Fractured souls, p.28
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       Fractured Souls, p.28

         Part #2 of Shattered Promises series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 28

 

  “Are you surprised?”

  I want to say yes but the more I learn about the Keepers, the more I realize they aren’t as good as they portray themselves to be.

  He smiles, pleased, and begins petting my head again. “Well, I’ll fill you in on the story of Malefiscus so you can get a better understanding of what he was—what a Keeper could become if they ended up switching sides and getting branded by evil. ” His fingers drift to my cheek and I refuse to look away, knowing I have to do this.

  “During Malefiscus’s time, there was sheer and utter chaos in the world,” Nicholas explains. “He tortured everyone—Vampires, Witches, Faeries. Even humans. He had a whole army of followers and they would go around on killing sprees or trying to persuade people he saw fit to join him. ”

  “There was so much death and blood as well as pain that the Fey leader of that time decided he’d had enough. There were too many Faeries dying and so he made a bargain with Malefiscus to try to save lives. ” His fingers roam to my mouth and he strokes his thumb against my lips as he licks his own. “He told Malefiscus that if he would leave the Fey alone, that we would forever be indebted to him—that we would exchange a favor for the Feys freedom from his chaos. ”

  “Did he agree?” I ask, my lips brushing against the pad of his thumb. He tastes salty while he smells like dirt and murky water.

  He nods, sticking his thumb into my mouth, and I just about gag. “Malefiscus agreed to it since the Fey are very powerful and he loved power. So the leader of the Fey and Malefiscus made a Blood Promise. ” He removes his thumb from my mouth, although he keeps it resting on my bottom lip.

  “What’s a Blood Promise?”

  “Not too long after the promise was made, though,” he continues on with his story, discounting my question. “Malefiscus was caught and sentenced to his death. The Keepers made the sentence and supposedly they executed him, but deep down people wondered whether they really did or not. There were a lot of traitors at the time and rumors started flooding that someone had snuck him out the day before he was supposed to be hanged. ” He pauses and then lies down on the bed beside me, his fingers tracing a path across my stomach, his skin feeling as rough as sandpaper. My gut churns and a slimy chill slithers down my spine, but this is right where I want him; close and distracted.

  “Alive or dead, it doesn’t really matter because his bloodline didn’t die with him,” He continues while sketching circles around my belly button as he props up on his elbow and watches my reaction. “It carried through the decades, going completely unnoticed for a while and so no one really knew about it until just recently. ” He pauses. “It carried on and now resides in a man named Stephan Avery. ”

  He stills and I’m too shocked to breathe. Stephan is the descendant of evil. Alex’s father. God, what does that make Alex?

  “Because his bloodline carried on, so did the Fey’s promise to grant him a favor. Only now the favor is owed to Stephan. ” His fingernails plunge into my stomach and slice my flesh open. Blood oozes out, but I tell myself to shut out the pain. Shut down. “I had barely heard of this story and I think a lot of Fey had forgotten as well until surprise, surprise, Stephan came to collect a few days ago,” he says venomously. “And he didn’t want just any member of the Fey to fulfill the promise. He wanted the Faerie who has the gift of a Foreseer as well. ”

  My eyes enlarge as the severity of the situation that I’m in registers in my head. “He asked you… to do what?”

  “I think you already know that. ” He pivots on his hip and aligns himself over me, his fingers stroking the section of my stomach that he had clawed moments ago. I feel my chance arriving and I try to get myself ready for the wretched place I’m about to go. “He wanted me to track down a very beautiful, feisty, and very tortured girl with the most magnificent violet eyes. ”

  “What does he want you to do with me?” Stay calm. You can do this. You’re strong.

  “Bring you to him. ” He inches closer to me like he’s about to kiss me.

  I stay as still as I can, despite my initial reaction to squirm and head-butt him. “And why haven’t you?”

  “Because I can’t seem to let you go. ” He tucks a strand of hair behind my hair and wets his chaffed lips with his tongue.

  “You could just let me go,” I dare to suggest. “You could come with me… go into hiding with us. ”

  He rolls his eyes. “Alex would never let that happen and you know it. ”

  “I could make him,” I say in an even voice. “I have ways. ”

  “You are a devious thing,” he remarks and places a sloppy kiss on my cheek. My heart thrashes and my throat burns with the taste of vomit. “But even if you could convince him, I still couldn’t… I don’t have a choice anymore with what I can do to you. ” He leans back a little and rolls up the sleeve of his shirt all the way to the top of his arm. On the side of his arm, branded in red and black ink is a triangular mark.

  “What is that?” I whisper, although I think deep down I already know. I’ve seen it before in my dream, on Draven, and with all the talk about the Mark of Evil, it’s pretty clear what it is; even if I don’t want to believe it.

  “The Mark of Malefiscus, also known as the Mark of Evil,” Nicholas growls, wrenching his sleeve back over it. “I’m branded with the Mark of Evil and I can make you stay all I want, but eventually the power of it’s going to take over. It will make me give you to Stephan. ”

  “How did you… how did you get it?”

