Above the flames the fla.., p.2
Above The Flames (The Flames Trilogy #1), p.2Cassandra Fear
The demon got to his feet and stared her down. “What are you going to do with that? You can’t kill me. I know you have no idea what your power is, nor what it does.”
“I know enough.”
“Then what’s your next move?” the demon asked, coming toward her.
“To send you back where you belong.”
She released her power, and it took control. Her movements were her own, but not her own. Her fire took the reins and guided her. She lifted her arms at its command, and it shot through the air with sickening precision, slicing into the demon in front of her. He jumped back, but he couldn’t escape it. It stretched out farther, following him and attaching to him everywhere he went. His skin sizzled and bubbled where the fire touched, and the demon screamed. For the first time, he looked scared, his eyes wide and panicky.
Do something. Get rid of him. I want him gone.
Inch by inch the fire wormed around his body, framing him in a line of neon blue, like one of those old motel signs at night. She stepped forward, her power making her move. By the time she reached the demon, his whole body was glowing the color of her fire. She reached her hand out to grab him.
“You don’t know what you’re doing. Stop. Think about this a minute.”
But Jasmine couldn’t think about it. Her power was in complete control now, and even if she wanted to stop, she couldn’t. When her hand connected with the demon’s skin, it was like he exploded. Flakes of neon blue fell around her, over her. And she wanted to dance under the dead demon flakes. What kind of person does that make me?
Jasmine rushed to her dad’s side, falling to her knees. Every breath he took rattled his chest. She didn’t think he could have been much paler, but he was. The pale moonlight only made it worse. A jagged slice lined his arm, and blood ran down, painting his skin red. “Dad? What can I do?” She sighed. “Are you okay?” Jasmine asked, still hoping this had all been a bad dream.
He took a long, shaky breath. “No, peanut. I don’t think I am.” His voice was barely a whisper.
The car door slammed, and Mom ran toward them. “What happened?”
Tears filled Jasmine’s eyes as she gazed at her father. It was only when she looked down that she remembered her hands were still blue, glowing against the darkness. She needed to put her power away. She reached inside, guiding it toward the inner box where she kept it. It followed her path, for a minute. Then, as if laughing at her, it zoomed backward and shot from her fingers and into the air like a firework. Why can’t you just do as you’re told?
Mom stared at her with fear. Her eyes drooped, and she slumped forward, laying her head on her father’s chest, listening to his weak heartbeat.
Mom came down, grabbing Dad’s hand. Her eyes were soft until she looked at Jasmine. “I always knew your power would destroy this family. Now it has.”
Jasmine’s lip trembled. “I’m sorry, Mom.”
“Don’t call me that!” her mother yelled.
“Mary…don’t. She is our…girl.” Her father’s voice cracked.
“No. She’s not.” How could her mom say that?
“I’m glad I know how you feel,” Jasmine said.
Dad placed a hand on Mom’s arm, forcing her to look at him. She shook her head, grunted, and threw her hands up in the air, as if some unspoken conversation had just taken place. “Fine. I won’t. You win.”
Dad smiled at that, but it didn’t reach his eyes.
Tears slid down her cheeks, soaking into her dad’s shirt as his heart seemed to skip a beat, then slowed even more. Now it was barely audible. Jasmine’s hands trembled. Dad took a long, shuddering breath. “I…love you, J-Jazzy.”
“I love you too, Dad.” She paused, gasping for breath to speak. “Forever and always.”
Everything slowed down. Hot tears spilled over, and she hiccupped and snorted as sobs took over. Dad’s hand shook as he brought it up and stroked her hair. Finally, his arm thumped against the ground beside her and his chest stopped rising and falling with his breath. He was gone.
With blurry eyes, she looked up at the starry night. A bullfrog grunted, drawing her gaze to a wooded area close by. Crickets chirped loudly all around her. But her father’s glazed eyes stared straight, unblinking.
