The Forsaken, p.1Laura Thalassa
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I plummeted from the sky like a fallen angel. Except for maybe the fact that I was screaming like a banshee. Doubt any celestials fell with as little grace as I did. The wind snatched my shrieks away and shoved air down my throat.
I cannot believe this is happening.
I gripped Andre’s hand tightly in my own. We hadn’t let go of one another since we jumped from the jet. Already our plane was a small bead of light moving farther away from us with every passing second. It would land, and the House of Keys, the supernatural world’s governing body, would descend on it like carrion to a kill. It would only take minutes more for them to realize we were not onboard.
We’d bought ourselves hours at most before the hunt resumed. And this time the monster that the Politia hunted was me.
Because they thought I was the Anti-Christ.
Needless to say, I wasn’t having the best day.
Even with the light of the moon and my night vision, it was difficult to make out the geography beneath us. The land below glowed enough to alert me that Andre and I wouldn’t be touching down in a body of water—thank God. Other than that, it was a crapshoot where we ended up—it could be anywhere between Romania, where we left from, and the Isle of Man.
Andre drifted closer to me and wrapped a hand around my parachute’s cord. For a second we stared at each other, long enough for me to read Andre’s intention from his face. With the wind howling in my ears, this was the closest we came to speaking. He gave the cord a yank, and my hand was savagely ripped from his as my parachute unfurled.
My hand didn’t like that. It wanted him as close as possible.
I drifted down, the night air freezing against my face. God, I’d been so cold since Andre revived me from Bran Castle. At least, worst-case scenario, hell would be a nice vacation from this God-awful chill that had set in my bones.
I saw Andre’s parachute open beneath me, and some part of me relaxed, until I realized that I was drifting away from him. There must be a way to navigate this parachute, but fuck it if I knew how to do it. So I let the wind carry me where it might.
A tree broke my fall. I smashed into its branches and jerked to a stop, my body dangling nearly ten feet above the ground.
My breath came out in sharp pants. The only other noise was the groan of my straps and the tree limbs holding me up.
With shaky hands I unsnapped myself, and my freed body plummeted once more.
I hit the ground in a crouch. All around me, as far as I could see, trees stood like dark sentinels.
Another fucking forest.
Seemed I’d only just extricated myself from the one in Romania. I straightened and rubbed my numb hands together, my breath misting in front of me. Stretching my hearing out, I listened for signs of Andre.
Instead my skin prickled. Something out there in the darkness watched me.
My shoulders tensed as the voice whispered in my ear. Something did watch me. The very something I ran from.
The devil—Pluto—stepped out from the darkness. He looked like a dark prince in this place, the shadows curling and clinging to the edges of him. It might just be my imagination, but they seemed to wrap around his head like a wicked corona. For all his evil, his otherworldliness was breathtaking.
The entire supernatural world was after me—the good guys, the bad guys, and those with ambiguous motives—and they all wanted me dead thanks to the being in front of me.
“I have nothing to say to you.”
After I’d gone back on my deal, he’d released every secret and dark deed of mine to the news. Every. Single. One. The supernatural community now knew I’d led to the extermination of vampires, and more importantly, they knew I was destined to join the devil.
The devil’s unholy presence seemed to slither up my legs, through my hair, and into my mouth, like it was a living, breathing thing. Like it craved my company.
His eyes glittered. “A woman of few words. You’re rarer than the white whale. I truly have been fated to a covetous thing.”
“We are not fated.”
“Come, consort,” said Pluto. “I’ve laid you in my bed, touched your bare skin with my fingers, spoke of eternity with you. Enough with the lies. We are beyond that with one another, are we not?”
“Gabrielle!” Andre’s voice trickled in from far away.
I opened my mouth to call back to him. As soon as I did so, my lungs constricted. I reached for my throat choking on words I couldn’t force out. My eyes moved to the devil.
He tilted his head, studying me like I was fascinating. When I glared at him accusingly, a corner of his mouth curled up.
Stop it, I mouthed, because I couldn’t seem to actually voice the words.
Now both corners of the devil’s mouth lifted, and his eyes glittered. “What makes you think I’m the one doing this to you? I can’t kill you in this form,” he said, running his hands down the fine fabric of his suit.
My sight dimmed at the lack of oxygen even as my skin flared up. I guess the siren in me thought she had a better chance of getting us out of this situation than I did.
I blinked several times. The last thing I wanted was to be blind in the devil’s presence. Through my hazy vision I thought I saw him frown. He flicked a hand and released me.
My lungs expanded, and I fell to my knees, gasping for air.
He crouched by my side. “It’s going to be like this until you’re mine.”
“And then it will be worse,” I said, my voice raspy.
