Fated 02: Severed, p.5Sarah Alderson
‘I need a phone,’ she said as soon as he appeared in the doorway. She sounded afraid. Her bottom lip was trembling slightly.
‘What’s up? Who do you need to call?’ he asked.
‘My mum,’ she said, stumbling to her feet. ‘My mum, Lucas! I forgot to call my mum. Crap, what time is it?’ she asked, her head whipping side to side.
‘It’s nearly seven.’
‘In the evening?’ she asked, confused.
‘Yes, you slept a long time.’
‘Damn. You should have woken me up! I need to call her, Lucas.’ She dropped once more to her knees and started rooting through the pile of discarded clothing. A sob erupted from her chest. ‘If anything’s happened to her …’
‘Nothing’s happened to her,’ Lucas said, dropping to his knees and taking her hands in both of his. ‘It’s OK. She’s OK. I called her this morning, just after you fell asleep. I knew she’d be worried.’
‘You called her?’ Evie whispered, turning pale. ‘What did you tell her?’
He stood up slowly. ‘I told her you were with me, that we’d decided to take a little trip and would be back soon.’
Evie sucked in a breath. ‘You told her that?’ she said, falling backwards onto her haunches and staring up at him.
‘Yeah,’ he answered, with a small shrug.
‘And you thought that would help how exactly?’ Evie yelled. ‘Are you trying to make me an orphan twice over? Did she have a heart attack?’
‘No.’ He paused. ‘Though I don’t think she likes me as much as she used to.’
She glared at him. ‘I’m not sure I like you as much as I used to.’
He gave her his roguish grin in reply, pushing his hands deep into his pockets. She tried not to, but she smiled back anyway.
‘I said you’d call her when you woke up.’
‘And what am I supposed to tell her exactly?’ Evie asked.
‘Tell her the truth.’
Evie’s eyebrows rose another inch in disbelief. ‘The truth? What – you think I should tell her that I ran off with a boy who’s half-demon because we’re going to save the world together by ridding it of the really mean demons who are out to get us?’
‘No,’ Lucas said softly, taking a step towards her. ‘Tell her you love me. Tell her that I love you and that I’m keeping you safe. And,’ he paused, ‘tell her we’re coming home soon.’
Evie stared at him in amazement, her mouth falling open. He held her gaze, unfazed. She shook her head slowly, the blush sweeping across her face. ‘But I need to tell her to get out of Riverview, Lucas. What if the Brotherhood comes looking for me? Or any of the unhumans that Flic mentioned. What if they come looking for us there? What if she’s in danger?’
‘She’s not in danger,’ Lucas answered calmly.
‘How do you know?’
‘Because I called Jocelyn too.’
Evie’s face drained of colour. ‘You called Jocelyn?’
‘Evie, she’s the only one who can protect your mum right now. And despite everything she’s done to you, she does care about you.’
‘She told me it was already handled. Your mum’s safe.’ He walked to the desk and picked up his father’s blade, testing the point against his thumb, more out of habit than anything else. It never lost its razor sharpness. ‘Look,’ he said as he sheathed it in a leather holder on his waist, ‘can we talk about this when I get back?’
Evie’s head flew up, ‘You get back from where?’
‘We’re about to head out to this club. You’re staying here. It’s safer. Issa says you’ll be fine. She doesn’t see any danger for you.’
Evie jumped to her feet. ‘No way. I’m coming with you.’
‘No you’re not.’
‘Yes I am. Lucas, I’m coming with you.’
There she was, tilting her chin, standing with one hip jutting forward, taking him on as if he was the world. He sighed inwardly. The world never won against Evie Tremain. He should have learnt that by now.
‘We know the prophecy is going to happen,’ she said squaring up to him. ‘So we know that I must survive whatever happens tonight. Theoretically, therefore, I should be the one going and you should be the one staying.’
He raised one eyebrow.
