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Darkness falls (darkness.., p.6
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       Darkness Falls (Darkness Falls, Book 1), p.6

           Jessica Sorensen
 

  Chapter 5

  My eyelids flutter open to the brick walls that enclose my bed. I rub my eyes as I sit up. My mind is thick with morning haze and I can’t remember how I got here. All I remember is leaving the hospital wing, and then nothing.

  And why does it seem like I was supposed to be somewhere?

  Dammit. I was supposed to meet Tristan.

  I jump out of bed, yank on a black thermal shirt and cargo pants, lace up my boots, and run to the tower. His back is to me, head slanted up as he watches the ancient tower clock. The clock used to tell time before the Highers decided time was no longer relevant, since no one knew how to read numbers anyway. They ordered the Watchers to remove the hands of the clock. All that’s left now are golden numbers that serve no purpose.

  My shoes scuff against the dirt as I make my way over to Tristan. He turns, a grin spreading across his face and it hits me, like a punch to the stomach, the reason why I’m here. Suddenly, I want to run. And I almost do it; turn around and flee out of these walls, out of The Colony, disappearing into an unknown world.

  “For a second, I was worried you weren’t going to show.” He’s glowing with happiness like this is the greatest day of his life.

  I take in his eyes, the brightest of blue, his flawless skin, his smile.

  “You’ve been so down lately.” He traces my pouting lips and I can feel his pulse beating through his fingers, sharp and vibrant.

  “Have I?” I sigh, take a seat on the stone bench, and stare at the broken clock, wondering what it was like when time existed. What was life like when it ran on time?

  “Do you want to talk about it?” he asks. When I don’t answer, he takes a seat beside me. He tucks a strand of my hair behind my ear. “Are you ever going to let me get inside that head of yours?”

  If I did, we wouldn’t be here. “I’m not sure you could handle what’s inside there.”

  I’ve shocked him. His lips part as he starts to speak. Then he lets out an uneven breath and runs a hand through his blonde hair. “You know, you always look so sad, even when you’re pretending to be happy. It breaks my heart, Juniper. It really does. You should be as happy as the rest of us are. I know you don’t have the same life as most of us, with you being a Bellator, but choosing to be sad all the time. It’s not worth it.”

  His thought process confounds me. “I’m not sad all the time. I have my happy moments.” It’s the worst lie I’ve ever told. “And even if I am, it has nothing to do with me being a Bellator. I don’t mind being one.” That is the truth.

  But he doesn’t believe me. He takes my face in his hands, his voice as soft as a feather. “You don’t have to be sad, Juniper. I can make you happy, if you’ll let me.” We’re so close I can see the specks of green in his blue eyes. “I want us to be more than friends. I want us to be together.”

  And there it is. It’s like a chain has been coiled around my chest, and he’s tugging at it. I can’t breathe.

  He’s leaning in, his lips moving for mine, a kiss that will change everything, if I let it happen.

  I lean back. “Why do you call me Juniper?”

  He freezes, his forehead creasing. “Huh?”

  “Juniper?” My foot’s tapping madly against the ground. “Why do you call me that? I mean, what even started it?”

  His face falls. “That’s all you have to say?”

  I’m crushing him; I can see it in his eyes. And I can’t seem to stop tapping my damn foot. “I’m sorry Tristan. I just…I just can’t.”

  He stops breathing, as if my words strangle him. He shuts his eyes. “I can make you happy.” He opens them again, a sea of pain. “If you’ll just let me.”

  I shake my head. “No, Tristan, you can’t.” They’re the realest words I’ve ever spoke.

  “I love you.” His words are just a whisper of air and they fade with his breath as he waits, desperate for me to say it back.

  But I can’t. I can’t lie this time. Not about this.

  I stare at the ground. “I’m really sorry.”

  A pause, a skip of a heartbeat.

  “I’m sorry too, Kayla.”

  Then he’s gone, leaving me and my unfeeling heart.