Darkness breaks, p.28
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       Darkness Breaks, p.28

         Part #2 of Darkness Falls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 28

 

  I blink at the gross creature, glad I’m not the one who has to eat it. Next on the list: water. A rare occurrence in a place full of dryness.

  I search the ground for puddles and dip lower into the rocks where the air is damp. Finally, I spot one hidden at the bottom between a bush and a jagged rock. I leap off the rock and land with a soft thud. I twist the lid off the bottle and scoop water inside until it’s full. There’s not a lot of water, but it will have to do until morning. Honestly, all I can hope for is rain.

  I turn to leave, when I hear it. My name, floating through the night.

  “Kayla. ”

  My ears perk and I turn, skimming the tall rocks.

  “Over here. ”

  A chill shivers down my spine, knowing the person speaks, but possesses no heartbeat. I cap the lid back on the bottle and stuff it in my back pocket. Then I sidestep with the knife suspended out in front of me.

  “Who’s there?” I call out, jumping onto a horizontal rock. I peer over the side then back away, my eyes elevated to the rocks above. A dark outline forms at the crown. They’re watching me, even though I can’t see them—I feel them. “Who are you?”

  Zipping to the side, they soar off the cliff, landing softly in front of me.

  I step back and point the knife at his chest. “Tristan?”

  He smiles, fangs descending, blond hair lighting up the night. “I’ve been looking for you forever. ” Then he attacks, wanting to kill me.

  Chapter 23

  Our bodies tangle as we tumble from the rock. He’s above me, all his weight pressing down. He reaches for my arms and I knee him in the gut. He groans and I elbow him in the jaw. He spits blood and directs his fangs at my neck. I smash my hand against his face and shove him back. I wiggle my legs up, kick up, and launch him off me. He slams to the ground hard and rolls to his side, gripping his face.

  “Kayla, it’s me… Tristan. ” He meets my eyes as I stand above him, intimidating him with my knife.

  “The last time I saw you,” I dip the blade closer to his throat, “you had no idea who I was. ”

  He nods fervently, blue eyes pleading. “But I remember you now. I loved you once…I-I wanted to be with you forever. ”

  I let the knife up a little. “How did you remember all of a sudden?”

  “I didn’t go back…so they couldn’t erase my memories and it all started coming back to me. ”

  “Didn’t go back where? To The Colony?”

  He rises on his elbows. “When you left, Gabrielle made me a Bellator. At first I didn’t want to… you know how I feel about those things. But he insisted. Then Monarch did something to me and I felt fine with it. They trained me and sent me to find you. ”

  I turn the knife and point the tip at his throat. “So you could kill me. ”

  He puts his hands up in surrender. “I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. I felt so different—so content with it, you know. ”

  I don’t speak, compelling through his barrier. He’s telling the truth.

  “Please believe me,” he begs. “Please. I swear I didn’t know what I was doing. ”

  I nod slowly. “I believe you. ”

  He smiles. “I knew I could count on you, Juniper. ” He coils a strand of my black hair around his finger. “You were always so good and trustworthy. That’s why I liked you so much. ”

  He’s wrong. He doesn’t know me at all. I sigh and bang the handle of the knife on the top of his head. His eyes cross and he sinks to the ground.

  “Sorry,” I say. “But I can’t take any chances. ”

  ***

  Vampires cry at the night. The dead snake is around my neck, the knife and bottle in my pocket, and a heavy Tristan is slung over my shoulder. It takes longer to return to the cave, but I arrive before greyness glistens the land. Reaching the entrance, I lower Tristan to the ground and scoot the boulder out of the way. Maci and Greyson are asleep. Aiden is in the corner, with a pile of small sticks in front of him. Sylas sits adjacent, fiddling with a leather band he wears around his wrist. Their muscles are tense and their long legs stretch in front of them. Their chins are tipped down and their dark hair hangs over their foreheads. It’s hard to tell them apart. But Sylas’ dark eyes blend with his black jacket and jeans. And Aiden’s honey eyes pop against his green shirt.

  I flop the snake and bottle of water on the ground and they look up.

  “You caught a snake. ” Aiden’s face twists with revulsion.

  Sylas chuckles, shaking his head. “Man, I’ve never been happier to be on a strict blood diet. ”

  I march outside and fling Tristan over my shoulder. Then I walk back in and drop him next to the snake and water.

  Sylas stares at Tristan, then looks up at me, placing a hand over his heart. “Kayla, you shouldn’t have. ”

  “He’s not for you. ” I roll my eyes. “He tried to sneak up on me when I was getting water. ”

  “Is that… Tristan?” Aiden crawls forward to get a better look.

  “I’d keep my distance if I were you,” I tell him. “That’s not a human Tristan. ”

  He skitters back, eyes widening. “Is he… is he a Day Taker?”

  I crouch down and inspect Tristan, turning over his wrists, which are free of an experiment number. “I’m not sure. He said after I left, Gabrielle made him a Bellator and sent him to kill me. Well, after a little bit of Monarch’s help he did. ”

  “The Day Takers were created to protect. ” Sylas strolls up behind me. “Not to assassinate. ”

  “You know as well as I do that he’s not human. ” I stand up and he doesn’t bother giving me room. My shoulder grazes his arm and his breath is tepid against my skin. “You saw him fall off that roof,” I gesture my hand at him, “yet here he is. ”

  Sylas rubs his jawline. “And yet here he is an added bonus to our already enormous amount of excess baggage.

  My head snaps up and I glare at him. “You don’t have to be so mean about. They’re people Sylas. ”

  His eyes sparkle. “Exactly. And people slow you down. If you’d start seeing it this way, we’d get all this done a hell of a lot quicker.

  “You act like I’m completely bad because I still feel things,” I seethe, getting in his face. “But being like you isn’t that great either. You’re so hot and cold all the time. It drives me crazy. ”

  He leans in, eyes darkening. “I never said I was good. And I never said not to feel anything. But having sympathy isn’t going to get you anywhere. Monarch didn’t want you that way. He wanted you strong and unbreakable. ”

  Aiden stands with his fists at his side. “Just because Monarch wanted something doesn’t make it right. ”

  Sylas’ gaze maintains steadily with mine. “Right or wrong, feeling things right now is not an option. Unless it’s anger or revenge. Now that would get you somewhere. ”

  I shove him, if for no other reason than to shove him. He blasts me with a burst of anger and it only riles me up more. I tackle him, taking him to the ground, my skin sweltering with both of our rage.

  He throws his head back and laughs. “You don’t even know what you’re pissed about. ”

  I pin his arms down, breathing heavily. “I’m pissed because one minute you’re diving into a herd of vampires to help me out. And the next, you’re a complete asshole. ”

  “Yes, Kayla. ” He grins a plastic grin. “Everyone in this room knows I’m a jerk. You don’t have to remind me. ”

  “No, that’s what you want people to think,” I snarl through my fangs. “But I’ve seen you when you’re not pretending. ” I quiet my voice. “When I was a little girl and you gave me the red flower. ”

  Anger blazes from his eyes and he flips us over, entrapping my arms above my head. His fangs point out sharply. “Until you can remember everything, don’t bring up who I used to be. ” Then he shoves up and storms for the exit. “And you might want to hold onto all that anger building up in you. Maybe
then you’ll start making the right decisions. Otherwise you’re going to screw everything up. ”

  He thrusts the boulder out of the way and storms out without bothering to cover the entrance back up. I huff over and slam it shut.

  “Don’t let him get to you,” Aiden says from behind me. “It’s what he does, Kayla. One minute he’s nice and the next he’s a jerk. It’s how he’s always acted, even before The Colony. ”

  I don’t say anything and head for Tristan. “We should tie him up. Get me the roll of wire would you?”

  “Kayla, is everything okay?” Maci asks, rubbing her tired eyes.

  Our little fight woke Greyson and her up. They sit against the wall, legs tucked in, afraid of me. I realize my fangs are still out and quickly hide them back in my mouth.

  “Everything’s fine, Maci. ” I drag Tristan by his feet and hide him in a corner. “Go back to sleep. ”

  Aiden hands me the spool of wire and I twine it around Tristan’s ankles and wrists.

  “I’m not sure if that will hold him,” I say, moving back and putting my hands on my hips. “But I guess we’ll find out when he wakes up. ”

  Aiden laughs softly. “It’s funny, but it’s almost like Maci knew we’d need the wire. ”

  I glance over my shoulder at the red-headed girl drawing pictures in the dirt. What is she keeping locked in her head? She knows more than the rest of us, yet she doesn’t share it straightforwardly until the time is right.

  I approach her guardedly. “Maci, can I ask you a question?”

  She doesn’t look up, fixated with her drawing of swirls. “I already know what you want and I can’t help you. ”

  The drawing is a twirl of lines that twist to form a path. “How come? Did someone tell you that you weren’t supposed to tell me?”

  She looks up with a serious expression. “No, I just can’t help you until the time is right. ”

  I pat her hand. “Maci, if you know things, you need to share them. It’s important that we figure this out. ”

  She sighs sadly. “No, Kayla, you don’t understand. I can’t tell you because even I don’t know until there about to happen. Everything constantly changes and I don’t always know for sure. ”

  “So you see things that are going to happen? How did you get that way?”

  She shrugs, adding a curl to her drawing. “I don’t know. I can only see the future, not the past. ”

  “You can’t remember what happened to you?” I ask. “Back at The Colony?”

  “Sometimes I can, but it’s stuff I’d rather not remember. ” She stands and brushes the dirt from her torn jeans. “What’s in the past is in the past, Kayla. You can’t change it, but you can change the future. ” She skips off for the snake.

  I turn on my heels to Aiden. “She knows more than she’s letting on. ”

  “Yeah, she does,” he agrees, nodding. “But you can’t force her to tell you, unless you want to get mean with a little kid. ” He waits for me to respond.