Darkness falls, p.20
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       Darkness Falls, p.20

         Part #1 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
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Page 20

 

  “But they always point it,” I say. “They never change. ”

  “That’s because the batteries are dead. ” He taps the back of the watch. “If it did work, then the hands would move. ”

  “Hands?”

  He laughs and goes into this big speech about numbers and time and what they all mean. I try and pretend I understand what he’s saying, but it’s confusing. And I start to wonder just how long he’s been out in the Old World.

  I return the watch to my pocket. “So were we friends when we were young or when we were older?”

  He presses his lips together, smothering a smile. It’s a pause, a hint of consideration. “I’ve known you forever,” he finally says.

  Our boots crunch the sand and rocks.

  “Forever can mean a lot of things. ”

  He stops so abruptly, I end up stepping on his toes. I take a step back and he places my face in his hands.

  “Since your first day in The Colony, Juniper,” he says my name delicately, like he desperately wants me to remember him.

  I think of my first day at The Colony, or how I remember it. A little girl in the street, walking amongst the vampires, toward a little boy.

  “Oh my God,” I say aloud, without meaning to.

  He stares at me, his honey eyes mystified. “What is it?”

  “I think I… were you the little boy in the street?”

  “You remember that?” He’s shocked, but thrilled. His heart stammers with elation.

  “Yeah,” I say. “But not just now. I’ve remembered it forever. Monarch use to tell me that’s not how it happened though. ”

  “That’s how it happened,” he assures me. “Do you remember what happened after we were saved?”

  “So he saved you too?” I ask. “Well, I guess you’re standing here. ”

  He frowns. “You didn’t get that far, did you?”

  I shake my head, my cheeks still squeezed between his hands. “Sorry. The last thing I can remember is Monarch saving me. ”

  He sighs and starts walking. “Do you remember anything that happened after?”

  I shake my head again and the wind carries on the silence for a while.

  “If you want,” he finally says. “We can try the minte on you when we take a break. ”

  I trip over my own feet, an awkward movement for me. “You have a vial of it?”

  He swings off his bag, unzips it, and shows me the small vial, full of clear liquid. It doesn’t look like anything, yet it’s everything.

  “Maybe we shouldn’t get into that right now. ” I gesture at the desert, at the rocks, at caves delving into the rocks. “Considering where we are. ”

  “We’ll make it quick. ” He zips up the bag and swings it back over his shoulder. “Don’t you want to know what’s trapped in that head of yours?”

  I hesitate. “It depends. ”

  “Hey. ” He stops, smoothing my hair back. “Sometimes you have to take in the good with the bad. But trust me, it’s worth it. ”

  “Okay,” I say. “When we take a break, we can give it a try, I guess. ”

  He smiles, his honey eyes lighting up, the bangs of his hair gusting in the wind. “And remember to think of me this time. ” He gives a pause. “But you might not want to focus on remembering the rest of that street thing just yet, if you’re not ready for the bad. ”

  We head to the right, putting the hillside so far behind us it’s like it doesn’t even exist. The sky grows greyer with each passing minute. The wind picks up, swirling the sand and the sage brush. A bug smacks into my lips and I spit it out, coughing and gagging.

  “A bug flew in my mouth,” I explain when Aiden looks at me strangely.

  He drags his thumb across my bottom lip, wiping the sand away, taking in my lips with great attention.

  “How did you know about the kissing thing?” I ask, tucking strands of my stray hair behind me ear.

  He doesn’t answer, because he can’t.

  “It’s because you’ve kissed me before, isn’t it. ” I touch my lip. “We’ve kissed a lot of times, haven’t we?”

  His eyes burn hot with desire. “You remember?”

  “No. Sorry it was just a guess. ”

  He brushes his hair out of his eyes and keeps his hand there to block away the blowing sand. “Don’t worry, you will. ” And that’s all he says.

  “Can you at least explain to me what it is?” I ask. “Because when we kiss it feels like…”

  “You could feel everything about me,” he finishes for me. “It happens when you get close to someone … really close to someone. ” He stuffs his hands in his pockets.

  “So if I kissed someone else the same thing would happen?”

  He feigns insult. “Who else are you planning on kissing?”

  I smile, but a memory rushes back to me, sharp and painful, stinging my brain.

  “It’s important that you practice standing alone, Kayla,” Monarch tells me. “So that when the time comes, you’ll be able to handle it. ”

  “But sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes I just want to be normal. ”

  “Life is hard sometimes,” Monarch replies. “But you’ll do what you have to if it means fixing the world. It’s what you were made for. ”

  “Kayla, did you hear me?” Aiden’s standing in front of me. I’ve stopped walking and he looks concerned. “Is everything okay? Are you remembering things on your own again?”

  “No,” I lie, shaking the memory away.

