Cinder x, p.25
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       Cinder X, p.25

         Part #2 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
Page 25


  “Why the hell would your family take the necklace to begin with? Just to protect yourselves?

  He shrugs. “You’d have to ask my father that. ”

  “Maybe you should just ask him. ”

  “Easier said than done,” he says. “Since I have no idea who he is. ”

  I press my fingertips to my temples and breathe deep. “I know that’s not true. I saw him at the bar and that day you were moving into the house, which by the way, I’m not even sure how you ended up here in the house again when I saw a for sale sign in it a few days ago. ”

  “Because my uncle bought it,” he says and then snorts a laugh. “And I’m guessing that that goofy looking guy you think is my father, is Delfonte, my older half-brother. ”

  My lips form an ‘o. ’ “Well, he sure looks like you. ”

  He rolls his eyes like I’m ridiculous. “No one looks as good as me. ” He stares at me for a moment, his eyes are unreadable as he whisks passed me towards the stairway that leads up to his bedroom. “Wait here. I’ll be right back. ”

  He disappears up the stairs. Sighing, I go into the living room that has deep red walls and a brick fireplace. The mantle is ornamented with plastic plants and photos. Above it is a mirror trimmed with a gold frame. Just like last time, the air smells like cinnamon and apples from the candles burning on the shelf in the corner. The only thing that’s different is the absence of Mackenzie Baker sitting on the sofa. I can’t help thinking about that night; how I sat and talked to her, not knowing she was dead. I knew so little back then. Part of me wishes I could go back to being that naïve person, but at the same time, if I was still her, then I would have never met Asher and last night would have never happened.

  God, last night was amazing.

  I touch my lips as I remember, standing in the doorway without moving even when I hear the sound of Cameron’s footsteps coming down the stairs. He stops just behind me, the heat of his body mixing with mine as he shifts his weight close to me and I tense, though I don’t budge.

  “What are you thinking about?” he whispers in my hair, breathing in my scent.

  I shrug, trying not to shiver from his touch, but it’s difficult. “About that night. ” I turn and look over my shoulder at him, leaning back when I miscalculate our distance and our lips almost touch. “How I sat here talking to Mackenzie and she was dead the entire time”

  He gives me a mystified look. “You say that like it’s a weird thing. ”

  “It is weird… I’m weird…. ”

  “So what if you’re weird,” he says. “I’m weird. The entire world’s weird if you really look at it. ”

  “The entire world doesn’t see the dead and talk to Reapers who like to fuck with their head. ” I turn to face him. “You could have just told me she was dead that night and saved me a hell of a lot of confusion. ”

  He folds his arms over his chest, his gaze weighted. “I didn’t tell you that night that Mackenzie was dead for the same reason I don’t tell you stuff that would lead you away from me. ” He inclines forward, the heat of his body suffocating and consuming me. “You and I aren’t friends, and in the end, I only want one thing from you. And that’s you. And the more you know about me, the less you’re going to want me. ”

  I’m not sure how to respond to his blunt statement. “But in order for you to have me means we’d have to be friends,” I say quietly, leaning back to get breathing room and my back bumps the wall.

  “Not with what I want from you. ” His eyes are locked on me, penetrating deep inside me, beneath my skin, to a part of me that I don’t want to admit exists. The one that wants to see what it’s like to be with him. Kiss him. Drink evil. Torture. The more I think about it, the more my eyes start to burn and my lips tingle. I’m not sure what it means, but it has happened a couple of times and I’m starting to believe there might be more to it.

  “And what do you want from me?” Again my voice is unbalanced.

  “What Asher has taken from you twice,” he says, in a low, husky voice that stupidly makes me shiver.

  “He didn’t take it from me. ” I glare at him, doubting that could possibly be the only reason he wants me. “I gave it to him. ”

  His fists clench, so does his jaw, but the tense look quickly dissolves. Moments later, he looks calm, relaxed and in control. “That’s fine. Keep fighting. You will give in eventually, though. ”

  I’m about to leave because clearly it wasn’t a good idea to come here, yet then he inches back and sticks his hand out, palm up. Inside it, is a maroon stone that gleams in the light trickling through the windows.

  “My grandmother’s necklace. ” I quickly reach for it, remembering how Professor Morgan said it could protect me.

  Cameron pulls his hand away and tucks it behind his back. “No, it was my family’s necklace… Well, the necklace we stole from Altarius Vinceton. Your grandmother stole it from us. ”

  “Yeah, you say that,” I tell him, folding my arms, “yet how am I supposed to believe you when you’re always lying?”

  “You don’t have to believe me,” he replies nonchalantly. “Just know that it’s mine and that I’m lending it to you for a while. ” Then he moves his hand back out and unfolds his fingers from it.

