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The underworld, p.6
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       The Underworld, p.6

         Part #2 of Fallen Star series by Jessica Sorensen
Page 6


  This strange feeling passed over me as the ghostly figures fingers moved to my mouth. I felt something being sucked away from inside me…and then I just felt empty.


  I gasped for air as my eyes shot open, my heart hitting the inside of my chest about a million miles a minute, the fear I’d felt in my dream still rattling at my nerves.

  It took my eyes a second to adjust to the blackness that had filled the bedroom, and for my heart to settle back down. God, I hated when I had nightmares like that. I could never be certain if they were actually nightmares. What if what I’d just saw was a vision? That couldn’t be good. The strange ghostly figure had sent so much fear through me that…I shivered, hoping that it was just a nightmare.

  I climbed off the bed and flipped on the light. The brightness stung my eyes and I had to blink them into focus. I wondered what time it was and what time Laylen would show up. I didn’t have a watch and couldn’t see a clock anywhere in the room, but it had to be late since the sky was black, except for the silver specks of stars, and the faint rainbow glow that Vegas’ lights cast across it.

  Perhaps I should go get Laylen. Of course, I had no idea where he was, and I worried that, if I went looking for him, I might run into the wrong person and end up having to explain why I was wandering around the house late at night.

  So I decided to wait it out. Laylen said he’d be here so he would.

  I went over to the oval mirror hanging on the wall above the dresser. For it being so late, I sure looked awake; my violet eyes staring back at me all big and wide. Sliding my ponytail to the side, I turned to look at the back of my neck where my Foreseer’s mark was tattooed. It was the first time I’d seen it, and honestly, it was kind of strange to look at. I’d never even considered getting a real tattoo before, and now I suddenly had one, under no choice of my own. But I guess that just came with the territory of being part of a world where people’s supernatural gifts mark them. It was almost like being branded.

  I traced the black circle that curved around the S with my finger, my skin tingling beneath my touch. “So weird,” I muttered.

  A soft click came from behind me and I spun around as the bedroom door creaked open. I almost bolted for the window, but then I saw it was Laylen and I relaxed.

  “Good. You’re awake,” Laylen said in a hushed voice and shut the door. He was dressed in a black long-sleeved thermal shirt, black jeans, and black boots, which made me wonder if we were going to the Black Dungeon, since almost everyone there dressed entirely in black. “You’ve been up here for so long I thought for sure you’d be asleep. ”

  I had been, but I didn’t tell him that. “If I’d stayed down there,” around Alex, “then they would’ve figured out something was up. I thought it’d be best if I came up here where no one could see how bouncy I was. ”

  “Well, I guess I don’t have to ask you if you’re ready to go then,” he said with a smile.

  “Yeah, I’m more than ready,” I said, feeling both excited and nervous. Excited because what if I was told my mother was alive. And nervous because…Well, I had a feeling that even if we were not going to the Black Dungeon, we were probably going to a place that was a lot like it.

  “Okay…” He hesitated, making me wonder if he’d changed his mind about going. “Here’s the tricky part,” he told me. “We’re not going to be able to just walk out the front door of the house. Adessa sets up these magical charms at night so if someone tries to come in or go out, she’ll know. It’s her version of a security system. ”

  “Okay…so how are we supposed to get out of the house?” I asked, and his gaze flickered in the direction of the window. My eyes widened. “You want us to climb out the window. ”

  “It’s the only way. All the downstairs windows have charms on them, and although I’m not sure exactly what Adessa’s charms do if they get set off, I’d really rather not find out. ”

  I glanced with uncertainty at the window. “But how are we even supposed to climb out. Do you have some kind of special climbing-down-the-wall super power or something?” Really, I wouldn’t have been that surprised if he did.

  He shook his head, seeming amused. “I’m a vampire, Gemma, not Spiderman. ” He paused. “No, you’re going to get on my back, and I’m going to jump out. ”

  I stared at him, waiting for him to deliver the punch line of the joke because he had to be joking. But the look on his face was dead serious.

  “How’s that even going to work without us getting hurt,” I asked, dumbfounded.

  “We won’t get hurt,” he assured me. “That far of a fall won’t hurt me at all. It’s a vampire thing. ”

  “Yeah, but I’m not a vampire,” I made a point to say, even though it was obvious. ‘The fall will hurt me. ”

  “That’s why you’ll be on my back, so I can break the fall for you. ”

  I glanced back and forth between the window and him. Did I dare?

  “And I promise I’ll do my best not to drop you,” he said and then gave me a smile.

  I rolled my eyes at him. “Alright…I’m in. ”

  He went over to the window, clicked the latch open, and inched the window up, the hinges creaking and whining the entire time. After he had opened the window all the way, Laylen stuck his head out and looked down at the ground. Personally, I didn’t want to look. I mean, it wasn’t like I was afraid of heights or anything, but since I was about to jump out of a two story building, on the back of a vampire/Keeper, I thought it’d be better not to look.

