The promise, p.13
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       The Promise, p.13

         Part #4 of Fallen Star series by Jessica Sorensen
 
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Page 13

 

  He was quiet for a while and I started to think my little speech bombed. But then he sighed and hugged me tight.

  When did you get to be so insightful?

  he asked with a soft laugh.

  I loved to hear his laugh, because it was such a rare occurrence.

  I learned from the best.

  We stood there in the silence, hugging each other, wings and all.

  Chapter 23

  (Alex)

  I hated leaving her, but there was no way I was going to let her come with me. Her violet eyes drew enough attention and now she had wings.

  How did you know about this, but I didn t,

  Aislin fought to keep up with me as I shoved my way down the crowded streets of Vegas, neon lights flashing, casino machines ringing. People were dressed in impersonator costumes, handing out leaflets, ignoring the vampires feeding in the shadows.

  I know a lot of things you don t,

  I said.

  Yeah, but I m a witch. You d think I d know that there was a spell to remove the wings of a Black Angel without sending them to hell. Are you sure it ll take two witches though?

  She cast a glace around the street.

  It d probably be easier if I could just do it.

  No you need a witch for each wing & So this is where all the vampires, fey, and witches migrate to?

  I observed, changing the subject, worried if she found out how I knew about this she d be hurt.

  I guess it makes sense, going where it s more crowded, where there are more humans.

  She shook her head, pushing a crying woman out of the way.

  You could be a little bit more sympathetic you know. You don t have to be such a jerk all the time.

  And you didn t have to hall a Black Angel to the house,

  I said.

  But you did.

  Tears started to slip out and I shook my head. Aislin had always been a crier.

  Sorry.

  I gave her a pat on the back.

  That was me being a jerk again.

  It s okay.

  She wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her shirt.

  You re just stressed

  No, I m not.

  I scanned the crowd for a witch that wasn t marked.

  Because I m going to fix this.

  Then I spotted one, not too far off, head down, black hair a veil across her face, trying to conceal her identity.

  We also have another problem.

  Aislin was still chattering.

  Aleesa s still missing, and I think we should

  I stopped, Aislin running into me. I pointed through the crowd.

  There we go. I m guessing she s unmarked.

  When we were younger, before my mom vanished, she used to teach me all this stuff that, at the time, I d thought was a useless bunch of information. Things like how to kill a Death Walker or where the City of Crystal was. Or how to shift a Black Angel back to human form. Sometimes I wondered if she knew all of this was going to happen. Or maybe she just knew my father was a dick who wanted to kill the entire world and would never teach me how to protect it.

  Aislin seized my arm.

  Maybe I should handle this.

  Hey,

  I said.

  I can be charming when I want to you know.

  She frowned.

  No, you just think you can.

  I don t think this is going to be easy no matter who goes over there,

  I told her.

  It might be better just to knock her out.

  Aislin narrowed her eyes and put her hands on her hips.

  That wouldn t be very nice.

  I m not trying to be nice,

  I said.

  I m trying to save Gemma.

  Alright, just give me a few seconds.

  Then she disappeared into the mob and marched up to the terrified witch. She said something and then the witch followed her back.

  She ll help.

  She smiled, pleased, because she was right and I was wrong. She raised her eyebrows at me.

  Should we get going?

  I motioned down the street.

  Go ahead, lead the way.

  The witches name was Emma and her quiet, frightened demeanor on the streets was very misleading. Once she got going she wouldn t shut up, yammering about who she was and where she came from. But she was helping us out, so I tried to keep my mouth shut and just put up with it.

  When we arrived at the house, the lights were off, the air dead quiet, the front door dripping with water.

  We went inside and I motioned for them to stop.

  Wait here. Something seems off.

  My knife was already out of my pocket, positioned in front of me as I crept up the front stairs and pushed the door open. I was greeted by air so cold, it could only mean one thing the Death Walkers had been here. I sprinted into the living room, the table, chairs, and floor frozen over. And in the center of all of it, a Death Walker laid dead, its rotting flesh iced over by its own chill.

  Dammit.

  I ran my fingers through my hair, tugging hard, as Aislin and Emma came rushing in.

  What is this?

  Emma asked, panicking, backing for the door.

  You said I d be safe. What is this?

  Oh my god.

  Aislin s jaw dropped to the floor.

  They had to they had to make it out.

  I pointed to the ground, at the dead Death Walker.

  Yeah, but who killed that?

  Before Aislin and I could react, Emma screeched and dashed out the door.

  Should I go chase her down?

  Aislin asked.

  I nodded and she spun, sliding across the floor as she raced for the door and ran out into the darkness of the street.

  I kicked the apothecary table across the floor and squatted down, examining the Death Walker. It had been stabbed by the one thing that could kill a Death Walker. The Sword of Immortality I could see the cut where the tip of the knife hand entered the chest. But how? My father had it.

  Where are you?

  I muttered to the air, like she could hear me. I stood up, inspecting the room for anything that would lead me to her. But everything was blanketed by ice, except for the front window, which was shattered. I walked over, sticking my head out. And there it was, like a secret message. A single purple flower, lying on the sidewalk, whispering: come find me.

