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       Fated, p.22

           Sarah Alderson
 
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  'Is that why you want Evie dead so much?' Lucas asked hurriedly. 'Because you think she might be this White Light?'

  Tristan shrugged. 'Who knows if she is or isn't? But she's a Hunter and we want all Hunters dead. Don't we?' He arched one eyebrow. 'Isn't that what you signed up for? Not having second thoughts are we, Lucas?'

  Lucas could feel the tremor in his voice, the shattering noise of blood pounding in his ears as he answered. 'Of course.' He paused. 'Do Sybll prophecies always come true?' he asked.

  Tristan seemed thrown. 'No. Not always. Especially when choice comes into it. And humans are fickle creatures. Always changing their damn minds. They change their minds more often than they change their underwear.'

  Lucas's mouth was so dry he could barely voice the question. 'So the prophecy might not come true?'

  'Oh, it's definitely not coming true,' Tristan answered with a grim smile.

  'Why not?' Lucas managed to ask.

  The smile broke into a wider grin. 'Because you're going back to kill her. Time's up, Lucas. We're bored of waiting. We need to end it now. She may have her full power but she's not yet the White Light. If she is even the one the prophecy's talking about.'

  Lucas's whole body went rigid. He fought against the natural urge to dissolve into shadow, gripped the sides of the chair instead.

  'Consider this a test of your loyalty,' Tristan said, standing up and walking to the door. He opened it. 'If you fail this, don't bother coming back. It's either you or her. And if you don't manage to kill her, I'll be sending the others.'

  Lucas stood slowly, his limbs sluggish, his amulet scorching him under the shirt. 'Understood,' he said quietly, avoiding Tristan's yellow eyes, and left the room silently.

  He was by the car, fumbling for the keys, when Grace appeared at his side. She was almost as silent and invisible as him.

  He looked up at her.

  'Don't go back, Lucas,' she said.

  He ignored her. 'Does she die?' he demanded. 'Is the Brotherhood going to kill her?'

  Grace frowned, shaking her head. 'I can't tell. I need to touch her or have something of hers.'

  He threw open the car door and reached across the seat for the knife he'd thrown on the floor. The one he'd used to kill Caleb. The one Evie had used to defend herself. She'd thrown it under some tools and he'd taken it on his way out.

  'Here,' he said, thrusting it into Grace's hands even as she took a step backwards, her blonde hair flying like a cape behind her, her eyes wide with fear.

  He pressed it into her palm and she let out a gasp, her head tipped backwards, eyes rolling skyward.

  'What is it? What do you see?' Lucas urged, glancing hurriedly over his shoulder, back towards the Mission.

  Grace's head fell forward; there were blue half-moons underneath her eyes as though she hadn't slept in days.

  She turned away, his hand falling limply from her arm. 'I see death. I see everyone's death, Lucas,' she said softly.

  33

  It was still early when Evie arrived at Jocelyn's. She leant with her finger on the buzzer until she heard slow footsteps coming towards the door.

  Jocelyn opened the door in her dressing gown. Evie barged straight past her.

  'Did you know?' she demanded, wheeling around to face her.

  'Know what?' Jocelyn answered wearily, shutting the door.

  'About Lucas. Did you know? Did Victor tell you?'

  'No, Victor didn't tell me,' she answered, ushering Evie through to the living room.

  Evie sank down onto the couch. 'You tried to warn me not to get close to anyone. I'm so stupid.'

  'You're not stupid,' Jocelyn said, sitting next to her. 'You needed to learn.'

  Evie's head whipped up. 'You sound just like him.'

  She caught sight of Jocelyn's jaw locking in distaste. 'It always ends in betrayal, Evie. Always,' she said.

  Evie looked away. She realised she was clutching a cushion as if it was a punchbag she was trying to wrestle to the floor. 'A Shadow Warrior. And I couldn't even tell - that's the hilarious thing. I didn't even know. What kind of a Hunter am I?' She tossed the cushion aside and buried her face in her hands.

  She felt Jocelyn's hand on her back. 'The feelings you had for him masked what your instinct was telling you. It feels the same - a light-headedness, a rapid heartbeat, an adrenaline spike. That's how it feels to be around an Unhuman. You mistook that for something else,' she said gently.

