Fractured souls, p.23
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       Fractured Souls, p.23

         Part #2 of Shattered Promises series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 23

 

  I wait as his mouth heads for my lips.

  I wait until a vile sensation builds inside my stomach.

  I wait until I can feel it, the heavy weight crashing upon my chest, pressing me down—the weight of my guilt.

  I gasp, realizing just how wrong this is and that I shouldn’t be doing this, not when I have feelings for Alex and Aislin has feelings for Laylen.

  “This is wrong,” I say and start to lean away when I feel the hot energy surging through my bloodstream like liquid fire “I think I…I…” My body goes limp as something deep within me roars. There’s a rough tug and I hold onto Laylen’s hand as he moves his mouth away from me. I hear him say something, but then we’re sucked away into the crystal ball, falling down, down, down into the unknown.

  Chapter 17

  I manage to land somewhat gracefully, catching myself with a very minor stumble and Laylen lands effortlessly beside me, gripping onto my hand. We’re standing in a cave with charcoal ceilings and a translucent crystal floor. A midnight river with bits and pieces of gold in it flows beneath the floor. Maroon crystals hang from the ceiling and rubies wave across the snow-white walls.

  “Is this the City of Crystal?” Laylen asks in awe as he glances around.

  I shake my head in disbelief as I put the crystal ball into my pocket. “I really didn’t expect to actually get us here… but this has to be it. I mean, I haven’t been in this area before. ” I slip my fingers from Laylen’s and stroll up to the wall, feeling the smoothness of the porcelain. “But where else could we be?”

  Laylen strides up to the side of me and picks at a chipped section in the wall. “I think you’re right. ”

  I step back, looking from left to right. Each side is the same, paved with broken multicolored pieces of glass, but the one to my right heads toward a bridge. Beside the path is an edge that leads to a very short drop off.

  “The question is, which way?” I say. “And what are we even looking for exactly?”

  He studies both directions, his head turning from left to right. “I just want to say first, that it’s not going to be pretty. ”

  “What’s not pretty?”

  He locks eyes with me. “Where Alex is. ”

  I swallow the lump forming in my throat. “Why? Where is he?”

  He circles around me and then drapes an arm around my shoulder. Guilt immediately soars through me from his touch because I want him to touch me more intimately. “There’s this crystal ball in the center of the city that channels the energy to all the other crystals. That’s where he is. ”

  “In the crystal ball?”

  “No, outside it. ”

  I pull a perplexed face. “So what’s the point of him being down here, then?”

  He tugs on my shoulder and guides me closer to him and I have the strangest compulsion to ask him to let me go, yet conflicted by my desire, I keep my lips sealed. “The crystal ball uses human energy to fuel it,” he explains.

  I crane my neck, tipping my chin up, and meet his blue eyes. “What? And no one bothered to mention this to me?”

  He offers me an apologetic look. “Alex had his reasons for doing it, I’m sure. He wanted to help you. ”

  “But not like this,” I say, shaking my head. “Not by fueling a crystal ball. It’s absurd. ” My heart aches inside my chest, not just at the multiple ideas of what exactly is required to fuel a crystal ball, but also because the electricity has been missing for days now and I desperately miss it for reasons I both do and don’t understand.

  Laylen searches my eyes with a creased forehead and then he removes his arm from around me. “We should get looking for him. ” He veers toward the left, away from the bridge. “It’s a big city and I’m sure it’s going to take a lot of time. ”

  We walk in silence for a while, following the glass path. He looks like something’s really troubling him and, despite the fact that I don’t want to admit it, I think I might know what it is.

  I’m just about to open my mouth and tell him that we should probably talk about what we’re feeling because it’s getting really complicated—at least for me—when I detect the sound of approaching footsteps.

  Laylen and I freeze simultaneously then we whirl around, looking behind us to where the noise is coming from.

  “Is someone coming?” I whisper.

  “I think so. ” Motioning his hand at me, he scoots us over to the side of the path, where we step off the ledge and down onto a frosty blue, smooth surface that’s as slippery as ice. He takes my hand, and we hurry over to one of the short pillars rising out of the ground and point up at the top. We cower down behind it and hold our breaths as we wait.

  The longer we wait, though, the quieter it gets. Finally, Laylen ducks his head low and, placing his fingers on the ground he peeks around the side of the pillar.

  “No one’s there,” he hisses.

  “They must have gone somewhere else,” I whisper, hovering over him to look for myself.

  “I knew you’d show up here,” Nicholas breathes in my ear.

  Every single one of my nerve endings tingle and my back stiffens as I jolt away from his nearness. I end up landing on Laylen’s back. Luckily, he’s strong and he flips us around, grabbing my hand, and pulling us to our feet.

  I start to spin around toward the Faerie, when he grabs me by the waist and an overwhelming floral sent stenches up the air.

