The promise, p.3
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       The Promise, p.3

         Part #4 of Fallen Star series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 3

 

  I thought about all the times one of us had almost died, but never fully sealed the deal.

  Is it because of the electricity?

  I asked.

  Is that why we have to die together?

  That, and the Blood Promise you both made,

  he explained.

  You two are wound together about as tight as anyone can be. The witch might have stolen some of your life, but you ll be fine.

  So what happens if one of us actually dies,

  I said, my heart thudding in my chest.

  And I mean, really dies like forever.

  You won t,

  he said simply.

  You both have to go down together.

  Hope rose in me, but it was quickly squashed.

  Don t get too excited,

  he said.

  You re both going to die soon. Remember the lake?

  I scowled at him for bringing up the painful vision.

  Does Alex know about this?

  Nicholas shrugged.

  Who knows what he s got locked away in his head. Considering the countless lies he s told, you can never really know.

  That s like the pot calling the kettle black, isn t it?

  He smirked.

  Perhaps.

  Normally, I d be upset with him, but I d just found out that Alex was alive. All that worrying was for nothing. But it was impossible for just one of us to make it. Either we were living and Stephan could open the portal. Or we were dead and the world was saved.

  So why did my dreams say otherwise?

  I headed downstairs, to the kitchen to tell Laylen and Aislin that everything was going to be fine. That I wasn t going to, that couldn t die yet.

  So Alex is okay, then?

  Aislin asked, like she had been fretting he was dead, just like me.

  I nodded, taking a bite of my sandwich.

  At least that s what faerie boy said.

  She no longer looked relieved.

  But how do we know he s not just being & well, you know, himself.

  I shrugged, picking the crust off the bread.

  We don t.

  Laylen plopped down in a chair between Aislin and me.

  I thought you were going to keep that ring off for a while, take a break from him.

  It doesn t do me any good,

  I said.

  He can still talk to me. And his voice is the most annoying part of him. Besides, I don t feel comfortable anymore. Now that I know he can still see me, even when I can t see him.

  Aislin s face fell.

  Ewe,

  she muttered, getting my meaning. She pushed her plate away.

  I think I just lost my appetite.

  It took Laylen a little longer to catch on, but then he flexed his hands, irritated.

  If you want, I can take care of him,

  he offered.

  I mean, do we really need him?

  We might.

  I touched the purple stone on the ring.

  I mean, so far he s the only ghost I ve seen, so he s got to be the key to fixing the apocalyptic mess. Besides, you can t actually touch him his body is nothing but cold air.

  He touched the ring on my finger.

  Maybe I should put it on and see if I can see him?

  He popped his knuckles, all tough guy.

  I could have a little talk with him.

  I shook my head.

  Talking with him will only make things worse.

  I almost perfected the Scutum Distillans spell,

  Aislin announced over us.

  Is that the shield lowering spell thing?

  I asked.

  She bit into her sandwich.

  I only need one more thing and I ll have it. Then we can drop the Shield Spell from my father and attack him.

  What s the last thing?

  I slid my empty plate out of the way.

  She frowned at her sandwich and picked out a bad piece of lettuce.

  More power.

  I know where you could get some.

  Laylen elbowed me and winked.

  Abruptly, Aislin stood from the table, put her plate in the sink, and walked out silently.

  Is she still mad?

  I asked.

  About the & incident.

  He laughed softly.

  It wasn t an incident. It was an accident. And she ll get over it.

  I frowned, pinching his arm.

  You should be more sympathetic. Seeing us in bed like that had to be hard for her.

  Ow,

  he laughed, rubbing his arm.

  It could have been harder. We just fell asleep together in the same bed. It was completely accidental.

  I rolled my eyes. Guys were so unsympathetic sometimes.

  Be nice.

  I am being nice.

  He pushed to his feet and gave my hair a playful tug.

  That s why I m going to go upstairs and apologize again, even though Aislin and I aren t really together.

  You could be with her,

  I said.

  If you wanted to.

  I know.

  And then he left.

  I let out a sigh and rested my head on the table. God, I d really screwed things up. Not only did I have to find a way to erase the Mark of Malefiscus mess, but I also had to prevent Alex and me from dying without the world ending. So far I had nothing but a ring that let me communicate with an extremely obnoxious faerie that apparently had been playing peeping tom on me.

  It wasn t like we didn t try. We tried and tried and tried, but every path seemed to have a loophole. Change a vision mess up the world more. Kill Stephan the Death Walker s and Demetrius still survived. Maybe I should kill them all. But I hadn t figure out a way to do that yet. Unless somehow I could create my own deadly army.

  A cool breeze blew and a moment later, I heard heavy breathing.

  Go away Nicholas,

  I said.

  That is unless you re ready to tell me what the ring s for.

  Silence was the only answer I got. I raised my head. The kitchen was empty, the back door locked, the windows still boarded. But I got to my feet, peeking in the living room. Then scratching my head, I turned back. Instantly my body smacked into something the wall. I quickly scooted away, blinking.

