Cinder x, p.33
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       Cinder X, p.33

         Part #2 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 33

 

  He rubs his hand over his face tensely. “I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not true. ”

  “What’s not true?” I ask unfathomably. “Since I’m not thinking anything at the moment other than how confusing this all is. ”

  He reaches for me, but I recoil back and Asher steps up behind me, smacking Cameron’s hand away. Cameron scowls at him, however then he aims his attention back to me, locking his eyes with mine while he lets his shift to black to match my own, like he’s trying to put us on the same ground. “I had to put your dad there. It was either that or collect his soul and give it to the Reapers. ”

  “Is he… is he dead?” I sound strangled and it’s difficult to breathe.

  He has little penitence on his face. “More like in-between,” he says. When I open my mouth to yell at him for being so calm, he adds, “Look, it was the only way I could stop from collecting his soul and handing it over to the Reapers. Since Grim Angels souls are more powerful than any other soul, Alton doesn’t let those get revived, like the guy in the alley, or handed over to the Angels. He fights for those. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it, so I hid his soul in the shadows until I could figure out what to do with it. And you should be grateful. Alton’s hates my family even more now and is even more dead set on getting more power so he can destroy us. ”

  “Why didn’t you just tell me?” I ask, but as soon as the question leaves my mouth, I realize how dumb it is. “Never mind. It was probably just another one of your tricks to fuck with my head. ”

  Panic flashes in his eyes and unexpectedly he’s rushing towards me, shoving Asher out of the way and putting his hands on my shoulders. “I did it because I care for you. Otherwise, his soul would belong to the Reapers right now. ”

  I’m not sure how to respond. Not sure whether he’s telling the truth or not. Not sure why he’s been helping me, yet at the same time it seems like he’s working against me. His hand is on my arm and the way he’s looking at me is utterly awkward with Asher standing here, observing us.

  I slip my shoulders from his grasp and stumble back. “How do we get him out?” I ask.

  “I’m still trying to figure that out,” he admits. I have no idea if he means it or not, though. I never do with him. “He escaped once when he paid you a little visit, but as merely a shadow and he was still attached to the shadow realm…. Right now, I have no idea how to get him out—How to get him out of shadow form. ” He raises his hands in front of him as I frown at him. “Hey, don’t look at me. I didn’t do it on purpose. I was only trying to help. ”

  “Well next time you help, make sure it’s actually helping,” I tell him, angry, but at the same time I feel bad for being so rude, because even though he’s got my dad stuck in the shadow realm, he was trying to help in his own strange way.

  “We’ll figure out a way to get him out,” Cameron mutters, seeming puzzled.

  Silence takes over and I can here water running in the distance as well as birds chirping and wind dancing. It sounds like nature is all around us, making me wonder what it looks like out the window.

  “What do we do now?” I break the silence. “Hollows Grove is possessed, and if my death omen is right, then Alton is going to kill the entire town. And the book is gone… although if we can get a hold of this August guy, then maybe we can find out how to free all those souls and stop him without the book. ” I glance over at Asher in disappointment. “But I’m guessing you don’t get wifi up here. ”

  Asher looks close to laughing, but stops himself by smashing his lips together. “I don’t, but I’ll find a way, Ember—we’ll figure out all of this. ”

  “Figure out all of this,” Cameron says, rolling his eyes as he faces me. “Like it’s that simple. Even if we could figure out how to get the book back and save the town, then get the ball rolling on her making her choice, I think you and I, and even my lovely brother over there, know that you’re conflicted, seeing as how you’ve willingly drank both our lives and felt both the dark and the light inside you. ”

  I peek over at Asher, trying to tell if he’s believing this crap, but he avoids eye contract with me.

  “We have to get the book back,” Asher says, changing the subject. “Free the souls and then hopefully I can talk to our uncle and get some answers. ”

  “Yes, answers would be good,” Cameron says. “There are a lot of unanswered questions, well except for the sacrifice of the one she loves. ” Cameron winks at me. “That we already know. ” Then he angles his head to the side, musing over something. “Although, we don’t know who she’s going to pick for that. ”

  With no control over my emotions, I lift my hand to smack him. Surprisingly, Asher catches my arm. “He’s not worth it. He’s only doing this to mess with your head. ”

  “If that’s the case, then why am I handing out all of my Reaper secrets to you two on a silver platter?” Cameron queries, annoyed. “I’m pretty much taking your side, whatever that may be, and you’re treating me like shit. ”

  “Because you think it’s going to get you her,” Asher interrupts quickly as I lower my hand. “Because, deep down, you care about her, and in the end, even if it means she has to kill you, you want her to love you. ”

  As the awkwardness builds around us, I secretly wonder if what Asher is saying is true. If that’s how Cameron feels. I wonder if it applies to Asher, too. If he doesn’t care if I sacrifice him if it means that I love him.

  The tension cracks when Cameron suddenly waves his arm in front of him and his cloak appears and enfolds it around his body, covering him up.

  “Bailing out, huh?” Asher asks with a challenge, crossing his arms.

