Cinder x, p.9
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       Cinder X, p.9

         Part #2 of Death Collectors series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 9

 

  I immediately take the piece of paper out of my pocket and call Professor Morgan, but it sends me straight to voicemail. There’s got to be an explanation for this. He’ll explain it, right? He’ll know what the words on the pages meant, right? I’m not so sure.

  I’m not so sure about anything anymore.

  I shut the book, set it aside, then flop down on the bed. None of this makes sense. I need some sort of answers. What I need is someone to talk to. “Cameron, can you hear me?” I ask and then wince at my desperation.

  I try again and again without any response. After the fifth attempt, I finally turn up some music, a little Breaking Benjamin, hoping that will help with the quiet, yet there’s still emptiness around me and inside me. “God, I can’t take it anymore. ” The soundlessness. The seclusion. Everyone I have no longer talks to me, and I can’t talk to them because I’m not sure if they’re still themselves. I wish it’d be over. God, just get it over with. I can’t take it anymore. “Please, just make it…” I trail off, realizing where I’m heading and how I can’t go there, especially after what Cameron told me. I can’t give up. Give in. “Is that what’s going on?” I squeeze my eyes shut. “Is all this loneliness part of the torture, the Reapers’ new way to get to me? Leave me alone to let me rot in my own lonely existence. ”

  Now, how would I know what they’re up to? He answers and then unexpectedly the music turns down. “I’ve already told you that I don’t want them to have you and therefore I have nothing to do with them…. I want you for myself. ”

  My eyes shoot open at the sound of his voice around me instead of in my head. He’s standing near the doorway of my room, dressed in normal clothes; a loose pair of name brand jeans, a fitted grey shirt, and his blonde hair lightly tousled.

  “So you finally decided to show yourself. ” I sit up on the bed. “Instead of just cowering inside my head. ”

  He laughs wickedly as he skims over the contents of my room with intrigue. “I wasn’t cowering, princess. You just made it clear that you’re in dire need of some company and I thought I’d step up and help out, since I care for you. ”

  I smooth my long, black hair into place as I lower my feet over the edge of the bed. “Like hell you do. And besides, I don’t want your help. ” Lie. Lie. Lie.

  “You say that now,” he says, entering my room. He picks up a feather from my dresser and I have the most overwhelming urge to snatch it from his hand, especially since Asher had held it once when he was in my room. “But eventually you’ll want me. ” He touches the feather with the tip of his finger, smiling at himself since it’s a raven’s feather and he can shift into a raven. Then he sets it back down on the dresser. “Especially for what’s in store for you in the very near future. ” He says it with implication.

  “What do you mean?” I stand up from my bed. “Are you talking about the omen I saw?”

  He nods his gaze boring into me, his eyes filling with lust, which makes my skin feel like it’s crawling and spontaneously combusting at the same time. “I’ve been hearing stuff and I think something’s going down in the Angel/Reaper battle,” he finally says, stuffing his hands into his pockets. “Something that requires a lot of sacrifice of innocent people so that someone can get a lot of power, which I’m guessing might be linked to the death omen you saw… all those deaths are a great source of power. ”

  “And do you think the mayor has something to do with this?” I ask.

  He shrugs. “Maybe, but if that’s true than I’m guessing he’s probably not really the mayor, but a Reaper, working for a much powerful Reaper—our leader probably. ”

  “You think the leader of the Reapers has something to do with this?” I blow out a frustrated breath. “The murders? The number of people being possessed in the town multiplying overnight?”

  “I’m not sure if the possession has anything to do with the increasing possession,” he explains. “I still think that’s the Anamotti trying to take down the last Grim Angel standing. I think things are getting close and their upping the forces. ”

  As my muscles wind in knots, I work to keep a steady voice. “Have things… is there only one Grim Angel left now?”

  His brow crooks. “Well, that’d make it you, wouldn’t it?”

  I nearly fall down and have to grip onto the bedpost for support. “Please tell me that’s not true. ”

  He rolls his eyes, like I just overreacted. “No, we haven’t gotten to that point yet. There’s still some left… although the numbers are small. And besides, you’d know when you were the last one standing because your inner Reaper and Angel would reveal. ” He sighs and leans against my dresser. “But I think that’s the least of our problems now, because if the lovely mayor is working for the Reapers, then it could quite possibly mean that my leader could be here, which is very bad for you and for me too, considering my family’s rebellion to cooperate with the rules and order of the Reapers. ”

  “Why am I not surprised by that last fact?” I say then frown, thinking about the story Elliot told me. “When you say leader of the Reapers, do you mean the one that used to own that necklace you stole from me?”

  “The one and only Altarius Vinceton. ” His lips curve to a sinister grin. “And I never stole the necklace from you; your grandmother stole it from me. ”

  I narrow my eyes at him. “So you say. ”

  His grin darkens. “So I know. ” We carry each other’s gazes, refusing to look away, and finally his facial expression softens. “Look, I want to help you, Ember, no matter what you think. ”

  I laugh sharply. “Oh, I doubt that. ”

  His feet shuffle across the carpet as he strides towards me. “Why so doubtful? Have I ever done anything to harm you?”

  “You made me kill a person,” I remind him, noting that I have nowhere to go as he closes in on me.

  “Which I brought back to life. ” He takes another stride. The closer he gets, the more the lines on my arms beneath my gloves burn.

  I back away, bumping into the bed and then fall down on the mattress on my ass. I continue to scoot back on the bed to get back the distance he’s stealing as he moves across my room.

  “Well, if you want to help me, then give me the necklace. So it can protect me. ”

  “I can’t,” he says matter-of-factly as the front of his legs graze against the side of the bed. “My family needs it for their own protection. We’re not the most loved Grim Reapers in the clan, especially when we stole the necklace to begin with. ”

  “I can’t imagine why,” I say sarcastically as my back brushes the wall.

  He gets aggravated as he leans over the bed and hovers over me. “You know, I don’t know why you are so eager to believe that the necklace will protect you,” he says. “You know nothing about Elliot, other than he’s Asher’s uncle. It makes you really naïve to simply believe him because of that. ”

  I ignore the fact that his closeness accelerates my heart rate, telling myself that it’s just like at the lake and the cemetery, that he’s controlling it—me. However I’m not sure if it’s entirely true. “It doesn’t make me naïve. If I had a reason not to trust him, then I wouldn’t, but he hasn’t given me a reason yet. ”

  “But you don’t trust me,” he says, like I don’t have a reason not to.

  I struggle not to laugh, knowing it won’t make the situation any better. “You have to earn trust, Cameron. ”

  “Asher didn’t earn your trust,” he states, leaning closer to me, his shadow covering my body. “He lied to you just as much as I did. ”

  “Yeah, but Asher’s good. ”

  “How do you know?” A hand comes down on each side of my head, so he’s pretty much lying on top of me, yet he remains standing. “Maybe you shouldn’t go around believing things until they’re proven. ”

  He’s right. Not about Asher, but about getting facts before deciding on what to believe “Tell me what the leader looks like,” I demand, pressing my back agains
t the mattress, desperate to get space between us. “And why he’s here. That’s how you can establish my trust, if you want it. ”

  “I don’t know those answers. ” He looks as lost as me. “However, what I do know is that it’s really bad that he’s here. ” He licks his lips, eyeing mine. I can read all over his face that he wants me.

  “I know it’s bad. ” I place my hands on his chest to hold him back, repulsed by my body’s disappointment of my shoving him back. “But how bad exactly? I mean, people are already possessed and there’s a murder or disappearance at least once a week. How much worse could things get?”

  “Much, much worse. ” He reaches for my face and I flinch as he strokes my cheek with his finger. “More and more deaths will happen. ” His fingers drift down my cheek, my jaw, my neckline, stopping just above where my breasts curve out of my top. “Reapers love their death. It’s like a drug for us. ” He breathes my scent. “We crave it. Breathe it. And our leader is connected to all our power; our feelings. So imagine how much death he craves—needs. ”

  I shudder against his touch, momentarily falling into it, hating that sometimes it feels so easy to give in to him and so hard to push him away, but I still manage to get some room, pushing him away as far as he’ll allow me.

  “You can’t touch me, Cameron. I-I don’t want you to. ”

  He traces a line from my cleavage to my neck, his fingers resting over my pulse. “Why not? You let Asher touch you like this. ” His other hand finds my waist, gripping firmly, fingers delving into the fabric, causing me to shiver in response. “And you don’t fight it… you want it. ”

  “Asher’s an Angel,” I say, loathing that my voice cracks. “And he didn’t just tell me that he’s addicted to stealing souls. ”

  “So what if he’s an Angel?” His eyes flare, the tips of his fingers pressing into my skin. “And I’m a Reaper. Both of us symbolize death. Both of us collect souls. There’s a very thin line between what we are. ”

  “Not really. ” I wince from his violent touch. “And besides, I know Asher enough to know that he cares about me and wouldn’t do anything that would hurt me. ”

  When he speaks his voice is low and conveys rage, his breath hot on my cheeks. “Maybe you should get your facts straight before you go yammering your mouth off,” he says. I open my mouth to speak, but he covers my lips with his hands. “Tell me this, princess. Did Asher, by chance, ever mention who his father is?”

  I reluctantly shake my head. “No, but what does that matter?” I ask, my lips moving against the palm of his hand.

  He lowers his hand from my mouth. “It matters when his father’s part of the Anamotti. ”