Home > Torn (Demon Kissed #3)(17)

Torn (Demon Kissed #3)(17)
Author: H.M. Ward

"Right," he replied, "he can't kill the Valefar who bound him - you already did. So he's coming after you, the only other person who was there. It's revenge. But, I don't understand why he didn't just kill you or why he used that kind of magic with you. It was risky."

Curiosity spurred within me. I realized that Eric used some weird kind of Valefar magic, but I was afraid to ask Collin about it since he didn't seem keen to talk about such things. I took the opportunity to ask him, "When Eric effonated, I had no choice but to go with him. How did he do that?"

Collin's gaze turned from mine, his eyes widened. "He didn't make you effonate next to him? It was his power that pulled you? Not his?" I shook my head. "Tell me everything he said and did when he found you." I told Collin about everything from Eric forcing me to swallow his blood, to his taunting words and how he used people to cause us to run out in different directions. When I was speaking, Collin pressed his fingers to his temples and closed his eyes. When I was done he asked, "Did you swallow? Did his blood go down your throat?" I nodded. Collin let out a rush of air like something heavy fell on his stomach. He turned away from me, pressing his fingers to his eyes.

"Collin, please tell me how he did that. I had no idea he could do any of those things. It caught me totally off guard." I walked up behind him, and gently touched his arm. He turned toward me. I looked up into his eyes and said, "I can't protect myself if I don't know what he can do."

Collin started to speak and stopped. His arms folded tightly to his chest as he tilted his head. His voice was cautious. "Valefar can intensify their magic if they use blood. There are things that can be done with their blood or their victim's blood." He paused, staring at me. "He was able to effonate with you because he made you swallow enough of his blood to take you with him. It only works once, but he could have forced you to do it again. The blood allows the same magic that the Valefar wields to be used on the victim. It's helpful when fighting immortals. Most of the Valefar have forgotten how to do what Eric did, which is making me wonder how he knew to do it." Collin looked to me for answers, but I didn't know. Eric didn't say much, besides that he managed to nab Shannon, too. He probably baited her out and caught her the same way. And I'd turned her into something that I wasn't certain of at this point. Shoving a Martis through an evil mirror would have some seriously weird side-effects.

Collin continued, "If he wanted to kill you, he could have done it before I got there. If he wanted to kidnap you, you wouldn't have escaped. He knows what he's doing, and you don't - which is why I've been trying to protect you." Collin shook his head, and laughed hollowly, "When I realized you effonated I thought the bastard was going to slaughter you after he toyed with you first."

I shook my head. "That's what I thought, but he healed me after he realized what effonating did to me." Collin's fingers wound around my curl with a thoughtful expression on his face before dropping it and shoving his hands in his pockets.

"That makes no sense whatsoever," was all he said about the matter. He was right about that. It didn't make any sense, even considering that Eric wanted to torture me and have fun watching me die. He still could have done that, and I was so weak that I couldn't fight back - but he didn't. Collin's sapphire eyes bore into me, waiting for me to reveal something more, but I didn't. 

"I know. It really doesn't make sense. Al reminded me that he isn't Eric anymore." I shook my head, trying to shake off the guilt that crawled out of my stomach. Collin sensed it. He tilted his head, but I shoved those feeling back down to where they were hiding, and asked, "Have you ever heard of the Satan Stone?" He shook his head. "Al thought it could heal the poison in my chest." Collin went white as his jaw locked. I wanted to comfort him, and tell him it was going to be okay, but for all I knew - it wasn't.

"Apparently," I continued, "it's a forgotten Martis fable from a really long time ago. Al's one of the oldest living Martis and said she barely remembered stories about it. She said that Satan's Stone can give its owner power, so it can heal me." I didn't really believe the words coming out of my mouth. It was a rock. What could it do? But, I learned not to question immortal objects. After walking through the Lorren, nothing would surprise me. So Satan hid all his power in a rock - I'd seen weirder things. I looked over at Collin, "But no one remembers the fable, anymore. All the documents containing mention of it are gone - except one. Al said there is a letter from the first Angel Demon War documenting how it ended - someone held up a stone and the fighting stopped." Collin arched an eyebrow at me. "I know, right? Sounds weird. But that document is the only trace left of the legend of the Satan Stone. And I know where it is." I took a deep breath. "Someone else had heard about it too, while he was tracking me down for the Martis. Al said he had the letter..."

Collin shook his head in disbelief. "Eric? You're telling me that Eric's the only other person who could have helped us? And now he's..."

I finished for him, "A crazy-ass Valefar. Yeah. Sounds perfect." I explained to Collin that we needed to go to Eric's old apartment and steal his book. I only hoped that I could find it and that Eric's stuff was still there. Turns out I should have hoped for something else altogether.


Eric's apartment was in an old three story brick walk-up. We were listening at the door and didn't hear anyone when a neighbor came out. A short round woman folded her arms and glared at me from behind thick glasses. Her black hair was smoothed back into a ponytail where it frizzed into a massive puff. Her shirt was a size too small and rode right at the top of her jeans.  Startled, I gasped like I was up to no good, but quickly explained that we knew Eric.

