The Promise Page 2

Another cackle and her mouth spread into a grin.

Nice try.

She broke off my necklace and a purple ball of fire glowed in her hand.

Animam tuam.

The ball lifted from her grasp and slammed into my middle.

I buckled back, trying not to panic as my stomach glowed like a night light. Aislin and Laylen had three of them down, Aislin working quickly to remove the Mark of Malefiscus from their wrists. I blinked crazily, waiting for the spell to do something. But the witches face dropped as I remained the same, unchanged, but still glowing. She gripped my arm and I pressed my fingers into her hands, digging my nails in deep.

You re the one,

she uttered under her breath, her green eyes glittering with light.

It s you.

She knew I was the star and I had to act fast. No one knew for sure what kind of connection the witches held with Stephan, but we always had to be careful. I swung back my fist, working up as much force as I could, before slamming into her head. My knuckles cracked as her eyes rolled back, her lips parting, as she slipped into unconsciousness.

I scurried to my feet, glancing around and was grateful that Aislin had gotten the marks off the others, who were wandering away, confused how they got here. It would take a second for the spell to wear off and then they would return to their normal lives with a guilty conscience.

I dusted the snow off my clothes as I stared at the unconscious witch.

This one knows who I am,

I told them, picking up my locket.

I ll make sure to erase her mind then,

Aislin said, coming over to the witch.

I nodded, but felt guilty. I always did when it came to erasing someone s mind. Good or bad, having my own mind stolen from me gave me a soft spot for anyone else who had to endure it. But these were hard times. Drastic measures had to be taken.

The removed marks slithered away like tiny snakes. I retreated, not wanting to watch as Aislin slipped her hands inside the witch s head and extracted her memories.

Laylen followed me inside, grabbing my hand and turning me to him.

It has to be done,

he said.

They can t know where you are.

I nodded. But, if I hadn t messed around with visions, then this mess wouldn t exist. I kept this to myself though, because I knew he d try to convince me this wasn t my fault. He d feel bad because I felt bad and I didn t want that. I wanted him to be happy.

I rubbed my stomach, which wasn t glowing, but burned like I was hungry.

She threw a spell in me after she broke off my locket.

What kind of a spell?

Aislin asked as she came inside and shut the back door. She locked the dead bolt and then the other three locks.

I searched my brain for the words the witch uttered.

Animam tuam, I think.

Aislin s eyes popped wide.


What is it?

I touched my stomach again, wondering if I was going to explode or something.

What d she do to me?

I don t & It s just that &

Her gaze was everywhere but on me.

Just spit it out,

Laylen said sharply.

Aislin swallowed hard.

She took your life.

Chapter 3


I hated the smell of these places. Everyone smelled like they d just rolled out of a gutter, and then dug around in a garbage can.

You seem down, sweetie,

the woman with long skinny legs said. Her blonde hair was way too thin for her round face. Her teeth were cracked and stained a yellowish-brown. She stuck her hand out, her sharp, yellow-stained nails sliding up my chest.

Maybe I can help you with that.

I pushed her back, not gently, giving her a bored expression

I m looking for a man named Draven. Ever heard of him?

She had, but she wasn t planning on telling me at least she thought she wasn t. She pressed her thin lips together.

Never heard of such a man.

She touched my shoulder.

Why don t you forget about this Draven?

She leaned in, putting her lips next to my ear.

I can make you forget about him. I can make you forget about everything.

I smiled maliciously and leaned toward her.

As nice as that sounds, I know what you are, so you might as well cut the crap and take me to Draven.

She moved back, still smiling. Banshees were the worst kind of faeries. Their ragged state was just an armor. Really, they were quite beautiful and alluring, except on people like me, who knew what they really were a sign, appearing to those who were going to die soon.

If you know what I am,

she said slyly.

Then you know you re future is coming to an end.

I m not asking you about my life,

I replied, unbothered.

I m asking you to take me to Draven.

A purr vibrated from her chest and she traced her pinky nail under my chin.

What makes you think I know him?

I clutched her wrist, squeezing tight.

My patience is wearing thin. Either you take me to him or I make you take me to him.

She winced, but kept grinning.

How much is it worth to you?

She paused.

Perhaps your life?

My life already belongs to someone else,

I said, calm and controlled, trying to push the quick thought of her out of my mind.

Then let me be the one to collect you when you die. Let me take your soul.

Her grin widened, her lips disappearing into her teeth.

When you die, make the vow that I can be the one to carry your soul to the Afterlife.

I considered this, but not for very long.

Whatever. Just take me to him.

She was pleased, ignorant of the fact that she couldn t take my soul when I died. Because it already belonged to someone else, just like I told her. And a Blood Promise was much stronger than a promise made by word of mouth.

