Home > Torn (Demon Kissed #3)(10)

Torn (Demon Kissed #3)(10)
Author: H.M. Ward

The intensity of his stare worried me. He heard my words, but it wasn't enough. He shook his head, disagreeing with me. "It was also my rancid soul that made you what you are. Ivy I did this to you. I set this whole prophecy into motion. It wasn't you. It was me. I'm the one to blame, and it was all because I couldn't accept my fate and live the life I'd been handed." A violet ring formed around his blue eyes as he spoke. Rage stirred within him as he took on a vacant expression, no longer looking at me, but staring at nothing. Life as a Valefar was a horrible injustice and there was no way to change that.

I nodded, "You're preaching to the choir." His head snapped towards me and I swallowed hard. Whenever he was enraged, I put my soul at risk. He could snap and suck it out of me without another thought. And apparently, I could do the same to him. The idea ignited a hunger inside of me that had been dormant. It wasn't the bond, and it wasn't lust, although I had plenty of that. It was raw hunger, but the feeling didn't come from my stomach like I needed food. It came from somewhere else, deep within, and felt like I needed...I cut off the thought and jumped away from Collin before I could finish the horrifying conclusion. What if he saw that soul lust within me? My arms wrapped tightly around my middle as I paced. What was I becoming? Why was my Valefar side growing? It was becoming stronger and more demanding.

What's wrong? The thought brushed my mind as his hand touched my shoulder gently.

I turned toward him, forcing a fake smile onto my face. The ring of purple had faded from his eyes. "Nothing," I lied. "I just know exactly how you feel. I thought my life would be different. More... normal. Like right now, I thought I'd be at school, hanging around the theatre, and watching you rehearse, while I painted backdrops and tripped over cans of paint. I thought I'd gripe about sitting through bio and accidentally set the lab table on fire." I smiled faintly. "Eric, of course, would know exactly what to do and put it out. Shannon and I would ride bikes through the dirt paths at the park as fast as we could without slamming into a tree. My helmet wouldn't fit right because my hair's too big. And maybe at the end of the year, before you graduated and left, maybe you would have asked me to prom. Maybe we woulda danced. Maybe things would have been normal, just for one night." Until I voiced those words, I never realized how much I wanted those things. I wanted a normal life. I wanted the friends, the fun, and the memories that went with it. And most of all, I wanted Collin, and a chance life for us to be happy. A normal life would have been a date. A movie. Dinner, maybe. But not this. Not Valefar, demons, and this unrelenting wave of crap that crashed over me since the night Jake kissed me. "But there's no prom in my future."

Collin gently slid his hand into mine and weaved our fingers together. He smiled softly at me, blue eyes full of expression, "I would have asked you." He smirked. "Probably after teasing you like crazy, but there is no one that I would have rather gone with." He pulled me too him, and kissed the top of my head. "We were dealt a crappy hand, Ivy. The only joy in my life comes from knowing you. Come Hell or high water, we're in this together."


I couldn't relax around Collin anymore. I had hoped that I would, but it was impossible when Kreturus was unaccounted for. And without knowing his exact whereabouts, I was leery of Collin because he could still be possessed. Kreturus held powers that I wasn't aware of, and it was possible that he had hidden himself inside the one person I would do anything for. That damn demon was smart, and I couldn't see him vacating for no reason. So the question was, if he wasn't in Collin, where was he? What was more tempting than this brown-haired, blue-eyed boy who went to Hell for me?

I had no idea.

So I was stuck waiting, agonizing over my decisions and second guessing myself. Every time I opened my mouth, I had to hide my distrust and carefully evaluate what I was telling Collin so that I didn't accidentally feed Kreturus information that I didn't want him to have. It was becoming more and more difficult to be around Collin and talk to him about anything. And there was no way that he didn't notice my behavior, even though he didn't say anything about it.

Looking over at Collin, he caught my gaze and smiled at me expectantly, "What's on your mind?"

I looked away, quickly steering my thoughts to some other topic, so he couldn't sense how apprehensive I felt. He took my look as shyness, but it really wasn't. My attempts to cover my butt were shameful. I hated lying to him and couldn't wait for this to be over. Things could go back to normal as soon as Kreturus reared his head.

I asked, "Can you tell where other Valefar are?" Collin arched an eyebrow at me with a surprised look on his face. "I'm not asking if you're all telekinetic or something, but I was wondering what the other Valefar abilities were. You said you showed me the two that wouldn't hurt me. I was wondering what the other ones were." We stopped walking suddenly, and ducked around some stone that protruded from the ground like giant toothpicks.

Collin held his hand out, and I grabbed it as he lifted me over the last mess of boulders. There was caution in his voice, "Why are you asking?"

