Ember x, p.17
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       Ember X, p.17

         Part #1 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 17

 

  Cameron takes her hand and tugs her up. She intentionally trips and braces herself with his shoulders. “Oh my goodness. ” She squeezes his bicep. “You must work out like all the time. ”

  He lifts her hand from his bicep. “Not really. ”

  “We should get going,” I tell Raven before she can further embarrass herself.

  She seductively smiles at Cameron and flips her hair before walking past him, exaggeratedly shaking her ass. “See you later, Em. ” She waggles her finger at me and turns the corner.

  “Sorry about that,” I say to Cameron as I round the bookshelf and collect my bag from the floor where Raven dropped it. When I turn back around, I almost run into him.

  He doesn’t step back though, watching me with his hungry eyes, like he could eat me up. “You dropped this. ” He hands me my phone.

  I drop the phone in my bag and back up. “I’m real sorry about Raven. She can kind of be a little… overly friendly sometimes. ”

  “I think she might have some issues,” he informs me with a lazy grin.

  “Doesn’t everyone?” I pick up a book to divert my attention away from the lust in his eyes.

  He takes the book from my hands, his fingers almost touching mine, but not quite, and then he discards the book onto the shelf. “Okay, I’m going to get straight to the point. I think we should go out on a date. ”

  “Go out on a date?” I elevate my eyebrows. “Really? You and me?”

  “Why do you sound so surprised?” he asks, amused.

  I glance at my black jeans, my fingerless arm warmers, and my black and red striped tank top, then at his black button-down shirt and his name brand jeans. “I think it’s kind of obvious. ”

  “We’re not as different as you think,” he assures me confidently. “You like poetry, right? So I was thinking that you and I could go to a poetry slam. ”

  I sputter a laugh. “Sorry to burst your bubble, but there aren’t poetry slams around here. In fact, the closest thing you’ll probably find is banjo night down at Mamma’s House of Cheese Fries. ”

  He laughs and it momentarily erases the misery in his eyes. “You don’t think I know that. ” He inches forward and the tips of his shoes clip the tips of mine. “There is, however, a Saturday night poetry slam in Jackson. ”

  I casually step back, seeking room before an accidental touch happens. “What about Mackenzie?”

  He matches my step, closing in on me, the heat of his body radiating all over me. “What about her?”

  “Are you two like, dating or something? I’ve seen you a ton of times around town together. ” My elbow bumps the shelf and books topple over.

  “We’re just friends. ” He crosses his arms and casually leans against the bookshelf.

  “Yeah, but you guys won’t be, if you go out with me,” I say and he fakes a befuddled look. “Oh, don’t pretend like you haven’t heard what people say about me: cult member, Satan worshiper, murderer. ”

  “And haven’t you heard that I like to spend time in the cemetery, digging up graves. ” He dips his head in toward me and his warm breath embraces my cheeks. “Say yes, Ember. Please. ” There’s a begging to his tone that causes my heart to miss a beat.

  The back of my mind screams that it’s wrong, that something is off about the whole situation, but there’s a pull toward him, like he’s a magnet and I’m welded of metal.

  “Okay,” I say, startled by my answer. “It’s a date, then. ”

  He backs toward the door. “I’ll pick you up tomorrow at eight. ” He flashes me a grin of perfection and then pushes out the door.

  ***

  “I hate this,” Raven complains later that day in the library. I made her stay with me at the library while I looked for a book about Grim Angels and then she could give me a ride home. I haven’t told her yet about my date with Cameron, because I know she’ll freak out and make a scene.

  “I won’t be too much longer,” I say, searching through the index of a book. “You can survive a few minutes longer. ”

  “Can’t you just search the internet?”

  “I already did. ”

  “Fine. I’m walking next door to get a soda. When I get back, you better be done. ” Raven grabs her purse and a magazine and walks outside.

  The book has nothing I’m looking for so I shut it and walk up to the counter. Ms. Kinsley, the middle-aged librarian with auburn hair and green eyes, looks up from her computer.

  “Can I help you?” Her standoffish tone probably means she knows who I am.

  “Do you have any books,” I say, “that perhaps focus on the more uncommon creatures of mythology?”

  She types something on the keyboard. “There might be some in the back, in the mythology section, but I don’t know what they focus on. ”

  “Thanks,” I say and walk for the bookshelves. At the back, is the mythology section and I pull out the heaviest book I can find, and camp down on the floor with it. The index has nothing titled Grim Angels, however there is a section on “The Curse of the Angels. ”

  The curse of the Angels is a result of a battle that took place a long time ago. Most refer to it as the battle between good and evil, but during the era, people believed the only theme to be evil.

  The battle allegedly started from a dispute over souls. Angels of Death were the carriers of the innocent souls, and Grim Reapers the carriers of the evil souls. However, when the Reapers became greedy and began stealing the souls of the innocent, a battle broke out between the two. As a form of punishment, Michael, the ruler of the Angels of Death, and Abaddon, the ruler of the Grim Reapers, cursed the warriors to Earth and bound them there with a breed that carried both group’s blood.

