Cinder x, p.20
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       Cinder X, p.20

         Part #2 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
Page 20


  It hurts my heart to hear his story. So much agony; so much punishment. All because of something that was out of his hands. “But I thought he was your father’s brother?”

  “He was—is— but there’s more to it that even I don’t know. My bloodlines… the people connected to it… it’s so complicated. . . and no one ever wants to talk about it. ” He releases a stressed breath. “It’s a long story, filled with repeats of what my mom did. But to make it really short, my father’s mother—my grandmother—had sons from two different fathers. While she herself was an Angel of Death, she had an affair with a Reaper and my father came out of it. ”

  “But didn’t he get a choice, like you?”

  “He did. ” Two simple words, yet there’s so much sorrow connected to them.

  “Oh. ” It sounds like such a stupid response, but there’s not much else to say. “Well, why is Elliot—Professor Morgan—no longer an Angel of Death?”

  “Another long story. ” His eyes widen in surprise. “Wait, how did you know that?”

  “Because I talked to him at school. He gave me this book and said we should meet up to talk, although I didn’t call him when I was supposed to and he left this really panicky message on my phone about…” My gaze drifts to the trunk in the corner of my room. “About the book that was taken that night by the shadow…” I struggle to say it aloud, hoping I’m not making a mistake telling him, hoping I can fully trust him.

  Asher tracks my gaze to the trunk. “Why would he want to talk to you about the book?”

  I get up from the bed and go over to the trunk. “Probably because he’s the one who gave it back to me. ” I lift it open and take the book out of the hidden compartment in the bottom.

  Shock slowly crosses Asher’s face. “What do you mean he gave it back to you?” His worried gaze locks on mine and then darts to the book in my hands. “But wouldn’t that mean he was the one who took it in the first place?”

  I shrug, maintaining his gaze as I walk back to the bed and hand him the book. “You tell me. ”

  He holds the book in his hands and considers what I said with bafflement. “Are you sure the shadow was the one that took the book or could maybe my uncle have snuck in and you thought it was the shadow?”

  I look over at the window as he fans through the blank pages in the book. “Well, that was open when I came up here and discovered it, so maybe… but still it wouldn’t explain why when he gave it back to me, the pages were all blank. ”

  I redirect my attention to him, expecting him to be more shocked, but he seems like he understands everything, nodding as he mutters something under his breath and shuts the book. “He did a secretum codice on the book. ”

  “What’s that?”

  He traces his fingers over the leather cover of the book. “It’s a gift Angels have,” he says, his fingers wandering to his arm and he sketches the tip of his finger down his blood vein on his arm. “Our blood carries a lot of power and if used properly, it can help keep our secrets hidden. I’m guessing that my uncle spilled his blood on the pages of that book to hide the information in it. ”

  “But why would he want to hide it from me?” I ask as he gives me the book to put away. “When I was just getting to the part about freeing innocent souls. ”

  “I’m guessing he wasn’t hiding it from you,” he says as I put the book back in the bottom of the trunk. “I’m guessing he knew that someone was after it and he took it from you to protect it. ”

  “Yeah, but now I can’t read anything on the pages,” I tell him, closing the lid of the trunk. “And unless you know how a Reaper can steal a Grim Angels soul and free innocent possessed souls, the entire town is screwed. ”

  “I’m not sure I want to find that out,” Asher says, frowning. “Unless that Grim Angel isn’t you. ”

  “It doesn’t have to be,” I tell him, sitting down beside him and placing my hand on his. “But I do need to know how to do it—how to free everyone from this madness. From death. ”

  He momentarily stares down at my hand on his before looking up at me. “The only way to read what’s on the pages is for my uncle to unlock it with his blood again. ”

  “So we need to track down your uncle. ”

  “We need to track down my uncle. ”

  Feeling a weight crash on my shoulders, I retrieve my phone from my back pocket and hand it to him. “Call him then. I haven’t been able to get a hold of him, but maybe you’ll have more luck. ”

  Asher dials his uncle’s number. After trying a couple of times and having no luck, I’m a little surprised that Asher gets a hold of him. He chats quickly with him, asking him to meet up with us and explain what’s going on. After that he starts nodding and then gets a weird look on his face as he hangs up.

  “That was weird,” he mutters, staring down at the phone in his hand.

  “What’s wrong?” I ask, leaning over his shoulder.

  He shakes his head, giving me back the phone. “He’s not in Hollows Grove.

  “How can that be possible?” I ask, tossing the phone on my nightstand. “When I just saw him earlier today?”

