The lost soul, p.24
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       The Lost Soul, p.24

         Part #1 of Fallen Souls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 24

 

  “Fine, if that’s what you want, then I’ll give him to you. ” She laughs to herself, clasps my wrists, and shoves me away.

  I stumble onto the podium, her excessive strength shock-waving my muscles. I realize she was toying with me the entire time.

  “You didn’t think you were really hurting me, did you?” She elevates her hands to eyelevel and claps her palms together twice. Her face lights up at something behind me.

  I turn and my jaw drops. Laylen. He’s as frail as a Lost Soul, but not mummified. His bright blue eyes are black, his skin pale, and his cheekbones are concaved.

  I move cautiously, fearing he’ll fall apart at the slightest movement. “What did she do to you?” I flick a spider from his shoulder. “Laylen, can you hear me?”

  “I liberated him,” Helena answers. “This is his death, Gemma. ”

  “No, this is the life you took. ” I whirl at her, my finger flaring. “Otherwise he wouldn’t be here. ”

  “True,” she agrees. “But he is a very beautiful Lost Soul. ”

  “He’s not a Lost Soul. ” I shake my head, denying.

  “Not quite, but soon,” she replies greedily.

  I search his eyes for a spark of life, but he doesn’t blink, doesn’t breathe. He doesn’t know who he is—who I am—or where he is.

  “What do you want?” I turn back to the queen, choking on my tears. “How can I get you to free him?”

  “How much would you give up for him?” she asks intensely. “How much does this boy mean to you?”

  I’ve never been in this kind of a situation with Laylen. Alex, yes. Laylen, no. But I look at it the same, because I care for Laylen just as much as I care for Alex.

  “You want my soul?” I affirm.

  Surprisingly, she shakes her head. “No, not your soul. You know as well as I do that I can’t just take it. But there is a loophole. ”

  Nervously, I note the chains on her wall, the Black Widows, and the forthcoming screams. “There’s always a loophole, isn’t there?”

  She stretches from her throne, taller than ever. The spiders scuttle for her. They start at her feet and spiral up her dress. Her black fingernails point up to the ceiling and she laughs with glee. “What I want from you Gemma is more than your soul. ”

  I’m hit from the back, like a truck colliding with a wall. I fall flat on my face, in a pile of spiders. From my peripheral vision I spy a strange looking Banshee, its hair wispy and white and it moves like water. It takes down Laylen. His body smacks down onto the podium, his eyes open, lifeless. The Widows prey on him, scampering across his body as if they own him. The queen snickers again and a thousand swooshes pack the chamber.

  Warm light melts me as my body starts to revive. I scream as I’m ripped apart from the inside out.

  Chapter 20

  I jolt up, shrieking at the top of my lungs. The sky shadows above and the grass is crisp against my legs. My body is broken from the fall, disarranged and scratched. I feel strange, but alive and in control. My mother was right: Helena can’t take my soul without permission. But what about Laylen?

  “You went through with it, didn’t you?” Nicholas asks from behind me.

  I pivot around and totter to my feet. “I had to—I had to save Laylen. ”

  “You’re always saving someone. ” His eyes are like fireflies against the darkness of night. “The problem is no one ever saves you. ” He eyes me over. “What happened? Do you still have your soul? By your nervous demeanor, I’m guessing yes. ”

  I insert my arm back into the socket and crack my fingers into place. “Yes, I still have my soul. ” I dart past him and investigate the front yard.

  He marches after me. “What are you looking for?”

  “Laylen. ” I race to the driveway and check the front seat of his car. It’s empty. “His body’s got to be around here somewhere. ”

  “So now it’s Laylen you’re worried about. ” He skids in the gravel. “Tell me, do you ever worry about me like that?”

  I blink at him. “Seriously? I think you know the answer to that question. ” I revolve in a circle. “Laylen! Can you hear me?!” I tug my fingers through my hair, wrenching at the roots. “Laylen!” Tears leak from my eyes.

  “I could make you worry about me,” Nicholas carries on the conversation without missing a beat. “I’ve made you do things before. ”

  My hands fall heavily to my side. “What are you talking about?”

  He rests his elbow on the car, his eyes penetrating under my skin. “What do you think I’m talking about? I’ve asked you a million times why it is you always come to me for help and I think you know the answer. ”

  “I can’t believe…” I let out a frustrated grunt and then surrender my hands in the air. “You know what? I don’t care. I need to find Laylen. ”

  He strides alongside me. “That’s understandable, but you’re going the wrong way. ” He dodges in front of me and turns me by the shoulders, directing me toward the castle. He points a finger at the tower. “He’s up in his room, sleeping like a baby. ”

  I sprint up the pathway and burst into the foyer. My feet hammer up the stairs as I rush to Laylen’s bedroom. I fling open the door. He’s lying in his bed, his hands overlapping his stomach. I swallow hard and hurry to his bedside. Veins bulge under his pallid skin and his body is nothing but bones.

