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       The Vision, p.10

         Part #3 of Fallen Star series by Jessica Sorensen
Page 10


  “Are you okay?” I finally asked.

  He didn’t answer right away. “I don’t know. ”

  “You had me worried,” I told him truthfully.

  “I know,” he said. “I’m sorry. I just freaked out when your mom told me this was done on purpose to me…I didn’t do anything, though…I didn’t bite anyone. ”

  “You could have talked to me,” I said. “Instead of running away. ”

  He took a shaky breath. “You have your own problems. ”

  “It doesn’t matter,” I said. “I’ll always be there for you, just like you are for me. ”

  He let out a relived breath as if he had been waiting for me to say those exact words.

  “You and I are in this together. ” I looked him straight in the eye. “Promise me you won’t run away again. ”

  He took my hand and gave it a squeeze. “Okay. We’re in this together. ”

  About ten minutes later, we were getting ready to leave. Which was a good thing, at least for me, since nine out of those ten minutes, Stasha gave me the stink eye. It made me extremely uneasy and for some reason, I kept thinking of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart. ”

  We were transporting back to the beach house, which I was thankful for. The last thing I wanted to do right now was get in a moving vehicle. Even though the Chevy Tahoe was a monstrous beast, it still took quite the beating when it had rammed into the Death Walker and the telephone pole.

  All five of us were sitting in Stasha’s living room. Aislin had her candle lit and crystal in hand. I went to take my necklace off, to avoid repelling Aislin’s magic back on her, when I realized it was missing.

  “Oh, no. ” I touched my neck, panicking. “Where’s my necklace?”

  “Calm down,” Alex said. “I took it off when Aislin transported us here—I left it on the nightstand in the room you were in. ”

  I nodded and headed off to the bedroom, but the necklace wasn’t on the night stand. I searched the bedroom floor, in the bed, under the bed. I even checked the bathroom I puked my guts out in. But nothing. No necklace.

  Okay, so I really didn’t want to be the girl who cried over losing a piece of jewelry, but I was going to be if I didn’t find it.

  “Crap,” I muttered with a light stomp of my foot.

  “Looking for this?”

  I spun around. Stasha. She was standing just inside the doorway, her glove-covered hand up in front of her, something shiny and silver dangling from her finger.

  “Why do you have that?” I asked, reaching to take the necklace.

  She pulled her hand back. “I wasn’t giving it back to you. ”

  Okay, I had a feeling this was going to be fun. “Please give it back?” I asked, trying to keep my tone as polite sounding as possible.

  With a sardonic grin on her face, she shook her head and I was unexpectedly reminded of Kelsey Merritt, a girl I used to go to school with who loved to torture me. Of course Stasha was a little different, seeing how she could kill me with her touch.

  “I know girls like you. ” She strutted into the room, swinging the necklace around on her finger. “Sad. Lonely. Pathetic. God, I can’t believe Alex would even have the slightest bit of interest in you. ”

  Alright, so in the past, I had let girls like Stasha walk over me, but today was different—I was different. Honestly, I just wanted to shove her down. So I did. She looked shocked as she fell backward toward the floor and landed on her butt. I seized the opportunity to snatch the necklace away from her. Then, I ran like hell. I was not stupid enough to stick around and face the wrath of a girl who could kill me simply by touching me. But I didn’t make it very far down the hall before something wrapped around my ankle and yanked me flat on my face. I kicked my leg, thinking I would nail her in the head, but I didn’t hit anything.

  I glanced behind me and realized it was not Stasha that knocked me to the floor. It was…well, it was the freaky plant vines that dangled from the ceiling. They were alive or something.

  Stasha walked slowly toward me, and I opened my mouth to scream, but another vine wrapped around my mouth, silencing any noise from escaping. She knelt down in front of me and leaned into my face.

  “You should know better than to mess with someone like me,” she whispered, pulling off one of her gloves.

  She should know better than to mess with me, I thought, wishing I could say it out loud, but couldn’t because of the vine’s death-grip around my mouth.

  She reached her deathly hand toward me, ready to touch me, ready to kill. Crazy lunatic. How could Alex have dated this nut job?

  I shut my eyes, and formed a mental picture of the beach just outside the beach house, just enough of a distance away that the Praesidium wouldn’t get in my way. I could hear the ocean waves crashing onto the sandy shore. I could see the moon beaming down from the sky. I could feel the salty air kissing against my cheeks.

  “What are you doing?” Stasha asked, her voice muffled.

  I kept my eyes shut, focusing on the picture. “Take me there,” I whispered, and I could almost feel the sand in my toes.

  But then a hand grabbed my arm and I felt nothing but fire.

  Chapter 10

  My face smacked against the sand. I scrambled to my feet and ran over to the ocean. My arm was burning up—it had to be on fire. But there were no flames on my skin.

  I dunked my arm into the salty water, expecting relief, but instead getting more pain. I let out a jaw-clenched scream, and ran for the beach house. It hurt so much, I could barely stand it. Was I going to drop dead at any moment?

