Vanish, p.15
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       Vanish, p.15

         Part #2 of Firelight series by Sophie Jordan
 
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Page 15

  Author: Sophie Jordan

  A sound emerges on the eerie quiet of the night. Gravel crunches beneath the weight of someone’s feet. My pulse jumps against my neck. I pause, at first thinking that Levin changed his mind and followed me, determined to turn me in.

  Pasting a smile to my lips, I whirl around, ready to persuade him again to forget that he’d seen me sneaking back into the township.

  But he’s not there.

  Frowning, I spot Levin’s hazy figure still at the guardhouse in the distance. I turn in a full circle, peering deeply into the gray curls of fog rolling around me like an endless tide. Vapor sticks to my skin in a thin sheen of moisture.

  But no one’s there.

  The wind shifts, and the mist blows the other way. The wisps framing my face stir, tickle my cheeks.

  Snap.

  Expecting to see someone at last, I spin in the direction of the cracking twig, long strands of hair striking me in the face.

  “Hello?” My voice rings out on the night. “Who’s there?”

  Glaring through air that shivers like smoke, I wait for a member of the patrol to step forward, but no one does. Heat swells beneath my tightening skin, my fight-or-flight instinct kicking in. A patrol wouldn’t hide their presence.

  Still, the sensation that I’m not alone persists.

  Hugging myself, I chafe my hands over my arms. Turning back around, I head down the path, cutting quickly through the evening fog, eager to reach my house.

  I’m almost to the center of town, when a voice breaks through the sound of my footfalls.

  “Hey. ”

  I jerk to a stop, turn, and watch as Cassian materializes from the mists.

  “Have you been following me through town?” I demand. “Why didn’t you say something?”

  “What?” He frowns. “No, I’ve been waiting here. ”

  I stare at him suspiciously, casting another glance over my shoulder as if I’d find someone there, lurking, watching me.

  I turn back around as Cassian asks, “Did you do it? Did you tell him to never come back?”

  “Yeah. I told him. ” I did. At least at first.

  Lowering my gaze, I resume my pace, crossing my arms in front of me.

  He falls into step beside me. “You okay?”

  “I’ll be fine. ” I shake my head. “It’s been . . . a lot today. ”

  “I know it has. ” He stops and faces me, both hands on my shoulders. “You did the right thing. ”

  The right thing. I don’t know what that is anymore. A lump clogs my throat. I can’t speak, can’t utter another lie. I just nod jerkily. Shrugging from his grasp, I turn, eager to be away from him. His presence twists me into knots . . . fills me with guilt. About the kiss. About the lies I’ve told him tonight. About the possibility of leaving the pride forever and undoing his trust in me.

  He keeps pace with me, and I slide a glance at him, desperately wanting to be alone right now.

  He seems to understand. “I’ll walk you home so you won’t get cited if we’re stopped. I can tell them I was escorting you to check on Tamra or something. ”

  It’s with these words that I know what my life would be like if I stayed here. It wouldn’t be a bad life. Cassian would always be my friend, would always have my back, and he would help me regain acceptance among the pride. And I eventually would—if I could do my part.

  If I could forget Will.

  If I could pretend I wasn’t miserable inside. It’s all up to me.

  I brush my fingers to my lips where I can still feel him. Somehow I don’t think I can ever forget. These last weeks, I’d convinced myself that I could put him behind me . . . that I had. Tonight proved me wrong. He’s always been here. He always will.

  Days later I stand at my mother’s door, knocking gently. “Mom,” I call.

  The low sound of her television carries through the door. Her shift ended hours ago, so I know she’s been home for a while. She’s probably hungry. I didn’t see any dishes in the sink.

  With another knock, I push open the door and enter the dim room. She lies on the bed in her bathrobe, her stare fixed on the television. I blink at the unmade bed. Mom always makes the bed. I’ve never seen it unmade this late in the day before.

  A half-full glass of verda wine sits on the nightstand. Beside the glass stands the bottle. Of late the wine is all that sustains her. Not much as far as sustenance goes. I wonder why they haven’t stopped her from taking so much of it home from the clinic. It’s used mostly for curative purposes, not for open consumption.

