Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga) (2 page)

BOOK: Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga)
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And I thought:
Long live the
King.

But beside him was Alexa, silver
vines and lilies covering every inch of her visible skin save her face. Her
lovely face. Brown eyes staring wide and heavenward. Chest still and Gladius
still clutched in her red hands. Dead.

Now, I screamed. And it was loud
enough to wake the angels in the heavens above and the demons in the deepest
depths below.

 

 

Alexa

“Nelly? Shhhh.”

I sat down next to my sister on
the bed and took her hands into mine to try and soothe her. Her scream had
jolted me out of my chair over by the window, where I had been staring out at
the gardens that surrounded Camillia’s sister, Silvia’s, house. Night had
finally fallen, and soon this day really would come to an end. I felt like I
deserved a sticker or something, like the ones teachers give children for
making it through another day of preschool.
Here you go, Alexa. Have a
sticker for surviving another day of insanity. Not everyone made it, you know?

I took a breath and a tear
escaped my eye. Yes, I knew. I looked up at the clock on the wall. Eleven PM.
It was almost time.

When I looked back down at my
sister where she lay on the bed, her hazel eyes were wide and moist, her face
in a cramped expression of something like fear, her gaze holding me the way a
drowning man clings to a life preserver. I tried to give her a smile, and
failed. “You were dreaming,” I said. My voice was gentle the way it only ever
was with her.

Nelly’s chest rose and fell once,
hard. Then she was huffing and puffing and her arm was covering her eyes.
“Shh,” I said, the panicky feeling that I always got when I saw her upset
filling me up. “Everything is okay now, Nell. A dream. It was just a dream.”

I reached up and pulled her arm
from her face. She squeezed her eyes shut, and my heart hurt when I saw that
she could not bear to look at me. As if she had heard this thought—and really,
maybe she
had
—Nelly opened her eyes and pulled herself up to a seated
position with so much effort that it made my chest go tight.

“Broken. She’s so broken,”
I thought.

Then we must fix her, Warrior,
responded the
other
voice in my head.

“Oh yes, genius, and please,
tell me, how is one broken thing supposed to fix another?”

With love.

Now I tried for another smile and
half-succeed this time, though the feeling of any joy was still like something
long forgotten. “Everything’s okay, Nell,” I repeated. It felt like a lie,
because it was.

Nelly knew this. The look she
gave me was one of so much sorrow and too much wisdom. I realized then that my
sister was not a little girl anymore, despite her only being seventeen years
old. She had seen too many things, had felt too many losses. Not a trace of
innocence was left to be found on her young face. The pain of seeing this was
like a final stone added to a structure whose foundation could not support the
stones that had already been laid before it. Nelly’s innocence had been so much
a part of her, a part I had tried with all my might to keep safe and intact,
because innocence was one thing I had never possessed. And now it was gone. For
better or worse, but for always, it was gone.

And her voice was flat when she
spoke. “None of this is okay, Alexa.”

I pulled her to me then and held
her tight, remembering the answer to the question that ironically my Monster
had provided me with.

How is one broken thing
supposed to fix another?

With love.

And, oh, how bad I wanted to cry
in that moment. How bad I wanted to let my soul pour out, to spill some of the
poison through salt water and sobs. A release. It would have been almost nice.
But it was not an option. Nelly felt guilty enough. She
hurt
enough, and
her hurt was for me. I would not add to it by showing her just how right she
was, just how broken I was. I would not cry.

Nelly came first. Always.

“I know,” I whispered, breathing
in the scent of her honey hair, holding her close in hopes that my love for her
could somehow transfer straight from my soul to hers. “But it will be, Nell.
You will be okay.”

I pulled back from her and stood,
glancing at the clock on the wall, almost grateful that the time had come to
see through the final act of this endless day. I had to get out of this room,
with its darkness and shimmering lilies painted on the walls. I would not let
her see me cry. But I needed some air.

“Is it time?” Nelly asked.

I nodded.

Nelly swung her feet off the bed
and stood beside me. I stood in front of her, the effort to do so somehow more
than I had ever known it. My voice was smaller than I intended when I spoke.
“You don’t have to come,” I said, swallowing the lump that had grown in my
throat. “You’ve never liked funerals. I won’t be mad if you want to…sit this
one out.”

She studied me for a long time,
her eyes searching my face for the pain she couldn’t find there. I could tell
that she wanted to accept my offer, to “sit this one out.” But she shook her
head. She would not leave me to say goodbye to him alone, because as much as I
would do for Nelly, she would do the same for me. A love so great was the one
we shared.

I nodded and headed for the door,
but Nelly stopped me.

“Alexa?”

I turned back to face her, my
shoulders consciously square. “Yeah?”

She held up my Gladius, the sword
that anyone other than Nelly would not have dared touched without my
permission. “Take this,” she said, and tossed me the weapon.

I caught it out of the air and
tucked it into the back of my pants. Opening the door, the awfulness of where I
was going hit me like a jab to the solar plexus, and the pain right along with
it. But the crooked smile I gave my sister as I tucked my weapon in place was
not entirely forced.

There were still so many
questions I had to ask her, so much more of the road ahead that was yet to be
travelled, but I didn’t ask her any questions. I could tell by looking at her
that she wasn’t ready to answer any. Or maybe it was
I
who wasn’t ready
to hear any.

What I said was, “That’s my
girl,” and together we set out to attend the funeral of the boy she had killed,
of the boy that had sacrificed his life to buy back my sister’s soul, with a
whole city of supernaturals to look on and perhaps not see the blood that had
been washed from our hands, but they would be able to smell it.

We went to say goodbye to
Jackson.

 

 

Pissed Off Sorcerers

As surely as whispers were
spreading throughout the villages, and as the Sun Warrior and her sister were
saying goodbye a dear friend, news had travelled beyond the territories that
belonged to the Wolves and Vampires alone. In the grand scope, the recent
happenings were on the lips of most all, the talk having spread itself across
their world like a swift wind, some feeling its gale as colder than others.

After all, a Sorcerer had gone
missing, and not just any Sorcerer, but Syris Stormsong.

The stories about what had
happened to him varied as surely as all tales told in tongues. But as the hours
ticked on and still no word had been heard from the Syris, those closest to him
had begun to fear the worst.

And who was to blame? They
weren’t quite sure yet, but they would find out. And when they did, that
responsible party would need to be confronted and dealt with.

Over the past forty-eight hours Syrian
Stormsong had gone from a worried father to one pissed off Sorcerer, and he
would find out what had happened to his son. If he had to use all of his Royal
resources to move heaven and hell, he would find out. Syris had been private in
his matters, but on this particular occasion he had told his father whom he was
going to meet, not where or why, but
whom.

Syris should have returned two
days ago, and he couldn’t be reached through technological means or magical.
Syrian would not wait much longer. Surah would not
let
him wait much
longer. He knew the girl well, and he knew that if the clock ticked on much
longer without word from her brother, Surah would set out to find him. And God
help whomever’s path she crossed. God help them all. This could be the beginning
of a very bad thing.

Nonetheless, if the King of
Vampires and Wolves couldn’t turn over Syris or provide his whereabouts, he had
better prepare himself for war.

Syris and his—as of yet
unbeknownst to him—last remaining child would get their answer soon enough,
though. And then their aim would be set on a different target.
Two
different
targets, actually.

 

 

Nelly

A silence that somehow seemed
abuzz. Eyes downcast and full of secrets, whispers…accusations. They passed by
not in groups but individually, each creature walking strong and solid, but
silent. There were so many of them, an overwhelming number. Fae and Trolls and
Pixies, Sorcerers, Leprechaun, Demons and Angels, Vampires, Wolves. Many more
that I could not identify, not that I was certain my guesses of the names of
the other races were even correct. I had never imagined such a place as this,
never fathomed that it existed. So many souls living in harmony, if not for the
black mark I seemed to be carrying across my soul, the sight really would have
been beautiful.

