Cinder X Page 3

Oh my God!

What should I do? Run? Call the police? Finish him off?

I shove the last thought from my head and put more pressure on the guy’s chest as it unstably rises and descends. “Just hang on,” I beg, reaching for my phone in my back pocket, knowing that whatever happens, it’s the right thing to do.

He continues to look at me, gasping for air, his lips parting. “I know where your father…” he gasps, choking on a mouthful of blood.

Every muscle in my body winds tightly into knots. “What about my father?”

He shakes his head, blood trickling from his lips and down his chin “I don’t…” he gasps again then the movement of his chest stills and his head slumps to the side.

Terror courses through me as I realize what this means.

That I’ve just committed murder.

Chapter 2

Murder. The word weighs heavily in my mind. I’ve been called a murderer many times since my father disappeared, but there’s never been any real truth behind it.

Yet now there is.

“No,” I whisper, panicking, my hands trembling against his unmoving chest. I straighten my legs and drag my bloody hand through my hair as I stagger back. “No… no… no—”

“No matter how many times you say it, he’s still going to be dead.” The sound of the voice sends a shiver of fear and anger through me. When his breath then caresses the back of my neck, my hairs stand on end. I know I should run, but I’m bound in place, my feet no longer under my control.

“I’ve missed you, princess,” Cameron whispers against my ear then nibbles on my earlobe.

The slight sting of his teeth grazing my skin snaps me out of my trance enough that I’m able to turn around and face him. Through the dark, he still looks as hauntingly beautiful as he did the last time I saw him. His long, black cape flows to the ground with the hood drawn down so I can see his perfectly carved facial features. His eyes blend in with the night, his hair pale as the moonlight, his skin like porcelain and his long, lean arms are outstretched towards me, begging me to come closer.

“Stay away from me,” I manage to say, however I’m unable to back away from him; my arms remain at my sides and my feet are frozen in place. “You have to go… I don’t want you here and if I tell you to leave then you have to.”

He mockingly waves his finger at me, tsking. “Now, Ember, be careful what you ask. I just might do what you tell me to do.” His gaze skims to the dead guy on the ground just behind me, “and then you’ll be left by yourself to clean up the mess.”

“I don’t want your help,” I hiss. “Now leave.”

“Are you sure about that?” he questions with mockery in his tone. “Are you sure you want me to leave you to clean up this mess alone?”

“Y-yes,” I stammer, my confidence draining from me as I stare down at the dead body just behind me and the pool of blood on the ground around him.

He cocks an eyebrow at me as I return my attention to him. “You don’t sound so sure.” He reaches forward and brushes a finger just underneath my chin, shutting his eyes as the moonlight highlights the blissfulness in his expression. “God, how I’ve missed the feel of your skin… so soft.”

For a moment I get swept away by the sound of his voice, but then Asher’s face flashes through my mind and I fling Cameron’s hand off me and stumble back. “How can you miss something you barely touched?” I ask. “You only touched me a few times and only because you took away my willpower.”

His arm falls to his side and a hint of anger flickers in his eyes. “Is that what you tell yourself to make yourself feel better about everything you did with me?”

“I did nothing with you,” I protest. “Nothing I wanted to do, anyway.”

He steps forward, reducing the space between us. “Are you absolutely certain about that? That you felt no connection at all with me? That I didn’t make your body feel things it never has before.” His voice drops to a husky tone as his fingers graze my hips. “That it was all mind control? That your mind is so weak that I can make it do whatever I want just by whispering to you.”

“I…” I open my mouth to argue, but the words are thick in my throat and I realize something. “You’re the one who compelled me here, aren’t you? Like how you made me stay at the cemetery with you—confused me and made my body immobile?” I ask. His silence and condescending expression says it all. “Do you know something about this?” I gesture at the body, remembering what he said just before he died. “The guy said he knew something about my father…. Do you know what he’s talking about?”

“Would you feel better about all of this if it was me compelling you here? That I have that much power over you? That I affect you that much?” he asks, avoiding my last question about my dad. “Or worse?”

“I don’t know…” I feel incredibly confused.

“You know what,” Cameron says haughtily. “I think you secretly like me and you won’t admit it.”

I scowl at him. “I…” The words won’t leave my mouth. What is wrong with me? Is it me or Cameron making it impossible for me to deny that I have feelings for him?

The longer the silence drifts between us, the smugger Cameron looks until his ego is so swollen that I seriously want to smack him upside the head. Instead, I reach up and touch his face. His skin is unshaven and rough against my fingers. He lets me feel his face as his eyes stay unreadable. I don’t know why I’m doing it; why I’m touching him. Whether it’s him possessing my mind or that the time I’ve spent away from him has made me realize… something. Everything is so vague, so unknown. All I know is that I can’t control myself.

