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I sit up on the bed and face him. There are dark circles under his eyes and my blood is all over his shirt. He looks defeated, a tree with a split trunk about to break apart and fall over. He looks how I feel.
"Why are you showing it to me?" I ask, trailing my fingers up the thin chain until I reach his fingers.
"I have no idea," he says with mystification. "I just can't-I don't have any control over anything when I'm with you and, honestly, I'm sick of fighting it."
I coil the chain around my finger. "So if I asked you to take me away-save me from the Keepers and let me keep my emotions, would you?"
He forces a lump in his throat down. "I have no idea and I'm begging you not to ask me because, if I say yes, then everything will end and, if I say no, you and I will end. There's no right answer."
I want to ask him. I want to know just how much he feels for me because I'm reaching my end and I want to understand everything that I can. I want to feel what I felt in my dream. I need to do everything I can before my time is up. "Can I wear the necklace?"
He nods and then motions for me to turn around. "I'll put it on you."
I turn in the bed, tuck my legs under me and sweep my hair to the side. "I have to ask you something."
He moves up behind me. "Okay..."
I tap my fingers on my knee, unsure why it even matters. "Do you feel bad? And I mean, really feel bad for hurting me; for lying to me?"
His breath feathers against the back of my neck. "Gemma, I can't... I'm not... We shouldn't even be talking about this. I was never supposed to tell you."
My fingers wrap inward and my nails sc.r.a.pe a layer of my skin away. "Fine, please put the necklace on."
He doesn't move and I dig my nails in deeper because the physical pain suffocates the emotional hurt. "I made a promise to you once that I would never do anything to hurt you," he finally speaks. "When we were kids, and I meant it more than I've ever meant anything in my life." He pauses and we both take in a breath. "So if you want to know, if I feel bad for breaking my promise and letting you hurt for the last seventeen years, then, yes, I do. It kills me every day."
I'm not sure how to respond and he doesn't give me time, clearing his throat as he hooks the chain around my neck. "I can't quite get it to hook right."
I bite down on my lip and shut my eyes as I nod. "It looks pretty old."
Seconds later, his fingers graze my neck. "Well, s.h.i.t. I guess I was wrong."
I glance over my shoulder at him and his eyes look a little watery. "Wrong about what?"
"About you being a Foreseer." He gently touches the back of my neck. "You got your mark."
I glance around the room for a mirror, but there isn't one. "Is it a circle, wrapping an 'S'?"
"How did you know that was the Foreseer's mark?" he questions.
"I saw it on Dyvinius." I turn back around so he can put the necklace on. My shoulders slouch as his arms put pressure on them. "So this means I'm actually a Foreseer and it's not the star causing the visions?"
"Probably, but I don't know how." His fingers repet.i.tively brush my neck as he fiddles with the clamp. "I thought it was just the star's power setting off the crystal because usually the Foreseer ability is inherited."
I let my chin touch the hollow of my neck so he can get the necklace fastened. "My mother wasn't one?"
The clamp clicks and then his fingers move away from my neck. "Jocelyn was just a Keeper."
"What about my father?" I ask, shutting my eyes as his fingers tangle in my hair. "Maybe he could be one."
He tugs at the roots and pulls my head back. What is he doing? "Maybe, but I can't say for sure since I don't know who he is."
"You don't know who he is?" I raise my head up and he lets go of my hair, then I turn around and face him. "How is that possible?"
"Because Jocelyn would never tell anyone who he was." He kneels up on the bed in front of me. "For some reason, she insisted she had to keep it a secret."
"So I'm alone in the world?" I say and blow out a breath at the truth. "I mean, really alone?"
He shakes his head and gives me a sad smile. "No, you're not."
"Yeah, I am," I disagree. "I have no mother or father. No memories. No friends." He starts to protest, but I cut him off. "And I understand that soon the pain connected to those will all be gone, but right now it hurts more than the G.o.dd.a.m.n cut on my arm." I pause as I worked up the courage to ask a question I haven't even so much as dared to think until now. "Can I ask you something?"
He looks wary. "It depends."
I ask him anyway. "What happens after I stop the portal from opening? Then what?"
He shakes his head as he stares at the corner of the room and, for a fleeting moment, he looks like he might cry. "I really don't know."
I could press him further, but there's no point because I know there are only two ways it could go. I live or I die. I will have a life or I won't. I will end empty and unknowing, or finally be free. I wonder how people do it. Face death when they know it's coming? Seize the day when there are minimal days left?
I crash to the bed, my head falling to my hands as I begin to sob. For once, I want to do exactly what I want when I choose and feel every single part of the moment, without holding back or being afraid. I want to live in the moment.
"Gemma." Alex places a hand on my back. "Please calm down."
I shake my head as tears stream down my cheeks. My chances are going to end soon. My emotions are going to be ripped away and they may never return. I may never get my moment to feel happiness, love, peace, freedom. And I need one that's mine.
I sit up and give him no time to respond as I crash my lips into his. I clutch onto his shirt as he kisses me back until my lips swell and my lungs need air. Then he grabs my shoulders and breaks us apart.
