Darkness Falls (Darkness Falls, Book 1), Page 18Jessica Sorensen
I almost bolt, pull out my knife, stab Aiden and the guard and run like hell. Because nothing can explain this—nothing good anyway.
“You said this wasn’t a Colony. You said there weren’t any Highers around.” My voice is calm, but carries a hint of warning. “You said I could trust you.”
“You can,” he answers, just as calm. “That’s why I brought you here—to show you the truth.”
“How did you get it?”
“It came from one of The Gatherings.” He moves next to me, reaching for my hand, but I pull away. “Usually there are three Bellators dumped out into the dessert. But there was one specific time where one of these showed up in a body bag.” He points his finger sharply at the Higher. “No one wanted to bring it back,” he says. “But Dominic insisted we had to, so we did, but trapped it in here, so it wouldn’t try to overtake things.”
I tilt my head. “Who’s Dominic?”
“You’ll meet him soon,” he says. “He’s one of the original Gathering members—one of the first one's who was ever dumped and who built all of this.”
“But why keep it alive?” I gaze the silver-lined room. “Why not just kill it and be done with it? I mean, is there really a point in keeping it?”
As if hearing my harsh words, the Higher lifts its head, its eyes pale and tired. “Ajuta-ma,” he says weakly.
“What’s wrong with him?” I ask. “Why is it so weak?”
Aiden scuffs his boot against the cement floor. “It’s the silver. It weakens them.”
“How do you know all this?” I ask.
He shrugs, holding a secret back he never wants me to find out.
“You’re hiding something,” I say. “What is it?”
“Maybe I should be asking you the same thing.” He steps for me, getting in my face. “You’re hiding something from me, Juniper, I can tell.”
I freeze at the sound of my second name. “What did you just call me?”
“Kayla. I called you Kayla.” His voice suggests composure, but the fear emitting from him tells me different. He’s afraid of me finding out the truth from him.
I back for the door. “Who are you really? And why do you know that name? No one calls me that but Tristan.”
I watch to see if he recognizes Tristan’s name. He does. His face reddens and he lowers his voice, breathing hotly against my cheek. “Does Tristan know about this?” He touches my arm, pouring his fear through me. “Or that you’re never afraid.”
I’m gone, out the door before he can utter more words that don’t make sense. I smack the guard down that blocks my way and run down the hall, fast, knocking down people as I push through the crowd and dash up the stairs. I draw my knife out as I reach the exit door.
The red-headed guy—Greyson steps in my way. “Nuh uh. You can’t go out—it’s dark.”
“I don’t care,” I say. “Let me out.”
“Hey, take it easy.” He holds up his hands. “No one’s here to hurt you, Kayla.”
Something about the way he says my name sends me over the edge. It’s like I’m back in The Colony, facing Gabrielle as he taunts me with things he knows, but won’t tell.
“Get out of my way.” I reach for the doorknob.
He snatches my hand. “I said you can’t go out right now.”
With one swift swing of my fist, he crumples to the ground, unconscious. I step over him and jerk the door open, sprinting out onto the metal platform. A deep breath and then I’m running up the pipe, water splashing underneath my boots as I climb higher. My fingers slide against the water and so do my shoes, but eventually I break through to higher ground, knowing he’s following not too far behind.
I burst through the top and slip into the water. “Dammit.” I splash forward, but pause at the sight of them. While I was down there, darkness fell and the vampires woke up. Worse, they all seemed to migrate here, surrounding the water, outlines of shadows, snapping their fangs viciously.
Even after what happened last night, I have to be reluctant. Because if something’s changed—if they’ve suddenly decided they like the taste of me—then I’m dead. I wait, testing their reactions as they sniff the air.
“Kayla, back up slowly.” It’s Aiden’s voice, trying to lure me back into the pipe.
When the vampires hear him, their eyes rain blood, little drops of red, bleeding into the water I’m standing in.
“Don’t you mean Juniper?” I back up as the bloody water swims for me.
One of the vampires lets out a shriek, then the rest cackle like coyotes.
“Dammit Kayla.” He jumps into the water. “You can’t run off before I explain things—just let me explain, please. I swear to God, I’ll tell you everything.”
He’s right behind me, taking me by the hands and I make the choice, letting him pull me back into the darkness of the pipe. We slide down and again, he manages to maneuver us onto the platform without dunking us into the pool of water first.
Immediately, I wiggle my hand loose from his, push him back, his shoulder banging into the wall. I draw out my knife. “Tell me how you know it? Tell me how you know that name?”
He rubs his shoulder. “I know it because I knew you in The Colony.”
“But I don’t know you.” I point the sharp blade of my knife at his throat. “And even if you did know me, only two people know that name. And one of them is dead.” My breathing increases as I say these words aloud.
“Which one?” His voice is gentle.
“What does it matter?” I sound choked.
“Because it does.”
My grip loosens on my knife. “Monarch.” His name sticks on my tongue like glue.
“Kayla,” he whispers my name softly. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine.” I blink away the moisture in my eyes.
Giving me a sympathetic look, he slowly moves my knife away from his throat and opens his arms.
I flinch back. “What are you doing?”
He frowns, like I’ve slapped him. “Giving you a hug.”
I back away, shaking my head. “Tell me how you know all this stuff about me? I mean we’d have to be close.”
He drops his arms, discouraged. “Because we’re—we used to be, friends.”
“Then why can’t I remember anything about you?” I ask. “Have you been gone for that long?”
He takes a cautious step toward me, like he’s approaching a skittish animal. “You can’t remember because you can’t remember a lot of things.”
I suddenly realize how nervous and jumpy I’m acting, like most of The Colony members I used to know. I calm myself, letting my head regain composure.
“Are you sure you want to hear this?” He asks. “Because, I feel like I have to warn you—the truth can be really ugly sometimes. You’ll learn horrible things about the people you knew—about yourself—that you might not want to know. But it’s your choice. Like I said before, everything’s your choice now.” He holds his hand out. “Either you can come with me, and I’ll take you to the truth. Or you can go out there and run away from it—this time I won’t stop you.” He folds his arms, looking confident, but his hand shakes, fearing my answer, fearing I’ll choose to run and leave him.
But I already know what I have to do. I’m not a coward and Monarch said he wanted me to find the truth, when the time was right. And this feels right. So as ugly and horrible as the truth might be, it’s still the truth—it’s still real.
I don’t take his hand, but step for the door. “Take me to the truth then.”
He nods, letting out a breath and opens the door. We go back to the crowded room, passing by Greyson on our way. His face has a purple lump, right where my fist slammed his cheek.
“What wrong with his face?” I trot down the stairs. “I didn’t do that, did I?”
He frowns. “It’s called a bruise and yeah, you did it. Sometimes what you do in here has different consequences from in The Colony, so you have to be more
I point at the white line tracing below his eye and down his cheek. “So is that a bruise?”
He traces his finger along it. “No, that’s called my freedom.”