‘But I know that’s not going to happen,’ she conceded. ‘So I’m coming. Besides,’ she said, her tone becoming more wheedling, ‘you said you’d never leave me alone again. You promised.’ She took a step closer towards him, sidling up to him, until she was so close her stomach was brushing the hilt of his knife. He let out a long sigh and pulled her close, feeling her smiling victory against his shoulder.
‘Where are we going?’ Evie whispered to Lucas as they hurried down the block.
Jamieson looked over his shoulder and answered her, ‘The Tipping Point. It’s an unhuman club.’
‘Where is it?’ she asked. She was still having to do a double take every few seconds, sneaking peaks out of the corner of her eye at him.
‘It’s downtown. It moves every night to a new location so that the humans can’t find out about it and claim it for their own enjoyment.’
‘You shouldn’t be bringing her,’ Flic muttered as she strode past them. She was wearing a see-through leopard print top and dark jeans. In heeled boots she was almost Lucas’s height. Under the glow of the orange streetlights, with her geometric cheekbones, she looked like some mutant wildcat escaped from a lab and prowling the streets for dinner. Tonight her eyes were violet coloured. Last night they’d been brown, but Evie was fairly sure that both colours had been achieved by contact lenses. She had a sneaking suspicion that Flic’s actual eyes were yellow. Maybe it was some Shadow Warrior gene that had skipped Lucas by. Thankfully.
Evie pressed herself closer against Lucas’s side, her hip rubbing comfortingly against the hilt of his blade. She was distracted. In her mind she was still playing over the phone call she’d just had with her mother. It had contained a lot of disappointeds, a dozen what about schools? And had finished up with a cheek-flayingly cringetastic Please, dear Lord, don’t come back pregnant.
Evie sneaked a glance at Lucas. He was walking fast, his arm tight around her, his eyes focused on the street ahead. She mentally added pregnancy to the list of things they were trying to avoid, along with being killed by demons. Her mother would be better off praying to the Lord for her to come back alive – never mind the pregnant part. And besides, it wasn’t as if she and Lucas had actually done anything beyond kissing anyway. The only time they’d even properly kissed had been in the basement of her house, just after Lucas had killed Caleb. Now that the whole world seemed to be after them, trying to kill them, kissing seemed like frivolous behaviour. Having said that, now she was thinking about it, remembering what his lips had tasted like, what his hands had felt like against her skin, and what Lucas had looked like without his shirt on, maybe it wasn’t so frivolous after all. Maybe kissing was exactly what they should be doing right now, rather than going out to start a fight with some unhumans. But from the looks of it, Lucas wasn’t contemplating frivolity. Judging by the expression on his face and the tension running in taut lines across his shoulders, it looked as if he was contemplating a fight.
Every slight tensing of a muscle in Lucas’s body she felt too, as if transmitted to her by electric current, and every step was making her feel more and more jittery, as if she was being charged with static and at any moment lightning was going to strike through the top of her skull. Sensing her unease, Lucas slowed his pace and pulled her closer, his fingers curling around the nape of her neck. A vague memory jostled in her mind of the last time she’d felt the pressure of his fingers on her neck. That time he’d done something to her that had made her black out. This time though he laid off on the Vulcan death grip, instead brushing the tip of her wounded ear with his lips. Her whole body shuddered in response and she stumbled against his side.
Flic had lent her – well,
Another shudder suddenly rose up her spine, goosebumps chasing their way down her arms. It felt as if a million icicles were crystallising rapidly against her skin. She inhaled sharply. She knew it wasn’t the cold that was making her shake as if she had hypothermia, or Lucas’s arm around her. She was sensing what felt like thousands of unhumans close by. She squared her shoulders and forced herself to keep walking straight with her head held high. There was no way she was going to give Flic the pleasure of seeing her freak out.
Lucas sensed her fear. ‘Nothing’s going to happen to you, remember,’ he murmured softly, his lips brushing the top of her head.
She nodded absently. Didn’t he know already? It wasn’t herself she was worried about.
