Broken visions, p.8
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       Broken Visions, p.8

         Part #3 of Shattered Promises series by Jessica Sorensen
 
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  "I thought it was getting easier to control?"

  "It was... but then something changed inside me... and it felt like I went back to the place that I started if that makes any sense."

  I have to wonder if maybe this has something to do with me resetting time. "It's going to be okay," I say, repeating my father's words, even though I'm not positive I believe them. "And if this ever gets to be too much, you can talk to me. You and I are in this together." I look directly him in the eye. "Promise me you won't run away again. That no matter what happens or what you're feeling, you'll come to me first."

  He nods and then pulls me in for a hug, breathing in my sent as he puts his lips up to my neck and presses a kiss there. "I'm so sorry... For thinking about you the way that I do."

  My veins are filled with liquid fire beneath my skin. It's so wrong, but every time I think about his fangs sinking into me, I feel like moaning. "It's okay," I say. "Everything's going to be okay."

  But I'm not sure if it is.

  About ten minutes later, Alex and Stasha emerge from the back room, Alex looking annoyed and Stasha looking pissed. Alex strides over to the kitchen table and drops a thick, leather book right in front of Aislin.

  "Found your spell book," Alex says, shaking his head in annoyance as he narrows his eyes at Stasha. "Apparently someone's been sneaking around."

  "I wasn't sneaking around," Stasha retorts, crossing her arms. "You were right there when you saw me take it."

  "No I wasn't," he argues as Aislin hugs the book to her chest.

  "Yes, you were," Stasha insists, stepping toward him. "You were in the beach house and she," she aims a finger at me, "Was possessed by the devil himself."

  "You mean Stephan?" I ask. "But I thought--"

  "It's time to go," Alex interrupts in a clipped tone. "We've got a lot of shit to take care of."

  I want to ask him questions, starting with the fact that Stasha is can remember a point in time that technically never occurred. And also why she stole the spell book for Stephan, which would mean she is... was helping him. But he looks so angry that I decide just to go with the flow until we get out of Stasha's house.

  When Aislin and Alex join us in the living room, we get ready to leave via transportation even though Aislin is a worried taking four people. But she said she'd try, I think just to get us the hell out of there.

  She has a black candle lit as she sits on the floor with a crystal in her hand. I go to take my necklace off, to avoid repelling Aislin's magic back on her, when I realize it is missing.

  "Wait, where's my necklace?" I touch the base of my neck, panicking.

  "I took it off when Aislin transported us here," Alex tells me, still aggravated. "I left it on the nightstand in the room you were in when you woke up."

  I hurry to the bedroom to get it, but the necklace isn't on the nightstand like Alex said. I search the bedroom floor, in the bed, under the bed, inside the closet. I even check the bathroom, but no luck.

  I really don't want to be the girl who cries over a lost piece of jewelry, but I might be if I don't find it--it has sentimental value.

  "Looking for this?"

  The sound of her catlike voice sends the hairs on the back of my neck on end. I slowly turn toward the doorway where Stasha is standing, her glove-covered hand up in front of her, a shiny, silver object dangling from her finger.

  My locket.

  "Why do you have that?" I put up my guard, knowing that something isn't right.

  With a sardonic grin, she shakes her head as she lowers her hand. "I know girls like you." She struts into the room, swinging the necklace around her finger. "Sad. Lonely. Pathetic. God, I can't believe Alex would even have the slightest bit of interest in you."

  I let girls like Stasha walk all over me back in high school. Of course I couldn't feel anything at the time so it didn't matter then, but now it's pissing me off. I shove Stasha back with more force than I mean to and she trips back and lands on her ass. As she sits there in shock, I snatch the necklace away from her and then run out of the room before she can take one of those gloves off her hand and kill me. I don't make it very far down the hall, though, before her fingers wraps around my ankle. She yanks on my leg, sending me flat on my face. I kick my foot at her, but miss repeatedly, so instead start dragging myself across the floor in this weird arm crawl way.

  I glance over my shoulder and realize it's not Stasha that has a hold of me but her plants. The vines that cover everything have taken on their own life and are snaking around trying to get a hold of me. They were alive and writhing all over the place like snakes.

  Stasha walks through them toward me and I open my mouth to yell for help, but another vine clamps down on my mouth, silencing me and then others ravel around my body, making it impossible to move.

  She kneels down in front of me as I struggle to get free. "You should know better than to mess with someone like me," she says, tugging off one of her gloves. Then she reaches for me, ready to touch me, ready to kill.

  I fight with all my strength, but it's useless so I decide to go another route. I shut my eyes and picture the sandy shore outside the beach house, just enough of a distance away that the Praesidium won't interfere with my power. I can hear the ocean waves colliding with the shore, see the moon shining in the starry sky, feel the salty breeze kissing my cheeks.

  "What are you doing?" Stasha asks, but her voice is muffled, fading.

  Take me there, I think, feeling the sand touch my toes.

  But then a hand grabs my arm and I feel nothing but fire.

