Ember x, p.12
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Ember X, p.12

         Part #1 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 12

 

  I turn my head and my lips part in surprise. It’s the most stunning painting I’ve ever seen. Flawless strokes of black paint brush the shape of a male Angel with his head tucked down and his dark hair hanging over his eyes. His feet are traced by a black circle, like he’s bound to the lonely spot, and he’s crying. The agony and torment in his expression is so real, I want to reach out and comfort him.

  “It’s beautiful,” I breathe in awe. “I can feel his pain and anguish. It’s like it’s killing him, being trapped to that single spot. ”

  “You understand it like a true artist,” he observes, with a trace of pain in his eyes. “Do you paint?”

  I shake my head. “No, my brother does. And Raven. I’m more of an artist with words. ”

  “So, you’re a writer,” he says, sounding a little unpleased.

  I turn to face him and realize he’s standing closer than I thought. Out of habit, I step back, and the heel of my boot collides with the easel. “I want to be one someday. ”

  He sweeps a strand of my hair back and tucks it behind my ear, a reminder that I don’t have to fear his touch; that his contact only brings solace, not sorrow.

  “Do you know some believe that the eyes are the window to the soul?” he asks softly.

  I elevate my eyebrows. “You know that’s a pick-up line, right?”

  His intense expression is breathtaking as he cups my cheek and grazes his thumb along my cheekbone. The feel of his skin against mine sends tingles all over my body and fills me with feelings I’ve never experienced before because they can only come through contact with another.

  “It is now, but a long time ago people used to believe that a person’s eyes gave insight to one’s soul. It showed what they were really feeling and their vulnerability. ” He gently traces his finger below my eyes. “You have beautiful eyes, but there’s so much sadness in them. ”

  I swallow the lump in my throat and focus on his lips. Dear God Almighty, he has such luscious lips.

  “Ember,” he whispers and temporarily unhitches the chains that bind me to every single person’s death. It’s a strange feeling, but an invigorating one. “I want to kiss you. ” His voice drops to a husky whisper as he leans in. “Please tell me I can kiss you… God please just say it. ”

  “Yes…” I breathe and it takes me a second to realize the full meaning of my response; that after nineteen years of intentional solitude I’ll finally be kissed.

  He closes his eyes, leaning closer. My heart thumps vigorously in my chest as his mouth nears and then moments later our lips touch.

  A groan instantly slips from my mouth as the sensation of his kiss spirals through my entire body. It only gets worse when he slides his tongue between my lips and I open my mouth, letting him in, tangling my tongue with his and tracing the tip along his tongue ring.

  His hands skim around to my waist and he backs me up until my back is pressed up against the wall. His firm chest crushes against mine as he tilts my body back, holding onto me, while he explores my mouth with his tongue. Breathy noises keep fleeing from my mouth and deep throaty groans keep escaping from his.

  “Ember…” he whispers as his mouth leaves mine. He starts making a path of soft kisses down my jawline, to the arch of my neck, and my head falls to the side as he approaches my collarbone and his teeth gaze my skin.

  “Oh my God…” I clutch onto his shoulders for support, wanting more—needing more.

  When he reaches the top of my shirt, I bow my back, letting him know what I want. His fingers glide up the front of me, over my ribs and breast, and when he reaches my collar, he pulls it down along with my bra, exposing my breast. Seconds later, his mouth is wrapped around my nipple, licking, nipping at it, the cold metal of his lip clipping my skin and adding to the exhilaration pulsating through my body. I want to brace myself as my knees start to buckle, but all I can do is thread my fingers through his hair and hold onto him as I fall. His hands grip my sides, holding me up and then one of them slips between my knees. His palm glides upward and when he arrives at the top of my leg, he begins rubbing his hand back and forth, driving my body and mind crazy.

  “Asher, what are you doing?” a male voice crushes the moment.

  Our eyes snap open and before he backs away, he slides my shirt and bras back over my breast. Luckily, we’re hidden behind the easel; otherwise, the professor would have gotten a full view of what we were doing.

  Professor Morgan, the art professor, is standing by his desk with a confounded look on his face. He’s in his mid-forties, with chestnut brown hair and hazel eyes and he wears a lot of cargo pants and polo shirts, smeared with charcoal, paint, clay—any art supply, really.

  “Oh, hi there, Ember. ” He sets a stack of artwork down on his corner desk. “Have you seen Raven this morning? She usually comes in here to work on stuff, but I haven’t seen her. I have a couple of questions about the last painting she turned it. I want to talk to her before I have to start my first class. ”

  “I think she’s running late,” I say and then press my swollen lips together.

  “Oh, I see. ” His gaze flicks to Asher and something in his eyes makes me want to leave. “Do you know if she’s going to make it to my class this morning?”

  I shrug. “I’m not sure. ”

  “Oh. Okay. ” He seems distracted and keeps shooting Asher dirty looks.