‘I have to disappear,’ Lucas suddenly said, giving her waist a squeeze before letting go.
Evie turned to him, frantically grasping for his arm, but he had already vanished. She stopped in her tracks, shivering, staring in disbelief at the space beside her where he’d been just a moment before.
‘Keep walking,’ she heard him whisper suddenly in her ear. ‘I’ll just be a few steps away. I need to stay in the shadows.’
She took a faltering step forward, rounding the corner and almost stumbling to a halt when she saw the mass of unhumans before her. A line stretched out ahead of them that was so long it continued all the way around the block. They were in what looked like a film studio’s back lot. Warehouses lined the street and stretched in every direction. The one before them had a metal fire escape criss-crossing it like an exoskeleton. A thin, uneven alleyway, like a knobbly spinal cord, ran between two squat-looking buildings and it was down this alley that the line snaked.
Evie darted what she hoped was a casual glance sideways. They were passing a screeching group of unhumans dressed in shimmering neon. Just as they drew parallel, one threw back her head and cackled loudly, exposing her face to the dim orange street light above her. The girl’s skin was a pale shade of green. Evie eyed the others – also green. But even if Evie had been colour blind the halo of bare tarmac around them was signal enough that they were Mixen demons.
Flic strode on past them without a second glance and headed straight towards the front of the line. Evie froze uncertainly on the sidewalk.
Issa was beside her in the next moment, slipping her arm casually though her own. ‘Don’t just stand there. Walk!’ she hissed, dragging Evie forward while simultaneously raising her arm and waving at someone in the line.
Evie clutched at Issa’s arm. ‘Was that the Olsen twins?’ she whispered, trying to look back over her shoulder at the two short blonde girls with enormous panda eyes, wearing purple kaftans, whom they’d just passed by. ‘As in, the real ones?’
‘Who knows,’ Issa shrugged, still walking, trying to keep pace with Flic. ‘Most of the time it’s Shapeshifters. They like to show off. Don’t stare like that,’ she warned, yanking Evie’s arm. ‘They’ll realise you’re not one of us. And besides,’ she said with a sigh, ‘it only encourages them.’
As they neared the entrance Evie felt her heart rate upping and beads of sweat starting to slide down her back. ‘Is this going to work?’ she asked Issa nervously.
‘So far, so good,’ Issa answered. ‘But who knows? Everything hinges on one snap decision. You stare too long at those Mixen over there then who knows which way this could turn.’
Evie swallowed and kept moving forward, head down, eyes averted. She wished she could feel Lucas, wished even more that she could see him. She tried to sense him like she had done the other night, when he’d been fighting Shula, but there were too many unhumans around and she couldn’t focus. With the suffocating panic that had a hold of her, it was all she could do to follow Issa’s orders not to stare and to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
They reached the head of the line and Flic burst her way through the crowd, planting herself in front of two doormen who were standing in front of a metal door. A stream of profanities and growls erupted from the crowd behind them.
‘Hey Jules,’ Flic drawled, completely ignoring the protesting crowd and flashing the doorman a wide smile, ‘I brought some friends. Can we skip the queue?’
Lucas waited in the shadows ready to pounce. The Thirster behind Evie was growling unpleasantly. Lucas’s fingers were clasped around the hilt of his blade. He watched the Thirster. If it made the slightest move it would find itself missing a head. And then it would find itself on fire. He was tempted to start the fight here and now. But taking it inside was the sensible thing – away from any prying human eyes – and somewhere he could contain the mess. His training from Tristan was coming back to him instinctively. He had already scanned the entire crowd on his way past, assessing who potentially posed a threat, who would run, who was armed, who would go down easily. There were no Shadow Warriors, thankfully, besides Flic. No one who could see him hidden here in the shadows.
