Broken visions, p.14
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       Broken Visions, p.14

         Part #3 of Shattered Promises series by Jessica Sorensen
 
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  "Did you get the book?" she asks Alex as I'm locking the door.

  "I've got it." I hold it up and show it to her.

  Alex removes his jacket and sets it on the back of the chair, then puts the box of herbs and other magic stuff he picked up for Aislin on the table. "How's everything been here?"

  "Everything's been fine." She turns a page in her spell book. "Jocelyn's asleep, and Laylen's showing Aleesa what a TV is, and I'm trying to figure out a spell that will remove the mark."

  I yawn, feeling exhaustion overwhelming me, not to mention the idea of being in the same room as Alex is making me feel sick. "I'm going to bed," I say then I drag myself to my bedroom, strip down into my bra and underwear, never fully making it into my pajamas as I flop down on the bed and pass out with the Foreseer book in my hand.

  Chapter 20

  Light. Everywhere. I'm blinded by it, suffocating.

  "It'll be all right," Alex whispers, bushing my hair out of my face. "I want to protect you forever, no matter what happens. No matter what it costs. I would die for you Gemma."

  I want to tell him that I can't allow that. That if he dies, I die right along with him, not because of the star, but because of a broken heart, but my lips are sealed by an emotion surfacing, one I know I have to shove down.

  The light flickers and the lake materialize before us. The water is glistening with ice, and death is in the air. They sky is grey, the clouds thick, the trees frosted with snow.

  "It'll be alright," Alex says again and I clutch onto him tightly as the light drowns me. "I'm here Gemma. I'll always be here for you, no matter what."

  Images flash through my mind. Death Walkers... Stephan... fire...

  Then nothing but ash falling from the sky and not even Alex and I survive.

  ***

  "Wake up. Come on, open your eyes." A hand touches my arm and there's no jolt, no spark, no warmth.

  My eyes shoot open and with one swift movement I shove the person leaning over my bed down to the floor. Then I leap to my feet with my fist raised, ready to fight.

  "What the hell," Aislin hisses from the floor as she gets her feet back underneath her. "Calm down Gemma, it's just me."

  I lower my fist and turn on my lamp. "Oh my God, I'm so sorry." Suddenly realizing I'm wearing nothing but my underwear, I pick up the blanket and wrap it around me.

  Aislin is wearing a plaid pajama set, her hair pulled up into a messy bun, and she has a jacket on. "Were you having a nightmare? You were making weird noises when I came in."

  "Maybe... I honestly can't remember," I lie, sitting down on the bed with the blanket wrapped around me, thinking of the light vision and what it could mean. That Alex and I weren't going to survive?

  "Gemma, you know you can talk to me about stuff," she says standing beside my bed. "I'm sure it's hard taking on all of this on your own."

  "Thanks, but I'm not ready to talk about certain things just yet." I notice she has a bag draped over her shoulder. "Are you going somewhere?"

  She nods, looking guilty. "And you are too... I mean, if you'll help me?"

  "Help you with what?" I ask interestedly.

  "With a spell."

  "To remove the Mark of Malefiscus?"

  "Hopefully," she says, taking her spell book out of the bag and opening it to a marked page. "I found a spell that could help... The Spell of Zaleena."

  I squint down at the page. There's a drawing of a woman with her head angled back, her hands spanned to the side of her, her mouth open and a spirit rising out of it.

  "And you think this spell's going to remove the Mark of Malefiscus?" I ask as she closes the book and tucks it back in her bag.

  "The spell isn't exactly for removing a mark," she says. "But it's supposed to give the witch who performs the spell the gift of being able to separate and remove evil from those who are good."

  "Is it dangerous?"

  "I don't think so..." She seems uncertain. "It shouldn't be, but when it comes to magic, you never know." She shrugs. "You don't have to come if you don't want to. But I think your energy might come in handy because it's a really powerful spell. And I could use your company."

  Weird. Was this how the start of friendships worked?

  "Okay, let me get dressed and I'll go with you," I say. "But where exactly are we going?"

  She hesitates then sighs. "To the cemetery."

  ***

  The cemetery is located at the edge of town next to the forest and the hill line of the mountains. The moon and stars are covered by the clouds, the streets are lit up by lampposts, and the air is still, except for the scuffing of our shoes as we walk up the sidewalk.

  "How intense is this spell going to be?" I ask, wrapping my jacket tightly around me. "You said you need power, so I'm guessing pretty intense."

  "Yeah, it'll be pretty intense." She grows quiet, lost in her thoughts. I can tell something's bothering her and I'm about to ask her when she blurts out, "Gemma, do you like Laylen?" She sighs. "I don't mean to go all high school on you, but I just want--no--need to know if you like him as more than a friend, like maybe the same way as you do with Alex." She bites her lip, waiting for me to answer.

  I feel extremely uncomfortable as I try to figure out the right thing to say. "Laylen and I are just friends," I finally tell her, wondering if that's the answer she wants.

  "It's just that sometimes you two seem... I don't know. You just seem happier when you're around each other and then there was the whole biting thing...."

  "The biting thing we didn't want to happen... we just got into a mess and then things got out of control." It feels like I need to say something that will make her feel better but I can't figure out what that is. "And I think we're more comfortable around each other because Laylen has always been honest with me and he doesn't have painful history with me."

  She looks hurt. "I get it... what I did to him in the past is unforgivable."

  "I wouldn't say that." I pause, drawing the hood of my jacket over my head as the cool breeze picks up. "Have you ever tried sitting down and talking to him?"

  She shrugs, hugging her arms around herself. "I'm worried what will happen... Of what he'll say."

  "We'll you won't know until you try."

  She glances at me. "Yeah, you're probably right, but can I ask you a question?"

  "Um... sure."

  "Have you forgiven Alex?"

  "I..." I trail off, unsure how to respond because I honestly don't know if I have or not. "I'm not sure... maybe..."

  "But you could see yourself doing so?" she asks, sidestepping a lamppost.

  I nod and it feels right. "I think one day I could."

  She pauses. "Gemma, I'm sorry for lying to you in the beginning, but I think if you'll give me another chance, you and I could be friends."

  I start to smile, but then suddenly, something crashes behind us. We spin around, scanning the street, the yards, the trees, for where the noise came from, but there's nothing nearby.

  "Keep your guard up," Aislin warns as we start walking again.

  By the time we reach the cemetery, we've both grown edgy and that edginess only amplifies at the sight of the small area dotted with graves and sealed up by an iron gate. Trees shadow the grass and a gravel path runs through the entrance and up the center of it.

  "Okay, this is really--"

  Another thud from behind us, this time much louder and nearer. Aislin draws a knife out of her purse as we reel around again.

  "What the hell?" Aislin lowers her knife. "What are you doing here?"

  Aleesa stands beneath the light of the lamppost in pink pajamas, wide eyed and terrified. She opens her mouth and lets out a scream that echoes around us and causes dogs to bark in the distance.

  "Stop!" Aislin conceals her hand over Aleesa's mouth. "Shhh... it's okay." After Aleesa settles down, Aislin moves her hand away. "What are you doing here?"

  "I saw you leaving from out the window," Aleesa says. "And I followed you... I wanted to come wi
th you."

  Aislin frowns and snags hold of my arm, steering us away from Aleesa. "What should we do with her?" she whispers.

  I shrug. "Take her with us, I guess. I mean, what else are we going to do? Take her back? The sun will be coming up in like an hour and I'm pretty sure we don't want to be sitting out in the cemetery performing a witch spell when it does."

  "Yeah, I guess so, but still, she's so jumpy."

  "Yeah, but considering her past that's understandable."

  Aislin appears guilt-ridden. "Yeah, you're right." She waves Aleesa over. "Come on, you can come with us."

  Aleesa's eyes light up with happiness as she skips toward us and follows us into the cemetery. Aislin tells me we have to find a fresh grave, so we wander around the yard, looking for one and finally find one in the corner of the cemetery beneath a massive oak tree.

  Aislin takes some black and red candles out of her bag and places them on the grass in a circle around the grave. "Alright, now we just need to sit in a circle around the candles," she says, lighting each candle with a lighter.

  I take a seat in the cool grass and so do Aislin and Aleesa. Then Aislin sprinkles silver dust over the candles, making the color of the flames turn blood red.

  She retrieves her spell book and opens it up. "Okay," she mutters, placing a red and green leaf in the center of our circle. "Are you guys ready for this?" she asks and must take our silence as a yes, because she takes a deep breath and chats. "EGO dico ut maleena ut orior oriri ortus iterum. EGO dico ut maleena ut orior oriri ortus iterum!" Aislin screams, throwing her head back and elevating her hands above her head.

  The candle's flames shift to yellow with a black center, casting an eerie glow around us, making every shadow seem like it's closing in on us. Then the flames grow bigger, more powerful, begin to ravel together until there's one giant flame stretching toward the sky. It takes the form of a woman, who rises above us and opens her hollow eyes.

  "EGO dico ut maleena ut orior oriri ortus iterum!" Aislin yells again and the flame woman opens her mouth.

  "Die!" she screeches with her mouth aimed at the sky and thunder booms even though there are no clouds in sight.

  Aleesa screams as she jumps to her feet in a panic. Aislin's eyes snap wide as Aleesa sprints off through the cemetery toward the iron gate.

  I look from the flaming woman to Aislin, hesitating. "Should I go get her?"

  "Yes! Go!" Aislin cries, her hands out to the side, her eyes locked on the flame woman. "I'll be fine!"

  Moments later, I'm on my feet and weaving around the graves as I chase down Aleesa. I lose track of her at one point but then spot her climbing over the fence and I speed up. As I reach the fence myself, I don't slow down, accelerating and springing up on my toes. With one quick leap, I'm up and over the fence, landing gracefully onto the gravel on the other side. Then I glance from left to right, searching for Aleesa, but she's nowhere. On a whim, I take off to my right, since it's the way to the house and I'm hoping she's headed back there. But as I'm barreling around the corner at full speed, I slam into a rock-hard surface. It almost knocks me to the ground, but I keep my balance and quickly regain my footing. But when I look up and see what I ran into, my heart stops.