“Gabrielle!” Andre’s voice was much closer.
The devil swiveled his head at the sound, his expression inscrutable. “Come with me,” he said, returning his attention to me. “Tonight. Right now.”
He leaned towards me, far too close. Close enough to know that he smelled of burnt souls, that his skin had no pores, that his eyes moved and shifted as though firelight lit them from behind. They did so even now.
“Soulmate!” Andre called.
I scrambled away from the devil. “No.”
He stood and extended a hand towards me. “I can take you from this place. It doesn’t have to be painful.” Because pain was what everything boiled down to in the devil’s eyes.
I stared at his hand like it was an asp poised to strike. “You’ve never extended me that courtesy in the past,” I said, “so why should I believe you now?”
“I want you with me. It is as simple as that.”
“I will never go with you willingly.”
Slowly the devil retracted his hand. He stared at me for a long moment. Long enough for me to feel awed—if not frightened—by his presence. Long enough to feel that inexplicable pull towards him once again.
Finally he inclined his head. “So be it. I’ll be seeing you soon, consort.”
A powerful gust of wind shook the trees and blew away the devil’s form.<
The last thing I saw were his almond-shaped eyes, and then they too dissolved into the night.
I was still catching my breath when Andre found me.
“Soulmate.” He was at my side in an instant. He ran his hands over me, I’m sure to see if I’d hurt myself from the fall. “What’s wrong?”
I swallowed down my renewed fear. “The devil found me.” Yet again. At this point he and I were practically biffles. Now all we needed to do was braid each other’s hair and make friendship bracelets.
Andre’s brows furrowed. He leaned in and ran his knuckles down my cheek. “Are you okay?” He watched me with such unbearable sadness.
I leaned into his touch and closed my eyes. With him so close, it was easy to pretend the nightmares away. I nodded, opening my eyes. “Now I am.”
Perhaps it was the way I said the words or the way I looked at him when I spoke.
The reserve in Andre’s eyes dropped away, and something too big for words replaced it. Desire. Love. Compassion. None came close to everything I saw in those eyes. He looked as though he wanted to devour me with his touch alone.
A distant howl shattered the moment. Andre’s head snapped to the sound. His nostril’s flared, and I could see his pupils dilate.
“Where are we?”
His mouth was a grim line as he glanced around. “An enchanted forest. Germany, if I had to guess.” He held his hand to me. “We need to move.”
My sluggish pulse picked up. “Enchanted?” I took his hand.
Before he could reply, another howl broke through the silence of the night, this one closer.
“Time to run, love.” He gave my hand a nice tug, and then we were off, running through the trees.
My heartbeat sped up at both the exertion and the endearment.
Another howl joined the first.
“Please tell me that was just your normal, furry wolf,” I said.
Andre shook his head.
“Where are we going?” I asked, jumping over a fallen log.
Not going to lie, that sounded like a decent game plan to me.
As we ran, I took in the subtle glow of the forest. I’d gotten used to my night vision, but after Andre brought me back from the edge of death by feeding me his blood, my own transformation into a vampire had sped up. And right now it made the night dance with all sorts of light.
It barely made up for the bitch of a headache bright light now gave me.
“How can they possibly know we’re here already?” I asked.
“Those that pursue us might not know that we, specifically, are here. Just that there’s an interloper on their land. Werewolves are territorial.”
Behind us, more howls had joined in. They appeared to be moving in our direction.
“Are they gaining on us?” I asked. It sure sounded like it.
“Some are closer than others.”
He hadn’t answered my question. I’d thought that we were heads faster than other beings, but his evasive response made me wonder.
My breath came out in ragged puffs and my heart staggered out an ill-timed beat.
I caught movement from the corner of my eyes and swiveled my head to the left. I barely had time to say, “Werewolf,” before the massive hellbeast pounced on me.
My fist came up, and I socked the giant wolf in the temple as my skin flared. It barely slowed the creature down.
Andre grabbed the wolf by the back of its neck and threw it against a nearby tree. I heard the sickening thud its head made when it slammed into the trunk.
It collapsed at the foot of the tree, and for one second I thought the creature was dead. It looked too still. Then I heard it snuffle.
The siren pushed her way to the surface. Not for the first time I found it ironic that she, the cursed part of me that feasted on danger and lust, always came to my rescue.
Andre stalked over to the creature just as the werewolf shook its head, like it was trying to clear its mind. He used the creature’s confusion to grab its head. I could already tell by Andre’s coiled muscles and his well-placed grip that he intended to kill it. The wolf began growling and snapping again, as if aware of how close to death it was.
The siren in me schemed; the human in me recoiled from the needless bloodshed. Neither wanted the werewolf to die.
“Wait,” I said, glamour weaving into my voice.