  Evie's breath jammed in her throat. So it wasn't real, then - her feelings weren't real. But if it felt the same, why hadn't she wanted to jump the Scorpio, or Thirster? Her skin started to crawl at the thought. She'd kissed Lucas, she'd seen him half-naked and had thought about him with a lot less clothes on than that. She'd wanted him. She'd wanted him more than she'd ever wanted anyone before. It made the feelings she'd once had for Tom seem childish and innocent by comparison. And he wasn't even human. What kind of an instinct was that? She punched her fist into the seat.

  'Don't be hard on yourself,' Jocelyn said again. 'Just learn from it.'

  Learn from it? She was so sick of learning from it. She should have stuck to her guns, literally and metaphorically. She'd renounced boys long before Victor even showed up. She'd even spent part of that night lying in Lucas's bed packing up all her memories and saying goodbye to a future involving boyfriends, marriage and babies. She'd waved adios to the vision of herself as an old lady on a porch surrounded by grandkids. If she ever made it to being that old, she knew it would more likely be cats surrounding her.

  So why had she let Lucas in? Why had she ever trusted him? She was an idiot. Falling for those damn winter sky eyes which looked to hold a lifetime of secrets and hey, guess what? They did. Surprise! And that sad half-smile of his? Probably because he wasn't getting to kill her straight up - he was having to wait.

  But what had she expected? Why should he be any different from anyone else in her life? She was such a sucker. She may as well walk around wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan, Betray me. I'm good for it.

  She looked up with a start. 'He was probably the one who killed Anna!' Her stomach flipped one-eighty. She had let Anna's killer kiss her. She put her fingers to her lips, remembering how greedy she'd been when his lips found hers, how she hadn't wanted to come up for air.

  She screwed up her eyes. 'I talked to him about her. I let him--' She couldn't finish. Anger burst out of her in a sobbing cry.

  Jocelyn stroked her back. 'No. It wasn't him that killed Anna,' she said soothingly. 'These are youngbloods. It was the members of the Brotherhood before. Didn't Victor tell you that? We got our revenge, Evie. We practically wiped them out.'

  Evie stopped sobbing. OK, that was one less thing to worry about then, to feel guilty about.

  'Victor says he'll be back,' she said, wiping her sleeve across her face.

  'He will,' Jocelyn said with a sigh.

  'Why?'

  'Because they want you dead, Evie. And they think he has the best chance of getting close to you. You can use that to your advantage too. He doesn't know you know what he is.'

  Evie stood up. 'So I have to kill him. Is that it? It's either him or me?'

  Jocelyn stood slowly to face her. 'Don't you want to kill him? After what he did to you?'

  She felt the pain as a shard of jagged glass drilling through her abdomen.

  'If you kill him you'll get all your power. It's what you'll need in order to defeat them,' Jocelyn said quietly, her eyes locked on Evie's.

  Evie took a step backwards. 'So Victor says. Why did no one tell me that? I'm sick of all the secrets. What else don't I know?'

  Jocelyn bit down on her lip.

  'Why?' Evie shouted. 'Are you going to tell me? Why do I have to kill one of them to get my power?'

  Jocelyn took a breath. 'It's just the way it's always been.'

  'What kind of power are we talking about anyhow?' Evie demanded, her voice full of sarcasm. 'Will I suddenly get super-strong? Super-fast? Be able to fly?'<
br />
  'No,' Jocelyn answered.

  Evie could feel the glass shove deeper, impaling a few organs as it went. 'Will I not hurt any more?' she asked, holding back a wave of tears. 'Will I be able to forget all this? Will this go away?' She banged her chest. 'This pain. Will it stop?' she yelled.

  There was a silence before Jocelyn started speaking. 'Yes. It will dull,' she said. 'You will get stronger in many ways. You will heal faster. You'll move faster, your instincts will fire quicker.'

  Evie looked at her, still uncomprehending. How could killing an Unhuman make all that happen?

  'It gets easier after the first one,' Jocelyn continued. 'The first one you always hesitate over. The second, you don't.'

