Broken visions, p.9
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       Broken Visions, p.9

         Part #3 of Shattered Promises series by Jessica Sorensen
 
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  His eyes darken and his voice drops to a firm, husky tone. "I can always tie you to the bed and make it so you can't go anywhere."

  He's right. There's Praesidium all over this place, making it impossible for me to use my Foreseer power inside it. And he's strong enough that all he'd have to do is pick me up and carry be to the bed--he could tie me down with one hand. And by the amount of intensity in his eyes, I can tell that he wants to do it and by the way my blood is heating beneath my skin, I think part of me wants him to do it too.

  Laylen finally clears his throat, alleviating the tension. "I can go with her."

  "That doesn't make me feel any better," Alex says, displeased. "I need to be the one to go with her."

  "Laylen can protect me just as much as you can," I tell him, which is clearly the wrong thing to say.

  "Like fucking hell he can." He leans in and puts his lips beside my ear. "Would he die for you?"

  I squeeze my eyes shut as my heart starts to pound. This is not good. Emotions. They're surfacing, so many of them, and he can feel it too because his lips graze my neck. "Alex, I think it might be good if Laylen goes with me," I say, breathless. "Not just for Aislin's sake, but for you and me as well."

  "Gemma... I--"

  "It's for the best," I cut him off.

  He stiffens. When he pulls back, he gives me a look of indifference. "Fine, if that's what you want."

  "It's what I want." But it isn't really. I want him, but I can't have him. Not anymore.

  As he steps away from me, I breathe freely again and then turn to Aislin. "Okay, tell me where she is."

  She sniffs back more tears. "She went to the Keepers' castle to try and kill my father."

  Chapter 12

  At first I think I didn't hear her right because why would my mom do such a crazy, erratic, impulsive, dangerous thing? It's crazy--she would have to be crazy.

  "Oh my God. She's fucking crazy," I whisper in shock. "She's completely lost her mind... It has to be because she spent all those years in The Underworld, right?"

  "She's not crazy," Alex reassures me, putting a hand on my arm as I slowly lower myself onto the sofa. "She just wants to protect you and she probably thought this was the best way not to get you involved, which I completely understand."

  "She's going to get herself killed," I state in disbelief. After all these years without a mother, I finally get her back only for her to run straight into danger two days later.

  Alex massages my shoulder. "We'll go get her."

  "No we won't," I say to him, leaning out of his touch. "I will. Stephan doesn't need both of us showing up there so we end up right in his hands where he can lock us up and let the events of the world play out just like he wants them to. It would be like handing him the end of the world on a golden platter. And besides, I made a promise to Aislin that you wouldn't go."

  He shakes his head, dumbfounded. "You actually think I'm going to let you go to the Keepers' castle by yourself? Have you seriously learned nothing about me?"

  "I've learned you're a stubborn asshole who gets his way all the time," I dare say.

  He gives me that dark, lustful look again. "Should we go back to the plan where I tie you up to the bed."

  As his gaze sweeps across my body, my skin tingles. "I'll never forgive you if you don't let me go. Like we planned, Laylen will go with me and protect me." I look at Laylen, feeling Alex's demanding gaze burning a hole in the back of my head. "Are you ready to go?" I ask Laylen. "Or, if you don't want to anymore, I understand. I know you offered before you knew where we were going."

  Laylen looks at me like I'm acting ridiculous. The he gets to his feet, coming over to me. "Of course, I'm going to go with you."

  "Thank you." I almost give him a hug, but decide against it, considering how Alex is acting right now.

  "But you should change into some pants first." Laylen points at the shorts I have on. "It's freezing up there at night."

  I glance at the window where sunlight sparkles across the land. "But it's morning."

  "It's night at the castle," he says. "Trust me."

  "Okay, give me a second." I start for the hallway and go into the bedroom. I put on a pair of jeans, change my shirt, and rinse my face off, trying to fight my nerves. I'm going to the castle, where Stephan could potentially be and I'm not a Keeper or a ninja warrior. I'm kind of klutzy and uncoordinated. I wonder what the odds of me walking away unscratched from this are.

  As I'm telling myself to suck it up and think of my mom, someone knocks on the door.

  "Come in," I call out as I pull my long, brown hair up in a ponytail.

  Alex walks in and stuffs his hands into his pockets, glancing around at the room and then the bed where we've had hot, steamy. "You about ready to go?"

  "Yeah, I think so," I say, reaching for my jacket on the bedpost, my hand noticeably shaking from my nerves.

  "Hey." He catches my trembling fingers in his hand. "Come here." He guides me with him as he sits down on the bed.

  I notice that he's carrying the Sword of Immortality, the jagged blade glinting in the light. I'm about to ask him why he has it when he starts talking.

  "My mom left when I was about five," he says, stroking the back of my hand. "At least, I think she left... I have to wonder now, after everything my father has done, if maybe he had something to do with it and if maybe she's dead."

