Cinder x, p.32
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       Cinder X, p.32

         Part #2 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
Page 32


  “But it might not be, especially since you thought I was pure blood. ” Deep breaths. Keep breathing. My mom might have not been the greatest mom in the world, but the thought of losing another parent aches inside my heart, burns in my soul, makes me feel so alone.

  “I’m not sure. I can try and find out though, but it’ll probably take some time. ” He pauses, conflicted. “I just want to make sure you prepare yourself for what I find out. ”

  “You mean, prepare myself for if she’s dead. ” My bluntness shocks him, however he quickly composes himself and nods. “Prepare myself for another loss of a family member. ” An excruciating revelation clicks inside my head. If I ended up choosing the right side through all of this, I’ll still end up alone if my mom is dead.

  “I don’t know why you’re giving her false hope,” Cameron says, materializing in the doorway, looking as though he just showered and shaved; his skin is smooth, his blonde hair perfectly styled and his black shirt and jeans unwrinkled. “You know as well as I do that that wasn’t a joke. That her mother is probably dead…. That Ember has pure blood and that’s how she’s the last one standing…” He shuts his eyes and inhales deeply. “I can feel her mother’s soul in the air, along with a ton of other’s, waiting to be collected. ” He reopens his eyes. “Lucky for her, the Reapers seem to be preoccupied with tracking you down at the moment, so her soul has some time left in her body, but still, she’s dead. ”

  “Well, maybe you can bring her back then,” I say, knowing I’m treading thin water here. “Like you did with that guy in the alley. ”

  He elevates his eyebrows at me with amusement dancing in his eyes. “You want to pay that price again?” He smirks, looking over my body from head to toe and it feels like he’s touching me, yet he’s not. “Only this time it’s much higher. ”

  I scowl at him, but part of me wants to run up and hug him—thank him for saving me by giving me the necklace. “What are you doing here?” I glance back at Asher “You said Reaper’s couldn’t come here?”

  Cameron rolls his eyes, strutting through the doorway like he owns the place. “Full Reaper’s can’t, but half Reaper, half Angel’s can. ”

  “I don’t understand. ” I look back and forth between the two of them. “Where are we?”

  Asher and Cameron exchange a look and then Asher sighs. “Remember how I said that I spend most of my time in a place my mind creates, the one that I lived in. Sort of like an in between… well, we’re there. ”

  “In your mind?” I ask, flabbergasted.

  Asher wavers. “Sort of, but not exactly. ”

  “Think of it as a place that belongs to only one person,” Cameron says. “And that one person can create whatever they want, build it however they want, and only let in whoever they want. ”

  “It sounds like a video game,” I remark with a frown.

  “You could look at it that way,” Cameron says.

  “Well who built this place?” I wonder.

  Asher points at himself. “I did. ”

  “Then why is he here. ” I aim a finger at Cameron. “When all he’s done is torture me. ”

  “You really believe that?” Cameron questions with speculation, eyeballing the necklace on my neck. “Plus, I helped you out back there, all because I care for you,” Cameron says as Asher cringes. “Despite what you think. ”

  “I don’t think anything,” I mutter, hating that I feel connected to both of them. That, at the moment, I feel a tug-o-war with my emotions; wanting to cave into Cameron, but also melt into Asher.

  “Sure you don’t. ” Cameron stops just short of the bed, right beside Asher. His face contorts with disgust. “Nice wings, by the way. ” His face pinches as he stares at them. “It’s a disgusting look for you. ” His head cocks to the side. “Although I do love the eyes. ”

  My fingers shoot up to my face and I gently touch the skin around them. “What’s wrong with my eyes?” Right on cue, red fills my vision again. For a moment, it looks like the walls are bleeding.

  Cameron stares at the back of Asher’s head like he’s mentally compelling him to turn around and look at him. “Do you want to tell her or do you want me to?”

  I look at Asher who’s looking at me gravely. “I don’t want to tell her at all,” he says with remorse.

  “Well, she’s going to see eventually,” he steps aside and gestures to the mirror hanging on the wall, “so she might as well get it over with. ”

  I wait for Asher to say something, but he conclusively rises to his feet with a gut-wrenching look on his face as he backs away from me. At first, I think he’s trying to get away from me, but then he holds out his hand for me to take.

  Nerves bubble inside my body as I take his offered hand. As he helps me to my feet, I start to tip back, but he pulls me forward, helping me balance.

  “Keep your shoulders up,” he says, demonstrating by lifting his own. “It’ll help a little. ”

  I nod and then raise my shoulders higher, my chest sticking out and bearing more of the weight. Then, with his eyes fastened on mine, he backs up towards the mirror, guiding me along with him, taking small steps as I struggle to stay on my feet. When we reach it, he blocks my view for a moment, reluctant to let me see, but after a lot of mental deliberating, he irrevocably steps to the side and out of the way.

