The promise, p.10
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       The Promise, p.10

         Part #4 of Fallen Star series by Jessica Sorensen
 
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Page 10

 

  Well, look at you two. Hiding out, like two frightened little kids.

  Laylen s tall, pale silhouette slid out from the shadows and into the light of the porch.

  Son of a,

  Alex muttered, aiming the knife at Laylen.

  A grin crept up on Laylen s face as he showed us his fangs.

  I thought you d be happy. I m finally what you always saw me as a killer.

  Alex began to speak, but a voice rose above his.

  Maybe he always saw you for what you were supposed to be.

  Aislin appeared out of nowhere, golden hair sparkling in the moonlight. An eerie grin strained at her lips as she stroked Laylen s shoulder.

  What we were both supposed to be.

  Their forearms were marked with a triangle outlining a red, Greek-like symbol the Mark of Malefiscus. It stained their hands red and made them grin in a way that shot a shiver down my spine.

  Get us out of here,

  Alex hissed, but I couldn t seem to take my eyes off them. They were evil now and I knew they would hurt us. And where was Aleesa? She was marked too, the last time I d seen her. Had they lost her?

  She s fixated by me,

  Laylen said, sweeping his hair back.

  She s remembering the bite and how good it felt.

  I touch my neck, memories iridescent in my mind.

  I think &

  Gemma.

  Alex put a hand under my chin, and the nick of his skin ripped me out of my daze.

  Get us out of here.

  This time I shut my eyes and pictured the first place that came to mind. We d escaped there before. Viva Las Vegas. But something was stuck blocking me from going. I opened my eyes and caught Laylen and Aislin swapping knowing smiles.

  They have praesidium on them,

  I whispered.

  There s nothing I can do. Unless we run.

  Alex s fighting face elevated to the challenge. He spun and within seconds, his body rammed into Laylen s. They collided to the frost-bitten ground, turning into an enormous snowball rolling around as they threw punches and cracked knuckles at each other. My gaze zipped to Aislin, who was watching me with cruelty in her eyes.

  Sucks doesn t it.

  She twirled her hair around her finger carelessly as she took lazy steps toward me.

  Feeling so vulnerable, yet you can t do anything about it.

  I got the feeling that this was much deeper than just the Mark of Malefiscus.

  I had to sit there and watch you bat your eyes at him like some kind of lovesick girl.

  Her high-heeled boots clicked against the ice.

  Watch the way he looked at you until it almost drove me mad.

  She was right in front of me, our eyes locked, waiting for the right time to make the first move.

  But those days are almost over. Soon you ll be gone dead, rotting in the ground.

  She s not herself.

  Aislin, you don t have to do this. We re friends.

  Friends?

  she whispered and then her hands ignited.

  Without hesitation, I attack, slamming into her and sending us to the ground. Her hands burnt out when they hit the snow. I landed on top of her, not sure what to do. This was Aislin, mark or no mark, and I didn t want to hurt her. But then she got this look in her eyes, like she would do anything to hurt me. As her hand lifted, I smacked my knuckles hard into her cheek.

  Sorry,

  I apologized like an idiot.

  She laughed, throwing her head at me and flipping us to the side. My head smack the ground, spots of snow stinging my eyes. I reached for her coat pocket, knowing that was where the praesidium had to be. But she bit my hand and I let out a painful cry. More garbage cans toppled over as Alex and Laylen rolled farther away.

  My distraction allowed her to bit me again, cutting my skin this time. And that was it. I d had enough. I clocked her again, this time not holding back. While she was recovering, I tore her pocket open, the purple marble of praesidium bouncing onto the ice. She grabbed my hand as I reach for it. I slide my legs over, nudging it with my shoe, and watched as it barreled for Laylen and Alex.

  Then I shoved away from Aislin, trying to get to Alex, so I could take us away from here. But Aislin grasped my ankle, flinging me back down to the ground. I braced myself against the ice, turning over in time to see a ball of light moving for me.

  I didn t think.

  I just went.

  Gemma 18

  (Gemma)

  Somehow I made it away, landing on the checker boarded living room floor. But I wasn t alone. A crazed Aislin was still gripping onto my leg, her eyes wide and murderous.

  I have to take you to him,

  she said, dazed and rabid.

  I have to take you to him.

  Her nails dug into my arms.

  Adessa!

  I screamed, praying the witch was home and wasn t inked with the mark.

  By the scared look on Aislin s face, I was guessing she didn t. Aislin knew she was in trouble. But the house was as still as a statue and she relaxed, her fear replaced by delight.

  Guess she s not home.

  Aislin leapt to her feet.

  Duratus.

  I scurried to my feet, but the giant ball of light hurtled into my chest. At first, I thought she d taken my life like the last witch. But then my muscles went rigid and I lost all control of my body. I crumpled to the black and white tiled floor, my head clipping the corner of the apothecary table. My brain sung and my body throbbed.

  Her fingers reached for my locket.

  Guess it s not working anymore, or maybe I m just too strong for sugilite.

  She snapped the chain from my neck, coiling it around her finger.

  It s an immobilizing spell by the way.

  Her clarification was unnecessary since I couldn t move

  Sucks doesn t it not being the one in control.

  She smacked her lips together.

