Vanish, p.5
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       Vanish, p.5

         Part #2 of Firelight series by Sophie Jordan
 
Page 5

  Author: Sophie Jordan

  “We’re finished here, Cassian. ”

  Severin’s gaze rests on me. I feel myself shrinking inwardly. But I don’t show it. I force myself to hold his stare, pretending he doesn’t make feel weak and shaky inside, that I don’t deserve censure.

  Severin waves Cassian to the door. “Wait for me outside. ”

  Cassian sends me a lingering look and then departs.

  Mom moves more fully into the room, her thin arms crossed over her chest. She’s lost weight. I wonder how I could have missed this. She always had curves before.

  Severin looks at her coldly. “I would like to have a word with Jacinda. ”

  “Then you’ll have to do it in front of me. ”

  Severin’s lip curls up over his bone-white teeth. “You’ve already proven yourself a mother of dubious parenting, Zara. No need to behave as though you care for your daughter now. ”

  A stricken look flashes over my mother’s face before she manages to mask it, but the paleness is still there, making her eyes stand out like giant gleaming pools.

  Since Dad was killed, Tamra and I are all she has. Every decision she makes is in our best interest . . . in what she thinks is our best interest. She might have made a few mistakes, but I never doubt her love for me.

  A quick simmer froths to life at my core. “Don’t talk to my mother that way,” I warn.

  Severin looks back at me, down at me, as though I were something soiled at his feet. “Have a care, Jacinda. You are pardoned for your offenses. A fact you can thank Cassian for. I’d just as soon see you punished—” He looks at Mom again. “And you banished. ”

  “Don’t do me any favors,” I snap, unable to strike the proper chord of penitence with Severin.

  “Jacinda,” Mom says in a low voice, grasping my arm with cool fingers.

  Severin’s features harden. “Heed me well. You’re on thin ice, Jacinda. I expect perfect behavior from you from now on. . . . ” His voice trails, the threat deliberate, implicit. I practically hear him say, Or else we’ll clip your wings.

  I refuse to show that he affects me—that the threat works, sending a bolt of fear through me that makes my skin tighten and the heat shiver beneath my flesh, a writhing serpent seeking release.

  “She won’t be any trouble,” Mom says in a voice I’ve never heard her use. She sounds almost beaten.

  Severin’s mouth curls in a smug smile. “Maybe this time you’ll do a better job of keeping her in line. ” With a crisp nod, he leaves, his tread a thudding retreat from our home.

  A home that no longer feels like home. Just a house that is not ours anymore. Not if Severin can march inside and issue commands and threats as if it were his right to do so.

  For the first time I ask myself whether this is what the pride has become—or whether it has always been this way?

  Chapter 5

  For a moment, we stand in silence, and then Mom settles down on my bed with a weariness that stabs at my heart. It’s been too long since she last manifested—years. She’s starting to feel her age.

  She picks up the tattered bear Dad gave me on my seventh birthday from the tangle of sheets and pillows. I’d forgotten it when we left in such haste, and now I’m glad I left it. Glad that something loved and familiar is waiting for me here.

  Mom plucks at one matted ear with a muted sigh. There’s such defeat in the sound. In the sudden slump to her shoulders. Is this it then? Has she given up?

  At last she speaks, and her voice is as hollow and flat as her eyes. “I want you safe, Jacinda. I don’t want you hurt. ”

  I nod. “I know. ”

  “And right now I’m starting to think I might be the one causing you the most suffering. ”

  I shake my head fiercely, not liking this new, defeated version of my mother. She’s someone I don’t know. Don’t want to know. With everything else changing, I need her to remain constant. “No. That’s not true. ”

  “I’ve shoved and pushed you every which way whether you liked it or not—all with the goal of protecting you. ” She shakes her head. “Maybe I’ve made everything worse. Now we’re back here. ” She motions listlessly with her hand. “You’re just as much a slave to the pride. Only this time it’s worse. They’ll no longer treat you like you’re a great gift bestowed upon them. They’ll treat you like you’re some kind of malcontent. ”

  “Mom?” My voice quavers a bit and I swallow. “What are you saying?”

  She looks up from the bear. “Don’t let them treat you like a whipped dog for the rest of your life. Follow their rules. Lay low. Get back on top. Do what you have to. ”

  “You actually want to stay here? You want Tamra to stay here?”

  “Taking you to Chaparral . . . I was chasing a dream. Something that never existed. Not for you or even Tamra. She was destined to be a draki and I didn’t even know it. ” She strangles on a laugh, presses her fingers to her lips to catch it. “And you—well, you’ve been trying to tell me all along that you can’t be anything but a draki. That you need to be here. I just didn’t want to hear it. I’m sorry, Jacinda. ”

  I sit down beside my mother on the bed. She might have infuriated me in the past, but I can’t stand seeing her like this. I want her back. I miss her vibrancy. Miss her. “Don’t be sorry. Don’t ever be sorry for being a mother who loves her daughters so completely she would sacrifice everything for them. ”

  I hold her hand, squeeze the cold fingers, and suddenly remember that she’s always cold here. Always shivering in the perpetual mists and winds. The same mist and wind that are home to me—that I lift my face to better feel and taste. She didn’t love it. Never had and never will. “We’ll figure out a way to live here. Happily. I’m not going to live with my head bowed and neither will you. ”

  She gives me a wobbly smile and reminds me gently, “Your sister’s head isn’t bowed here anymore. ”

  That’s true. Tamra’s on top now. And ironically, I’m not. At least not at the moment.