"What are we doing?" His breath is ragged. "We can't."
My chest heaves wildly. "Yes, we can. Please. I just want to feel before it's gone."
"Gemma, I'm sorry." There's sympathy in his eyes and my heart prepares for rejection. "It's not that I don't want to, but I can't."
"You've kissed me before."
"I know and it's getting harder and harder, but I'm afraid if I start I won't stop this time. There's just too much..." He takes a deep breath. "There's just too much meaning and that makes everything more complicated. I'm going to lose control and I can't."
I wonder if it would hurt as bad if someone else said it, because it hurts like a knife to my heart, coming from his mouth. I know there are reasons why it shouldn't matter, but it does because he's the one that hurt me. He's also the first person I've felt something for. What the emotion is, I don't know yet. It could be hate. It could be l.u.s.t. It could be love. There is a very thin line between all three.
I start to climb off the bed as the moment leaves me when he grabs me by the arm and pulls me back to him. He licks his lips and his elbows bend in a little as he lures me closer. Then without warning, that loss of control takes over and he's kissing me violently. I wrap my arms around his neck as he scoops me up and lays me on my back. His fingers knot through my hair while his other hand travels down my neck, my breast, all the way down to the top of my jeans. I don't care that it's wrong after everything that has happened. What I care about is having the moment before I'm gone. I want it more than I've ever wanted anything. I want him to slip his fingers inside me and feel me like he did in the car. I want to feel the peace inside my body. I want to feel connected to someone wholly and completely, even if it's for a few irrational moments.
His tongue slips into my mouth as his hand slides under my shirt. He snags the hem of it and his other hand glides around to my back. Holding my weight up, he yanks my shirt off in one swift motion and then he unhooks my bra. My chest heaves as I lean up, grab his shirt and begin to take it off because I want to see him and feel him like he's seen me.
I get it stuck on his head and he lets go of me to reach behind him and finish tugging it off. I immediately slide my hands up the front of his chest that's carved of muscles and imprinted with a black circle and a ring of flames-his Keepers' mark.
He covers my hands with his as it nears his neck. Fire blazes in his eyes as he brings my wrists together in front of me. He's careful not to put pressure on my injured wrist as he moves his body forward and forces me down onto my back. Then he lets me go and compels our chests together. I shut my eyes and inhale in the closeness, the contact, the human connection. Our skin statics as our bodies join and our hearts thud against each other's chests. I lie there letting the feelings overtake me, consume me. I'm flying, falling, spiraling out of control. The p.r.i.c.kle is going wild and a ravenous need I never knew existed jerks me forward. I grab onto his face and seal my lips to his. There's no hesitation on his part as he kisses me back with every part of his body. I keep thinking I need air because I'm not breathing, but my lungs somehow find a way around that. I stop needing air and I'm free.
My fingers travel up his back and his skin is scorching underneath my palms. His back is stimulated by my touch and he slips a hand under my neck, gripping my skin, demanding me closer. He takes my uninjured arm and my elbow bends as he pins it next to my head. His tongue traces the inside of my mouth before he takes soft nips at my lips, my neck and then just above my chest. Then his tongue rolls across my nipple as he gently draws into his mouth and sucks hard, but I want him to do it harder. I want my feelings to overtake the knowledge of what lies ahead. I want him to make me feel one last time and give me something to hold onto.
Craving to get closer, I open my legs up and let his body fall between them. I begin writhing my hips and rubbing against him, but it isn't enough this time and he lets me go as he shifts away from me, kneeling up between my legs.
"What are you doing?" I pant as I rise up on my elbows.
Without saying a word, he flicks the b.u.t.ton of my jeans and tugs them down to my knees.
"Alex." I moan as his fingers trail down the inside of my thighs.
He stops at the sound of my voice and meets my eyes. He's not in control anymore-I'm not in control anymore. Our emotions are controlling us. And the electricity. And the need to keep feeling it. l.u.s.t is definitely an addiction; like heroin, potent and controlling.
His fists clench and I hear a tear in his voice. "Gemma, I think, I should stop... I don't want to. You make me... f.u.c.k, you make me feel alive."
I don't answer him. I just kick my jeans off, instigating a low growl out of him as he lies down on top of me again. His hands wander all over my b.r.e.a.s.t.s, my hips, my thighs. Ultimately, he takes off my panties and slips his fingers inside me. He feels me until I cry out and then he strips off the rest of his clothes.
I lie naked underneath him, my body sweaty and my heart racing, pumping adrenaline through my body. All I can feel is the warmth of his skin, the comfort of his body and the overriding desire to stay away from what the p.r.i.c.kle wants me to feel because it's advising me that I should pull away. Danger.
When he slips inside me it hurts more than cutting my wrist open, but I'm glad that it hurts. It makes it real, not fake, like everything else is in my life. He closes his eyes and breathes in through his nose as his head lowers like he's savoring the moment.
"Are you okay?" he whispers against my cheek.