  “Hey, Mom. ”

  She flicks her attention away from the rerun of a sitcom. “Hi, Jace. Have a good day?” Her eyes are dull and lifeless.

  The question is merely rote. Something to say.

  And how should I respond to a mother who’s checked out? Is there anything I can say—do—to bring her back to me?

  “Fine. Good. ” I clear my throat, determined to do everything I can to revive her. How can I leave her like this? If I run away with Will, who’s going to take care of her? “They’re playing jako at the rec tonight. The tournament was interrupted last night. Thought you might like to go and watch—maybe play. ”

  “No,” she says quickly. “I don’t feel like being around a crowd. ”

  Of course, I think. All you’ve done is show up to work, occasionally visit Tamra, and drink yourself to sleep every night. Socializing among the pride who’s taken your daughters from you would not be your idea of a good time.

  “Well, we could have a girls’ night in,” I suggest. “How about I cook?”

  Her gaze flits over me and I wonder if she’s realizing that she hasn’t cooked in over a week.

  “Sure,” she murmurs, but the word is dragged out, reluctant, and I know. She doesn’t want company. Not even mine.

  Pasting a smile to my face, I pretend that I don’t notice her reluctance. “Great. I’ll let you know when dinner’s ready. ” I gently close the door behind me and head into the kitchen.

  As I fill up a pot of water, I hear a sound. A creaking floorboard.

  I turn quickly. “Mom?”

  Nothing.

  Then I hear it again, another creaky board. I take a few steps into the living room.

  “Hello?” I wait several moments, staring out at the empty room. Shaking my head, I turn into the kitchen, rubbing at the prickly flesh at the back of my neck. It’s not the first time I’ve thought I heard someone in the house. I sigh, figuring it’s no surprise I’m so jumpy with everything that’s happened over the last couple months.

  My thoughts turn back to Mom, and anger bubbles up inside me at her total lack of interest in . . . anything. The defiant thought skitters through my head that I shouldn’t even bother letting her know when dinner’s ready. But then that anger diminishes and I just feel sad. Because she wouldn’t even care.

  My mom has vanished from me. It’s not even her in that room. It’s her ghost, and I know I have to at least try and get her back. That I can’t consider leaving until I do.

  I spot Az through my living room window. I’ve only seen her at school, and she’s usually with someone else. The need to talk with her alone, before I see Will again and possibly leave the pride for good surges inside me.

  Snatching up my shoes, I sit on the couch and fumble with the laces, determined to end this distance between us. I miss her and want things right.

  The knock at the door makes my heart jump. Az. Apparently I won’t have to chase her down the street. She’s come to me.

  Prepared to grovel, I open the door quickly, hoping Az has had a change of heart and that’s why she’s here. After all, we’ve had our fights before, but nothing like this. She can’t stay mad at me forever.

  Only it’s not Az on my front porch.

  “Jacinda. ” A corner of Cassian’s mouth lifts as he says my name. It’s one of those rare smil
es of his and it affects me as it shouldn’t. I fidget, shifting on my feet. I don’t want this. Don’t want him. Maybe if my sister wasn’t totally in love with him. Maybe before Will came back I was weak enough to embrace Cassian and all his half smiles. Not now. Now I want more.

  I want Will.

  I shake my head as Cassian walks inside my house. So much for catching Az alone. I look out the door and see her figure, small in the distance. Shutting the door, I cross my arms and face him.

  His shadow falls over me, encroaching, close. I’m rooted to the spot. Despite everything I can’t seem to move. “What do you want?”

  He doesn’t speak. Just stands so close, his eyes scouring, delving so deeply into me, tricking me again into thinking he sees me. The real me beneath everything. Beneath the girl. Beneath the draki. Past the bones and flesh and smolder. And yet if he really did see me, then he would have known I couldn’t have said good-bye to Will. He would know I lied to him. He would know I struggle with facing him now, my deceit an ugly thing between us.

  My gaze stops on his mouth, the lips that kissed mine. My stare lingers there until my chest grows tight, breath constricted. He lifts his hand and I flinch.