  Cameron shoots him an aggravated look as he draws his hood over his head. “No, I’m going to go get the book back for her. ” He then flips his cape and shadows rise all around him as a mist comes out of the floorboards, taking him away.

  Asher lunges for him, but the blackened mist quickly fades and he ends up bumping into the mirror. “Dammit,” he curses, kicking the wall.

  I momentarily stand frozen, feeling a pit in my stomach form, one created by the fact that he just left me and that part of me wants him to come back. Then reality catches up with me and my head snaps in Asher’s direction.

  “Should we go get him before he gets the book?” I ask Asher. “We can’t let him get it, especially if he wants it. ” Because even though he says he’s getting it for me, I’m not completely buying it. Never trust anyone. It’s becoming my life motto.

  Asher bites his lip, staring at the spot Cameron vanished from. “You can’t go back that way and the other way is impossible to go through right now. ”

  “Why?”

  “You can’t go back into the shadow realm because the Anamotti were already invading it when we dove out. ” He turns his head to look at me and I’m glad to see he’s calmed down. “And I can’t leave you because this place won’t exist without me; it exists only in my head. Once I’m gone, it disappears. ” He pauses. “And the only other way to get out of here is to fly and unfortunately your wings are about as useless as mine right now, seeing as how you don’t know how to use them. ”

  I tense. “But what if someone gets in here?” Panic rushes through me. “Asher, Cameron’s right… I’m not ready to make that decision just yet. ” As I realize what I’ve said, I add, “I’m not ready to sacrifice someone’s life. ”

  He searches my eyes intently then his gaze leisurely scroll over me, lingering a second or two longer on the ribbon of my shirt, which is starting to fray and loosen. “I know you aren’t. ” He stares at me as various emotions reflect in his eyes, some that make my blood heat and some that make me want to run for the door. “And until you are, I’m going to keep you here. They can’t get to you if you’re here. ”

  “Am I safe here, though?”

  “We are for a while, yes. ”

  I struggle to maintain my breathing, my heaving chest unraveling the ribbon e
ven more, which causes my breasts to about spring free. Asher more than notices as he stares down at them through hooded eyes. “I can’t believe this is happening. ”

  He tears his gaze off my cleavage. “I know it’s scary right now, but your safe with me right now Ember. And we’ll figure out how to end this all—how to stop Alton from killing the town and get you ready to make your choice. ” He pretends to be unruffled, but I note he’s gotten shaky. “Whatever that might be. ”

  I want to tell him that I already know. That it’s him, but it would be a lie because I have no idea what I’m feeling for him or for Cameron—for anyone really. Everything is so confusing.

  He must sense it too because he cuts me off as he moves to the window. “Want to see something amazing?” he asks and I nod, relieved he’s giving me an out.

  Seeming a little nervous, he draws the curtain back, showing me the view outside. I’m not even sure how to respond to the surreal scene before me. Clouds that cover the sky, grass which encircles the house. A colossal waterfall in the distance rolls over rocks and crashes against the ground. Flourishing trees dot the land and flowers of all colors grow from the ground, twining around the trunks and branches.

  “It’s beautiful,” I say, stepping forward and placing my hand on the glass.

  He watches me. “I created this spot because I see it as perfect and no one can come here unless I allow them to. ” He takes my hand, grazing his finger along my knuckles. “I promised I wouldn’t let anything happen to you. ”

  As he looks into my eyes, I feel something come to life inside me, but I’m not exactly sure what it is. Still, it’s warm and welcoming, so I let it grow and take over my body.

  A smile slowly rises on Asher’s face. “Your eyes are back to normal. ”

  I glance in the mirror and let out a relieved sigh at the sight of my normal, grey eyes. “Thank God. ” Yet, once again, my inner voice laughs at me, reminding me that I’m conflicted between good and bad. That the change isn’t permanent. “Now if I can just put my wings away, then maybe I can feel normal again. ”

  Asher’s eyes darken with hunger as he glances from my eyes to my chest to my wings then back to my eyes. “In a moment, I’ll show you how. ” He releases my hand and strolls to the front of me, deliberately skimming me from head to toe. “But first I want to do something. ” He wets his lips with his tongue and my thighs burn in anticipation. “I know there’s a lot going on. ” He leans in towards me. “I know there’s so much we don’t know yet. ” His lips get closer and my stomach somersaults. “But you’re so beautiful right now and I just want to touch you for a moment. ”

  He’s right. There is so much unsaid. So much at risk, and we should be focusing on that, but still, I stand motionless, waiting for his lips to touch mine. When they do, hot, fiery liquid spills through my veins and pours throughout my body. The feeling only heightens as his tongue slips into my mouth and his tongue ring grazes my teeth. He groans as he pulls me closer, his fingers instantly seeking the ribbon and pulling on it. My breasts spring free, and when he gently pinches one of them, I nearly explode, my body needing more, yet at the same time, something stops me. A barrier, created by my Reaper blood, telling me not to kiss him, but kill him, suck his life from his body. The feeling only magnifies as he starts to back me towards the bed, gripping at my breasts while kissing me fervently.