Darkness breaks, p.20
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       Darkness Breaks, p.20

         Part #2 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 20

 

  I sweep the rocks out of the way and join him on the ledge. “I already told you the real reason. I brought you out here because I think you’re still keeping something from me. Something important that you need to fess up to. ”

  He seals his lips together, not denying it. “Everything I keep from you is to protect you. Trust me, Kayla, you don’t want to know everything I’m hiding. ”

  “Yes, I do,” I say. “I want to know what it is, even if it’s bad. ”

  “Just like you want to go to Cell 7, even if what’s there is horrible. ”

  “Why is it horrible, Aiden? Just tell me what went on there. ”

  “I wasn’t there and I’m lucky. ” There’s ferocity radiating from his eyes. “When Monarch took me away, I thought I’d die. I was supposed to be with you, but something went wrong with me and he didn’t want me there anymore. He said I didn’t have the right personality for what he was creating there. But I didn’t understand at the time that Cell 7 was where he was creating…”

  “Creating what?” I place my hand on his, trying to chip away at his secrets. “Just tell me. It’s okay. ”

  He stares at our hands with yearning. “He was creating the virus. ”

  I remember the girl banging her head on the glass over and over again. “Is that all he was creating? Or is there more to the virus then what people think. Could it be…” I take a deep breath. “Could it be that he was creating the Highers’ virus there?”

  He shuts his eyes and squeezes my hand, his pulse trembling through his fingers. “I’m not sure about the Highers, but he was creating things there. ”

  “He was creating me,” I swallow hard, thinking of my glass cell. “He was creating me to create the Highers. ”

  “He wasn’t creating what you are now,” he answers, not denying that the existence of the Highers might have started with me. “Back then he was trying to create perfection. Or what him and the other doctors thought was perfection. They had misconstrued ideas, though. ”

  “He was trying to create a Higher,” I repeat. “Out of me. ”

  “I heard rumors of what went on, but I wasn’t there, so I can’t tell you for sure. ”

  “You can’t or don’t want to?” Sand blows in my eyes and stings at my cheeks. I blink wildly. “Because it feels like you know a lot more than you’re letting on. ”

  He lets out a long breath and shifts the subject. “You know don’t have to do anything out here. You can be something new if you want. ”

  “I don’t know what I want,” I mumble, staring at his lips.

  He notices the line of my gaze and he wets his lips. “You don’t?”

  I shake my head and lean in, seeking answers. When my lips brush his, there’s a connection that can’t be denied. He still loves me, but wants me to stop fighting and join him. He wants me with him forever. I immerse further into the kiss, digging deeper into his mind. He never wants me to go back to the city. He doesn’t want me to find out the awful things Monarch made me do.

  His hand slides up my back and he pulls me closer. My lips part and his tongue searches deep inside my mouth. He tastes salty, yet sweet at the same time. He fears the tunnel beneath the park.

  I moan and draw back, but he hugs me closer, his touch becoming rougher. I’m no longer enjoying the kiss and my head is fuzzy.

  “Aiden,” I murmur against his lips.

  He pulls away. “You say I don’t know you, but I do, Juniper. I know you better than anyone. Even my brother. ” He catches me as I flop to the side. “That’s why I knew you’d kiss me. If you thought I was hiding something, I knew exactly what you’d do. ”

  I sink to the earth, the sky altering black. “What did you do to me? Poison me again. I’m going to…”

  “I did what I had to do. ” He shifts over me, the sky grey above him. “I did this to protect you. ”

  I notice the sheen on his lips and wonder what he put on them to bring me down.

  “I know you,” he whispers, lowering my head to the ground. “And that’s why I have to save you from yourself. ”

  Chapter 16

  I hop off the bottom step of the bright yellow bus and onto the sidewalk. A backpack is strapped to my back and my thumbs loop the handles. I spin around and wait for them. Sylas jumps from the top step and nearly lands on my toes. Aiden follows, taking each stair carefully, and shields his eyes as the sun hits his face.

  We are children, young and free, dressed in bright clothes with smiles on our faces.

  “Where’s mom?” Aiden glances around at the houses and trees. “It was her turn to pick us up. ”

  “Maybe she forgot. ” Sylas playfully pinches my arm. “Or maybe she got lost. It’s a very long street. ”

  “Everything’s a joke to you. ” Aiden scowls. “But you won’t think it’s so funny when you’re kidnapped. ”

  Sylas shoots him a doubtful look. “Those haven’t happened anywhere near here. And besides, no one even knows if these Watchers really exist. ”

  “Mom said that they do and that the kidnappings are getting closer. ” Aiden adjusts his backpack. “That’s why she’s been picking us up every day. ”

  “Well, dad says it’s not real and that people are making it up just because they want answers. ” Sylas stares up the road, lined with two-story houses and lofty trees. “I think I’m gonna walk. ”

  Aiden grabs Sylas’ arm and angles his head up at his brother. “You can’t go wandering off alone. Mom said that’s what the Watchers look for—kids by themselves. ”

  Sylas teasingly punches his fist toward Aiden’s face. “Well, if they do exist and show up then I’ll take them down. ”

  I giggle and Aiden lets out a frustrated breath, blowing his dark hair from his face. “One of these days,” Aiden says. “You’re going to get into some serious trouble. ”

  Sylas turns his back to Aiden and strolls down the sidewalk. He picks up a long stick and drags it across the fence, making a loud clanking sound.