  There was so much suffering in his voice and I want to tell him that that probably isn't the case, that I'm sure his mother is okay and that his father had nothing to do with it. But we'd both know I was lying because there's a good chance that might be the case, considering all the horrible things Stephan has done.

  "There's this rock at the back of the castle that hides a secret entryway to the basement," he tells me in a state of self-torture. "Laylen should be able to lift the rock up so you guys can get in... no one knows it's there but me." He hands me the Sword of Immortality. "And this will hopefully protect you if you run into my father."

  I take the sword from him, feeling the heavy weight of it. "You're giving me something that might kill your father?"

  He shrugs, his eyes swimming in a sea of pain. "I want you to be able to protect yourself--you're what's most important." He pauses. "But can you promise me something? That if anything happens at all, if anything even remotely bad looks like it will happen, you'll come right back."

  I place the sword on the floor beside my feet. "Alex, I can't--"

  He places a hand over my mouth like I did to him earlier. "I know you feel like you need to save her. And I completely understand that. But you also need to understand that you might be the one person who can save the world. So if it all comes down to it, you're going to have to save yourself." I know there is more to it than that, but he isn't going to say it.

  So I nod, giving him what he wants, even though it's not the truth. "Okay, I promise."

  He lowers his hand from my lips and starts tapping his foot against the floor. "I should be the one going with you."

  "No, you shouldn't. Aislin needs you. I--I didn't know that about your mother. No one should be alone in the world."

  It gets quiet and my thoughts drift back to my old life filled with loneliness and desolation. All those years with no one. All those years feeling empty. All those years where I didn't know there was so much more to life. Heartache. Longing. Happiness. Sadness. God, there's so much more. And as dangerous as my new life is, I would never trade it back. I never want to go back to that ever. I just hope I get the chance to live life without the star.

  "Gemma," Alex says almost as if he's in pain as he slants toward me. "I can't help myself... when it comes to you and putting you in harm's way it's like I have to fight this desperate compulsion to save you. It's why I gave you the locket, why I tried to run from my father, why I intercepted the memoria extracto, why I stabbed myself with a needle and killed myself to bring you back. I know you erased the last part, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat."

  I wa
nt to point out that now he's remembering things that never technically happened again, but he silences me with a brush of his lips. It starts out innocent, but when my hands slide up the front of his lean chest, he grabs onto my hips as his tongue slides deep into my mouth and he lays me back on the bed. He tastes like mint and smells like cologne, his body bringing me warmth as it covers mine. My back arches into him as my insides quiver with need. I feel out of control in a forbidden way.

  "Alex," I say breathlessly as his hand travels up my shirt toward my breast. "We have to stop... it's becoming too... too..." I groan as his hand wanders under my bra and he pinches my nipple. "Much..."

  "I know." He groans against my mouth as he cups my breast. "But it's so fucking hard." His body falls between my legs and I grind up against him.

  "But we're going to end up killing each other..." Another grind of my hips and then another. God, I'd almost take being dead just to feel this one more time. "If we don't stop..." I know what I am putting out there, that we were heading toward feelings of love. It is a blunt move on my part, but it gets him to stop.

  He pushes back, looking down at me, an arm on each side of my head. "I know." His brow's furrow at his own words. Then he gets up and leaves the room as if nothing happened.

  ***

  Everyone decides it's best to clear out the Praesidium for the moment, so that I can foresee in the privacy of the house. Alex takes care of it while I head for the living room. Laylen gives me a wary look when I walk out into the living room, carrying the Sword of Immortality, as if I might do something stupid like trip over my feet and stab him.

  "You sure you should be carrying that?" he questions with amusement and a bit of fear. He's changed his clothes, but is still wearing his typical black jeans and shirt, studded belt and leather wrist band, and boots.

  "I promise I'll be super careful," I say with as much humor as I can muster up. "And try not to stab you."

  "Gee thanks," he teases, nudging me with his shoulder, seeming more at ease then he did at Stasha's house.

  I smile at him and start to shut my eyes, telling my heart to calm down as I get ready to foresee us out of here

  "Wait!"

  My eyes open as Aislin comes running into the room and stops in front of me. "I have something for you to help you see in the dark."

  I think she's going to give me a flashlight or a lantern, but instead she whispers, "Iuvo vos animadverto," under her breath, then she puts her hand in front of her mouth and blows something sparkly in my face.

  I drop the sword on the ground in reaction and press my hands against my eyes. "Oh my God! What the hell was that?"

  "Oh shit, I'm sorry. I probably should have warned you first," Aislin apologizes. "I was just so excited that I finally figured out how to do the spell correctly."

  I rub my eyes and blink against the burning sensation. "Okay, what spell was it though?"

  She beams. "Night vision." She dusts her hands off. "So you don't have to stumble around in the dark blindly when you get to the castle."

  "What about Laylen?" I ask, picking up the sword from off the floor.

  "He doesn't need it," she tells me, giving Laylen a once over, looking at him in a way that I look at Alex sometimes and I remember how she told me they use to date. I wonder if she still has feelings for him? "He already has night vision."

  Laylen doesn't reciprocate the look, I think still carrying around too much pain from her abandoning him in his time of need. "We should go," he says and Aislin looks hurt. "Are you sure you're going to be okay with this thing?" he asks, nodding at the sword. "It just about landed on my foot."

  I thread my fingers through Laylen's and take a deep breath. "I've got this. Trust me." I actually sound confident, although I don't feel that way.

  I don't bother looking at Alex, knowing it'll make it harder to leave. But I can feel him watching me from across the room, arms folded, as he sinks into the shadows. Then I shut my eyes and do what I need to do. I picture the lake, the forest circling it, the grey-stone castle in the background. And then suddenly I'm falling with Laylen by my side.

  Chapter 13

  I manage to land without falling, but that might be because I use Laylen's arm for support. Once we're both settled on the ground out in the forest just a little ways from the castle, I glance up at the sky. The full moon shines vividly, silver speckles of stars and the darkness surrounds us, but I can see as clearly as if it were day.

  "Amazing," I say, touching the corner of my eye.

  "Pretty cool, huh?" Laylen states, playfully prodding me in the side.

  I nod, lowering my hand. Silence encloses us and for a moment we just stare at each other, feelings connected to the bite attempting to fight to the surface. We're alone.

  "We should get going," I finally say.

  He nods, unable to take his eyes off me. "Yeah, we should."

  I nod again and then start hiking through the trees toward the castle and Laylen follows my lead. Twigs and leaves crunch under our shoes, the cool air nips at my skin, and the silence is driving me mad.

  "Why did you go to Stasha's?" I ask, attempting to break the silence. "She doesn't seem like a very good person."

  "Yeah, but neither am I."

  "Don't say that," I tell him. "You're a good person. You're here with me and you don't have to be."

  His expression is guarded. "Maybe I have an alternative motive." His gaze flicks to my neck where my pulse is throbbing.

  "Don't do that," I say. "Don't pretend you're bad because you think everyone thinks you are."

  He gives me a hard look but then sighs. "I was standing outside of the Red Dragon, debating whether I wanted to go in or not, when Stasha showed up out of the blue. I think she hangs out there sometimes, but she didn't want to admit it, so she pretended to be wandering around the area. She asked me if I wanted to go back to her house and I went with her because the only other option I had was going inside the Red Dragon."

  I zip up my jacket. "Well, I'm glad you left with her then, even if she is a lunatic."

  He chuckles and for a split second, some of his pain alleviates. "That she is."

  "You know, Aislin was upset the whole time you were gone," I tell him. "She cried a lot."

  "Aislin always cries," Laylen says, shoving a branch blocking his path. "She's been that way forever."

  "Yeah, I know, but she still cares about you. I can tell."

  "I know."

  "Have you... Have you ever thought about forgiving her?"

  He shakes his head. "I'm not ready to do that yet."

  I nod. "Okay, I understand."

  "What about you? Did you cry while I was gone?" he asks it so casually, but his tone portrays the mere opposite. Tension builds and the vein on my neck throbs. I can't help but think about what it feels like when he sinks his fangs into my skin... drinks my blood... sheer ecstasy.

  "Oh, yeah, I cried until my tears ran out," I joke, trying to break the tension. "In fact, I locked myself in my room and refused to leave until someone found you."

  He's reluctant at first to go with the joke but gives in and smiles. "I knew you secretly had feelings for me. I'm glad you finally admitted it."

  I laugh and he swings his arm around me, pulling me close to him. "Honestly, I could be okay with this." He brushes his lips across the top of my forehead, spreading heat to my toes, but a different kind of heat than Alex's touch brings. What that means, though, I have no idea. "Just you and me."

  Part of me agrees with him that I could stay like this forever. Just Laylen and me. No electricity reminding me of what I was and what I could never be. No worry about falling in love with someone that could lead to my death and his. Life would be simpler if I just fell in love with Laylen and he loved me back. The problem is, though, I know from the silence on the back of my neck that it isn't happening, at least not at this moment.

  As we reach the edge of the forest, Laylen steers us behind a large oak tree as the lights glowing from the castl
e windows light up the dark. "Okay, we're probably just going to have to make a run for the back." He peeks around the corner of the tree trunk and out into the area in front of the castle, which is a long, wide, stretch of grass, where anyone can see us if they're looking out. "I don't see anyone outside... And I think I see the rock Alex was talking about." He looks over his shoulder at me. "Are you sure you're ready for this? Because I can just do it. It might be better for you to stay here."

  I shake my head. "No way. She's my mom and this is my thing. I need to do this. Everyone's always taking care of me and protecting me all the time and I'm getting tired of it. Besides," I raise the sword, "I have this."

  He inches back from the sharp tip of the blade. "Alright, then let's go."

  We charge out from the trees and race across the dewy grass toward the castle. I trip over a rock, but catch myself, but Laylen takes that as a cue that I need help. He grabs me by the arm and effortlessly lifts me up and throws me onto his back.

 
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