Vanish, p.6
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       Vanish, p.6

         Part #2 of Firelight series by Sophie Jordan
Page 6

  Author: Sophie Jordan

  Dozing, half asleep, I remember. Remember him—us—those moments before the world crashed down around me. A smile touches my lips as I remember everything. I remember until the longing becomes too much. Until the ache of wanting him becomes too deep, as salty as the warm tears flowing down my cheeks.

  It’s not over. We’re not through. . . . I’ll come for you. I’ll find you. I will. We’ll be together again.

  “No,” I whisper into the hush of my room even as my heart bleeds. A treacherous part of me forever wants to believe that. “We won’t. ”

  But then I wake up to the horrible truth again, hiss at the sudden knifing pain to my heart. He won’t have those memories. He won’t remember making that promise to me.

  I brush fingers to my trembling lips. You won’t remember me leaving. You won’t remember why I had to go. You’ll just think I left Chaparral. Left you.

  Turning my face, I bite my pillow, stifling the sob that wants to break loose from my chest.

  Does he even think about me anymore? Desperately I wonder how much, how far back can he remember? How much of me is gone? Tamra is new at this. Could she have wiped me completely from his memory? I shake my head at the thought. Bite my lip until I taste the tang of my own blood. Releasing the bruised flesh, I tell myself I’m being paranoid. I’ve never heard of a shader who could erase weeks from a person’s mind. It isn’t possible. It can’t be.

  In that moment, I know. I have to ask Tamra. I have to find out if she knows how much memory she took from Will. How much of me she erased from his heart.

  Rolling to my side, I feel a small measure of comfort. Tomorrow. I’ll ask her tomorrow.

  Somehow this decision makes me feel better. Gives me something to look forward to even though nothing she says will change anything.

  Will is miles away in Chaparral. And I’ll still be here.

  When I step out on our porch the following morning, I release a deep breath of relief, glad to see our watchdogs have been called off. I guess Severin decided yesterday’s chat was enough to keep me in line.

  It’s still early. A thick fog clings low to the ground, hugging my calves and rising up in a thinner mist as I set out for Nidia’s cottage, determined to ask Tamra if she thinks she succeeded in shading Will and the others. It was her first time, after all. How can she be sure she knew what she was doing?

  Jabel’s dog barks. I quicken my pace, imagining I see the blinds shift. I don’t want to get stuck talking to Cassian’s aunt. I look over my shoulder, wondering if she’s the reason Severin sent our bodyguards home. It’s convenient, after all, to have the watchful eyes of his sister across the street from us.

  I should have been looking where I was going. A cry escapes me as I collide hard with another body.

  Hands reach out and steady me. I blow messy hair from my face and gaze upon Corbin, Jabel’s son.

  “Jacinda,” he greets. “Nice to have you back. ” His mouth lifts in a smile that doesn’t seem real, but then it never has.

  Corbin and I are the same age—we’ve been in the same classes since primary school. But we were never close. He was always mean-spirited, cheating at school and games. Playing cruel pranks on those smaller. When it became clear I was a fire-breather, he’d suddenly changed his tune and tried cozying up to me, but by then I knew the real Corbin.

  He resembles his uncle Severin. Much more than Cassian does. It’s the eyes. Corbin and Severin possess the same dead eyes. If possible, he’s grown in my absence. He stands almost as tall as Cassian now. I step from the clasp of his hands and try not to appear intimidated.

  “Where you headed?” he asks.

  I bristle, thinking how his mom is probably spying on us as we stand here. How he was probably lying in wait for me to leave my house. “Why? Have you been assigned to guard me?”

  He gives me what I guess is a flirty smile. “Do you need a bodyguard?”

  I shake my head, regretting my defensiveness. If I act like a prisoner, that’s how they’ll treat me. “I’m going to see my sister. ” To satisfy my morbid fear that Will doesn’t remember our last night together. That as far as he’s concerned, I simply vanished.

  “Oh. ” He digs his hands deep into his pockets. “I’ll walk with you. ”

  Not seeing how I can refuse this, I give a light shrug and continue on, the mist weaving around my ankles. We walk past houses with their windows drawn against the morning. I don’t remember the pride being this quiet before, this still. Even this early, there was usually some activity. It gives me an eerie feeling. Suddenly the vine-covered wall edging the township doesn’t seem like something protecting us, but something hemming us in.

  “So quiet,” I murmur.

  “Yeah. Still curfew. You can’t leave your house until seven. ”

  “Then what are you doing wandering—”

  “I’m part of the morning patrol. ” He gestures to the blue band around his arm. I hadn’t noticed it before.

  “Patrol,” I echo numbly, staring at the blue fabric. “I didn’t know. Should I go back until—”

  “Nah. I won’t write you up. ” Write me up?

  He smiles like this is a gift. I can’t muster a smile in return. I want no gifts from him. Tomorrow I’ll be certain to leave after seven.

  I turn and continue walking.

  “Pretty cool about your sister,” he says, keeping pace with me.

  “Yeah. ”

  He slants me a look from his night-black eyes. “You don’t sound happy about it. ”

  “Honestly, I haven’t had time to process it. ”

  He nods like he understands that. “It will be a huge adjustment. ”

  “Yes. Nidia will help Tamra get through it all—”

  “I meant an adjustment for you,” he smoothly inserts, his voice as slick as oil.

  The pulse at my neck skitters erratically. “Me?”