Her mother’s mouth moved, but Jasmine couldn’t hear anything over the ringing in her ears. Dark spots appeared in front of her, following her wherever she looked. She pushed her power down, and it pushed back, until she finally forced it into the box and locked it. Dizzy, she fell back. The stars twinkled, as if mocking her with their beauty, but even they disappeared as she closed her eyes. She tried to open them again, but they were too heavy, so she sunk down into the pit of darkness.
Three Days Later
Jasmine sat on her bed, a packed suitcase beside her. She gazed around her room. The white walls looked different. More bland than before. Now that Dad was gone, there was nothing for her here.
A light tap on her door alerted her before Mom came through. She put her hands on her hips. “Where are you going?”
Jasmine shrugged. “Grandma and Grandpa’s. You made it pretty clear you don’t want me here.”
Mom sat down in the chair by Jasmine’s desk. “I never said that. I just know myself. It might not be fair, but this was your fault. And I just can’t get over that. Not right now.”
Jasmine swallowed a lump, but it came right back. “Why do you hate me so much?”
“I’ve never hated you, Jasmine. I just wasn’t cut out to be a mom. I’m sorry for that. I do think you deserved better than me.”
“I had Dad.”
Mom smiled. “You did. You had him more than I did. He told you he loved you before he died. Not me. I noticed.”
Jasmine winced. “I was hoping you wouldn’t.”
“I’m sorry I’ve been so cruel to you. I know it hasn’t been a picnic living with me.” Mom placed a hand on Jasmine’s knee. “I hope you get the life you deserve.”
Jasmine bit her lip to stop the trembling. “You act like you’re never going to see me again.”
Mom shrugged and looked at the ground.
“I’ll stay, if you want me to.”
Mom’s eyes narrowed as they met Jasmine’s. “No. You have to go. At least for now.” Her face softened. “I’m sorry.”
Jasmine stared at her mom, trying to memorize every feature. She didn’t want to leave, but she didn’t have a choice right now. And there were so many memories of Dad here; it kind of hurt being here. “I guess we’ll keep in touch?”
Mom nodded. “We will.”
Jasmine stood, walked to Mom, and patted her back. “I love you, Mom. I hope you find the peace you deserve.”
Mom looked up with watery eyes. “Thank you.”
Jasmine picked up her suitcase and turned toward the door.
“Wait. I want you to know your father loved you with everything he had.” Her mother’s voice cracked.
Jasmine smiled back at her. “I know, Mom, but thanks for telling me anyway.”
Jasmine continued out the door, the sound of Mom’s sobs following her. She walked out the front door and didn’t look back. This was the start of her new life. Somewhere far away, where nobody knew about her power. Or demons. Somewhere she would finally have a chance.
Two Years Later
“Shit. I’m late.” Jasmine grabbed her black clutch from the table and then stepped out the door. The steps creaked under her feet as she rushed to the bottom level of Ma and Pa’s store. She jumped from the third step and landed on a loose floorboard, which groaned under her weight. She sped up, squinting against the sunlight shining through the front windows.
“Jasmine. Where are you going?” Grandma’s strained voice made Jasmine stop.
She spun around as Ma walked out from behind the counter. “Beau’s picking me up.”
Ma put her hands over her head and grooved. “Birthday sex. Birthday sex.”
Jasmine’s cheeks flamed. “Oh my gosh! Ma, really?” She chuckled. “Where’d you even hear that song?”
Pa came forward. “Hey, just because we’re old doesn’t mean we don’t know how to get down.” He hip bumped Ma, who flew sideways and almost fell, but she grabbed the cereal rack just in time.
“You two are something else.” She shook her head. “I hope you never change.”
Ma shuffled forward, her silver curls bobbing with each step. She wrapped her arms around Jasmine. “Happy birthday!” She leaned back, still holding on to Jasmine’s shoulders. “That red dress looks gorgeous on you. Your brown eyes look even bigger.” She paused a moment, looking at the ground, then met Jasmine’s eyes with her serious face. “Have you talked to your mom?”
Jasmine’s heart dropped as she shook her head, but she didn’t say anything. She didn’t really want to talk about it.
“Things will get better. Give it time,” Ma said, the corner of her lips tilted toward the floor.
