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"I'm ready to go," I interrupt them. "I don't want to be here anymore."
Nicholas shakes his head as he stands up from the throne. "And if I was in charge, I would have never let you go." He steps down beside me. "Because you have a lot of power, Gemma. You just don't know it yet."
I don't know a lot of things yet, but I have a feeling I will, soon enough, because the truth is catching up with me, like a rushing wave ready to crash onto the idle sand of a beach.
I have it all planned out. I'll make Alex tell me what's going on-why I can suddenly remember things about my past. Why we once spent a day running around in a field, playing. Why we knew each other so well, but now we don't. But most importantly I need to find out what he knows about that day. The day my mother was killed.
As soon as we land in the cabin, he goes into protective mode. Suddenly, he's all about me and making sure I'm okay. He gives me very little time to react.
"What did he do to you?" He places his hands on my shoulders and maneuvers me down the hall toward the couch in the living room.
I stare into his eyes and I mean really stare, past the spark, the power and the undying l.u.s.t that always floods my body whenever I look at him. The scary part is that all I can see in his eyes is me.
He slows down when we reach the coffee table and cups my cheek as he watches me meticulously. "Did Nicholas... He didn't try anything, did he?"
I cringe at the revolting recollection of the kiss and the grope. "Besides being a pervert? No. But I'm really wondering how you know the guy... faerie... Foreseer or whatever the h.e.l.l he is."
Alex shrugs and his hand leaves my face and falls to his side. "Sometimes the Keepers will get together with the Foreseers and he would come over."
"To the Keepers' castle."
"You know about that?" His eyebrow crooks.
I nod. "Yeah, I saw it in the vision, remember?"
He shifts his weight and stuffs his hands in his pockets. "Were you able to see more this time?"
"You really want to know?" My eyes narrow as I cross my arms and push past the wall of control between him and me. "I'm going to ask you some questions, and I want you to tell me the truth. I mean it this time. None of your bulls.h.i.t, omitting the truth.
He claims my gaze, mimicking my a.s.sertiveness. "What's your question?"
I take a deep breath, preparing myself for the worst possible answer because a question like this only ends with a bleeding heart. "Has my memory been tampered with?"
The grandfather clock in the corner ticks maddeningly loud in the background and the snow splatters at the windows. The beams above our heads creak and somewhere in the house a faucet is dripping.
He stares at me indifferently and unmoving, as if time has immobilized and I know that it's true.
"What the h.e.l.l is wrong with you?" I cry as my heart splits open and bleeds out. "Just answer me."
He flinches at the sound of my voice and time seems to move again. "Why do you think that?"
My voice shakes uncontrollably as I close the distance between us so he can see me bleeding from the inside. "Because the little girl in the vision was me."
His eyes widen and he looks genuinely shocked. "It was you? How's that even possible? I thought visions were of the future."
"Nicholas said it happens sometimes," I snap. "But don't pretend like you didn't already know that. The whole time in the car, when I was babbling my heart out about the woman drowning in the lake, you pretended you didn't know what I was talking about."
He shakes his head and his hands leave his pockets. He reaches for me, but then decides against it and pulls back. "I swear, I didn't, Gemma. The first time you told me was the first time I ever heard a story like it." He pauses, making sure to maintain my gaze. "But what I don't know is why you think the little girl is you."
"Because her eyes were violet." The p.r.i.c.kle stabs at the back of my neck and all my anger channels to him. I shove him, just to make myself feel better. To feel something that's real. "And the woman in the lake..." I can't finish because saying it out loud makes her death even more real.
He doesn't stumble back, doesn't flinch, and doesn't move. He's an indestructible statue that I wish I could break and crumble so he'd be broken like me. Then maybe he could understand and tell me how to take the pain away. "The woman in the lake was your mother." He whispers to himself.
My mother is gone, to a world full of evil torture, where she's either dead or insane, and I'm feeling like I'm in that world too.
"You really don't remember?"
He shakes his head and his voice and eyes soften. "Gemma, I don't even know what to say. I'm about as confused as you." He's quiet for a while, considering something, and then he lets out an uneven breath. "You think your memories been erased?"
I nod, gripping the edge of the coffee table and trying to breathe. I've lost all control. The p.r.i.c.kle is stabbing at the back of my neck. I'm breaking apart, dying, and I wish it would all just end. "Do you remember when we were in the cabin and I was crying?"
"Yeah, I remember." His voice is a whisper through the blood roaring in my ears.
"The reason I was crying is because I saw something... something that was kind of like a vision," I say, going back to the peaceful place. "I was in this field and it was at night and there was a little girl and a woman there, too. They couldn't see me and I couldn't see their faces. I thought that I was dreaming, but it felt so real and familiar. Familiar as in a lost memory." I stand up straight. "Familiar as in I was four-years-old when my mom died and I went to live with Marco and Sophia. Familiar as in I'd lived it before."