Instantly Andre’s movements halted, and the werewolf chuffed, its lips curling back and then relaxing, like it couldn’t decide what it wanted to do. I didn’t know how much of its mind was human and how much was beast, but I needed it to listen to me.
“Change back into your human form,” the siren in my voice commanded.
The wolf whimpered, its body shaking. I could feel Andre’s eyes on me, and slowly he relinquished his hold on the wolf.
“Change back into your human form,” I repeated.
Andre came to stand next to me. “Reversing the transformation might not be possible this close to the full moon.”
At the sound of my soulmate’s voice, my fangs descended. I turned to him, my eyes locking on his neck. No pulse thudded there, but I could practically taste his blood already. And if he bit me …
“Focus, soulmate,” Andre said.
I blinked, pushing away the lusty haze of my thoughts. I noticed he wore a sly smirk, like he knew exactly where my thoughts had been a moment before. Only he would feel smug that his girlfriend was fantasizing about biting him.
God we’re freaks.
Dragging my attention away from Andre, I focused on the werewolf, who was slowly morphing back into a human. His face looked agonized, and a twinge of remorse pulled at my heartstrings. The siren stamped that emotion out, instead choosing to revel in the power of conquering another’s freewill.
Nearly a minute later, a shivering man replaced the wolf.
“We were never here,” I said. “You will let us go and call off the rest of the wolves.”
The man nodded, his eyes glazing over.
Their howls were closing in on us.
“You will do everything in your power to call them off the chase. Only then can you change back into a wolf.”
The man shuddered but nodded. Despite his human form, he let out a series of yips and howls. Instantly the forest fell silent.
Andre took my hand. “Let’s not stick around to see what happens.”
I stared down at our entwined fingers, struggling to rein in my lust. I didn’t dare speak for fear that the siren would continue to seep into my voice.
Again we began to run. This time the chorus of howls didn’t follow us, but that didn’t slow either Andre or me down. Now that the fight was over, the siren slipped away, sliding back down to the depths of my soul. Thank goodness. I had enough to deal with at the moment.
Eventually we caught sight of a dirt path, and we followed it until it turned into a road. I seriously considered kissing the ground at the sight. My body ached from the distance we’d covered, and emotionally, I was barely hanging in there.
The first signs of civilization showed up less than a mile later. We slowed to a walk as we entered a small town. Most lights were completely out. This late in the evening, no one but vampires and werewolves were awake.
I glanced over my shoulder at the thought. “Think we lost them?” I asked Andre.
“Depends on whether or not they live here.” He frowned. “Werewolves aside, I think we have other things to worry about,” he said, his eyes roving over the houses in front of us.
My eyebrows shot up. “You think anyone’s going to recognize me here?”
“Recognition doesn’t matter. You are a siren, one of the most beautiful creatures to exist. People remember that kind of unnatural loveliness. They talk, and those who look for you will listen. Your face will be a trail of breadcrumbs leading your enemies to our doorstep.”
I swallowed. I
We stood on the front porch of a weathered bed and breakfast. Inside I could hear two heartbeats. Unlike our surroundings, a lamplight glowed in the window.
I twisted the ruby ring Andre gave me around my finger. “Think this is a good idea?” I said.
“Given our circumstances, we don’t have much of a choice,” Andre said, glowering at the door.
I took a deep breath and nodded. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had a huge target on my back.
I cracked my knuckles then rang the bell. In the silent night, I clearly heard someone wake up and their shuffled steps down the stairs.
A moment later the door opened, and an old man in pajamas answered. “Guten Aben—” His voice cut off as soon as he got a good look at me. He stared for longer than was comfortable, until Andre cleared his throat. “Guten Abend, meine Frau und ich fuhren …”
My head snapped to Andre as he spoke in rapid-fire German. How many freaking languages did this man know?
He placed an arm around me then touched my stomach. I gave my soulmate a sidelong look. He was spinning some tale that obviously involved my belly.
The old man’s eyes returned first to my stomach, then almost against his will, they drifted up to my face, drawn like a moth to flame.
I gave him a tight smile just as Andre laid his hand protectively over my stomach once more. He continued to chat amicably with the owner, and by the end of the conversation the man was chuckling and ushering us in.
“What did you tell him?” I whispered to Andre as we were led to a room.
His lips curved. “I told him that my pregnant wife and I were driving through the area when our car broke down, and we needed a place to stay.”
My cheeks should’ve flushed—a day ago they would’ve—but it was just one more part of me that had changed since Andre’s emergency blood transfusion.
“Did he believe it?”
“Hardly. But I told him I’d pay him twice his going rate for the last minute accommodations.”
The Forsaken by Laura Thalassa / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes