Broken visions, p.19
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       Broken Visions, p.19

         Part #3 of Shattered Promises series by Jessica Sorensen
 
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  "I don't know Mom..." I look at her with wariness.

  "Do not give up. I want you to go into your room and read through that Foreseers' book--find your loophole. Promise me, Gemma. Promise me you won't give up."

  "Okay, okay, I promise." I put my hands up in front of me and back away from the frantic look on her face, not believing that there's a loop hole, but figuring it won't hurt to look.

  I go back into my room and Alex isn't there. He ends up being in the shower. So I climb into bed and start reading the Foreseer book. I'm only about halfway through it when I put it aside because I'm starting to get a headache. What I need is a quicker way to read through all this information and start to wonder if maybe Aislin knows a spell that can give me speed reading ability.

  I shut my eyes and allow my brain focus on seeing a loophole. I'm not positive if I'm doing something wrong, but I have to try.

  As I attempt to push my brain beyond the boundaries of seeing something that probably isn't supposed to be seen, I feel an explosion inside my skull. My vision spots before I fall off the bed.

  Chapter 35

  I end up on my side in the sand, the smell of the salty ocean air gracing my nostrils. When I open my eyes, the first thing I see is a pair of black boots.

  "You can't cheat your way there," someone says. "You're going to end up in trouble."

  I lift my gaze to my father, leaning over me, his violet eyes conveying worry, his long silver robe trailing behind him in the sand. "I think I already am."

  "If you want to find out the answer," he says. "You have to search for it on your own, not take shortcuts."

  I roll onto my back and shield my eyes from the sunlight. "Am I in your head again?"

  "So you discovered where I am?" Displeased, he offers me his hand to help me up and I gladly take it.

  I look at the horizon and then around at the seemingly endless beach with no sign of life. "Wait. Why aren't we in the same place as the last time I ended up here?"

  "We are wherever I need us to be." He starts down the shore, leaving footprints in the sand.

  I hurry after him, sand building between my toes and the ocean rolling up over my feet. "I thought you were in the Room of Forbidden? I thought you were stuck in your own head and couldn't get out, so how can you change places?"

  He halts near a cluster of rocks and faces me. "I get bored sometimes and change the scenery to help pass the endless time." He begins walking again toward the rocks.

  "Why didn't you just tell them what happened?" I ask as I rush to keep up with him. "Why didn't you say that Stephan made you change the vision because he marked you with the mark?"

  He glances at me solemnly. "It's the downfall of being a Foreseer, Gemma. There are no second chances or room for mistakes. What's done is done and I won't ever be forgiven or trusted again for what I did." Silence passes between us as we reach the rocks and we start to climb up them. I want to ask him if he has evil blood inside him, but I fear his reaction and the answer so I remain silent.

  When he gets to the top of the rocks, he gazes out at the endless ocean, the wind blowing through his hair "You need to stop worrying about me," he says as I stand beside him. "You have other problems to deal with at the moment."

  "Like saving the world..." Pain resonates inside my chest. "I think I already did that... dad I was able to fix the vision you erased... I erased you before you erased Alex and me"

  "I know you did," he says gloomily. "But that is not what I'm talking about."

  "Then what are you talking about?" I wonder. "Because it always seems like you're talking in code."

  "I'm telling you about what you're in store for." The bottom of his robe flaps in the wind. He hasn't looked at me since we got up here, staring at the sunlight, unblinking and I wonder how it isn't hurting his eyes. "What waits for you in the near future."

  "I know what it is." My voice is off pitch, revealing the shakiness within me. "I know that I die."

  "You're still not getting it." He blows out a frustrated breath and then looks at me. "You need to push that aside, otherwise you'll never be able to save the world."

  "But I already did that. What more could I possibly do?"

  He reaches into the pocket of his robe and retrieves a glistening silver ring embellished with violet gems that outline a massive lavender stone. He takes a hold of my hand and drops the ring into it.

  The gems shimmer as I stare down at the ring. "What does it do?"

  "I can't answer that," he says, turning toward the shore again and heading down the rocks.

  "Why do you always say that?" I climb down the jagged rocks, still holding the ring, afraid to put it on because I have no idea what it does. "How can you give me things like this? And the mapping ball, but you can't tell me how to use them? And how do you even have these things if we're inside your head?" I reach the sand. "It makes no sense."

  "This is my loophole," he explains, drowning in sadness and regret. "I'm able to give you these things, because we're in my head and not in the real world. What I do in here doesn't matter out there. But I can't tell you how to use them, since that would be interfering with what you need to do out in the real world. You have to figure out the answers for yourself and pave the world with your memories." He takes my hand holding the ring and encloses my fingers around it. "This is your loophole."

  "My loophole to what? Saving my life or saving the world?" I rush to say as the ocean begins to bleed away into the sand. The sunlight dims almost as if night has fallen and it grows quiet. "Wait, don't send me back yet. I have a ton of questions."

