Broken visions, p.4
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       Broken Visions, p.4

         Part #3 of Shattered Promises series by Jessica Sorensen
 
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  The prickle continues to dance on my neck, little pointed shoes made of sharp metal. Poking. Poking. Poking. Tormenting me. My emotions are on overdrive and I start to wonder if this is really about feeling bad for Nicholas or feeling bad for Alex too because I'm keeping such a huge secret from him. But I can't help it. Every time I open my mouth, it seems as though another problem arises.

  Dizziness overcomes me again. "I think I'm going to be..." I drop to the ground like a bag of bricks. The last thing I see is the sunlight before the sky above me darkens like nighttime only the stars are missing.

  ***

  I wake up in the bed at the beach house, surrounded by curtains flapping in the light sea breeze. The door is open and I can hear voices coming from the living room. My head feels a lot clearer, although my body a little achy, but I still manage to easily sit up and swing my feet over the edge of the bed.

  "Feeling better?" Alex's voice alarms me as he enters the room.

  I stretch my arms out above my head and yawn. "Yeah, I think so. Although, I felt better the last time I passed out and still did it again about five minutes later."

  He crosses the room to sit down on the bed, nervous energy gently flowing off him. "You're starting to worry me with all the times you blacked out." He puts a hand on my forehead. "I'm worried that maybe... maybe I'm doing it somehow unintentionally."

  "What do you mean? Why would you being doing it?" My walls start to go back up. It's not that I don't trust Alex, but at the same time our past has been full of lies and I can't help but be wary.

  He puts his hand on my knee, his grip firm, subtly holding me in place. "I have to tell you something... about me." More tension builds and I calculate the distance to the door. "Relax," he says. "It's not something that's going to be life crushing, it's just something... well, something I don't tell a hell of a lot of people."

  I meet his penetrating gaze. "Then why are you telling me?"

  "Because I want you to trust me and trust comes from telling stuff I might not want to tell."

  "Okay. I'm listening."

  He takes a deep breath. "I have an ability that I haven't told you about yet." He pauses. "I can..." he withdraws his hand away from my leg to yank it through his brown hair, making it stick up in various directions, giving him that bedhead sexy look I love so much. "I can drain energy from people."

  I think of the energy flowing around inside me right now, connected to him through the star. "When you say people, do you mean everyone or just me?"

  "Everyone for the most part. I can make them tired when I need to, but with you, it works a little bit different. I literally drain the energy from you."

  "Have you done it to me before?"

  "Not that I know of or can remember," he says. "Although, from the details you told me about what happened when you tried to kill me and you were possessed, it sounded like I might have. And now I'm starting to wonder with all this passing out that you keep doing, if maybe I'm unintentionally doing it to you."

  "I don't think that's what it is. What happened at the beach, at least the last time, felt like it came from my emotions. Sometimes it feels like they're too much to bare so my body just sort of shuts down." I could get angry that he didn't tell me about his ability earlier, but I'd be a hypocrite since I've been keeping something from him too.

  Avoiding his gaze, I summon the strength to finally put the inevitable out there. "I need to tell you something." I force myself to meet his gaze. "About you and me... and it's bad.... Something your father told me while I was at the Wastelands." As soon as I mention his father, hatred mixed with vulnerability masks his face. "He told me that if you and I," I motion between us repeatedly, stalling. "If we... if we feel too much for each other... fall in love then the star's power will eventually fade and die and you and I... you and I will fade away and die right along with it." Wow, that hurt more than I thought. A deep, tender ache begins to grow inside my chest, as if my heart is hollowing out.

  He sits there for what feels like an eternity and I swear I actually can see when the lights go off in his eyes. "Well, okay then." He gets to his feet.

  "That's all you have to say?" I follow after him as he strides out of the room, determined not to look at me. "After what I just told you."

  He pauses, turning to face me, eyes cold as the day we first met. "What do you want me to say?" he asks. "We can't be near each other, so we won't."

  "I never said we couldn't be near each other. Just that we couldn't feel..." The word was so hard to say, so foreign, never felt.

  "Love," he finishes for me. "It's all the same." With that, he walks away and this time I let him, wondering if he meant that when he was around me, he does feel love.

  Chapter 6

  I let Alex be for the next few hours, figuring it's probably for the best. Let him be irritated with me. Still, it's hard being in the same room with him, knowing that all those intense, passionate, in-the-heat-of-the-moments were going to be no more.

  "Is this really necessary?" I ask Alex the same question I've been asking him for a while. We're in the garage, the doors closed, the window blocked by a shelf so the only light is coming from the ceiling and the only way to see what's going on in here is by entering the garage, which is good, since if a neighbor or something saw the scene in front of me, they'd more than likely call the cops.

  Alex shrugs and then cracks his knuckles. "Maybe." It's hotter than hell in here, musty, stuffy. He has his shirt off, sweat dripping down his chest, his jeans riding low on his hips, giving me a full few of the muscles carving his midsection.

  It's almost like he's taunting me, ha ha this is what you can't have anymore. So I try to stop staring at him and concentrate on what's going on, but I'm not sure it makes me feel any better. Despite my loathing for Nicholas, seeing him tied up and being tortured is a bit difficult to watch. After Alex dragged him back to the house, he bound his hands with rope and then secured the rope to a beam that ran along the ceiling in the garage, pulling it tight enough that Nicholas is forced to stand on his tiptoes or hang from his arms. His lip is cut and bleeding, his skin is scraped on his side, and blood covers various parts of his body. His sandy blond hair is damp with sweat and his shoes fell off somewhere.

  "Tell me what you know about what happened back on the beach," Alex demands as he paces in front of Nicholas.

  Nicholas laughs but it's laced with pain. "Never."

  Alex cranes his arms back and without warning, punches Nicholas in the stomach. "You better talk or it's going to get a hell of a lot worse."

  Nicholas grunts, his back curved from the impact. He breathes in and out before speaking again, forcing a light tone. "You know, it's actually starting to tickle."

  Alex clocks him again, this time in the ribs. I cringe at the cracking noise, like bones breaking. "I could do this all day," Alex tells Nicholas as he brings his arm up and slams his fist into Nicholas's jaw.

  This continues for what feels like forever and I watch, wondering if I'm any better for doing nothing. Just when I've come close to talking myself into leaving, the door opens up and Aislin enters. She has a handful of grapes and offers me some as if we're snacking and watching a movie.

  Still, my belly is empty and I gratefully take some. "We should do something," I tell her, popping a grape into my mouth.

  She looks at Alex as he takes another swing. "Like what? I hate to say it, but this needs to be done."

  "Isn't there another way?" I ask, eating another grape. "Like maybe you could do a spell to get him to confess."

  She finishes off the last of the grapes. "I can't."

  "Why not?"

  "Didn't Alex tell you? I lost my spell book."

  "What? How?"

  She shrugs, wiping her fingers on the sides of her jeans. "I'm not sure, but while you were passed out, I was sitting there looking through it and suddenly it disappeared. I have no idea what could have happened to it other than maybe another powerful witch did a Power of Possession spell a
nd took it. Although what the hell they'd want with it is beyond me."

  "Maybe it has a spell in there that theirs didn't."

  "Maybe, but I doubt it," she says. "It was actually a pretty typical spell book, well at least from what I understand."

  An image of a blond haired girl with blue eyes, wearing gloves and a wicked grin, holding Aislin's spell book pops into my head. The girl is with Laylen, talking to him like they're old friends, laughing as she tosses her hair from her shoulder. But as quickly as the images appears, it dissolves.

  "Have you heard anything from Laylen by chance?" I massage the sides of my head with my fingertips. I think I might be exhausted and in need of some mental rest.