  Feeling less. Yes. She could do with feeling less. Feeling absolutely nothing would work for her.

  She sank back down into the couch, spent. 'Does it make you feel better?'

  'Better?' Jocelyn asked, standing in front of her.

  'Yes,' Evie said, looking up. 'Killing. Revenge. Does it make things better? How does it feel?'

  Jocelyn took her time answering. 'It feels like a release,' she finally said.

  Evie studied her. A release? Was that the only way of getting it? Release from this pain - from the anger she felt about everything - about Anna and her parents and her father and Tom and, damn him, Lucas. Would killing every Unhuman in this world make her feel better? Maybe it would, because right now she couldn't think of anything else that might stop this pain except--

  NO.

  Not his arms. Not being in his arms. What was wrong with her brain that it had to think Lucas?

  Maybe Jocelyn was right. Maybe the only way out of this was through killing.

  'I have no way out of this,' she murmured to herself. 'I can't run. They'll find me.'

  Jocelyn said nothing.

  'And unless I kill Lucas,' Evie carried on, 'or one of the others, I won't get the power I need to stay alive.'

  'Or become the White Light,' Jocelyn added quickly, 'and end this.' Her tone softened.

  She walked over to Evie and brushed a strand of loose hair behind her ear. The gesture jarred a memory Evie had of Lucas doing the same. She moved backwards, the pain hardening inside her, calcifying around her heart.

  'You owe Lucas nothing, Evie. He betrayed you.' Jocelyn paused. 'You have to kill him.'

  Evie glanced at Jocelyn, closed her eyes and finally nodded.

  34

  She turned the photograph over and over in her hands, reading the message on the back and looking at the image of the strangers holding her. She flipped it once more.

  Evie, she read for the tenth time. We loved you more than you will ever know. You are our Evie - always remember what you mean, to us. We are sorry we couldn't be there to watch you grow and keep you safe. We hope one day you will understand why and will forgive us. Above all, we hope that you make the choices we couldn't. We will love you always, Mum and Dad x

  'Remember what you mean to us,' she said under her breath. What do I mean?

  Make the choices we couldn't.

  What did that mean? What choice couldn't they make? And who could she ask? She no longer trusted Victor and she wasn't sure Jocelyn would tell her all she knew even if she made her drink a quart of truth serum and had a gun held to her head.

  She looked up at the sound of a car passing outside. Dusk had fallen while she'd been sitting here staring at an image long lost, at words that meant something but which could have been written by a Sybll for all the sense they made to her. Why couldn't they have been more explicit?

  Evie sighed and watched the streetlights flash on one by one as the shadows reached out and touched them. Soon. It would be soon.

  She got up from the chair and wandered idly over to the rails of clothes, her fingers stroking through the silks and chiffons gathering dust. She picked out a crimson red dress. It was strapless and tight across the chest - reminding her of a breast plate. The skirt was short and full. It was something to wear to a New York Fashion Week party but seeing how she would never be going to one of those, or even to New York, why not wear it for this little showdown? It was a good dress to wear for a first kill. A good dress for dying in too, she thought, slipping it from the hanger and twirling it between her fingers. The blood wouldn't show up too badly.

  She went into the fitting room and changed out of her jeans. She glanced at the girl in the mirror. The stranger with the dark hair running in waves over her shoulders and the eyes like a midsummer sky. Who was this girl wearing a dress the colour of arterial blood? The girl who was looking back at her emptily, blankly.

  She reached out a hand and pressed it against the glass. The girl reached out her hand too but Evie's fingers only met a hard surface. The girl was cold, unreachable. A faint smile passed over her lips as though she was pleased to be untouchable, then it vanished.

  She turned from her and walked barefoot, feeling the swish of cold silk against her skin. She crossed to the storeroom door and unlocked it. Inside Victor had laid out a table of knives and arrows. She spied the UV lamps in the far corner and a crossbow leaning against the wall. Hopefully Lucas would come back alone but she moved one of the lamps closer to the door and checked it for battery life. Then she propped the flame-thrower heavily against the wall nearby just to be safe. The memory of the Thirster coming at her with his fangs bared still made her stomach shrink.

