Broken visions, p.13
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       Broken Visions, p.13

         Part #3 of Shattered Promises series by Jessica Sorensen
 
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  I press my hand to the dashboard, bracing myself against the bumps. "What are you doing?"

  He kills the headlights as he slows the car to a stop and everything around us gets taken out by night. "I didn't want to pull up the driveway, just in case someone is there."

  "You know this doesn't have four-wheel drive, right?"

  "It made it, didn't it?" There's humor in his voice.

  I don't say anything further as we get out of the car and hike up the dirt hill. I can barely see anything around me and wish that Aislin's night vision spell was a permanent thing. But I notice that I do a lot less stumbling than I used to, probably because I'm a Keeper now.

  When we approach the top of the hill, Alex hunkers down behind a bush, and puts his arm in front of me, signaling for me to stay behind him as he assesses the situation.

  "I knew no one would be here," he mutters after getting a good look at the dark house in the distance. He stands back up and steps out of the trees and onto a gravel path that leads to a three-story home, but that's about all I can see. At the front door, he takes a key from under a glass mushroom and unlocks the door.

  As I stepped inside the foyer, he retrieves a flashlight out of his back pocket and beams the light around. "It stinks in here," he murmurs, fanning his hand in front of his face. "Like feet."

  I plug my nose. "And like someone forgot to take out the garbage, but I'm guessing that's a good sign that no one's been here in a while."

  He nods. "Welcome to my home," he mutters under his breath as he starts for the spiral staircase in front of us.

  We climb up the stairs and go into a room with black and purple walls, dark blue carpet, and a massive canopy bed decorated with vines and curtains.

  "Whose room is this?" I take in the posters on the wall, the decorations, the clutter, signs that someone actually had a life in here and it makes me a bit sad.

  He sweeps the flashlight around to room. "It's Aislin's."

  I'm so confused. "But it's so... so... awesome. And not frilly and pink."

  He opens the closet door. "You have to understand something about Aislin. She's not who she appears to be on the outside. She has a darker side to her." He sets the flashlight down on the floor, aiming it up at the ceiling, and then grabs a box from the top shelf. "Most witches do have a darker side...but my father trained her to be the girl she is on the outside so people wouldn't see her as a threat." He peers inside the box and then puts it away. "He controlled her a lot."

  He starts rummaging around in the closet while I wander around the room. I see a photo on top of the dresser of Aislin and Laylen, sitting on a porch swing, smiling and happy, something that doesn't exist at the moment and my heart knots in my chest.

  "What are you looking for?" I go back into the closet and move up behind Alex.

  He yanks a box decorated with black and purple glitter off the top closet shelf and lifts the lid. "For this." Inside the box, are bags of herbs, a collection of candles and crystals, beads, necklaces, and other strange items that have to be Wicca stuff.

  "Aislin's spell stuff?" I pick up a necklace with a rose pendant.

  "Yeah, I figured we could pick it up while we were here," he says.

  I put the necklace back in the box. "It's a good idea. We have been using her magic a lot."

  He nods, then we leave Aislin's room with the box, crossing the hallway into an office area with shelves for walls that are crammed with old books, a large desk in the corner, and antique furniture.

  "Please tell me you know where the Foreseer book is," I say in a hopeful expression.

  He shakes his head, crushing my hope into a thousand pieces. So we start looking, working our way from bottom to top, until we're up to our elbows in books. Alex has the flashlight between us, so there was just enough light that we could see the title of the cover.

  "I love books," I admit when the silence between us starts to make me restless.

  "I know," he says, peeking inside a book.

  "How?"

  "Because you loved them when you were younger." He quickly clears his throat as if he's said something wrong.

  "What else did I like when I was younger?" I ask, adding the book in my hand to the stack beside me.

  His eyes travel from the book to me. "You drove me crazy sometimes." There's a sparkle in his eyes.

  I roll my eyes. "I did not."

  He nods with certainty, putting the book on top of a stack and then collecting another one. "You were always such a daredevil and it drove me nuts keeping you out of trouble."

  "Then why did you?" I crisscross my legs.

  "Because I wanted to." He looks down at the book as he reads the spine then the front.

  "What about you?" I ask. "What were you like?"

  It takes him longer to respond. "An asshole."

  "I'm sure you weren't always an asshole." I give him a playful smile and he shakes his head, stifling a grin.

  "I don't know, Gemma," he says, exhaling loudly. "I had a rough childhood, full of shitty memories of my father doing really shitty things to me, but I don't want to talk about it with you, because it makes me more of an asshole, complaining to you about stuff like that when you suffered the most." His head tips down as he avoids eye contact with me.

  "We all suffered," I say. "One way or another and I don't think you're an asshole for saying that--shit happened and we shouldn't have to keep it a secret anymore."

  He glances up at me. "You sound very wise right now."

  I shrug. "I was just saying how it is."