  Aislin shakes her head, folding her arms over her chest. "Not yet."

  "What about my mom?"

  "No... Well, she checked in about an hour ago. Said she was in town and was going to keep looking."

  "I worry about her being alone, especially since she just got out of The Underworld."

  Aislin smiles sympathetically. "Don't worry. She's a Keeper and we're taught to recover quicker than most."

  "Mentally recover?" I frown over at Alex with doubt. "Because it seems like he might be proving that theory wrong."

  "That's just Alex." She pats my arm in a friendly manner. "And trust me, this is much better than how he used to be."

  Alex continues to beat up Nicholas with no progress until finally I can't take it anymore. I march forward and snag Alex's arm before he can hit Nicholas again. His skin nearly scalds mine, mainly because the anger inside him is causing the sparks to crackle like fire. But I refuse to let him go and instead catch his eye. "Look, I know he's annoying and everything, but still... killing him isn't going to help us and beating him up isn't getting him to talk."

  "Back off Gemma," Alex says through gritted teeth as he scowls down at my hand on his arm.

  I free his arm. "No." I lean forward and whisper, "Look, I get that you're pissed off at me for what I told you, but take it out on me not him."

  "You pity him." He's baffled. "Seriously?"

  I shake my head. "No, I just hate watching all this pointless violence and I don't want you doing something that's going to make you hate yourself. Like kill him."

  "I wouldn't hate myself if I did that," he assures me., wiping the sweat from his brow. "In fact, I'd be glad."

  "Don't do that," I tell him, gently taking his hand. "Don't put up that tough guy douche bag facade again and go back to being a douche."

  He stares at me intensely for a moment and I think I might be getting through to him, but then he's glaring at me and yanking his hand away. "Don't touch me."

  It stings just a little, but I think I know enough to understand that he might just be hurting and this is his way of dealing with it. So I just stare at him, because arguing is pointless. The longer it goes on, the more stifling things get. The more the electricity coils in places it shouldn't. The more my fingers beg to touch him, rip the remaining clothes from his body.

  Then Nicholas busts up laughing and shatters the moment. "Oh my God, look at you two. You both want to be together so badly, yet, if you do, you'll more than likely fall in love and kill each other. It's fucking hilarious."

  Alex turns toward him, jaw set tight. "What did you just say?" His hands enfold into fists.

  Nicholas gives him a bloody smirk. "I didn't say anything."

  Alex takes a few threatening steps toward him, his boots scuffing the cement floor. "What do you know about Gemma and I killing one another if we fall in love?"

  "Wait a minute?" Aislin rushes forward. "What do you mean you'll kill each other if you fall in love?" She puts her hands on her hips as she scowls at me then at Alex. "Why am I just hearing about this?"

  "Because it doesn't matter at the moment." Alex waves her off, his gaze fixed on Nicholas. "Now start talking before I start beating the shit out of you again."

  Nicholas shakes his head, his body swaying with the rope. Alex's skin reddens with rage as he elevates his fist. "God dammit. Why do you have to be such a pain in the ass?"

  Nicholas writhes his body and attempts to wiggle his arms from the rope. But he's helpless and I think he knows it. Hell, there's so much blood on his face and clothes, it looks like he should be dead already. "Alright... I'll tell you." He pauses, his body still, relaxing. "But I want something in return." His gaze flicks in my direction.

  Alex shakes his head as I tense. "No way."

  "Then no deal," Nicholas says with a shrug, struggling to keep his toes on the floor.

  "I don't think you're in much of a position to be making bargains." Alex lowers his arm to crack his knuckles. "Or do I need to remind you of that?"

  "What do you want?" I step between them. "It doesn't hurt to hear what he wants."

  "Gemma, be careful," Alex warns, but I shush him, putting my finger across his lips.