Jasmine nodded just as Grandpa almost tackled her, wrapping her up and picking her up off the floor. “How’s it feel to be eighteen today? An actual adult. Crazy how fast time flies.” His already wrinkled face grew even more creased as he grinned and let her feet once again touch the floor.
Jasmine took a deep breath. Pa’s words brought back memories of Dad, since he’d asked her the same thing two years ago. She frowned as thoughts flooded her mind.
“Dear.” Ma snapped her fingers. “Snap out of it. There’s no need to think about the bad stuff today.”
Jasmine shrugged. “I can’t help it. It wasn’t all bad, though. The accident brought me here, and this is the happiest I’ve been in a long time. You guys are definitely an unexpected bonus.”
“You better believe it.” Pa winked. “We are pretty happening old folks, you know. Most young people look at us and say, ‘I hope I’m like them when I get that age.’”
Jasmine playfully shoved Pa’s shoulder. “All right. I guess you’re pretty cool. You did give me a place to stay when I had nothing. That says something.”
Pa reached into his shirt pocket, pulling out a black velvet box. Excitement shot through her.
Jasmine waved her hands in front of her. “Woah. I’m sorry, Pa, but I can’t marry you. You’re family, after all. And way too old for me.”
Ma’s laughter verged on hysterical. Jasmine’s heart lightened. It was true, if she wouldn’t have come here, she would’ve never gotten to spend this time with her grandma and grandpa. She would have never gotten to know them. And that would have been a shame, because they really didn’t make people like Ma and Pa anymore.
Pa ran his hand through his thinning gray hair, and then placed it over his heart, dropping his jaw. “Oh, the pain.” He flipped the top of the box open. “This is better than a ring.”
Jasmine reached into the box, unwinding a heart-shaped locket. It’s silver. They remembered I hate gold jewelry.
Her eyes watered as she gazed at the two people who’d shown her what family should be. “Thank you so much.”
“Well, open the locket, dear. We may not have all day.” Ma raised her eyebrows.
Pa’s voice strained. “We sure ain’t getting any younger!”
Jasmine scrunched her eyebrows, but opened the locket. On one side of the heart was a black and white photo of a man with a sailor’s cap on. The other side held the picture of a woman with a beehive hairdo.
Laughter bubbled out, even though she pressed her lips together to try to stop it. “Tell me this isn’t you guys!”
Pa scrunched his forehead. “Hey there, missy. I’ll have you know, I was a strapping young man in the Navy in that photograph.”
“And I was his wife.” Ma put her hands on her hips, then narrowed her eyes, although the corners of her lips tilted upward. “I will tell you a secret. Those hairdos were crazy uncomfortable.”
“Well, you wore it that way. You only had yourself to blame.” Jasmine jumped at the sound of a car horn, then sighed. She reached around and quickly fastened the necklace around her neck. “Well, that’s Beau. I’ve got to go.”
“Before you do, get over here,” Ma said.
Ma and Pa sandwiched Jasmine between them and squeezed.
“I’m so glad you came to us two years ago, Jasmine. You keep us young,” Pa said.
Jasmine’s heart fluttered. “I don’t think I can take credit for your young spirits, but I’m glad I came too. Trust me, this is way better than being with Mom.”
“Don’t be too hard on her. She’s always been mixed up. We love her, she’s our daughter, but she has her weaknesses, and her strengths. She’s just never found the latter.”
Jasmine nodded, and Ma and Pa released her, leaving her free to walk to the door. Before she opened it, she turned back. “Thanks, guys. I really love you.” Blinking back tears, she faced forward and pushed the door of Ma and Pa’s grocery store open.
“Now run along, dear. And have fun,” Ma said.
As she exited the store, her phone vibrated in her pocket. She pulled it out, her eyes falling straight to the caller ID. What does he want?
“Hello,” she said as she tapped the green button.
“Jasmine. Hey. It’s been a long time,” her ex-boyfriend, Bub, said.
“It has. What do you want?” She continued walking toward Beau’s SUV, which was parked right out front.
“I was just thinking about you. Wondering how you were.”
“I’m just fine. In fact, better than fine. I’m heading out on a date with my boyfriend.”
