The promise, p.18
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       The Promise, p.18

         Part #4 of Fallen Star series by Jessica Sorensen
 
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Page 18

 

  I cursed, ready to explode.

  Alex, sometimes life isn t. Sometimes people have to endure horrible things, while others don t. It s just how life works. You can t control everything.

  That s only part of the reason why I m pissed off.

  I was yelling now, but I didn t really give a shit at the moment.

  I m pissed off because you sit here and talk about life and how it s hard. Well, tell that to Gemma, who s never had a life. She spent most of it dead, with no memories, no emotions, no nothing. So tell me, how is that just a hard life.

  She had no answer and I stormed up the stairs before she could come up with another explanation. I dropped my head against the wall. Just once, couldn t someone please surprise me in a good way? Tell me some good news. Tell me something that wasn t so freaking complicated.

  I let out a breath and realized someone was crying. The bedroom of Marco and Sophia s room was opened and I hurried toward it, my hand edging for my knife. But it wasn t an intruder, it was Gemma, curled in a ball, with her wings wrapped around herself.

  Gemma.

  I knelt down beside her.

  What are you doing?

  Her body tensed and she squirmed, trying to smear all the tears away, before she peeked out of her wings.

  Did something happen?

  I glanced around at the bits of paper on the floor.

  Where s Aislin?

  She s stealing a witch s power.

  She sat up, picking at her feathers.

  I m just waiting for her to come back.

  My eyes wandered to the pieces of paper.

  What is that?

  She flicked one of the pieces.

  My birth certificate.

  She stood, rubbing her eyes.

  Did you find your mom?

  Yeah. She s downstairs.

  She perked up a little.

  What did she say? Does she know how to help us?

  Know how to help us? Of course she did, because apparently that was what she d been waiting around to do.

  Yeah, she s got a plan and everything.

  Good, I m glad someone finally does.

  Her eyebrows furrowed.

  Is there something else? You seem & I don t know, a little bothered.

  I shook my head, rubbing my thumb between her brows, erasing the worry.

  No, everything s fine.

  And I wasn t lying to her. Like my mother said, my life was made to protect her. And that s exactly what I would do, until I took my last breath.

  And maybe even after that.

  Chapter 31

  (Gemma)

  He was acting strange. And the electricity was offbeat and it was making me offbeat. I considered asking him what was up, but knew he probably wouldn t tell me.

  We went downstairs and his mother, Alana, didn t seem that shocked by my wings. In fact, she didn t seem shocked about any of this. But maybe Alex had already told her everything.

  Laylen was there too, both of them staring at each other from across the room, like they didn t know what to do with themselves.

  So are you ready to go to the Afterlife,

  Alana said, getting straight to the point. She looked like Alex, at least in the eyes, the same shade of bright green.

  Although, we should get the wings off you first.

  Where s Aislin?

  Alex glanced at the clock.

  Shouldn t she be here? I mean, how long does it take to steal a witch s power?

  She has &

  I checked the time.

  Nine minutes left.

  Nine minutes?

  He flopped down on the sofa.

  That s precise.

  I slid down next to Laylen, putting space between Alex and myself, because his weird vibe was making me tired.

  I gave her a time frame and if she not back by then, then I go looking for her.

  Couldn t she do it from here?

  Laylen kicked his feet up on the coffee table.

  There s plenty of witches outside.

  I adjusted my wings.

  No, apparently, witches aren t nice about getting their power stolen, so she wanted to make sure they couldn t track down where she lived.

  Laylen bit at his lip ring.

  Is she in danger? I mean, it sounds dangerous. Maybe we should go look for her.

  I looked at the clock again.

  We can if she s not back in seven minutes. That was our deal.

  We all sat quietly, listening to the clock ticking.

  I hate to interrupt a good time,

  Nicholas s voice whooshed through the room.

  But I d just like to mention that you owe me my life.

  Excuse me,

  I said, my eyes searching for him.

  I don t owe you anything. And how can I hear you? I don t have the ring on.

  It s a Banshee thing,

  Alana said with a sigh.

  We have a ghostly connection and I m channeling it through all of you.

  But we still can t see him?

  Do you really want to?

  Alex asked and pointed to the side of Laylen.

  And he s right there.

  I felt Laylen shift toward me.

  You could have mentioned that earlier.

  I m sorry,

  I said, staring at the empty space Alex pointed at.

  But why do you think I owe you your life.

  Because Alex made a bargain in your name.

  Nicholas giggled.

  It was so nice of him.

  I gaped at Alex.

  You did what?

  It was the only way I could get him to tell me where she was.

  Alex nodded at his mother and then shot a glare in Nicholas s direction.

  You know how he is.

  Okay, but how s Gemma even supposed to do that?

  Laylen asked the question I was thinking.

  Because I m really curious.

  She ll make sure to include his name when she makes the bargain with Helena,

  Alana chimed in, like she d known this all along.

  So I m going then?

  I asked her.

  You re going to help me.

  Alex.

  Alana turned to him.

  Give Gemma the ring back.

  He slid his hand to the side of him and hid it under his leg.

  No way.

  Alex.

  Her voice was calm, but firm.