  "Let's just hear him out and then make a decision, okay?" I say. His breath quickens simply from my touch. I'm starting to wonder just how powerful of a hold I have over him. Well, not me but the electricity. Biting my lip, I lower my finger, and then wait for Alex to say something, when he doesn't, I turn to Nicholas. "What do you want?"

  The humor erases from Nicholas's face and he momentarily looks human, but I have to remember all the things he's done and the fact that he has the ability to manipulate my mind and make me see things that aren't real. "I want to stay here," he says.

  "You want to what?" I gape at him. That wasn't what I was expecting at all.

  "I want to stay here," he repeats as Alex shakes his head and Aislin makes this strangled, shocked noise. "After I tell you what I know, I want to be able to hang around here for a while."

  "No way," Alex protests. "There's no chance in hell that'll ever happen."

  "Yeah, I don't think that's such a good idea either." I point to the red and black triangular mark on Nicholas's forearm--the Mark of Malefiscus, pure evil. "Especially considering you have that on you and I know firsthand just how powerful that thing is."

  "I know you do." His eyes twinkle with the knowledge that he might know all about the vision erased and what happened. It would make sense since he's a Foreseer and they can see practically everything. "And this mark is why I want to stay," Nicholas explains, rope trying to get his footing as sweat drips down his face to hips lips and jaw. "If Stephan can't find me, then he can't force me do things for him."

  I look over at Alex. "Is that true?"

  Alex shrugs. "I have no idea how the mark works, other than it's pure evil and the person who has it has to have evil in..." He trails off, recalling that in another time I had the mark.

  "It's okay. I've already come to the conclusion that I have evil in my blood." I shrug, pretending it's no big deal. "And I think I know where it comes from now--from my father."

  "You sure about that?" Nicholas questions with amusement.

  "What do you know about it?" I wonder, suddenly seeing why Alex gets so frustrated with him.

  He gives a shrug, but it looks awkward with his arms restrained above his head. "Let me go and stay here and I'll tell you."

  I tread with caution. "If we do that, then how do we know you're telling the truth and how can we trust you? You don't have a very good track record."

  A grin expands across his face. "Guess you'll just have to take that risk."

  Dammit. Why does the one person who seems to have the answers have to be a very obnoxious faerie/Foreseer that loves twisting things into riddles and making everything complicated?

  I exchange a look with Alex and Aislin. "What do you guys think we should do?"

  "I don't know...do you think we can trust him?" Aislin asked Alex with wariness.

  He folds his arms across his chest, appearing annoyed and lost amongst many other things. "I have no fucking clue."

  I glance down at the faint scar on my palm and get an idea. I extend my hand out in front of me, palm up. "I have an idea," I say then look at Nicholas. "Would
you be willing to do a Blood Promise that you wouldn't do anything harmful to anyone and that you would tell us what we need to know in exchange for your freedom and staying here?"

  Alex promptly starts protesting. "No fucking way," he says, at the same time Nicholas remarks, "Clever girl."

  "Why not?" I ask Alex, lowering my hand to my side. "It's not like it's a bad thing to do or anything and it'll help us make sure this all works out the way that we want it to."

  "Blood Promises can go wrong, Gemma." Alex frowns as he traces the scar on the palm of his hand. "The promise is unbreakable--you can't take it back. And if you say the wrong thing, you can end up making a promise you didn't intend to make."

  "Is that what happened with us?" I ask, raising my brows in accusation. "Did you say the wrong thing? Or is it that you just want to take it back?"

  He looks taken aback. "Why would you say that?"

  I shrug indifferently. "Well, it'd make things easier right now for you, wouldn't it?"

  He steps closer to me. "Even if we never made the promise, I'd still..." His tongue slips out of his mouth and wets his lips as he struggles for words. "I'd still fucking hate what's going on more than I've ever hated anything in my entire life." He takes another step toward me, so close the tips of our shoes brush against each other. "What I feel for you isn't based on some stupid star or promise or anything other than my emotions."

 
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