I nod, turn my head toward him and our lips connect. He kisses me deeply as he rocks into me and I respond with an arch of my back. It hurts, but it also feels amazingly good and I want more. I loosen up the muscles in my legs so he can rock into me more easily and allow our bodies to move together. His eyes are untamed as he brings my arms above my head and even though it hurts my wrist, I let him hold me down.
When he kisses me again, I bite at his lip and he lets out a groan. With each thrust, my body and mind climb higher toward the ceiling, the sky, and the stars. When I feel myself reaching that highest point, I open my eyes and let my head fall back. I feel myself fix and then break apart again as I leave my mind and then slowly return. Somewhere along the line, I start to cry for reasons I don't understand. Not wanting him to see, I shut my eyes and turn my head.
Seconds later, Alex's movements become less rhythmic and then he stills inside me. We pant, our sweaty bodies pressed together and our hearts beating violently. He moves away and gives me a quick kiss on my cheek as he pulls out of me. I feel empty, hollow, like my heart and mind are severed from my body. I roll onto my stomach as he lies down on his back. It's quiet.
"You were right from the beginning," he says as he stares up at the ceiling with his arms tucked under his head. "You used to know me and really well. When we were kids."
I rest my hand next to my face. "I know."
He turns his head and meets my gaze. "How?"
"I've started to remember things," I say. "Like us running around in a field."
His mouth tugs to a small smile. "The one with all the flowers?"
I nod and my voice falters. I don't remember, not really anyway because they're just clips and images to me. "We seemed like we were having fun."
His smile turns sad as he scoots down onto the pillow and rolls onto his hip. "We had a lot of fun. You used to pick the flowers and give them to me all the time, even though I would tell you time and time again that guys are supposed to give the girl flowers."
I remember back in his car and how there was a dried flower hanging from the mirror. I wonder if that's why he kept it there. Maybe he has thought about me all these years. I could ask him, but I'm not sure I want to know because either answer will hurt.
His lips part and it looks like he's going to say something that will change everything. "Gemma, I...." He trails off and his throat muscles move to force a lump in his throat down.
We don't say anything else as we lay face-to-face with our hands barely touching and stare at each other. It's like a silent good-bye and the moment is flawless because it's real. Part of me wishes that when I fall asleep, I'll die right there on a peaceful note.
"Gemma, wake up." Someone kisses my forehead and brings a static zap to my skin.
I roll over, griping and moaning. "I'm too tired."
"Gemma, please just open your eyes," he pleads.
Sighing, I open my eyes. Alex is standing near the edge of the bed, leaning over me. He's put his clothes back on and there's a bag over his shoulder. I sit up, bringing the sheet with me to keep my naked body covered.
"What's wrong?" I ask and then curl my knees into my chest. "It's time, isn't it?"
He shakes his head, hurries to the foot of the bed and picks my jeans and t-shirt up, tossing them to me. "We're leaving."
Panic surges through my body as I grab my jeans and quickly slide my legs into them. "Did the Death Walkers find us?"
He shakes his head again as he walks over to the window and peers out. It's dark outside, but the moon is bright and the stars are vivid. "No, I'm taking you away from here."
I tug my shirt over my head and flip my hair out of the collar. "Why? What's wrong?"
He moves away from the window and adjusts the handle of the bag higher onto his shoulder. "I can't do it. I thought I could, but I can't."
I b.u.t.ton my jeans, but pause as shock sets in. "You're taking me away so they won't detach my soul?"
He nods, stepping in front of me. "I just can't do it again... Lose you again."
I scratch my head, at a loss for words as I slide to the edge of the bed. "But I thought it has to be done? So the star can stay preserved and save the world... Alex, I don't understand?" I've prepared myself for the end and now he's saying it isn't, and I don't know what to do with that.
He releases a slow breath and then squats down in front of me. He places his hands on my knees and keeps his voice low. "I know that the world needs to be saved, but right now, I can't do it. Right now, I need you to come with me so that we can at least try to find another way to save it or get the star out of you."
He puts his finger over my lips. "But I need you to come now, because my father's going to be here any minute."
It's a defining moment in my life; one that I will either look back and regret or cherish. I rise to my feet and he threads his fingers through mine as panic and relief flash across his face. We exchange a look of understanding and then we run down the hall together and out into the garage.
There's an old, black Jeep Wrangler parked in the middle and he guides me over to the pa.s.senger side door. I hop in and he rounds the front while I quickly buckle my seatbelt.
He drops the bag onto the console, climbs in, and slams the door. Then he unzips the bag and takes out a sword. It has a silver blade with jagged edges and a black handle with a red stone on the end. Carved along the side of the blade is the Mark of Immortality and there are flakes of dried blood on the metal.
"Is that the Sword Of Immortality?" I ask and he nods.
He turns the key and the engine purrs to life. Then he presses on the garage door opener, rests the sword in his lap, and tosses the bag on the backseat. "It's better to be safe than sorry."
I eyeball the sword as the garage door creeps open and snow drifts in. "But I thought we were running from your father?"
He shifts the car into reverse. "We're running from everyone now, Gemma."