Fractured souls, p.30
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       Fractured Souls, p.30

         Part #2 of Shattered Promises series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 30

 

  That in the end this might not work out. That he can try to protect me, but it doesn’t mean that things will always end up in my favor. Once I admit that, I sink into a deep state of sleep.

  Chapter 23

  Through all of this, I end up losing myself for a moment. I zone out; not asleep, but not really awake, either. I see a thousand images, dream a thousand horrific daydreams. It feels like I die and come back to life again, over and over. I swear I break and then heal… break and then heal.

  “Gemma. ”

  The sound of Alex’s voice forces me out of my own head and back to reality. I jolt upright as I realize I’m lying in a bathtub, submerged in warm water with my head resting against the porcelain. The faucet is on and a light steam rises around me.

  Alex is kneeling down on the tile floor, his arm resting on the side of the bathtub. “Are you feeling better?”

  I rub my hand over my face as I sit up and the water beads down my skin. “Where are we?” I have bruises and open scratches on my skin, along with traces of dirt.

  “At a friend of Adessa’s beach house,” he says. “In Maryland. ”

  I hunch over, drawing my knees up to my chest. “Did Aislin transport us here?”

  He nods, rubbing his hand down my back. “She did—you passed out before she even got started. ” Water drips from his hand onto my skin as he rubs the dirt off me. “Or more like zoned out. Your eyes were open, but you… but you were gone. ” His hand wanders to my arms where he begins washing off the dirt off there, too. “I think you might need to take it easy for a while. ”

  I rest my head on my knees. “I need to save my mom and then maybe I can get this stupid star’s energy out of me and be normal for once. ”

  His hand slides over my cheek and I stare at him as he combs my damp locks out of my face. “You need to rest. You’re doing too much. ”

  “After I save her. ”

  “Gemma—”

  “Alex, please,” I beg. “I can’t stop thinking about her… I dream about her all the time and she needs my help… she needs me. She could help us, too. She could know something about the mark and your father—she could know a way to stop the vision I saw from happening. ”

  “But what if she doesn’t?” He shuts the faucet off. “It’s such a long shot. ”

  I raise my head and turn sideways in the bathtub, grasping onto the sides. “I’ve dreamt about her and I’m not even sure if it was a dream. It could have been real. She said she could help me—that she knew things. Just like she told your father before he forced her into the lake. ”

  He wipes away some of the water dripping from my eyelashes with his thumb. “But they might just be dreams. ”

  “But they might not,” I whisper. “Nicholas said I was powerful and could do amazing things with my power if I was taught right, like travel and see visions without a crystal. What if I can communicate through them to? What is she’s communicating with me?”

  His finger slides down the brim of my nose and to my bottom lip. “All right, but I’m going with you. ”

  I nod. “I know. Since you were in the vision with me when we were bargaining with the Queen, I’m assuming you need to be there. ”

  He reaches for a washcloth on a small shelf tucked in the corner near the sink. “And I’m making you rest for a day. ”

  “Alex, I don’t—”

  He places a finger over my lips, the washcloth balled in his hand. “Rest, or no deal. ”

  I narrow my eyes, but on the inside I’m less irritated, understanding that he’s worried about me. “Okay, one day,” I say against his lips.

  He nods and then dips the washcloth into the bathtub of water. “Now, lean back. ”

  I glance at the soaked washcloth in his hand. “Why?”

  “Because,” he leans in and brushes his lips across mine. “I’m going to wash off all those cuts that damn Faerie put all over you,” he says in a low voice.

  I do what he says and lean back, resting my head against the back of the tub, the water flowing over my body. I’m completely naked except for my locket and my muscles feel like I’ve just ran a marathon. Yet, with each touch of his hand, I start to feel better as he moves the washcloth over my body, wiping away the dried blood and mud as he cleans off the cuts. I swear it feels like he’s washing away the icky feelings I’ve been experiencing and the memories of what I did to Nicholas. I feel cleaner, more relaxed, more in tune with him. He’s touching me everywhere, even when he’s not, the magnetic bond syncing our bodies together.

  I shut my eyes as he works the cloth over my neck, down my chest, over my breasts. I groan, curving upward, but I don’t open my eyes, even when his hand moves to the inside of my thighs. Just when I think I can’t take it anymore, his hand and the cloth leave my body. Seconds later, he combs his fingers through my hair and begins washing it as he tenderly tugs at the roots.

  When he finishes I open my eyes and look up at him.

  “Feel better?” he asks, tossing the cloth aside.

  I nod, unable to look away from the longing in his eyes. “I do. Thank you. ”

  He stands to his feet and reaches for a towel on the hook near the door, and then he takes my hands to help me to my feet. Like he did back at Adessa’s house, he helps me out of the tub and then dries me off. After he secures the towel around me, he carries me to a bed in a room with floral walls and French doors that open out to a deck. The view from the deck is breathtaking; golden sand, amazingly blue ocean and the glistening sunshine. Although I barely get to appreciate it because, as soon as he lays me down on the bed and my head hits the pillow, exhaustion overcomes me and I fall into a deep, dreamless sleep for the first time in a very, very long time.

