Cinder x, p.12
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       Cinder X, p.12

         Part #2 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 12

 

  Is she… is she one of them? I mean, is that even possible? To change into one? I ask Cameron, not wanting to trust him, but I don’t have a choice at the moment. I can’t even feel my legs and arms anymore.

  She’s possessed, yes, but she’s not one of them… yet. Yes, it’s possible, though. To die and become a Reaper if under the possession for too long.

  I manage to glance down at my arms, noting that they’re shaking from the fear I’m sure I feel, yet the coldness inside me blocks it out.

  You won’t die, princess. Relax.

  That’s not what I’m upset about. Well, not the only reason.

  I hate thinking about how Asher risked breaking the rules to save Raven. On the night I first met Asher, he was supposed to collect Raven’s soul after Landon tried to rape and kill her but instead he killed Landon because he said he saw in my eyes that Raven meant a lot to me. And now look at her; possessed and fraternizing with the enemy. Asher’s risk was all for nothing and now he’s being punished for it.

  Is she… are they going to hurt me? I ask Cameron with my eyes fixed on Raven while she throws her head back and laughs as the cashier guy leans on the counter eyeing her with want.

  No, but they’re going to fuck with your head. That’s why they brought you here. They’re trying to break you down quickly and hopefully get you arrested for the murders.

  I swallow hard, frozen in place even though I want to run. That’s why they sent Raven to get me today? She’s setting me up, right? But I don’t get it. Why would she ever think I’d come with her when she knows I know she’s under the control of the Anamotti. Isn’t she even a little suspicious of why I just came with her without much of a fight?

  Well, I think, if you didn’t willingly come here, he says. Then they probably would have forced you to. He pauses. And here’s the really crazy part of all this; I’m going to need you to play along with whatever they try to do to you. Let them think they’ve got into your head, like they did back at the Halloween dance, let them think you’re caving to them so they’ll let their guard down… let things slip. Make mistakes.

  I try to inch towards the door, but to no avail. No. Way. I need to leave, Cameron. I can’t get arrested again.

  You can’t go yet. I need you to find out… He trails off.

  Cameron, I need more details if—

  “Hey, Emmy. ” Raven appears in front of me with a pair of shoes in each of her hands and a fake smile on her face. “You ready for this?”

  I clear my throat several times before Cameron lets me speak again. “Absolutely. ” I take the shoes she offers me and then weave through the crowd towards a bench at the back near the cubbies, practically skipping.

  Cameron, please tone down the skipping. I don’t walk like this.

  He laughs, but then sighs. Yeah, you’re right. That’s more of a Raven thing.

  My feet slow as I reach the cubby area in the corner. I fight to breathe as hundreds of deaths pour through me like liquid fire, scorching my skin, as I walk through the crowd. Fire. Drowning. Hanging. Pain. Blood. Solitude. It singes the back of my throat as I taste each one, but I inhale through my nose and feel Cameron trying to help me stay calm. When I sink down on the bench, I breathe freely as the crowd parts and opens up. I hear balls rolling down the lanes behind me, crashing against the pins as I slip off my boots and tuck them into a cubby.

  Raven drops down beside me and slips her foot out of her boot. “So, what do you think?”

  I glance up at her as I tie my shoe. “About what?”

  She kicks off her other boot and then wiggles her foot into her shoe. “About this place, duh. ” She rolls her eyes at me.

  I shrug as I tie my other shoe. “Looks like the bowling alley we’ve had in town since I was six. ”

  She grins at me, and for a second, she looks like my real best friend. “Remember how my dad used to take us here?”

  I nod, genuinely smiling, and Cameron lets it through. The memory is a good one and deserves the credit. “I do. It was a lot of fun. Probably the most fun I ever had at the time. ”

  Her grin expands as she slips on the other shoe and laces it. “It was, wasn’t it?”

  “It was,” I agree and then the conversation stops as I sit there, waiting for whatever comes next.

  Raven finishes putting her shoes on then pulls me to my feet and drags me over to the lanes, stopping in front of two guys. They both are tall with the same black hair styled to the side, but their eye color is different and their features slightly vary; one’s are sharper than the other’s. Still, the resemblance between them is freakishly strange.

  “Emmy, I’d like to introduce you to Geldon and Emerson. ” Raven gestures between the two of them while I attempt not to stare at the X’s branded on their foreheads.

  “It’s great to meet you,” I say with a smile.

  They smile back, but there’s darkness behind it and then Geldon reaches out to shake my hand.

  “And you are?” His voice purrs out like a cat ready to pounce on a mouse and devour it.

  I think he likes you, Cameron jokes, but his amusement falls flat.

  “Ember. ” Holding my breath, I wrap my fingers around his hand. Screams. Blood pouring like a river. I can’t see. Where did you go? Fall. Fall. Fall. “Ember. ” He continues to hold my hand with his gaze fastened on me like I’m a piece of candy he wants to taste. “That’s a unique name. ”

  “So is Geldon,” I reply, trying to pull my hand away, but Cameron has taken over again and all I can do is helplessly stand there, feeling his horrid death. I can’t go alone. Come with me. I need to breathe. Fly. Do you trust me? No!