  A guy, tall, with skin like snow, and eyes as black as the night sky. He's dressed in black, hair as pale as the moonlight, and he smells like rust and salt. He sizes me up with his dark eyes and then smiles, flashing me his sharp, shiny fangs.

  Chapter 21

  "Well, what do we have here?" He grins as he stalks toward me. "I think I've ran into a bit of luck, haven't I?"

  I start to back away, but he matches my movement, taking a step toward me every time I inch back, as if we're dancing. He pushes up the sleeves of his shirt and things get a little more frightening as I spot the Mark of Malefiscus branded on the back of his hand.

  "Don't you know that wandering around at night is a dangerous thing? Especially at a place like this."

  I need to do something quick to get myself out of this situation. Foresee my way back to the house? But what kind of person would I be to bail on Aislin like that?

  Before I can come up with an answer, the vampire lunges for me. I instinctively lift my leg and kick him right between the legs. The vampire crumples to the ground, and taking advantage of his momentary weakness, I jump for the fence, but his fingers wrap around my ankle and he drags me back to the ground. I stumble forward and smack my head against the iron fence. I see stars all around me.

  Focus, Gemma. Foresee your way to Aislin.

  I shut my eyes and concentrate on the graveyard, but the vampire sinks his fangs into my leg and it feels like my skin is on fire. But I focus past the pain, grab a nearby stick off the ground, and flip over onto my back, plunging the stick into the vampire's back. He screams as I scream, my whole body feeling as though it's melting, my skin hot wax, my veins ash.

  Blood. More stars. Alex. Then I'm sucked away into the darkness.

  Chapter 22

  When I open my eyes the sun is rising over the mountains and across the valley, painting the land with hues of pink and orange. Birds are chirping and a light breeze caresses my skin. I blink against the morning light, roll over to my stomach, and push myself to my feet. There's no sign of the vampire anywhere, but there's ash is scattered in the gravel just in front of my feet so I'm guessing when I stabbed him, it went through his heart.

  I stretch my arms above my head and start walking, rounding the corner and crossing the cemetery, looking for Aislin, trying not to think about how I saw the mark on the vampire, which means Stephan's been getting more followers.

  Aislin is in the spot where I left her, gathering her candles, looking pleased with herself. When she sees me, however, she frowns. "You didn't find her."

  I give her a funny look. "Who...Oh! Aleesa. Shit." I glance back at the gate. "I completely forgot about her... I ended up running into some trouble."

  "What kind of trouble?" Aislin asks as we hurry toward the entrance. "And why is your leg bleeding?"

  I look down at my leg where blood is soaking through my jeans. Then I sigh and tell her what happened as we leave the cemetery and head back toward the house, searching yards and places nearby, looking for Aleesa.

  "So he's marking vampires now?" Aislin shakes her head, frustrated. "God, this is getting out of control."

  "I know," I say as we reach the corner of the street. "I need to get into that mapping ball and hopefully fix it."

  We hop over the curb and start across the lawn toward a park, searching for Aleesa.

  "I don't even want to think about where she'd go," Aislin says as she looks around the slide and swing area of the park

  She's right. Aleesa is so new to the world and the idea that she's wandering around alone out here is frightening, especially if there are marked vampires and probably other things as well.

  "What is that?" Aislin asks, squinting at the road.

  I track her gaze to a Mazda parked beside the curb. "Shit."

  The car door opens and Alex gets out, looking pissed. At first I think it's because we snuck out of the house without telling anyone, but then I see Aleesa sitting in the passenger side of the car.

  "Did you two lose something?" he asks as he strides across the lawn toward us.

  Aislin lets out a nervous laugh. "Yeah, where did you find her?"

  Alex crosses his arms as he halts in front of us. "She came running into the house, screaming at the top of her lungs," he says. "When I got her to calm down, she told me you two were at the cemetery and that there was a crying fire woman there."

  "Hmmm... that's weird," I say, trying to get us out of an Alex lecture. "Maybe she imagined it."

  "It's okay, Gemma," Aislin says then looks confidently at her brother. "We were at the cemetery doing a spell which is going to hopefully remove the Mark of Malefiscus... I just need to try it out and see..." Aislin glances at me. "I'd like to try it out on your mom, but I understand if you want me to find another p
erson to test it on first, just in case something happens. We could maybe track down that vampire."

  "I think it's dead," I say. "At least I think that's what the ash was on the ground in front of me.

  "Wait, what vampire?" Alex interrupts, with that look on his face that warns me he's about to go into "Protect Gemma at All Cost Mode", so I quickly explain to him what happened and that I staked my very first vampire. And for the moment, he kind of looks proud of me, which is a first for me, from anyone. And it makes me feel kind of proud of myself, which is also a first.

  Chapter 23

  When we arrive at home, Aislin goes up to my mother's to try and see if she can get the mark off her. After Alex gives me a brief lecture on being more careful with myself then tells me that he thinks that I should start training, to get a better grasp on my fighting skills. But then says that he wants Laylen to do it, not giving an explanation why. But I know the answer--because he's trying to keep his distance from me.

 
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