  Feeling foolish, I hold my ground as his thumb grazes my cheek.

  “What are you doing?” I whisper.

  “Touching you. ”

  The pads of his fingers slide across my jaw, over my bottom lip, so soft, coaxing, and I know what he wants. I feel it in his touch. See it in the way his dark eyes devour me. He breathes my name.

  For one second, I lean in, and then suddenly I’m springing away from Cassian.

  It’s not a sudden surge of conscience that tears us apart.

  It’s a gasp. And I know we’re not alone.

  Chapter 14

  I spin and lock gazes with my sister. Her face is flushed, her cheeks a ruddy color that looks almost obscene on her alabaster skin.

  My skin goes cold then hot. “Tamra. ” I barely hear myself say her name, just feel it rise up in my throat in a pained whimper. Her frosty pale eyes flit back and forth between me and Cassian.

  “What?” she challenges, her voice hard, cruel, so at odds with the way she looks—shaken and fragile, even more unearthly pale than usual. “What is it? What’s so damn special about her?” She looks only at Cassian as she demands this. “Tell me!”

  “Nothing,” I start to say. “Nothing, Tam—”

  She swings on me. “I’m talking to Cassian, Jacinda!” Her attention returns to him. “I mean, I really want to know. We have the same face!” She bites off these words with a snarl. “Well, mostly. ” She tosses back a lock of silvery hair. “And now I’m not only a true draki, but I have a talent that rivals Jacinda’s. So what is it?” Her pale gaze glimmers with hot emotion, searching his face, desperate and hungry for an answer.

  Cassian stands there for a long moment. I suffer in silence, wait for him to tell her there’s nothing special about me, that it’s just habit that keeps him coming back to me.

  Tamra shakes her head slowly. “Just tell me. ” Her next question comes out small, a weak whisper that makes my heart twist in pain. “Why not me?”

  Cassian replies finally, his voice low and anguished. “I don’t know. I’ve tried . . . since we’ve come back, I’ve tried. . . . But you’re just not her. ”

  His words do something inside me that I wished they didn’t. For a moment I let warmth curl around my heart. Let myself believe that I’m special to him. That I’m more than the fire-breather he was taught to prefer.

  Tamra looks as if she suffered a blow. Faint splotches of red stain the pale curve of her throat. “Yeah? Too bad she doesn’t feel the same way. It will never be you, you know. Not for her. Think about that. When she’s with you it will be him she’s missing. ”

  Then she’s gone. Out the door fast.

  I stare at the spot where she stood a moment ago. “Why did you do that?”
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Comments 6

Sanamjmd 25 August 2018 17:06
0
Why isn't it the whole book
admin 25 August 2018 17:13
0
Quote: Sanamjmd
Why isn't it the whole book

the book is entirely here, to the very last word
Sanam
Sanam 25 August 2018 20:03
0
So you are telling me that the whole book consists of 31 pages? That is complete and utter rubbish it took me less than a day to finish that honestly why puthe it online if you won't put the whole thing and another thing I really don't believe that it ends like that so please stop lying to me
admin 25 August 2018 20:15
0
Quote: Sanam
So you are telling me that the whole book consists of 31 pages? That is complete and utter rubbish it took me less than a day to finish that honestly why puthe it online if you won't put the whole thing and another thing I really don't believe that it ends like that so please stop lying to me

send txt original file to you
this book is part of series - here it is - https://bookfrom.net/series.html?s=3026
Sanamjmd 26 August 2018 13:18
0
Quote: admin
Quote: Sanam
So you are telling me that the whole book consists of 31 pages? That is complete and utter rubbish it took me less than a day to finish that honestly why puthe it online if you won't put the whole thing and another thing I really don't believe that it ends like that so please stop lying to me

send txt original file to you
this book is part of series - here it is - https://bookfrom.net/series.html?s=3026

The book is supposed to have 294 pages
lilianna
lilianna 7 May 2019 04:03
0
people can't you just accept that the people shortened.... but I have read firelight and I loved it, but where is the romance in this book... *sigh* I will read this and wait for the romance...
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