Cinder x, p.16
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       Cinder X, p.16

         Part #2 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
Page 16


  She shakes her head. “Nope. He was simply really good at keeping things hidden, like other people in your family. ” She thrums her finger against Ian’s chest. “You know, you’re the most unfortunate family I’ve ever come across. Your blood is so interwoven with Angels and Reapers. Your father. Your brother. So many more. ” She taps her finger on her lip. “I’m fairly certain you’re going to end up being the last Grim Angel standing. ” She glances over at Ian. “I would have said this one a few years ago, but then his girlfriend OD’d and that made him go a little off the deep end. ”

  “But she was discovered in a lake. ” I’m flabbergasted, waiting for Ian to chime in, but he just stands there, staring at the damn ceiling.

  Her grin broadens. “Guilt can be a real bitch, especially when you do something like help your friends throw a body into the lake because they don’t want to be held responsible for a death. ”

  I swallow hard, shaking my head in denial. “You’re lying. They wouldn’t throw her in a lake simply because she OD’d. ”

  “Am I?” she asks with amusement. “Well, if that’s the case, then why don’t you ask Ian what really happened?”

  “Ian, tell me she’s lying. Please. ” As I look to Ian for an explanation, tears start to fall from his eyes as he stares at the wall behind me. I’m not sure what that means; whether it’s true or not. It’s horrifying to think about, though; that my brother could be a part of that. I can’t go there yet—believe something so horrific when there’s no proof—especially when Raven’s possessed by a man who’s probably the leader of everything evil.

  Raven walks around to the side of Ian and slips her fingers through his. “Now look what you’ve done. ” She reaches up and wipes away some of his tears, yet they continue to stream down his face. “You’ve upset him. ”

  “No, you have,” I say, starting to get to my feet, but as quick as lightning, she reaches back and shoves the large canvas forward, causing it to land on my legs. Pain spreads through my muscles as the weight of the painting pins me to the ground. I manage to kick it off and start to get to my feet once more, however then I fly back to the ground by an unseen force, hitting my head again, this time a lot harder.

  I hear Raven laugh as the shadows around the attic start to move. “You know, it’s really beneficial to be controlled by one of the most powerful Anamotti that exists because it gives me more strength. ”

  I grip at my head as shadows swoop and dive at me, no longer attached to the wall. I think I might have a concussion because I can’t see very clearly, but I can make out enough to notice that, while most of the shadows are diving towards me, one in particular is diving towards Raven. She seems to be bothered by it, too, waving her hands around and squealing while Ian just stands there helplessly.

  “Get away from me, you moron!” she cries, running around as it swoops at her head like a bird. “Get her, not me!”

  The shadow continues to swarm around her repetitively, whooshing at her hair, diving down and circling around her. I wonder if it’s my stalker shadow and why it seems like it’s trying to help me. “Get away from me!” she cries. “And go find the book!”

  The book. Shit. Is that why they’re here? I try to roll over to crawl out of the room, but they keep coming at me, strangling me with their chill every time they touch me. Through the madness of it, I swear I hear the faintest whisper coming from it. A voice that I recognize. “Ember, stay put. ” When my dad’s voice surrounds me, I swear to God time stops.

  I’m not sure if I’m losing it, but I still try to stay put like he said. Then the rest of the shadows start to swoop for me, smacking against my body; their chill seeping into my bones and drowning out my emotion. I struggle to get to my feet to help but I fall right back down the moment I get my feet underneath me. Again, I hit my head, and the whole room looks like a shadow while the world spins beneath me. I can’t do anything about it, though, as shadows fly around me. With every brush against me, they feel deathly cold, surrounding me in their icy menace.

  I’m not sure what their purpose is, yet the more they move, the more hollow I feel. I can’t help thinking of the shadow realm. I wonder if this is what it is. If these are Reapers and they’re here to get me. But why? And why did I hear my dad’s voice coming from the shadow attacking Raven.

  I search the crowd of shadows, looking for which one it was, however they’ve all blended together, orbiting my head like birds. I’m confused about what the point is, and my confusion only grows when I hear Cameron’s voice rise above the madness.

  “Well, well, well. If it isn’t my least favorite person,” he says with a cocky grin.

  “And if it isn’t the Reaper that no one wants around,” Raven retorts, and the swooping of the shadows stops. “You know, your obsession with her is ridiculous, especially when she’s in love with the Angel. ”

  “She’s not in love with the Angel,” Cameron says venomously. “Love requires knowing everything about the other person, flaws and all, and loving them despite them. ” His footsteps grow louder as he moves up beside me. “And trust me, Asher hasn’t told her any of his flaws. ” It gets quiet, and seconds later, I feel his arm slip underneath me. He helps me up as I blink until my vision gets into focus, adjusting to the darkness of the room. “Are you okay?” he whispers in my ear with genuine sincerity.

