Broken visions, p.7
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       Broken Visions, p.7

         Part #3 of Shattered Promises series by Jessica Sorensen
 
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  "Are you alright?" the guy asks, leaning over me, looking so worried. All I want to do is hug him. Hug in the midst of the stars which seem to be dancing around me, so pretty.

  I turn my head to nod, but it doesn't budge. There's gravel in my hair and stuck to my skin, along with something warm and liquid.

  A girl joins the guy. I know her too. She has tears in her eyes and dirt and blood in her golden brown hair and she looks terrified.

  "Look." She points at my stomach. "Alex, I don't think..."

  The guy's eyes widen and with one swift movement, he scoops me up in his arms. "Get us out of here," the guy shouts at the girl as he cradles me against his chest, making me feel safe. "Now!"

  She gapes at him helplessly. "Where do you want me to take us?"

  "To Stasha's." There's panic on the guy's face, and I want to tell him it'll be okay--everything will be okay--but I can't seem to find my voice. "You have your crystal, right?" he asks the girl.

  "Yeah, but what about him?" She turns and points at something on the ground near a pile of twisted metal that's on fire, smoke rising to the sky.

  "We'll have to leave him here," he says. "If we don't get her out of here, she might not make it. Besides, you know they take care of their own when it comes to this sort of thing."

  "Yeah, I know." The girl is disheartened, tears streaming down her cheeks. "Let's go then."

  The boy says something else to me, but I can only see his lips moving. My eyelids are so heavy, so I shut them.

  ***

  I'm dying. There is no pain, no anguish, no burden of the star. Everything feels complete, except for one thing. A piece of me is missing. Not an actual piece, but something I was connected to--electrically connected to. Alex. I need Alex. I feel so empty without him, but what does that mean? Does the fact that he seems to make me feel whole mean that I'm in love with him.

  Love.

  Forbidden.

  I try to open my eyelids and see where I am, measure what I need to do to escape this hollowing feeling burrowing on the inside of me, but I can't, so I start to surrender, give up, let it gnaw the rest of me apart until I won't be anything but a shell. And for a brief instant, I feel better because I don't feel a thing.

  "You can't give up Gemma," my father whispers. "You need to fix my mistakes."

  "But I can't move," I tell him. "Everything hurts. My body... life... it's too hard."

  "I know," he replies. "Trust me, I know how hard things can seem and how it seems like everything is up against you, but it'll get better. You just have to fight until you get there."

  "But what if I can't?" I ask. "What if I'm not a fighter?"

  "But you are... You got this far, didn't you? Now open your eyes," he says. "Today isn't the day you're going to die. Now fight for that."

  Fight. My eyelids slowly lift open. Light hits my pupils, engulfs me. I can see the future again. Alex and I by the lake. Hugging each other to our death as a wall of ice surrounds us. I feel as though I should be freezing to death, but there's so much warmth radiating between us that it spills around the world.

  ***

  I awaken peacefully, opening my eyes as if I've woken up from a serene nights rest. But seconds later, the pain rises in my body and I let out a moan as I take in where I am. In an unfamiliar bed, covered with a blanket and the room is crammed with plants. They are everywhere. On the shelves, the dresser and leafy vines dangle from the ceiling.

  I slowly sit up, hunching over as my stomach burns in protest. I lift the bottom of my t-shirt and see a very large section of my stomach is bandaged up. I sift through my memories, trying to recollect how I got here, hurt, but I'm drawing a blank.

  "We got in a car accident," Alex says and I turn my head toward the doorway. He's standing there with his arms crossed, bags under his eyes and his hair sticking up, shirt and jeans torn and stained with blood.

  "You look tired," I say. "Are you okay?"

  "Am I okay? Gemma, you should only be worried about if you're okay right now."

  "Where are we?" I ask, pulling the bottom of my shirt back over my stomach as I gaze around at all the plants.

  He sits down on the foot of the bed, leaving some distance between us. "At Stasha's. The plants are healthy for her gift."

  Pieces of what happened are starting to come back to me, but I don't think in order because they make no sense. "We were in a car accident... I can barely remember leaving the house."

  His gaze flicks to my head, like he's checking for injuries he might have missed. "A Death Walker ran out into the road," he explains. "We hit it and ended up crashing the car."

  "What about the Death Walker?" I ask. "Did it die?"

  He gives me a look. "It can't die, only from the Sword of Immortality."

  "So it's still alive?" I ask anxiously.

  He reluctantly nods. "Thankfully, though, it was just one... and it ran off after we hit it... although I'm not sure what it was doing there in the first place and alone."

  "Do you think it caused the accident on purpose? That maybe your dad sent it?"

  "I'm not sure why he'd just send one." He leans back against the footboard with a quizzical look on his face. "And what I really don't get is why he's not coming here himself to get us."

  Something clicks, another lost memory of an erased time. "While I was in the Wastelands, Stephan said something about when you reflected the memoria extracto or whatever the memory erasing rock was called, that it did something and he had to keep his distance for a while."

  This makes Alex even more lost. "Why, though?"

  "Maybe because of the sacrificium protegat." I say it robotically, not even sure what the words mean.

