Broken visions, p.6
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       Broken Visions, p.6

         Part #3 of Shattered Promises series by Jessica Sorensen
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"Yeah, I learned about it in one of my classes." Classes. Such a normal thing to say yet it feels so abnormal.

  "Well, it's like that. Change one small thing in your life and it alters everything. Ruin it or sometimes make it better, depending on what you do." He pauses, mulling something over with a thoughtful expression. "I'm not sure what your father erased and recreated in order to get the world to end, but for us to stop it without doing too much damage, the best thing to do is to erase him before he changes the event. Well, not actually erase you father, but we would go into the mapping ball, find the memory of your father where he changed the vision, and erase him before he does it... like you did with yourself on the beach."

  "And how are we supposed to find the exact memory?" I remove the crystal ball from Nicholas's hand. "If this thing is full of them."

  Nicholas taps the side of his head. "That answer is in here. Literally."

  My mood plummets. "In your head? You have got to be kidding me."

  "Actually I am." He winks at me and positions his finger to the side of my head, disregarding the dirty look I give him. "It's actually in yours, which makes more sense if you think about it."

  "My dad said the same thing to me," I say. "But I'm still lost."

  "I'll explain more when we get in there," he says, lowering his hand to his lap. "It more easy to show you then to explain it you."

  I sigh wearily as I recline back against the armrest. "And what if the vision my father changed still ends up leading to death?" I look over at Alex, thinking about the vision I saw right before I was dropped into the place where my father was. Alex and I by the lake, dying in each other's arms.

  "It doesn't matter. It's how things were--are supposed to be." Nicholas traces the Foreseers' mark on his wrist, an S outlined by a circle. "Despite how powerful some of us get, Foreseers are only supposed to see visions, not change them or control them to our liking. No one should ever have that much control."

  For a second, Nicholas actually seems like a decent person who cares about the world and has values. It's strange seeing him like this, serious and somewhat normal.

  My father seems like the opposite. He changed a vision so the world would end in the most horrible way. Everything's going to freeze and all the witches, fey, vampires, and Death Walkers linked to Malefiscus are going to run the streets killing everyone.

  "Let's go then." I sit up straight. "I want to get this over with as quick as possible. The sooner we put everything back together, the sooner we can maybe all have a normal life." I can't help but glance at Alex. Is there hope for us yet?

  "That's easier said than done." Nicholas snatches the mapping ball away from me. "This thing uses a lot of power. It's not as simple as placing your hand on it and going into it, like the other crystal balls you've used in the past." He throws the ball in the air and catches it, making me tense. "We need the power of the main crystal ball that all the other crystal balls run off in order to pull this off."

  "The giant crystal ball that sucks its energy away from people?" I shudder at the memory of Alex strapped to the crystal with tubes embedded into his skin, along with a ton of other people.

  "That would be the one," Nicholas says uncaringly.

  "And the Foreseers are going to just let us take the power?" I ask doubtfully.

  Nicholas looks down at his hand as he opens and closes it. "No, we steal the power and bring it back with us and use it here. It's safer that way."

  "You actually think I'm going to let you go off to the City of Crystal alone with her." Alex gets up and walks over to us, sitting on the armrest just behind me.

  "You could always let me go by myself and hope I'll come back," Nicholas replies snidely. "But I'm guessing you're not a fan of that idea either."

  "Alex, back off. I can handle this," I say, not meaning to sound so rude, but it kind of slips out in my tone. "You have got to stop trying to protect me all the damn time."

  "How am I supposed to stop doing something, when it's all I want to do?" He brushes his fingers across the back of my neck. "All I want to do is protect you. That's it. I can't even think clearly when I know you're in harm."

  Recollection clicks in my head. He said that once to me, in another time, in the erased vision, before I ran off and got captured by Nicholas. It's strange that I'm remembering these little details, instead of them fading like the event did.

  "Yeah, I give you two a day before you end up killing one another," Nicholas remarks with a laugh. "Seriously, it's like watching mild porn, watching you two eye fuck each other every two seconds."

  "We'll be fine." Although, I'm not sure I believe my own words. Fine. Nothing feels fine. Not me. Not Alex touching me. Because he shouldn't be just touching me. He should be holding me. Kissing me. Slipping inside me over and over again...

  "We have a problem," Aislin announces as she whisks into the room, interrupting my dirty thoughts. "A big problem."

  "Of course we do," Alex says with an eye roll his fingers coming to rest on my back. "The world is going to end unless we fix it."

  She shakes her head and puts her hands on her hips. "No, not that problem." Her eyes land on me. "Gemma, your mom just called and told me that she found Laylen and that he's in trouble."

  "What kind of trouble?" The pitch of my voice is alarmingly high and I reach out to grip something for support and end up grabbing Alex's knee. "He didn't... bite someone did he?"

  "He's..." She trails off, giving a cautious glance at Nicholas before leaning in and lowering her voice. "Maybe we should discuss this in private."

  "Why? He can't go anywhere," I point out, but she is still hesitant.

  "Just say whatever it is," Alex says, his finger tracing circles on my back. I wonder if he's even aware that he's doing it, touching me like that.

