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The underworld, p.28
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       The Underworld, p.28

         Part #2 of Fallen Star series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 28

 

  I looked at Alex, and I knew he was thinking the same thing; that I’d brought Nicholas and the Death Walkers here with us. But if that were so then where had they been hiding.

  “Well, it would have been a lot better if she hadn’t dropped us in the middle of the lake,” Nicholas said irritably.

  Who the heck was he talking to? Himself?

  Alex must have been thinking the same thing, because he took a cautious peek around the tree trunk. When he moved back, he looked completely mystified.

  Who is it, I mouthed.

  He shook his head and shrugged. Huh, so maybe faerie boy was talking to himself.

  “I know, but where are they?” Nicholas asked, and the more he spoke, the more I wondered if he had lost his mind or something.

  Another shriek rattled the air and shook at the trees, causing leaves to break off their branches and float to the ground.

  “Would you stop doing that!” Nicholas exclaimed.

  My eyes widened. Was he talking to the Death Walkers? No, that wasn’t possible…was it?

  “Well, stop smelling the blood then!” Nicholas’s voice cut sharply through the forest.

  Blood?Blood! Oh, no, please, please, don’t let the blood he’s referring to belong to Laylen.

  “He tried to attack me first” Nicholas snapped. “It was self-defense. Besides, you would have frozen him to death anyway. ”

  There was a pause where all I could hear was my heart thumping erratically.

  “So what if he created Laylen,” Nicholas said, annoyed. “Creating another vampire isn’t that hard. ”

  Vampire. Vampire. Oh my God, they were talking about Laylen.

  Without even thinking about what I was doing, I started to move around the tree, but Alex grabbed me by the arm and pulled me into him. He shook his head, and I glared at him, trying to wiggle my way free without making too much noise. He intensified his grip—apparently some of his strength returned to him—and met my gaze, his eye begging me to stop.

  It hurt. It actually physically hurt to stay behind that tree and know Laylen was injured, while Nicholas chatted away.

  “I’m not messing around,” Nicholas insisted. “I know what has to be done. ” Another pause. “I know, but it might be a little difficult to find her. She’s very powerful and getting more powerful by the day. She can do things normal Foreseers can’t. ” A shriek, and then, “Fine. Let’s go back to the City of Crystal, and I’ll see if I can get an exact location on her. ”

  There was a swoosh, and then silence.

  Alex peered around the corner of the tree trunk, before letting me go. And then we were sprinting though the lingering fog that was starting to tint my skin a bluish-purple. But at the moment I didn’t care. All I cared about was that Laylen was laying on the ground, on top of the scattered leaves and twigs, with a stick stabbed into his chest, blood covering his shirt.

  I’d never felt anything like it before. Panic, rage, fear—it all crushed through me.

  Alex muttered something incoherently as he bent down to Laylen’s lifeless body.

  “He’s not—he’s not,” I was on the verge of tears, “dead, is he?”

  Alex examined the stick poking out of Laylen’s chest. Being a huge science fiction freak, I’d read enough vampire books to know that a stake through the heart meant death for a vampire.

  The stick was so close to his heart.

  “He’s not dead,” Alex finally said, putting his hands on top of the stick. “Not yet anyway. ”

  “Not yet anyway,” I repeated, horrified. “Does that mean he’s going to die?”

  “Not if we can get him some…” Alex yanked out the stick, and I tried not to gasp at the sight of the very large hole in Laylen’s chest or at the blood that was pouring out of it. Alex pressed his hand onto the wound, putting pressure on it.

  “Get him some what?” I asked, fully freaking out. “Is there a cure?”

  Alex avoided my eyes as he said, “”Yeah, blood. ”

  “He has to bite someone?” I asked, remembering the first day I had met Laylen and he had told me he never brought out his fangs.

  Alex hesitated, and I could see it in his eyes, “No, he needs another vampires blood. ”

  “Is that the only kind of blood that will work?” I asked.

  He nodded, and even though I didn’t believe him, I took a deep breath, placed a hand on Laylen’s cold arm, and then shut my eyes, hoping I was strong enough to take us back, since what I could do with my extraordinary Foreseer ability was still a huge question mark.

  “Take us to the Black Dungeon,” Alex told me.

  Keeping my eyes shut, I replied, “Why there?”

  “Because there’ll be vampires all over. ”

  I nodded, thinking how Laylen wasn’t supposed to go near vampires, but feared if he didn’t, he would die. I pictured the alley, damp, scary, and covered with garbage. I envisioned the bright red door, and the flap at the top. I saw all three of us there.

  I tried my hardest to focus on the details I’d seen when I was there, and when Alex took hold of my hand, I felt a surge of electricity, and the weakness I’d been feeling left me. I knew I’d get us there.

  I had to.

  Chapter 23

  I didn’t have to open my eyes to know I’d gotten us to the right place. The smell of garbage and musty air gave away our location.

