do that?”

  “I have no idea. ” I shrug. “I thought maybe you knew something about it. ”

  “I don’t, but you might. ” He touches his fingertip to my temple. “It’s just locked away in here. ”

  My skin tingles from his touch. “Or maybe it’s in your head. ”

  “Here’s a thought. ” Sylas’ sudden closeness is disrupting. “Maybe someone has the gift to extract memories and place them inside someone else’s head. ”

  I spin on my heels and he’s right behind me. He’s pulled the hood of his black jacket over his head and his hands are tucked in his sleeves. But it’s not easy for him to be out in the open grayness of the afternoon. His skin is red, sweat dews his forehead, and his strength is weakened.

  “Like Emmy,” I suggest. “Or did you already know that. ”

  He presses his lips together. His gaze elevates over my head, past us and to Ryder.

  I gape at him. “You’ve got to be kidding me. ”

  “Don’t listen to him, Kayla,” Aiden cautions. “He’s just messing with your head. ”

  “No he’s not. He’s telling the truth. ” I lower my voice. “Does she know she can do it?”

  “There’s only one way to find out. ” He steps for Ryder, coughing from the light.

  I push him back. “I’ll get it out of her. You go back in the shade. ”

  He grins impishly and winks. “Don’t be too rough on her, Kayla. Even as a human, you could still take her any day. ”

  I start to smile, but hastily erase it. I advance toward Ryder and Aiden falls into step with me.

  “You two seem to be getting along,” he notes with disapproval. “I guess you don’t regret your decision to leave us then. ”

  “I had to leave, Aiden. ” I sigh, avoiding his eyes. “At the time, Emmy seemed like my only option to get my memories out of my head. ” I let out a huge breath, stop, and face him. “But it turned out I could get some of them out on my own, and without harming myself. But not the important ones. Those are the ones Monarch locked away in your head. ”

  “I told you we’d find a way. ” He frowns. “I knew I had some of them in my head and together we could put them all together. I was just waiting for you to catch up. ”

  “You could have just told me. It would have saved us a lot of time if you did. But instead, you were always lying to me. ”

  “You lied too,” he retorts. “We both lied, but I lied to protect you, Juniper. I care about you more than you realize. ” He points a finger at Sylas with an ache in his heart. “And way more than he does. ”

  “Aiden. ” I calm my voice. “The fact of the matter is, I don’t really know either of you, so I have to decide things for myself. At the time, I thought it was best to leave. But I didn’t mean to hurt you. ”

  “I hate to break up your little moment,” Ryder interrupts. “But Aiden and I need to get back to the hillside before dark. ”

  Aiden keeps his eyes on me, even when I look up at Ryder. “Is there any way to extract a memory and hide it in someone else’s head?”

  She pulls a disgusted face. “What kind of stupid question is that?”

  “The kind you need to answer. ” I square my shoulders, preparing to beat it out of her if I have to.

  “She doesn’t know anything,” Aiden assures me. “I know Ryder better than anyone and if she knew how to do it, she’d tell me. ”

  “Exactly,” Ryder sways her head with attitude.

  I clasp her wrist, feeling her lie pulsing through her veins. “No, she knows a hell of a lot more than you think. ”

  “Kayla. ” Aiden swats my hand away. “Knock it off. You’re acting like one of them. ”

  I miss my fighting skills. I know just the right places to hit them and they’d fall over and take a light nap without any permanent damage. But I don’t have the strength anymore.

  Ryder side swipes me and we tumble to the sand. A swish and Sylas is beside us. He takes a punch at Aiden while Ryder flips us over and crunches her knuckles against my cheek.

  My jaw pops loudly. I groan, clutching my cheek.

  Ryder grins. “I’ve wanted to do that ever since the day you showed up. ”

  Her fist dives for my face again, but I block it and put all my strength into shoving her back, even going as low as digging my fingernails into the back of her hand.

  “Ow,” she whines, wincing. She punches her free hand at me and I snatch hold of it. I inhale, summoning any inner strength lingering in my human body, and overturn us. Her back hits the ground and she lets out a groan.

  “Ryder,” I try to reason with her. “Just tell me. No one has to get hurt. ”

  “The only person who’s going to get hurt is you. ” She tries to bite my hand and that’s when nice Kayla goes away.

  I slap her face hard. Her cheek stings red and my hand throbs.

  Sylas appears, grinning from ear to ear. “Nice. ” His head is still tucked under his hood and his fingers are shielded by his sleeves. Behind him, Aiden lies in the sand, hands slack to the side, mouth parted, eyes shut.

  “You didn’t kill him, did you!” I exclaim as Ryder tugs on my hair.

  He shakes his head. “Nah, he’s just taking a little nap. ”

  Ryder takes another blow at me. I lean back and her knuckles clip the tip of my nose.