  "He's at..." She lowers her voice even more and positions herself so her back is to Nicholas. "He was at the Red Dragon."

  "Please don't tell me that's another club," I grimace, slumping against Alex. "I really don't want to do anymore clubs as long as I live, at least not ones with poisonous drinks."

  "Oh, it's a club," Alex says dryly. "An exclusive club for anyone and anything that has a thirst for the evil side--much worse than the Black Dungeon."

  "God, this is all my fault," I say, frustrated with myself.

  "This isn't your fault," Alex assures me. "It's Laylen's. What he does is his choice."

  I abruptly feel like I'm being strangled, invisible fingers winding around my neck. "Wait. If there's vampires at this club, they might kill him because he killed Vladislav." Panic overcomes me, makes the room spin as my lungs shrink.

  "Oh my God! Would you two shut up!" Aislin yells, practically spitting in our faces as she stomps her foot. "I said he was at the Red Dragon, but someone we know picked him up from there and now he's safe, well more or less."

  "Who picked him up?" I ask at the same time Alex says, "Fuck. Just what we need. I really don't want to deal with her shit right now."

  I look over my shoulder at him and give him a funny look. "You know this person."

  Alex fidgets uncomfortably. "Yeah, more or less," he says in a tight voice with regret in his eyes.

  "I know she lives close by here and everything." Aislin looks about as hurt as a wounded animal. "But I just never thought Laylen would contact her over me... us."

  "Would someone please explain who her is?" I ask in the nicest tone I can summon.

  Aislin waits for Alex to explain but he avoids her gaze and she sighs. "It's Stasha. She used to be a Keeper--well, I guess she technically still is, but she...decided she didn't want to be part of the circle anymore because of him." She nods her head at Alex who looks like he wants to be anywhere but here.

  "Why would she leave because of him..." I stop talking, starting to put two and two together.

  Nicholas stands up from the couch and leans in my face. "Because she and Alex used to be lovers, but since he's emotionally dead inside, he broke her heart." He pouts out his bott
om lip, still puffy from when Alex clocked him.

  I almost slap him, even though he's just telling me the truth. But the truth hurts in a way I had never felt before. I mean, I knew Alex dated and had girlfriends and everything, but I don't know. Talking about it is emotionally agonizing, raw and painful, like open wounds.

  I clear my throat several times before I speak again. "So what do we do next? Call Laylen? Or do we just need to go get him? And is this Stasha girl keeping an eye on him because he needs to be watched, just in case." I sound like his mother. Jesus.

  "Your mom didn't say anything about that." Aislin frowns. "She just said she found him standing outside the Red Dragon talking to Stasha, and when she went to go get him, he took off with her."

  "My mom's headed back here, right?" I ask as I push Nicholas out of my way so I can get to my feet. "Now that she's found him."

  Aislin gives a fleeting panicked look at Alex then back at me. "Yeah, I think she is."

  Something's wrong. I make my way around the sofa so I'm standing in front of her. "You're keeping something from me, about my mother."

  Aislin swiftly shakes her head. "No, she's headed back here now--I'm sure of it. So just relax. Besides, we really need to go get Laylen now since Stasha probably isn't the best person for him to be around."

  A ripple of concern courses through me. "Why not?"

  "Stasha can be a little on the...unsympathetic side," Alex says. "And that's probably the last thing Laylen needs right now."

  "I still can't believe halfy finally went off the deep end." Nicholas laughs sardonically. "I always thought he was a little crazy."

  "He didn't go off the deep end!" I shout, completely losing control over my emotions. I feel insane, the prickle poking and stabbing and eating away at the back of my neck as I shove Nicholas backward, causing him to slam against the coffee table. "It's my fault he wants to drink blood. Not his. I made him drink mine because I selfishly couldn't face the emotion of death."

  It grows so quiet I swear I could hear a pin drop. I realize why moments later. They pity me. All of them.

  "I don't want your pity," I say, hurrying for the front door. "I just want to go get Laylen and fix this mess."

  "I'll get the car keys." Aislin backs for the kitchen. "It's not too far of a drive from here and I don't want to risk transporting too many people."

  After she leaves, Nicholas leans against the wall, eyes on Alex as he grabs his shirt from the back of the chair and tugs it on. "You should probably warn her of what she can do."

  Alex narrows his eyes at him, but when I look at him for an explanation, he sighs. "You remember when I told you that some Keepers have gifts, like Sophia's gift of..." He looks guilty for bringing up my soul detachment and quickly works his way around it. "And what I told you I could do?" he asks and I nod. "Well, Stasha has a gift too." He rubs the back of his neck tensely as he walks over to me. "She possesses the gift of death."

  "She can kill me?" I shiver.

  "Not for fun," Alex clarifies. "She just can kill, you know, kill if she wants to by touching someone."

  "So she can kill me if she touches me?" I ask, my eyes widening as images strike my head of the blonde girl gripping at my throat.

  "Only if she wants to," he says, ruffling his hair into place.

  "Well, that sounds lovely," I say sarcastically. "And I have this feeling that she might want to."