  I m not sure what to do with you.

  She roamed around the room, running her fingers along the knickknacks on the shelf. She picked up a figurine of a woman with beautiful wings a Black Angel. She turned it in her hand.

  You know I m supposed to take you to my father. The mark s begging me to. But I don t know. I d like to see you suffer a little before I do that.

  She stared at the figurine with a spiteful look in her eyes I didn t like.

  I ll be right back,

  she said, like she had just created the most evil plan in the world.

  Don t go anywhere.

  Then she grinned and with a swish of her hands, vanished in a cloud of smoke.

  That was a new trick too apparently being evil made her more powerful.

  All I could do was wait there helplessly until she came back.

  Adessa had a dripping faucet somewhere in the house. It was driving me crazy as I lay on the floor, wondering what on earth Aislin was going to return with. Even though she was working with the dark side, part of me hoped it wouldn t be that bad. She was Aislin. But deep down, I knew it didn t matter. She had been brainwashed by the most evil man I knew Stephan.

  Finally, I heard a thump from inside the house. It was time to find out what Aislin was going to do to me.

  But it wasn t Aislin who entered the room.

  Adessa s golden cat-shaped eyes landed on me.

  Gemma.

  I tried to nod, but my head was a numb useless lump.

  Why are you &

  She glanced around as if she sensed something was wrong. Then she swept her long black hair out of her face and knelt down beside me. She inspected me over and then she yelled,

  liberum.

  I was instantly free and jumped to my feet, wanting to get as far away from this place as possible.

  We have to get out of here.

  Why?

  she asked.

  Gemma, why are you here?
r />   I gave her a quick recap of all the stuff that had been happening.

  So Aislin has the mark, but she can remove the mark?

  She ambled the room, her long navy dress flowing the floor.

  And you don t know where she went?

  I shook my head, urging her toward the doorway.

  That s why we need to get out of here.

  Adessa held up her hand.

  We don t need to go anywhere. We can fix this.

  Suddenly, I feared she might be marked. My eyes took in her arms and neck, the places where it was most likely to be hidden. But her honey skin was mark free.

  Do you remember how she did it?

  Adessa asked.

  How Aislin removed the mark?

  Kind of,

  I said.

  I mean, yeah, I think so.

  Tell me and try to remember every little detail,

  she said, taking a seat on the purple velvet sofa.

  She could come back any minute,

  I warned.

  We should go.

  Adessa deliberated this and then stretched her hand, pointing to the ceiling.

  Me tenebris et tueri nos.

  A dark cloud rotated from her hand, casing the ceiling with a smoky sheet of black.

  There.

  She dusted her hands off.

  We have a few minutes. Now go ahead and try to explain it to me.

  My eyes were wide as I took a seat.

  The first thing she did was go to the graveyard to summon some kind of witch spirit to give her more power. Then she created the spell. First, she cuts into the middle of the mark so that blood drips out.

  To bleed out the evil.

  Adessa nodded, understanding.

  Yes, that makes sense.

  Then she inserts some potion I think she called it Vitis vinifera, which is supposed to free them from the evil connection,

  I said.

  Then the last thing she does is chant some sort of spell & liberare vos ligaveris.

  God, I hoped that was right.

  Adessa looked like it was making sense. She hopped to her feet, threw open the apothecary table, and it was filled with baggies of herbs. She took one out.

  Does this look like the Vitis vinifera she used?

  The green crushed leaves did look familiar.

  I think so. But it doesn t matter if you have all the stuff. You need the power of that ghost flame woman.

  Adessa s eyes were kind.

  Has Laylen ever told you anything about me?

  I wasn t sure how she wanted me to answer.

  Um & a little.

  Well, did he ever mention how old I was?

  I shook my head, not daring to utter an age, afraid if I said something older, she d freak out like Sophia use to do. Thinking about my cold-hearted grandmother, sent a chill down my back. I hated thinking about the soulless years I spent with her. I remembered when Aislin finally broke down and told me Sophia and Marco were dead. She d discovered this information when she d been trying to locate Keepers with a Tracker Spell, only the spell had informed her they no longer existed, which meant they had to be dead. The Tracker Spell didn t explain how they died though, but I knew that Stephan was probably behind it somehow. Just like he was behind most deaths.

  Honestly, I d had mixed feelings about their deaths. I was sad, but at the same time empty. I understood they d been brainwashed during all those years of torture, yet the cold and harsh way they d treated me was still a fresh wound. I d spent much of my life being ignored by them as they let me sink into a lonely hole.

  I m one-hundred and fifty-eight,

  Adessa replied and I blinked out of my trance.

  And do you know how I lived this long without aging?

  I shook my head and she rose to her feet.

  Because I m powerful.

  I hated to break it to her, but if she was that powerful, she would have figured out her own spell. As if to prove me wrong, she flung her hands out to her side. Her head fell back, chin tipped to the smoky ceiling.

  Isabella, come to me!

  A fire burst through the air and the flaming woman materialized, letting out a deafening wail. I covered my ears as Adessa chanted magic under her breath, finally settling the fire woman down.

  You ve been hiding something from me Isabella,

  Adessa warned.

  Is there something you d like to tell me?

  The fire woman hissed flames at Adessa s face.

 
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