She turned for the alley, the click of her high heels echoing up the steel buildings. As we moved, she transformed, her blonde hair thickening and curling up at the ends, her rough skin smoothing over and her teeth whitening to a shade so bright it reflected against the luminosity of the full moon.

This way,

she said and ducked behind a large dumpster where a door was hidden. She slipped a chain from her neck holding a large silver key. The key scratched inside the lock and then she creaked the door open. She disappeared inside and I followed.

The air was murky and stank of pond scum. I had a hard time following her because her silhouette kept blending in and out of focus. At the end of the tunnel, lanterns lit up a room. The walls were as red as blood and an oval table extended down the center, eight chairs encircling it. In the corner, there was a cage where a Black Angel was sleeping, her wings curled against her back. They really were sad creatures, trapped until someone freed them from their cage and wings. I remembered the time when Gemma almost let one go. Thankfully, I d gotten to her in time.

Have a seat,

the Banshee said and exited the room through a wooden door on the left. I sat down, preparing my speech in my head, knowing if I was wrong then I d wasted a lot of time. But part of me didn t want to be right. Part of me didn t want her to be one of them.

When the door clicked open again, the blonde Banshee returned. But she wasn t alone. A man, with dark hair, black eyes, and pale skin stood beside her. Someone who was inexperienced would probably mistake him for a vampire. But I knew better. He was more dangerous than a vampire. That s why I had my knife tucked in my jacket, within arm s reach. I was surprised the Banshee didn t pat me down back in the alley. But she probably wasn t too worried. She thought I was a normal human, sticking my nose into a world where it didn t belong.

He took a seat across from me and the space between us didn t give me much option for a surprise execution. He tapped a cigarette on the table, and then stuck it in his mouth. The Banshee woman lit it for him. After he exhaled, his eyes narrowed on me.

So you want to talk to me about something,

he said, eyes refusing to leave me.

I held his gaze, not afraid, but prepared, just like I was taught.

I need to know the location of a particular woman.

He stayed silent for a while, tapping his fingers on the table.

The Lord of the Afterlife doesn t associate with mortal women.

I don t think she s mortal,

I explained, my hand resting steady in front of me, showing him I wasn t afraid.

I think she might be one of them.

I nodded my head at the blonde Banshee.

Does she have a name?

He asked, taking another drag from his cigarette.

This woman that you seek?


I said, the sound of her name strangling me.

Draven motioned his hand in front of him impatiently.

Alana &

I felt the same lump rise in my throat when I d read it on the pages of the journal. Swallowing hard, I shoved the lump back down, burying my feelings inside.

Her name s Alana Avery.

Chapter 4


I know you re there,

I said to my bedroom ceiling.

So go away.

A soft laugh.

How can you tell without the ring on?

Because I can hear you breathing,

I said, rolling my eyes.

And I ve been meaning to ask you how can you breathe if you re dead?

Why do you see me if I m dead?

Because I m a freak of nature,

I replied, turning onto my side.

Now go away. I m trying to sleep.

Oh, relax and stop feeling sorry for yourself,

Nicholas s voice whispered from the corner of my room.

The witch didn t take your life.

My eyes snapped open.

How d you know about that?

Because I was listening,

he said with something in his voice I didn t like.

What? Did you think just because you couldn t see me that I wasn t there?

I slowly sat up, my eyes scanning my room.

How often do you do that? Hang around and listen without me knowing.

He gave a low, devious chuckle.

Maybe you should start leaving the ring on, otherwise who knows when I m here and when I m not & nice place for a Keepers mark by the way.

I touched my shoulder blade, cringing self-consciously.

You re such a pervert.

Then I picked the ring up off my night stand and slipped it on my middle finger.

The blonde faerie appeared, full bodied, looking like he was a living human, only he was as far from it as one could be.

He grinned.

Knew that would get to you.

How do you know the witch didn t take my life?

I asked, getting to my feet.

He sighed tiredly.

I m not sure I want to answer any of your questions. I m still a little upset about you taking the ring off and leaving me in the dark by myself.

He faked a pout.

It s lonely, you know.

Now I was the one sighing tiredly.

Please, just once, can you answer a question simply, without complicating things?

His face sank into a solemn stare. It was as human as I d ever seen him look.

I will, but no more taking the ring off.

Something in his voice made me feel sorry for him, which made me feel a little bad for lying when I said,

Alright, the ring stays on. Now give me what you got.

She can t take your life,

he said, stepping in front of me.

Because your life isn t your own.

I frowned, confused.

I m not following you.

He patted the bed, sitting down, and hesitantly I took a seat next to him.

No one can just take your life. Not without taking someone else s too.

You mean Alex s?

I hated saying his name aloud. It caused my heart to do somersaults and my eyes to sting.

He nodded.

You both have to go down together.

He grinned evilly.

Which, if I m remembering correctly, you will.

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