  Chapter 10

  My face slams into the sand. I quickly scramble to my feet and sprint into the ocean to dunk my arm into the water, expecting relief from the fiery pain, but only receiving more pain. I let out a jaw-clenched scream as I run for the beach house just up the shore. The pain is unbearable, but what hurts even worse is what it represents. Stasha touched me with her bare hands. Am I going to drop dead at any moment?

  By the time I reach the back door of the house, I'm about to vomit from the sensation of death in my arm. I fling open the back door and fumble around in the dark until I find the light switch. The lights flip on and I stumble over to the sink, turn on the faucet, and submerge my arm underneath the cold, salt-free water.

  It feels a little bit better and I stand let the water flow over it, catching my breath as I wait for the pain to subside. It begins to dwindle, but olive-green marks start to appear on my veins, forming vinery.

  I touch the lines with my fingertip and cringe. "Is this permanent?"

  I wait a little longer with my arm in the water, hoping they'll fade, but they don't. Finally I give up and put my locket on right as I hear a soft poof from inside the living room. Not sure what it's from, I tiptoe to the doorway and peer around the corner. A purple haze fills the room and Alex, Laylen, and Aislin are in the center it. As soon as they all see me, they're worried expressions relax.

  Aislin drops the crystal and candle on the table, but keeps hold of her spell book. "Thank God," she says as she flops tiredly. "I thought she killed you."

  "What happened?" Alex crosses the room with his arms open, as if he's going to hug me, but by the time he reaches me, he's changed his mind and lowered them to his side.

  I extend my arm out to him, showing him the lines mapping my veins. "Her plants attacked me and then she touched me....you know, you could have warned me about the plants."

  He curses under his breath then examines my arm, running his thumb up and down the lines. "Dammit, she's fucking crazy."

  "Yes, she is," I agree. "It's not permanent, is it? Please, please, tell me it's going to go away."

  Alex looks up at me, remorseful. "I'm sorry, Gemma. I never should have taken you there."

  I sigh, removing my arm from his grasp. "Great. Now I'm always going to have a reminder of when your ex-girlfriend tried to kill me."

  I don't know who laughs first, but suddenly we are all laughing as if I've just said the best joke in
the world. Sleep deprivation is a funny thing, I guess, and makes everyone kind of loopy.

  After the laughter settles down, we gather around the coffee table, putting the mapping ball on it, the light in the center illuminating a ghostly glow. I start to get up to look for my mother but Aislin tells me that right before they transported here she got a call from my mom, saying that she ran to the gas station to pick up some food, because no one had really been stocking the cupboards. So I sit back down and we quickly explain to Laylen what's been going on and then we start discussing how Stasha got the book.

  "So Stasha took the book, but it took place in a time that was erased, yet it still happened," Alex states as he kicks his foot up on his knee and rests his arm on the back of the sofa, just behind me.

  "It sounds so confusing when you put it like that," I say. "But yeah, I think that's what happened."

  "But how?" Aislin wonders as she flips through her spell book. She's been doing it since we sat down, I think looking for some sort of signs Stasha did something to it.

  "I have no idea." I pause. "Nicholas would have, but unfortunately he's... gone."

  We all grow quiet for a moment, thinking about what happened. I wonder if he'll get a funeral, if the fey mourn like humans, or if they do something else.

  "We need to make a plan." Aislin changes the subject as she closes her spell book.

  "Thanks for clarifying the obvious, Aislin," Alex says sarcastically.

  Aislin rolls her eyes. "Don't be an ass."

  "What we need to do is go to the City of Crystal." I pick up the mapping ball and rotate it in my hands. "So I can get inside this thing and fix the vision and hopefully all this other stuff that's gotten out of place will be fixed too."

  "Why do you think your father would reset time, if it was going to mess it up?" Laylen asks with a pucker at his brow. "It doesn't make any sense."

  It gets quiet again, but a different kind of quiet, one where I know they're all thinking the same thing, but too afraid to say it.

  Finally, Alex gets the balls to put it out there. "Gemma, you don't think he's setting you up, do you? To maybe finish whatever it is he started with my father."

  "Who said he was doing something with your father," I say coldly. "He never said anything about that."

  "He never said much about anything," Alex points out, his knuckles grazing the back of my neck, as if he's attempting to keep me calm with his touch. "But I'm guessing that he probably erased the vision and recreated things so the world would end for my father."

  "Stop saying that," I snap defensively.

  He gives me a look of empathy. "Gemma, I get defending your father, trust me, I really do. But sometimes what we want them to be isn't what they are."

  "Shut up," I snap, surprising everyone in the room. "You don't know anything about him, but you're making judgments based on one thing."

  "No one knows anything about him." Alex's hand drifts to my shoulder.

  But I shrug it off and get to my feet. "I need some air." I hurry for the door and burst outside. I hear Aislin say something about let her go as I shut the door behind me. Then I sink down on the front steps, bring my knees to my chest, rest my chin on them and stare at the stars.

