Fractured souls, p.31
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       Fractured Souls, p.31

         Part #2 of Shattered Promises series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 31

 

  I point over at the north side of the house. “That way… he’s been acting kind of weird since he…since he almost died and then drank my blood. ”

  He swings his bare feet to the floor as he tosses the blanket aside, stretching out his arms. “You’ve noticed that, too?”

  “You’ve noticed it?” I ask, averting my gaze from his muscles because if I stare at them for too long I’ll have no self-control and get completely caught up in him to the point that I’ll forget about everything else.

  He nods and then stands up from the bed and reaches for his shirt draped over the back of a chair in front of the vanity. He refastens the tie on his drawstring pajama bottoms and then scoops up the keys from the coffee table.

  “Let’s go look for him,” he says and heads for the front door. “I don’t know if we really should, because I don’t really think he’s running away or anything. ” He opens the door for me.

  We step outside and he locks the door up. The chilly air hits my skin and I pull the hood of my hoodie over my head, jumping to the side when a stream of sparks shoots out of the bushes and threatens to land on my toes.

  “Damn it, Aislin,” Alex says, pulling me onto the grass out of the way. “I get that we need to be protected, but it doesn’t do any good if we get hit by one of her charms. ”

  I don’t say anything as we hurry for the driveway. The house is in a fairly secluded neighborhood, where most of the houses on the block have their porch lights on.

  “Alex, what if Laylen’s…” I trail off as Alex opens the car door for me. I climb in and he rounds the front of the SUV that belongs to the person that owns the house. They’re letting us borrow it to get around, but most of the time, whenever anyone wants to go anywhere, Aislin just transports them there.

  “What if he’s looking for blood?” I ask as he hops into the driver’s seat and shuts the door. I can’t stop thinking about how he said he didn’t want to be saved. “What if… what if he’s suicidal? Or what if he’s trying to hurt himself?”

  “He might be,” he says once the engine is running. “It’s in his nature. ”

  “To hurt himself?”

  “No, to drink blood. ”

  I reach back and draw the seatbelt over my shoulder, clicking the buckle into place. “Only because of me. If I wouldn’t have made him bite me back at Draven’s, none of this would be happening. ”

  He backs the car down the driveway, his hands gripping on the wheel as he straightens the car onto the road. “He’s drank blood before. ”

  “Only a few times,” I point out. “He told me that biting me would be different… that I was too innocent and pure; that it would make for a bad addiction. ”

  He swallows hard and drives down the main road, flying well above the speed limit. The houses whiz by and the roar of the tires fills up the quiet cab. I can tell he’s upset and I realize that I should have kept my mouth shut. Too much information is not a good thing when it comes to things like blood, innocence, and me.

  I watch out the window as we drive past houses, stores, gas stations, and even sections of the beach. An hour passes and I’m about to give up and tell Alex to go back to the house—that maybe Laylen went back—when Alex makes an abrupt swerve to the right and ramps the SUV over the curb. He skids it across the parking lot, slamming it to a stop in front of the back exit of an older building lit up with neon signs and twinkle lights flashing from the grimy windows. I spot Laylen by the back door, tall and lean with his skin gleaming red beneath the glow of the lighting.

  “Who’s he with?” I ask, clicking my seat belt loose.

  “I have no idea. ” Alex turns off the engine and we hop out of the car, running around to the front of the vehicle.

  Alex immediately snatches ahold of my hand when we walk by a group of men loitering next to a rusty truck with the tailgate dropped. The smell of cigarettes pollutes the air and the men make catcalls at me as we pass by them. Alex turns toward them when one of them makes a remark about my ass, but I tug on his arm.

  “Come on,” I say, dragging him across the parking lot. “Now is not the time. ”

  He shoots a dirty look at me, but continues walking in the direction of Laylen, taking long strides, and I have to jog to keep up. I start to run when we get close. I’m worried who it could be and what they could be doing hidden in the corner of this rundown place. I think deep down I might really know what’s happening, however I won’t believe it until I see it for myself.

  When I reach him, it feels like all the wind has been knocked out of me. I collapse to my knees, struggling to breathe as I watch him feed off another woman, savoring her blood in pure ecstasy as he drinks it from her veins.

  It takes me a few minutes to gather myself enough to stand up and, by the time I rise to my feet again, Alex has already gotten Laylen’s attention. He is standing cautiously in front of Laylen with his hands out to the side and Laylen has the woman’s neck grasped in his hand, her body slumped back like he’s about to dip her. Her black hair is dripping with blood and there are bite marks on her neck and arms.

  When Laylen spots me, his eyes bulge wide, his pupils are possessed by darkness as blood drips from his fangs and lips to the front of his shirt. Alex takes a vigilant step toward him, but Laylen puts up a hand and backs up to the side of the building with the woman in tow.

