The promise, p.4
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       The Promise, p.4

         Part #4 of Fallen Star series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 4

 

  There s a rumor that there s a Keeper that possesses Wicca powers. And she s created a spell that can remove the Mark of Evil.

  Aislin.

  Look,

  I said, prying my arm from her grip.

  Even if that s true, it doesn t mean I know her.

  Then I m afraid I can t help you.

  She started to leave, but I pulled her back.

  You get me to where I need to go first,

  I said.

  And then I ll help you.

  She nodded, obviously the kinder of the witch breed.

  I m Amelia,

  she said as I followed her inside the nearest brick building, which turned out to be her house; a small space, with headless dolls, strange statues, and lots and lots of incense scattered all over the place. She locked the door behind us and went to an armoire, unlocking it with a key she retrieved from her bag. She removed a familiar black candle and purple amethyst, and sat them down on the table.

  Screams rang from upstairs and my hand instinctively moved for my knife.

  My daughter, Anna,

  Amelia clarified, lighting the candle.

  That s why I need your help. She s cursed with the mark that haunts the streets.

  I dropped my hand.

  Are you sure there s no way for her to escape.

  She s chained to the wall.

  The witch pulled out a red pill from the pocket of her black jacket.

  Really?

  I frowned with annoyance.

  You want me to take a mortem pilula.

  It assures me that you ll hold out your end of the deal,

  she said, urging the pill at me.

  No offense, but a Keeper s word means nothing to me.

  Shaking my head, I snatched the pill from her hand, realizing my little plan of screwing her over wasn t possible anymore. Well, unless I wanted to drop dead. I plopped the pill into my mouth and forced it down.

  She smiled, satisfied, then gestured at the floor for me to have a seat.

  Where am I taking you?

  She inched the amethyst toward the flame.

  To Niveo Mountain,

  I replied.

  She jerked the amethyst back from the flame.

  Isn t that where the Keepers Castle is?

  I shoved the candle at her, growing impatient.

  Yeah, but that s not where we re going. We re going to the graveyard.

  Chapter 7

  (Gemma)

  Well don t I feel honored,

  Nicholas said from my bedroom windowsill.

  A visit from two Lucas s. What s the occasion?

  Shut up.

  I rushed for him, my finger waving.

  You re on the crap list for keeping important things from me.

  I m always on that list,

  he said, sweeping the curtain at my window.

  In fact, I think I hold top slot on it.

  I kept moving for the faerie, wishing I could actually get my hands on him and wring his neck.

  You knew all along what I had to do. You wasted weeks of my time. And now there s hardly any time left. December 21st is almost here.

  He held up his hands, grinning.

  That s because you kept asking the wrong questions.

  I clenched my hands.

  God, I wish I could

  Gemma.

  My mother s ghostly voice shivered over my shoulder.

  You need to move past this you have more important things to do.

  I dropped my hands.

  How do I get to the Afterlife? You know, the land of the Lost Souls the Afterlife where the queen reigns.

  I scowled at him.

  There. Was that the right question?

  He clapped his hands.

  Bravo, but I might add how slow you were at figuring it out.

  Answer the question,

  I gritted through my teeth.

  His golden eyes skimmed to my mother.

  Why doesn t she tell you? She s a ghost, isn t she?

  I let out a sharp choke, wanting to cry, but fought back the tears because I had a job to do.

  She doesn t know how to get there. For some reason, she can t cross over. But you re a faerie and a dead one and that gives you a direct connection to the queen, with her being from the faerie world and all.

  Didn t I explain to you once that I m only half-faerie.

  He placed his hand on his chest.

  And that makes other faeries, dead or not, not very fond of me.

  Are you sure that s the real reason why,

  I snapped.

  Because I m sure your amazing personality helps win you fans.

  He shot me a dirty look.

  You know what? I really don t feel like talking to you. Not with that kind of attitude.

  My fist rose.

  You better tell me or I ll &

  Or you ll what?

  He stuck out his bottom lip.

  Hurt me?

  An evil shadow masked his face.

  Just to refresh your memory, you re not the one with the power here.

  He tapped his finger on his lip.

  Now, perhaps if you were really, really nice to me, I might be more willing.

  His eyes scanned me from head-to-toe, making my skin crawl.

  I opened my mouth, to spat fowl words, but a gust of wind whizzed by me. My mother ran past and straight into Nicholas. Surprisingly, she was able to grab him, her ghostly arms encircling his neck.

  You can t make me say anything,

  he said with a choked laugh as his body slammed into the window.

  My mother s wild eyes snapped in my direction.

  I ll be back in a while. Don t go anywhere.

  I nodded, astonished as the two ghosts dissipated into thin air. Then I flopped down on my bed and let the tears pour out. My heart trembled as I mourned my dead mother. She was gone and so was my brief moment of having a mother.

  Alone.

  Always alone.

  I let myself have about five minutes before I pulled it together and went to find Laylen and Aislin so I could tell them what was going on. But when I stepped into the hall, the house was as silent as a graveyard, sending a surge of fear slithering down my spine. I leaned back in my room, sneaking my knife out of the dresser drawer. Then I tiptoed down the hall, heading to Laylen s room, with the knife poised in front of me. My hand appeared steady, which made sense since I was a Keeper now. But every time I faced danger, my heart still pounded like an insane person bumping their head against a wall.