  Mom brushes my cheek with the back of her hand. “I lived here for your father. I can do it for my girls. It’s a small price to pay. ” She sucks in a breath. “I loved your dad very much. But that love was nothing like how I felt after we were bonded. Something happens, changes when you’re bonded in that circle. It’s like we became connected. . . . ” Her expression grows wistful. “Some days, I couldn’t tell my emotions from his. ” Her amber gaze darkens. “Even that last day . . . I felt . . . I knew something was wrong before anyone told me. And I stayed here for so long, telling myself that the nothingness I felt wasn’t him dead. That he could still be alive out there, just out of my range so I couldn’t sense him anymore. ”

  I watch her raptly. “Why did you never tell me this?” At least the part about feeling something was wrong with Dad that last day. Of course I knew that many bonded draki form a connection. Historically, dragons mated for life and the idea behind bonding stems from this ancient trait. For some draki couples it goes deeper. Apparently my parents had been one of them.

  She shrugs. “You were just a girl. I didn’t want you to know that I’d felt his . . . fear. His pain. I nearly passed out from it, Jacinda. I was afraid if I told you, you would think I’d felt his . . . ”

  “Death,” I supply. My head aches, temples throbbing as I process this. Deep in my soul, I held hope that Dad lived. That he could be in captivity somewhere. I don’t know what to think anymore.

  She flinches but nods.

  “So why are you telling me now?” I demand. Mom had practically been in Dad’s head at the end . . . and she kept that to herself?

  “You need to know. ” She tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. “In case you ever bond with someone here. ” My eyes widen, already guessing the direction she’s heading. And not believing it. She can’t be suggesting I bond with Cassian. “You’ll feel . . . ”

  “What?”

  She fi
xes her gaze on me. “It’ll be okay, Jacinda. ”

  Okay? “Because once we’re bonded it won’t matter that I don’t love him? Because I’ll feel something false and can lie to myself that it’s love?”

  She shakes her head firmly. “You’ll feel connected. Once that happens, does it really matter why or how it happened?”

  Yes!

  “It mattered to you before,” I say numbly.

  “Things are different now. We’re stuck here. You need to make the best of it. ”

  “I am. I will. That doesn’t mean I have to get myself bonded. ” I close my eyes and rub my eyelids, trying to ease the ache there. Am I really having a conversation with my mother on the pros of bonding in order to escape the pride’s disapproval?

  “You can be happy here, can’t you? Cassian—” She stops. I watch her throat work, incredulous over what she’s saying. “Cassian’s not a bad sort. He’s not . . . quite like his father. ”

  Not quite. I pull back, certain my mother has been snatched up by aliens. “Are you serious?”

  “The pride would forget everything if you and Cassian just—”

  “No! Mom, no!” I resist the temptation to cover my ears with my hands. I’m not hearing this. Not from her.

  “I’m not saying right now. In time—”

  “I can’t believe you’re saying this!”

  She grips my hand, speaks to me in a hard voice. “I can’t protect you anymore, Jacinda. I’ve no power here. ”

  “And because Cassian does that’s reason enough to barter myself?”

  “I’m not suggesting anything you haven’t considered already. I’ve seen you with him. There’s something there. ”

  I nod slowly. “Maybe. Once. ” When there was no one else. No alternative to tempt me. Before I met Will. “Not anymore. ”

  “Because of Will. ” Mom’s eyes spark for a moment with the old vitality. “You can’t be with him. It’s impossible, Jacinda. There’s no chance. He’s not one of us. ”

  He’s not one of us. I’ve avoided really thinking about that, accepting that, but the words find me now, dig deep and wound me where my heart already aches.

  I inhale thinly. “Impossible or not, I can’t consider anyone else. I’d rather be alone. ”

  “Oh, don’t be naïve! He’s a human! A hunter! Let it go! There will be someone else. ”

  For a moment, the conversation strangely echoes when Mom tried to persuade me to let my draki go, let it wither away. Now she wants me to embrace my draki and forget Will. I shake my head.

  Only she’s right. More than she even realizes. Hanging on to Will is foolishness. It’s wrong. I know this. He’s more than an untouchable human. More than a hunter. He’s much worse.

  Draki blood runs through his veins. A draki—perhaps several—died in order to sustain his life. Even if his father was responsible for the terrible deed, how could I ever look Will in the eyes again? Touch him? Hold him? Kiss him?

  I suppose it’s a good thing I will never face him again. I need to quit hoping, in the darkest shadows of my heart, that he will keep his promise to find me.

  “I’ve let him go,” I murmur, my voice soft.

  Mom studies me, her expression unconvinced. But then I don’t need to convince her as much as I need to convince myself.

  That night in my bed, I stare at the glowing stars Dad helped me decorate the ceiling with years before and gradually begin to feel safe again. The way I felt as a little girl, my parents asleep just down the hall from me. So secure. So protected.

  I free my thoughts and find Will. He’s waiting there in my unguarded heart.

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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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