  "I won't let her hurt you," Alex promises, grazing his finger down my cheekbone, but then swiftly pulls away.

  "We should get going." Aislin says as she returns the room, tossing Alex the car keys. "Stasha didn't answer her phone, so we're going to have to just show up there unannounced."

  I aim a finger at Nicholas. "What are we going to do with him?"

  Alex rubs his jawline, deliberating. "We could tie him back up in the garage and let him hang there until we get back."

  "Or tie him to the rack on the roof like skis," I joke and Alex smiles, chuckling under his breath while Nicholas glowers at me.

  "I think we should take him," Aislin says. "If someone shows up here while we're gone, he'll tell them everything--you know he will."

  We all agree that's probably the best way, then we hide the mapping ball in a safe place and leave the house. Minutes later, we're driving down the highway, toward the next town where Stasha lives. The land is blanketed by night, the moon shining amongst the silver stars, and the ocean sings a lullaby as it sweeps against the shore.

  The inside of the car is hot, due to the humid air and the electricity. Alex is driving and I'm in the backseat next to Nicholas, who is practically like an air freshener with his rainy, floral scent. It's too much and, finally, I roll down the window and breathe in the fresh air.

  "You doing okay back there?" Alex asks, glancing at me in the rearview mirror.

  I fan my hand in front of my face. "Yeah, it's just a little hot back here."

  Nicholas lets out a loud snore as he wiggles in the seat, trying to rest his head on my shoulder, but I push him in the other direction. He dozed off the minute we pulled out of the driveway and Aislin passed out not too shortly after.

  "It is hot in here," Alex agrees, giving me a tired smile. "But I think it's usually that way when you and I are in a confined space together." He rolls down his window too, letting more ocean air ventilate the car.

  "Magic" by Coldplay hums through the speakers, a soft beat that's making me want to go to sleep too.

  "Are you tired?" Alex glances at the time on the dashboard. "You can take about a fifteen minute nap if you want to."

  I yawn. "Yeah, a little, but I'll stay awake."

  "You should get some rest," he insists. "You need to be awake when we get there just in case something happens."

  Suddenly, I'm wide-awake and I scoot forward in the seat and rest my arms on the center console. "You act like Stasha is going to murder me the moment I walk in the door."

  "No, she's not that bad, but..." He pauses, wavering. "But she has some jealousy issues, which got worse when we broke up."

  I can't help but wonder if we're broken up, Alex and I, or if we were technically even together. "Did you love her?"

  His head whips in my direction. "Did I love Stasha?" he asks, almost in horror.

  I nod. "I'm just wondering... if you've ever felt... that." I can't help but think of when we were in The Underworld and he said it to me. I had wondered if he meant it--still do. Part of me wants him to but the other doesn't because it'd put us half way to the end of us--all I would do is need to reciprocate.

  He carries my gaze as he holds onto the steering wheel, annunciating each word when he says, "No, I never loved Stasha or anyone else I've been with." Again, I wonder if this includes me. "That's why I dated her...It was easy not to feel things with her...unlike with some people." He looks back at the road as my skin starts to tingle.

  Stop thinking about him like that. Just stop. Find something else to talk about. "Have you ever been happy before?"

  He relaxes. "Once or twice. You?"

  "Maybe." I cross my arms on the console and slant forward to get a better look at his face. "What about scared? Because I feel that one all the time, although I'm doubting you ever do."

  He brings his lower lip in between his teeth. "No, I have... When I first met you I was scared shitless and every time something happens to you, every time you get hurt or pass out, it scares me."

  Again, we're heading in the no go zone, like two stars gravitating toward each other. "What other things have you felt?" I ask, knowing I shouldn't.

  He seems reluctant to answer, but does anyway. "Anger. Frustration. Pain. Sadness." He pauses, looking at me instead of the road yet still managing to keep the car perfectly aligned in the lane. "Desire. What about you?"

  "What other emotions have I felt?"

  He shakes his head slowly, brings his hand away from the steering wheel, and puts his finger on my throat and draws a line down to my chest where he can probably feel my heart beating rapi
dly. "Have you ever felt desire?"

  I can barely breathe. This wasn't my intention. In fact, I was trying to do the opposite, yet once again we can't stop touching each other and "eye fucking" as Nicholas put it.

  "I feel it now," I say, boldness slipping out of me in a way it never has.

  He groans, eyes flaring with desire. "Fuck, Gemma, I--"

  "Alex stop!" I scream as a shadowy figure runs out in the road. Alex slams on the breaks as his arm shoots out in front of me, securing me in place. Tires screech. The car lurches forward...metal crunches...a bright light...yellow eyes... blackness...

  Then nothing but quiet.

  Chapter 8

  I have never felt pain like this before. It's as if my body has compressed into a small, warped ball, my bones broken and bending in ways that shouldn't be possible. Everything hurts so badly. Death. I have to be dead.

  "Gemma," someone says, but their voice sounds so far away. "Gemma, can you hear me?"

  Wait a minute. I know that voice. It's the most wonderful voice in the world. I lift my eyelids, even though it's excruciatingly painful, and see the beautiful guy staring down at me with the brightest green eyes I'd ever seen.

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