  “Stay away from me,” he hisses and smears the blood from his lips with the back of his arm.

  Alex stops with his hands up in front of him. “I’m just going to check to see if she’s okay. ” He nods his head at the woman and dares another step forward.

  Laylen growls at him and snaps his fangs as the woman whimpers, clutching onto his arm for support. “I swear to God, man, if you come any closer, I’ll break your fucking neck. ”

  Alex rolls his eyes. “No, you won’t,” he says, lowering his hands to his sides.

  Laylen shakes his head and his lip curls up as he snarls. “Oh, I will. I’d be more than happy to in fact. Maybe it would finally put you in your place. ”

  “And what place would that be?” Alex asks coolly.

  “The place where we all live,” Laylen spits. “The place of self-hatred. The place where I live. ” His dark eyes skim to me. “Where Gemma lives. The place where you feel miserable all the time and utterly hate who you are inside and out. The place where you wish you could get away from, even if it means being dead. ”

  I get what he’s saying way too well. There were countless times where I thought about ending it, not seeing a point. Every fucking day was exactly the same, no feeling, no movement inside, no emotion. Then I finally felt it, sadness, for the very first time. The emotion was overwhelming and hard to cope with. It is the same, even now, like how I felt when I was with Nicholas. I sometimes wish I could get rid of it, even if it means giving up everything forever.

  “Everyone lives there,” Alex says, rocking forward and reducing the space between them. “Everyone in their own way knows what it’s like to hate themselves. Look at all the shit I’ve done to people over the years… how could I not hate myself?”

  The rawness of the moment makes me glad I’m here to witness it, even though there’s so much pain and anguish carried in it. It reminds me that everyone feels pain and sometimes they try to turn it off because it’s easier than feeling it. Ultimately, though, our emotions own us and we have to take the good in with the bad.

  Laylen shakes his head, but then releases the woman go. She crumbles to the ground and he sinks to his knees with her, sitting in the gravel and dirt. He cradles his head in his hands, brings his knees to his chest and it sounds like he’s sobbing.

  Alex glances at me and then nods his head at Laylen. “Check on him and I’ll see if she’s okay. ”

  I nod and sit down beside Laylen while Alex makes sure the woman’s all right. I place a hand on Laylen’s shoulder and he tenses. “Are you okay?” I ask cautiously.

  He sucks in a
sharp breath and then leans away from my touch, his fangs retreating back into his mouth. “Don’t touch me… I think I killed her… I could feel her blood running out. ”

  “No, she’s okay. ” Alex walks over and stands behind me. “She’s unconscious, but still breathing and has a pulse. ”

  Laylen elevates his head and I instantly notice how watery his eyes are. “It doesn’t matter. It’s still there. ” A tear drifts down his cheek and I watch it slide to his jaw.

  “What’s still there?” I reach forward and wipe the tear away.

  “The…the hunger and need to feed. ” He chokes. “God, I can’t get it out of my head. It’s worse than before… something about almost dying changed me. ” There’s so much torture in his voice; my heart aches to take it away from him and bear it myself.

  “It’s going to be okay,” I repeat, rubbing his tear between my thumb and my finger. He may be part Vampire, but I’d like to see Alex or Aislin question his humanity now. His tears are as real a mine—as real as anyone’s. “We’ll get through this. ”

  He rests his forehead on his knees. “You and me?”

  “Of course. ” I brush my fingers through his hair. “You’ve always been there for me and now I’m there for you. ”

  It doesn’t take much convincing after that. We prop the woman up against the door where someone’s sure to find her and then we get back in the car to drive a way. No one speaks the entire drive and I tell myself that everything will be okay. That we got him back and that he didn’t kill the woman, although I can’t help worrying that he’s forever changed. And what if he is? What if the Laylen I met is gone?

  ***

  When we arrive back at the beach house, morning is kissing the land. Laylen goes straight into his room and says he is going to bed. I’m afraid he might leave again, but Alex promises that we’ll all take turns watching him. We wake up Aislin and reluctantly fill her in on what’s been going on. She’s upset, however she still wants to help Laylen. I sit in the living room for about an hour listening to Alex and Aislin argue over what to do while the seashell clock on the living room wall ticks the wasted time away.

  “I might know a spell,” Aislin says, crossing her legs and leaning back in the chair. She has a tank top on and a pair of pajama bottoms with little pink hearts on them. “One that might help him get in the right state of mind. ”

  “Right state of mind?” I ask, unzipping my hoodie to take it off as the heat of the day gets to me. “You mean out of the Vampire state of mind?”

  She narrows her green eyes at me. “Look, he hasn’t always been like this. He didn’t used to crave blood until you came along.

  “Aislin,” Alex warns, helping me slip off my jacket. “Don’t. ”

  “You know it’s true,” she says. “I can tell that you think it. ”