  I wasn t alone. My hands fell to my side, my lips parting at the ghost that stood before me; dark hair, blue eyes and features similar to mine, only aged. But this couldn t be right. No, she couldn t be dead.

  Mom.

  She smiled.

  Hello, Gemma.

  Chapter 5

  (Gemma)

  I shook my head, blinked my eyes, doing everything to make this horrible nightmare vanish.

  You re not dead. You can t be dead.

  Gemma,

  my mom said, hovering before me, thin and virtually invisible.

  There s no point wasting time trying to deny what s right in front of your eyes. We don t have time for that.

  I was still shaking my head moronically. But I didn t care.

  You can t be dead. I barely had time to know you.

  I have to be dead,

  she said.

  Otherwise, he d use me to get to you.

  I didn t have to ask.

  Stephan. He did this to you?

  She shook her head, sighing tiredly.

  I did it to myself. I had to.

  She traced her finger along her wrist, where the Mark of Malefiscus used to be.

  I had to, otherwise I d have led Stephan straight to you.

  She paused.

  It s always the same, Gemma. No matter what you do, I don t belong here. I was supposed to die.

  I wanted to cry, bawl my eyes out until they were so swollen I couldn t see the pain. Everyone was gone. My dad. Alex. And now my mom was dead.

  My hands were shaking, my stomach in knots.

  How
did & how did it happen?

  She pressed her lips together and headed for the table.

  That doesn t matter. What matters is that I m here to help you.

  She floated down in a chair, her fingers seeking the ceramic cow.

  With what? Saving the world?

  Tears stung at my eyes. I wanted to touch her, but knew it wasn t possible. The loneliness that possessed me for most of my life was resurfacing.

  She placed the cow on the table.

  To help you learn what you need to do.

  Her gaze moved to the ring on my finger.

  I m here to help you use that.

  I covered the ring with my other hand.

  I don t want you to help me with that.

  Tears started to drip down my cheeks.

  I want you to go back to your body and keep living.

  That s not possible,

  she said.

  At least not for me.

  I blinked through my tears.

  Are you saying that it can be done? That someone can die, then return to their body and come back to life?

  Yes,

  she replied simply, moving for my hand, but then pulling away.

  If done right.

  I thought about my nightmare, about the crow, the coffin and how I lay awake inside it.

  Am I going to do it?

  She nodded.

  You are, but it s going to be tricky.

  Again, my nightmare resurfaced; Alex standing above me, fully alive, which didn t make sense.

  But what about Alex? Is he going to die too?

  She shook her head.

  No sweetie. He s the one who s going to bring you back.

  Chapter 6

  (Alex)

  Underneath the light of the moon I tucked the address into my pocket and stepped out from behind the dumpster. I still was unsure how I felt about what had happened with Draven; whether I liked the answer he d gave me about my mother or what I d offered up to get it.

  A year of my life to the Lord of the Afterlife, which meant doing whatever he asked. What the idiot didn t realize was that my life was probably going to over before he could collect. So the joke was on him.

  I stepped out into the street lined with burning buildings, ignoring the feeding vampires as I headed to my left. Each one raised their eyes at me as I passed, but they knew better than to mess with me. I knew how to kill them, unlike the many humans loitering around, which made them easy prey.

  I could have stopped them, but I was in too much of a hurry to find a witch and get where I needed to go. I had never considered this huge downfall when I made the decision to leave on my own. I no longer had a witch or a very talented Foreseer to make traveling easier.

  Thinking of her made my pulse speed up. Growing uncomfortable with my feelings, I blinked the thought of her away, knowing if I didn t move on, I d cave in and go back. And I couldn t do that yet. Not until I found a way to save her.

  Across the street, I spotted a woman. I could tell right away, from the crescent moon and star mark she bore on her neck, that she was a witch. I crossed the street, sidestepping around an injured faerie sprawled on the asphalt, begging me to help him.

  Humans weren t the only ones in danger. The faeries, vampires, and witches who didn t bear the Mark of Malefiscus were also targets, which just added more madness to madness.

  The witch saw me coming and smiled as I reached her.

  Can I help you with something?

  She purred, but it was threatening.

  She thought I was human. I raised my shirt, showing her my left rib cage, where my Keepers mark circled.

  Still want to use that tone on me witch?

  Honestly, I wasn t sure how she was going to react. If she had the Mark of Malefiscus, she d probably try to kill me. If not, it could go either way.

  I need you to perform a spell for me.

  Her pale blue eyes were locked on me, assessing her options. I guessed, from the worry reflected in her eyes, that she was a normal witch.

  What kind of a spell?

  she asked.

  A transporting one.

  I stepped onto the curve, inching my way to her.

  I need to get somewhere quick.

  She considered my request and then the corners of her mouth quirked up.

  I could do that for you,

  she said.

  But I need something from you in return.

  I sighed, shaking my head. This journey was really starting to cost me.

  What do you want?

  Your help. With removing a mark.

  I gave her the strangest look.

  Why would you think I could help you with that?

  I don t think you can,

  she explained.

  But you know someone who can.

  Someone s been removing the mark?

  She nodded, taking my arm and guiding me into the shadows of an alley, away from the dangers of listening ears.