  I tug on Aiden’s arm. “Come on. We’ll be fine. ”

  I pull him with me as I skip after Sylas. We catch up and I take Sylas’ hand. We walk hand-in-hand and I feel small standing between them. But safe.

  A lady, wearing a fluffy pink robe, steps onto the porch and scoops up a furry orange cat. She pets the cat and then her eyes narrow on us.

  “You guys shouldn’t be out here by yourself. ” She steps off the porch and onto the rocky path. “Where’s your mother?”

  “Hmm…” Sylas taps his lips. “I knew we forgot something back at the bus stop. ”

  The ladies face reddens and wrinkles scatter across her saggy skin. “Sylas Anders, one of these days your mouth is going to get you in trouble. ”

  Laughter bubbles from Sylas and I.

  Aiden shoots us a glare. “Sorry, Miss Lynn,” he apologizes to the lady.

  Miss Lynn’s eyes soften at Aiden. “Just be careful. Go straight home. ” She hesitates and then turns for her two-story white brick home, painted with green shutters, and trimmed with vines.

  We reach the corner of the street and Sylas looks left and then right before crossing. He pauses and pulls me to the left. “Let’s take the long way home. We haven’t been to the fort in a while. ”

  “Do you have a death wish?” Aiden asks, astounded. “I mean, it’s bad enough we left the bus stop and now you want to wander off to the fort. ”

  “You can do whatever you want. ” He raises his eyebrows at me. “Kayla, are you coming?”

  I glance back and forth between the two boys. I don’t like seeing Aiden worry, but I want to go to the fort really, really bad.

  “Your mom will be worried, Kayla,” Aiden points out. “She’ll get mad at you. ”

  “No she won’t,” I say. “She’s probably not even at the house. Shes probably at the bar. ”

  “Is she leaving you home alone again?” Aiden asks worriedly. “Because if she is, we should do something about
it. We could tell my mom. ”

  “No we can’t. ” I head down the street with Sylas. “We’re just kids. There’s nothing we can do. ”

  I leave him behind at the corner, knowing he’s going to follow us, even though he doesn’t want to.

  Five seconds later, he sprints up behind us, panting. “If something happens to us,” Aiden breathes at Sylas, “Then it’s your fault. ”

  “Alright, brother. ” He smiles, swinging our arms. “I can handle that. ”

  The green trees shake leaves to the ground and our shoes crunches across them. The farther we walk up the street, the sparser the houses get. Finally, Sylas ducks under a chain link fence and into the tall grass. He takes my hand and helps me down. Aiden follows. We walk down a dried out ditch, canopied by trees. Butterflies flutter the air. Sylas catches a bright yellow one and cups it in his hand. He watches it through the crack in his hands.

  “What do you think Kayla?” he asks. “Should we take it home and put it in a jar? Or let it go?”

  I peer through the opening in his hand and watch the butterfly flap its wings. “Keeping it somewhere that it doesn’t want to be would be mean. It deserves to be free. ”

  Sylas grins. “I knew you’d say that. ” He releases the butterfly and it flies toward the bright blue sky.

  Aiden slips off his backpack and takes out two candy bars. He gives one to me and shoots Sylas a too-bad look as he peels the wrapper off and pops the chocolate in his mouth. I unwrap mine, break it in half, and give Sylas a piece.

  With chocolate staining our faces, we climb out of the ditch, duck under the trees, and step into a field. A dirt road paves up the center. We hike for the road, Sylas in the lead, and Aiden in the back. I pluck a long piece of grass, cup it in my hands, and blow on it.

  “You’re not doing it right,” Sylas laughs and shakes his head. “You have to…” His jaw drops as he stares at a black van at the end of the road.

  I stop and Aiden runs into the back of me. “Who is that?” I ask.

  “I don’t know, but I…” Sylas drifts off.

  “What are you guys looking at?” Aiden sees it and backs up. “Let’s go back. ”

  He grabs my hand and turns us to the trees. The van rolls forward slowly, the tires crunching against the gravel. The windows are tinted and the exhaust grunts black smoke. Sylas takes my other hand and we speed up as the van heads farther up the dirt road.

  “I told you this was a bad idea. ” Aiden shakes his head. “But you never listen. ”

  “We’ll be fine,” Sylas says. “It’s just a car. You’re over reacting. ”

  The van hits the breaks and the side door glides open. Men in black zippered suits and masks pile out. Their black, lace-up boots form a cloud of dust as they stampede for us.

  We run. I struggle to keep up as the black-suited men chase after us. The grass scratches my legs and my lungs pinch tight with exhaustion. Run! Run! Run! My mind shouts.