  “Try anything funny,” Nicholas hauls me against him, “And I’ll have you out of here before you can even take your next blink. ”

  “Fuck you,” I say and bend my arms up so my fingers reach his hands, then I aim them downward and dig hard.

  He doesn’t so much as budge. “Feisty, I like it. ”

  “Nicholas,” Laylen says calmly as he stations himself in front of us with his arms slightly out to the side. “Let her go now before you end up getting hurt”

  He spurts a laugh. “Hurt me how? I can have us out of here before you even take your next step. ” Keeping one arm secured around my waist, he holds up a crystal ball filled with rubies.

  Laylen steps forward, but then halts, debating what to do.

  “Wise choice,” Nicholas says, putting the crystal ball into his pocket and then wrapping both his arms around me. Our bodies are aligned completely and I can feel things that I really don’t want to feel… bulging in certain places. It’s disgusting and vomit burns at the back of my throat.

  “What do you want?” Laylen asks with his hands just to the side of him. He appears composed, but I can see that he’s flexing his fingers, as though he’s considering taking a hit at Nicolas. He could probably reach him in a few more steps, the pillar being the only thing between us. However it’s still enough time for Nicholas to take us out of here and the last thing I want to do is end up alone somewhere with him.

  Sliding his hand up my ribs and then my neck, he sketches a finger across my cheek. “I have what I want right here. ” He dips his mouth next my ear. “Are the nightmares getting worse?” he breathes, stroking my upper arm. “Can you see the symbol clearly?”

  I go rigid. “W-What?”

  He laughs against my ear.

  “You’re going to pay for this,” Laylen says in a low tone that conveys so much warning it actually sends a chill down my spine.

  Nicholas strengthens his hold on me, his chest rising and falling as it repeatedly crashes against my back. “I’d like to see you try, you pathetic excuse for a Vampire. You can’t even bring yourself to drink blood. ”

  Laylen’s lips expand to a slow grin. “Want to bet?”

  Nicholas laughs. “You’re so enter—”

  Laylen launches forward so fast he’s nothing except a blur and, seconds later, Nicholas is jerked from my grasp. Laylen doesn’t bite him, but he does bring his fist up against the side of his head and knock him out cold. Nicholas’s body slumps to the ground and Laylen steps back, wiping the sweat off his forehead.

 
; His fangs descend and then retract as if he’s deciding whether he wants to bite him. Then choosing not to, he slumps over, grabs onto Nicholas’s arms, and drags him behind the pillar.

  “The last thing I ever want to do is taste his foul blood,” He says, standing upright.

  “I don’t blame you. ” I pause, watching Nicholas’s chest rise and fall as he sleeps off Laylen’s punch. I can’t help thinking about what he whispered moments before Laylen leapt on him, though. How did he know? Not just about the nightmares, but about the symbol? “We should probably hurry before he wakes up. ”

  Laylen nods and then takes my hand as we head back to the path. We walk for what seems like an eternity and the more time that passes, the more worried I get that someone’s going to discover us. I’m starting to get discouraged, which is a horrible feeling, when I feel it. A spark. It’s soft at first, like a delicate kiss, but it increases in intensity the further we continue to go down the path until finally my body is drowning in heat.

  “Alex is close,” I whisper, glancing around at the walls and floor. “I can feel it. ”

  “What?” Laylen asks, studying me with a mystified expression.

  I’m completely engulfed in feeling it again, so welcoming and familiar. I’ve never had familiar before and it makes me feel content. “I can feel him through the electricity. ”

  “The electricity?”

  “It’s a story for another time. ” I tug on his hand as I start to speed up down the path. “Now come on. We have to hurry. ”

  We run, following the invisible current of electricity, going further into the cave. With each step, the current grows and becomes more charged and at the same time I become more eager and excited. God, I’ve missed this. I’ve never really missed something before and knowing I’m going to have it back soon pumps adrenaline through my body at a toxic dose.

  By the time we reach a door, the current is flowing so powerfully that I know Alex has to be behind it. I’m actually shaking from the energy coursing through me, it owns me, consumes me, possesses me to the point that nothing else matters.

  I need to feel more of it.

  I need to see Alex.

  What I need is to feel like I’m breathing again.

  I let go of Laylen’s hand, turn the door handle, and push the door open, starting to smile. However, what’s on the other side makes my mouth turn back down and my stomach churn. All the excitement evaporates and my eagerness alters to paralyzing fear.

  There’s a massive crystal ball about the size of a football stadium flaring brightly within the enormous space of the cave. Attached to the crystal, solely by chains, are people. Alex is front and center, chains wrapped around him from head to toe, binding him to the crystal ball.

  And he looks dead.

  All of them do.

  Chapter 18

  They’re all dead. Alex is dead. I can’t breathe. I can’t live.

  “Calm down, Gemma. ” Laylen’s voice is soothing, yet distant. I feel my legs turning into rubber and the room begins to sway. “They’re not dead. ”