Home > The Promise (Fallen Star #4)(5)

The Promise (Fallen Star #4)(5)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

You scared the crap out of me,

I said, pressing my hand to my heart.

He eyed my knife, lifting an eyebrow.

What were you doing?

I shrugged, lowering the knife.

It seemed a little too quiet and I thought maybe something happened to you guys.

With his bright blue eyes on me, he took the knife out of my hand and tossed in on the dresser.

You re going to hurt yourself wandering around with that.

Hey,

I said, pretending to be offended.

I m not as klutzy as I used to be.

He didn t smile, my joke bombing big time. He backed me into the room and locked the door. The look he was giving me, for some reason, made me think of Talking Head s

Psycho Killer.

You know, I don t think I ve told you how thankful I am. How great you ve been to me.

He fiddled with the knife, cutting a narrow line into the top of the dresser.

You accepted me, vampire and all.

Laylen,

I said, my voice gentle.

Just because you re a vampire, doesn t mean you re bad.

I placed a hand on his arm.

You re good, you just don t realize it.

His gaze moved to me, bright blue and beautiful.

Still & you trust me?

Of course I trust you,

I said.

Sometimes I trust you more than anyone.

His lips slowly crept up.

I know you do.

He lazily moved in front of me, running his fingers down my bare arm.

You know I never thanked you for that day in the alley, when you saved my life. Letting me bite you like that, it was really amazing.

I grew uncomfortable, remembering the bite and all the feelings that came with it. My skin warmed, my pulse quickened, and I knew he could sense it.

I couldn t let you die.

You could have.

His fingers grazed my wrist, resting on my vein.

You didn t have to let me bite you.

Yes I did.

My voice came out squeaky.

He rubbed his lips together, continuing to touch my wrist, watching it with passion.

Are you okay?

I asked, trying to capture his gaze.

You seem kind of &

He met my eyes.

Kind of what?

I swallowed hard, nervous energy bubbling in my chest.

Off.

Something in his expression sent a chill down my spine.

Off how?

He trailed his hand to my cheek, gently stroking my skin.

You re so beautiful.

Most girls would have been flattered. But I knew better. Something was wrong. I grabbed his hand, trying to lift it from my cheek.

Laylen & I don t think

He slapped his hand across my mouth.

Stop talking,

he said and the dark shift in his eyes wound a knot in my stomach.

His fangs slid out, like murderous blood seekers, wanting to devour me. I tried to yank away, but he snatched my wrists and crashed into me. His body was ice-cold and so were his eyes. He breathed down my neck, his breath warm against my skin.

You smell so good & I just can t & can t &

Then his fangs sunk into my neck.

I struggled to get away, but he was a vampire and a Keeper and much stronger than me. He shoved me to the bed and I screamed as his fangs dipped deeper.

Chapter 8

(Alex)

So Draven wasn t lying. I d had my doubts about the Lord of the Afterlife telling the truth. Yet, here it was my mother s gravestone.

I left the witch, Amelia, back at the iron-barred entrance, wanting to do this alone. The graveyard was secured by a loop of trees, the leaves stained pink and orange. Her gravestone was plain, only the initials A.A. No mentioning of her being a mother, no death date. If I d just been passing through, I never would have given the stone a second glance.

Her journals said that she worried that my father was going to kill her because she knew things she wasn t supposed to know. She also worried he d find out her secret. She d wrote that if all else failed, she d give her soul to the Afterlife, so she could one day reunite with her son and put a stop to my father s evil plan.

She d known everything. And then she d died.

I touched the rough headstone, wondering how it happened. Where was she when she breathed her last breath? If I squinted really hard, I could spot the hill that hid the Keepers castle. Anger raged in me as I stormed across the graveyard, kicking up leaves and dust. The wind howled with my anger and I knocked my fist into a tree trunk over and over again, until my knuckles bled.

Dammit!

I kicked the tree and some of my toes crunched. I rested my head against the trunk, breathing in and out.

Come on. Get it together,

I muttered, trying to calm down.

Leaves surrounded me as I pushed away from the tree and finished the walk in silence.

Did you find what you were looking for?

Amelia asked as I came barging up to the gate.

I stopped just short of her.

I need you to take me somewhere else.

The witch s eyes narrowed.

Nuh uh. Not until you take me to the witch who can remove the mark.

Look,

I said with zero tolerance.

I ll get your daughter s mark removed, but I need to make a stop first. It s important.