  Eventually she walked to the table bowing under the weight of all the arrows and knives lined up in order of size, like so many operating table instruments. She selected the longest one, the one she thought might be fast enough and sharp enough for the job, and she tried not to think about where it might end up. She almost wished Victor had a table of guns. A gun would surely be easier. Or would it? Victor had told her that guns misfired or ran out of bullets while knives became an extension of the person, allowed you to get close, ensured a kill. A knife could never fail you.

  She closed her mind, didn't want to think about it. She didn't want to think of anything but the actions she was taking. Walking from the table to the door, walking from the door to the red velvet chair, sitting down in the semi-darkness with the frozen, posing limbs of the mannequins in the window blocking the light from the street and throwing geometric shapes across her folded legs. Then, while she waited, she focused on breathing in, breathing out. She focused on not thinking of anything else but filling her lungs and emptying them, conscious that every rise and fall was bringing her one breath closer to dying or becoming a killer or possibly both.

  The door finally pinged.

  She looked up and felt the air leave her body in a whoosh.

  Lucas stood tall in the doorway. His face blank, his eyes hooded. Slowly, tentatively, he walked towards her, a curious, suspicious smile nudging the edge of his lips as he took in her bare feet and cocktail attire.

  Granted, she was going for the dramatic.

  He paused, glancing around the store. She watched him, her heart skittering, her breath coming in puffs.

  He wasn't human. That was all she could think. And she could feel it. The dizziness in her skull, the lurch in her stomach, the tightening of her gut. He wasn't human. She felt the shudder ride up her spine. How had she missed that? Because he was so damn good-looking. Even now, her heart skipped a beat just looking at him, in his dark jeans and a long-sleeved white T-shirt which moulded perfectly to his shoulders and chest.

  He smiled at her warily. 'I tried to find you at the house. You weren't there. Your mum said you'd be here.'

  She slipped the knife into the billowing folds of her skirt and stood, her feet clumsy and her palms slipping on the hilt of the knife.

  He took another step towards her, giving her a wry half-smile. 'Sorry I disappeared the other night.'

  She forced herself to smile back, tried to look innocent. 'Where'd you go?' she asked.

  'Just somewhere,' he said, glancing over her shoulder again. More nervous this time.

  Was he looking for Victor? Try
ing to sense him? The Hunters, Victor included, were all out there watching this whole thing play out via the security camera mounted on the wall. She glanced up to check the red light was flashing away.

  She imagined the four of them bent over a CCTV screen somewhere - she wasn't sure where. She hadn't thought to ask. Risper was no doubt sharpening her axe or polishing her crossbow. Of course they were watching - they couldn't allow anything to happen to their precious White Light. Or maybe this was a test to see if she really was the White Light. If she died, then she obviously wasn't.

  But Evie hadn't cared that she was being forced to do this alone. She'd wanted to face Lucas by herself, even if he was a Shadow Warrior. She had needed this moment - had needed to look in his eyes without the others around, to know the truth of what he was.

  She stepped towards him, swaying slightly. 'So,' she said, in as seductive a voice as she could carry off while clutching a knife against her thigh and while trying to focus on the place on his chest where she was going to shove it. 'Why'd you come back?'

  She stood on tiptoe inches away from him. Her heart was going a million beats a second. Could he sense that?

  His voice was low but oddly toneless when he answered, 'Why'd you think?'

  He was so close she could feel his heat, could smell the outdoor smell of him, earth and leather and leaves and something warm and citrus. Her stomach clenched against her inclination to lean in further.

  Instead she ducked under the arm he was reaching out towards her and spun behind him, pulling out the knife, holding it out towards him like a flaming torch. He turned around to face her, slowly, his eyes dropping automatically to the weapon she was clutching.

  'I'm not sure,' she answered. 'To kill me, maybe?'

  He finally raised his eyes to meet hers. They were blank as a cement wall. 'You know,' he said, not sounding surprised.

  'What? That you happen to be a demon?'

  He seemed to smart at the word. His eyes narrowed - became cold and calculating. Then his mouth twisted into a sneer and his expression shifted, the shadows cutting lines across him, making him suddenly look like what he was. Unhuman.

 
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