  When I reach Laylen s room, my hand rested motionless on the doorknob. Hesitating, I pressed my ear to the door, but couldn t hear anything. I gently pushed it open. The room was empty. Okay, so maybe they were where Aislin slept. I started to turn, but my shoulder bumped into something solid and I jumped back, letting out a gasp. But it was Laylen.

  You scared the crap out of me,

  I said, pressing my hand to my heart.

  He eyed my knife, lifting an eyebrow.

  What were you doing?

  I shrugged, lowering the knife.

  It seemed a little too quiet and I thought maybe something happened to you guys.

  With his bright blue eyes on me, he took the knife out of my hand and tossed in on the dresser.

  You re going to hurt yourself wandering around with that.

  Hey,

  I said, pretending to be offended.

  I m not as klutzy as I used to be.

  He didn t smile, my joke bombing big time. He backed me into the room and locked the door. The look he was giving me, for some reason, made me think of Talking Head s

  Psycho Killer.

  You know, I don t think I ve told you how thankful I am. How great you ve been to me.

  He fiddled with the knife, cutting a narrow line into the top of the dresser.

  You accepted me, vampire and
all.

  Laylen,

  I said, my voice gentle.

  Just because you re a vampire, doesn t mean you re bad.

  I placed a hand on his arm.

  You re good, you just don t realize it.

  His gaze moved to me, bright blue and beautiful.

  Still & you trust me?

  Of course I trust you,

  I said.

  Sometimes I trust you more than anyone.

  His lips slowly crept up.

  I know you do.

  He lazily moved in front of me, running his fingers down my bare arm.

  You know I never thanked you for that day in the alley, when you saved my life. Letting me bite you like that, it was really amazing.

  I grew uncomfortable, remembering the bite and all the feelings that came with it. My skin warmed, my pulse quickened, and I knew he could sense it.

  I couldn t let you die.

  You could have.

  His fingers grazed my wrist, resting on my vein.

  You didn t have to let me bite you.

  Yes I did.

  My voice came out squeaky.

  He rubbed his lips together, continuing to touch my wrist, watching it with passion.

  Are you okay?

  I asked, trying to capture his gaze.

  You seem kind of &

  He met my eyes.

  Kind of what?

  I swallowed hard, nervous energy bubbling in my chest.

  Off.

  Something in his expression sent a chill down my spine.

  Off how?

  He trailed his hand to my cheek, gently stroking my skin.

  You re so beautiful.

  Most girls would have been flattered. But I knew better. Something was wrong. I grabbed his hand, trying to lift it from my cheek.

  Laylen & I don t think

  He slapped his hand across my mouth.

  Stop talking,

  he said and the dark shift in his eyes wound a knot in my stomach.

  His fangs slid out, like murderous blood seekers, wanting to devour me. I tried to yank away, but he snatched my wrists and crashed into me. His body was ice-cold and so were his eyes. He breathed down my neck, his breath warm against my skin.

  You smell so good & I just can t & can t &

  Then his fangs sunk into my neck.

  I struggled to get away, but he was a vampire and a Keeper and much stronger than me. He shoved me to the bed and I screamed as his fangs dipped deeper.

  Chapter 8

  (Alex)

  So Draven wasn t lying. I d had my doubts about the Lord of the Afterlife telling the truth. Yet, here it was my mother s gravestone.

  I left the witch, Amelia, back at the iron-barred entrance, wanting to do this alone. The graveyard was secured by a loop of trees, the leaves stained pink and orange. Her gravestone was plain, only the initials A. A. No mentioning of her being a mother, no death date. If I d just been passing through, I never would have given the stone a second glance.

  Her journals said that she worried that my father was going to kill her because she knew things she wasn t supposed to know. She also worried he d find out her secret. She d wrote that if all else failed, she d give her soul to the Afterlife, so she could one day reunite with her son and put a stop to my father s evil plan.

  She d known everything. And then she d died.

  I touched the rough headstone, wondering how it happened. Where was she when she breathed her last breath? If I squinted really hard, I could spot the hill that hid the Keepers castle. Anger raged in me as I stormed across the graveyard, kicking up leaves and dust. The wind howled with my anger and I knocked my fist into a tree trunk over and over again, until my knuckles bled.

  Dammit!

  I kicked the tree and some of my toes crunched. I rested my head against the trunk, breathing in and out.

  Come on. Get it together,

  I muttered, trying to calm down.

  Leaves surrounded me as I pushed away from the tree and finished the walk in silence.

  Did you find what you were looking for?

  Amelia asked as I came barging up to the gate.

  I stopped just short of her.

  I need you to take me somewhere else.

  The witch s eyes narrowed.

  Nuh uh. Not until you take me to the witch who can remove the mark.

  Look,

  I said with zero tolerance.

  I ll get your daughter s mark removed, but I need to make a stop first. It s important.

  She pointed her sharp fingernail at my chest.

  Should I remind you about our bargain?

  Her nail punctured a hole in my shirt and I smacked her hand away.

  Watch it witch,

  I said.

  You re crossing a dangerous line.