"How did you find out you were four?" He doesn't even try to deny it.
"Laylen told me," I fume. "He told me a lot of things-truthful things. He isn't a liar like you."
He shakes his head and fury flashes in his eyes. Before I can react, he picks me up, lays me onto the couch and encloses his body over mine. He situates his elbows next to my head and presses his chest close to mine so my hands are caged.
"Get off me," I complain. "I can't breathe."
"You need to hear me out." Alex's voice shakes as his emotions begin to flee from the box he usually keeps them in. "And listen to the whole story before you over-react."
I continue to cry and it makes me feel weak. I need to stop crying. Stop crying! "Then, what did you do?"
"I didn't do anything," he a.s.sures me. "I just knew about it, which to you is probably equally as bad, but it had to be done."
I sob silently as the possibilities of what happened swirl in my head. "Please, just tell me. I can't take the dark anymore."
"You remember the prophecy I told you about?" he asks quickly and I nod. "Well, I left out a few parts of the story."
"Important parts, I'm guessing."
"That's usually the case when parts are left out." He transfers his weight, giving me a little breathing room as he continues, "While Stephan was trying to figure out a way to keep the prophecy from happening, your mother disappeared-or, if what you say is correct, was thrown into the Underworld." He pauses, staring down into my eyes, but he isn't looking at me; he's remembering. "You were extremely emotional... Crying all the time."
"I had just lost my mom," I snap and twist my body beneath him. "Of course I was emotional."
"I'm not saying it was wrong. I'm just trying to explain why Stephan did what he did," he says, breaking out of the memory. "A lot of Keepers are born with gifts, some more useful than others. The one Sophia has is called unus quisnam aufero animus, or one who removes the soul."
The p.r.i.c.kle taunts the back of my neck, embedding deeper into my skin. "You took my soul away!" Strength overcomes me and somehow, I manage to get my arms in between us to shove him off and he actually falls to the floor.
He's stunned. I'm stunned. And, for a moment, we both remain frozen in place. Then I snap out of my trance and leap up from the couch. "This is worse than the star. At least that can be construed as adding life, but taking away my soul is like ripping away the very essence of my humanity. I'm nothing but a sh.e.l.l of a girl. There's nothing inside me!" The room sways and my vision spots as the truth sinks into my skin like acid. I grasp onto the back of the sofa, gasping for air. "Holy s.h.i.t! I'm not even a person... I'm not anything..."
Alex moves up behind me and places his hand on the small of my back. "Calm down, okay? That's not what I'm saying."
"Get-away-from-me," I gasp between shallow breaths, jerking my shoulder upwards, trying to shrug his hand off my back. "Just leave me alone."
"You need to listen to me," he begs. "We didn't take your soul away. It was something different-something less drastic."
"Then, just say it," I demand. "And stop tiptoeing around the details."
"Come sit down with me and I will." He smoothes his hand down my back.
"No." I lower my body closer to the couch and cling onto it. Please let this be a dream. I want to wake up.
His arm wraps around my side. His hand slides under me and onto my stomach. Then he draws me back, gets a hand under my knees and scoops me up. He sits down, bringing me down with him, so I'm sideways on his lap and my legs are on the armrest. "I need to finish this, Gemma. You need to know-deserve to know."
"If that's true, then why didn't you just tell me from the beginning?" I wipe the tears from my eyes with the sleeve of my shirt.
"Because I'm not a nice person, Gemma," he states bluntly. "And I'm sure, after I tell you; you're going to hate me."
"And you can live with that?" I choke. "Me, hating you forever?"
"I'm not sure." He inhales deeply and shuts his eyes. "But I need to get it out of me because I can't take it anymore." He opens his eyes and hunts for something in mine. I don't know what he's looking for; the truth about my feelings, whether I will hate him, or just how much pain is in me. It doesn't really matter, though, because nothing is in me, but heartache.
"Tell me." My voice is like dandelion seeds in the wind, defenseless against the power.
He nods, moves his hand up my back and holds onto me. "The unus quisnam aufero animus is mostly used as a form of punishment, but we weren't trying to punish you. You were just a little girl and Jocelyn's daughter. So, Sophia did something a little less severe. She detached your soul from your emotions. Since emotions have such a huge connection with memories, it made it so you couldn't remember anything about your past."
An annoying buzzing develops inside my head, like a hive full of bees stabbing at my brain. Alex inspects me attentively, trying to antic.i.p.ate my next move, but all I can focus on is the buzzing.
"After your soul was detached, you moved to Laramie to live with Marco and Sophia so they could keep you hidden from the Death Walkers," he continues, putting a hand on my shoulder. "There's something about the cold that made it difficult to track the star's energy, but I'm not exactly sure what." He gives me a shadow of a smile. "Your soul is still in you, though, along with your memories. You just can't connect with either of them. Or... couldn't." He gives me a look that makes my skin hot and fiery, and it isn't just the electricity. It's something else-something deep within my core; a wick trying to ignite. Maybe it's my soul trying to reunite with me. Or maybe it's just a feeling that will eventually simmer out.
