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The underworld, p.39
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       The Underworld, p.39

         Part #2 of Fallen Star series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 39

 

  “No,” he told me, just standing there, holding on to my arm, my yanking not even fazing him the slightest bit.

  “Let me go,” I growled.

  He shook his head, tightening his grip. “You’re not thinking clearly right now. ”

  I stared him down with a determined look. “You have to let me go. You don’t need to protect me anymore now that the star’s power is probably not going to save the world. ”

  He stared at me with this strangest look. “I think you—”

  Then we heard it. An earsplitting bang that rocketed through air.

  “What the heck was that?” I asked, glancing around at the trees.

  Alex looked over at the castle, and then at the ground. I followed his gaze and saw what he was looking at. Footprints, printed across the mud, leading toward the castle.

  We took off, tromping through the muddy grass, and running up the hill, until we reached the door to the castle. Alex seemed a little uneasy as he turned the doorknob and creaked the door open. The stale air immediately surrounded us.

  “Does anyone live here?” I whispered as we stepped inside.

  He shook his head and dropped his hand from the doorknob.

  It looked as if no one had been inside the castle for ages. The banister that guided the stairs had a thick layer of dust on it and cobwebs ornamented the ceiling like a haunted house on Halloween.

  Alex went to the bottom of the stairs and glanced up. Another bang shattered the air and his gaze darted down the hall, where the noise had come from.

  “What if it’s not my mom?” I whispered.

  He held up a finger and then crept down the hall. I stayed behind him, keeping my footsteps light. There was another loud noise that sounding like glass being shattered, and then I saw her.

  She was in the room where my soul had been detached; the room with the stone fireplace and tiled floor. She was standing in the midst of a pile of broken glass, her bare feet, I’m sure, getting cut by the sharp edges.

  “Mom,” I said softly as I stepped cautiously into the room.

  She’d been staring at the broken glass, but blinked up at me when I said her name. Any acknowledgment she had of me was gone, and I could see it in her bright blue eyes that she, again, did not know who I was. She grabbed a vase from off a nearby desk and threw it at the floor.

  “Jocelyn,” Alex said, and she looked at him, tears dripping down her cheeks. Alex took a slow step toward her, but froze when she screamed.

  Then her eyes slipped shut and she collapsed to the floor.

  Chapter 38

  This was not how I pictured my reunion with my mom. Maybe I had been delusional, but I always pictured it as much more welcoming and filled with hugs, despite the fact that Alex had warned me that the Jocelyn everyone knew might be no more.

  Instead of giving me hugs, she’d lost it and had passed out on the floor in the middle of the broken glass.

  “Is she going to be okay?” I asked Alex, who was leaning over my mother, checking her wrist for a pulse.

  “She’s alive…” he said, setting her arm down gently. “I don’t know what’s wrong with her, though. ”

  “She didn’t just pass out. ”

  “I don’t know, she could have, but…”

  “But what?” I hated it when he trailed off like that, leaving his sentences hanging in the air.

  “But with where she’s been, and how long she’s been there, I can’t say for sure what’s wrong. She could be in shock or something. ”

  I felt so frustrated I could have screamed. I kicked at some broken glass. “So what do we do now?”

  He shrugged. “I guess we go back to Maryland—to Laylen and Aislin and wait until your mom wakes up. ”

  “And, what if she doesn’t?”

  He didn’t answer.

  Thank goodness my Foreseer gift was working again. Otherwise we would have had a very long drive back to Maryland. I managed to get us back to the beach house without any problems. My mom was still out when we arrived, and Alex carried her back to an empty room, leaving me to explain what had happened to Aislin and Laylen.

  All three of us sat in the living room, and they listened to me ramble on and on about our journey to The Underworld. By the time I finished giving them the details, Alex had returned. He looked tired. There were bags under his eyes, his hair was messy, and the lake’s water had crinkled his clothes. It had crinkled mine as well and the fabric felt dry and rough against my skin.

  “So, all the Water Faeries just passed out?” Aislin asked, her bright green eyes wide.

  I nodded. "Yeah, one moment they were trying to do some kind of torture thing on my soul with that diamond we took down there, and the next moment they were on the ground. ”

  “Was it because they were trying to do something to your…soul?” Aislin asked worriedly.

  “I don’t know what happened exactly. ” But I wouldn’t be surprised if my soul had done it, seeing as how it was broken.

  “I don’t think it was your soul that did it,” Alex interrupted, sitting down beside me. “I think it was because of the overload of fear you shot at them. ”

  “What overload of fear?” I looked at him funny. “All I did was scream. ”

  He looked as though he was choosing his next words very carefully. “I think because your emotions are so new to you that sometimes they come off a little…. strong. And with the excessive amount of fear you shot at the Water Faeries, I think it sent them into shock. ”

  “Strong,” I said, insulted.

  He pressed his lips together, doing that thing that he hadn’t done in awhile. You know the one where he is trying to hide the fact that he finds my irritation amusing.

