The promise, p.24
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       The Promise, p.24

         Part #4 of Fallen Star series by Jessica Sorensen
 
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Page 24

 

  I paused.

  Where s Marco?

  He s dead,

  he said quietly.

  My father killed him.

  But he didn t kill Sophia.

  I considered the reason why.

  Because she s the only one who could detach my soul again.

  I think so,

  Alex nodded, agreeing.

  So what do we do now?

  The only thing we can do,

  I said, a quiver in my voice.

  We leave her there until we die.

  He was on his feet before I could even finish.

  What s wrong with you? You can t be giving up that easy.

  We re not giving up,

  I said.

  We re doing what we have to do.

  So what? You just quit.

  His words breathed fire in my face.

  I shook my head.

  No, I m not giving up. I m doing what I have to do to save the world.

  He dragged his fingers down his face.

  There has to be another way.

  No, there s not. And we don t have any time left,

  I said.

  And it doesn t matter. I ve known this was going to happen, I ve just been making it complicated, when all along the answer was right in front of me.

  I put my hand on his cheek, a forbidden electric touch.

  We die, so everyone else can live.

  Then I touched my lips to his, a quick brush, then walked out the door.

  Even though he was angry with my answer, I hoped he would follow me.

  And he did.

  Chapter 40

  (Alex)

  I can t believe she really thought that was going to happen; that I was just going to let her give up like that. I followed her down the stairs anyway, but mainly to make sure Laylen and Aislin weren t flipping out.

  Everything was quiet, still as death.

  Aislin was at the coffee table, mixing a bowl of herbs.

  You re alive,

  she joked with a smile.

  Do you realize how many times you ve said that to me,

  Gemma joked back as if nothing was wrong, as if she hadn t just been dead, hadn t gone to the Afterlife, hadn t announced that she was going to sacrifice her life.

  Aislin laughed, crunching leaves and Gemma made a face at the stench. Her eyes wandered over to me, curious if I d break the news to everyone.

  But in my opinion there was no news to break.

  What is that stuff?

  she gagged, peering in the bowl.

  This is what s going to take the Shield Spell off my father.

  She gave the bowl a spin.

  Of course, after we do that, I don t know what we re going to do. No one s come up with a plan to end him.

  Again, Gemma glanced at me and I shook my head once, warning her not to talk about her stupid death plan.

  So where s Laylen?

  she asked.

  Right here,

  he announced, pushing me aside as he stepped into the living room and gave her hug.

  Notice anything different?

  She tucked her hair behind her ears.

  Did you get taller?

  she teased.

  He stuck out his arm and she gasped, tugging it closer to her.

  You re mark s gone! You re free.

  He shrugged.

  Not completely.

  He grinded his teeth.

  But close.

  Gemma hugged him again, her eyes meeting mine and I glared at her. She let go of Laylen.

  I m glad you re happy.

  Then she marched up and took me by the elbow, pulling me into the foyer and out the front door.

  See all this,

  she said with a swing of her hand.

  Looks like a street.

  I shrugged, leaning back against the railing. Snow was falling lightly and our breaths fogged in front of us.

  A quiet peaceful street,

  she said, staring at the houses on the other side of the road.

  And it could stay that way.

  I m not letting you die,

  I said.

  I refuse to. We haven t even …

  God, I sounded like an idiot. I took her by the shoulders, looking her in the eye.

  You haven t even lived. I mean really lived, without all of this.

  Death s not that bad.

  But she winced when she said it.

  My hands fell from her shoulders, because my palms were too hot to touch her any longer. I started to speak, but she put a finger to my lips.

  Can I show you something?

  she asked, eyes wild with excitement.

  I pointed at the house.

  Don t you think we should help Aislin with the shield spell?

  She shook her head, hair blowing in her face, her violet eyes eager with something I couldn t understand.

  They ll be fine. Aislin will get the spell working.

  How do you know that?

  I folded my arms.

  She smoothed the hair out of her mouth.

  Because I ve seen how this is all going to end. The world will be safe. Everyone will be safe.

  Then she pushed past me back into the house, not waiting to see if I followed. And I wasn t planning on it. I d stand out here all damn day if I had too, until she could see that I wasn t about to give up.

  But this was nothing but a threat to myself I realized. I trailed after her, catching up as she reached the stairs.

  I think I almost got it,

  Aislin announced, beaming in the doorway of the living room, the bowl resting against her hip as she stirred. Something in our expressions made her back away, like she knew a secret and was giving us our space. It made me wonder what I was about to walk into.

  Gemma climbed up the stairs, her footsteps quick. Her hands quivered as she opened her bedroom door. She walked over to her computer and picked up a candle, turning it in her hand.

  This is what I wanted to show you,

  she said, her voice shaking. She cleared her throat.

  Okay. It s &nice.

  Was I missing something?

  She frowned, disappointed.

  It s nice? That s all you have to say?

  It s a candle.

  I shrugged.

  What do you want me to say?

  She bit at her lip, biting back a smile.

  No, it s so much more than a candle.

  Chapter 41

  (Gemma)

  So what is it then?

  he asked, unaware of the importance of this moment.

  It s a candle,

  I stated.

  He rolled his eyes and the corners of his mouth quirked up.

  Obviously, Gemma. But what s so special about it.

  He took the small rainbow candle from my hand.

  I grabbed a lighter off my desk and flicked it open.

  A witch gave it to me.

  I didn t bother mentioning what I d given up to get the candle. Without my locket, my neck felt bare and exposed, just like my emotions did now.

  It s a Power of Entrapment candle. I got it from the Black Magic place.

  He was already shaking his head.

  We re not using anything that came from a black magic place. It s too dangerous.

  We already did,

  I pointed out.

  We used a whole bunch of stuff, so Aislin could remove my wings.

  His eyes moved to my wingless back.

  Yeah, but that was an emergency.

  So s this candle,

  I said, knowing I was stretching it on the emergency part.

  Okay. Do you want to tell me what it does? Maybe then I can decide for myself whether we want to use it for whatever you re thinking.

  I was thinking a lot. At that moment, millions of images flooded my mind, some real, some made up.

  I
t s supposed to trap the power of a witch in her body, at least while the wick burns.

  So you want to use it on Aislin or something?

  He asked, utterly baffled.

  Because I think that might be a little harsh.

  God, did I have to spell it out for him.

  I want to

  My voice squeaked and I pretended to cough.

  I want to use it to trap our power in our bodies.

  I saw it register in his eyes, like a curtain opening.

  How d you get it?

  He pinched the wick.

  I told you, at the witch store.

  I know, but it seems like something that would come at a big price.

  I shrugged, forcing down the lump in my throat.

  Only dollars from my pocket.

  He turned the candle upside down.

  And how do we know it works? How do we know it s not going to kill us?

  My hand shook as I flicked the lighter.

  Only one way to find out. Are you in?

  He stared me down, his expression never wavering.

  I m in.

  Suspending the lighter over the wick, my hand shook as I lit it. Then I jerked back quickly, hoping it wouldn t explode. We held our breaths as the wick burned bright. There was no magical sparks, no enchanting noises or special effects. There was only silence. And the beating of our hearts.

  And just like it was supposed to, the electricity of the star sizzled out, momentarily preserved inside each of us, unable to connect.

  But it would only be like this momentarily. Like most good things are, as quick as a breath, or a skip of a heartbeat, as swift as our lives would leave us, it would burn out, just like us.

  But right now I didn t care. Right now, I only cared about one thing.

  As soon as the wicks gone, it ll stop,

  I said.

  The electricity will come back.

  He nodded, bright green eyes hypnotized by the flame.

  I know.

  Then we locked eyes, taking in the silence, thinking of the possibilities.

  ***

  This is for Keeps

  by Spill Canvas poured from the speakers. The room was dark, night shading the outside. The stars twinkled brightly through my bedroom window. I was lying on my back, Alex leaning over me, his heart knocking against my chest as he kissed the tip of my ear.

  This songs good,

  he whispered.

  I think it might be about immortality or something,

  I muttered, my eyelids fluttering as he kissed my neck.

  He jerked back slightly.

  Where s your necklace?

  My hand touched the hollow of my neck.

  I lost it. I think the hook broke or something.

  I m sorry,

  he said and then stole another kiss from my lips, which were already swollen from the many other kisses he d stolen within the last hour. Then he slid to my side, eyes watching me with intensity.

  What?

  I asked.

  Why are you looking at me like that?

  He shrugged.

  It s nothing.

  He followed my gaze as he rolled on his back and took my hand.

  Still fascinated with them?

  The stars?

  I shook my head.

  No, I was just thinking about something, that s all.

  Care to share your thoughts?

  He cocked an eyebrow as he propped up on his elbow.

  I was thinking about death,

  I began and he immediately frowned.

  And about life, and wondering where it will go.

  Where what will go?

  The star. After this is all over.

  My eyes were fixated on the stars, shimmering and twinkling. It wasn t there anymore. That pull. Instead it was like a push, like the star was the one holding me down.

  Will it go back up there? Or will it just be gone?

  He didn t speak and I figured he didn t like where the conversation was heading.

  Did you know that Gemma is an actual star?

  Obviously,

  I rolled my eyes.

  No, Gemma, also known as Alphecca, is part of the constellation Corona Borealis.

  He traced my lip with his finger.

  How did I not know this?

  I wondered, rubbing my lips together.

  Because there are a ton of constellations and an endless amount of stars.

  But you know.

  I wrapped my arms around his waist and ran my fingers up his back, trying not to smile as he shivered.

  What d you do? Google it or something?

  He shot me a look like that was the most ridiculous thing he d ever heard.

  No, I didn t Google it.

  The song switched to

  Here by Me

  by 3 Doors Down.

  You just know all this then?

  I asked.

  He nodded and then winked at me.

  Haven t you figured out I know everything.

  He was joking, but I still couldn t help but think how very wrong he was. There was something he didn t know and would never know.

 
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