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       The Vision, p.16

         Part #3 of Fallen Star series by Jessica Sorensen
Page 16


  And then Stephan walked in.

  He was dressed head-to-toe in black, and he gazed at the Death Walkers’ bodies piled all over the floor, looking both annoyed and impressed.

  “Well, I see that you’ve changed since the last time I met you,” he said unhappily.

  He walked toward me, his boots cracking the ice covering the floors.

  I stayed where I was, not stepping back, waiting until he was in swords reach, and then took a swing at him. But he flicked the sword away as if my new inner strength was nothing but a minor glitch to him.

  “You know, you are a very hard girl to track down,” he said. “I send a faerie to find you, but he up and disappears. I try to find you myself, but I never can seem to find you. So, finally, I thought to myself, what can I do? How can I get a hold of my star?” He traced the scar grazing his left cheek, where his Mark of Malefiscus once existed, until his parents cut it off. “Then, an idea hit me. If I can’t find you, why don’t I have you find me?” He walked in a circle around me with his hands behind his back. “See the thing is Gemma, there’s something you don’t understand. ” He gave a dramatic pause. “I always win. ”

  I dared a quick glance over my shoulder, relieved to find that Laylen had gotten the chains freed from around my mother’s wrists. Now, if I could just get all three of us out…I glanced over at Aleesa, curled in the corner…all four of us.

  “I wouldn’t put so much trust in people, Gemma,” Stephan’s voice ripped me back to him. “You never know what secrets they could be hiding. ”

  “And you would be the expert on that, wouldn’t you?” I asked, looking him straight in the eye.

  He smiled, but my confidence seemed to take him back a little. “I’m not the only one in this room who is an expert at lying. ” His gaze flickered behind me and I turned to find he was looking at my mother, sitting on the floor, her blue eyes saddened. “Should I tell her? Or would you like to Jocelyn?”

  I stared at my mom, waiting for her to explain what was going on. But she hung her head, refusing to look at me.

  Laylen gave me an uneasy glance and I nodded my head Aleesa, signaling for him to get her and bring her closer.

  “Ask her what’s on her wrist,” Stephan said. “Go ahead. ”

  I think I already knew. “No…I—”

  Laylen rolled up the sleeve of my mother’s faded grey shirt and there it was. A triangle outlining a red symbol.

  “No,” I whispered, horrified. “How…”

  “She’s had it forever, you know. Sophia, Marco…Didn’t you ever wonder how I got everyone to do what I asked. The only ones I didn’t mark were the ones who couldn’t be marked. ” He frowned disappointedly.

  Was he referring to Laylen, Aislin, Alex, and me…and also Aleesa?

  “You mother’s a fighter,” Stephan continued. “She was always a fighter…it’s her gift, you know—her Keeper’s gift. She always made things difficult for me, which is part of the reason why I sent her to The Underworld. In fact, I couldn’t even summon her to go—I had to threaten her with you. ” He let out a breath of frustration. “The Underworld has weakened her, though. ” An evil smile crept across his face. “It has tainted her, which makes things easier for me. Getting her to come here was as easy as a master whistling to call his dog. ” His dark-eyed gaze landed on my mother. “Makes her easier to control…All I had to do was tug at the leash a little. ”

  Okay, this conversation was getting a little too metaphorical for me.

  He turned his back to me and began rolling up the sleeves of his black button down shirt as if he was getting ready to fight me. A small part of me wanted to see how that fight would turn out, especially with my newfound badass fighting skills. But the other part of me knew what needed to be done.

  With one swift dive, I slid across the icy floor, slipping between the two Death Walker’s legs and into my mom like a baseball player slides into home plate. I grabbed hold of Laylen’s arm, and extended a hand out to Aleesa. She looked horrified but, thankfully, she took hold of it.

  Stephan turned around and his face dropped.

  “Get her!” he screamed at the Death Walkers, but it was too late.

  We were already gone.

  Chapter 16

  I knew as soon as we landed in the living room that we need to get the heck out of the beach house. It was as if I had gained these awesome leadership skills.

  “We have to go,” I ordered, already on my feet, because that’s how I landed (go figure).

  Alex and Aislin were stunned into a silent state of shock at the sight of the extra passenger with us. But I didn’t have time to explain to them who Aleesa was—that conversation was going to take some time.

  I squatted down to eye level with my mom. “Mom, did you tell him where we were hiding?”

  She was trembling. “I’m so sorry Gemma. I wanted to tell you, but I couldn’t. ”

  “Okay, but I need to know if you told Stephan where we were hiding. ”

  She didn’t answer and, I think, it was because she couldn’t.

  So I made the call. “We need to leave now. ”

  Alex was right in front of me when I stood up.

  “Why do we need to leave?” He pointed at Aleesa, freaking out in the corner. “And who the hell is she?”

  “She’s just someone we found in the basement,” I told him.