  I felt around in the dark until I found the kitchen light and flipped it on. I stumbled over to the sink, turned the faucet on, and submerged my arm underneath the cold water. It helped…a little.

  I don’t know how long I stood there, gasping for air, letting the water drench the skin on my arm, as I waited for the pain to subside, but I was guessing it was quite a while. Finally, the fiery pain dwindled down, but it left in its place a few olive-green lines that traced across my veins on the lower half of my arm.

  I touched the lines with my finger, pulling a face. I sure hoped it wasn’t permanent.

  I put my locket on and headed for the front door, to go look for a phone so I could call Aislin and tell her I was at the house. But as I went to shut the door behind me, I heard a soft poof.

  I whirled around. A cloud of purple haze swirled through the room, and Alex, Laylen, and Aislin were standing in the center of it. They were all freaked out, eyes wide, mouths agape. Alex was the first to come running up to me, his bright green eyes wide with panic.

  “Are you—are you okay?” he asked, rushing for me. He opened his arms, as if to hug me, but them stop and pulled back.

  I didn’t take it personally. It was a good thing—we had been too touchy-feely already. But my insides tightened with the desire for his arms to be wrapped around me. I wanted him to hug me so badly I could barely stand it.

  “I’m fine. ” My voice shook, giving away what I was feeling.

  His eyes were all over me. “What did she do to you?”

  I held out my arm, showing him the olive-green lines tracing my veins. “Her plants attacked me and then she touched me…. you know, you could have warned me about the plants. ”

  He cursed under his breath and examined my arm over without actually touching my skin. His gaze was enough, though, to dust a murmur of sparks across my skin. To make them stop, I moved my hand away and took a step back.

  “It’s not permanent, is it?” I asked worriedly.

  Alex bit at his bottom lip. “It is. ”

  I shook my head. “Great. Now I’m always going to have a reminder of when your ex-girlfriend tried to kill me. ”

  Something about what I said set something off between the four of us. I don’t know who laughed first, but suddenly we were all laughing hysterically. Maybe it was because we were all tired, or maybe it was be
cause the idea that Alex’s ex-girlfriend would try to kill me sounded so ridiculous; yet it was true.

  So we all stood there and had our little laughing moment, until the darkness settled over us again and we had to move on.

  In the living room, we all gathered around the mapping ball, the star-shaped light in the center illuminating a purple glow across each of our faces as Alex and Aislin and I explained to Laylen what had been going on while he was gone.

  “So what do we do now?” I choked. “Now that…Nicholas is gone. ”

  After I had gone to get the mapping ball out of its hiding place, I had asked Alex what exactly happened to Nicholas—he didn’t just leave him on the side of the road, did he? Alex told me no, and that when one of the fey die, the fey themselves take care of them.

  I wondered if fey had funerals? I wondered how they would mourn Nicholas? Did fey shed tears over death? Would they gather and tell stories of Nicholas?

  “We need to make a plan?” Aislin said, twirling her hair around her finger as she thought.

  Alex gave her a duh look. “Thanks for clarifying the obvious, Aislin. ”

  Aislin fired a glare at him. “Don’t be rude. ”

  “We need to go to the City of Crystal,” I picked up the mapping ball from off the coffee table and turned it around in my hands, “so I can get inside this thing. ”

  “You don’t even know how to use it. ” Alex said. “Nicholas never explained it to you. ”

  “I know. ” I gave Alex the same duh look he shot at Aislin. “But I do know I need to get the power from that big crystal ball inside the City of Crystal. I just need to figure out how to bring the power back. ”

  “Gemma, you need to know exactly what you’re doing before you even try to go to the City of Crystal,” Alex told me, leaning over the coffee table, his eyes stressing the danger. “It’s quite the risk sneaking in there when you aren’t sure how to get the power. ” He reached over and took the mapping ball from me, with his thinking face on.

  “Maybe there’s another Foreseer we can ask,” Aislin suggested.

  If only it were that easy. Involving another Foreseer would mean involving another person in what was going on, which was extremely risky. Besides, I was beginning to question what side the Foreseers played on. I mean, look at my father.

  “Maybe you could ask your father,” Laylen said, twisting at his lip ring. “I mean, you’ve been there once, so why can’t you go there again. ”

  Alex opened his mouth to argue, but then he looked at me. “Could you go back there? Do you know how?”

  I considered this. When I had gone there, it was totally by accident. I mean, I didn’t even know exactly what or where the place was.

  “I don’t know. . . . ” I chewed on my fingernails. “I’m not sure what my father would even do if I was able to get back to wherever he was. He wouldn’t tell me hardly anything the last time I was there. ”

  “Well, you’ll just have to make him,” Alex looked me straight in the eye. “Tell him you can’t fix his mistakes, unless he tells you how and what they are. ”

  I was still hesitant. “I think I need to talk to my mom. I mean, she might know something about all this. ” I glanced at the seashell clock hanging on the tan wall. Wow. It was late. I gave Aislin a funny look. “Shouldn’t my mom be here by now?”