  "No more trying to cheat, no matter what happens," he calls out as I float backward, my feet lifting up from the sand. "If you're not careful, you'll end up in here."

  I shout at him to please tell me as the ocean vanishes and becomes one with the sand. Then I'm ripped away back to my room. When I open my eyes, though, I'm not in my room.

  I'm engulfed by light, just like when I die.

  Chapter 36

  "You're not dead," someone says as I turn in circles, searching for something other than light. "If that's what you're thinking."

  An eerie chill slithers up my spine and at the same time my sense of smell is attacked by the scent of flowers and rain. "But you're dead."

  "Am I?" the tricky half-faerie teases. "Are you sure about that?"

  I clutch onto the ring as I strain my eyes to see through the light. "I'm not sure about anything anymore."

  I hear a thump then footsteps moving through the light in my direction. "Of course, you're not. You've been clueless from day one. In fact, you're the most clueless girl I've ever met. You're always looking for the answers in the wrong places."

  "That's not true," I say as he materializes right in front of me, his golden eyes inches away from mine, his body so close I'm instantly suffocated with his body heat.

  I step back. "You're dead... aren't you... and so am I."

  "I'll answer that shortly," he says with a wink. "But right now you have to go back." He strides toward me and shoves me backward, his hands searing hot against my shoulders. I scream as I tumble into darkness.

  ***

  I bolt upright, gasping for air. It takes a minute for me to realize I'm on my bedroom floor, safe and sound from any potentially dead faeries. But what kind of detour was that? I mean, some strange things have happened while I was traveling around with my Foreseer power, but that... that was too much.

  I get to my feet with the ring that my father gave me still in my hand and then head downstairs to tell everyone what happened. I find Alex in the kitchen, making a sandwich. His hair is freshly wet and he's wearing jeans with a thermal shirt. Laylen is at the kitchen table, flipping through a magazine, and dressed as if he's about to go out to a Goth club.

  "I have to tell you something," I announce and then it all comes pouring out of me.

  "Why does he keep giving you things without an explanation of what they are?" Alex asks when I'm done, taking the ring
from me and studying it closely.

  I'm sitting on the countertop with my legs dangling over the edge. "He said it was because I had to figure things out on my own and pave the world with my memories, whatever the hell that means." I take the ring back and run my finger along the gemstones. "It's not like I can pave them with too many, since my times about up."

  Alex chokes on bite of sandwich. "No it's not," he says, catching his breath.

  "Alex, I don't think it's good to deny it," I say. "I think it's better if I--"

  He strides toward me, positioning himself between my legs and concealing his hand over my mouth. "I'm not going to let you say that." He lowers his hand from my mouth to my thigh. "I won't let you give up yet." He leans in and softly brushes his lips against mine, then pulls away and says, "Laylen and I have to go somewhere right now, but we'll talk about this more when we get back."

  Laylen glances at his watch. "Is it time to go already?"

  Alex nods with his gaze fastened on mine as he backs toward the back door. "Yeah, we should get a move on if we want to make it."

  "Where could you two possibly be going?" I ask, hopping down from the counter. " And together?"

  "Just somewhere," Laylen says, giving me a smile, but it's a mask to hide something else--his uneasiness.

  "Don't worry." Alex reaches for his jacket on the back of the kitchen chair. "We'll be back soon."

  Before I can say anything else, they walk out the door, leaving me stunned and standing in the kitchen alone. It's so strange, the two of them walking out of the house together. And content. It makes me worried.

  Finally, I decide to find Aislin and ask her if she knows what's going on. I find her in the living room, sorting through spices and various bags of what looks like pixie dust, a bowl in front of her where's she's mixing ingredients.

  "Do you know where Alex and Laylen are going?" I ask, stuffing the ring into my pocket and then joining her on the sofa.

  She glances up from a plastic bag filled with flakes of orange leaves. "They went somewhere together?"

  I nod, hitching my finger over my shoulder toward the back door. "They just left."

  She opens the bag and sniffs it. "Okay, that's probably one of the strangest things I've heard all day."

  "Maybe." But I'm not sure that it is. I think seeing Nicholas might top it. I sit back down on the couch and tighten the elastic in my hair. "So have you figured out what went wrong with your spell?"

  She shakes her head, sealing the bag back up. "It's strange but from everything I've read, it should work. And I can feel the power, but when I try to use it, I get nothing but this fizzling feeling." Aislin opens the laptop in front of her. "I think maybe we could--"

  A loud bang from inside the house silences both of us.

  "What the hell was that?" Her eyes are huge as she looks at the window and then at the front door.

  "Maybe Alex and Laylen forgot something." I start for the kitchen and she tensely follows after me.

  Bang. Bang. Bang.

  Aislin whispers as we approach the kitchen, "It's coming from in there."

  "Do you have a weapon, just in case..." I trail off as smoke rounds the corner of the kitchen, snakes around my ankles, then heads for the living room.

