Vanish, p.3
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       Vanish, p.3

         Part #2 of Firelight series by Sophie Jordan
 
Page 3

  Author: Sophie Jordan

  Stepping inside my childhood home—it feels strange. The space seems smaller, more confining, and I become angry at myself. This house had been enough before. I inhale the stale air. No one has probably been here since we snuck away in the dead of night.

  I stare at the couch, at the center cushion with its permanent indentation. It’s Tamra’s spot, her sanctuary. Shunned by the pride as a defunct draki, she’d lose herself for hours in front of the television. It feels wrong without her here, but I understand that it has to be this way for now. Severin commanded Tamra to remain with Nidia. Mom didn’t argue, and I know it’s because she thought another shader would know best how to care for Tamra during her adjustment to her talent.

  “Are you going to tuck us in, too?” Mom snaps at the elders lingering inside our house. The faces that had been so familiar and harmless to me growing up watch me with condemnation.

  Slowly, they turn and exit.

  “Did you see Cassian walk off with Severin?” Mom asks, hurrying to the window. I nod as she parts the curtain. “Hopefully, he’ll persuade him not to . . . punish us too harshly for leaving. ”

  “Yeah. ” Recalling Severin’s delight over Tamra, I think it’s a distinct possibility he’ll be lenient with us.

  With a grunt, Mom lets the curtain drop back in place. “Two of them are still out there. ”

  I look out the window and spy the two elders standing on our front porch. “They don’t look like they’re leaving any time soon. Guess they want to make sure we don’t sneak away again. ”

  “Tamra’s with Nidia. ” Mom says this as if it’s reason enough for us to stay put. And it is. Even if I wanted to leave the pride, I would never go without my sister. Especially now. My chest feels suddenly tight at the thought of what she must be going through. She must be so confused, so . . . lost.

  “I’d never leave here without Tamra,” Mom says, echoing my thoughts. Her heated gaze shoots to me like I implied we should.

  I look away, down at my hands, back out the window, anywhere but at her. I don’t want her to see that I hear that other thing she’s not saying. That I understand what her angry gaze tells me. But I would leave without you.

  Maybe I’m not being fair. Maybe it’s my guilt and she doesn’t think that way at all.

  Mom sighs, and I look back at her, watch as she tugs her hands through her hair. There are some gray strands in the curly mass. A first. “I can’t believe we’re back here,” she mutters. “Right where we started. Worse off than before. ”

  I cringe, feel this is a strike against me. Because it’s my fault we’re home again. All of this is my fault. I know that. And so does she.

  “I’m tired,” I say. Not a lie. I don’t think I’ve slept since leaving Chaparral, my thoughts too twisted up in everything that’s happened. In all my colossal mistakes. In Will—wondering where he is, what he’s doing, thinking, remembering. Or rather, failing to remember.

  I move toward my room, feeling older than I’ve ever felt.

  “Jacinda. ”

  I stop and look over my shoulder at the sound of my name. Mom’s face is indecipherable, cast in shadow. “Are you . . . ” I hear her take a breath before she continues. “That boy. Will—”

  “What about him?” Even if Will is the last thing I want to talk about right now, I owe her answers. Even if it means prodding a fresh wound.

  “Are you going to be able to forget him?” The ring of hope in her voice is unmistakable.

  My thoughts drift back to Big Rock. To the sight of Will sliding down the rocky slope, straight into the grasping, waiting night. There had been no choice. I had to manifest. Had to save him. Even if hunters witnessed me doing it.

  I had no choice then. And I have no choice now. “I have to forget,” I reply.

  Mom’s amber gaze glows with knowing. “But can you?”

  This time I don’t answer. Because words mean nothing. I’ll have to show her, prove to her that she can trust me again. Prove to everyone.

  Turning, I head toward my room, passing framed photos of the family we once were. Complete with a handsome father and smiling mother and two happy sisters who never knew how different they would be. How could we have known the reality that awaited us?

  Kicking off my shoes, I change into an old T-shirt and shorts from my dresser drawer. My eyes barely glimpse the glowing stars dotting the ceiling before my lids drift shut.

  It seems only minutes later that someone is shaking me, ripping me from the comforting embrace of sleep.

  “Jacinda! Wake up!”

  I shove a pillow off my head and peek blearily up at Az. Thrilled as I am to see her, I would rather pull the pillow back over my head and sink back into sleep, where guilt and heartache can’t touch me.

  “Az. ” I rub a sleep-crusted corner of my eye. “How’d you get in here?”

  “My uncle Kel is on duty on your front porch. He let me in. ”

  That’s right. Az’s uncle was one of the elders staring at me like I was some sort of criminal. And I guess I am. In effect. I am under house arrest, after all.

  “Good to see you,” I mumble tiredly.

  “Good to see you?” She whacks me with a pillow. “Is that all you can say after bailing and leaving me here alone while you run off to who knows where?”

  “Mom was kind of insistent. ” Now wasn’t the time to explain why we left—what the pride had intended for me. Maybe still did.

  Then I remember Az was with me that morning I nearly got captured by Will and his family. We both broke sacred rules sneaking off grounds to fly in the daylight. I sit up, stare at her with concern, looking her over. “You didn’t get in trouble, did you? For sneaking off grounds with me?”

  Az rolls her eyes. “They hardly spared me a thought after waking up to find you gone. Other than grilling me, that is. ”

  I exhale and drop back on the bed, relieved. At least I don’t have that on my conscience, too.