  She needs the ring to enter the Afterlife.

  He scoffed, almost yanking his finger off as he removed the ring. Then he slapped it down on the coffee table, where it spun like a top, finally landing on its side, the violet-gem directed at me.

  I put the ring on and Nicholas appeared. He winked at me and gave a mocking wave in front of Laylen s face.

  Laylen leaned in to me.

  How close is he? He s not touching me is he? Because I m starting to find this whole ghost thing a little creepy.

  Your fine,

  I lied.

  Bzzzz.

  Nicholas murmured and Laylen flinched.

  Times up.

  My eyes darted to the clock and I hopped up.

  What s wrong?

  Alex was on his feet, like he was ready for battle

  I pointed at the clock.

  Aislin s times just ran out. I need to go find her.

  Alex caught me by the elbow.

  Hold on a sec. You can t just go running off, when a witch fight might be going down.

  I shook his arm off, but he wrapped his arms around me, pinning me against him.

  I have to. She might be in trouble.

  Then I ll go,

  he said. I started to open my mouth to argue, but he covered it.

  I ll go this time.

  He voice was slow pressing.

  I bit at my lip, his breath warm on my neck.

&nbs
p; You can t get there. I have to take you.

  I ll take him,

  Nicholas offered, raising his hand.

  Thanks. But no thanks,

  I said.

  You d probably end up dropping him into the ocean or something.

  He can take me,

  Alex interrupted.

  I hesitated.

  Are you sure? Because I wasn t really joking about the ocean thing.

  Yeah, I m sure.

  He released me and reached for the ring.

  Can I

  Poof.

  I whirled, bumping my elbow into Alex.

  Aislin.

  I breathed relief.

  You made it.

  She grinned.

  Of course I did.

  She waggled her finger.

  And I got the power. So let s get those wings off you.

  She turned to Alex.

  I need you to &

  Her mouth fell open.

  Mom?

  Alana looked like she was going to cry and she hugged Aislin tight. Then she reached around and pulled Alex in, even though he acted standoffish. I backed away with the slamming realization that I would never have this.

  Wait a minute.

  I reeled to Nicholas.

  Where s my mom?

  He didn t have to say anything. I knew it was bad. Because when someone like Nicholas looked sad, there was no way it could be good.

  Tears threatened to fall from my eyes.

  She s gone, isn t she?

  He pressed his lips together, nodding, not daring to speak.

  My lips trembled, the prickle surfacing and stabbing violently at my neck. I didn t say a word, because I couldn t. I left the room, going up to mine, and sank down onto my bed. I hugged a pillow to my chest, letting the tears stream out.

  A knock sounded at my door. Before I could answer, Laylen entered. He didn t say a word as he sank on the bed and wrapped his arm around my shoulder.

  I m sorry,

  I sniffed, wiping my eyes.

  I know it s stupid. I mean, I already thought she was dead once.

  I remember when my parents died,

  he started after a deep breath.

  It hurt so bad I didn t know how to deal with it.

  He paused.

  I kept wishing for time to stop so I didn t have to go through life without them. But it kept moving, despite all my wishing. After a while, the hurt became less painful. I won t lie, though, it never fully goes away. There will always be pain. It just gets easier to carry.

  I nodded, tears pouring and I didn t even try to stop them.

  And how did you get to that point & where it became a little easier.

  Time,

  he said.

  But how much time?

  As long as you need.

  Then he stayed silent, while tears poured down my cheeks, landing on everything below me and marking it with my sorrow. I d never see my mother again. I d never get to know her. I d never have memories of her that didn t include the world ending.

  She was gone.

  And I had to move on somehow.

  But not yet.

  No, right now I needed a little more time.

  Somehow I fell asleep. When I woke up I felt much lighter. Not in terms of my mourning, but in the sense that my body felt much lighter because my wings were gone. I stared back at the empty space behind me, relieved I no longer had to pack them around. My clothes were back to normal too, which was just about as lovely as the wings being gone.

  Aislin took them off while you were asleep.

  His voice startled me and I bolted up, blinking against the darkness. He was sitting in the computer chair, skimming through my music.

  So long, Good-bye

  by 10 Years flowed from the speakers.

  Aislin thought it might cheer you up a little if you woke up and they were gone.

  He swiveled the chair.

  Are you & are you okay?

  No,

  I admitted honestly.

  But I don t think I m supposed to be.

  He nodded, understanding.

  No, I don t think it s that simple is it.

  I climbed out of bed, stretching my arms and legs.

  I guess I should get going. I ve got souls to save.

  Gemma,

  he started.

  Maybe you should

  Is your mom ready?

  I cut him off, wanting to free the souls that died and eliminate some of the death in the world.

  And does she know how I m getting in there? Does she just walk me to a place?

  He swallowed hard, avoiding my gaze.

  The Banshee in Iceland wasn t lying about that part. You have to be dead, so Helena will accept your entry.

  With poison?

  I asked and he clicked the computer mouse over and over again. I placed my hand on his, our skin a nip of static.

  Is it with poison?

  It is, unless you choose not to go.

  I have to,

  I said.

  I already said I ve got souls to save.

  You don t have to do anything.

 
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