  “Maybe we should take that break now,” he suggests.

  I force a smile. “We’ve got darkness chasing after us. ”

  “We have to make it through darkness, anyway,” he says, hiking toward a cluster of red rocks. “So we might as well take a break and make sure we’re all rested and reenergized. ”

  I trudge along after him, parking my unenthusiastic body on top of a flat rock.

  Aiden takes off his bag and pulls out two bottles of water, tossing one to me. “Here, drink up. ”

  I take a sip, while he pulls a bag of funny shaped flat things that look like little pieces of bread. But when I put one in my mouth, it taste so much better than bread.

  “This is good. ” I cover my mouth as crumbs spill out.

  “You know, they really didn’t feed us very well in The Colony. ” Aiden sips from the bottle. “That’s one of the first things I noticed when I was thrown out here. ”

  I pop another piece into my mouth. “So you really don’t know what The Gathering is?” I question. “Even after all your memories resurfaced?

  “All my memories haven’t resurfaced yet,” he says, his gaze lifting to the top of the hills. “And no, I don’t know what it is, because it wasn’t an erased memory—it wasn’t a memory at all. ”

  I chew slowly, confused. “I’m not sure I’m following you. ”

  “I was unconscious. ” His eyes are still on the hill line, this strange look shifting into his expression. Then he jumps to his feet, tossing everything into his bag. “We need to move. Now. ” He hooks the bag over his shoulder and pulls me to my feet.

  I glance back, at the hill. “What did you see?”

  “I’m not sure,” he mutters, dragging me toward a cave. “But I think we might be being followed. ”

  “By Dominic?” I hurry with him. “Would he do that?”

  “I think he might. ” He stops in front of the dark cave, staring down at it. “We need a place to hide. ”

  I blink down at the cave, resting at the bottom of the rocks, one of the easier ones to get to. “They might be inside. ”

  “I know. ”

  “I should check first then. ” I start for it, but he tightens his hold on my hand. “Aiden, they won’t hurt me. ”

  He lets out a breath, nodding, and releases my hand. “But take your knife out, just in case. ”

  I do and then walk to the edge, where the line rests between darkness and light, life and death.
r />   Chapter 26

  Once my foot crosses the line of darkness and I enter the cave, I know there’s no turning back. It seems like it has a deep back at first, but when I walk further inside, I realize that it’s actually quiet shallow. I check the shadows, behind rocks, in dark corners and breathe a sigh of relief.

  “You can come in,” I call out to Aiden, putting my knife away.

  He steps in gingerly, his heart beating fiercer the moment he crosses into the dark side. His hand rests on his pocket, trembling with the desire to draw out his knife.

  “Did you see them?” I ask, sliding off my bag.

  His head creases. “See who? Oh you mean Dominic. No, but I think we should hide in here for a little while to make sure. ” He sets his bag on the ground and sinks down. “So what’d you want to do while we wait? You want to try the minte. ”

  Secretly, I think I was hoping he’d forget about that. “Sure, I guess. ”

  “Don’t assume you’ll see something you fear,” Aiden says, unzipping his bag. “Or else you probably will. ”

  “I wasn’t assuming anything. ” I sit down in front of him, crisscrossing my legs. “And I don’t fear anything. ”

  His eyes smile through his lashes. “That’s not true. ” He pulls out a syringe and unwraps the plastic.

  “It is true,” I argue. “It’s how I’ve always been. ”

  He drives the needle into the vial. “You may not fear things like vampires—or even Highers—but you do have fear, Kayla. Like the fear that everyone will find out who you really are. ” He extracts the clear medicine from the lid. “You ready for this?”

  I blink at him. I’m still stuck on what he’s said, because it’s so close to the truth. “What? Yeah, I’m ready. ” I stick out my arm.

  But he puts his bag on his lap and gives it a pat. “You might want to lie down . . . when you go under, you really go under. ”

  I lower my head to the bag on his lap, cross my hands over my stomach and stare up at him.

  He taps the needle with his finger, then whispers, “Think of me and maybe you’ll remember what we were. ”

  I nod, but shove all thoughts of him out of my head. Remembering him would be easier, I’m sure. But it won’t help with getting any answers. No, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to make it worth it. And that’s why, when he shoves the needle into my arm, all I hold in my mind is the bright red door.

  Blood. Dripping from the walls, raining from the ceiling. I shield my head and my ears, trying to block out the screams.

  “Help me. ” The voice is cracked, pained, tortured. “Help me please. ”

  “Don’t be afraid,” Monarch says.

  I open my eyes to the sound of his voice. He’s not there, but the blood has cleared away. The room is solid concrete, the only color the bright red door. Chains hang from the wall, savage and beaten. But no bodies are chained to them—not even mine.

 
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