  "Where did you learn about that?" Alex asks curiously.

  "I have no idea..." A voice whispers to me inside my head, one I've heard before but can't place from where. Not because I've forgotten, but there seems to be some sort of wall blocking me from putting it together. "It just popped into my head."

  He ponders this, looking concerned. "Just a second." Without explaining, he wanders out of the room, leaving the door open behind him. Voices drift from somewhere and after a bit, I get to my feet to go see what's going on. But I stop as I remember who Stasha is and what she can do. It's not that I'm afraid of her, well maybe just a little, but I'm also sort of intimidated by her. Sure, I have Alex but that could only be because of the star. I'm not sure I'll ever be certain whether either of our feelings our genuine until the star is gone.

  I end up staying on the bed until Alex returns. He doesn't look as lost as he did when he walked out. "The sacrifice that I made when we were at the cabin," he sits down on the bed beside me, this time forgetting to leave space between us and our knees touch, "The one with the memoria extracto, created a seal in your blood, which prevents Stephan from getting close to you for a certain amount of time, because he was the cause behind the sacrifice."

  "Where did you learn that from?"

  "Aislin. I guess it's basic magic 101."

  "And she never bothered to say anything."

  "It's Aislin," he says with a shrug. "She probably didn't even think about it until I brought it up. Although she insists she had an entire conversation with us where she explained it to us."

  "That's strange... although, now that you mention it, I can kind of remember it happening." Aislin, Alex, and I in the living room as she's telling us about it; I can picture it pretty clearly, yet it doesn't feel like it really happened. "I think something strange is going on."

  "Something strange is always going on." Alex places a hand on my knee, the corners of his lips quirking.

  "That's not what I meant." I pause. "It just seems like even though I erased all these events, some of it I can still remember even though technically it never happened."

  "I wonder if something happened when you erased time."

  "I wouldn't be surprised, since everyone always said simply reading a vision wrong could mess everything up. Plus Nicholas talked about tha
t whole butterfly effect."

  He winces at something I said, but quickly composes himself and scoots closer. "How's your stomach feeling?" He reaches for my shirt and without waiting for permission, lifts the hem up to inspect my wound.

  "What exactly happened to me?" I ask as he carefully peels back a corner or the bandage.

  He releases an unsteady breath. "A piece of glass cut you." He puts the bandage back in place, lowers my shirt, and then brushes his finger across my hairline. "It cut you here, too, but it wasn't too bad. No stitches or anything." There's a trace of a smile and I bet he's thinking about the last time he put stitches on me, which seems like such a long time ago.

  "It felt like I was dying." I lightly touch my head.

  Fear flashes in his eyes. "You were... did."

  "I died?"

  He nods. "But I brought you back."

  "H-how?" I'm so shocked I can hardly speak. Dead. I was dead and now I'm not.

  "I have no idea, but we need to be more careful." He reaches out to touch me again, but then pulls back. "We can't let anything happen to you."

  I want to ask him why, because of the star or because of me, but either answer would be painful. "Is everyone else okay?" I ask. He doesn't answer, gazing off over my shoulder. "Alex, what happened? Just tell me. Whatever it is I can handle it."

  "No, I'm not sure you can," he says. "It's bad."

  "It can't be worse than when you died," I tell him. "So yes, I can handle it."

  Emotions flicker in his eyes, one's I don't understand. "It's Nicholas...he's dead."

  Chapter 9

  Dead? Nicholas is dead. The faerie/Foreseer who only hours ago was annoying the shit out of me is gone forever, taking his irritating habits and knowledge of how to fix the world right along with him.

  "I'm not sure how to react." I admit, gripping the blanket. "I'm so confused."

  "That's understandable," he says concernedly. "Death is confusing."

  "Yeah, but I didn't really even like him," I say guiltily.

  "Neither did I," he tells me with a sad smile. "But it's still hard to hear of someone dying, maybe even a little frightening."

  I let the blanket go from my death grip. "You sound so wise right now."

  "I'm always wise." He winks at me, but there's sadness flowing from him. "But I've also lost people to death before. And whether it was my grandmother or the eighty year old lady who lived next door, it was all confusing and painful."

  "I'm sorry. I don't know what to say... I've never lost someone. Only thought I did."

  His fingers find my cheekbone. Forbidden territory again, but I don't stop him. "And I'm sure thinking it still hurt as much as if it'd happened."

  "That's not true," I say, shaking my head. "I couldn't feel when I truly began to understand that my parents were dead, at least according to Marco and Sophia. It didn't hurt, not like when I thought I'd lost you." The last part sort of slips out, falls off my tongue, hangs between us, waiting for someone to pick it up."

  "I want to kiss you better," he says in a hoarse voice, eyes fervent with the desire he was talking about in the car. "I do, but..."

  "But you can't," I finish for him, our lips inching nearer. I feel the heat of his breath caressing my skin, the warmth of his hand on my thigh practically scalds my skin, and the heat in his eyes, the emotions; it almost makes me okay with dying. Maybe I could, give that up, my life for love and for the world.