  “Stephan. ”

  My body jolts upward as horror slams through me. “What!”

  He smiles and it almost looks like a sad smile. For a brief instant, he looks almost human. “Stephan can do a lot more than what people think. ”

  I shake my head and open my mouth to ask more questions, but he places his finger over my lips, shushing me. “No more questions. My time is running out…” he looks down at his pale, cracked arm and then his eyes lock back on me. “I have to take you away soon. ” He leans in to kiss me.

  I shove every ounce of revulsion down and lock it in a box inside me. I become a different person, one that doesn’t feel, and for a second I feel at home. I kiss him, holding everything in me, and pretending like I’m somewhere else. Somewhere the sun shines and my mood matches it. Maybe on a beach. Even though I’ve never been to one; the idea of the sand, the ocean, and the heat seem like it would be a wonderful, relaxing experience. I picture myself there, lying in the sand. Someone is with me, but I can’t tell who yet. A sturdy male figure with skin as smooth as porcelain. I hold myself there as Nicholas’s hands digress all over my body.

  He gets more intense the further he goes, but my bound legs and arms are making it hard for me to do anything except lie there.

  As he tries to draw our bodies closer, my legs get in the way.

  “I’m sorry,” I apologize with as much sincerity as I can.

  His lips are puffy as he leans back with his eyes unfocused, like he’s stoned. It’s almost like I have some sort of power over him and I wonder what it is. Regardless, I’m using it to my advantage.

  “It’s fine,” he says and leans back in to kiss me. After a lot of time passes—time where I zone out and my body just moves on its own—Nicholas finally gets frustrated and undoes the cuffs from my ankles and wrists.

  “Try anything at all,” he threatens, lowering himself down onto me. “And you’ll pay severely. ”

  I keep my expression blank as he begins kissing me again. I allow him to relax as much as possible, and then, when he’s about to shove his hands down the front of my jeans, I finally open the box inside me, letting emotions flood out. I lean back and then slam my head forward, ramming our skulls together hard. There’s a sickening crack and then Nicholas screams out in pain. I give him no time to recover, kicking him between the legs. His face screws up in pain and he slumps to the side of the bed. I leap to my feet and immediately the blood rushes from my head. T
he room violently spins in indistinct hues and shapes as I stumble toward the bed and make a run for the door. Halfway there, though, I turn back and stare at the nightstand, at the Ira.

  “You know you want it,” Nicholas grunts, clutching his goods. “If you leave without it, you’ll regret it. ”

  I’m weak and hungry and I feel like shit, but I do want it. Badly. The only thing standing between it and me is Nicholas. I glance around the room for a weapon and spot the rain stick on the wall. I snatch it down and position it in front of me.

  Nicholas climbs off the bed, hobbling a little as he winds around to the foot of the bed. He grins at me, raising his eyebrows and spanning his arms out to the side.

  “Go ahead,” he says with an arrogant grin. “Take your best shot. ”

  Trembling, I shuffle forward and swing the stick at his head. He ducks down and the force of the movement sends me sideways. My feet scuff against the floor, but I ungracefully manage to recompose my balance. I walk a half-circle around him, positioning the stick out in front of me.

  He laughs at me as he turns to the side with me, making sure that his eyes stay targeted on mine. “Come on, Gemma. You’re a Keeper. You can do better. ”

  I shake my head, redirecting myself to the other side. “No, I’m not… I have no mark. ”

  He leans back against the footboard and causally props his elbows against it, unafraid of me to the point that it’s almost insulting. “What makes you so sure?”

  “No mark. ”

  “Maybe it hasn’t appeared yet. ”

  I want to ask him what he knows because it looks like he knows something, but it’ll only get me distracted. Taking a step backward, I charge at him. He laughs, skittering to the side like he’s dancing, however I twirl around right at the last second and extend the stick out so it comes straight out in front of him. The heavy material slams against his gut and the stuff inside the stick makes it sound like it’s raining.

  He lets out a sharp cough as he crumples over and I seize the opportunity to bring the stick over my head and ram it down on top of his. The sound is sickening and it makes me feel barbaric, but I’ve entered survival mode and all that matters is getting the hell out of here alive with the Ira.

  I hit him again and again until he’s lying on the floor in a pool of his own blood. He’s not dead, his chest is still feebly rising and falling, but I’ve beaten him pretty badly. I drop the rain stick to the floor and back away. I have blood on my hands and even some on my face. I’m a terrible, wretched person. I really am.

  I grab the Ira off the nightstand, feeling a thorny vine twist inside my stomach. By the time I step out of the house and away from the praesidium, I don’t feel like Gemma anymore. I feel dead inside and I let the numbing feeling stay because sometimes, when it all comes down to it, being emotionally detached is better than feeling what really lies inside the darkest spots of our hearts, the one’s that we want to deny exist. Yet sometimes they’re impossible to ignore.