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The fallen star (fallen.., p.7
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       The Fallen Star (Fallen Star Series, Book 1), p.7

           Jessica Sorensen
 
As soon as I realized where Alex was taking me, I went into panic mode. I even temporarily contemplated jumping out of the moving vehicle.

  After I followed Alex out of the library, we went out to the parking lot and climbed into his car—an old cherry red Chevy Camaro. It was a beautiful car. But a beautiful car that was taking me toward the mountains, something that I realized a little too late. Here I was alone with a guy I barely knew—a strange guy I barely knew—and I was going straight to the place where I was killed every night in my nightmares. I had really gotten myself into a mess here, hadn’t I? I can’t believe how stupid and irrational I was. I mean, a cute boy finally smiles at me and I forget all logic.

  But there was nothing I could do about it now except strap my seatbelt on, watch the town slip farther and farther away, and keep my fingers crossed that everything would turn out alright.

  I tapped my fingers anxiously on my knee. In the confined space of the car, the electricity hummed powerfully. Between that, the heater blaring, and my jittery nerves, I was starting to sweat. “So where exactly are we going?” I asked.

  “We’re going to two places, actually,” Alex told me, down shifting the car. “But the first stop is just so I can pick something up.”

  I wiped my sweaty palm on my jeans. “So what’s the second stop?”

  He flashed me a devious smile. “That one’s a secret.”

  A secret? Secrets were rarely good. And since it was Alex…let’s just say I wasn’t feeling too optimistic, especially since he was being nice. Well, nice for him, anyway. It made me even edgier than I already was, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he had some kind of hidden agenda for bringing me out here.

  A lump formed in my throat as I mentally cursed myself for coming with him.

  He lifted an eyebrow at me. “Is something wrong? You look scared.”

  “What?” I shook my head. “No. I’m not scared.”

  “Really? Because you sure look like you are.”

  I fiddled with the zipper on my messenger bag, deliberating what to say. The truth. Sure, why not? “Well, I guess maybe I’m a little scared.”

  He slowed down the car and made a right turn off the main highway and onto a snow packed back road that laced over the foothills. These kinds of roads were the kind that the snow plows only plowed a few miles up, which meant we probably wouldn’t be able to make it that far up it. Or at least the car wouldn’t be able to go further. On foot, well, that was a different story.

  I gulped at that frightening thought.

  “So why are you scared?” Alex asked.

  I shrugged, trying not to get freaked out by the sight of the trees trimming the sides of the road. Or by thinking about what might be hiding in them. “Because…well, I really don’t know anything about you other than you hate me.”

  “I don’t hate you,” he told me, and oddly enough, he sounded like he was telling the truth. “I’m just moody. It’s nothing personal.”

  Moody. So the understatement of the year.

  I tore my gaze away from the trees and looked at him. He was staring ahead, eyes focused on the road. As much as I hated to admit it, the guy was gorgeous. Bright green eyes, dark hair, perfect lips. He wasn’t too thin, nor too big and bulky. He was a happy medium—lean and nice.

  Very nice.

  A crooked smile crept up on his face as he turned his head toward me. “You’re staring.”

  I whipped my head back toward the window, feeling like a total idiot. “No, I wasn’t.”

  He laughed but said nothing.

  A few minutes later, he was parking the car in front of an old log cabin. A crooked gray stone chimney topped the roof, and a partly collapsed deck wrapped around the bottom. The windows were boarded up, and the entire yard was buried in at least five feet of snow except for a recently shoveled walkway.

  He pulled the emergency brake and left the engine running. “Wait here. I’ll be right back.” He got out of the car, trampled up to the front door of the cabin and entered without knocking.

  My nerves were bouncing as I sat in the car alone. There were trees all over the place. What if they were out there, watching me, waiting for the perfect moment to jump out and kill me? We were so far away from civilization, if something did happen, I was in trouble. I bet I couldn’t even get a signal on my cell phone.

  I tapped my fingers on my knee as I counted backwards from one hundred, trying to stay calm. Breathe, I told myself. Just breathe.

  Thankfully, Alex came out of the cabin before I got too worked up. Light, fluffy snowflakes had started to float down from the sky and frost now laced the car windows.

  “What were you doing in there?” I asked as he climbed back inside the car.

  He rubbed his hands together, warming them up. “Nothing important.” He flipped the windshield wipers on. “I just needed to check on something.”

  “I thought you said you needed to pick something up?”

  He shrugged and backed out onto the road, the car’s tires spinning in protest.

  The snowflakes became thicker the farther up the mountain we drove. The windshield wipers were working overtime so Alex could see. Just as I was starting to worry that the car was going to get stuck, we came to a stop in the middle of the road. I assumed he was turning around since the only things around were mountains, snow, and trees. But instead, he killed the engine.

  “What are you doing?” I asked nervously.

  “We’re here.” He gestured at the scenery outside. “This is it.”

  I frowned. “Where are we?”

  “The mountains.”

  I gave him a duh look. “I know that, but why are we here?”

  “Because this is the place I wanted take you.” It seemed like he was trying to tiptoe around the details of why he drove me out into the middle of the mountains.

  I grew more uneasy. “You wanted to take me to the middle of the mountains.”

  “Yeah.” He opened the car door. “But you have to get out of the car and walk a little in order to get to the exact spot I want you to see.”

  Get out in the middle of the woods. Was he crazy? “Yeah, I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.”

  He shot me a quizzical look. “What exactly is it you’re afraid of?”

  Hmmm…What was I afraid of? How about the image of me running for my life through the trees? However, there was no way I could explain that to him. “I don’t know…I really just don’t feel like walking around in the snow. That’s all.”

  “Don’t worry, I promise it’ll be worth it.” He smiled, this beautiful, hypnotic smile—the same smile that had lured me to follow him out of the library and into his car. Before I even realized what I was doing, I was getting out of the car. But when the cold air hit my face, it knocked me back to reality. Get back in the car. I shivered, debating if I should do just that.

  Alex took off toward a narrow path caped by leafless trees, and motioned for me to follow. I gulped, my hands shaking—from the cold or from my nerves, I couldn’t tell you—and then I tromped through the snow after him.

  The great thing about wearing sneakers while you’re hiking through the snow is…nothing; absolutely nothing. Unless you think your feet getting wet and frozen is a great thing.

  On a more positive note, it had stopped snowing.

  But the air was still cold, and I was shivering so badly my limbs were aching. “How far is it exactly?”

  “Not too much further,” he answered. “Why? Are you cold already?”

  “No,” I lied. “I was just wondering.”

  “Okay. Whatever you say,” he said, unconvinced.

  “Really, I’m not,” I repeated, feeling the need to defend myself.

  He didn’t say anything, but by the way his body was shaking, I was pretty sure he was laughing at me.

  Rounding a corner, we came across a large branch, dangling low to the ground. It blocked out the entire path. Great. Going over it would take a climbing ability I so did not possess
. And going around it meant wading through at least a few feet of snow. My jeans would get soaked.

  I took it as a sign that we should head back. “Umm…maybe we should…” I started, but Alex was already lifting the branch over his head like it weighed nothing. The thing had to weigh a ton, though—it was gigantic.

  “Go ahead.” Alex gestured with his free hand for me to go underneath the branch. “Ladies first.”