He rolled his shoulders, trying to loosen them up, never taking his eyes off Evie. He didn’t like it – being this far from her. It reminded him of how he’d felt standing on the bank of the pond watching her dive down into the darkness – that stomach-curling sensation of having her just out of reach, the freezing fear that he might not be able to reach her in time. From over here in the shadows he could barely scent her, her heartbeat was just a rapid whisper, an undercurrent to all the other noises he was picking up – the shrieks of the Mixen further back in the crowd discussing the downfalls of getting intimate with the male of the species, and a couple of Scorpio talking in hushed voices about which realm was best for scoring drugs. Some young Shapeshifters near the front of the line were still talking about him. Apparently the rumour had it he had slaughtered a whole army of Thirsters, drunk the blood of the Scorpio whose tail he’d chopped off and had made into a belt, and was now off enjoying a romantic honeymoon with the Hunter he’d rescued.
He laughed under his breath, imagining what Evie would say if she could hear. No doubt she’d ask to see the Scorpio-skin belt. She was looking around nervously now. From the way her eyes kept skirting over the alley he guessed that she was trying to sense him, but her eyes flew right by him. Issa had stepped between her and the Thirsters and was shielding her partly from sight. He stared at Issa’s blonde head, half masking Evie’s darker one, and another wave of unease washed over him. What if Issa had been right about the army? What if she wasn’t trying to scare him?
He didn’t have time to think about it, however. Whatever Flic had said had worked. The doorman was standing aside to let her and the others into the club. Lucas readied himself, waiting for Jamieson’s signal. As soon as he saw it, he moved, crossing the alley unseen and ducking beneath Jamieson’s arm as he held the door open wide for Evie and Issa.
He moved fast down the corridor, the neon lights affording no cover. He would be a dark blur, a shadow flickering against the wall. The girls sitting by the cloakroom were busy though. Their heads were bent and they were giggling over something. They didn’t look up as he flew past and slipped behind some Shapeshifters, following them through a heavy fire escape door and into the club.
He found himself on a concrete landing, at the top of some stairs. There were at least five hundred unhumans beneath him, all lit ghoulishly by strobe lighting. He scanned the crowd, his eyes lighting on a group of Thirsters hanging around the edge of the dance floor. They were slightly anaemic looking, clearly on the prowl, even though it was forbidden. A group of young Shapeshifters, barely old enough to shift, were dancing right next to them, totally oblivious to the fact they were being eyed up like dancing entrées.
Lucas spotted the leader of the Thirsters easily – a skinny boy in his
Lucas was down the stairs and moving swiftly through the crowded dance floor towards the Thirsters before he noticed the projection on the wall. A wildly dancing Shapeshifter bumped into his shoulder and lurched with a confused yelp backwards, unable to figure out what the invisible obstacle in his way was, but Lucas kept standing there unmoving, staring at the wall.
Staring at himself.
They started walking down a narrow corridor towards another door at the far end. Evie could hear the thump of loud music and the tribal drum beats of what sounded like a thousand unhumans stampeding just the other side of it. The sweat was turning to ice against her spine. A blast of wind whipped past her, making her shiver. She kept walking, Issa ushering her forwards. Just before the door there was a cloakroom. Two girls were sitting outside, heads bent over an iPad.
‘He’s so freaking hot,’ one said, grasping the screen and pulling it closer. ‘I really hope they don’t kill him. Maybe they could just banish him. Hell, I’d take banishment, even to the Thirster realms, if I got to stare at him all day long.’
Evie peered over Jamieson’s shoulder trying to see who they were talking about, but Issa pulled her back out of sight, frowning hard at her.
‘Oh hey, Flic!’ the other cloakroom girl said, glancing up and noticing them. ‘Watch out tonight, there’s like totally loads of Scorpio deviants wandering around looking for some action. Jules keeps letting them in.’
‘Thanks for the tails up,’ Flic said, moving swiftly past them. ‘Think I can handle a Scorpio.’
Fated 02: Severed by Sarah Alderson / Romance & Love / Fantasy / Young Adult have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes