The Lost Soul (Page 12)
Aislin turns in a circle. “Where could he have gone? There’s nothing here, Gemma.”
I rub my temples, wishing I was back at the castle, cuddled up with an unpossessed Alex. “Who knows? He probably had a way out of here the whole time and was just messing with our heads.”
“Gemma Lucas.” A deep voice bellows. “I hereby declare you a risk to the Foreseers and all that we stand for. The rules state that under no circumstances will a Foreseer aid to another Foreseer’s banishment to the Room of Forbidden. A plot or act to giving them their freedom breaks the law, therefore resulting in punishment.”
“Dyvinius, is that you?” I gaze through the light, protecting my eyes with my hand. “I know it is. You need to listen to me. My dad’s no longer guilty. I fixed his mistakes.”
They ignore me. “The punishment will result as follows: One, the offender will be expelled from the City of Crystal.”
“Such a bummer,” Aislin mumbles contemptuously, giving a dramatic stomp of her foot and swing of her arm.
The voice loudens. “Number two, the right to use the power of the Divination Crystal is revoked. You will no longer be able to use the power to see or travel through time. This also includes your unique gift that doesn’t require the aid of a crystal ball.”
“What?!” Aislin and I exclaim.
He talks over us. “And three, your Foreseer mark will be erased.”
The back of my neck sizzles, heat erupting down my shoulder blade and spine. I hunch over, choking and clasping my neck. “You can’t do this!” If he does, then I’ll never free my father. “Dyvinius—” Tripping over my feet, I tumble for the ground. “Aislin are you…”
I sink to the ground and it swallows me.
“Gemma, can you hear me?” Aislin asks, concern lacing her tone. “Open your eyes, please. You’re freaking me out.”
“Go away,” I mutter. My head spins like a whirlwind and my neck burns like liquid fire. “Please, just go away.”
“I can’t,” Aislin says. “Not until I know you’re okay.”
“I’m okay.” I sliver my eyelids open. Tall grass swathes my head, water soaks my shoes, and the blue sky taunts me with its cheeriness.
“It’s not the end of the world.” She bends down, her golden brown hair veiling our heads. “You hated your Foreseer power anyway.”
I sit up, my fingers refusing to leave my neck. “If someone took your Wicca power, would you be upset?”
“But you haven’t used it in a while,” she points out. “Well, except for today.”
“It’s the only thing that could free my dad,” I complain.
She dusts off her white shirt, which is still buttoned unevenly. “I know.”
I slip my black and purple sneaker off and dump the pebbles and water from it. My feet are within reach of the lake’s waves. Twigs and leaves cake my hair. I pluck a crusty leaf out and flick it to the dirt.
“I’m sorry,” I apologize. “I’m just upset. It was right within my grasp and now it’s gone. And my dad’s still stuck in the Room of Forbidden.”
“We’ll figure something out,” she vows. “We always do.”
I nod, but don’t believe her. We can’t figure out everything and were bound to run into an unfixable problem. “We should get back to the house.” I sway to my feet, tipsy from whatever Dyvinius did to me. I sweep my hair to the side, looking over my shoulder, and spot the fiery ring of the Keeper’s mark.
“It’s gone,” she states solemnly. “Your Foreseer mark isn’t there anymore. I checked.”
I sketch my thumb over the star tattooing my wrist. I’m sad my Foreseer mark is gone, but grateful the star’s still inked on my skin. “We should get back to the house.”
She agrees and we trudge over the shallow hill, away from the lake and to the castle. The cars are parked in the driveway, the hoods are down, and Laylen is missing. The front door’s cracked and smashed flower pots splinter across the steps.
My shoes crush the fragments of glass. “Is it me or does something seem a little off?”
“It’s not just you.” A shimmer of gold conceals her palm as she charges her power. She inches the door open and we enter cautiously. Aislin sneaks a small knife from her purse sitting on the foyer table. She gives it to me, her hands still glowing. Voices flow from the library. We creep past the stairs and down the hallway. I take the lead, the knife upturned. When we arrive, I want to turn back and hide in my room forever. I’ve met Stasha only once, and it was enough. Stasha is Alex’s ex-girlfriend, who happens to possess the power of death. With a simple touch, she can kill. I know because she tried it on me. But it backfired and she only ended up temporarily scarring my hands.
She sits in one of the leather chairs. Black gloves cloak her hands and she wears a bright blue dress that matches her eyes. She flips her blonde hair, flirting with Alex, who is seated in the chair across from her. He’s grinning and his green eyes glint with something that makes my blood burn.
Laylen spots us and leaps up from the table, causing Stasha and Alex’s eyes to dart to us.
Sasha’s lips expand into a malicious smile. “Well, look who we have here.”