  Chapter 24

  Maryland is very humid. The air is so heavy and dense that it feels like being in a sauna. The little blue house is secluded near a rocky beach where the ocean constantly roars against the shore. It’s my first time seeing it and, while I enjoy it, I know that there are many other things to worry about at the moment. Like saving my mom.

  Aislin puts up countless charms all over the house, so many that I even set off a few by accident when I simply walked into the wrong areas of the house. One of them turned my skin purple and, when I asked her what the point was, she said it was a distraction. I still didn’t get it, though. We also put praesidium all over the house and yard and even close areas of the beach; so there won’t be any surprise visits from Foreseers.

  I’ve been working my ass off to get the Ira to work, but I can’t channel enough energy. It frustrates me to no end and forces me to push past my limits. I’ve passed out a few times from using too much energy and Alex is getting more and more reluctant to help me.

  “You’re going to hurt yourself,” he said one day after I’d passed out while clutching onto the Ira. “It’s not healthy. ”

  “It’s not healthy being the star, either,” I replied, turning the teal crystal ball in my hand. “I need to be normal. ”

  “I don’t think you’ll ever be normal,” he said begrudgingly. “None of us will. ”

  “Well, then I want to be weird without the star in me,” I told him.

  That got him to smile, something I’ve started noticing he doesn’t do very often and, whenever I manage to get him to crack one, it seems to lighten his mood.

  On top of the Ira problems, Laylen’s been getting mood swings a lot, having violent outburst. He even threw a cup across the room because he couldn’t find the coffeemaker. It’s been happening ever since he almost died and my blood brought him back. I’m beginning to worry that between death and all the blood drinking, his caring, laid-back personality has been altered.

  I tried to talk to him about it once, when we crossed paths inside the kitchen. He’s been avoiding me; he even went so far as to try to turn around when I walked up to him while he was searching for a plate, but I stepped into his path.

  “Are you okay?” I ask
ed, reaching for a mug on the counter. I wasn’t really thirsty. In fact, I’d kind of planned it out so he’d have to talk to me. “You’ve seemed a little distant the last few days. ”

  He shrugged, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his black jeans. “As good as I always am. ”

  I rotated the mug in my hand and leaned in. “Laylen, what happened in the forest. That was no one’s fault. It had to be done to save you. ”

  He stared at me for a moment and, at first, his expression was unreadable, but then he cut me with a harsh look. “What would have saved me, Gemma, is if you’d have simply let me die,” he says. “That’s how I want to be saved. ” He walked around me, bumping his shoulder into mine and leaving me stunned.

  I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him. It’s been over a day and the pain in his eyes when he said those God-awful words remains imprinted into my mind. Not want to be saved? Did he want to die? Does he hate himself that much? The thought hurts at my heart. I can’t even imagine what would happen if I told him what I’d overheard Nicholas saying about Stephan creating him. It would break him and luckily Alex seems to agree with me because he’s kept his mouth shut. The biggest question I have is why, though? Why would he create a Vampire when there are ton of them wandering around?

  It’s late, the full moon an orb against the charcoaled sky and the darkened ocean water. I’m sitting out on the deck that extends out from my bedroom, the French doors swinging in the light breeze while Alex sleeps soundly in the bed just inside the room. The stars are glimmering with it and I can’t help thinking that this is where it all started. This entire mess. One single star fell from the sky, or a piece of it anyway, and all hell has broken loose. Lives were shattered. Souls detached.

  I have a hoodie and boxer shorts on as I sit in one of the chairs, sipping a soda. I’m lost in my thoughts when a tall figure emerges on the beach. It’s strange because the beach becomes vacant usually after sunset and I wonder if maybe it’s a homeless person looking for a place to stay. Then the light of the moon hits the person’s blond hair and highlights his figure even more.

  I feel a slight pull toward him and I set my soda down, jumping to my feet. “Laylen!”

  He stops, turns to look at me, and then he takes off running down the beach. When he reaches a cluster of cliffy rocks, he makes a sharp veer to the left and heads toward the street that curves beside the ocean and leads to the city limits.

  “Shit. ” I run into my room, slip on my flip-flops, and hurry over to the bed where Alex is fast asleep on top of the comforter.

  I give him a soft shake. “Alex, wake up. “

  He jolts awake, blinking his eyes. “What’s wrong?” He sits up quickly.

  “I just saw Laylen leaving,” I tell him. “Down the beach. When I called his name, he ran. ”

  Shaking his head, he reaches over to the nightstand and flips on the lamp. “What direction was he heading?” He blinks wearily at me with some serious bedhead going on.