The promise, p.28
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       The Promise, p.28

         Part #4 of Fallen Star series by Jessica Sorensen
 
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Page 28

 

  Aislin stood first and Laylen followed her lead.

  Do we go all at once?

  Laylen asked.

  Alex and I were outside in the vision, so yeah, I think we go all at once.

  Gemma trailed over to the corner armoire and took a cellphone out of the drawer.

  Where did you get that?

  I asked.

  We found it in the house after you left. I think it was Sophia s.

  She opened it and held the power button down.

  We kept it around in case of an emergency.

  And this is an emergency?

  I took the phone from her as it clicked on.

  It s how we re going to bring Stephan out of the house,

  she replied, staring off into emptiness.

  With a phone?

  I cocked an eyebrow and then shrugged, stuffing the phone into my pocket.

  You ready?

  She nodded, squeezing her eyes tight as if she were trying to crush this moment from her mind. She began to cry as Laylen stood up and hugged her tight.

  Bye,

  she whispered, her hands unsteady as she clutched onto him for dear life.

  And remember what I said.

  Laylen s expression was raw pain. But when they broke away from each other, the look was gone. Gemma turned to Aislin, not sure what to do. But I knew what would happen, because Aislin was Aislin. She grabbed Gemma, crying like she always did, even though she knew the outcome.

  Gemma looked awkward with the whole thing, but gave it her best. Aislin finally released her and Gemma took my hand, our fingers intertwining, sparks going crazy, begging us not to touch. But we didn t care anymore. Our time together was up. The star would soon be dead. And the world would move on.

  Ready for this?

  she asked.

  I ve been ready for this for forever.

  She didn t catch my meaning, grasping onto my hand, and closing her eyes.

  But I d meant what I d said. I had been waiting for this day forever.

  Because today was the day I was finally going to save her.

  Chapter 45

  (Gemma)

  Saying good-bye to Laylen was the second hardest thing I d ever had to do. The first was just around the corner. And that was saying bye to Alex.

  I Foreseed us to the edge of the lake, right on the shore, our backs to the grey-stoned Keeper s Castle. I wondered if the Water Faeries were down there, watching us from beneath the water, wishing we d fall in so they could torture us.

  Everything seemed clear now; clearer than it had ever been for me. My head had always been so packed with thoughts and worries. But they were all gone now. The answers were right in front of me.

  Well, almost.

  I turned in a circle.

  I don t think we re in the right spot.

  He gazed around, scratching his head.

  Where are we supposed to be then?

  I pointed at the trees.

  Well, all of them came from there, but right now they re in the castle.

  He kicked a rock into the lake and the water rippled.

  We should have had you see the whole vision then.

  No, we shouldn t have.

  My eyes took in the trees. Then I shut my eyes and breathed in the air.

  You feel that &.

  My eyes opened.

  The Death Walkers.

  That was really creepy,

  he said, forcing a light tone.

  It s like you smelled them or something.

  No, I just felt the cold air.

  My eyes lingered on the castle, the electricity warming up, preparing itself for the end. The grass was kissed with morning dew, the sun barely breaking.

  He stared at the other side of the lake and then he took off, dragging me with him.

  What are you doing?

  I stammered, tripping over rocks and twigs.

  Making this right.

  He dodged us around a large tree.

  You said they came from the trees. So we will see them coming and have enough time.

  We ran by our hideout, the violet bush flitting away from my sight as we raced farther into the forest. I stamped the picture in my head, wanting to take it with me forever: two kids, pressing hands tight, promising to be together forever.

  Little did they understand that their time would be short and precious. That their forever was merely a glitch in time.

  We walked the half circle around the lake, breaking from the forest edge and out into the open. The lake stretched between us and the castle.

  This works?

  He pointed at the castle.

  We can see when they re coming.

  I think so.

  I memorized the trees, the water, the sun hiding behind the clouds.

  He took the phone out of his pocket.

  What did I say when I called?

  I don t know.

  I shrugged.

  I guess that s up to you.

  He dialed the number and put the phone to his ear. It rang and rang and rang and then I heard the muffled

  what.

  Look out your window.

  He paused, raising his hand and flipping his father off.

  If you want us, come get us asshole.

  Then he snapped the phone shut.

  That was your final words to him?

  I questioned, my breath and heart erratic.

  He chucked the phone into the lake.

  Yep, that s all I had to say.

  Suddenly everything moved fast like flickers of lightning bolts flashing across the sky. They barreled out the front door of the castle, their cloaks blowing behind them as they froze the land over.

  He clutched onto my hand.

  Breathe, Gemma.

  I sucked in a breath as the sounds of ice and twigs and wind blew around us. Alex said something to me, but his words were just whispers of a language I would soon forget. Tears filled my eyes, but I couldn t take them off the trees, frozen with icicles, as they marched closer and closer, irreversibly breaking free from the shade of the forest. It was Stephan s eyes I saw first, cold and deadly, and then Alex regained my focus.