Laylen holds up his hands. “I did not let her in. In fact, I tried to shove her down the steps and slam the door in her face.”
Which means Alex is the guilty party. It also explains the broken flower pots on the front steps.
Alex’s eyes are guarded as he sizes up my forthcoming reaction. I tell myself it’s the Lost Soul toying with me, not him. Jealousy devours me, but I stay calm.
“I don’t have time for this. I have bigger things to worry about.” I turn my back on them and walk away, even though it kills me.
“Go check on her,” I hear Aislin say and footsteps chase after me.
“I’m fine,” I tell Laylen before he catches up. “I just need to go lie down and clear my head.”
He walks at my pace, hands tucked in the pockets of his black jeans. “Fine I’ll go with you. I need a nap anyway.”
We trot up the stairs and hide out in my room. The temperature is stifling and I crack a window, letting the cool air in. “I really am fine.” I flop down on my four-post bed. “I don’t need to be babysat.”
He drops down on the bed and overlaps his hands behind his head. “He’s not himself. You have to look at it like that.”
“I know.” I roll to my side, fluff a purple throw pillow, and rest my head on it. “That’s not why I’m upset. Well that’s not the entire reason I’m upset.”
A pause. “Gemma… where’s your Foreseer mark?” His fingers brush the back of my neck.
“Things didn’t go as planned.” I take a deep breath, forcing back the sting in my eyes, and give him a recap of the last few hours. When I’m finished, I turn back over.
He watches me with sympathy. “I’m sorry. I know how much you wanted to free your dad.” Laylen’s parents died a long time ago, due to Stephan and his murderous plan to end the world. Laylen understands pain better than most people. “We’ll find a way. We always do.”
“That’s exactly what Aislin said.” I force a small smile. “And maybe we will.”
“We will.” He pats my back supportively. “But first, we need to get that damn Lost Soul out of Alex. He’s annoying as hell.”
“What’s the best way to create an emotional outburst?” I ask.
We deliberate an answer, listening to the rapid flapping of a hummingbird’s wings just outside the window.
I shoot upright and smack my forehead with the heel of my hand. “I’m so stupid. Why didn’t I think of this right when Nicholas said it?”
Laylen watches me pace the room with determination. “Care to share what your brilliant mind’s thinking?”
I halt in the middle of the room. “Death.”
His mouth sinks to a dubious frown. “Look Gemma, I know you saved him once before, but I don’t think killing him is a good idea. He might not come back this time.”
“He’s not the one who’s going to die.” My gaze coasts to the window where the lake shimmers across the land. “I am.”
Laylen moves his finger from side to side in front of my eyes. “Did you hit your head or something?” He dips his head, inspecting my pupils. “Maybe you have a concussion.”
“I don’t have a concussion.” I step back and fold my arms. “Nicholas said to evoke emotion from him and what better way to do it than for me to die.”
“Because you’d be dead.” He sinks down on the foot of the bed and slumps his head in his hands. “That’s the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard come out of your mouth.”
“I wouldn’t actually die.” I sit next to him. “I’d just scare him enough that he’d think I was going to if he didn’t save me.”
He raises his head, looking aggravated. “Don’t you think you’ve already tested death a few too many times? One of these times you might fail the test and there won’t be a retake.”
I fidget with my locket, clicking it open and shut. “I know, but I can’t let him be controlled by a mummified corpse. I have to save him.”
“Then do something else,” he says. “Piss him off, make him happy. Do anything else but scare the crap out of him.”
“I’ve already pissed him off. And making him happy would be hard, since he has a vendetta to hurt me. Fear is a really strong emotion, Laylen. It can come out of nowhere and is really difficult to control or turn off with the snap of a finger.”
He huffs a breath and falls back onto the bed melodramatically. “Gemma Lucas, you drive me absolutely crazy sometimes. You know that?”
“I know.” I collapse beside him with my arms above my head. “But it wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t.”
He shakes his head. “So what’s your plan then? How do we make it look like you die?”
“The lake.” I flip over to my stomach and boost up on my elbows. “I can’t swim. So if I go out there and he thinks I’m going to drown, it’ll scare him enough that he’ll save me and hopefully it’ll kick the Lost Soul to the curb.”
“And what if he doesn’t?” he asks. “Then what?”
I pinch his arm playfully. “Then you’ll save me.”
He deliberates my plan. “Well, you know I can’t pass up saving a damsel-in-distress. But I’m telling you right now, the moment I see you going under, I’m jumping in.”
“So how do we stage it?” I contemplate. “We need a way to get him out of the house and by the lake.”
“And away from Blondie down there,” he adds, nodding his head at the door.
My lip twitches with jealousy. “Why is she even here?”