  He raised an eyebrow at me. “So, then, why do we need to leave?”

  I raised my mom’s arm, rolled back her sleeve, and gave an exaggerated gesture towards her marked wrist. “Because of that. ”

  His jaw nearly hit the floor. “What the…did he just do that to her?”

  I shook my head. “But I’ll explain everything later, okay? I think she told him where we were hiding. ”

  His eyes widened and he called out, “Alright everyone, we’re leaving. ”

  “Why?” Aislin looked so confused.

  “Because we have to,” was the only reason Alex gave her.

  “Any suggestions on where we should go?” I asked, grabbing the glittering purple mapping ball off the coffee table.

  “I’m running out of ideas,” Alex said, dragging his fingers through his hair. “With all the moving around we’ve been doing. ”

  Silence. Well, except for Aleesa’s whines and my mother’s sobbing.

  “What if we went back to Afton?” I asked, practically choking on my own words.

  “Gemma, Stephan knows where that is,” Aislin said, like I was an idiot.

  “Yeah, which means he’s less likely to look for us there,” I explained. “He would never think we would go to a place he knew about. ”

  Alex mulled this over. “You know, that actually makes a lot of sense. I mean, Marco and Sophia abandoned it…and there was something about Afton that was supposed to preserve the energy of the star…so maybe going there will help,” he gestured between himself and me, “our little fading problem. ”

  I nodded. “So, to Afton it is. ”

  “Look at you,” Laylen joked with a smile. “First the badass ninja moves and now the awesome leadership skills. ”

  Alex gave me a weird look. “Ninja moves?”

  I waved him off. “I’ll explain later…now what’s the best way to get there?” I paused. “Aislin, how fast can you do a Tracker Spell?”

  She tapped her finger on her lips. “Pretty quick if you need me to. ”

  “Can you do it before we go and make sure Marco and Sophia aren’t there?”

  She nodded, already heading out of the room.

  “How should we go there?” I asked Alex. “To Afton?”

  “Either by transporting,” Alex said, peering out the blinds. “Or with your power, seeing how we don’t have a car anymore. ”

  I glanced around at the five of us—plus Aislin in the bedroom—realizing how many people I was going to have to move if I opted for using my Foreseer power.

  Alex continued t
o watch out the blinds until Aislin returned, while Laylen tried to calm Aleesa down. I think Alex was watching to make sure his father didn’t show up, but really, I figured it would take him a while since Stephan didn’t seem to have a quick way of traveling.

  “They’re not there, at the house,” Aislin informed us when she entered the room. Something about her expression made me wondered where Marco and Sophia were—that maybe something bad happened to them.

  I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.

  “How do you think we should get to Afton?” I asked Aislin.

  “There’s too many for me to transport at once,” Aislin said, gathering her bag of herbs into the box. “But I could make two trips. ”

  “No!” Alex and I yelled at the same time and she flinched.

  “Sorry,” Alex said. “But remember what happened the last time we did that. ”

  Aislin nodded, putting the lid on the box. “Yeah, I remember. ” She shuddered.

  “It’s okay…I can do it,” I told him, hoping the extra adrenaline pumping through me at the moment would give me the extra boost I needed.

  “Are you sure?” Alex asked, locking eyes with me.

  I knew what he was doing. He was letting me make my own decisions, even though he might not like what I chose.

  “I’m sure,” I said with confidence.

  I gathered everyone in a group as tightly as I could, and then I shut my eyes, picturing the high mountains, the red brick house I grew up in, centered in the middle of them. I tried not to cringe at the picture. But when I opened my eyes, I did cringe.

  All six of us were huddled together, in the center of my old living room. I slowly stood up, a mixture of feelings pouring through me a hundred miles a minute. Everything. . . It was too much.

  My eyes rolled into the back of my head and my body collapsed to the floor.

  Chapter 17

  The icy lake glistened before me, Alex stood beside me. My hand was in his, and I could feel his racing pulse. He was scared. I was scared.

  Tears streamed down my cheeks, and Alex brushed them away with his finger.

  “Don’t cry. ” He leaned in, his lips a sliver of air away. “It will be alright. ”

  “Will it?” I asked.

  He kissed me like I was everything. “It will. ”

  Tears dripped down my frostbitten cheeks. “How do you know?”

  “Because I’ll save you,” he whispered. “I’ll always save you, Gemma. ”

  When I woke up, I was lying in my old bed. It freaked me out for a split second, like maybe I had dreamt the last few weeks and had finally woken up back in my lonely old Gemma life, friendless and with nothing.

  But it couldn’t have been a dream. It just couldn’t.

  I pinched myself just to make sure, and, yep, I was awake

  Everything looked exactly the same. The walls were still a boring tan and a single shelf sat in the corner that held my books and CD’s. The only thing that was different was the six foot four vampire snoring away in my computer chair, his feet kicked up on the computer desk, his head tipped back in the most awkward position.