  Chapter 24

  (Gemma)

  You know what, I think I kind of like the wings.

  Laylen smoothed his hand over the feathers as we sat on Adessa s velvet sofa, waiting for Alex to come back with his brilliant plan to save me.

  Don t be weird,

  I joked, pulling a face at the wings.

  I m not being weird.

  He gave me a teasing smile and then his eyes widened in mocked shock.

  What if you can fly?

  I can t fly,

  I said, but then I knitted my eyebrows together, staring at the black feathers.

  Can I?

  You should try it,

  he encouraged.

  I sighed back against the couch, the wings creating an uncomfortable lump behind my back.

  This sucks. I should be trying to find a way to get into the Afterlife, and instead I m stuck here.

  We ll get it all fixed,

  he assured me.

  We always do.

  I wasn t so sure, though. And the Iceland thing was a dead end, for God knows what reason Alex hadn t gotten around to explaining that one yet.

  I know.

  I kicked my boots up on the table, hoping my words were true.

  He leaned back, resting his arms behind his head.

  I can t believe they bailed Adessa and her friend.

  Why.

  I looked at him.

  Wouldn t you run away if you could?

  Maybe &

  He twisted
at his lip ring.

  Do you think maybe in another life, if we d been born human, without marks, without all of this, we could have lived normal lives?

  Maybe.

  But even the idea of being normal seemed unreachable.

  Do you think you and I would have been friends?

  I laughed.

  I think no matter what you and I will always be friends.

  What about you and Alex? Do you think you two would have been together, if the star and the promise never existed?

  I traced the scar on my hand, thinking about where it came from, and what it meant. Then I shut my eyes, listening to my heart beat, whispering to its other half.

  Yes,

  I said and my words surprised him and me both.

  He acted kind of uncomfortable, putting his shoes on the table, and then moving to the floor again.

  Maybe one day that world will exist.

  Maybe. If I could find a way to save Alex and me, without letting Stephan win. But at the moment, it wasn t looking very promising.

  Suddenly I leapt to my feet and bolted for the door, stepping into the blackness of the night. Confused, Laylen hurried after me, his boots thudding loudly against the floor.

  What are you doing?

  he asked from the stairs.

  Checking left and right, I spanned my wings out.

  Seeing if I can fly. It might be my only chance.

  I flapped the giant bundle of feathers, back and forth and back and forth until the air encircled me and lifted me off the ground. I didn t go very high because I didn t want to be spotted. But I hovered around for a while. When I planted my feet back on the ground Laylen was grinning from ear to ear.

  See, not so bad,

  he said.

  I curled the wings against my back.

  I guess not, but it doesn t mean I want to keep them.

  We exchanged smiles, like two children hiding a secret. I plucked a violet flower out of a flower pot hanging by the front door. I spun it between my fingers, thinking of my childhood hideout.

  I didn t know who heard the crackle first. But we dove together, below the window as the sound of ice slithered through the house, chilling even the dessert air.

  We breathed heavily, listening to the voices and shrieks breaking the quiet.

  Where are they!

  Stephan growled.

  They were supposed to be here.

  I dared a peek through the frosted window.

  He stood beneath the light, scar as noticeable as ever. Death Walkers surrounded him as he cussed them out and swung the Sword of Immorality in the air. He looked panicked, unlike his usual eerily calm self. Maybe this was all finally getting to him. Maybe he was starting to doubt himself.

  Then I spotted a girl cowered next to him, mute and numb, her dark curly hair and yellow-eyes branding her a faerie. Aleesa.

  Stephan breathed ragged and wild.

  You guys failed me.

  Oh crap,

  I muttered.

  Aleesa s in there.

  Suddenly, for no reason other than he was pissed off, Stephan stabbed a Death Walker in the chest. It let out a cry, yellow eyes glowing with fire before scorching out completely.

  Laylen and I exchanged a look.

  He s worried we re going to pull this off,

  he whispered.

  We re getting close.

  But then I frowned, remembering that my death was nearing.

  Maybe we should help Aleesa.

  The window exploded against our ears and jagged glass landing in my hair.

  Time to go,

  I said, grabbing Laylen s hand as Stephan and the Death Walkers swarmed from the door.

  But when we turned, there were only more black-cloaked monsters wanting to devour us.

  Stephan strode in front of me, his eyes as wicked as ever.

  Well, well, well, what do we have here?

  His eyes examined me, his gaze lingering on the wings.

  Looks like you ran into some trouble.

  I gritted my teeth, hands clenching into fists. Laylen shifted in front of me, but I scooted my hand over to hold him back.

  Stephan stared up the street.

  Interesting choice to hide, especially since you ve hid here before.

  He paused, letting out an exhausted sigh.

  I wished you d just give up. It d make my life easier. But I guess I can t be too upset with all of this.

  He gestured over his shoulder, toward the city, and what I saw on his forearm sent a shudder through my body.

  The Mark of Immortality.

  I shook my head.

  No.

  Stephan turned his arm over.

  Beautiful, isn t it? It s amazing how good I m getting at creating marks. Although, I might keep this one for myself. I mean, what s the point of having the power of Immortality if I m going to share it with everyone.

 
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