  His shoes scrape loose gravel on the path. The sound frays my nerves. “Yeah. You’re not top dog around here anymore. ”

  I quicken my pace through the town center, past the school and meeting hall, eager to reach Nidia’s. “It was never like that. ”

  “Yeah, it was. But now there’s two of you. You’ve got some competition. ”

  I stop and face him even as a part of me just wants to walk faster and leave him far behind. That or punch him.

  He arches a golden eyebrow. “I’m just saying. ” He waves a hand. “Cassian can’t have both of you. ”

  I stare hard at him. He doesn’t flinch. Doesn’t even look away.

  I cross my arms over my chest and decide to get to the point. “Meaning you have a shot at one of us now?”

  He smiles that non-smile again, and I suddenly loathe him—this grasping, greedy boy that sees me or my sister as a way to climb the ranks. I despise that he thinks he can possess whoever Cassian doesn’t want. Because it’s as simple as Cassian choosing. And Corbin taking, seizing the leftovers like any foraging dog. My muscles tense in anger. Like hell.

  I snort and turn, start walking again, my steps faster, hard nips into the ground. “It’s not going to happen,” I toss over my shoulder.

  “You can’t run from it, Jacinda. Not anymore. ”

  “From what?” I whirl around, wanting to be perfectly clear on whatever he’s implying.

  “If you don’t pair up with Cassian, my uncle will look to me next. We could be good together, Jacinda. ”

  “You’ve got to be kidding. ”

  His chest swells with self-importance. “My bloodline has led this pride for the last four centuries. Even your father could not usurp my family’s power. ”

  “What do you know about my father?” I charge forward.

  “Just what I’ve been told. Before he disappeared, he was constantly challenging my uncle. To no avail. My family is the best suited to rule this pride. We’ve always been the stro
ngest . . . and we’ll only grow stronger with a fire-breather and a shader added to our line. ”

  I feel my face grow clammy-cold at the thought of Corbin and me, and I admit to myself that the idea of Cassian never made me feel this ill.

  “You’re nuts. ” I continue walking, relief flooding me when he doesn’t follow.

  “You don’t get to decide anymore, Jacinda!” he calls after me. “You lost that chance. It’s going to be me or Cassian. ”

  I know this is not an idle threat. He’s Severin’s favored nephew, after all. He would know things. Things I wouldn’t. And unlike Cassian, he’s not trying to help me behind the scenes.

  I tell myself to be glad he told me his plans. Now I can work to make certain that they don’t happen. Tamra and I aren’t going to be bullied into bonding with anyone. Unless we want to, of course. I wince, thinking that Tamra would most definitely want to bond with Cassian.

  Corbin’s voice follows me through the mist. “Tell Tamra I’ll stop by later. ”

  And this makes me shiver.

  I suppose I should want him to pair up with Tamra. To spare me from the awful prospect of him. But I wouldn’t wish him on my worst enemy, much less my own sister.

  I stride toward Nidia’s with determined steps, working to convince myself that the pride isn’t some fascist regime where its inhabitants suffer total subjugation. It isn’t. It’s the only place my draki can live in freedom. I slow as I approach the cottage, noticing a lone figure standing guard just inside the arched entry to the township. As I approach, I recognize Gil, a friend of Cassian’s.

  I wave at him in greeting.

  “Going to see your sister?” he calls.

  I nod, then frown at the goofy grin splitting his face. “Tell her I said hi. ”

  “Hi,” I echo.

  Gil had never paid any attention to my sister before. As far as I know, he’s never even spoken to her before. He’s one of the many who looked through her rather than at her. Now he wants me to pass along a hello?

  Disgust washes through me. Just like it was with me, no one really cares about Tamra. They don’t care about the girl, just the talent.

  At my knock, Nidia answers the door. With a wave, she motions me inside her cottage that always smells of herbs and baking bread. My refuge so many times. Especially after Dad died. Now it’s Tamra’s refuge.

  I step into the welcoming warmth. And stop cold.

  I’m not the only one visiting this morning.

  My sister lounges on the couch. A blanket is tucked around her and she holds a steaming mug in her hands. She no longer looks like my twin. Icy hair, red no more, flows past her shoulders. She still manages to coif it perfectly, better than I could ever fix my hair, and I wonder whether Nidia owns a flat iron. It’s amazing how her new hair color changes everything about her. Even her face looks different, bears little resemblance to mine. Especially with those frosty gray eyes.

  My gaze skips to her visitor, sitting so close, relaxed on a foot stool beside the couch. Cassian smiles at my sister in an easy, unguarded way. It’s a smile he wore often when we were carefree children.

  A small chill chases up my spine, sliding through my hair and rippling over my scalp. I hug myself like I’m seeking warmth, but it’s something else, something more I need.

  I stare at my sister beaming at Cassian and heaviness sinks to the pit of my stomach. In that second, I feel more alone than I’ve ever felt. I couldn’t have missed Will more.

  Will understood about loneliness. About being apart, separate from the world that you inhabit. A stranger among your own kind. Will understood that. He understood me.

  Chapter 6

  Nidia’s voice announces my arrival. “So nice of you to visit, Jacinda. Would you like some hot chocolate?”

  I nod and soon find myself settled into a chair with a mug in my hands. Tamra still wears a smile, but it looks brittle as she turns to me, waiting for me to speak. In those strange eyes lurks the same wariness I feel. We don’t know what to say to each other or how to behave. We don’t know each other anymore. I’ve only been guessing at how she feels over suddenly manifesting. I don’t really know.

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Comments 6

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

the book is entirely here, to the very last word
Sanam 25 August 2018 20:03
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
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 -
Sanamjmd 26 August 2018 13:18
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 -

The book is supposed to have 294 pages
lilianna 7 May 2019 04:03
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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