  It will be alright,

  he whispered and then he kissed me, like I was the only thing left on this world, like he could finally breathe for the very first time. Like we were one. And I finally realized something, all on my own, without the help of the prickle.

  I love you.

  My words carried away in the wind. I didn t say it because he was perfect or because every time I was with him it was magical. Nothing was perfect and I understood that. I said it because I was standing here in death and there was no one else I wanted beside me.

  I love you,

  he whispered back.

  Always have. Always will. Forever.

  And those were the magic words, the ones that burned the light free. It was the words that emptied us, but freed us at the same time, along with the star. Its energy smoldered brightly for the very last time and swallowed us with it.

  I saw everything that had been and would never be. I saw my past and a future I d never know. Every emotion I d ever felt flashed through me at once: hurt, happiness, pain, love. And then my body sank as my life slipped away and I became one with the earth. The star had expired, saving the world, not ending it. But taking my soul with it.

  But I would never forget him. No matter what happened.

  Because we were bonded together.

  Forever.

  Chapter 46

  (Gemma)

  Death wasn t bad. Death was warm and bright and weightless, like air. It was like I d soared off to the sun, away from my pain, forgetting everything.

  Until I heard the Banshee wail and I opened my eyes.

  Then I remembered the bargain I d made with Helena. I d promised her my soul, handing it to her on a silver platter. To her, it was the b
est kind of soul. In exchange, Alex would live, continuing on with his life, free from his father and the star.

  It might have seemed like a crazy choice, but once Helena spoke it, I knew there wasn t a choice left. When faced with the option to save everyone and only have to let myself go, I had to pick death. Otherwise I d never have been able to live with myself.

  And so we meet again.

  Helena s old tattered body was perched in her throne. Her silver eyes were eager, happy to collect my soul.

  And so we do,

  I said, stepping onto the red podium, no longer afraid. What was done was done.

  So what do I do now? Become your slave? Turn into one of your mummies?

  Her lip twitched at my tone.

  You do whatever I want you to do.

  Then she clapped her hands.

  In fact I have the perfect place for you. You will live inside my ring, close by, where I can always feed off your power.

  My power’s dead.

  I spat.

  There s nothing left inside me.

  You sound very ungrateful.

  She stood to her feet, her twiggy legs wobbling her toward me.

  Must I remind you that this was your choice you wanted this.

  It was never a choice.

  I got in her face, not angry, not calm, not anything.

  I did what I had to do.

  She tipped back her crinkled head.

  You re a stupid little girl. And I m going to eat you up.

  She paused with a clever look in her silver eyes.

  I think I have a better place for you.

  Then she opened her hollow mouth, her breath stinking of a corpse.

  You can live inside me.

  I stood inert as she breathed me in. I didn t feel like working up a fight. I felt like my old self, empty and numb emotionless. I shut my eyes, preparing for my real end, hoping I could go into the dark forever.

  Helena.

  My eyes snapped open. Behind the throne was Annabella. Her white lily hair blew like fire. Her red lips were pursed, and her silver eyes narrowed.

  Let her go,

  Annabella said.

  She s not yours to take.

  Helena whirled, her crippled body popping as she stormed for Annabella.

  This doesn t concern you.

  Annabella stepped slowly onto the podium and swished her black dress to the side. As they stood in front of each other, Helena was much smaller than Annabella.

  You feel that,

  Annabella whispered.

  You can t take her soul because it belongs to someone else.

  She gave it to me!

  Helena roared, stomping her foot.

  I can take it!

  You ve always been so greedy,

  Annabella said.

  No wonder mother liked you less.

  Helena s hands moved for Annabella s throat.

  I hate you!

  Annabella seized her hands, trapping her in place.

  Her soul is connected to another. You can t have it, even if you made a bargain with her. You have no right and if I have to, I ll bring down mother to talk to you.

  Helena kicked and yanked, like a child.

  We had a bargain! We had a bargain!

  Annabella s eyes fired ferociously.

  I m going to take her now. She s not staying.

  Then she let Helena go.

  Helena sank to the floor, her head falling into her hands as she wailed.

  Annabella extended her hand.

  Come with me, Gemma.

  Given the two choices, I took Annabella s hand.

  Where are we going?

  She led me to the back of the throne and a light curtained around us.

  To your mother.

  She carried us away in a light full of essence and warmth and landed us underneath the cape of the willow tree. Then Annabella was no longer there. The branches danced around my mother and me as we faced each other, unblinking.

  Mom.

  I threw my arms around her neck and sobbed.

  I thought I d never see you again.

  She smoothed my hair.

  Shhh & everything s going to be okay.

  She let me have a moment, let my tears soak her shirt. Then she pulled me away so she could look at me.

  Do you know why you re here?

  I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and sniffed.

  Because I crossed over. I m essence now.

  She shook her head, her dark hair twirling in the wind.

  You re here because of who you are.

  Who am I?

  I asked.

  This is all so confusing.

  You re my daughter, brave and loving. Both are wonderful gifts.

 
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