Fractured souls, p.41
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       Fractured Souls, p.41

         Part #2 of Shattered Promises series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 41

 

  “I’m not going to sit around and do nothing,” I tell him. “But I’ll come back and check on my mother, then I’m going out again. ”

  “Then you can come look with me,” he replies with a silent plea in his voice. “I need you… I need you close to me. I can barely concentrate because all I keep thinking about is that something is going to happen to you. ” He’s acting strange and I wonder if something’s wrong with him, like maybe he’s found Laylen and it’s bad.

  I’m about to tell him I’ll head back, when I hear Aislin call out my name. It sounds like it came from somewhere down the shore behind me so I turn around and head in that direction. “I gotta go. I just heard Aislin call out my name…” I scan the shore with my hand shielding my eyes to block the glare of the sunrise. “She might need my help. ”

  “Be careful,” he warns as I run up the shore. “And call me back. ”

  “I will. ” I hang up as I reach an assembly of cliffy rocks that the waves crash into. There’s a slender, sandy path that winds between them, disappearing around a corner a ways in.

  “Gemma!” Her voice is as clear as day and is coming from inside the rocks. “Gemma, I need your help. I fell off the rocks and I think I might have broken my leg. ”

  I sigh. “All right, I’m coming!” I put my phone in my back pocket along with my flashlight and dash down the path. Sand seeps between my toes and the echo of the waves shatter against the jagged rocks. The farther I get, the narrower the path becomes until I have to maneuver over sections of the rock that are nearly touching.

  “Aislin!” I yell as I grab onto a lip on the rock and hop over it onto the path.

  “Back here!” she hollers. “Please hurry. It hurts so badly. ”

  “I’m coming!” I split my knee open as I climb over a larger rock and then twist my ankle as I dismount onto the path. I hobble up the rest of the path, clutching onto the rock wall, until I reach a dead end.

  I glance around at the empty space. “Aislin, where are you!”

  “Right here!” He voice floats over my shoulder and I spin around, with my arms out into front of me.

  There’s nothing behind me other than rocks and sand. I start to panic, reaching for my pocket and my phone, but something bumps my elbow. The impact lurches me forward and I trip over my feet then stumble to the ground, landing on my hands and knees.

  I push up to my feet and quickly turn in a circle with my hands out to the sides of me. “Who’s there?”

  “Me,” Aislin says and her voice sounds like it’s everywhere. “I need your help, Gemma. ”

  I need to get the hell out of here. I run toward the path and bend my knees to leap over the rock, but an invisible force rams me in the stomach. I fall back down into the sand and land on my back, my head slamming against the side of the rough sandpaper rock.

  My scalp splits open and blood oozes out, drenching my hair. As I blink up at the sky, my ears ring and my thoughts jumble together in incoherent images. There’s a glimmer of light from the afterglow of the sun and then Aislin appears above me. Her green eyes shine like two lustrous emeralds, her smile is cheerful, and her golden brown hair blows in the breeze.

  “Hey,” she says cheerfully and then her smile plummets to a scowl. There’s another flash of light and then her green eyes shift gold and her golden brown hair morphs to sandy blond as it shortens to the top of his head. “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” Nicholas says, hovering above me with a shovel in his hand. “Glad to see that damn spell that Witch put on you finally wore off. God, I’ve missed fucking with your head. ”

  I moan, clutching my head as I roll to my side. “No…”

  “I bet I know what you’re thinking,” he says. “Why, oh why did I hit Nicholas over the head with a rain stick. ” He raises the shovel over his head. “Payback’s a bitch. ”

  I open my mouth to scream, but it gets cut off as he slams the shovel against my skull. The vibration of the impact reverberates through my brain. I cry out, but the sound of my voice quickly fades along with the world and my body as I disappear into darkness.

  Chapter 34

  When I open my eyes again, I’m worried I’ll be buried alive in the sand. What I see, though, makes me wish I was. I’ve been to this place before, when Laylen bit me and I passed out. Also in a few of my dreams. I’ve seen myself trapped in this land with Stephan as he turns me into something evil.

  Acres of muddy land stretch as far as my eye can see and are buried beneath piles of twisted and warped metal objects. Some look like junk and others like art and the deep shades of grey in the sky blend well with everything.

  I slowly sit up, fighting the excruciating ache inside my skull, and glance around, knowing that something bad is about to happen. I can sense it in the metallic air, feel it in my aching bones, and I’ve also seen it, way too clearly before.

  Black ravens caw above my head and shower black feathers all over like ash. I push to my feet and check my pockets for my phone, but not surprisingly, they’re empty. I try to summon the energy inside my body to Foresee my way out of here, but I can’t so much as feel a spark. There’s praesidium nearby; I can feel it hindering my power.

  I place my hand on top of my head and wince at the large lump where the shovel hit me. “Damn bastard Faerie. ”

  “Yes, the Fey can be conniving little creatures,” Stephan’s cold voice rises over my shoulders and I whirl around before instantly stepping back.

  He’s leaning against a shiny, metallic sphere about the size of a compact car with his arms crossed. He’s dressed in a black shirt and slacks, a golden chain hangs around his neck, and his dark eyes match his hair. His scar is also more evident than ever. He’s not carrying a weapon, but I doubt he thinks he needs one. I wish he was wrong, however I know I’m nothing but an ordinary girl who has a lot of useless power trapped inside her.

  “Gemma Lucas, my star and the girl who’s caused me a great amount of trouble over the last few weeks. ” Stephan’s coal eyes study me, his face carrying confusion and intrigue. “You’ve been a busy girl. ”

  “And you’ve been a busy villain. ” I take a step back and my elbow bumps against a stack of crinkled metal boxes. “Creating stars, destroying your children, ruining lives. ”

  He only smiles as he stands up straight, squaring his broad shoulders. “So I see you’ve discovered some of my secrets. ” He weaves around a pile of wire and then stations himself in front of it, only a few steps away from me. “Tell me, Gemma,” he stuffs his hands into his pockets and his grin widens. “Have the nightmares and power been getting to you?

  “What nightmares and power. ” I play dumb, dodging to the side, but end up smacking into a stack of iron rod spears.

  “Smart girl,” he says. “A lot smarter than that son of mine. ” He shuffles closer to me, removing his hands from his pockets and starts unbuttoning the sleeves of his shirt. “I tried and tried to teach him to be more like you, so accepting to being emotionally detached, yet he just couldn’t seem to get the hang of it. ”

  “You mean by beating him?” I question daringly, glancing around for an escape route.

  He shrugs, rolling up his sleeve. “I had to do it some way, since his damn soul refused to take to Sophia’s gift, the unus quisnam aufero animus. Such a beautiful thing, watching someone’s soul getting detached,” he muses. “But I never could figure out why it wouldn’t work on Alex,” he says as he rolls up his other sleeve. “Other than maybe he was in love with you and too weak to succumb to it. ”

  “That doesn’t make him weak. It makes him strong,” I say, staring at the mark on his arm. It’s strange looking, not quite like Laylen’s Mark of Immortality, but similar. The lines are just a little more angled and the black bleeds out on his skin.

  He laughs as he turns his other arm over, revealing the black and red triangle inked on his forearm. “We’ll see who’s really weak here in a few moments, won’t we?”

  I quickly s
tep back, but crash into the sizeable pile of steel cubes. I skitter out of the way as they clatter down to the ground, then dodge to my left and sprint across the dirt, winding through the loads of metal objects and bolting for the hill. I climb up it and then slide down it before racing off toward a section of antique cars are wasting away. It’s like a maze where every turn leads to another turn until I finally reach a dead end. The ravens are thick and cloud the sky as more feathers rain down.

  “Oh, Gemma,” Stephan calls out and his voice sounds like it’s everywhere; beneath me, above me, behind me. “You and I both know how this is going to end. We’ve both seen how this is going to go. ”

  I swallow hard as I sprint in other direction toward a mid-sized car with a concaved roof. I pry open the door, then duck inside, lying down on the torn leather bench seat and then maneuver the door shut. The fact that Stephan knows about my nightmares and knows what I’ve been seeing makes me wonder if Nicholas has been tapping into my future and replaying it to Stephan.

  “If you’d just come out, it’d be simpler,” Stephan says and I hold my breath at the nearness of his voice. “I’ll make it quick. I promise. ”

  My chest heaves as I struggle for air and fight to remain still. Nervous energy is charging through me and my heart is beating so loudly I’m worried Stephan can hear it.

  “You know, it could be beneficial,” he tells me, his footsteps loudening. “Feeling evil is a lot easier than feeling things like love. Although, I know you don’t understand that emotion yet. ”

  I throw my hands over my mouth as I spot him through the window with his back turned toward me. How does he know that I haven’t felt love yet?

  “You’re probably wondering how I know you haven’t felt that appalling emotion that only belongs to the weak minded. ” He angles his neck back and stares up at the ravens in the sky, a halo of black feathers around his head. “How could I possibly know that you haven’t been in love with anyone, even my son… although, I think he’s probably getting there with you. " He turns to the right and starts walking toward a small dirt hill rolling in the distance. “See, here’s the thing. You two were never meant to be with each other. ”

  I touch the scar on the palm of my hand, telling myself that he’s wrong, that he has no idea what he’s talking about. Forem. We belong together. Forever… maybe.

  “But just because you weren’t meant to be together,” he says. “Doesn’t mean you weren’t going to try. Let me tell you something, though, love is way overrated. It makes humans weak and stupid. ” He starts to climb up the hill, his voice growing louder as he brings himself higher toward the grey sky. “It makes you do stupid things like go against everything you’ve been taught. Alex giving you that locket was very wrong of him and made it impossible for me to get to you, at least for a while. ”