  Grim Angels—half Grim Reaper, half Angel of Death—have walked the earth for centuries undetected by humans. Only would they be free when the last Grim Angel made the choice between good and evil.

  The next section switches to Legend of Faeries. I thrum my finger on top of the book, having no idea what to do with what I read. I start to put the book back on the shelf when wet droplets trickle down the back of my neck.

  I wipe them away, looking behind me, and then at my hand. “Blood?” I glance up at the ceiling and blood splatters against my forehead. I quickly smear it away and jump to my feet. Hanging by a rope from the ceiling is the body of Farrah Taverson, her medieval dress soaked with blood and her eyes are bleeding.

  “Oh my God,” I breathe, backing away. What do I do? What do I do? I rub my eyes, but she stays there, her feet swaying from the breeze of the vent next to her head.

  I back away toward the edge of the shelf, when I crash into someone.

  I whirl around, breathing loudly. “Shit. ”

  “Ember, are you okay?” Cameron eyes me over and his gaze lands on my forehead. “Did you hurt yourself?”

  I wipe my forehead with the sleeve of my shirt and there’s blood on it. “Ummm…” I glance behind me at the ceiling and her body is gone, but the blood is real.

  “I must have scratched myself on the edge of the shelf when I was pulling the book out,” I lie.

  He scans me over warily. “Are you sure you’re okay? You look like you’re going to be sick or something. ”

  “I’m fine. ” I swallow hard and start to head back to the table.

  He follows after me. “Are you planning on going to the cemetery tonight?”

  “I don’t think so… I really think I might need to get some rest. ”

  “Alright, everyone,” Ms. Kinsley stands up from her chair and shuts her computer off. “Everyone needs to get there stuff and exit the library. I need to lock up early to go to a town meeting. ”

  As I gather my books and bag from the table, Cameron wipes some remaining blood from my hair with the sleeve of his shirt. “Such a shame. ” He grins slyly. “I’ve been dying to get you alone again, but I guess I can wait until tomorrow. ”

  “About that,” I start to cancel, not wanti
ng to add more to my cracking plate. “I think I—”

  “I’ll pick you up at eight,” he cuts me off, sensing a rejection. Backing away, he runs his fingers through the locks of his blonde hair. “I promise, I’ll give you the time of your life in ways you can only dream about. ” The way he says it sends a chill over my skin.

  “Oh my God. ” Raven comes running up to me, with her purse on her shoulder and the car key and a bottle of soda in her hand. “Did you hear?”

  I shake my head, my eyes locked on Cameron as he shoves through the exit doors. “No, what?”

  “Farrah Taverson’s body was found next to the lake. ” Raven says as we walk out the door of the library and step onto the sidewalk. The street is eerily empty as if it’s suddenly become a ghost town. “I guess she told a few friends she was going to go looking for Laden. Some boaters found her floating in the water, and she had stab wounds and there were feathers in the pockets of her dress. They think it’s murder. And probably the same one who killed Laden and your—”

  “Neither of their bodies has been found. ” My heart crushes into tiny bits and pieces that stab into my stomach. “So they might not be dead. ”

  She gives me a look of pity. “Yeah, maybe. ”

  I swallow the lump in my throat. “How do you know this?”

  She leans in and whispers, “I overheard this guy talking to a cop about it when I was walking into the gas station,”

  What if what Raven is saying is true? How did I see the body? Could my death omens be cranking up and now I can see them without touching someone? I’m not sure—I’m not sure about anything anymore.

  “What’s wrong, Em?” Raven asks, unlocking her car. “You look like you saw a ghost or something. ”

  Or something. “I’m fine. ” I frown, opening the passenger door.

  She frowns at me with doubt from over the top of the car. “Are you sure?”

  I nod, ducking into the car. “Yeah, absolutely one hundred percent fine. ”

  “Want to know something really creepy,” Raven says, turning the keys in the ignition. “I got this really strange text from Farrah and now I’m wondering if it had something to do with this. Like maybe she was being stalked by the murderer and was starting to get scared. ”

  “Why would she send you a text?” I take out my cell phone and check my messages. “I didn’t know you guys were friends. ”

  “We talk a lot in art class. ” She cranes her head and backs out of the parking spot.

  I toss my cell phone into my bag. “What did the message say?”

  She shoots me a haunting look. “Fear the Reaper. ”

  ***

  “Oh my God! Oh my God!” Raven bounces up and down in the middle of my bedroom, holding my hand. Her bangle bracelets jingle and her eyes are as sparkly as her glitter eyeliner. “This is so amazing. Why didn’t you tell me in the car?”

  “Because I knew you’d want to bounce up and down, which is a total road hazard. ” I wiggle my hand free and shake off her death. She’s been really bad lately about touching me. “But don’t you think it’s a little weird that he asked me out? I mean, I really don’t seem like his type. ”