Cinder x, p.29
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       Cinder X, p.29

         Part #2 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 29

 

  I can’t breathe. Think. See. I go down. Hard. My knees sinking into the dirt. Legs slam into me. Feet stomp on me. Elbows jab me in the head. Something stabs at my neck, trying to tear off my necklace, but I smack them away.

  “Help me,” I whisper, but I’m not even sure I know who I’m speaking to. Someone hears me, though, because I’m abruptly swept up into a pair of very strong arms and cradled against a very sturdy chest.

  I think its Asher, but when I look up, I swear I see gleaming eyes beneath a hood and a speck of blonde hair peeking out. I must be hallucinating because Cameron would never help me like this. Moments later, I feel myself being carried away while the feeling of death diminishes with each step. I shut my eyes and let the fall of rain wash away my internal agony, let the quiet seep into my unsettled heart.

  “What are you doing here?” Asher asks, but I’m not sure who he’s talking to.

  “Saving your ass. ” It sounds like Cameron, but again, that can’t be possible. He would never help me nor would he speak to Asher in such a way.

  “Give her to me,” Asher says coldly. There’s a pause and then I feel myself being transferred into the arms of another.

  I open my mouth to protest, but the feeling of the death omen has worn me out, drained me passed the point of being able to open my eyes. Footsteps thud against the ground and warm lips brush against my head. I hear a door open and then feel myself being lowered into the car. I think they’re going to set me down, though instead they climb in, still holding me. A door slams. Then another. The feel of rain leaves my body and warm air kisses my skin, yet I still feel unbelievably cold inside, like ice has surrounded my bruised heart and soul.

  Banging starts to fill up the air around me and the cab of the car gets darker and darker as it begins to vibrate. I clutch onto Asher, feeling his heart thrashing inside his chest. Somehow, through my numbness, I start to cry; tears shed in an attempt to try and alleviate some of the agonizing pressure wearing a hole in my heart.

  “It’ll be okay,” Asher whispers in my ear as he pulls me closer to him.

  More tears fall. More pain stabs within me, splits me open, and I’m not even sure if it’s from seeing the death of the town or if it stems from my mother’s cold words. Or maybe it’s because she’s dead and that’s the last thing she’ll ever say to me.

  “Please, try to relax,” Asher utters, smoothing his hand over my wet hair. “I know it’s hard, but I’m here with you. You’re not alone. ”

  The feel of the heat of his body and knowing he’s here with me calms me down enough that I don’t want to move, crying tear after tear, telling myself that wasn’t her out there. That it was the Anamotti’s words. However it’s hard to convince myself when she’d said stuff to me like that when she was alive.

  Still, wanting to be stronger, I eventually stop crying. I clutch onto the front of Asher’s shirt with my eyes closed, breathing in and out as I focus on that instead of everything else going on, yet still, the ache slips through.

  “It hurts,” I whisper as Asher rubs my back.

  “I know,” he replies, his voice hoarse as he places another kiss on my head. “Just try to breathe. ”

  I want to tell him that even breathing seems hard, but then I realize that the car is moving and that, unless Asher is holding me while he’s driving, someone else is in the car with us. I already think I know who it is; the person that pulled me out of the crowd.

  Cameron.

  What I don’t get is why. Why he tried to help me. Why Asher’s letting him help me. It takes a lot of energy to lift my head, but I manage to do so, and then my swollen eyes snap wide. Cameron’s in the driver’s seat, grasping the wheel as he speeds the car down the street of our neighborhood, which is lined with people. All the while, Asher seems perfectly content with it.

  “What’s going on?” I mutter, instantly slammed with a spout of exhaustion, my head bobbing around like a bobble head.

  “Get out of the car, Cameron. ” I hear Asher say, but I can’t see him or anything, my eyelids lowering of their own accord.

  “You seriously want me to stop? In the middle of this?” he asks. “They’ll end her if I do. Now that they’ve gotten her whole family to give into the Reaper side, they’re going to torture her until she breaks. And you know as well as I do that right now she’s going to break very easily. ”

  Asher’s conflicted, but finally gives in. “Fine,” he replies through gritted teeth. I hear the car tires squeal, the car accelerating. “At least stop taking all of her energy away. You know that’s forbidden with a Grim Angel. ”

  “Just like you know it’s forbidden to touch one the way you have,” Cameron retorts, giving the car a slight swerve.

  “Right now, I’m under no rules,” Asher says quietly, hugging me closer to him.

  “Ah, so it is true,” he says. “Being banished allows you to overlook your ridiculous goody-two-shoes Angel rules. ”

  “More or less, but I’m guessing it’ll catch up with me when Michael finds out,” Asher mumbles, his muscles going rigid. “But you need to stop breaking the rules right now and let her wake up. ”

  I’m not even asleep, I want to say, yet my lips are numb—tingling again—and heat is starting to spread up my back. I feel like I’m burning up with a fever. Maybe the rain did it to me? Or maybe I’m sick because my heart is broken.

