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Darkness falls (darkness.., p.39
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       Darkness Falls (Darkness Falls, Book 1), p.39

           Jessica Sorensen
 
Chapter 38

  We make it to the little cave before nightfall. Everyone is quiet most of the walk, not wanting to speak about what happened, but not wanting to forget it either. The cave Aiden spoke of is small and secure on the side of a steep rocky cliff. After sending me in first to make sure it’s not already preoccupied with a family of vampires, we go inside and get situated for darkness to arrive.

  Aiden hasn’t spoken more than two words to me since we left the hillside behind, and I begin to wonder if something’s bothering him. But what could it be? Does he blame me for what happened? After a while, I decide to stop dwelling and just ask him.

  I wait until he wanders over to a corner alone to set up a sleeping area for himself.

  I pick up a bottle of water that’s rolled next to him, kicking at the dirt with my boots. “Are you mad at me?”

  He unrolls a blanket and spreads it out on the floor. “Why would I be mad at you?”

  “You’ve seemed distant,” I say and take the other side of the blanket, helping him position it evenly across the dirt. “Since we made it back to the hillside.”

  “You mean since you ran into the cave and killed the vampire.” He gives me a suspicious look. “I guess I’m just having a hard time believing you did it all by yourself.”

  I toss a pillow on top of the blanket. “Who else would’ve helped me? And why does it matter?”

  “Not who. What.” He presses his lips together and pokes the blanket with the tip of his boot.

  It takes me a second, but I get it. “You think I took the medicine, don’t you? You think I decided to turn and I’m a Day Taker now.”

  He runs his hands through his hair tensely. “I just find it odd that you killed a vampire, when you were losing your strength.”

  “Well I didn’t take it,” I say. “I’m human. And I killed the vampire all by myself.”

  He meets my eyes. “How do I know that’s the truth, Juniper? You lie all the time.”

  “So do you.” But I take his hand, not very gently, and place it over my beating heart. “See, still human.”

  His hand presses down, quivering against the drum of my heart. “I’m sorry,” he says, pulling his hand away and flexing it. “I just didn’t know what to think.”

  “I think we both have some lying issues to get over,” I say, thinking how strange it is that we both share the same trait.

  “The truth?” He asks with an arc of his eyebrow. “From now on?”

  I let out long sigh. “Haven’t we said that before?”

  He smiles, pulling me into his chest. “This way you can tell for sure.” Then he tips my chin back and touches his lips to mine and I can feel all honesty passionately pumping through him.

  “I think we should make that a ritual from now on,” he says with a grin after we break away. “To make sure we’re being honest with each other.”

  “But it only works one way,” I frown, but secretly I’m glad.

  He taps at my wrist—the numberless one—the one that isn’t wrapped with a torn piece of his shirt. “I know how to tell if you’re lying.” Then he winks at me.

  I smile, but it still feels like plastic, like something’s missing.

  Later that night, while everyone’s fast asleep, I lie awake, staring at the crushed vial. The lanterns spill just enough light that I can see how empty it is. I think about how there might be a cure, and ponder if it’s hidden in a vial just like this, knowing that the answer lies somewhere inside my head.

  Monarch built me to be the strongest, the fastest. He built me to endure the vampires. He built me for a reason—so I could find a cure and save the world. He also built me not to be a coward. Sliding out from under the blanket, I pick up my bag and turn off the flashlight. I pause as I pass Aiden, taking in the shape of his lips, jaw, the way he winces when he sleeps.

  “Good-bye.” I whisper so softly there’s no way it can be heard. I slide the boulder aside and step out into the night, making sure to close it securely behind me.

  Leaving in the middle of the night might seem like a terrible thing to do, but Aiden would never let me walk away alone. And staying with them would only risk their lives. With the Highers after me, it’s too risky. So I set out through the darkness to go find Sylas—to go find my memories—to find a cure.

  The vampires’ shrieks ricochet the night, shrill and ravenous. But I’m not afraid. How could I be?

  When they’re the ones that fear me.

  Epilogue

  From the top of the cliffs, I watch them prowl the night, keeping on high ground, out of the vampires’ eyes. They move quietly, hunting for the one that knows the answers to the questions they seek. I can make out which figure belongs to him. It’s darker and stands taller than the rest. He moves like air, like I used to before I turned back and secretly I envy him.

  I sneak quietly behind them, keeping my distance, making sure I’m the one that finds him. Making sure he understands I make my own decisions—that I’m in control.

  They hop from rock to rock, finally ducking down between the cracks of the cave, slipping into blackness, and with a deep breath, I follow, my boots grazing the side of the rock, making me wince against my human mistake. But we all make mistakes. It’s how we fix them that makes us who we are.

  When I reach the bottom, there’s only one way to go. I lie flat on my stomach and slink into the narrow cave, my feet clumsy and graceless. A fire burns from the middle of the cave, but no one surrounds it.

  I circle around it, wondering where they disappeared to.

  “I thought you were looking for me.” The touch of his breath brushing against my ear makes my stomach twist with nervousness.

  “I didn’t have a choice,” I turn to face him. “You’re the only one I know who can help fix it all now.”

  Sylas’ black eyes smolder in the light of the fire and he holds out his hand. “Then let me help you fix it.”

  Hesitantly, I take his hand and he entwines our fingers, locking us together. “You better not hurt me,” I warn.

  “I won’t.” He smiles, giving my hand a squeeze. “You can trust me Kayla.”

  All I can do is hope he isn’t lying, because with him, I just can’t tell.

  Jessica Sorensen lives with her husband and three kids in the snowy mountains of Wyoming, where she spends most of her time reading, writing, and hanging out with her family.

  Other books by Jessica Sorensen:

  The Fallen Star (Fallen Star Series, Book 1)

  The Underworld (Fallen Star Series, Book 2)

  The Vision (Fallen Star Series, Book 3)

  The Promise (Fallen Star Series, Book 4)

  Darkness Falls (Darkness Falls Series, Book 1)

  Darkness Breaks (Darkness Falls Series, Book 2) Available May 23, 2012

  Connect with me online:

  https://jessicasorensensblog.blogspot.com/

  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jessica-Sorensen/165335743524509

  https://twitter.com/#!/jessFallenStar

 
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