  Az shoves a long hank of blue-streaked black hair over her shoulder and leans above me, her eyes bright with emotion. “You have no idea what it’s been like since you left. Because you left!”

  I roll over and hug a pillow. “I’m sorry, Az. ” Apparently, my conscience wasn’t to be totally spared. Admittedly, I’d thought little of Az while I was away. I’d had enough to worry about trying to get through every day in Chaparral.

  A tired sigh wells up inside me. Apologizing seems to be all I do lately.

  Az sniffs. “Well, at least you’re home. Maybe things can go back to normal now. ”

  I think of Will and how I betrayed my own kind for him, of my sister and how lost she must feel, of the elders standing guard on my porch. I doubt if anything will ever be normal again. And yet, for all of that, I am relieved to be where my draki can thrive.

  “It’s been really suckish around here. Severin imposed a curfew. And he’s tightened the leash on our rec time! Can you believe it? We’re permitted to play airball once a week. Once! It’s just school and work, school and work. He’s a dictator!”

  All this because of me? Because Mom took us and ran? Were they worried that others would do the same?

  “At least we still get to fly,” she mutters. “Don’t know what I’d do without that. Scheduled group flight of course, though. That hasn’t changed. But he’s limited our air time. ”

  “Have you seen Cassian?” I ask.

  Az arches an elegant eyebrow. “Since when are you keeping tabs on him?”

  “Since he’s the one who found us and brought us back. ”

  “Cassian tracked you down? That’s where he’s been all this time? The word going around was that he took his tour. ” She chuckles lightly. “Man, oh, man, he’s still got it bad for you. ”

  “Not me,” I quickly correct. “He hasn’t got it bad for me. If he ever even wanted me—”

  “If?”

 
I glare at her and continue, “If he even wants me it’s only because I’m the pride’s fire-breather. ” A commodity, the pride’s great weapon.

  But then, not anymore. That’s changed. Now there’s Tamra. Tamra, who has always pined for Cassian. Maybe he’ll finally return those feelings. Hope swells in my chest at the possibility. And some other emotion. Something I can’t identify. Something I’ve never felt before.

  “Whatever the reason, every girl in this pride would kill to have Cassian look at her the way he looks at you. ” She pulls a face and flips onto her back on my bed. “Maybe even me. ”

  “You?” I blink.

  “Yeah. Don’t worry. This isn’t a guilt trip. I never really thought I had a shot. No one did. ” She winks at me. “Not with you around. ”

  I groan. She sounds too much like Tam. The old Tamra. The one who longed for Cassian’s attention and the pride’s acceptance. The one who watched from the sidelines as I got both. Until we moved to Chaparral and she found a new life there. Which I took from her the night I dived off a cliff after a draki hunter.

  Az glances around as if she’d heard my thoughts. “Where’s Tamra?”

  “You mean you haven’t heard?”

  “Heard what?”

  “She’s with Nidia. ” My lips twist into a smile even as my stomach gives a sickening lurch at the upheaval sure to come now that my sister’s on her way to becoming the pride’s next shader. “Recuperating. ”

  “Recuperating from what?”

  “Tamra manifested. She’s a shader. ”

  Az’s eyes round. “No way!” She whistles through her teeth and tugs on her lip. “Guess you’re not the only prize around here anymore then. ”

  “Guess not,” I murmur, suddenly not sure whether this is a good thing or bad. I used to want to be a typical draki. Nothing extraordinary. Not the pride’s great fire-breather under constant scrutiny and pressure. Now I appreciate that my uniqueness might be the only thing keeping me safe. But I also know Tamra’s newfound talent means the pride will clutch both of us all the more tightly.

  Az continues, “Wonder whether Cassian will give her a second glance now. ”

  The floor creaks, alerting me to someone else’s presence. I look up, my face growing hot that Mom may have overheard our conversation.

  Only it’s not Mom. It’s worse.

  The heat descends to my neck. “How’d you get in here?” I demand, knowing Mom wouldn’t have let him waltz into my room. At least not without warning me.

  Cassian looks at me intently, his eyes more black than purple right then. The purple only shows itself when he’s feeling emotion. A rarity it seems.

  “How did you get in here?” I repeat. And then I realize it’s a dumb question. He’s one of them. One of my captors. The future leader of this pride, the prince can come and go as he pleases. “Where’s my mom?” I ask, straining for a glimpse beyond his large frame.

  “Talking to my father. ”

  My skin shivers at this. Severin and my mom were never a good mix. I fight the urge to rush from the room, to find Mom and shield her. It’s laughable really. Mom’s the great protector—always looking out for me. Even when I don’t want her to.

  So I stay put, eager to hear whatever Cassian has come to say. At least I hope he’ll tell me what’s going on. What’s going to happen to me. I’d rather hear it from him than Severin. Since Big Rock, we’re in this together. I have to believe that.

  He looks at Az pointedly, like he expects her to leave. So I can be alone with him? No thanks. I slide closer to her on the bed. His gaze narrows. Message received.

  “Well? You talked with your dad. What’s the verdict?” I draw a deep breath, ready to end the agony and find out whether or not I have to endure a wing clipping. Does Severin know that I revealed myself to hunters? Did Cassian tell him that? My skin goes prickly hot at the very idea. No way Mom would volunteer that information.

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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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