  “She’s hysterical right now. ” Irritation laces Cameron’s tone. “And she’s only going to get more hysterical when she wakes up and feels the full blunt of what happened back there. ”

  “She’s fine,” Asher snaps. “You’re just using this is an excuse to get to her. ”

  “What’s going on…?” I struggle to speak with my head slumped against Asher’s chest. “Why are you two… talking to each other…?”

  “She just found out her mom is dead and her soul is with the Reapers,” Cameron says at the same time that I hear the engine rev louder. “Do you really think she’s going to handle that very well, especially after she just found out her brother gave into the Reaper side and gave up his position as a Grim Angel? Besides, now she’s going to find out about us. ”

  “She doesn’t need to find out about that. ” Asher’s voice is low, carrying a threat as his arms fasten tighter around me while his cold, wet shirt presses against my hot cheek. “We made an agreement to never talk about that—to never accept what we are. ”

  “So you just want to keep lying to her?” Cameron questions with disdain. “How typical of you. Honestly, I was sort of hoping that you getting kicked out of your Angel clan would have knocked some sense into you. ”

  “And how typical of you to think she even wants to know about this,” he says venomously. “Sometimes not knowing everything is a good thing. There’s only so much a person can handle before they break. ”

  Cameron laughs maliciously. “In case you haven’t noticed, she always wants to know the truth. ”

  “Not necessarily,” he tells him. I know he’s thinking about the time when I told him I didn’t want to hear about the Anamotti, back when he took me to the Angel statue, back when everything was normal. “Sometimes she just wants to be normal. ”

  He’s so right, and at the moment, despite all the craziness going on, I want to hug him, however my arms feel heavy, stuck on my lap, and all I can do is cuddle up and breathe him in.

  “I think she might be sick,” Asher says as his palm touches my forehead. “She’s burning up. ”

  “Maybe she’s the last Grim Angel standing,” Cameron says in a derisive, joking tone. “And her Reaper and Angel blood are about to manifest. ”

  “You don’t even know what exactly happens if she is the last one standing. You just speculate like everyone else does,” he states, removing his hand from my forehead. “No one, except our leaders, knows for sure what will happen once the last one is left, other than the sacrifice. ”

  “I think—” Cameron abruptly stops
talking and I feel the car swerve to the side.

  I’m jolted by the force, my fingers digging into the fabric of Asher’s shirt as I hang on for dear life. Then the car realigns itself and we start to slow down, allowing me to relax.

  “Shit, don’t run him over,” Asher says, leaning forward, moving me with him.

  I try to open my eyelids, but they won’t move. Then the car’s engine growls as the gas pedal gets slammed to the floor.

  “Are you fucking crazy?” Cameron asks. “If we don’t, we’re going to get taken out by the mob. ”

  “I don’t give a shit,” Asher growls. “He’s still our uncle. ”

  What the hell? He’s still our uncle.

  “Only by blood,” Cameron says calmly. “And you’re the one who can’t fly at the moment if anything happens. I’ll be perfectly flying off, leaving you two behind—”

  His voice is overlapped by the sound of glass breaking and metal bending. Brakes squeal and the smell of burning rubber fills up the air. It reminds me of the time when I drove my car into the lake. When I died. I wonder if I’m going to die again, if the necklace will protect me. I wonder if this is the moment Cameron saw and why he gave me the necklace.

  I feel myself spinning, or maybe it’s the car, then I hear voices, yet I’m not sure if they’re coming from inside my head or around me. I sense the wind and rain brushing up against my skin at the same time that heat and cold mix inside me. Death feasts on my veins as Asher’s touch leaves me and suddenly I feel all alone, the necklace around my neck feeling like it’s singeing my skin.

  There’s a brief pause where I wonder what’s going to happen next and then my back slams against something hard and a rough surface tears open my skin. I feel my life leave me and then return again, the pendant getting hotter and hotter. Cameron was right—death was in my near future.

  Jesus, that means he saved me.

  Rain covers my body as water soaks my hair and my clothes, stinging the open wounds on my arms and legs. Thunder rumbles. The ground gets moister. And questions race through my mind. Where am I? What happened? Why does my body feel so strange; it’s not because of the death, but could it be because of the sudden freedom I feel?

  It takes a lot of effort, but I finally get my eyes to open and slowly try to make sense of where I am. The first thing I see are dark clouds and then, as I tilt my head, I see the bridge that goes over the river in town. There are hundreds of people standing on it, staring down at me.

  It feels like I should be afraid of the ominous feeling in the air, but my senses are focused on other stuff; sounds, sights, smells. I can hear the sound of water and the soft pitter-patter of raindrops splattering against the ground. I can feel the coldness of the water absorbing into my skin, although the heat that’s consuming my body overpowers it. I’m not sure how I got here. Or where the car is. Or Asher. Or Cameron.