The lost soul, p.5
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       The Lost Soul, p.5

         Part #1 of Fallen Souls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 5

 

  Laylen sucks on his lip ring. “No he doesn’t. He just won’t admit it. But I can almost guarantee that right now, he’s upstairs trying to figure out if the Queen of The Afterlife can cross over. ”

  I glance over my shoulder at the hallway. “You think?”

  “I’m guessing. ” He rises to his feet, picks up the book, and tucks it under his arm. “Do you want to still meet up tonight?”

  “Absolutely,” I say as we squeeze out of the room. “I have no desire to put my father’s rescue mission on hold. ”

  He gives me a small smile. “I didn’t think so. ”

  We part ways at the top of the stairway. I smack myself in the forehead, realizing I forgot to tell him that I invited Alex too. When I reach Alex’s room, I enter without knocking. The bed’s made, the ceiling light’s on, and the bay window is wide open, blowing in the cold air. I rush over and lock it.

  “Alex,” I call out, hugging my arms around myself.

  The bathroom door is closed. I know better than to walk in there without knocking.

  “Alex,” I say, keeping my distance from the door. “Are you in there?”

  “Yeah. ” He coughs. “Can you come in here? I need your help with something. ”

  I step back. “No thanks. I think I’ll wait out here. ”

  The door swings open and fog pours out. From the doorway, Alex greets me with an annoyed look. “Really. ”

  “You’re in the bathroom. ” I shrug. “How am I supposed to respond?”

  He shakes his head and tugs me inside the confined area. The shower’s running and the heat fogs the elongated mirror. The porcelain sink is speckled with blood and muddy boot prints track the tile floor.

  “Are you hurt?” I ask, noticing he’s grasping his side.

  He holds up a finger. “Now don’t freak out. ” He exhales loudly and yanks off his shirt.

  I fling my hand over my mouth. Across his muscular chest is an enormous gash, bleeding profusely. “Why didn’t you say anything earlier?” I breathe through my hand.

  He lowers my hand from my mouth. “That’s the part I need you not to freak out about… It just happened. ”

  My eyes scan the bathroom walls and the corner shower. “Did you fall or something?”

  He turns on the sink faucet and dips a hand towel under the water. “When we got back, I felt this sting across my chest. When I looked, the cut was just there. ”

  I hate blood, but not wanting to come off as an unsympathetic jerk, I gently touch the edge of the cut, forcing back my gag reflexes. “Are you sure you just didn’t feel it until we got back? It looks like a piece of glass could have done it. ” Actually, it doesn’t. It looks like a large, jagged knife took a beating to him.

  “I’m sure it wasn’t from the glass. ” He presses the wet towel against his chest and winces. “I actually felt when it cut me. ” He points to the medicine cabinet behind me. “Could you get me some peroxide out of there?”

  I open the cabinet and hand him the peroxide. He unscrews the lid and douses his skin with the bubbling solution, his face twisting in pain. He shoves the bottle back at me, every muscle in his body taut. I set the bottle on the counter and take out a roll of gauze. I turn my head away and hand it to him.

  “I think it might need stitches. ” He takes the gauze.

  I fix my eyes on the wound and measure the severity. “Maybe, but I’m not an expert. ” My fingers outline the gash. “Alex, this is deep. Like really, really deep. ”

  “I know,” he says. My hand begins to fall, but he traps it against his rock-hard chest, blood leaking out and staining the fiery Keepers mark circling his ribcage. “That’s why I need you to go in the basement and get the first aid kit. ”

  I nod and leave him in the bathroom to strip off his clothes and climb in the shower. The basement is full of cobwebs tangling the ceiling beams and dark corners. There are narrow rows of shelves. I search them, looking for a white box. I spot it at the top. Planting my sneakers on the bottom shelf, I prop up and snatch the box. My fingers bump a glass surface. A small ball rolls off the shelf, crashes against the cement floor, and splits in half. I step down and pick up the pieces, anger snarling in my veins.

  “He said he didn’t know where it was,” I mutter, turning the pieces over. The glass sparkles with a teal shimmer. “The Crystal of Limitation—he said we’d be better off finding another way. ”

  Clutching the broken halves and the first aid kit, I stomp up the stairs and into the bathroom that connects to Alex’s room. He’s in the shower, the curtain drawn closed, but I don’t care.

  I chuck the kit on the counter loudly to get his attention. The curtain inches open, and Alex peeks out, dark hair dewed with water, a wicked glint in his eyes.

  “Want to join me?” he asks with a mischievous arch of his eyebrow.

  I set the sections of the crystal on the countertop and his face falls.

  “Gemma, I can explain,” he says hastily.

  “I don’t want to hear it. ” I storm out the door. The water shuts off and by the time I step over the threshold, his hand comes down on my shoulders.

  He whirls me around to face him. A towel rides low on his hips, water drips down his solid chest, and his eyes sting with fire. “Would you let me explain first before you go stomping off?”