She pointed her sharp fingernail at my chest.

Should I remind you about our bargain?

Her nail punctured a hole in my shirt and I smacked her hand away.

Watch it witch,

I said.

You re crossing a dangerous line.

Am I?

She asked with a nasty grin.

Or do I need to remind you of what happens if you back out on our little bargain.

Dammit. I wanted to punch the grin off her face. I didn t have time for this. But I d taken that stupid pill and I was going to dropped dead the moment I backed out.

Fine,

I gritted through my teeth.

I ll take you to her.

When we settled in the living room of Gemma s house, my stomach dropped. It was strange, but I could sense her nearness, feel her in my veins like liquid fire.

Everything looked normal, chairs upright, TV off, photos still on the wall. They d boarded up the windows, which was smart. I remembered when I d heard the news from Aislin that the world had shifted into a Mark of Malefiscus mess. The letter had arrived via her witch powers, which meant a small flaming ball of paper had landed on my head, torching some of my hair. I still had a tiny bald spot.

I d read the letter, but never wrote back, not wanting the wrong person to find out where I was and coming looking for me. I wanted to protect Gemma in every way possible, which meant keeping her away from me, no matter how crappy I felt. I deserved to feel that way though. After all the hell I d put her through.

But now I was back in her house, about to blow everything if she found out I was here. It was strangely quiet and my Keeper instincts went on high alert. I drew out my knife, which glinted dangerously in the light of the lamp.

What are you doing?

Amelia asked, gazing at the room.

And where s the witch? The one who can remove the mark?

Somewhere.

I hoped, but something felt off.

Stay here a minute. I ll go get her.

Amelia sank down on the sofa, making herself at home.

Don t worry, I m not going anywhere.

She kicked her feet on the table, mud falling off her boots.

My lip twitched and my knife itched to shut her up, but I turned my back on her and headed for the stairs. Each step creaked louder and I cringed, worried Gemma might hear me. If I worked this right, I could get in and out without her noticing. But when I reached the top of the stairs and saw that her door was cracked open, I couldn t help it. It was like my legs didn t belong to me anymore; they belonged to her. By the time I reached her door, my heart was all over the place and I wanted to choke it dead for making me so weak.

I peeked my head inside, blinking against the grayness of the low light. She was inside, I could feel her slight current of static. But there was no noise. She had to be asleep.

I gently pushed the door open, knowing what I was doing was wrong, but doing it anyway. I used to be more cautious about mistakes, think things through first, but that s what she did to me. She confused my head and I ended up making stupid choices.

When I saw her lying in her bed, fast asleep, I stopped breathing. My hand fell to my side and I walked slowly across the room until I was next to her bed.

She was resting on her side, her cheek pressed against her pillow, hair all over the place, just like it always was. I should have left right then and there. I d have been a better person if I did. But apparently, I was a selfish a**hole. I let my fingers touch her hair, brushing it back and tucking it behind her ear.

She breathed deeply soundly not feeling the electric current. Which was strange because it was making me sweat.

I wished I could lean down and kiss her, press my lips against her cheeks. Honestly, I wished I could do a lot of things to her, things that could only be done behind closed doors. But that would never happen. Not if I couldn t stop the vision from happening the way it was supposed to.

She let out a long sigh, like she sensed I was there. I decided it was time to go. I started to turn as she rolled over on her back. And what I saw made me sick. Her hands were tied, the rope cutting into her wrists. Blood was all over her neck and shirt and it looked like & I swept her hair back. Bite marks.

What the?

I fell to my knees, placing my hands on her cheeks, my skin burning from her touch.

Gemma. Can you hear me?

Her eyelids began to flutter open, but she looked like she was struggling. I pressed my hand to her cheek, her forehead, my jaw tightening. God, if he turned her I was going to kill him.

Alex,

she mumbled, her eyelids flickering open. Then she was looking at me, like she thought she was dead. Her violet eyes wide and glossed over.

You re okay,

I said, but I wasn t so sure.

Chapter 9

(Gemma)

At first I thought I was dead, that Laylen had drained all my blood and left me to rot away in my bed. That maybe Alex was a ghost, that he d died and I d died and we d joined each other in death.

But then I felt the dizziness, mixed with the sparkle of electricity, and my blood soared with fire.

You re here,

I muttered like an idiot. My forever shows up and the first thing I say is

you re here.

Really Gemma? I sounded like a damsel-in-distress. I moved slowly to sit and he moved back, giving me breathing room.

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