  I inch forward, moving slowly until my reflection appears before me.

  Wings of black and red.

  Tall and strong.

  Though shoulders curled in

  Cursed with weight.

  Eyes like ash.

  Skin like snow.

  Lips blood red.

  Dark lines

  Veined with death

  Beneath black eyes.

  Linked with the evil side

  But below the surface

  Good still thrives

  Smoldering like cinders

  Desperate to burn

  Yet the chill inside

  Won’t allow it

  “Oh, my God,” I breathe, reaching for my face and running my fingers beneath my black eyes that don’t belong to me, yet somehow do. “I’m hideous. ”

  Asher moves up to the side of me and his reflection joins mine in the mirror, looking even more perfect beside my mutated self. “You’re not hideous. You’re beautiful. ”

  I shake my head, cringing at the lack of emotion my eyes portray. “Look at my eyes. ”

  “I think they are the best part,” Cameron remarks, stepping up to the other side of me, his reflection joining ours in the mirror.

  We stand there together, taking in the sight of me. An Angel on one side and a Reaper on the other. My body feels drawn to both, my blood linked to both. Suddenly, I realize why everyone kept saying I’d have to make a choice between good or evil. At the time, I always thought that there was no way it could even be a choice. That good would win, no matter what.

  Yet now, standing here with both sides by me, I can tell it’s going to be hard. I belong to both sides. Reaper and Angel. Good and bad.

  I am the balance of both.

  I am the Grim Angel.

  “So does this mean I’m the last one?” I ask, turning around to look at Asher.

  He glances at my wings as he slowly nods. “It does. ”

  His words slam hard against my chest, yet there’s an invisible shield that protects me, one that belongs to my Reaper side and doesn’t let me feel the fear I want to.

  “What do I do now?” I ask. “I mean, how do I make the choice?” And what choice do I make? I start to panic. “I’m not even sure I can make that choice yet… do that…”

  Asher places a hand on my shoulder in comforting gesture and then glances at Cameron. “There’s a little bit more to it than that, Ember. ”

  Cameron bumps my wings out of the way as he leans over my shoulder, invading my personal space and knocks Asher’s hand off my shoulder. “From what I understand, Michael and Alton are suppose
d to come down to earth for the end of the battle, let the Grim Angel make the choice, make her sacrifice,” he glances over at Asher with a grin, “Whoever that might be. ” His eyes land on me. “But I don’t think things are going to happen exactly that way at the moment since my leader is pretty content with feeding off the souls of Hollows Grove. ” He makes a face, like he’s upset about this and he probably is considering what he told me about his family, which come to think of it would also be Asher’s family. “In fact, I think he’ll probably drag this on as long as possible, at least that’s what everyone was whispering about in the shadow realm. ” I loathe how my body responds to the words our leader. “Of course that book you were harboring for my dear double-crossing uncle could help at least put that problem to rest. ”

  “Elliot didn’t double cross us,” Asher argues, reaching over my shoulder and pushing Cameron away from me. “He was just possessed. ”

  “You say, Angel. ” Cameron staggers back, but quickly composes himself, and glances in the mirror. “I say, Reaper. You know it’s really hard to tell sometimes. ” He admires his reflection vainly.

  “No it’s not. They’re completely different,” Asher retorts with hate in his eyes that’s entirely directed at his brother.

  Cameron arches his brow in my direction. “Really? Because she’s kind of walking proof that the two coexist. ”

  Asher shakes his head, fury radiating from him, but it starts to fizzle after a moment or two goes by. “It doesn’t matter,” he says. “We just need to make a plan… find that book and figure out what to do with Ember. ”

  “Figure out what to do with me…. Wait, find the book?” I glance back and forth between them and they both look guilty. “We already have it, don’t we?”

  Asher gives Cameron the death glare and in response Cameron rolls his eyes shrugs, making a whoops face. “Well, we would have it if I wouldn’t have dropped it. ” He takes a step back from us, surrendering his hands up in front of him when I glare at him. “Completely by accident, of course. ”

  “Why do I not believe that?” I narrow my eyes at him. “Why do I have the feeling that you’ve hidden it in the shadow realm so you can go back and get it yourself?”

  He lowers his hands to his sides with a mocking expression. “Now why would I do that?”

  “I don’t know. ” I shrug, giving him attitude. “Maybe for the same reason Alton wants it, whatever that is. Or maybe destroy it so I won’t be able to help the town. Or maybe there’s something more on those pages than what I realized that night. ” I glare at him as I fold my arms across my chest. “Or better yet maybe for the same reason you hid my dad in there. ”

  For the first time ever, Cameron’s expression falters. “How do you know about that?”

  I want to wring his neck. “Because I saw him in there! Trapped in the shadows… part of them… God dammit, Cameron! Why didn’t you just tell me he was there!”