I slow my breathing before I speak. "Why did I start to feel again?"
"No one knows the answer to that." He shuts his eyes and ma.s.sages his temples with the tips of his fingers. "And you've become immune to Sophia's gift."
Breathe. Just breathe. "She tried to do it again?"
He opens his eyes and his pupils shrivel to pin dots. "She tried it a few months ago, after you started showing emotions again. You don't remember because she did it while you were asleep."
"You mean she snuck into my room, while I was sleeping?" I sit up, rotate my aching body and kneel up on his lap. "That's the sickest and most twisted thing I've ever heard."
His fingertips delve into my hipbones as he detains me from getting up. "I doubt that, but yes, it's kind of twisted."
I shake my head, put my hands on his shoulders, and push away from him as much as I can. "So what's your' brilliant plan now? Keep me locked up here until it's time for the portal to open?"
There's an indication of pity in his bright green eyes. "There's someone else with the same gift as Sophia that's heading here right now. He's supposed to be more powerful than Sophia and Stephan seems convinced it'll work."
My hand collides with his face and my palm strikes his cheek. His eyes widen. Mine widen. I'm trembling from anger, regret and the deep slashes he's put in my heart. I have no control over myself anymore, but I never really did. So I let the windstorm take me away as I get to my feet and head toward the hallway.
"You say it like it doesn't matter, but it does." I pick up his pocketknife that's on the table and he jumps to his feet as I flip the blade open.
"Gemma, don't," he warns, winding around the couch to get to me.
"Don't what?" I ask rounding around the table. I stretch my arm out in front of me and put the tip of the blade to my wrist. "Don't hurt myself or don't feel the pain? Which one is it, Alex. Which one really matters to you?"
He stops on the other side of the table as I drag the knife down my forearm. My arms and hands shake as blood spills out and streams down my arm. It hurts, but not as much as my heart. "I'm a person. I breathe, I have blood inside me." My voice trembles as I toss the knife onto the floor. "I'm not just a f.u.c.king star!"
He doesn't utter a word. He just watches the blood drip onto the floor and stain the wood. I suck in a sharp breath as tears drift down my cheeks and then I turn my back on him and storm into the bedroom. I think about jumping out the window. I could run and live and breathe. I could feel whatever I want. Be whatever I want. I could find love and be whole. I could find out what I really want.
But deep down, I know that I can't. It's bigger than me and no matter what I do the problem will always be there. It's either my emotions or the world. So I stay in the room and throw myself on the bed where I cry and cry until I my eyes are dry. Then I lie quietly and let myself bleed.
"Kiss me," I whisper beneath the stars. "Please. I need it now."
"Gemma, I can't," Alex says, but I can see his self-control withering. "I want to so bad, but I've already done it too much."
I clutch onto his shoulders, still fixated on the stars. "Please, I want to feel what it's like just once before it's gone. I want to know what it's like to forget for just one second-what it's like to completely connect with someone."
He sketches his finger along my collarbone without speaking and I look away from the stars. There's blackness in his eyes like the darkness in the sky, but within the depths of his pupils there's a spark that matches the stars.
He leans in and kisses me. Slowly at first, but then as the electricity takes over, his lips and tongue become rougher. He begins to rip my clothes off and I want him to because I want to feel the last part of being human-the most powerful feeling that ever existed.
And maybe this will be the way I finally find it.
My eyes shoot open to the bedroom ceiling of the cabin as the feelings of the dream kisses my skin and makes me want to breathe. My cheeks are damp with tears; my neck and wrist ache. There's a hand on my wrist and a warm body very close to me. I tilt my head to the side and find Alex kneeling on the bed, winding gauze around my self-inflicted injury.
"You know, if you keep it up you're going to be one big bandage." He snips the end with a pair of scissors and then chucks them on the nightstand. Then he slides his legs out from underneath him and sits down on the side of the bed. "Gemma, what the f.u.c.k were you thinking? You nearly cut your vein open."
I turn my back to him as I roll onto my side. "I wanted to show you that I'm a real person, that hurts, and bleeds just like any other person. I wanted you to understand that I'm not just a G.o.dd.a.m.n star."
The mattress springs up as he shifts from the bed and I think he's leaving, but then the mattress concaves as he sits down beside me. "I don't know what to say to make you feel better and I'm probably the worst person to try, but I'm going to try anyway." His arm moves over to my side and in his hand is a locket, shaped like a heart. There are floral engravings in the silver, along with a violet stone and carved on the back are the initials "G. L."
"Those are my initials?" I touch the front of it with my fingertips and a memory flashes in my mind. "What is this?"
"It used to be yours before the Keepers took it away because they were afraid it would... it would resurface your memories." He pauses and slips his fingers through the chain of the necklace. "Your mom gave it to you."