Broken visions, p.5
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       Broken Visions, p.5

         Part #3 of Shattered Promises series by Jessica Sorensen
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  We're veering toward forbidden territory, about to jump off the cliff, at least he is. Even though I desperately want him to continue, I need to stop it before he does something he can't take it back.

  "Okay, we'll have to be really careful then when we make the blood promise." I change the subject. "You tell me exactly what to say."

  He looks at me for a fleeting moment with hurt in his eyes before he shoves it all down and moves away from me. "Even with the Blood Promise, if my father shows up, Nicholas will more than likely still have to do what he asks since I'm pretty sure the Mark of Malefiscus is more powerful than a Blood Promise."

  "Okay, well I guess we'll have to make sure your father doesn't find us then," I say. "I think it's worth the risk to get some answers, Alex."

  Alex is unconvinced, but I already have made up my mind and turn to Nicholas. "Okay, you and I will make a Blood Promise. I'll promise you can stay here with us, and you'll promise that you'll answer all of my questions truthfully. And, you won't harm any of us while you're here, got it?"

  Nicholas considers what I said then a grin slowly creeps up on his face. "I want one more thing."

  "No way," I say firmly. "That's the deal. Take it or leave it."

  He nods his head at Aislin. "I want Witch Girl over there to try and find a way to get this mark off my arm."

  My head snaps in Aislin's direction. "Can you do that?"

  Aislin ravels a strand of her hair around her finger. "I don't know...I mean, there might be a spell that could remove a mark, but I've never heard of it, or I might not be powerful enough to actually pull it off. Plus, my spell book is gone so it makes finding the spell to do it even more complicated."

  "You know other witches, don't you?" Nicholas says in a condescending tone. "Talk to them--see if they know how."

  "Maybe I could see if someone knows a spell that would work," Aislin says. "But it's going to take time and a lot of searching probably, in places I don't generally go."

  "We're talking black magic?" Nicholas asks.

  "More or less," Aislin replies and Nicholas seems twistedly pleased by this.

  "Good, then we have a deal." He smirks at all three of us.

  I glance at Alex who's shaking his head, arms folded, muscles taut, but he doesn't utter a word. "Okay, we have a deal," I say, wondering when I became the spokesperson of the group. I stick my hand in Alex's direction. "Do you have a knife on you? So I can cut my hand and make the promise."

  Still frustrated, he stuffs his hand into the pocket of his jeans and retrieves a small, silver knife. "I still don't think this is a good idea."

  I take the knife from him and flip open the blade. I try to keep a steady hand as I aim the knife at my palm. "So I just cut and then what?"

  Alex sighs, finally giving up on being stubborn, then takes the knife from me, and then holds my hand in his. He draws a line across the scar on my palm with his thumb before releasing my hand. "I need your other hand to do it."

  I give him my other hand like he asks. "Can we not do the promise in the same place twice or something?"

  His head is angled down so I can't see his expression. "No, you can do that, but I don't want to do it on the scar that was from our promise--that's mine."

  It might be the sweetest thing he has ever said to me. I bite back a smile, though, because it's a feeling that's bitterly sweet.

  "Man, you two are going to kill each other quickly, aren't you?" Nicholas reminds me of what I can't have.

  Alex shoots him a glare as he touches the cold blade to my skin. "I'm going to cut your hand and his," he tells me. "Then you'll press your palm to his and repeat exactly what I say, alright?"

  I nervously nod. "Alright."

  "And be very careful that you repeat exactly what I say," he stresses.

  "Don't you need to untie Nicholas first?" I ask.

  "I'm not going to let him go until the promise is made," Alex states firmly. "You'll just have to reach up to his hand." Then very vigilantly he makes a small cut along my palm. Blood seeps out of the wound and I quickly cup my hand. Then Alex moves over to Nicholas, reaches up over his head, and with less carefulness, slices Nicholas's hand open. Blood drips out of the wound and down his bare arm.

  Stepping back, Alex closes the blade then tosses the knife onto the floor. "Okay, put your hand up to his," he says to me.

  Gathering up the courage, I step forward and get on my tiptoes to press my bleeding palm against Nicholas's. The smell of flowers and rain is overwhelming and his nearness makes me uncomfortable as he leans over and smells my hair.

  "We should have done this a long time ago." He breathes in my scent. "God, you smell so divine."

  I slant my head away from him. "Back the hell off, faerie boy or I'll drop kick you in the balls."

  Aislin snorts a laugh as Nicholas chuckles lowly in my ear. "Sounds kinky to me," he says.

  I roll my eyes. "Only in your dreams."

  "Repeat exactly what I say, Gemma," Alex says, interrupting us. "EGO votum permissum."

  I speak slowly to avoid mistakes. "EGO... votum...permissum."

  "Vos subsisto hic quod Andron."

  "Vos... subsisto... hic quod... Andron." My voice shakes.

  "Mos capto aufero vestri vestigium."

  "Mos capto... aufero... vestri... vestigium."