A few moments of silence made the awkwardness even more apparent. She really couldn’t figure out why he was calling.
“I wanted to tell you happy birthday,” Bub finally said.
“Well, thanks. But you’ll have to pardon my surprise here. We haven’t talked since our breakup. It’s not like we are friends.” By now she’d reached the passenger door of Beau’s vehicle, and she held up one finger to indicate she needed a minute. Beau shrugged.
“I’d like to change that,” Bub almost whispered, as if he was afraid of her hearing.
“Listen. I don’t really have time for this conversation right now. I’m not sure if I want to be friends either. Our relationship was explosive, and all we did was fight. Why would time change that? We just weren’t meant to be in each other’s lives. Just…just don’t call me again, okay?”
Jasmine didn’t wait for an answer. She hung up, hoping she’d made her point clear. Putting the strange phone call out of her mind, she hopped inside Beau’s SUV, assaulted with the fragrance of an island paradise air freshener. Jasmine instantly closed her eyes and saw sand and glistening water.
“Happy birthday, baby.” Beau leaned over the console and kissed Jasmine. His warm lips melted into her own and she found herself leaning forward for more.
After a minute, she pushed against his chest and pulled back, smiling. “Thank you.”
Beau leaned his elbow on the wheel and turned toward her. “You don’t have to thank me, Jazzy.” He popped open the center console and brought a black cloth out. “Now, tonight is a surprise, so no peeking.”
“Beau, stop. I don’t need these cheesy, romantic gestures.” Jasmine grabbed his wrist lightly to stop him. Secretly she loved the romance Beau brought to her life, but she didn’t want him to think she needed it.
He looked at her like she’d just stabbed him.
Gosh, why did I have to say that? Especially when I like the things he does for me.
“All right, Beau. Put the blindfold on me.”
“It’s all right.” He tossed the cloth to the floor. “You don’t want it, it’s fine. It’s your birthday, after all.” His voice was low and emotionless. But Jasmine could see plain as day what he was feeling.
She rubbed her long fingers along his back, running her nails over his shirt the way he liked it. A few moments passed and he shuddered. “Come on. Just put the blindfold on me.” She made sure her voice was
Beau’s eyes twinkled with desire as he gazed at her. “You sure?”
“Have you ever known me not to be?” She raised her eyebrows.
The blindfold was around her eyes in two seconds flat, taking away her sight, so she used the senses she didn’t rely on as much. Beau cracked her window, and air whistled past her ears, flicking her hair so it tickled her cheeks.
When Beau pressed the gas, Jasmine felt like she was floating through space. This is so cool!
The summer had kicked into high gear and brought the smell of wildflowers and fresh cut grass. The sweet scents tickled her nose as she fell back in her seat.
“Slow down, buddy. Where’s the fire?” Beau chuckled, but didn’t answer. After several seconds, Jasmine couldn’t take the silence anymore. “Okay, where are we going?”
“What if I guess it? Will you tell me if I’m right?”
She stuck her hand out the window, feeling the cool breeze touch her fingers. She sniffed, smelling dirt and more grass, as well as the distinct scent of fertilizer. “We aren’t in town anymore. We are in the country, and the fertilizer tells me we are close to the trail. Am I right?”
Jasmine huffed. “Is that all you can say?”
“Really?” She smiled. “Okay, you can keep your secrets. I know I’m right. But you told me we were going to dinner.”
The car slowed, and then stopped abruptly, jolting her forward. It clicked as he put it in gear, then the engine died.
“We are going to dinner,” Beau said.
Jasmine reached around to untie the blindfold, but Beau’s hands grabbed hers, holding them in front of her. “Not yet. Remember, it’s a surprise.”
The door slammed, then the car bounced up and down a few times. Fresh air brushed against her face as Beau led her out of the vehicle. He wrapped his arm around her back, guiding her forward. The soles of her shoes scraped against…concrete? Maybe asphalt, but it was chunky and made her feel as if she might sprain her ankle. It’s gravel!
Above The Flames (The Flames Trilogy #1) by Cassandra Fear / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes