Home > Torn (Demon Kissed #3)(19)

Torn (Demon Kissed #3)(19)
Author: H.M. Ward

I felt his eyes on my back before he said anything. "There was no other way around it."

I nodded. My voice was cold, "So it seems - at least when I'm involved."

"What is that supposed to mean?" he stood next to me, still cautious.

I looked up at him, "Did we really have to do that to her? I mean, so what if she saw us. So what if cops were looking for us? So what if the Martis are looking for us? So what if they know we have the book?" My gaze shifted down as my voice dropped, "Everyone else is looking for us anyway. What's the difference? The difference to us is minor, but the difference to her...We killed her, Collin. She just won't know who did it or why." My voice was cold, the bottom of my stomach was ice, and the resolve that was flowing through me was intensifying. Why did I do things because people told me to? When we spoke about it earlier, I dismissed the idea of accidentally waking her up. I only accepted Collin's plan because I knew it would never happen and I didn't want to fight. But now? Now, I regretted it horribly. I should have said something, did something. It didn't matter that she saw us. I ended her life, just like every other person who crossed my path.

Collin could sense my thoughts. He sat down next to me, careful not to touch me, allowing me to have some private thoughts and process my feelings without him seeing everything. He swallowed hard. "There can't be any witnesses. Too much is on the line. This is a war, Ivy. There are causalities." I looked over at him, shocked. "Don't look at me like that. Don't act like you didn't know how important it is to keep you hidden. If they find you, you die. We can't leave any trace of our whereabouts. It's bad enough that Eric's tracked you down. But if more people find you? You know what'll happen, Ivy. We can't evade an entire army looking for you. And what happens depends totally on which side finds you first. Kreturus isn't done with you, even if he appears to have left you alone for the moment. And the Martis will kill you and ask questions later. This isn't over. It's barely begun. I'm sorry I can't shelter you from this stuff. It's the way things are. This is war. You knew what had to happen back there. Mortals are born and die. That's their life. I gave her the least painful way out of this that I could think of. I did it for you. I knew you'd react like this, but it had to be done."

My head snapped towards him. My eyes were rimmed. I could feel it. The anger that felt dormant moments ago flamed into my chest, making me hot and increasingly furious. Collin recoiled slightly when I looked at him. Something came across the bond at the moment, but I was too upset to detect what it was. Later, I would have wished I had. "No. I'm not doing things like that anymore. I'm not killing people, Valefar, angels or demons, or Martis without being forced to!" I jumped to my feet, feeling the need to run to burn off the anger.

Collin jumped up next to me and grabbed my wrist. The look I gave him must have been horrible, but he didn't let go. "You can't go. If you run, the poison will only wear you out."

Un-contorting my face, I felt the tension building in my shoulders. Practically crying, I looked up into his eyes and said, "I can't live like this. I can't be the person responsible for this. Look at me, Collin!" I shook off his hold and pressed my hands to my chest. "Look at me! I'm becoming exactly what the prophecy said I'd be!"

His arms wrapped around me tightly, as he crushed me into his chest. His hands cradled the back of my head and forced me closer to him. I struggled, half wanting to pull away, and half wanting to punch him. Somewhere inside of me, I blamed Collin for what I was. I blamed everyone. Eric. Shannon. Even Al. But the truth was I am who I am because of no one but me. It was my fault that woman would die. It was my fault that I had to steal Eric's book. It was my fault Eric was a deranged Valefar and Shannon was - whatever she was. Tears streamed down my face silently, as I stopped struggling in his arms. The rich warm scent of Collin filled my head as I breathed. The strong pull of his arms made me feel safe, and the way life had been lately - I needed to feel safe for a little while - even if it was a total lie. Collin's arms dropped to my waist so he could look down at me, but I kept my face buried in his chest.

"We'll do things your way from now on. I'm so sorry that I upset you like this." He kissed the top of my head. "You're right. Everyone is after us anyway. We can do things your way next time, even if it seems risky to me. I won't make you do something like this again."

Looking up into his face, I felt my stomach clench. It was all I could do to nod, and break away from his hold. I turned my back to him, and looked out over the still water. The night sky stretched down and touched the bay's inky blackness somewhere too dark to see. It looked as if the bay stretched right up into the heavens - some place I would never go. Closing my eyes, I wrapped my arms around my middle. "Maybe you're right. Maybe one person shouldn't matter...but I can't do it."

Collin stood behind me, brushing my hair out of my face as he stood next to me. The ends of my hair were brown now. The anger that was burning within me had extinguished itself. "It's because you're you. You matter more to me, than anything else in this world. You see justice through the darkness. You changed my life in a way that I never even hoped for. You are the most courageous woman I've ever known." A smile pulled up the corners of his lips, "And you scare the shit out of me sometimes." I looked up at him and laughed one short laugh.

His hand lifted to my face, and gently brushed my cheek before drifting back into my curls. He wound the spirals around his fingers while gazing at me. "You're beautiful, Ivy Taylor..."