Finally, he breaks the connection by leaning to the side and glancing at the ground behind me. “That was quite the brutal slaying. I didn’t know you had it in you.”

Oh, my God. How have I forgotten in just a few moments that I’ve killed someone? Reality slaps me in the face, hard and cold and sharp.

“I didn’t mean to,” I stammer, my expression falling at the sight of the body and vomit threatens to rise up my throat. “I thought it was you.” I look back at Cameron who’s watching me intently. “And I…”

A wicked smile spreads across his face. “So you were trying to kill me?” he asks amusedly.

“I have no idea what I was trying to do… maybe you should tell me since you seem to have so much control over what I do.”

He assesses me closely, just a few steps away from me. “Well, you missed, if I was the initial target.”

I shake my head. “Obviously.”

“You don’t seem that upset,” he speculates as I rub my hands up and down my arms from the shivers of the cold or perhaps shock, I’m not sure which one.

“I don’t feel anything,” I admit, noting the sudden lack of feeling in my body. “Why is that…?” I abruptly shove him back, but he barely budges. “Wait, are you doing it to me?”

He shrugs nonchalantly while staring at me stoically. “Maybe. If I was, would you want me to stop?”

I hesitate, afraid of feeling the pain that comes with taking a life. How bad will it hurt? As bad or as worse as when I lost my father? “I don’t know…” I struggle with what’s right and wrong, ultimately I nod. “I want to feel it... feel what I did.”

“Very well.” He stares at me and seconds later I’m blasted with emotions so powerful that it feels like I’m going to split open from the pressure. “Are you still sure you want to feel it?” he asks, observing me like I’m the most fascinating thing that’s ever existed. “Because I can numb your body. It’s one of my many talents.” He says it with pride.

“I don’t want to be numb.” I wrap my arms around myself, piercing my fingernails into my skin as I collapse to the ground on my knees. It feels like thousands of needles have lodged into my skin, tearing at me as they fill me with remorse and guilt, fear and confusion. My head is pounding, my heart racing. I feel like I’m going to explode. Or die myself. It’s unbearable. Aching. Noisy

Then it abruptly gets quiet and still.

I angle my chin up at Cameron. “I said I want to feel.”

Cameron rolls his eyes and then bends his knees and crouches down in front of me. “Quit being a drama queen over nothing.”

“Over nothing?” I question through gritted teeth. “I just killed… I just killed someone.” I nearly choke on the words. “Someone who might have known something about my father, unless you put those words in his mouth.”

“Yeah, but I can fix it,” he says simply, avoid the questioning about my father again. “All you need to do is ask me to.”

“You’re lying.”

“No, I’m not.”

He’s indecipherable, untrustworthy. He’s death in its evilest form, yet I find myself saying, “Then do it.” I hate to go to a place where I might owe him, but at the same time, I don’t want to be responsible for a murder, especially when he said something about my father. “If you can, then prove it to me. Bring him back.”

He shakes his head, tucking strands of my hair behind my ear. “Not without a price, princess. You should know that already.”

I narrow my eyes. “No way. I refuse to make bargains with you.”

He shrugs again, then straightens his legs and rises to his feet. “Well, then I guess I’ll just take his soul and get going.”

He starts to wind around me, however I jump to my feet, sidestepping him and barricading his path with my hands out to the sides of me. Our bodies are flush against one another, our heat mixing and stifling even though cold air circulates around me

“You can’t,” I say, my voice unsteady. “I won’t let you take his soul.”

He cups my chin with a wicked glint in his eyes. “You know as well as I do that you have no control over this situation.” Then he lets me go and nudges me out of the way, heading for the guy on the ground. He starts to bend down towards him.

“Wait. “ I race after him, and without even thinking, I throw myself on his back, wrapping my arms and legs around him. “I’ll do it, just don’t take his soul. Let him live… please, Cameron.”

He glances over his shoulder at me. “You want me to bring him back?” he asks, his eyes darkening with desire.

I unenthusiastically nod. “Yes, please… I never meant to kill him and I don’t… I don’t want to be responsible for that.” I slide off his back and plant my feet back onto the ground, releasing a breath as Cameron turns to face me.

“And who says I have the ability to do that?” he questions. His voice comes off a little shaky and high-pitched, like he’s gotten really nervous, which is strange. The Cameron I know is cocky and arrogant all the damn time. I must have struck a nerve or something. “Who says that I can raise the dead?” His forced laughter rings around us.

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