“I have an idea,” Alex says, holding the pocketknife up in front of him. “How about you and I become blood brothers?”
She scowls at him and folds her arms. “I’m not a boy.”
Alex laughs and I do, too. “Okay, how about blood friends?”
Tears escape her eyes and roll down her cheeks. “What do I have to do to become one?”
“I’ll make a little cut on my hand and on yours, then we press them together and make a promise, okay?”
She looks wary. “Will it hurt?”
“Only for a minute,” he promises.
She wipes the tears away from her cheeks with her hands. “Okay, let’s do it.”
She stretches her hand to Alex and he carefully makes a small incision in her palm with the tip of the knife. She winces and I glance down at the small scar on my palm. I never knew where it came from and I once made a joke to Alex about it, saying a guy cut me there. He’s known all along what it was from and never said anything.
Alex makes a tiny cut in his palm, then drops the knife to the ground and raises his hand out in front of him. “Okay, put yours up to mine.”
She presses her palms to his with a beaming grin on her lips.
“Forem,” Alex utters. “Now you say it.”
She takes a deep breath. “Forem.”
Alex smiles as he drops his hand to his lap. “There, that’s all it takes.”
“But what does forem mean?” she asks, wiping the blood form her hand with her finger.
“Alex!” Someone yells from above the ground.
The children’s eyes become round and Alex jumps to his feet. “We have to go.” He holds out his hand and helps her to her feet.
“Do you think your dad will be mad at us,” she asks, panicking as they head past me toward the ladder. “For disappearing?”
“I don’t know,” Alex says. “Let’s just hurry up, okay?”
She glances around at the little hideout with a sad look on her face, like she’ll never see the place again, and then she nods. “Okay.”
They climb up the ladder and I follow them. As I step out from the behind the violet bush, I see Stephan waving his finger as he scolds them. I don’t want to see what happens next because I have a feeling I already know. The friendship will get crushed, a soul will be broken, and I’ll forget that it ever happened. I know because I can pretty much feel it coming. It’s heartbreaking to think about and know that this is what will be destroyed. For a second I find myself wishing I could forget it again and go back to unknowing.
I shut my eyes and sink down into the ground, waiting to be yanked away, thinking I’m going back, but suddenly I’m drowning in darkness.
My skin is on fire, raging like a desert storm. The heat claws at my skin, bites at it, gnawing it’s way into my soul as I fly helplessly through the seemingly endless darkness.
The further I go, the hotter I get until I can’t take it anymore. I stretch out my arms, glancing at them, however the darkness is too thick and weighted to see them at all. I open my mouth to shout for help, but my voice is lost in my own head.
I get dragged further into the desolate place and start to give up hope of ever seeing the light of day again. Yet then a light forms around me, lighting up my ghostly pale skin and orbing through the darkness, allowing me to see where I am.
I’m nowhere. Lost in nothingness. Destined to be no one.
As a triangular shape forms on my skin, swirling upward before dipping down in a ray of light, I realize that I could become someone. A strong someone. A powerful someone.
I could become the darkness.
My eyes shoot open and I gasp for air, my skin is covered with sweat. Laylen’s face appears in my line of vision, kneeling to the side of the sofa where I lie flat on my back. He looks horrified, his skin a sickly green.
“What the hell just happened?” he asks, his blue eyes wide beneath his blond hair.
I start to sit up, scratching my arm, even though there’s no triangular shape on it. “I have no idea.
He puts his hand on my shoulder and pins me down to the sofa. “Don’t sit up until we figure out why you passed out.”
“I didn’t pass out,” I tell him. “I went into a vision... I think, anyway” At least with the first thing I saw. The second one I’m not sure of, but the idea that it could be a vision scares the living daylights out of me.
He leans away, taken aback. “But you weren’t touching a crystal.”
“I know,” I say. “But I think I might be able to go in them without a crystal.”
He gapes at me unfathomably. “Seriously?”
I shrug. “I’m not sure… All I know is that I enter things sometimes, just like I enter a vision, only I don’t have a crystal.”
“Does anyone else know about this?”
“I don’t think so.”
Laylen shakes his head incredulously. “Jesus, one minute you were sitting here and the next thing you fell over.” His lips quirk upward. “Do you know how much of a pain in the ass it was to catch your dead weight?
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to fall over.” I swing my legs to the floor, preparing to sit up. “For a second I thought I was just remembering stuff about my childhood, but then, the next thing I knew, I’d entered a vision about my past.” I let out a breath, preparing to tell him what else I saw and to ask him about the triangular symbol. I want to know what it represents and if it’s a Mark.
“So you went into a vision?” Nicholas asks and Laylen and I jump, startled by his sudden appearance on the sofa across from us. Damn it. “Without a crystal?”