  “Laylen,” I choke, tenderly touching his arm. A Black Widow crawls out from under him and makes a path to his stomach. Gasping, I fling the bug across the room and it splatters against the window.

  His eyelids bolt open and he sucks in an immense breath. Stunned, I leap back, my heart racing.

  “Oh my God. ” My hand presses over my heart. “You’re alive. ”

  Wide eyed, he nods. He inspects his arms, his legs, his hands. The color returns to his cheeks and his cheekbones start fill out. His veins blend beneath his skin.

  He pants for a while, too shocked to speak. I sit on the edge of his bed and find his gaze. “Hey, are you okay?”

  He nods, staring at the wall. “I think so… I mean it’s weird. ” His gaze connects with mine. “Don’t you think it’s weird?”

  “To be dead?” I check and he nods. “Yeah, but that strange feeling you have will eventually vanish. Trust me. ”

  “I do trust you. ” He shawls his arm around my shoulder and guides me closer. “But the question is do you trust me?”

  “Of course. ” I rest my head against his shoulder just as Nicholas appears in the doorway.

  “Am I ruining a moment between you two?” He points a finger accusingly.

  “You ruin every moment of our existence. ” Laylen glares. “By just being here. ”

  Nicholas clamps his lips together, his eyebrows knitting. “Don’t you two want to know what’s wrong with Aislin?”

  “Did you take her to the Foreseers’ holding cell?” I ask and he nods. “Is she okay?”

  He stuffs his hands into his pockets and rocks back on his heels. “She will be when the magic spell wears off. Apparently, when Aislin was captured by the sprites, she put a spell on herself which basically made her temporarily stupid in case Luna showed up. ”

  “You got her to tell you that?” I rub a smudge of blood off my upper arm, lingering evidence of my fall out of the window.

  He nods. “In a few hours she’ll be as good as new. ” He pauses. “Until then, what do we do? Because there are a million different things you need to fix. ”

  “Like what?” I put him on the spot.

  He’s speechless by my attitude. “Like closing the Faerie Realm in the closet, getting your mark back, freeing your dad and your lover. ”

  “Alex isn’t a prisoner,” I say. “He’s there on his own freewill. ”

  “You’re awfully sure of that,” he expresses. “Yet, you haven’t even talked to him. ”

  “I did, on the phone,” I respond. “He seemed pretty content with Stasha. And pretty pissed th
at I called. ”

  He ambles across the room, glancing around at the clothes on Laylen’s floor. “It looks like a tornado blew through here. Are all vampires this messy?”

  Laylen’s lip twitches. “You better watch it faerie. All vampires like to feed, especially on fey. ”

  I eye Laylen, curious to know if he’s joking. “Are you sure you’re okay? Did Helena do something to you?” My gaze sweeps his body, his torn shirt, the holes in his dark jeans, the fresh blood in his blonde hair.

  “I told you I’m fine. ” He smoothes his hand down my back, his harsh demeanor alleviating. “How about I go get that crystal of yours fixed while you go check on Alex?”

  “You want me to go to Stasha’s house and see if Alex is there against his will?” I mope. “What if he isn’t? What if he’s there doing things I don’t want to see?”

  “Like what?” Laylen wonders.

  “Like…” My eyes wander to Nicholas. “Stuff. ”

  “Don’t hold back on my account. ” Nicholas takes a seat next to me, smelling like daisies, rain, and perfume. “Is it because of what I showed you?”

  I scowl at him. “Why do you even care?”

  Laylen slants forward, glancing back and forth between Nicholas and me. “What did he show you?”

  Nicholas waits expectantly. “Do you want to explain or should I?”

  I sigh and direct my attention to Laylen. “There’s nothing to explain. I’ll go free Alex or whatever, and you go fix the crystal ball. ”

  We nod in agreement and depart for the door.

  “What about me?” Nicholas chases after us.

  “You’re going to take me to Stasha’s,” I say. “Does she still live on the east coast?”

  Laylen heads into the bathroom. “No, she got a place in town to be closer to us. ” He turns on the sink faucet and dunks his head in the water, rinsing the blood from his hair. He shuts the water off and snatches a towel from the hanger. “She mentioned this when she was here the other day, but I didn’t want to tell you. ” He dries his hair and tosses the towel in the corner.

  “I’m glad you didn’t. ” I lean against the doorway and fold my arms. “I don’t like knowing now. ”

  He combs his fingers through his hair, rearranging it into place. He leans over the counter, admiring his reflection in the mirror. “You need to get over it, Gemma. Alex is Alex. ”

  “Since when have you been so into your looks?” I raise my eyebrows critically.

  His gaze sweeps my body. “If I were you, I’d be doing the same thing. ”

  Taken aback, I stand up straight and inspect my filthy clothes. “That was kind of rude. ”

  Sighing, he pulls me in front of the mirror. “Look at you. You’re a beautiful girl, you just don’t try. ”

  I stare at my reflection, my matted brown hair, dirt and dried blood on my pale skin, long limbs covered by an oversized black tee and some faded jeans.