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The fallen star (fallen.., p.33
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       The Fallen Star (Fallen Star Series, Book 1), p.33

           Jessica Sorensen
 
So maybe Alex was right. I shouldn’t have been talking to anyone in the grocery store. I still stood by what I said though—it wasn’t my fault. He had come up and talked to me. But it was too late to do anything about it now. Nicholas had me trapped and was holding me against him like a hostage.

  I didn’t think he had a weapon on him or anything. Well, aside from his strength, which felt inhumanly strong. And he had gotten up to the cabin so quickly; too quickly for any human to pull off. Even if he had driven, I still don’t think he would have been able to beat Alex and me up here. Besides, I hadn’t noticed a car parked anywhere, so I was guessing that he might have another way of traveling—like say, hmm...transporting. That was just me going out on a limb though. I couldn’t be sure since I had only the vaguest clue about other means of transportation besides by vehicle.

  Nicholas’ skin felt warm against mine, but not in the same sense as Alex’s felt—all buzzing with electricity. Nicholas’ was more a damp, earthly kind of warm. He also had this strange smell to him, like lilacs mixed with forest and freshly fallen rain. The smell was intoxicating, and I had to wonder if he had recently stepped out of a rainforest.

  Breathing heavily against the palm of Nicholas’ hand, I heard the treading of Alex’s footsteps heading up the cement steps of the garage. There was a soft thump, and he stepped into the living room, his hands full of grocery bags. He took one look at us and the blood drained from his face. The bags slid to the floor, and a tub of mayo rolled out of one of them. For a second, we all just stared at it.

  Alex folded his arms across his chest. “Okay, so who are you?”

  Nicolas moved his hand away from my mouth and pressed me so tightly to his chest that I could feel his heart beating through my back, slow and rhythmically, like the beat of a drum. He didn’t answer Alex, and I found the quietness very unsettling.

  Alex stared Nicholas down, and Nicholas let out a soft laugh, his grip on me loosening a little. Seizing the opportunity, I jabbed my elbow into his stomach. His muscles tensed, but he didn’t let go of me.

  “I’m hurt that you don’t remember me, Alex.” Nicholas’ voice dripped with sarcasm.

  Whoa. Hold up. Alex knew him?

  Alex processed what Nicholas said, recognition slowly showing in his expression. “Nicholas Harper.”

  “Aw, so you do remember me,” Nicholas said with a hint of amusement. “I’m so touched.”

  Alex shook his head, looking irritated. “What do you want?”

  “Hmm…What do I want?” Nicholas mused, stroking his fingers through my hair. “She sure turned out to be a pretty little thing, didn’t she?”

  Okay. That was enough. If Alex wasn’t going to do anything to get this guy off me, I was going to have to take matters into my own hands. I gradually lifted up my leg and then kicked him in the shin as hard as I could, while at the same time slamming the back of my head into his face.

  “Son of a—” he cursed and let go of me.

  Alex looked stunned as I sprinted over to him. He jumped in front of me, acting like a barrier between Nicholas and me.

  “Jesus, that hurt,” Nicholas groaned, rubbing his nose. He took a deep breath and shook his shoulders out like he was shaking off my attack. His lips curved into a grin. “Wow, she’s quite the wild thing, isn’t she?”

  Alex glanced over his shoulder at me, a trace of a smile teasing at his lips. “Perhaps.” He quickly shook his head, and his face fell into a dead serious expression as he turned back to Nicholas. “Did you come here because you want something? Or was it just so you could be annoying?”

  Nicholas rolled his eyes. “It’s amazing how over the course of ten years you haven’t changed a bit.”

  Alex sighed, losing patience. “Just tell me what you want.”

  Nicholas held up his hands. “Fine. My word, you have no sense of humor.”

  “When it comes to you I don’t,” Alex said flatly.

  That wiped the smile right of off Nicholas’ face. “What I’ve come for is her—” he pointed at me—“on behalf of the Foreseers.”

  “What!” I cried out.

  “Don’t say a word,” Alex hissed at me.

  How on earth was I supposed to not say anything when a thousand questions were bursting inside me? Still, I bit down on my tongue and kept quiet.

  “And why do the Foreseers want her?” Alex asked calmly.

  Nicholas crossed his arms, the sleeve of his shirt slipping up, displaying the circle with an S on his wrist. “So she can be trained to be a Foreseer.”

  My jaw dropped. “Trained to be a Foreseer.”

  Alex took my hand and gave it a squeeze, a warning to be quiet. “And why does she need to be trained to be a Foreseer?”

  Nicholas stared bewilderedly at him. “Um… because she is one.”

  “No, she’s not,” Alex said.

  Nicholas shook his head, looking frustrated. “Did she or did she not use a crystal ball to see a vision?”

  Well…crap. How did he know about that?

  Alex hesitated. “Listen, there’s been a misunderstanding. Gemma, she’s…well, she’s different.”

  I shook my head Different. There was that word again.

  “Look, I don’t care what she is. The law says if a person can see a vision, then they belong to the Foreseers. She saw a vision, therefore she belongs to us.” He put a little too much emphasis on the word “us,” if you asked me. “But you’re a Keeper, so you should already know that.”

  “I know what the law says,” Alex snapped. “But like I said, she’s…”

  “…Different,” Nicholas finished, making air quotes. “Doesn’t matter. She has to go back with me. She can try and plead her case when she gets there if she wants to.” His gaze bore into me, making my skin crawl. “But personally, I would prefer if she didn’t.”

  I shrank back behind Alex. The room grew so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. Or even a grandfather clock ticking, since I could.

  Finally, Alex threw his hands in the air. “Fine, she’ll go.”

  “What!” I exclaimed in outrage. “Are you kidding? You can’t let him take me.”

  “She’s definitely a wild thing,” Nicholas commented with a smirk.

  Alex shot me a look, cautioning me to keep my mouth shut.

  “You can’t let him take me,” I hissed.

  Be quiet, he mouthed and turned back to Nicholas. “But just so you know, I’m going with her.”

  “You can’t,” Nicholas said. “It’s not allowed.”

  “There are no laws that forbid Keepers from entering the City of Crystal,” Alex informed him. “So I’m going.”

  Nicholas glowered at Alex, his golden eyes smoldering like ambers. “Nothing has changed with you. You still just do whatever you want.”

  “Yep,” Alex replied. “I sure do.”

  And really, he did. But that was fine by me in this case, because there was no way I wanted to go off alone with this Nicholas guy. He was creepy. And I especially didn’t want to go off alone to some city filled with people who could see the future.

  “Let’s go then,” Nicholas said, and he headed toward the coffee table.

  I looked at Alex. “You really want me to go?”

  He nodded. “You don’t have a choice. There are certain laws that we all have to abide by, and one of them states that when someone possesses the Foreseer ability, they have to be trained by the Foreseers.”

  “But I don’t want to,” I complained.

  Alex leaned in. “I’ll get you out of this, I promise. But we have to go.”

  Of course he would get me out of this, but not out of the kindness of his heart or anything. It was because I had the star’s power inside me.

  Grudgingly, I followed Alex over to where Nicholas stood.

  Nicholas retrieved a miniature crystal ball from his pocket and balanced it on top of the table. “Ladies first.”

  My stomach twisted into a billion knots. “What exactly am I s
upposed to do?”

  Nicholas nodded at the crystal ball. “Put your hand on it.”

  I glanced at Alex and he gave me a nod, giving me the go ahead. I swallowed hard and reached out for the crystal ball, hesitating briefly before letting my fingers brush the glass.

  There was a bright burst of light. Then I was spiraling down a dark tunnel once again.

  Chapter 28