  Finally, he frees my hand and thankfully Emerson seems more focused on Raven than getting to know me. I wonder what happened with Garrick, the member of the Anamotti she was dating the first time she was possessed. Just a few weeks ago Raven was under his possession, but now they act as if they don’t recognize each other.

  Raven is obeying orders from someone else, Cameron clarifies. Her connection with Garrick doesn’t exist anymore.

  What do you mean her connection?

  I mean that, in the past, Garrick was the one controlling everything Raven did to you, but now there’s someone else controlling her.

  Like how you’re controlling me? I head towards the seating area.

  No, this is different. What I did to you… well, not everyone can do that. You’re a Grim Angel and you’re not supposed to be possessed.

  I start to lower myself into a chair in front of the lane beside the score board, but Cameron forces me to head towards the bowling balls while Geldon follows behind me, chatting about food and sodas, asking if I’m hungry, however I barely can hear him.

  I pause when I reach the balls. So who exactly is possessing Raven now, if it’s not Garrick?

  Cameron doesn’t respond, instead he makes me search for a ball. At the same time, Emerson and Raven quickly start making out in one of the seats; Raven straddling his lap while he reaches up her dress, grabbing her ass.

  “Do they know each other?” I ask Geldon as he stuffs his hands into the pockets of his jeans, watching me with inquisitiveness.

  “As much as anyone else knows each other here,” he says with a wink.

  I shudder at his wink as I select a pink ball and pick it up. It’s a lot heavier than I expected and I almost drop it on my toe.

  “Easy there,” Geldon says, reaching out and helping me get the ball back into my hand.

  I force a tight smile as he braces his hand on the small of my back. “Thanks,” I mutter then approach the lane.

  What the hell am I doing here? I ask Cameron.

  Well, the point is to try and knock over as many pins as you can.

  I’m not talking about bowling, Cameron. I roll my eyes as I stop at the edge of the lane. I mean here, at the bowling alley. What are we looking for?

  You’re looking for their leader, Cameron
whispers.

  The Reapers’ leader? I shut one of my eyes and get a good aim at the pins as I bring my arm back.

  No, the leader of the Anamotti, the one who has made it his mission to track down all the Grim Angels and get rid of them one by one. I think he might know something about what’s going on with our leader and maybe what he looks like.

  The leader of the Anamotti is here in the bowling alley, right now?

  I think so. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

  What does he look like? I ask, angling my head to the side as I focus on the pins at the end of the lane.

  I’m not sure, he says. All I know is that his name is Alton.

  Shaking my head, I stroll forward and swing my arm forward, stumbling at the last second. My aim starts to drift to the side towards the gutter, but Cameron quickly seizes control and jerks me back to the left, regaining my balance for me. My fingers leave the holes in the ball and seconds later it’s rolling straight towards the pins.

  Strike. He laughs as all the pins topple over.

  I roll my eyes as I turn around, ready to head back to the bench and sit down. Instead, I crash straight into a rock solid chest.

  “Sorry,” I mutter, pushing back, but someone grabs ahold of my wrist and secures me in place. Their body heat floods me instead of their death. I slowly tip my chin up and meet the eyes of a tall stranger. Beautiful eyes that glisten like pieces of sea glass. His blonde hair runs to his shoulders, his features flawless like they were carved out of stone and his lips are as red as a rose… or blood. I’ve also seen him before, in the newspaper, and when I was at the campus today. Edmund Baker, town Mayor, and Mackenzie’s dad.

  “Don’t worry, I’m a lot stronger than I look,” he says, his voice is melodious and welcoming.

  “Yeah, I guess so…” I trail off, my lips refusing to move anymore. It feels like I should feel more fear, but all I feel is numb. Dead inside. Stunned.

  Shit, Cameron whispers. I’m losing control of you…

  What…? My thoughts get lost in the magnetism I feel pulling me towards the person before me.

  The corners of his lips turn upward into a grin. “Are you okay?”

  I nod, dazzled by his eyes, his lips, by everything. It’s like I’m drowning in him and suddenly the cold inside me doesn’t feel so cold anymore. It feels very inviting. In fact, I crave it; crave death. “I’m fine…”

  Why the hell am I not more afraid? This man murdered his daughter.

  Ember, don’t let him get control…

  His smile darkens. “You look a little flushed. ”

  I feel flushed. “I’m okay. I promise. ” My head does feel extremely foggy, though; like I’m standing near a lake and fog is circling me everywhere while I can barely think or see straight.

  “I’m Alton,” he says and I know I’m in deep trouble, yet I can’t seem to react to it. “And you are?”

  “Ember Rose Edwards,” I say dazedly, still gazing up at him. Alton. The mayor is Alton. The mayor is the leader of the Anamotti? Holy shit.

  “That’s a beautiful name,” he tells me then lifts his hand to stroke my cheek. He sweeps his finger across my cheekbone once and then withdraws his hand back to his side. “Very poetic. ” He assesses me for a moment more, and then starts to pull me with him as he heads over towards the counter. “Here; come with me. ”