  I don’t budge. “Why are you lending it to me when you made such a big deal about getting it back? And made such a big deal about how Professor Morgan was lying to me about it. ”

  “I never said he was lying to you about the necklace,” he says. “I said it was awfully suspicious that he was handing over information. ”

  “And now you’re here handing over the necklace. ”

  “Because it will protect you from what lies ahead in the very near future, which is going to be your death if you don’t take it…” He shoves his hand at me. “So take the damn necklace, Ember, before I change my mind. ”

  I don’t take it. “How do you know what lies ahead for me in the near future?”

  “The same way you know how,” he responds, annoyed. “I see death omens and I’ve recently stumbled upon yours, so will you just take the damn necklace. ”

  Again, I don’t take it and get some sort of sick twisted pleasure over the fact that this seems to make him angry. “Yeah, but you made such a big deal about your family needing it because it protects you. ”

  “Yeah, so?” he says, annoyed.

  “But then you’ll be vulnerable. ”

  His eyes glint with something that makes me all warm inside. “Which shows how important you are to me. I’m pretty much giving up my family’s security for a moment to protect you and trust me, we need protection right now since our leader is wandering around here on earth. ”

  I feel disgustingly touched by his twisted gesture and reluctantly, I take it from his hand, thinking about the time I was wearing it and crashed my car into the lake. “So I’m going to die in the near future, huh?”

  He arches a brow. “You say that with zero fear. ”

  “Well, I’m pretty sure that I’ve died more than once and I’m still standing here. ”

  “This isn’t just about death, princess. It’s about the Anamotti getting ahold of you and torturing you. ” As he reduces the space between us, his fingers wrap around my wrist. “So, do what’s best for you and let me put the necklace on you. ”

  I look down at the necklace in my hand. “I’ll put it on myself. ”

  He doesn’t argue, moving back and letting me go. Then I put the necklace on, hoping I’m not making a mistake, hoping that this moment won’t come back to bite me in the ass. Once I get the chain fastened, I start to ask Cameron exactly how I’m supposed to die, but he cuts me off, walking passed me to the door, his shoulder brushing against mine.

  “Now go back to your house and check your email,” he says, opening the door up.

  I wrap my fingers around the pendant resting in the hollow of my neck. “Why?”

  “Because you have a message from August Mi
llard and I know you’ve been dying to hear from him. ” Then irritation rises in his expression. “Plus, Asher’s about to wake up and I don’t want him coming over here to look for you. I’ve had enough of him to last me a century. ”

  My eyes widen. “How do you know all of this? Are you freaking telepathic or something?”

  He gives me a gentle shove and I stumble out the door. “No, don’t be ridiculous. I know everything because I live in the shadows and can see everything. . . which lets me get inside your head. ”

  “Oh, my God, was it you in the attic when Raven was up there?” I shake my head in fury. “Were you pretending to be my dad?”

  He rolls his eyes at me. “Don’t be absurd. ” But then he pauses, musing over something, and smiles. “Although, I wouldn’t completely discount that your dad might have been there. ” With that, he slams the door in my face.

  My jaw drops as I’m left wondering if he was telling the truth; if my dad could still be alive and was in the attic. If that’s true, then that would mean he was one of the shadows; a Reaper.

  “Cameron, is that true or were you just fucking with my head. ” I bang on the door a few times, telling him to explain what he meant, but he never responds. Finally, I give up and jog across his front lawn, ignoring the Anamotti in the police car parked only a few feet away as I hop over the curb. I rush across the street and to the front lawn, catching my breath as I enter my house. I quietly close the door behind me and rush up the stairs to Asher and my laptop.

  When I get to my room, the door is wide open and Asher isn’t in my bed. I grow nervous as I step inside and glance around, noting his clothes aren’t on the floor anymore.

  “Did he leave me?” I’m stunned, my heart starting to split in two. No, that can’t be possible. He wouldn’t do that to me.

  “I would never leave you. ” The softness of his voice encases me.

  I follow the sound over to the closet and draw the curtain back, letting daylight slip into the darkness. Asher is sitting on the floor wearing the same clothes as he had on last night. The plain shirt and jeans wrinkled, his hair ruffled, and his skin is a little pale. He’s facing the wall that I often write poetry on. It makes me uneasy because sometimes my poetry can come off morbid.

  “Did you write this?” he asks without looking at me. “Well, I’m assuming you did, since it’s your wall. ”

  I move up behind him and kneel down, feeling him stiffen, but he quickly relaxes. “Yeah, I wrote all of it… which one are you looking at?” I ask.

  He tips his head to the side, looking at me, wisps of his hair falling in his eyes. “All of them, really, but particularly the one on the top. ” He turns his attention back to the wall and reads it aloud, “Small and insignificant the Ember burns at the bottom, half alive, half dead, hidden beneath flames that roar bright, always the focus of life. Smothering and dying, the Embers always strive to burn, but never fully get there. They are never the light, the burn, the flashy focal of want and attention. They are simply charred and overlooked. ” When he finishes, he looks back at me. “You’re not overlooked. ”