They would not meet my eyes. Not
a one of them. Their auras—though that’s not quite the right word for it—were
all I knew of them. But even that was oddly tantalizing, made me so badly want
to reach out and Search their souls for the secrets of their
otherness.
I
had never in my life felt more empty than I did on that night walking through
the city known as the Outlands, walking down the red path under the black sky
with its tiny glittering diamonds. I felt like a caged bird hitched to a wagon,
observing the world but cut off from it, outside of it, broken from it.

Alexa walked beside me. Kayden
walked beside her. Tommy was on my other side, and though I could not bear to
meet his eyes, I could feel his gaze on me. These three people were the only
ones present who knew for certain who was responsible for the funeral we were
going to attend. They had seen with their own eyes what I had done.

But I could see the wariness of
the others, or rather, I could
feel
it. When we had entered the city,
with a very dead Jackson cradled in Kayden’s arms, they had all seen the blood
that stained my clothes, my skin, my hands. The wolves among them had paced
back and forth as we passed, heads tilted back, noses testing the air. They
knew that the dead boy was one of their own, and their intuitions were no doubt
filling in the blanks as to who had done that to him.

A warm hand found mine, and I
looked over at my sister. Her brown eyes searched my face. “You okay?” she
whispered.

I nodded, and Alexa gave me a
look that said she knew I was lying. I squeezed her hand and spoke in her head.
I didn’t consider this a cheat in my vow to Search no more. I had been sharing
in Alexa’s pain since forever, and she needed me now more than ever.

They know,
I told her silently.
They know what I did. They know what I
am
.

Alexa didn’t look over at me, but
I could swear her shoulders tightened a fraction when her silent response came.
They don’t know shit. Just be cool, Nell. I’m here. No one is going to hurt
you, even if they do know, which they don’t.

I nodded to her because I knew
that was what she wanted. But as every moment passed I began to feel that
something was coming. There seemed to be a tension in the air that was ticking
like old hearts, the sound growing ever louder in my ears. I forced it away and
concentrated instead on the scenery. It had to be my own guilt making me feel
this panic. Alexa was right. How could they know anything?

Because an entire city saw you
murder that boy, the boy now laying atop the unlit pyre. An entire city saw
you:  your eyes as black as a demon’s, blood on your hands, blood on your face.
If you think the King isn’t going to use that to his advantage, you’re fooling
yourself, Girl. If they don’t suspect you for what you are yet, they will soon.
Your secret is known by too many. Soon it will be no secret at all.

And then what?

Then, the hunting parties will
form. Then…death.

I shoved those thoughts away as
well. They could do me no good. We were approaching the pyre now, which was set
atop the white sandy shore of a lake that shimmered silver in the night, the
quarter moon reflecting on its surface like a white scar. Red maples encircled
the lake, and their leaves broke free and drifted down to float atop the silver
water like scarlet tears. I tried to keep my gaze on anything other than the
bed of woven sticks and flowers that waited to be lit and pushed out onto the
lake just up ahead of me. I tried to keep my eyes from
him.
But I could
not.

There he lay, stretched out on a
bed made of branches and vines, resting forever. There was not even a breeze to
stir his hair, no twitch of fingers, no sound of breath. As I looked at him I
couldn’t help but think of the first time I’d met Jackson. Alexa had introduced
him to me at lunchtime after she had met him in her previous class over a year
ago back at Levland High School in Missouri; back before we had fallen into
this dark nightmare. I remembered thinking that he was cute, surprised by the
way that Alexa reacted to him. He had been the first and only friend that she
had ever had back in the human world; the first person other than me that Alexa
had allowed herself to become close to.

BOOK: Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga)
6.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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