  I’m flustered by the sight of him half-naked, but refuse to surrender my rage. I fold my arms and impatiently wait.

  He rakes his fingers through his soaked hair, splashing droplets of water all over the place. “Yes, I’ve been hiding the Crystal of Limitation. But it was for a good reason. I didn’t want you to use it. ”

  “That wasn’t your choice to make,” I fume. “I’m the Foreseer. It’s my dad. Therefore, it’s my decision. ”

  He tightens the towel on his waist. “It’s dangerous. The amount of energy you’d have to channel… it could kill you. ”

  “Again, not your decision. You always do this. You hide things because you think you’re helping me, when all you’re doing is hurting me. Do you know how crazy it drives me, knowing my dad is trapped in his own head and I can’t do anything about it?”

  “I understand more than you think,” he mutters, dazing off, then blinking back into focus. “And what’s so wrong with me wanting to protect you? What’s wrong with wanting to protect the one you love? You handed over your soul to keep me alive. ”

  I cross my arms. “And vice-versa. ”

  “Exactly. ” He confines my face in his hands. “That’s why you should understand. I didn’t want you searching for that kind of power. Not after we just got rid of it. ”

  I huff out a furious breath. “It doesn’t matter now because the damn thing’s broken. ”

  I escape from his hands and fume out the door. This time he lets me go. I bang on Laylen’s door. I keep hammering my fist against it until it flies open.

  Laylen’s eyes are wide with shock. “What’s the matter?”

  I slip by him and he shuts the door. There are clothes all over the bed and hangers spilling out of the closet. I pace the floor, anger raging. He watches me, not daring to ask until I’ve calmed down.

  “I can’t believe he’s been lying this whole time,” I finally say. “All this time it’s been hiding down there and he knew. He knew!”

  Laylen rubs his face, confused. “Gemma, I know you’re mad, but would you mind explaining to me what’s going on? Because I’m really lost. ”

  “Alex had the Crystal of Limitation down in the basement the whole time. And now it’s broken. ”

  He catches my arm. “Are you sure he knew it was there?”

  I nod vehemently. “He just admitted it. He said it took too much energy to use it and he didn’t want me going to look for that kind of power. ”

  “That wasn’t his decision to make. ” Laylen releases me. “But still, I can kind of understand where he’s coming from. He was just trying to protect you. ”

  “
Then he should have just told me that to begin with. ”

  “Yeah, but you know how he is. He always keeps stuff like that to himself, thinking he’s doing everyone a favor. ”

  I calm down a little. “I know, but I wish he’d stop. ”

  “Then you should talk to him about it,” Laylen suggests, scooting the hangers into the closet. “Talking helps. ”

  “Have you talked to Aislin yet?” I ask. “Now that Alex knows about Nalina, it’s not a secret anymore. ”

  “I told her, but she’s still pissed. ” He frowns. “She said she’s sick of you and me keeping little secrets. ”

  “I’m sorry. ” I exhale loudly. “This is my fault. I never should have asked you to do any of this. ”

  “What’s done is done. ” Laylen pulls a leather jacket out of the closet. “So we might as well go see what Nalina knows. Perhaps she knows something we haven’t thought of yet. ”

  “Good idea. ” I head for the door. “But we’re going alone. ”

  He laughs, putting on the jacket. “I figured as much. ”

  We hurry down stairs and out the door, stepping into the night. We hop into his black GTO and the engine revs, reminding me that Alex’s car is still stuck out in the field. I pat my pocket, checking that I have my cellphone. When I cool off, I’ll call him and make sure he didn’t wander out there by himself.

  As we drive down the road, I glance back at the castle. The interior lights glow from the tower. I swear I see Alex standing near the window, watching us leave with his hand pressed to the window, waving an eternal good-bye. I turn away, shoving the voice away that whispers a fearful thought to me: I might never see him again.

  Chapter 6

  “Okay, so I’m a super powerful Foreseer, who can read visions of the past and future and this is where I choose to live?” Inside the safety of Laylen’s GTO, I observe the dreary Victorian house with broken shutters and a concaved front deck. “It’s like straight out of the Adam’s Family. ”

  Laylen starts whistling the theme song as we climb out of the car. The night air is chilly and dogs bark from behind the neighbor’s chain link fence. Our shoes crunch the gravel path and creak up the stairs.

  “You want to do the honors?” Laylen signals at the door. “Or should I?”

  “This is my thing, so I’ll do it. ” I bang my fist on the door. The porch light falls off one hinge and wobbles to the side. “Why do we always end up going to places where the houses are falling apart? Why can’t anyone live in a normal place, like in a cul-de-sac?”

  A large man shouts at another man from a small house across the street. We watch as they get in each other’s face, fist tightening, as they prepare for a smack down.

  “Because its places like this that no one wants to come looking for you. ” The voice startles us.

  Our eyes dart to the now open front door. An older woman with grey hair and unwelcoming eyes fills the doorway. She wears a simple black pantsuit and around her neck, a gold chain threads a red teardrop pendant.