  "Are you evil?" I wonder aloud, wishing to hear his voice again, but the only answer I get is silence and that leaves me wondering if maybe Alex is right. Perhaps my dad is working with Stephan to end the world and using me to help him.

  Chapter 11

  After staring at the stars for an eternity, I come to the conclusion that what I need to do is see the vision my father changed and make the decision for myself whether he's working for the evil side or the good one. If what he's told me is true, it should be clear in the vision. If not, then I won't change it. However, that still leaves the problems of getting into the mapping ball.

  I march into the house and pick it up from the coffee table, all three of them staring at me as if they think I'm having a meltdown. "I'm going to do this--I have to. If anything looks suspicious then I won't change the vision, but I need to see it for myself."

  Alex is already shaking his head before I even finish. He stands up, reaching to take the crystal ball from my hand, but I put it behind my back. "You don't even know how to use it," he says. "Nicholas never explained anything to you other than how to get enough power to use it."

  "Well, I can start by getting the power from the City of Crystal," I tell him. "And then go from there."

  "It's too risky," Alex says. "Hell, sneaking into the City of Crystal is risky enough not to mention stealing some of the power, bringing it back--which I might add we don't know how to do--and then you've got to figure out how to use the power to get inside that thing."

  "Maybe there's another Foreseer we can ask," Aislin suggests, glancing at her phone as it vibrates. "There has to be one that might help us, right? Nicholas couldn't be the only one."

  "Involving another Foreseer would mean involving another person, which is risky," Alex says. "Besides, we don't even know what side the Foreseers are on?

  "Maybe you could ask your father," Laylen says to me. "I mean, you've been there once, so why can't you go there again? You could also maybe get more of a feel if he's..." He stops talking, offering me an apologetic look.

  "I don't know if I can... when I went there the first time it was entirely by accident and he wouldn't tell me anything no matter how much I asked him," I say, sitting down on the coffee table and studying the crystal ball, still illuminating from the center star. "I think I need to talk to my mom. She might know something that could help." I check the clock on the wall, realizing it's nearing morning. "I'm starting to get worried about her... Shouldn't she be back by now?" I look at Aislin for an explanation.

  "I don't know...maybe she had to go somewhere else besides the store." She shrugs, but it's a blase shrug, like she doesn't care, or knows something else she's not telling me.

  "What's going on?" I ask. "You've been acting weird every time I bring up my mother."

  Aislin presses her lips together, looking everywhere but at me. "She's fine."

  "I didn't ask if she was fine," I tell her sternly. "I asked what's going on."

  Again she refuses to speak, so Alex intervenes, "What exactly did she say on the phone?" he asks his sister.

  Aislin shakes her head, her lips starting to quiver. "I don't know. I don't remember."

  "Aislin," Alex warns, stepping toward her. "What did she say?"

  "I don't want to tell you!" Aislin cries, dropping her head into her hands to hide her tears. "If I do then you'll just go and try to save her, and I can't take any more of it!"

  "Any more of what?" Alex's voice softens a smidgeon.

  "You risking your life all the time." She lifts her head back up and her eyes are red from the tears. "Dad's crazy, mom left, and you're all I have left. I mean, I get that it's our job and everything to protect the world but seriously I need a god damn break... You've already died once."

  "You can remember that?" Alex and I say simultaneously.

  She nods, her face contorted with confusion as she dabs tears from her cheeks and eyes with her fingertips. "Yeah... I actually can as of now."

  Alex and I trade a look. "Something strange is going on," he says.

  "It has to be from me altering the vision," I utter quietly, knowing it makes my father look even guiltier.

  "Then we need to either fix it," he says firmly. "Or find out what's going on."

  I hold the crystal ball up. "That's what I'm trying to do, but Aislin needs to tell me where my mom is. She might be the only one who can help us at the moment."

  Alex gives me a tolerant look, like he doesn't want to do what he does next. Still he sits down beside Aislin and puts his arm around her shoulder. "Look, I get where you're coming from, but this is what I--we do. You've known that since we were three years old and father explained to us that we were Keepers. We risk our lives and that's how things are. So please, just tell Gemma where her mot
her is."

  She shakes her head again. "I'm not going to, so you can stop pretending to be nice."

  "You can tell me," I offer to Aislin. "I'll go get her by myself."

  "He won't let you." She scowls in her brother's direction. "He's too stubborn and cares for you too much."

  "I won't tell him," I say and in return get the nastiest look from Alex. "I'll keep it a secret and use my Foreseer power to go there by myself."

  Rage flares in Alex's eyes as he rises to his feet, tall and sturdy, intimidating, but I refuse to back down. "Like hell I'm going to--"

  I stand up and put my hand over his mouth, ignoring the warmth of his lips against my flesh. "If I foresee there, he doesn't have a choice. You can have a tantrum but in the end, you can't make me take you." I lower my hand and wait for him to argue, because by the expression on his face, I can tell that he's going to.

 
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