  Again, Asher shakes his head. “He said he had to run up to Jackson to get something for his class. ”

  “His possessed class?” I’m completely baffled. “And he left me a message to call him when I didn’t call him. It makes no sense. ”

  “Yeah, something’s definitely up, but there’s not anything I can do about it until he gets back in town unfortunately, which won’t be until tomorrow,” he says, glancing back at his back for some reason. “I’ll figure it out though, what’s going on. I’ll figure all this stuff out. I promise. ” His gaze collides with mine and emotions storm through me. “What I want right now though is a little bit of time with you while we wait. ” His gaze drops to my lips and desire radiates in his eyes. “All that matters right now is that I’m here with you. ”

  He’s wrong. There’s so much more that matters than just being with me. “I’m worried, Asher. About you. Me. My family. This whole entire town. I mean, so many people are possessed and there’s so many Anamotti around… and they’re leader is killing people. . . and that book could stop it all, if the pages hadn’t been erased by your uncle. ”

  “You need to stop worrying about stuff so much. ” He tucks his finger underneath my chin and tips my head back to look me in the eyes. “I know it’s hard, but it’ll only make it easier for the Anamotti to get to you. Let me worry for you. Let me take care of this for you. ”

  He makes it sound so easy, but it’s not. It’s hard, walking around, being the target of insanity, being so connected to death, knowing what lies ahead for everyone, knowing that a murderer is walking around and there’s nothing I can do about it, at least not without that book. “Maybe going crazy is the better solution than constantly fighting it. ” I could blame what I say on Cameron taking control of my mind again, but I know that’s not the case. I know that part of me means it. That maybe, if I just gave in, my family could be free from the burden I’ve put on them. Hell, maybe this whole town could be free from the possession. “Maybe I should just give in like my brother, and then, perhaps someone else could become the last Grim Angel—could free the entire town. I think I could live with banging my head against the wall. ”

  Asher appears hurt. “Ember, you don’t mean that. ”

  “But I think I do. I mean, look at my father,” I say. “He’s gone; either dead, or lost, or locked up somewhere because of this. I honestly have no idea what happened to him, but I’m sure it was something terrible. And I remember the final days I had with him. ” I slip out from under his touch and get to my feet. I start pacing the floor, needing to move because sitting still seems so maddening. “How insane he acted. Talking to birds. Flipping out over the smallest things. ” I shake my head at the dark memories. “And then there’s my brother, who might have had something to do with his girlfriend’s death a few years ago, who never showed
any signs of being a Grim Angel, yet he gave in so easily to the Reaper side. ” I want to cry, but my eyes have run dry. “I don’t want to become like them, yet I feel like I am. ”

  “Nothing is going to happen to you,” Asher promises, standing up and moving in front of me, obstructing my path. “I promise, I won’t let you go crazy or vanish. ”

  I stop in front of him, but don’t respond. I can’t let myself believe that’s how things will be. My father always told me to trust no one, and at the moment, I have to look at things like that. Always. Everything could be a trick of the eye. There are still so many unanswered questions, and until I figure out what’s going on, trusting someone else to protect me is not an option.

  I’m about to ask Asher another question that’s tickling the tip of my tongue, however the look on his face silences me. His eyes are imbued with lust and desire, which seems out of place, considering the circumstances. Then again, we haven’t really touched each other in weeks. I’m very aware of how much I crave his touch, the kiss of his lips, his tongue. God, the desolation I’ve been living in has been torture. And I don’t want to be tortured, if only for a moment.

  “You can trust me, Ember. ” He steps for me and I step for him, like two magnets unable to fight against the invisible pull between them. “Nothing is going to happen to you. ”

  I nod, my eyes bound to his as I take another step towards him, magnetized, or maybe under some sort of possession. If that’s the case, I’m not going to fight it. He follows my move and gradually we reduce the space between us, slowly at first, and then somewhere in the midst of our silence, we decide to move rapidly. A second later our lips collide.

  He groans and I gasp, my lips willingly parting as his tongue slips deeply into my mouth and his fingers ravel in my hair. He tastes like warmth and comfort, and feels like heat and bliss. I melt at the touch of his hands as they grip at my hips, his fingers wandering underneath the fabric; the heat of his skin intensely consuming my body. I curve inward as I clutch onto his shoulders, pressing my chest against his. He steals the air from my lungs as his hand winds around my back and slips under my shirt, his hand demanding against my back, pushing me closer to him so that we’re flesh to flesh, breath to breath, lips to lips.

  God how I’ve missed the contact.

  I remember all those years I lived without it before. It was only because I’d never had it before that I was able to live my life normally. After being with Asher, after he’d felt every inch of me, things changed. I changed.

  I need his touch now.

  “God… This feels so…” he moans against my mouth as he starts to back us towards the bed. Seconds later, we crash down onto the mattress where I land on top of him. His hands cup my ass and he urges me even closer, making a husky groan as his hardness presses up against me. Then he briefly pulls away, his eyes glazed over as he stares up at me. “I’m not sure I can do this…” He trails off, passion and hunger flooding his eyes, more raw than I’ve ever seen him.