  He inhales and then exhales, his gaze fastened with mine. The pull starts to arise and I find myself setting the book aside and scooting across the floor toward him. At first he stays still, as if welcoming my advance, but then he abruptly gets up and goes over to the bookshelf.

  "Did I do something wrong?" I dare ask, feeling vulnerable at the moment.

  He climbs up the ladder for the top shelf, shaking his head. "Why would you think that?"

  "I don't know." I struggle for words I don't want to say. "You've just... you've just seemed really uninterested since I got my Keeper's mark." Feeling stupid, I engulf my attention in the book on my lap.

  I hear him moving around, then moments later his boots appear in my line of vision. "That's not what it is," he says. "I'm just trying to protect you."

  I look up at him. "From what?"

  "From me." He sits down in front of me and there's sincerity in his eyes. "When you got the rush reality sort of slapped me in the face. It was so intense with you that I thought... that I thought you were going to die, which can happen sometimes. And that made me realize just how much I don't want you to die." He strokes my cheek with his finger. "I need you here and if that means keeping our distance, then that's what I'll do."

  The emotion flooding his eyes is so potent, so consuming that I momentarily stop breathing. "But do you ever think.... Ever think it might be for the best," I whisper. "Because it'd put an end to all of this."

  He cups my chin in his hand. "I'm not going to go there," he says forcefully, then pushes to his feet. "We'll find another way."

  He goes back to searching through the book and I return to mine, but I can't help but be aware of him. So aware that even when I shut my eyes, all I see is him.

  ***

  We don't say much to each other as we continue looking through books. It starts to get to me after a while. Surrounded by stacks, I take a look at the many left on the shelf and finally say, "What if it's not on the shelf? The book has got to be important, right, if it has the history of the Foreseers in it. Why would he keep it out in the open?" I pause remembering something from my past. "I once went looking for my birth certificate in Marco and Sophia's room."

  He glances up from the book he's skimming through. "Did you find it?"

  "Yeah, it was hidden in this secret compartment of this trunk they had." I point at a trunk in the corner of the room. "Kind of like that one."

  Alex and I trade a curious
look then we dash for the trunk, Alex swiping up the flashlight before winding around the stacks of books all over the floor. The trunk ends up being full of books and we take them out, checking the title of each one. When we reach the bottom, I push on the board, and just like the trunk at Marco and Sophia's, the bottom pops up, and there is our book. A leather bound spine and an eye on the cover; the same kind of eye on the columns at the Room of Forbidden.

  "So this is it." I start to get to my feet, but Alex stays kneeling on the floor, staring into the trunk.

  "What's wrong?"

  He reaches inside and removes another leather book with the initials A.A. engraved on the front of it.

  "Is it yours?" I tuck the Foreseer book under my arm and sit down beside him

  He swallows hard as he fans through the pages. "I think it's my mother's." He looks lost as he pushes to his feet with the book in his hand. "I'm taking this with me."

  Nodding, I help him pile the books back into the trunk. "Should we clean up the rest of the mess?"

  Alex shakes his head, his mood off from the discovery of the book. "There's no point--"

  The echo of a door slamming shut causes us to freeze.

  "Shit," Alex hisses and I can feel the fear pouring off him. "Someone's here."

  Chapter 19

  "Do you think its Stephan?" I whisper as Alex clicks the flashlight off and night smothers us, except for a thin trail of moonlight trickling though the window.

  "I'm not sure." He stuffs the flashlight into his pocket, laces his fingers through mine, the sparks crackling as he puts a finger to his lips. "Be as quiet as possible okay, no matter what happens."

  We tiptoe into the hallway and turn toward the stairway, but spin around when we hear Stephan's voice drifting up the stairs, talking either on his phone or to someone else.

  Alex tows me to the end of the hallway and into a room, softly shutting the door behind us. He turns the flashlight back on and scans it around. There are clothes on the floor, CD's, but the bed is unmade. The decor screams that it's a guy's room and I'm betting it's the room he grew up in.

  He lets go of my hand, kicks some clothes out of the way, and then flips over a rug. Underneath it is a small trap door. He opens it and shines the light down into the small, narrow space.

  "Are we both going to be able to fit?" I ask with a hint of doubt

  He massages the back of his neck tensely. "We should be able to, but you get in first."

  I hurry and sit down and lower myself into the hole, laying on my side and scooting as far to the side as I possibly can. Then he puts his legs in and squeezes beside me, managing to pull the rug back down as he shuts the trapdoor. He turns off the flashlight, lies on his side, facing me and I have to put my leg over his hip just so we can fit. Our bodies are pressed so tightly together that I can feel his heart pounding in his chest against mine. The electricity rapidly starts to heat up the space and within a minute were both panting. But all we can do is wait.

  ***

  I'm not sure how much time goes by without us making or hearing a noise, but it seems like forever. The longer the stillness goes on, the more our hands start to wander all over each other's bodies. I trace my fingers up and down his back and then through his hair, while his roam up my sides, along my breasts, my hips. He keeps uttering it'll be okay, like he's touching me only to soothe me, but then they slip between my legs and he starts rubbing me.

  I bite my lip hard to stifle a moan and then open my mouth to tell him not to do that because I won't be able to be quiet, but then he mutters something about this wasn't part of the plan and his lips come down roughly on mine as if he just lost a silent battle.

  I kiss him back, letting his tongue delve into my mouth and then I nibble on his lip. He trades his hand for his leg, slipping his thigh up between my legs then grips my hip and encourages me to rock and rub up against him. I know it's not the time. Stephan is close and that puts our lives in danger, but it feels so goddamn good and I can't seem to find the willpower to stop.

  My willpower only crumbles further when his hand slips down the front of my jeans and he slides a couple of fingers deep inside me.

  I fight back a whimper and moan, murmuring, "That feels so... good."

  His free hand tangles in my hair as he sucks and bites and my earlobe. "Yes... it does..." He groans himself as he continues to move his fingers inside me and I find myself putting my hand on him, rubbing him through the fabric of his jeans, moaning louder when I feel how hard he is. It's so wrong in many different ways, but as he pushes me to the edge, causing heat and blissfulness to suffocating my body and takes me away, I can't think about anything else but how amazing it feels.

  But moments later, I come crashing down as I hear the bedroom door open.

  Alex stills beside me, and then he quickly slips his fingers out of me and puts a finger over my mouth. "Shhh...." The lust flowing off him instantly shifts to fear. I've never felt so much fear around him before and I have to wonder just how terrified he is of his father, which makes me wonder just how bad his father was to him, maybe violently.

  I hold my breath and remain still. There's a soft thud followed by another, then footsteps heading across the floor. The lights turn on and then the floorboards creak. I can hear someone fumbling around, muttering under their breath. Finally the footsteps start up again. Moments later, the lights turn off and the door closes.

  Neither of us budges, too afraid he's still in the room and he's trying to trick us to come out. More time goes by. An eternity. It has to be approaching morning before Alex finally speaks again.

  "Stay here," he whispers in my ear. "I'll be right back."

  The he climbs out of the hole while I lay inside waiting anxiously. I can hear him walking around above me, then moments later he looks back down in the hole. "It's okay. You can come up."

  I get out, still carrying the Foreseer book as Alex looks around the room, then he scratches his head. "My mirror's missing." He walks up to a dresser, puzzled. "I got it from a witch who told me it would show me my future if I looked in it, but it was a bunch of shit because every time I looked in it all I saw was light."

  I nearly drop the book. "You saw light?"

  He nods, eyeing me suspiciously. "What's wrong?"

  I shake my head. "It's nothing." It's a lie. Because it's sounds so much like the dream I keep having of us being taken away by light.

  He keeps staring at me for a while, knowing I'm lying, but then gives up. "We should probably go in case he comes back," he says and then we hurry out of the house.

  ***

  I start reading through the pages of the Foreseers' book during the drive home. The first few chapters are insignificant, but then I stumble onto something interesting.

  The Room of Forbidden: A desolate place where no soul lives except the seer that committed the crime. In the Room of Forbidden, the seer will spend an eternity alone. No one can enter the Room of Forbidden, for the room exists only in the seer's mind.

  The power of a Foreseer's mind: The Foreseer's mind is one of the most powerful tools. In fact, some of the more powerful Foreseers are able to push their minds to see what they need to see in times of great need.

  Push the mind to see what it needs to see in times of great need? I wonder how that works because it seems like a useful thing. I flip the page, hoping for detailed instructions, but the there's only a drawing of a person with an eye on their forehead so I skim through more pages, searching for the words "purple" or "flame," but by the time Alex is parking the car in the driveway, I still haven't found anything about it.

  When Alex turns off the engine, he rotates in the seat to face me. "Can we keep what happened back at the house a secret? I don't want to worry Aislin more than she already is. She's been really stressed out lately."

  Nodding, I shut the book. "Of course."

  "And the stuff that happened in the trapdoor." He scratches his head, looking uncomfortable. "We should probably just forget that ever happ
ened."

  The prickle stabs at the back of my neck "You want me to forget about all the times we fucked too," I say and we both wince. "Sorry," I tell him quickly. "I don't know what's coming over me."

  He swiftly shakes his head. "Don't apologize. I feel the same way too." He turns away and grips the steering wheel until his knuckles turn white. "I feel so frustrated all the time... I'm usually so good at doing what I need to do... but with you... I can't seem to keep my hands off you." He takes his hands off the steering wheel and reaches for the door handle. "And I need to, to protect you."

  He gets out and goes into the house. I follow moments later, pretending as if nothing happened, as if it didn't feel like my heart was breaking because there may be a chance that we never will be able to be together.

  In the kitchen, Aislin is at the table with a bunch of herbs and leaves scattered in front of her, along with some candles and her spell book.

 
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