  Alex and I release a breath of relief, then Alex points a finger at Nicholas. "You better repeat exactly what I say. No changing or adding anything, understand? Or I'll kill you." He says it with a straight face and I have no doubt that he just might do it.

  After Nicholas agrees, Alex tells him what to say, speaking the words carefully. Nicholas repeats everything correctly. But I have no idea what's being said, so I'm putting a lot of trust in Alex. I analyze the idea of how much I'm trusting him at the moment and come to the conclusion that perhaps my feelings toward him might be drifting into the unsafe zone. But I haven't felt the prickle yet nor have I felt anything that's stopped and made me think, hey, that's got to be love.

  After the Blood Promise is made, Alex cuts the rope and frees Nicholas. He falls to the floor on his knees and rubs his wrists as he wipes the blood from his lip with the bottom of his t-shirt. "God, that feels good."

  "Now tell us everything you know about my father. Gemma. The Vision. No holding back." Alex bends down and collects the knife from the floor.

  "Can we at least sit down?" Nicholas asks, sounding pained.

  Alex shakes his head as he cleans the blood off from the knife on the side of his jeans. "Whatever, let's just get this over with."

  Chapter 7

  In the living room, Alex sits down in the sofa next to Nicholas, not wanting me near either himself or the faerie--I'm still trying to figure out which one. I take a seat on the couch across from them beside Aislin. The curtains are drawn so there's minimal sunlight and heat flowing in through the windows, but the tension makes the air stifling.

  Alex puts his knife on the table, kicks his feet up, and sits back. "Alright, start talking."

  "About what?" Nicholas presses back a grin and sinks back in the chair, having to move slowly from the pain Alex inflicted while beating him up. "I can't seem to remember what any of this was about?"

  Afraid Alex might snap, I chime in. "How about you tell us what happened on the beach," I suggest. "Why there was another me there? I erased a vision, right?"

  "Yes." His eyes bore into me and make me squirm. "But it would also be an example of how extraordinary you are."

  Let the running around in circles begin. "Define why that makes me extraordinary."

  Nicholas flexes his mangled hand, wincing from the pain. "Because you erased a vision, which is something that's completely forbidden and could have severe consequences. Plus, not a lot Foreseers can do that." His eyes darken as they elevate to me. "If I wanted to, I could turn you into the Foreseers... you know there's punishment for erasing visions. Or we could do it the easy way and you and I could go into one of the bedrooms and I coul
d punish you myself, just so you won't ever be a naughty girl again."

  I crinkle my nose as Aislin makes an ewe face and Alex starts to close in on him. "What kind of a punishment?" I hurry and say, trying to keep the conversation moving forward. I can't help but think of my father and the strange place he's in. Is that the punishment?

  Nicholas grins. "Well, it would require you naked and lots of whips and ropes."

  "Not that punishment." I roll my eyes, making a repulsed face. "I mean, punishment from the Foreseers."

  "I don't know for sure." Nicholas muses over something, tapping his finger on his swollen lips. "I've only heard of one Foreseer being punished for erasing a vision before."

  "Do you know who he is? And where he is?" I'm trying to be as vague as possible but still get the answers that I want.

  Nicholas shakes his head. "Our kind don't like to talk about things like that because...well, I think, because it reminds everyone of how much control and power Foreseers really have over everything."

  He's more right than I wonder if he realizes. Look at what my father did. He changed the entire course of the world and not in a positive way.

  I get up and grab the crystal ball from the end table. "So can you explain to me what this is?" I ask, turning and holding up the crystal ball.

  "Where the hell did you get that?" The glow of the crystal reflects in Nicholas's greedy eyes as I set the ball down on the coffee table and sit back down.

  "That's not important." I hope I'm not making a mistake by showing it to him. "What's important is that you tell me what it is and how I use it."

  Nicholas's hand drifts for the crystal ball, hesitating, before he picks it up. Alex stiffens and so do I. I don't know what the crystal ball does. For all I know, it may have enough power to destroy us. That kind of an object shouldn't be in the hands of someone like Nicholas.

  He gazes at the crystal ball in awe. "This is what we Foreseers refer to as a mapping ball. They're very rare." He turns over the crystal in his hand. "In fact, they're pretty much nonexistent." He bites his lip as he sets the ball down on his lap. "They hold a map of someone's life and show all the decisions they've made... although, some mapping balls are used to keep a secret hidden in the midst of thousands of their memories. It really is the most amazing thing." His withering gaze makes me shy back in the seat. "So whose is it?"

  I glance at Alex, wondering if I should divulge that information to Nicholas. Alex presses me with a stern look, warning me to keep quiet.

  "There's no use trying to keep it from me," Nicholas says. "Because I'm sure you're going to want to know how to use it, and that means you and I are going to have to go inside it."

  "Inside it?" I ask, dumbfounded and Nicholas simply nods. Great. The last thing I want to do is go wandering around in my father's memories with the perverted faerie. But I don't really have a choice. "It's my father's," I tell him.