This is bad, very, very bad. Nicholas should not have this kind of information on me and I have a feeling he’s going to use it against me.
I lift Laylen’s hand off my shoulder, sit up, and get a head rush. I blink a few times while I wait for the room to stop spinning in blurs and streaks of color. “Did I hit my head?” I ask Laylen. “When I blacked out?”
“No, I caught you before you did.” He helps me sit up and then examines my eyes. “But didn’t Alex say you hit your head when you went to get him.” He nods his head in Nicholas’s direction.
I press my fingertips to my head and wince at the tender spot on the temple. “I have a really bad headache.”
“So,” Nicholas interrupts, marveling at me as though I am the most fascinating thing he has ever laid eyes on. He inclines forward in the sofa and overlaps his hands on his knee “You can go into a vision without the help of a crystal…how fascinating.”
“I guess that’s what I did,” I mutter, racking my brain for a way out of this, but my mind’s foggy with pain from the earlier fall as well as from the memory I’ve just witnessed.
“How long have you known you could do it?” Nicholas asks with way too much interest.
I shrug as I scratch my head. “Not too long I don’t think.”
“Do you know how rare that is?” Nicholas asks. “Jesus, I’ve never even met a Foreseer who could do it.”
“Well, I’m not one-hundred percent sure that’s what I can do.” I shrug, unsure what to say that would make the situation better. “I’m just guessing.”
“No, you can… I can sense it all over you now that I know what to look for.” Nicholas’s eyes devour me, drifting over my entire body, and I wrap my arms around myself as I squirm from his unrelenting gaze. “I’ve only heard of one other Foreseer who could do it and that’s Dyvinius’s younger brother,” he says. “Who’s been a Foreseer for a really long time, and comes from a line of many, many powerful Foreseers. He isn’t some girl who just got her Foreseer’s mark only a couple of days ago. Do you know how unlikely it is for anyone to be able to do that? You would have to be…” He trails off, mulling over something, his forehead furrowing.
“Have to be what?” I wonder, glancing at Laylen. We exchange a curious glance and then Laylen chimes in.
“Nicholas, just finish the damn sentence,” he says in a low, commanding tone.
“Very powerful,” Nicholas finishes, glaring at him. “You better watch it, Vampire boy. I might be here to help, but I can very easily leave.”
Laylen’s expression darkens and I note that his lip twitches. For a second, I swear his fangs descend, though then I blink and he looks normal.
“So about the Ira?” I ask, changing the subject, knowing the clock is ticking. The longer I sit and argue, the more time my mom spends down in The Underworld. “Where is it?”
Nicholas smirks as he pats the pocket of his pants. “Safe and sound.”
I stick out my hand. “Can I see it?”
He shakes his head. “Not until I get my fraxinus invisibili.” His eyes wander to the doorway and I’m surprised to find Aislin’s there with a small, velvet bag in her hand. “Do you have it?” he asks her.
She doesn’t respond right away, and then, reluctantly, she stomps across the room and drops the bag into Nicholas’s lap. He grins and she turns away, looking at Laylen.
“I’ll be in the store if you need anything.” He eyes glide over me as she turns to leave the room. There’s something about her; sadness and pain along with longing in her eyes. It hurts my heart and I turn to Laylen the moment she walks out.
“Go check on her,” I tell him. “Something’s wrong.”
He glances at Nicholas. “What about him?”
“He’s fine,” I say, waving him off. “Now go.”
He dithers momentarily then gets up and hurries out of the room.
“Trouble in paradise?” Nicholas wonders, getting comfy on the sofa. “Let me guess, your beautiful eyes have gotten in the way of their love.”
I scowl at him, placing my hands on my hips. “That’s none of your business.”
His expression lights up with enthusiasm. “So it’s true.”
“No, it’s not true you asshole,” I say. “Now show me the Ira.”
He picks up the bag on his lap, unlaces the golden ribbon on it, and glances inside, looking pleased before he ties it back up and sets it aside on the apothecary table.
“Show me the Ira,” I repeat firmly.
He rolls his eyes yet tolerates me, slipping a shimmering teal crystal ball out of the pocket of his pants. He gives me a quick glimpse of the Ira and by simply looking at it I can feel the power humming off of it, my fingers are itching to touch it to see what I can do with it. “There, satisfied?” he asks, stuffing it back into his pocket.
I nod. “I guess.”
His brow curves upward. “Could you feel the power?”
“Maybe,” I say coolly, even though my body is still humming from the energy more powerfully than even the electricity.
“You know it’s not as easy as seeing,” he says. “I’m going to have to use your Foreseer energy to even get it to work.”