  The look—which used to make me angry—was having a different effect on me. It was making my skin tingle, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t from the electricity. But I refused to let him know this, or he would probably do it to me all the time, which honestly, wasn’t sounding that bad to me at the moment.

  “So how are we going to get my mom to wake up?” I asked, changing the subject.

  The looked Alex was giving me was quickly erased. “Gemma…I don’t know for sure that she will. ”

  “But you don’t know for sure that she won’t,” I pointed out.

  Everyone looked at me, and I could see it on their faces. They felt sorry for me. Even Laylen looked at me this way. But why? Because they all thought my mom wasn’t going to ever wake up.

  “Gemma,” Alex started to say.

  “I don’t want to hear it,” I told him. “She’ll wake up. I know she will. ” Then I stood up and headed back to my mom.

  She looked dead. I wasn’t even going to try and sugarcoat it because that’s how she looked. She lay in a bed with her eyes shut. Her veins were a dark purplish-blue against her pale skin. The rise and fall of her chest was the only thing that let me know she was still alive.

  “Mom,” I whispered, staring down at her. The prickle traced down my neck, and suddenly the word “mom” didn’t seem so awkward. “Mom,” I said louder, tears soaking my eyes “Mom. ”

  And then I was falling down on the bed next to her, crying. And I cried until I fell asleep.

  When I woke up, dawn was hitting the windows. The ocean’s waves were swishing outside, and the house was silent. My eyes felt puffy and swollen, and I wondered how long I had been crying before I fell asleep. I sat up and rubbed my eyes.

  “Gemma. ”

  Her voice scared the crap out of me, and I fell out of the bed.

  “Ow,” I said, rubbing my elbow as I got back to my feet.

  My mom was sitting up in the bed, staring at me in alarm. “Are you alright?”

  I nodded at her, giving her the same look of alarm. “Are you alright?”

  She swallowed hard and then started coughing. “I think I need some water. ”

  “Okay, I’ll go get you some,” I told her.

&
nbsp; I quickly went into the kitchen, took a glass out of the cupboard, and flipped on the faucet. While I was filling up a cup of water, I thought I heard someone move up behind me, and I nearly screamed at the top of my lungs when I turned and came face to face with a very tall, blue-eyed, blond-haired vampire/Keeper.

  “Holy crap. ” I pressed my hand to my racing heart. “You just about scared me to death. ”

  “Sorry,” he apologized like it was his fault I was so jumpy. He had on a pair of jeans and a dark red t-shirt, so I was guessing he had been awake for awhile “I didn’t mean to scare you. ”

  “It’s okay…” I glanced around the kitchen. “What are you doing?”

  He shrugged, looking so sad it made my heart hurt. “I don’t know…I heard someone get up, so I came to check who it was. ”

  “Oh. ” I shut off the faucet. “I didn’t wake you up, did I?”

  He shook his head. “I was already awake. ”

  “So is my mom,” I told him, excitedly.

  “Is she…okay?”

  “I don’t know. But I’m going to go find out. ” I headed to leave, but stopped at the doorway. “You want to come with me?”

  “Wouldn’t you rather go wake up Alex,” Laylen said, still standing over by the sink. “I’m sure he has a ton of questions for her. ”

  I had a ton of questions for her, but I needed to make sure she was alright before I started bombarding her with them, which was exactly why I wasn’t going to go wake up Alex. “I’d rather you come. ”

  “Okay. ” He nodded and followed me out of the kitchen.

  During our thirty second walk to my mom, I asked Laylen how things had been while Alex and I were gone. He told me they had been fine—that everything was fine—but I could tell that they weren’t. He seemed really unfocused. I decided that a little later I would ask Aislin how he had been while we were gone. But first, I needed to check on my mother.

  She wasn’t in the bed when we entered the room. She was out on the deck, staring out at the ocean. I carefully approached her, the floorboards creaking underneath my weight, but she didn’t turn around.

  I came to a stop beside her and handed her the cup of water. She took a few swallows and set the glass on the railing. I waited for her to say something, but all she did was look out at the ocean with a lost expression on her face.

  “Mom,” I said, concerned she might have slipped into a state of shock again.

  My mother turned and looked at me. Then her eyes moved to Laylen. “Laylen…is that you?”

  He stepped up beside me. “Yeah, it’s me. ”

  She smiled, but it looked wrong, like she had to work really hard to make the corners of her mouth curve upward. “You’ve grown up so much. ” She looked at me, and in the brightness of the rising sun, I could see her eyes held a deep sorrow in them. “And you…” she burst into tears, alarming me. “You’re—You’re still…” she trailed off, thinking about something as tears continued to stream down her cheeks. Then she let out a sigh. “You’re still you. ”

  I wasn’t sure what to tell her—that I wasn’t still me, but someone trying to figure out how to be me. But I was afraid saying this might break her heart, and she already looked really broken.