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       The Vision, p.27

         Part #3 of Fallen Star series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 27

 

  “Why do you even have one of those things in your house?” Laylen asked, nodding his head at the Death Walker.

  “Why not?" Stasha pulled off her glove and tossed it on the floor. “Give me your arm,” she told me.

  Hesitantly, I reached my scarred arm out to her, holding my breath as she wrapped her deathly fingers around my wrist. Within seconds, the olive-green lines were fading away, until my skin was back to its normal paleness. I let out a breath as she moved her hand away, but then gasped as I caught sight of something on her wrist.

  A black triangle pointing around a red symbol.

  Laylen followed my gaze and his bright blue eyes went wide. “Where did you get that?” he asked.

  Stasha glanced down at her marked wrist. “What this? I’ve always had it. ”

  Laylen shook his head. “No, you haven’t. ”

  “Yes, I have,” she said in a low, condescending tone. “I’ve had it since the day I was born. ”

  “Alex would have never dated you if you had it,” I said, but then I questioned my own words.

  Laylen was questioning them too, but before any more words could be exchanged, the Death Walker suddenly leapt to its feet and let out a loud shriek.

  “Time to go,” I said quickly and reached for Laylen’s hand.

  He knocked Stasha to the floor before taking it. And as the Death Walker charged at us, its yellow eyes glowing, ready to devour, I blinked us away, back to the house.

  Chapter 28

  “I don’t even know what to think,” Laylen said.

  He was sitting on my bed, his fangs put back where they belong, and his bright blue eyes wide as we tried to figure out what to do with the whole Stasha-being-marked-with-evil situation. I mean, it wasn’t like I hadn’t already thought she was evil, but the mark being there. . . it just shouldn’t be there. And yet it was and it was popping up all over. The thing that was really getting at me, though, was that Stasha said she had had the mark since she was born. So did Alex know about it? If he did, then, I felt like we were back to where we started; back to where I thought he was a liar.

  “We should at least give him the benefit of the doubt,” I said, fiddling with a loose string on my purple comforter. “See how he reacts when we tell him. ”

  Laylen nodded. “Yeah, I think that’s a good idea. ” He met my eyes with a concerned look on his face. “You’re okay, right?”

  I glanced down at where the lines once traced my arm. “Yeah, I don’t think she did anything to me besides remove her death. ”

  He shook his head. “No, not with that. I mean, with the Alex thing. I know how far you two have come so you can trust him. ”

  I pressed my lips together. “Like I said, we should go talk to him—give him the benefit of the doubt, before we start accusing him of anything. ”

  “Alright then. ” Laylen got to his feet and I followed.

  “Are you okay?” I asked him as we headed down the stairs. I didn’t have to explain what I meant—was he okay with bringing out his fangs.

  “I’m good. In fact, it was kind of nice to bring them out for a good cause. ”

  “Well, if it does start to bother you,” I started to say.

  But he threw his arm around my shoulder. “I know. I know. I’ll come talk to you first, before bailing. ”

  Alex, Aislin, and Aleesa were in the living room when Laylen and I walked in. Aislin was typing away on the lap top, so determined to figure out why the spell at the cemetery didn’t work. Alex was trying to explain to Aleesa what a television was, and how people were not trapped inside it.

  “Hey,” he said when he caught sight of me in the doorway. His eyes flickered in Laylen’s direction and then he said to me, “I thought you were resting so you could try to go in the mapping ball again. ”

  Aleesa let out a giggle at something on the TV.

  “I couldn’t sleep. ” I stared at him, my pulse racing as his bright green eyes burned intensely back at me. Please, please, say you didn’t know about the mark. I raised my arm, figuring that was the best place to start.

  His eyebrows dipped down. “Where’d they go?”

  I bit on my bottom lip. “We paid Stasha a little visit. ”

  “What?” His face reddened with anger, but he kept his tone calm. “You paid her a visit. ”

  “Yeah…I had this hunch that maybe if her death scars weren’t on my arm, the Purple Flame might work,” I explained.

  “Okay…well, I wish you would have said something before you took off,” he said, trying his hardest to stay calm. “But since you’re without the scars I assume everything went okay. ”

  I shook my head, leaning against the doorway. “Not exactly. ”

  Alex glanced back and forth between Laylen and me. “What do you mean, not exactly?”

  I looked at Laylen and then at Aislin, who was suddenly very interested in what we were talking about.

  “Can I talk to you alone for a minute?” I asked Alex

  He gave me a funny look, but set the TV remote down and followed me out of the room and into the kitchen.

  “So…what’s wrong?” he asked, leaning back against the teal cupboards and folding his arms.

  I sighed. “Well, when Laylen and I—”

  He let out a weird sound that sounding kind of like a snort mixed with a cough.

  “What was that?” I asked.

  He shrugged. “What was what?”

  I eyed him suspiciously. “That weird noise you just made…why did you make it?”

  He shrugged again, looking a lot like the old “whatever” Alex.

  “Hey, don’t do that,” I said. “Don’t shut me out. Just tell me what’s wrong. ”

  He stared at me for a moment and then he was moving toward me, stopping just short of running into me.

  “My problem is that every time you have a problem, you run off with him. ” He pointed over his shoulder toward the living room where I knew Laylen was sitting. “It’s driving me crazy. ”

  Okay…he was being honest, which was kind of weird. “Well. ” I took a step back because the sparks were a little overwhelming. “It seemed better to take Laylen with me this time because Stasha can’t kill him with her touch, him being immortal and all. ”

  “And that’s the only reason?” His bright green eyes glimmered like gems as he waited for me to answer.

  “Yeah. ” I think that was the right answer.

  He relaxed and I started to relax until I remembered.

  “Wait a minute,” I took a step toward him. “I have to ask you something. ”

  He looked confused. “Okay…. ”

  I took a deep breath. “Did you know Stasha has the Mark of Malefiscus?”

  His jaw fell. “She doesn’t. ”

  “Yes, she does. I saw the mark on her wrist, and she told us she’s had it since she was born. ”

  “That’s not possible. I would know if she had. ”

  I hated that he would know. “So you’re saying you didn’t know. ”

  “I’m saying there’s no way she could have one, unless she got it after we stopped…dating. ”

  I rubbed my hands across my face, feeling the stress. “I guess she could have been lying about that part, but I don’t know why. ”

  “Or do you think I’m lying?” he questioned with an arch of his eyebrow.

  I hesitated. “I don’t think you’re lying. ”

  He shook his head. “Now who’s lying?”

  I started to protest, but he was stepping for me, backing me up until my back pressed into the counter.

  “You don’t believe me, do you?” he asked.

  I held his gaze. “If you tell me you didn’t know, then I’ll believe you. ”

  He placed his hands on the counter, so I was trapped between his arms. Then he leaned in, his face merely inches away from me. “I didn’t know she had the mark. ”

  He was telling the truth—I could see it in
his eyes. But I waited a second or two, before confessing this, because…well, because I was kind of enjoying being trapped between his arms.

  “Okay, I believe you,” I finally said, and he waited a second or two before he stepped back and freed me from his arms. I shook off the sparks. “So, why do you think she’s marked then? And why would she have a Death Walker at her house?”

  He gaped at me. “What?”

  “Oh, did I forget to mention that?” I asked and he nodded with an astonished look on his face. “Well, she had one there. ”

  Alex ran his fingers through his hair. “This just doesn’t make any sense. I mean, why the sudden abundance of marks? They were supposed to be nonexistent. ”

  “Do you think your dad’s going around, marking everyone, like he did with Nicholas and some of the Keepers?” I asked.

  “He could be. ” He shrugged “I guess, but didn’t that witch Medea say she had it since she was born and that there were others. ”

  “I know…. it’s so weird,” I mumbled. “Like something’s changed. ”

  We looked at each other, perplexed.

  “Well, maybe it’s time for you to put everything back to what it was. ” Alex pointed at my arm. “You think that thing’s ready to go?”

  I raised my arm up, examining it. “Let’s find out. ”

  I went and grabbed the mapping ball, and moments later I was standing in the kitchen with the Purple Flame burning vibrantly in my hand. Alex stood over by the counter, arms folded as he watched me with an uneasy look on his face.

  I took a deep breath, crossed my fingers that it would work—it had to work—and set the glittering mapping ball into my hand.

  Then, I was gone.

  Chapter 29

  It was too dark--I had to be dead. I panicked, thinking how completely and one hundred percent stupid it was for me to believe that a note left on my bed and a talk-show-host voice would give me the correct way to get inside the mapping ball. Go find the Purple Flame, go erase the death marks, what had I been thinking?

  But then, I realized that my eyes were just closed, and when I opened them up, I was dazzled by the most beautiful sight. And I’m not talking about Alex. Stars. Yes, stars, sparkling beneath my feet like diamonds.

  “It’s beautiful,” I whispered in amazement. But my amazement quickly vanished as the comprehension of not having any idea of what I was doing draped over me.

  I walked across the stars, my heart sinking in despair. “What am I supposed to do?”

  As if answering me, one of the stars, right in front of my feet, flickered. I jumped back as it lit up against the darkness like a movie screen. On the screen was a man probably about twenty years-old with dark brown hair and violet eyes—my dad. He was talking to an older woman with long red hair, wearing a perfectly pressed tan dress…it was Sophia.

  “Well, I don’t see how that would be possible,” Sophia said to my father as they walked up the hill toward the Keeper’s castle. “Jocelyn’s too busy with things. She’s supposed to be taking her Keeper’s test soon. ”