  "I thought you told me you didn't know who your father is?" Nicholas questions.

  "I just recently discovered who he was," I explain with an evasive shrug. "A lot of shit's happened since the last time we talked, well at least in this version of our lives."

  "Yes, it has," Nicholas agrees, glancing down at the mark on his arm, and then returning his attention to me. "How did you find out who your father was? And how did you get a hold of his mapping ball?"

  "My mom gave it to me," I lie with a shrug.

  He rests his arms behind his head and puts his bare feet up on the table. "You managed to save her from The Underworld, then? Wow, again I'm impressed with your breathtaking ability." He winks at me. "And beauty."

  "Yeah, and without your help I might add." I glare at him.

  "I wouldn't say that." A grin creeps across his face. "Since I gave you the Ira."

  "After you kidnapped me and chained me to the wall," I retort. "Don't give yourself credit where credit isn't earned. All you do is trick people and make things all messy and overly complicated."

  He bites at his bottom lip with desire in his eyes. "You're getting awfully wound up right now. I like it."

  "Fuck you."

  "That's what I'm trying to do."

  I about jump up from the seat to strangle him, but Aislin stops me, sticking her arm out in front of me like a barricade.

  "Don't let him get to you," she says. "He likes it more than he hates it."

  She's right. Nicholas does seem to get his kicks from pissing me off, so I sit back down and try to relax. "What's the purpose of the mapping ball?" I ask as calmly as I can.

  Nicholas rolls his eyes. "I already told you it's to keep track of the things someone has done in their lifetime. If that is your dad's, then when we go inside it, we should be able to follow a map of his life."

  Alex's forehead creases. "Why would your dad give this to you?" he asks me. "What does he want you to see?"

  "I thought you said your mom gave it to you." Nicholas slants forward with a look of intrigue on his face. "Did you just get caught in a lie?" he asks me.

  I give Alex a really look, wondering what's wrong with him. It's not like him to be so careless. "My dad said it would tell me how to save the world from Stephan, or at least fix the world's future... And if it holds a map of his life, then maybe I can see what vision he erased and recreated to make it so Stephan could end the world."

  Nicholas claps his hands. "Bravo. You figured that one out all on your own."

  "You're such and asshole," I snap. "You could have just told me that to begin with."

  "I know a lot of things I choose not to share with you," he replies. "It's what makes life fun."

  "But you have to tell the truth--you made the Blood Promise," I say, questioning if something went wrong.

  "They're called loopholes, Gemma," Nicholas says with a satisfied look. "You have to ask me the question in order for me to tell you what I know. I don't just have to give you all my secrets."

  "Okay, so do you know how to fix all of this then?" I ask. "Do you know what I need to do to save the world--to put everything back to the way it was like my father told me to do?"

  Nicholas smiles, sitting lazily back in the chair. "I do. Would you like me to tell you?"

  Fucking faeries. "Yes, Nicholas.' I force tolerance as Alex gives me an I told you so look, like I should now understand why he gets so aggravated with him, which I do. "I'm asking you to please share everything you know about mapping balls and Stephan's evil plan to end the world."

  Aislin's phone starts ringing from inside her pocket. She takes it out and when she looks at the screen, she mutters, "Whose number is that?" She gets to her feet and heads out of the room as she answers it.

  I redirect my attention back to Nicholas. "Start talking."

  He does some weird bow thing as if he's obeying my command. "What would you like to know, princess?"

  I press back my aggravation. "How to fix the vision back to what it was."

  Nicholas scoops the mapping ball up in his hand, gets up, and wanders around the coffee table toward me. Alex begins to get to his feet but I shake my head at him.

  "The thing about visions," Nicholas plops down on the sofa next to me and rotates the crystal ball in his hand, "is that everything is connected to each other."

  "I'm not sure what you mean or how that'll help me fix the vision." I scoot away from him.

  Nicholas stares down at the mapping ball, glimmering in the light. "In the Foreseer world, every vision is connected so say you make the decision to become a singer. You go down to the local talent show, try out, win, and go on become a famous singer." His fingers fold tightly around the crystal ball. "Each one of those events that took place in your life to get you to the grand finale would be seen as their own vision. The decision, the trying out, the winning--all of them led to you becoming famous. They're all connected to one another--each one had to happen in order for the other one to happen."

  "So if I never made the decision to become a singer," I say. "Then none of the rest would have happened--I
would have never tried out or went on to make a career in singing."

  "Exactly," Nicholas says with a snap of his finger. "And if a Foreseer wants to change the path of your life, he could just alter the first event and it could change everything from that point on. So say he put the idea in your head to become a ballerina. But on your way to tryouts, you left a minute later because you had to put on your tutu so you get in a car accident and die."

  "But how could changing what I wanted to be, change my life that much?" I ask. "How can one tiny thing fuck up everything so that I'd die?"

  "Haven't you ever heard of the butterfly effect?" he asks, arching his brows.

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