Uncertain of his question, I responded, "Because I'm half Valefar. What other powers do we have? I was wondering what else I could do?" His hand was in mine and we were trying to maneuver around the lack of path in this section of the Underworld. It was like a landslide covered what was left of an ancient path in stone and rubble. I kept sliding and losing my footing. Collin caught me most of the time. Once, I fell on my butt and shocked my tailbone. It still throbbed. I'd been thinking that healing would have been an awesome power. While Al said I had that ability, I didn't know how to harness it yet so that I could use it when I wanted. That made me wonder what other Valefar powers there were, and if I could use them. I explained this to Collin, but the only response I received was a blank expression on his face. The bond was useless this time, revealing nothing. Whatever he was thinking, he was hiding it from me.

I gently prodded him with my elbow after I gracefully fell over a mini mountain of sand and stones. I smiled at him, "What's the matter? You don't want to share?"

Turning swiftly, Collin rounded on me. His eyes were wide and his words were low and dangerous. "Never suggest anything like that ever again. Understand?" His nostrils flared like I'd enraged him, but I had no idea what I'd done.

Taking a step back, I put up my hands saying, "Sorry. I didn't think this was a touchy subject for you."

His mood sank further, "That's usually your problem - you don't think." Normally he would have said this kind of comment in jest, although I knew there was an element of truth to it. The truth is easier to listen to when it was dosed in sugar. This time he didn't do that and it stung.

I bristled and staggered over the last of the debris on the path we were following. Throwing my hair out of my face, I turned back to him. His face was pinched. The bond was tumultuous; it felt like I was being strangled. "That was low. But thanks for pointing that out. No, I don't always think things through. Sometimes things turn into life or death situations and there is no time to think. I just thought it would be nice to know what abilities were Valefar and which abilities were Martis, especially since I seem to be having those types of experiences more lately." I looked over my shoulder at him. He visibly deflated.

He reached for my shoulder and turned me toward him, "It's just... I can't risk losing you. There are a million different things you could do as a Valefar. Some are tiny things - little powers that eat away at you. There's a point of no return with Valefar magic, Ivy, and I don't want you to pass it. I don't even want you to know where it is. If you practice them, you risk losing your soul - you risk becoming fully Valefar. And once you taste Valefar powers, it's difficult to resist them, even when you know the cost." He looked away from me, as if remembering something. When he glanced back at me his eyes were wide as he pleaded with me, "Please don't go looking for trouble. If you accidentally use your Valefar powers that'll be better than if you knowingly called them. Please, promise me you'll only call shadows and effonate. Nothing else."

I took a deep breath. If I lied, he'd sense it, but I didn't want to promise anything like that. What if I needed to defend myself? Or him? If I knew more about my Valefar heritage, it would help. Even if I didn't use it. From the expression on his face, I could see that he totally disagreed. Not wanting to fight, I said, "I won't go looking for trouble."

He arched an eyebrow at me and gave me a faint smile. "And...?"

"And," I smiled up at him, "I promise." I just didn't say exactly what I promised.


As we made our way to a portal, we crossed some difficult terrain. The Underworld was similar to the human world above in some ways. The creatures of the realm used paths to travel down there, and generally speaking, each kind of being kept to their own. They didn't wander around, but we did. That left us out in the open and vulnerable. On the way, we'd crossed through places where creatures attacked us. The grackles even followed us into other territories, hoping to peck my eyes out. As we continued towards the portal, Collin explained that the deeper you went into the Underworld, the more creatures there were. When we passed through the outskirts on the way in, we didn't see many demons, dragons, or the like. But now, I'd seen more evil creatures than I ever wanted. Before I went down there, I wasn't sure if I believed that there were truly evil beings - but now - let's just say that I had no more doubts.

When we were closer to the portal, we had a confrontation with some demons. I had no shadows to shroud my scent, and they noticed me when we passed too closely to them. Collin was careful to maneuver me around other beings so that they couldn't tell I was there, but this time, the demons took us by surprise. They were eager to make me their own. I didn't quite understand what that meant, and didn't ask for details. Collin and I fought them like we were born for this. Nightmarish creatures no longer scared me. I could battle them with my silver comb in hand and flaming purple hair. Back to back, we fought them off until there were none left.

Fighting demons no longer scared me. The things that truly terrified me now were limited to my own reflection, and the thought of losing the boy standing next to me. I couldn't bear to accept what I was becoming, but I knew I was changing. I wasn't the same girl as I was a year ago. I knew things now, and saw things, that had changed me. There was no going backwards. And, recently, it seemed that everything had a price - a price that was too steep for me to pay. I was in way over my head with no way out. Those things lurched to the front of my mind in a sickening suddenness, and I shoved them back just as quickly. I'd deal with it later.

I squeezed Collin's hand and looked over at him. He returned the squeeze and smiled at me. Collin made me more confident. It felt like I could manage whatever was thrown at me when he was nearby. It'd always been like that. The only difference was the things I was dealing with before paled in comparison to the demons and damnation stuff that was thrown at me now. One misstep and I'd lose my soul, and cost Collin his life. Collin saw my face falter and gave my hand a little squeeze again. I feigned a smile, but it didn't reach my eyes.

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