  I'm about to say that to him, ask him if maybe we should allow ourselves to go to that place if we can, let our hearts beat until they connect, then the star will fade and will go with it too. Sacrifice. It might be the only way.

  But I can't seem to get the words to leave my mouth, so I selfishly say something else. "How did he die?"

  Alex draws a path up to my eye, then delicately traces a line below it, back and forth... it feels mind-numbingly good. "He was on the side of the impact. I think it killed him instantly."

  Reality rushes over me like a bone-crushing wave. Nicholas is gone and I can't save the world, unless I want to die and let Alex die too.

  "It's all over." My stomach churns again and I throw my hand over my mouth as I my stomach threatens to dry heave. "Where's the bathroom?"

  Alex points over his shoulder at a door on the opposing wall as the one he walked out earlier. "There's one right there."

  I jump off the bed and run over too it as Alex gets to his feet, calling out after me. I slam the door, run over to the toilet, and puke until my stomach is empty. Until everything is empty.

  After I rinse my mouth and splash my face with cold water, I take in my reflection in the mirror. I look like death, my violet eyes red and puffy, my skin pallid, and there's a thin cut on my forehead.

  "What am I going to do?" The choices I'm facing are tearing me apart. "How am I supposed to decide?"

  A knock on the door. "Are you okay in there?" Alex asks.

  "Yeah," I say, pulling myself together before I open the door. "I'm just not feeling very well... it must be the accident or something."

  He gives sympathetic look. "Do you want to lie down? You've been through a lot of the last few days."

  I shake my head and step past him and out of the bathroom. "I want to see Laylen and make sure he's doing okay."

  Alex frowns. "He's fine." He leans against the doorframe of the bathroom and points at the door across the room, the one he walked out of earlier. "He's out there with Stasha and Aislin."

  I feel a little weird about how much I want to see Laylen and with how uneasy it's making Alex, but I still head out and he trails behind me, keeping his distance. The air smells leafy and reminds me of Nicholas, but it's coming from the plants flourishing from the walls and ceiling. At the end of the hallway is a living room with walls covered in rose wallpaper that match the sofas. Like the bedroom, there are plants all over the shelves, vines decorating the ceiling, and plants in the windowsill. The curtain is open and I can see that it's still dusk.

  I glance over my shoulder at Alex and raise my eyebrows. "Okay, the plants are kind of creeping me out."

  He shrugs, not agreeing or disagreeing. "The oxygen's good for her or something... but yeah, still kind of creepy." He nods his head to my right. "Everyone's in the kitchen."

  I turn and spot Laylen sitting at the kitchen table. Strands of his blond, blue-tipped hair hang in his bright blue eyes, tattoos curve across his arms, including the markings for the Mark of Immortality, and his long legs are stretched out to the side of him as he sits sideways in the chair. Aislin is next to him, her hair damp and she's wearing a white floral dress, opening and closing her hand causing her skin to smoke as if she's practicing a spell. The other person at the table is also in a floral dress; a green one. Her blond hair reminds me of sunshine and sunflowers and her eyes are sky blue. Tan gloves cover her hands and her lips are glossy. I've seen this girl before, not just in a photo back at Laylen's house, but in a vision... or memory... She was holding Aislin's spell book.

  "Shit."

  "What's wrong?" Alex asks, his breath tickling the back of my neck--I hadn't realized he was so close.

  I turn and our lips are only a sliver of space away. "I've seen that girl before," I whisper.

  His brow curves upward. "Stasha?"

  I nod. "In a vision... or memory... I'm not really sure, but she was holding Aislin's spell book."

  Alex doesn't seem as surprised as I am. He simply says, "I'll take care of it." Then he winds around me and heads for the kitchen table.

  I turn around and discover Stasha has focused her attention me, her gaze shooting daggers. "Everything okay?" she asks Alex as he strolls up to her.

  "We need to talk," he says, then gestures for her to follow him as he walks toward a door on the far back wall. I don't know where the door leads to, but what I do know is I feel so jealous when the two of them go into the room behind it that I feel like I'm about to ignite into flames.

  I need to concentrate on something else besides this jealou
s feeling festering inside me so I look at Laylen. He's fiddling with his lip ring, sucking on it sexily as he draws it between his teeth and watching him do it turns out to be a great distraction.

  He catches my eye and a look of relief washes over him. Without saying a word, he rises from the chair and crosses the room in three long strides, catching me by the elbow and guiding me into the living room with him, leaving Aislin alone in the kitchen to practice her magic.

  We stand face to face between the sofas and I'm so relieved to see him, it takes me a moment to find my voice.

  "How are you doing?" I finally ask.

  "I don't know... Okay, I guess."

  "You had me worried... I still am."

  "I know you are," he says, meeting my gaze, almost looking glad that I'm worried about him, but maybe it's because he hardly has anyone in his life. "I'm sorry. I just freaked out when your mom told me this was done on purpose to me." He gestures at himself and then the mark on his arm, indicating he's referring to being a vampire. "I didn't do anything, though... I didn't bite anyone... I wanted to... so fucking badly." He chews on his bottom lip, staring at the spot on my neck where he bit me once. "I kept having dreams of drinking your blood and I swear I could taste it... it was maddening."

 
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