  Laylen ducked his head back in and turned his back to me. “Hop on. ”

  I had never hopped on to someone’s back before, but there was always a first time for everything, I guess. So, for the first time that I could ever remember, I hopped up piggy-back style onto someone’s back.

  “You good?” Laylen asked as I moved around, trying to get comfortable.

  I tightened my arms and legs around him, maybe a little too tightly. But he didn’t complain. He grabbed onto my legs and stuck his head out the window. Then with the balance of a tight-rope walker, he stood up on the window seal, giving me a full view on the glittery rock hard asphalt down below. The warm air hit my skin as I tucked my head into his back, not wanting to look.

  “It’s really not that far,” he told me.

  I didn’t say anything because I was too afraid to speak.

  “It’ll be over in a second,” he assured me.

  I shut my eyes, and then he jumped.

  Chapter 5

  I don’t know if any of you remember, but the few times I’ve traveled through a crystal ball, it required a very long fall down a dark tunnel. And every time I landed, I ended up hurting myself. Jumping out the window was nothing like that. It was over by the time I actually acknowledged we were falling. Laylen landed with the gracefulness of a cat, his feet hitting the asphalt with a soft thud, and I barely felt the impact.

  For a moment, neither of us moved. Even the air seemed to pause, as if we’d fallen so fast, we were waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.

  “You alive back there?” Laylen asked over his shoulder.

  I slowly opened my eyes and looked back up at the window we’d just jumped out of. “I think so. ”

  He let go of my legs, and I slid off of his back. The fall must have thrown off my equilibrium or something because I felt off balance and dizzy. I started to tip sideways and Laylen caught me by the shoulder.

  “What? Have you never jumped out of a window before?” He joked.

  I shook my head, and we started off across the dark parking lot.

  “So where exactly are we going?” I asked

  “To a place that’s just up the road a little ways,” he replied.

  “So we’re walking there then?” I asked, glancing up at the flickering lamppost as I walked by it.

  He nodded. “It’s not very far. Plus, my car got damaged during Aislin’s and my little escape
from the Death Walkers, so driving really isn’t an option. ”

  I looked around at the ominous-looking, graffiti-decorated buildings, the shadowed cars dotting the parking lot, and the giant garbage cans towering not too far away from us. All were perfect places for someone—or something to hide. And, okay, I know I made the choice to come out here, but now that I actually was, warnings were popping up all over in my head. And now that I thought about it, no one had ever said how high of a chance it was that Stephan and/or the Death Walkers would show up.

  “Are we safe?” I asked Laylen as we reached the sidewalk that bordered the dark street.

  “Hmm…Define safe,” he said, fiddling with his lip ring.

  I gaped at him. “What? So we’re not safe?”

  “Gemma, I already warned you it might be dangerous,” he reminded me.

  I shielded my eyes with my hand as a car driving by blinded me with its headlights. “Yeah, I know, but…. What are the odds of us running into a Death Walker?”

  Out here?” he asked, and I nodded. “Probably lower than when we went into the Black Dungeon. ” He tucked his hands into his pockets and moved to the side as a homeless man, pushing a cart, passed by us.

  “Well, what about the place we’re going to?” I asked. “What are the odds of us running into one there?”

  “Pretty low,” he said.

  “Well, what kind of place are we going to exactly?”

  He raised an eyebrow at me. “The truth?”

  I gave him a ‘duh’ look, but wasn’t sure if he could see it through the darkness. “Always,” I answered.

  “A place where vampires hang out,” he replied.

  Maybe I should have asked this question beforehand, because going into a place where vampires hung out seemed kind of sketchy. “But isn’t there going to be a problem with me going in there since I’m human?” Even Laylen himself had told me that other vampires—non-Keeper Vampires—were not really good. And then there was the whole humans-letting-vampires-bite-them thing that I’d seen going on back when we’d been at the Black Dungeon.

  He shook his head and answered, “There’ll be other humans there. It’ll be like at the Black Dungeon, when you saw that man getting bit. ”

  I tried not to freak out. “So…There’ll be a bunch of humans standing around, getting bit by vampires because they want to…” stimulate their desires. Well, that idea was comforting. How was I supposed to walk into a room like that, when I couldn’t even talk about it aloud?

  “You’ll be fine. Just make sure you stay by me at all times,” he said, sounding just like Alex.

  “Well, what are we going to do when we get to this place,” I asked, inching closer to Laylen as a door to a bar swung open and a group of men stumbled outside, talking rowdily.

  “We’re going to go see if we can talk to Vladislav,” he told me. And when I gave him a confused look, explained further. “He’s a vampire…a very important vampire. ”