  “A little help here please. ” I struggle to pin Ryder’s arms down.

  “What would be the fun in helping?” He licks some blood off his lips. “Honestly, I’m kind of enjoying this. ”

  “Sylas, please,” I beg as the last of my strength diminishes and Ryder jerks my head down.

  “Oh fine. ” He grabs Ryder’s arm and dips his teeth into her wrist.

  She screams as blood seeps down her arm. Her jaw slacks open and her head wobbles to the side.

  I frown up at him. “How am I supposed to get the answers from her if she’s unconscious?”

  He kneels down on the ground, wipes the blood from his mouth, and turns her head to the side. On the back of her neck is a red circular symbol that winds around itself, shrinking to a small dot in the center.

  “What is that?” I slide off Ryder and kneel next to Sylas. “Is it her experiment number?”

  He presses his lips together. “This isn’t a number. It’s a symbol. ” He scratches his head. “I’ve seen this before. ”

  “How did you even know it was there?”

  “I have no idea. ” He tells the truth.

  Blood dribbles from my cheek. Sylas drags his finger across it and then sucks the blood off. Disregarding him, I sit cross-legged on the ground, noticing the deepening sky.

  “I’ve seen that symbol before…” I pull the pocket watch out and show Sylas the back. “It’s the same. ”

  He steals the watch from my hand and rubs his thumb along the circular lines. Then he glances at the symbol on Ryder’s neck. “It’s exactly the same. ”

  “I know. ” I take the watch from him and press the back of it to Ryder’s neck. “It’s a perfect match. ” Hot energy zaps through the metal. I drop the watch in the sand and suck on my burnt fingertip. “It’s hot. ”

  Sylas scoops up the watch and stares at the numbers encompassing the front. “It’s glowing. ”

  I lean in to get a closer look. Six numbers glow a light blue and stand out against the rest. I turn my numbered wrist over and move it next to the watch.

  “Three match. ” Sylas gets the strangest look on his face and then he crawls across the sand to Aiden.

  I hop up and follow him. “What are you…”

  Sylas has the watch against Aiden’s marked wrist. The unmatchable three numbers match
three on his wrist. “Jackpot. ”

  I squat down beside him and turn the watch over. “But it still doesn’t tell us how this is the key to ending the world. Or what it does. Or what we’re supposed to do with it. ”

  “You’re supposed to program each other with it. ” Ryder’s voice makes us jump.

  Sylas shoves me behind him and I face plant it in the sand. He bares his fangs at Ryder. “Are you looking for another fight?”

  “Oh, back down guard dog. ” Ryder plays tough on the outside, but she’s terrified on the inside.

  I spit the sand from my mouth and wobble to my feet. “Did you say program?”

  “Yeah, but I’m not going to do it. ” Ryder backs away, her eyes refusing to leave the watch. “He can’t make me do it. No one can. I’m not a part of that life anymore. ”

  “Sylas isn’t going to hurt you, Ryder,” I lie, because I can feel that’s what he’s planning on doing. “We just need your help using the watch. ”

  Sylas’ eyebrow arcs up. “I’m not going to hurt her?”

  I weave around him. “Is the watch what can get my memories out of Aiden and into me?” Fear is rushing off her wildly and it knocks the breath out of me.

  “It hurts,” she whispers, her eyes wide. “Endless pain. I told him to let me do something else—to let me do your job instead, but he said I felt too much to follow through with it and that he’d already messed me up anyway. ” She’s contemplating bolting. “I don’t ever want to go back to being that stupid girl behind the red door. All by herself. ”

  “No one’s going to—”

  She sprints off across the desert, her legs hammering to escape her fear.

  “You’re turning soft,” Sylas remarks. “The old Kayla would have beaten the answers out of her. ”

  I watch Ryder sprint past the hills. “I’m not strong enough to do that anymore. ”

  “That and you’re starting to feel too much. ” He heads after Ryder. “Humanity doesn’t just weaken your strength on the outside, but on the inside as well. ”

  I shake my head. “Sylas, don’t hurt her…” Maybe he’s right. I am weakening on the inside. As he chases after Ryder, I turn back to Aiden, who’s beginning to squirm. “Are you okay?”

  Clutching his head, he sluggishly sits up. “Where is he?”

  “Chasing down Ryder. ” I return the watch to my pocket and gaze at the sky. “Darkness is falling. We should find a place to hide. ”

  “You’ll be fine. It’s the rest of us that should be running. ” He stands and wipes his bleeding arm on his pants. “I can’t believe he bit me. He’s getting way to comfortable with that. ”

  I touch his wrist and rub my thumb across the numbers, thinking how Monarch said he messed Aiden up. I think about bringing it up, but I can’t.

  He shivers, his lips quiver to kiss me. “Kayla, I—”