Alex quickly fills her in, letting her know his plan. Something about her reaction unsettles me to no end, especially when Alex says that I’m going to use a Foreseer’s crystal ball to summon Nicholas here.

“Are you insane?” I gape at Alex. “There’s no way I’m doing that.”


Alex rolls his eyes, like I’m being absurd, but I’m not. “You want to get your mom back, right?”

“Of course,” I reply, propping my elbow onto a shelf. “But not by using a crystal. Every time I’ve used one I’ve seen stuff I’d rather not and, besides… didn’t you make some promise to Dyvinius that I wouldn’t use my power until I was trained.”

Aislin’s examining a jar that looks like it has a chicken leg or something in it. When I say this, she nearly drops it on the concrete floor. “You did what? She rebalances the jar in her hand. “Alex, why the heck did you do that?”

I stand up straight and step toward Aislin. “Wait. What happens if he breaks it?”

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Aislin sets the jar back down on the shelf and fidgets with the straps on her floral, pink dress. “He’ll end up having to go to the City of Crystal to do—”

“Aislin,” Alex warns, spinning a steel ball balanced on a podium. “Don’t.”

I scowl at him. “Are you seriously trying to keep things from me?”

He stands up straight and steps in front of me. His nearness forces me to crane my neck back to look at him as he backs me against the shelf. “This is for your own good.”

“Why?” I ask as the edges of the shelf press against me.

“Because you won’t do it if I tell you.” He puts a hand on each side of me, pinning me between his arms.

“How do you know that?” I cross my arms. “Maybe I won’t mind whatever’s going to happen to you.”

He rolls his eyes again. “Yes, you will because, whether you’ll admit it or not, you care about me.”

I open my mouth to protest, but I can’t get any words to come out. A faint stab reveals at the back of my neck and unexpectedly I realize that I do care about Alex, despite the bad that’s happened between us.

“Please just tell me,” I practically beg, gripping onto the bottom of his shirt. My knuckles brush against his muscles and the contact singes my skin. “I want to know what we’re getting into.”

The side of his mouth crooks up into a lopsided smile. “All you need to do is use your power to get Nicholas here, then you can leave the rest to everyone else.”

“I could go to The Underworld, you know,” I tell him firmly. “I’m not completely incompetent. Besides, it is my mom we’re going after. It should be me who goes and gets her.”

He sighs and places his hand on my cheek, his thumb grazing a line across my cheekbone. “Regardless of everything you’ve done over the last few days… walking into a Vampire Lair… you still have the star’s energy inside you, and until we know for sure what the hell it’s being used for…. Why my….” He swallows hard. “Why my father wants it, then we need to keep you safe. Furthermore, the last thing we need is for the Queen of The Underworld to get her hands on you. She’s almost as bad as Demetrius and his Death Walkers.”

“Are you sure there’s not another way to bring him here?” I ask. “I mean, don’t you guys use phones or something?"

The corners of his lips quirk. “I’m pretty sure there’s no service in the City of Crystal.”

I want to roll my eyes at him, but I don’t. What I want to do is hug him because I have this feeling something really bad is about to happen. “Just promise me you’re not going to die,” I whisper.

He seems pleased by what I say. “Never.”

“What about the Kingdom of Fey,” Laylen suggests, abruptly appearing in the doorway. He leans against the door fame and his arms flex as he crosses them. “You could always just go there and get him.”

The second my eyes land on him, I know that the sensations of the bite has changed me somehow. He’s wearing all black again, his standard uniform, and his lips look a little swollen as if he’s been kissing someone or feeding. The thought makes me insanely jealous and, for a brief moment, I feel compelled to run to him, beg him to fold his arms around me, and sink his teeth into my veins. It actually physically hurts not to do it, yet I manage to keep my feet firmly planted to the ground.

I clear my throat, attempting to also wipe the tension building within me. “Kingdom of Fey?” I ask.

“It’s where the Fey live,” Aislin explains, staring at the spot of concrete on the floor as she shuffles her sandals against it. “Since Nicholas is part Fey, he goes there sometimes, but I don’t think he’s very fond of it because…well, because the Fey can be…”

“Everything’s a joke to them,” Alex interrupts, his fingers possessively touching my hip as he moves around behind me. “There’s a lot of running around in circles.” He gently guides me closer to him, his eyes fixed on Laylen as he situates my back against his chest. “Besides, you know they aren’t very welcoming to anyone who isn’t full Fey. They even give Nicholas shit, which means he doesn’t usually hang out there.”

“So you what?” Laylen crooks his brow and steps inside the storage room. “Just summon him here, using her.” He nods his head at me. “Then you go pay your debt for breaking the promise and Aislin and I go with the crazy Faerie into The Underworld.”

