Fractured souls, p.8
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       Fractured Souls, p.8

         Part #2 of Shattered Promises series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 8

 

  The man is fixed on me. “With what?”

  An anxious breath eases from Laylen’s lips. “With finding out if someone is still in The Underworld or if they’ve escaped. ”

  “I see. ” His eyebrows arch as he tears his eyes from me and resides his attention on Laylen. “And what made you bring the human? I rarely see you with them, let alone biting them. ” He skims my wrist.

  “The cost of getting in here. ” Laylen presses his lips together. “Your guard wouldn’t accept anything less. ”

  The man snakes the chain around his wrist, forcing the woman to crawl to his feet. “You should be thanking him, Laylen. I can tell by that euphoric look in your eyes that you must have enjoyed it. ” He glances at me, his nostrils flaring. “She does smell very divine. ”

  Laylen says nothing, however his fingers compress into my skin.

  The man grins at me. “Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Draven. ” My heart constricts in my chest as he sticks out his hand. Despite my wariness, I take it since he’s the man who might be able to help me find my mother. He wraps his cold fingers around my hand, slides them up to my wrist and brings my knuckles up to his lips, placing a delicate kiss onto it. Then he inhales, breathing in my scent before letting my hand go. “Yes, very divine,” he mutters, straightening back up. “Now explain to me exactly what it is you need to know from me. ” He jerks on the chain and the collar on the woman’s neck bites at her skin, causing her to whimper. “Who is this person in The Underworld that you so desperately seek?”

  “Who said we were desperate?” Laylen crosses his arms and maintains Draven’s gaze.

  Draven motions around at the room. “Look where you are. You’d have to be desperate to be here. ”

  Laylen glances around at the Vampires circling the table. They’re no longer playing poker; their cards have been laid down as they watch. “Would it be okay if we spoke in private?”

  Draven considers Laylen’s request then calls over his shoulder, “Gentlemen, could you excuse us for a moment? It seems we have to discuss something of a serious nature, privately. ” There’s humor in his voice, which makes it obvious that he’s enjoying creating our feelings of uneasiness.

  The Vampires get up from their chairs without arguing and file out of the room with the women beside them. After everyone’s gone, Draven signals at us to have a seat at the table. We silently obey, either out of fear or the need for answers, and sit down beside each other. Draven sits in a chair across from us and the woman crouches beside him with her head hung low, her veil of auburn hair shielding her face.

  Draven rolls up his sleeves, deliberately watching us. I notice that he has the Mark of Immortality on one forearm and on the other arm there’s a bizarre looking set of triangles overlapping each other in black and red. Once he’s finished, he relaxes back in the chair and studies us closely. “So who’s this person you need to find and what makes her so important to you?”

  Laylen peeks at me from the corner of his eye. “Her name is Jocelyn. . . Lucas. ”

  My breath hitches in my throat at the sound of my mom’s name and Laylen snatches hold of my hand from under the table, giving it a comforting squeeze.

  “Jocelyn Lucas,” Draven ponders. “The Keeper Jocelyn Lucas?”

  Laylen warily nods. “Yes, that’s the one. Do you know her?”

  “Know is a strong word… more like I’ve heard of her. ” A sinister shadow casts across Draven’s face as he yanks on the chain, jerking the woman’s head onto his lap.

  I swallow hard, wondering just how tricky it’s going to be to get him to give us the information we need. Laylen said it was going to be dangerous and I’m starting to understand why. There’s something in Draven eyes, a darkness that unsettles every bone in my body.

  Laylen shoves aside some poker chips and cards to rest his arms on the table. “So do you know if she’s still alive?”

  “I do… However…” Draven trails off, looking right at me as he licks his lips and then his fangs point out from his mouth. “This Jocelyn, I’m guessing she’s very important to you?”

  I nod. “She is. ”

  He loops the chain around his wrist, making a spiral up his forearm and the woman is forced to comply with the movement, her head elevating toward his mouth. “Tell me, what would you be willing to give up to find out if she is alive or not?”

  I glance at Laylen for help, but his eyes are fixated on Draven as he slips his fingers around the woman’s leather collar and draws her neck toward his chin.

  “I don’t know…” Laylen drifts off, biting at his lip ring, his blue eyes blackening.

  Draven grins, aiming his fangs out as he sweeps the woman’s hair to the side. “If you want, Laylen, I’d be more than happy to share. ” With a final grin, he deliberately dips his fangs into the woman’s neck.

  She gasps as his fangs enter her skin and then clutches onto Draven’s legs. Draven’s neck muscles work to devour the blood out and her eyes widen before flicking to me. For a second I see life inside her, but it quickly vanishes the longer Draven continues to feed. Blood drizzles down her neckline and the collar of her dress, staining the silky blue fabric a deep red. She moans in pleasure and then whimpers when it’s too much to handle, her eyes dazing off as she arrives at a state of contentment. I wonder what it feels like? What kind of sensations run through the body to make someone look that way?