  Aislin grabs a knife from the pocket of her hoodie. "Ready when you are."

  I don't have a weapon, but decide to rely on my strength something I need to get used to. "I'm ready."

  We swing around the corner on high alert and step into the kitchen. The smoke is coming in from a roaring fire burning in the garbage can in the driveway and the back door is agape, swinging in the wind and letting the smoke and wind inside.

  Aislin lowers the knife. "Oh, thank God. For a second I thought the house was burning down."

  I inch toward the back door. "Yeah, but who started the fire and opened the door?"

  She raises the knife again as if this has just occurred to her. "You think something's wrong?"

  "I'm not sure."

  The sight of the fire blazing toward the night sky is sending red flags popping up all over the place. My mind drifts to a vision I've never seen before yet it feels like I have and I wonder if it's some kind of after effect from changing a vision. Fires in the street. Chaos everywhere as vampires, fey, werewolves, all paranormal creatures run the streets wildly under the control of evil.

  You need to prepare yourself.

  I remember something Stephan once said to me; how he was told that Alex and I might kill the star and ourselves and ruin his plan but that he was working on an alternative plan. But what does that mean?

  "Do you have a fire extinguisher?" Aislin asks, checking the cupboards and drawers.

  I point at the cupboard below the kitchen sink. "It's under there."

  Moments later, Aislin is outside and putting out the fire. I watch from the back steps, holding her sword, assessing the very quiet neighborhood around me. Everything seems normal, but something still feels off.

  We head back inside, locking the door behind us and Aislin sets the extinguisher down on the kitchen floor. "There. Fire problem all taken care of."

  She goes back into the living room while I put the extinguisher back in the cupboard. "Something's not right," I mutter, feeling the calm before the storm. "I can feel it."

  Chapter 37

  It seems like hours tick by as I wait for something else to happen. It gets later, then earlier as morning starts to arrive. I'm not sure what compels me to do it, whether its sheer bravery or stupidity, but I finally dare to but the ring on. I expect something to happen--a big explosion or maybe I disappear--but nothing happens. So I keep it on and lie down on the sofa, skimming through the Foreseer book, while Aislin works on a spell.

  At about three or four o'clock in the morning Laylen and Alex finally return. I sense something is immediately off by their bloodshot eyes and their worn out expressions.

  "Are you two okay?" I ask as Alex shucks off his jacket and hangs on a coatrack it in the foyer. "Have you been crying? Or are you stoned?"

  Alex chuckles under his breath. "I promise we're fine." He doesn't really answer my question, though, swinging and arm around my shoulder and guiding me with him as he goes into the living room. He smells like barbeque sauce and beer, which makes me wonder if they went to a bar.

  Laylen lies down on the sofa, looking beat, and I catch Aislin giving him a look that begs him for the details of where they've been, which he ignores, shutting his eyes like he's going to take a nap.

  As I'm about to sit down, Alex tugs me in the other direction toward the stairway. "Hey, come with me for a minute. There's something I need to talk to you about."

  "Okay." Something is up.

  "You put that thing on?" he asks, unexpectedly alarmed as he taps the ring on my finger while we gradually make our way upstairs.

  I run my finger along the gems. "I wanted to see if it would do something if I did, but it didn't."

  He seals his lips together, probably shoving down a lecture and remains that way until we're in my room. He shuts the door behind us and even though it's dark, he doesn't turn the light on. Then he stands by the door and I can't see what he's doing, but I can tell he's thinking about something intense by the way the sparks nip and bite at my skin.

  It starts to drive me crazy, so I flip the light on. "Okay, fess up. Where did you and Laylen go?" I lie down on my bed on my stomach and rest my chin in my hand, fixing my attention on him.

  He shrugs, his relentless gaze locked on me. "I just needed to talk to him about something."

  "So are you two friends again, then? I really hope so because this jealousy, male testosterone thing between you two is getting old."

  He chuckles under his breath then lies down on the bed beside me on his back. "Yeah, I guess it was getting old, wasn't it." He drapes his arm over his head, gazing up at the ceiling.

  "It feels like you're keeping something from me," I state, turning my head and resting my cheek on my hand so I can look at
him better.

  "No, it's not bad. It's good...everything will be alright."

  My heart misses a beat. Those are the words he whispers to me right before we died. "How do you know that for sure?"

  "I just do."

  "Alex." I move a pillow out of my way and scoot closer to him. In response, he puts a hand on my stomach, just under my shirt, and his fingers splay across my stomach. Something warms inside me, in a different yet equally--maybe even better--way than it normally does, but the sensation baffles me. "What did you say during the Blood Promise you made to me last night?"

  His expression is unreadable as he grabs my leg and swings it over his midsection. "I'll tell you tomorrow, okay? But right now I just want to lay here with you and do something else to get my mind off the end of the world."

  I look down at my leg over his and then my eyes glides up his body and meet his tired gaze. "What did you have in mind?"

 
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