  Taking it as a signal to leave, I wave goodbye to Asher. “See you around, I guess. ”

  Returning to his easel, he picks up the paintbrush, avoiding eye contact with me “Yeah, sure. ”

  Trying not to take it defensively, I walk out of the room and head to the other side of the building. It’s a very small walk, due to the lack of size of the college. When I arrive, Professor Mackerlie is writing on the whiteboard. He also teaches high school English, so this is pretty much my third time around with his teaching tactics.

  I walk to the back of the classroom without him noticing. My bag lands on the floor loudly and he turns with the marker in his hand. “Oh, Ember, I didn’t see you come in. ” He clicks the lid on the marker and sets it in the tray.

  We are studying William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and one of his poems is written on the board. I read the book when I was fifteen after Raven made me watch the movie—the newer version starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes—so I already know how the story goes: love, rivalry, violence, and tragedy.

  Professor Mackerlie shifts through papers on his desk as people start wandering into the classroom. Then suddenly, he’s directing his attention on me.

  “I really enjoyed the poem you wrote for last week’s assignment. ” He taps a finger on the paper in his hand, stained with my penmanship.

  “Thanks,” I reply, shifting uncomfortably. I never meant to turn in that particular poem. I wrote it in a weak moment and then didn’t have anything to turn in, so I had to make do.

  “If you don’t mind, I’d like to read it aloud to the class,” he says. I shake my head in protest, but he’s already turning away.

  Sighing, I lean back in my chair, but then sit up again as Mackenzie Baker walks in with Cameron in tow. I’ve known Mackenzie since I was in kindergarten and we’ve never been friends. I secretly wished that once high school was over, she’d leave town, but like almost everyone else, she was pretty intent on staying. Sometimes, I swear the town is haunted and it’s actually impossible to leave.

  Mackenzie has strawberry blonde hair, green eyes, and wears clothes that allow her cleavage to pop out. She’s kind of like Raven in a way, only maybe a little less forward.

  “He’s sitting in on one of your classes,” she states to the professor. “To see if he wants to take it next semester. ”

  Cameron grins at me, like he’s up to something, which he probably is since this is English and is a prerequisite to pretty much every major.

  The Professor barely acknowledges anything’s going on and Mackenzie takes a seat, ho
lding onto Cameron, urging him to sit by her. But he slips his arm from her grip and heads over to me.

  “You look a little upset. ” Cameron slides onto my desk, trying to act nonchalant, but sorrow haunts his eyes.

  “I’m fine. ” I take a pen and notebook out of my bag. “I’m just having a rough morning. ”

  “Did you find your friend?” he asks. “The one with the pink hair?”

  I shake my head. “No, but that’s Raven. She’s very sporadic. ”

  He studies my face closely, as if he’s looking for cracks that will reveal some hidden secret. “I saw you in the art room this morning. ”

  I pull the pen out of my mouth as my jaw falls. “When?”

  He bites at his lip and I can’t tell if he looks annoyed or intrigued. “I just saw you walk in and start talking to some guy. ”

  “That guy was the other new person in this town that I was telling you about this morning. ”

  “I know. ”

  “You seem like you know him?”

  “Only from word of mouth. ” Placing his hands on the desk, he leans in, smelling of mint hued with a woodsy aroma. “I’m finding out you were right about the whole new-guy thing. Even the Dean seemed overly excited by my appearance. ”

  “I told you they’d eat you up,” I remark with a small smile.

  “No, you told me they’d be star-struck by me. ” He smirks, inching his face closer to mine. “The only one who looks like they could eat me up is you. ”

  I fight my instinct to look away from him. “No, I don’t. ”

  “Yes, you do. ” He dazzles me with a challenging smile and I shake my head, fighting my own grin.

  “Are you always like this?”

  “What? Sexy? Gorgeous? Charming?”

  “I was going to go with a pain in the ass. ”

  He smirks, loving my attitude. “You’re pretty charming yourself. ”

  From a desk in the front row, Mackenzie crosses her legs and crooks her finger at Cameron. “Come here, Cameron. ”

  Cameron leans away and touches his chest. “My fans are calling me,” he says and I roll my eyes as he saunters up to Mackenzie, whispers something in her ear, and she giggles, patting his chest.

  After the bell rings, Mr. Mackerlie takes roll, then stands in the front of the room with my poem in his hand. “Listen up, everyone. ” He clears his throat. “I wanted to share with everyone something that I think is an excellent poem that was turned in for last week’s assignment. But I’m going to keep it anonymous. ” His gaze flicks to me for only a second, but it’s enough that eyes roam in my direction.

  “The poem is called Ember. ” Every looks at me and Mr. Mackerlie clears his throat again before reading. “The ember dies slowly in a mound of ash. Darkness and mourning, it longs to burn fire. But the smoke and sorrow let it die. The need for a spark asserts fiercely. But a spark won’t surrender. So the ember continues to smother. Into ash, into dust, into nothing. And that’s how it will stay forever. ”