His eyes were locked on mine, as his lips parted slightly. Lowering his head slowly, he meant to kiss me. The thought brushed the front of his mind, so gently that I could tell it was all he wanted. When Collin's lips touched mine, I felt his warm breath slide across my mouth. The butterflies that were tickling the top of my stomach went wild, and shot into a thousand pieces inside of me. His kiss was all consuming. It made me forget everything and feel everything at the same time. The muscles in my chest tightened as he pressed his lips harder against mine. Icy hot sparks shot through me, leaving me feeling vulnerable and blissful at the same time. It was the dichotomy of the kiss that was intoxicating. It was a kiss that could kill, and it was a kiss that showed Collin could love someone like me.


When we cracked open Eric's book, I never expected to find what was inside. Last time I'd seen it, I thought I recognized some of it even though I remembered some of the writing was weird. But now looking at it - I had no idea why I thought we'd be able to read it. Letters from an ancient language were scrawled across page after page of detailed notes. Collin was as perplexed as I was.

"The letters aren't even going in the one direction," I said, pushing my hair out of my face and wrapping it with a rubber band. When I leaned over the book again, I shook my head. We'd returned to the boathouse to examine the pages before anything else happened. When we opened it, I thought the book would be in English, but it wasn't. There were odd squiggles and they covered every inch of every page. I shook my head, looking up at Collin, "Do you recognize any of it?"

His mouth was hanging open slightly, as his finger dragged across the page. He'd been doing this for the better part of an hour, not saying much. He shook his head, "No. This is like Greek - they are Greek characters - well, for the most part. But, periodically there is something else thrown in. And it isn't written left to right. I tried right to left like some languages, and up to down like others, but there is no continuity." He looked up at me, and locked eyes with me with complete seriousness on his face. "I can't read it." The bond stirred. The words of his confession might have seemed straight-forward, but the bond translated that statement for me. He meant I can't help you. The realization hit him hard.

"Collin..." My fingers brushed the top of his hand to get his attention and break his thoughts before they turned dark. The icy hot spark of skin on skin instantly caught his attention, and had the desired effect. "We'll figure it out."

And I thought we could, but as we sat there for the rest of the night trying to decipher Eric's writing it became more and more obvious that we couldn't. Collin used his phone to look some things up online, but that didn't help at all. It led us back to our initial impression - this was some derivative of ancient Greek. As he researched, I looked for the page that Eric had showed me before. I saw the scrawling handwriting in black-brown ink that was written with an ancient pen. It was neat, like the old Eric, with everything grouped into rows. Some rows seemed to be grouped in circles, while others seemed like squares.

I had no idea what it meant, but when I found the page I was looking for, I froze. My fingers touched the yellowed parchment gently, as if I couldn't believe the drawing was there - Apryl's necklace. The drawing showed a black and white disc, exactly like mine. There were words around it. What did Eric say this was called? He told me once, and I wanted to know about it. I wanted to know how my sister came into possession of something that belonged to the demon realm while she was alive and well, having nothing to do with demons. The answers were right in front of me, but I couldn't understand what it said.

I pointed to the book and asked Collin, "I saw this page, before when Eric showed me this book. He didn't tell me what was on it at the time, but later, when we were coming to find you - he mentioned my necklace. He said he knew it was brimstone, and that it was called the..." it sounded like Kreturus. I rolled the word in mouth until I recognized it, "The Kreturic Pendant! Do you think we could use that information as a starting place, and see if we can try to see what words say that on this page?"

Collin looked at my necklace and back down at the drawing in the book. "It's worth a try. This is a Kappa," his finger pointed to something that looked like a K and then an N, followed by an E. "This looks like the beginning of Kreturus or Kreturuic, but the word just stops." His fingers trailed quickly over every letter surrounding the drawing, while he spoke softly sounding out each possibility. He did it quickly, and his finger dashed across the page and in several different directions before he sighed and looked up at me. Shaking his head, he said, "It's not here. Whatever language this is, it isn't close enough to Greek to read any of it. It was a good idea Ivy. If it was close enough, it might have worked." He slumped and leaned back against the wall, gripping his forehead in his hands. "Is it spreading?" The question took me by surprise because he never asked me about it.

I looked up at him, while leaving my fingers on the book. "What?"

His face turned up to look at me. There was a weariness there that was growing harder to ignore. "Is the poison from the fang spreading inside of you? Can you tell?"

Without thinking, I pressed my hand to my chest and shook my head. The searing pain of the poison traveling through my body was burned into my memory forever. "No, it's not moving. At least it isn't right now. I'd feel it if it was. The sapphire serum seems to be isolated to this one spot." I pressed my fingers to the top of my left breast, grateful that Lorren crystalized it. But I knew it was slowly leaking into me because effonating had done something to it. I suspected that the heat of effoanting messed with Lorren's crystallization of the serum, but I didn't know for sure. And, I didn't know how much time I had before the poison would kill me. I was hoping that I'd be able to tell before it became critical, since I'd experienced the full brunt of the sapphire serum before.

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