  “I’m fine,” I say, slipping out of his hold, confused why he’s being nice.

  “Well, she definitely doesn’t love you,” Raven says snidely with her arms folded. “So I guess your rebellion is turning out to be for a lost cause. ”

  “My rebellion isn’t only because of her,” Cameron states, moving up beside me and into my line of vision. He’s wearing his floor length cape, but the hood isn’t pulled over his head, which leaves his facial features and blonde hair visible. “And need I remind you that, despite your possession, you’re still human and vulnerable to death? So if you know what’s good for you, you’ll walk out of here before things get really ugly. ”

  Raven glares at him, but there’s a flicker of fear in her eyes. “Fine. ” She snaps her fingers as she starts for the door. “Ian, let’s go. We’re done here. ”

  I snag the sleeve of Ian’s shirt as he starts to walk towards her. “No, he’s staying here. ”

  “Oh, you think so?” She glances from Ian to me then to Cameron. “Since you’re so keen on her, can you please explain to her that Ian can’t stay here, not when he’s under the possession of Alton—not after he’s given in to his Reaper blood?”

  Cameron gives her a bored look. “Take the boy. Like I care. ”

  “Cameron, I can’t just let him go with her. She’s evil,” I hiss, knowing full well that there’s no reasoning with him. That he’s bad. Evil. A Reaper. At the same time, though, he’s here and seems to be protecting me at the moment, so I have to at least try.

  Cameron turns his head towards me and I startle back at the sight of his glowing eyes. “Princess, you need to let him go, otherwise you’re going to have a whole swarm of Anamotti here to torture you until you do. ”

  I refuse to let go of his shirt, but as Ian steps forward, the fabric slips from my fingertips. When he then goes to leave with Raven, I start to chase after him, but Cameron’s arms enfold around me and he pulls me back. I have no other choice but to let him walk out of the attic and with her.

  We stand in silence as they leave, listening to the sounds of their footsteps growing fainter until the sound disappears all together, and moments later the front door slams shut. Then all I can hear is my breathing and the sound of the wind outside.

  “She said he’s a Grim Angel,” I whisper, staring at the doorway, tears blurring my vision.

  “Was a Grim Angel,” Cameron says with very little sympathy. “But he gave in, and now they own him. ”

  “You’re lying,” I utter, shaking my head in denial while hot tears spill down my cheeks. “She’s lying. ”

  “Not thi
s time,” he replies and then his hand touches the small of my back. I flinch at first, but then I realize that he’s trying to comfort me, and for a moment, I take up the offer, letting him touch me because right now there’s no one else.

  Eventually I stop crying and pull myself together then step to the side and out of his touch. “So he’s a Reaper now?” I ask, glancing at Cameron, only to find that he’s staring at me with perplexity and curiosity.

  “For now,” he answers, continuing to ogle me with fascination. “But it could all change, depending on the choice the last Grim Angel makes. ”

  “You mean, he could be freed if the last Grim Angel chooses the side of good?” I ask, hopefully.

  “No, but he could become an Angel if they choose the good. ” He moves towards me, cocking his head to the side, refusing to stop looking at me like I’m a curious little creature. “Your tears are so fascinating. ” He extends his arm towards me and brushes his fingers across my cheek. “So much emotion behind them. ”

  I start to recoil at the feel of his cold fingers. “Cameron, please don’t touch me. ”

  He disregards my request, his fingers moving with me as I back up. He wipes a few tears away before he starts to lean in. At first I think he’s going to kiss me and my body goes as rigid as the floorboards, but then he grazes his lips across my cheek where a tear is rolling down my skin. My initial reaction is to run from him, but the magnetic feeling I felt when we went to the lake and he dove in to get my necklace, resurfaces. I feel a pull towards him, and even though I’m guessing he’s manipulating me, I stand frozen in place as he kisses tear after tear, erasing each one. Once my face is dry, he moves away with a blasé demeanor.

  “You might want to consider staying somewhere else, especially since they seem to want that book you’re harboring in your trunk,” he says and then strolls towards the door, like nothing happened between us.

  I follow him out into the hallway. “Those shadows that were here… what are they?”

  He pauses, slowly turning around to face me. “You saw those?”

  I nod. “Um, yeah. They were everywhere. ”

  He stares blankly at me and then suddenly he’s smirking. “Well, I guess your Reaper blood might be stronger than I thought, if you can see the shadow realm. ” Then he turns and walks away, calling over his shoulder, “Until next time, princess. ”

  I want to chase him down and confront him, demand that he take back what he said. However, the painful truth starts to bleed inside me as I recount the last few days. How I’ve killed. How I found out my brother gave into his Reaper’s blood. How I drank Cameron’s life.

  Maybe Cameron is right.

  Perhaps I’m veering towards evil.