  Laylen licks his lips and I feel his weight shift, like he’s about to stand up, his fingers burrowing into my wrist. I wrench my hand away from his hold and slam it down on top of his leg, holding him in place.

  He winces and his gaze shoots in my direction. He doesn’t even look like Laylen anymore, only a shadow of him that’s full of hunger.

  “What do you want?” I ask Draven, my voice unsteady as I grasp onto Laylen’s leg.

  With blood on his lips, he frees the woman from his teeth and shoves her to the floor. She falls on her knees, her head low, blood rivering down her neck and dress as it pools on the floor. Draven wipes his mouth with his fingertips, licking the blood off each one.

  He unbuttons the top button of his shirt, tugging it down a little, the fabric stained with blood. Then he reaches for a cigar box in the middle of a table next to a stack of poker chips. He lifts the lid off, takes out a cigar, and lights the end, putting it into his mouth and inhaling deeply.

  “I want one very simple thing in exchange for me using my lovely gift to peek in on the Fey of The Underworld. ” He takes another drag of the cigar and greyish smoke fills up the room.

  Laylen tears his gaze from the woman bleeding on the floor and focuses on Draven, gripping onto my hand. “And what is it?” he asks.

  Draven puffs on the cigar several times, remaining silent, then finally he balances it on an ashtray, the smoke still rising off the end. He crosses his arms on the table and cocks his head to the side. “I want you to feed on the girl. ”

  Laylen quickly looks at the woman on the floor. “I don’t think she can take anymore feeding without me… killing her. ”

  He shakes his head. “Not on her. ” His attention targets on me. “Her. ”

  “What?” I cry at the same time Laylen snaps, “No fucking way. ”

  He laughs and it’s deafening echoes ricochet around the room. The woman beside him quivers and falls flat on her stomach, her head resting near Draven’s feet. “Then no deal. ”

  Laylen’s livid as he slants forward about to say who knows what, but I interrupt him.

  “How do we know that you know anything at all?” I ask and feel Laylen go rigid beside me.

  His lips part and I half expect him to shout at me to shut the hell up, but surprisingly he stays quiet.

  Draven’s fingers seek the cigar in the ashtray. “When the Lord of the Afterlife makes a deal, the deal is unbreakable. Those are the rules. ” He places the butt of the cigar into his mouth and inhales.

  Laylen tips his head to the si
de, encountering my gaze. There’s an exchange between us, an agreement, like we’re asking each other what to do.

  Laylen leans in toward me, keeping his voice hushed. “It’s addicting. ”

  Breathe in. Breathe out. “I know… if you don’t think you can do it, that’s okay… I’ll understand. ”

  “Not just addicting for me… I’ll always crave no matter what,” he clarifies. “But it’s also addicting for you, too. ”

  My forehead creases. “I’ll become addicted?”

  “You could and then you would most likely end up at a place just like this. ” He gives a fleeting glance to the woman on the floor. “Doing whatever just to feel the sensations the bite brings. ”

  Sensations? “But Aislin got bit and she’s fine. ”

  “Fine… but not great. ” He contemplates. “Besides, Aislin is a Keeper and a Witch. She’s stronger in the sense of control and what she can’t do of her own freewill, she casts a spell for. ”

  I swallow hard. “I can be strong. ” My weak voice contradicts my words, though.

  He gives me a heart-wrenching look and then cups my cheek, leveling our gazes. “But your emotions are so new. . . I’m worried it might be even harder for you. ”

  “Is this the best way to find out if my mom’s alive?” I ask, refusing to give up so easily.

  He strokes my cheek. “It is… but we can try to find another way. ”

  I press my lips together, deciding, but ultimately, it’s not even a choice. My whole life, I’ve had no one. It’s merely been myself, yet it was only a shell of myself. I want more. I want my mom. I want to know where I came from and feel like someone cares about me. I don’t want to walk around this world feeling so unloved. I also want to understand love.

  “Do it,” I utter. “I want you to bite me. ” I actually mean what I say, too. Maybe it’s because of my mom, out of curiosity, or maybe this is just the kind of person that I am—one who welcomes intoxicating, dangerous things.

  Draven claps his hands and Laylen jerks away from me, rotating forward in the chair so he’s facing Draven.

  “Very well played,” he says as he claps his hands again, puffing on the cigar. “Give him the sad eyes and show him your heartache. ” He pauses, assessing us as a cloud of smoke envelops his face. “Although, I might say that they’re extremely lovely eyes so it’s not quite fair on Laylen’s part. They’re so intoxicating. . . Violet is such a unique color. You don’t see it that often, except for on Pixies and sometimes Fey. ” He ashes the cigar, tapping it on the side of the glass ashtray.

  “She’s neither,” Laylen hurries and says. “And will you please just get on with it. ”

  “Easy. ” Draven puts out the cigar in the ashtray, spilling ashes onto the table. “She’s agreed to let you bite her. The time will come. ”

  “I don’t want to bite her,” Laylen makes it clear through gritted teeth. “What I want is to be normal. ”