The lost soul, p.4
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       The Lost Soul, p.4

         Part #1 of Fallen Souls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 4

 

  I shudder from the feel of his lips and let out a somewhat embarrassing moan.

  We’re out in the field, surrounded by thousands of violets and flourishing trees. The grass hisses at our legs and the grey clouds menace the sky.

  “I’m not trying to cheat. ” With a sword in my hand, I break from his grip and spin, ready to pounce. “I’m just looking for a quicker way. ” The sky grumbles like an empty belly and my eyes elevate to the clouds. “Maybe we should go. I think it’s going to rain. ”

  “A master fighter wouldn’t run from the rain,” he teases like he’s a fighting guru. He rotates on his heels and cuts the grass with the sword.

  “I never claimed to be one. ” I dig the tip of my sword into the ground and lean my weight on it. “And I don’t want to get wet from the rain. ”

  “If you want to go see Nalina,” he says. “Then you’re going to need to know how to protect yourself. You are a Keeper, Gemma. You have it in you. ”

  I stare at the spot in the grassy field where the ground opened up in my dream. “I understand that, but I mean…” I puff a frustrated breath. “This is how it happened, you know. A cloudy sky, a violent storm, the ground opens and then The Queen of the Afterlife steals you. ”

  He lets the sword fall to the ground and he threads his fingers through mine. “Hey, I already said I’m not going anywhere. So just relax. ”

  I hate when he’s so blasé about important stuff. “Fine. ” I poise my sword at him and he scoops his up from the ground. “So now that you’re in a good mood, do you want to share with me why you were so pissed off earlier?”

  He swishes the sword at the air. “I already told you why. ”

  “Youre not just mad that I went to Laylen for help instead of you. There’s something else bugging you. I can tell. ”

  He rubs the back of his neck tensely. “Because you were keeping stuff from me. And I don’t like it. ”

  “I’m sorry,” I apologize. “I just didn’t think you’d be on board with going where Laylen went to get some answers. ”

  “I wouldn’t have been—I’m not. Delmonte is a dangerous vampire—most vampires are. He could be playing you. For all you know that address you have tucked in your pocket could lead you into a vampire trap. ”

  “A trap for what?” I kick a rock out of the way. “What do we have that a vampire would want?”

  His gaze burns my skin. “You. ”

  “Nobody wants me, Alex. ” I move to pivot the sword, but fumble and drop it. “I have no value other than I’m a Keeper who can’t fight with a sword. ”

  “More people want you than you think,” he mumbles, kicking at the dirt.

  Ignoring his comment, I try to make peace. “If you want, you can come with me and Laylen to see Nalina. ”

  He relaxes a little, like he’s been waiting for the invite. “I’ll go, but only if you want me to come. ”

  “I do. ” I flip the sword around. “Now quit being a baby and teach me how to fight. ”

  We practice until the clouds rumble, the sky drizzles, and the air chills. We gather our stuff and hike for the car. By the time we reach it, the rain’s pouring down hard. My hair’s soaked, my shirt’s drenched, and I’m shivering from the rapid temperature drop.

  We hop inside the car and Alex cranks the heater. “And it looked like it was going to be such a great day this morning. ” He peers up at the sky through the rain-splatter windshield.

  I don’t answer, staring through the rain, at a single red rose petal blowing in the wind.

  “What are you looking at?” Alex follows my line of gaze and his eyebrows knit together. “What the hell is that?”

  The rose petal floats unbothered, making a path straight for us, finally residing on the windshield.

  “An omen,” I breathe, fogging up the side window.

  Alex looks from me to the petal and starts to roll the window down.

  “Stop!” I shout, clutching his elbow.

  He gapes at me like I’ve lost my mind. “It’s just a petal, Gemma. I don’t get why you’re freaking out. ”

  “Because Annabella’s world is full of them,” I say quietly, a chill spilling through my body. “Now can we go? Please. I have a bad feeling. ”

  He hesitates, then shifts the car into reverse and backs up. Gravel and sludge whip against the mud flaps. The tires spin and the engine roars before stalling over.

  “You have got to be kidding me. ” I grimace.

  Alex holds up a finger. “Give it a second. ” He turns the key in the ignition and the engine makes a noise like a dying cat. It happens over and over again, until he throws his hands in the air. “Stupid piece of crap. ” He bangs on the steering wheel, but then gives it an apologetic look.

  I raise my eyebrows at him. “Guys are so weird about their cars. ”

  He pats the steering wheeling gently. “This isn’t just a car, Gemma. It’s a 1969 Chevy Camaro. ”

  “Sorry,” I apologize with exaggerated eye widening. “Do you want me to take us back to the castle?”

  He shakes his head swiftly. “I told you I don’t want you using your Foreseer power unless it’s an emergency. ”

  I motion at the hood of the car, sizzling against the rain. “This kind of seems like an emergency. ”

  “It isn’t an emergency until someone’s running for their life. ” He moves his hand behind my neck and draws me closer, ready to fog up the windows more than they already are.

  I put my hand over his mouth. “I think we should go back. ” My gaze flashes to the rose petal. “I have a really bad feeling. ”

  He lifts my hand away from his mouth. “Five minutes and if the rain doesn’t let up, you can take us back. ”

  I’m torn between wanting to get the hell out of this field and wanting to kiss him. My hormones end up winning. I slant my body over the console and kiss him. His hands find the small of my back and he guides me onto his lap, tangling his fingers in my hair. The rain beats faster, showing no sign of letting up. His lips travel down my jawline, my throat, my shoulder. I feel it again, emotions aching through my body and I want to bolt.

  “Alex,” I groan, debating. “I think we should…”

  Suddenly, like a tornado swooped through, the car windows shatter. Sharp rays of glass tear through the air. Alex protects my head with his arms, pressing my cheek against his chest, which is rising and falling with shocked breaths.

  “What the heck was that?” I peek up. White and red rose petals, like blood and snow, funnel toward the car. “Alex we have to go. Now!”

  He nods as the car jolts to the side. I grip onto his shoulders, feeling a burn in my heart, as if something is trying to enter through my chest. I shut my eyes, picturing the grey stone castle. The car lurches again and Alex’s fingers dig into my hips.

  “Gemma…” There’s warning in his voice.

  I snap my brain into focus, picturing the peaking towers of the castle, the lake that ovals the ground in front of it. A shiver ices my blood. I sense the presence of the Queen. I feel death like a cold winter. Right as it consumes me, I take us away, leaving all of it far behind.

  ***

  Foreseeing in a state of panic should be against the laws of the Foreseers. Because it doesn’t mix well. Somehow, I drop us in a tree. Plunging toward the ground, Alex manages to snag onto a branch. The sharp edges stab at my skin as I’m yanked to a stop, grasping onto him.

  “Grab onto that branch,” he orders, giving me a gentle swing to the right.

  I stretch my arms, hitch the branch, and grind to a halt, panting for air. Slipping my hand out of Alex’s, I hook onto the branch and swing my legs up, securing myself on top of a thick branch.

  Alex heaves up and balances on another branch. “I’d like to know how you ended up dropping us off here. ”

  I catch my breath. “I have no idea, other than it might have been the feeling of death. ”

  He scoots to the back of the
branch. “The feeling of death?”

  I inch to the trunk, ripping away leaves in my path. “Yeah, didn’t you feel it?”

  He leaps to a V in the trunk, extends his hand, and helps me to a flat spot. “Gemma, I’m not sure you felt death,” he says. “You and I’ve felt death before, remember?”

  “I didn’t feel like I was dying. ” I scale down the branch, my senses sharp to the sounds of the forest and the feeling that we’re not alone. “It felt like death—cold, empty, frightening. And those flowers represent death—or life after death, I guess. You really didn’t feel it?” My feet touch the ground as he jumps the last few feet, his shoes hitting the dirt with a thud.

  “The only thing I felt was a lot of wind. ” He plucks a fragment of glass from my hair. “And a lot of glass. ” He pauses. “It was just a storm Gemma. And storms happen sometimes. ”

  We weave through the trees, hiking along the shore of the lake, in the direction of the castle. I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something following us, but every time I check over my shoulder, no one’s there.

  “I know she was there,” I mumble, dodging a fallen tree. “I could feel her. ”

  “The Queen of The Afterlife?” Alex checks. “You know she can’t come up to the Human Realm, right? It’s forbidden. ”

  “Just because it’s forbidden,” I duck under a canopy of leaves, “doesn’t make it impossible. ”

  Alex scratches his head, at-a-loss for words. We make the rest of our journey to the castle in silence. At one point he takes my hand and caresses his thumb along the star on my wrist like he’s reassuring himself that it’s still there.

  But what if it wasn’t? Would he still be my other half?

  Chapter 5

  “He found out,” I announce to Laylen as I arrive solo into the living room of the castle. The lamp is on and a fire crackles in the fireplace, lighting up the night creeping through the windows.

  Laylen sets down the book he was reading. “Who found out what?”

  I flop down on the couch and let my exhausted arms drape on the armrests. “Alex found out about our little rendezvous tonight. ”

  His face falls. “Is that why you’re covered in scratches?"

  I glance at the red lines on my arms. “No, that was from a… windstorm. ”

  “Why did you say windstorm like that? Like you really didn’t believe it?”

  “Because I don’t believe it was a windstorm. ” My head falls against the back of the couch and I stare up at the domed ceiling. “I think the Queen of The Afterlife might be after us. ”

  “W-what,” he stammers. “How did you—again, what?”

  I quickly give him the details of my dream.

  “Son of a bitch. ” His wide eyes look like pieces of blue sea glass. “I thought we were done with all that junk. You know, the death, the kidnappings. ”

  I shrug, picking the dirt out of my fingernails. “Maybe we are. It was just a dream. At least Alex seems to think so. ”