  I opened my eyes and saw Alex was kneeling on the ground beside me, still holding my hand, his other hand on Laylen’s wound. It was the smoothest travel I’d ever pulled off and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

  “Okay, I’m going to go inside and get someone who’ll help—hopefully someone who doesn’t know Laylen was responsible for Vladislav’s death. ” Alex took my hand and placed it on top of his hand that was covering the hole in Laylen’s chest. “Put pressure on it, okay. ”

  I nodded, and he moved his hand away. Very quickly I replaced it with mine. The blood seeped warmly against my fingers, and Laylen’s skin felt colder than it usually did.

  “Hurry,” I called out to Alex as he started for the bright red door. “Wait,” I suddenly called out. “Can you go in looking like that?”

  Alex stopped and gave a glance down at his shirtless chest. “Gemma, I don’t think it’s really going to matter whether I’m dressed appropriately or not. ”

  “Yeah, but it’s going to matter if that’s showing. ” I pointed at the Keepers mark tattooing the side of his ribcage.

  “Crap,”” he said. Then without saying another word, he took off in the opposite direction.

  “Alex,” I hissed. “Where are you going?”

  He didn’t answer as he vanished around the corner.

  I sat there, with my hand pressed to Laylen’s bleeding chest, listening to dogs howl in the distance. The sky was beginning to shift from a bright blue to a pale pink as the sun ascended behind the shallow hills of the desert. Night was almost here, the air was getting colder, and I was freaking out. What if someone showed up—someone bad and I couldn’t protect Laylen? There were so many risks, and I was concerned that if Alex asked the wrong vampire—one that knew what Laylen had done to Vladislav—we would be in some serious trouble.

  And maybe that’s why I did what I did. But honestly, I wasn’t sure what the exact reason was. But it really didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I gave Laylen a soft shake to see if I could get him to open his eyes.

  “Laylen,” I whispered, keeping my hand pressed to his chest as I leaned over him. “Laylen, can you hear me. ”

  His eyes stayed closed.

  “Laylen, if you can hear me, I need to know something. ”

  Still nothing.

  “I need to know if there’s another way to save you, without having to get a vampire involved. ” I took a shaky breath, tears stinging at my eyes. “Alex said there wasn’t, but I don’t believe him. Please wake up…please. ”

  My hear
t was splitting in two. I watched to see if Laylen’s chest was rising and falling, but it was too dark to tell.

  “Laylen,” I said, a little too loud, and Laylen’s eyes shot open. I gasped as he sucked in a breath of air. “Oh my God. ” Tears streamed down my cheeks. “You’re awake. ”

  He nodded slowly, letting out a few coughs.

  “Are you okay?” I asked, wiping my tears away.

  He shook his head weakly. “I can’t feel it anymore. ”

  “Can’t feel what?” I asked softly.

  “The pain. ”

  “From the wound?”

  He shook his head. “From being alone. ”

  I almost burst into sobs, but I held it back. I needed to be the strong one. “It’ll be okay. Alex is going to get help. ”

  “I don’t think…. ” His eyes fell shut again.

  “Laylen,” I panicked. “Don’t close your eyes. ”

  He shook his head and said nothing.

  “Laylen,” I said. “Is there another way to cure you?”

  I knew I might have been searching for something that didn’t exist, but when I asked Alex the same question I swear he had been lying when he told me no. And in many of the vampire-themed books I read, human blood worked as a cure.

  “Laylen. ” I kept my voice calm, but demanding. “Open your eyes. You have to open your eyes. ”

  Slowly, his eyelids lifted open. His bright blue eyes were glazed over, and I wondered if he was even there.

  “Can you hear me?” I asked.

  He nodded lethargically.

  His blood soaked my fingers—time was running out. “Can you tell me if there’s another way to save you?” I asked. “Besides vampires’ blood?”

  He blinked a few times, his eyes coming into focus. “No, there’s not. ”

  “Are you sure. ”

  He hesitated.

  “Laylen,” I said in a gentle voice. “Does human blood work too?”

  He didn’t answer right away, but when he did, his voice was frail. “I can’t…I can’t do it. ”

  “If it will save you. . . ” I took a deep breath. “Please just do it, okay. Don’t leave me here alone. ” Whoa. Where did that come from?

  We stared at each other, and this moment passed between us—this moment of understanding. We both knew that our time was running out—that his time was running out. Alex still hadn’t returned, and he still had to track down a vampire who wouldn’t know what Laylen had done to Vladislav.

  He let out a cough, before nodding. “Alright, I’ll do it. ”

  “Okay,” I repeated nervously. “Where do you want to…um. . . ”

  “On your wrist,” he answered for me. “It’s easier that way, at least from what I’ve been told. ”

  Keeping my hand on his wound, I gave him my other hand. He took hold of it, his skin ice-cold, and through the looseness in his grip I could tell he was weak. Then, with a look of horror, he opened his mouth, letting out a whimper as his fangs descended. I held his gaze so he wouldn’t think I was afraid of him. But I was afraid. Not so much afraid of getting bit—well, maybe just a little. But I was more afraid of losing him.