Alex’s chest presses against my back and his other hand touches my waist. “Unless you have a better plan.”

He shrugs, stopping just in front of us, and I ball my hands into fists to keep from touching him. “I just want to make sure you’re good with it because you’re the one who’s going to have to pay the debt. Everything else is easy compared to that.”

“I wouldn’t go so far as easy,” he says. “But I get what you’re saying and I can handle it. Besides, it’s the quickest way and we need quick.”

“Alex,” Aislin starts, but then stops when Alex shoots her a glare. “Fine, you know what? Do whatever you want. You always do anyway.” Her voice is full of venom as she backs up to the shelf behind her with her hands up.

“I really wish someone would let me in on what the hell’s about to happen,” I say and Alex’s fingers leave my waist.

I shift uncomfortably as I turn around, very aware that Laylen is just behind me. “Ummm… What if Nicholas doesn’t show up as Nicholas… what if he mind fucks with my head again?”

Alex’s expression plummets. “Shit, the damn mirage thing.” He contemplates the dilemma and then his gaze diverts to Aislin. “Any ideas.”

Aislin sighs and then turns toward the shelf. “Always turning to the Witch.” She rummages through the unique collection of stuff stacked on the shelves and finally selects a small, bronzed box about the size of her palm. “What would you guys do without me?” she asks, turning around with the box balanced in her hand.

“Probably be confused all the time,” Laylen says, winking at her.

She smiles, but it’s tight. Then she walks forward, her eyes glued to the box. “Now I’m not one-hundred percent sure if it’ll work, but it’s supposed to give you clear, undiluted sight, so we’ll see.”

“You know, I love you to death,” Alex says. “But every time you say you’re not one-hundred percent sure, it makes me worry I’m going to grow a third arm or something.”

“Hey, that only happened once,” Aislin protests, removing the lid from the box.

“Or temporarily change into a frog,” Laylen says with a small smile.

“I was only trying to turn you into a prince charming,” she says, her green eyes lighting up as she smiles up at them. “It’s not my fault I didn’t read the fine print.”

Laylen causally leans against the shelf. “You know, I still crave the taste of flies sometimes.”

“I bet you do,” Aislin’s mouth threatens to turn upward as she reaches into the box.

The whole conversation reminds me again how much I’ve missed out on and how I’ll never get it back. I won’t share moments with them of misplaced spells and games or whatever else children do. I only have now and I’m not really sure what to do with it since it pretty much owns me at the moment.

Alex temporarily removes my necklace so Aislin can splash some silvery dust in my eyes and chant her magic words. he puts it back on me and Aislin splashes some in Laylen and Alex’s eyes as well as hers. Then Alex moves over to a shelf and searches the bottom row. Bending down, he scoops up a crystal ball and then walks back over to me, balancing the illuminating crystal structure in his palm.

I wipe my eyes with the heels of my hands and blink against my blurry vision. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

He nods. “Now shut your eyes and place you’re hand on it… the sooner we get this over with, the sooner we can have answers.”

I swallow hard, torn. Is this what I really should be doing? Should I really risk it? Risk whatever waits for us in the future?

“Think of somewhere safe to go,” Alex instructs with his fingers wrapped around the glass. “A safe place.”

I’m seriously considering stepping back and really thinking about what I’m about to do because I do care for Alex. I really do. The feeling I’m experiencing—the desire to protect him—makes me hesitate.

“Maybe I should—”

Before I can react, he grabs my hand and places my palm onto the glass. I feel a hot energy swoop up my body before it slams against my head and my heart. It feels like my limbs are being detached from my body as my pulse accelerates. Seconds later, I’m engulfed by a bright, warm light and being swept away into the unknown.

Chapter 9

I’m not sure what went wrong, but something is definitely wrong. All I can see is light. Everywhere. I’m not falling or floating. I’m not even moving, I’m simply sustained somewhere within it.

“Where am I?” I whisper, moving my arms and legs, desperately trying to get my bearings.

“You’re in your future,” someone says from behind me.

My feet suddenly plant against the ground and I spin around to squint through the light. The smell of lilacs, rain, and forest smother my nostrils and I know, even though I can’t see him, that there’s an extremely annoying half-Faerie standing behind me.

“Nicholas,” I call out, wrapping my arms around myself. “I know it’s you.”

He doesn’t answer, but I can feel him next to me, the heat of his body radiating all over me.

“What is this place?” I rotate in circles, searching the light for him, but I’m blind everywhere I look.

“I already told you, it’s your future,” his voice purrs in my ear and I flinch, swinging my arm around.

I only hit air and curse under my breath. “How do you know it’s my future?”

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