Sympathy instantly diminished her previous perception of us. "Oh, I'm so sorry for your loss." Her eyes shifted between us as she rubbed her palms together. "I can't image knowing someone who died like that."

Wide-eyed, I glanced at Collin. He nodded in agreement and laced his arm through mine. His thoughts brushed my mind, Play along.

"It was," he agreed, "Ivy's known Eric since they were children, and wanted to say goodbye."

The woman nodded, with her mouth hanging open in an O, before saying, "Oh, that's right. There was no burial, because the body..." she cut herself off before she said anything else. "Oh, dear-heart, I'm so sorry." She blinked back a tear and wrapped her arms around me in a bear hug. I stiffened and tried to wiggle out of it, before Collin mentally chastised me to be more mournful.

When she released me, Collin continued, "As you can imagine, it's very difficult to get closure when things end like that..."

I shot a thought at him; Do you even know what you're talking about? What did the Martis tell her?

But Collin ignored me and kept talking to the woman as if he knew, "I suggested taking her to his apartment one last time to see where he lived, but it seems that it's already been rented and we didn't want to intrude."

The woman had her hand over her heart and looked at me with huge weepy eyes. "Of course! I know the girl who moved in there, after his accident; in fact we're good friends. I suppose I could let you in, just for a minute. Tahlia isn't home. I'm sure she wouldn't mind." Collin nodded somberly and thanked her while she ran off to fetch the key.

I arched an eyebrow at Collin, "How do they think Eric died?"

Collin shrugged, "Beats me, but the Martis must have covered Eric's tracks well, because this woman didn't expect to see anyone. Asking to see the apartment was the best I could do. Do you think you can find the book quickly, if it's still there?"

"It's worth a try. I saw where he hid it. I just hope it's still there." There was a niche in the wall where Eric withdrew the book before he thrust it under my nose. Eric was irate that night. He said that I undid a lifetime of work. He didn't like me then. And he detested demon blood to the point that he didn't treat me the same way once he found out I was tainted. But, his actions were different than his words. He saved me. I saved him. It happened so many times that I was beginning to think that we were friends. Eric had changed after our descent into the Underworld. I pushed the memory away, as Collin's fingers laced through mine.

"Pretend you're sad." He squeezed my hand.

I squeezed back, "Don't have to."


The woman opened the door to Eric's old apartment. It looked so different. None of his stuff was there any more, not that I expected it to be, but it still jolted me. It was like the Eric I knew had been blotted from existence. Releasing Collin's hand, I wrapped my arms around my middle and walked over to the window. These windows shattered when Jake came crashing through one night and attacked us. I slashed Eric in the chest that night by accident. I thought I'd killed him, but he just laughed at me and saved me - even when he wasn't sure about me.

The large woman who'd let us into the apartment then excused herself for a moment to go water Tahlia's plants. She remained in the apartment, but wasn't watching very closely. I stared blankly as the memories plagued me. Collin touched my shoulder, instantly pulling me out of the memories and I flinched.

I looked back at him. "Sorry. It's just...I don't know. It's like this was the last piece of him, and now it's gone." I didn't expect to get so choked up, but I knew it wasn't the normal pangs of loss I was feeling. It was loss laced with guilt - soul-sucking guilt.

Collin refocused my attention on the matter at hand, "Where was it?" he whispered.

Shaking off the slew of emotions, I walked over to the wall where the book had been hidden right as Peggy bustled back into the bedroom. She spoke to Collin while I stood looking at the bookcase, and back to the window wondering what to do. I couldn't try to get the book with her watching me. She'd think I was stealing. Peggy didn't leave us alone again, and I didn't get the chance to see if the book was still in the wall. Eyes wide, I pleaded with Collin to do something, but he shook his head slightly and brushed my mind, Later.

Not understanding his intentions, he thanked Peggy and we left. When we were outside, I asked, "Why did we leave? I didn't get a chance to look."

Collin had his hand on the small of my back and was pressing me towards the alley. "There's something odd going on. I'm not sure what, but I felt like we had to leave. We'll go back later, and get it when Tahlia's asleep."

That was the first time I'd broken into someone's house. I didn't like it. My mind flashed pictures of a thin thirty-year-old with dark hair waking up screaming, and beating me senseless with a frying pan. Once I entered her house, it didn't matter how quiet I was, my pounding heart made me feel like an elephant trying to tip-toe through her dark home. Collin waited for me nearby, but he wouldn't tell me where. He was being secretive and wanted to keep it to himself. I didn't understand why he wanted to keep things secret from me. Okay, maybe I did understand. I had my own secrets after all.

Narrowly missing the black coffee table, I moved around in the dark with ease. Thank God for Martis vision. At least I could see. Too bad stealth wasn't one of my abilities too. You'd think it would be. There are enough clumsy people in the world that gracefulness should be a requirement of being turned immortal, but it wasn't. Lucky me.

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