Home > Torn (Demon Kissed #3)(15)

Torn (Demon Kissed #3)(15)
Author: H.M. Ward

"Tell me Ivy, or this search is going to become much more invasive," he commanded. He grabbed my neckline with two hands and tore my shirt open down the front. I didn't have to say anything, because he saw it. Eric was smart when he was a Martis, and even more cunning as a Valefar.

Breathing hard, weakness consumed me. I needed to sleep. My eyes were heavy, but Eric was examining my scar like I was a piece of meat. His thumb pushed back the top of my bra and he held it there. His hands felt like lead, groping at me. I slapped him away, sitting up, "You found it," I gasped. "Someone else killed me first. I'm dying. You lost." Weakness overcame me as I fell back onto the bed and passed out.


This time when I slept, strange dreams filled my mind, and this dream was very weird. I was lost. Someone was calling my name - Apryl or my mom - but I couldn't figure out exactly who it was. I just knew that I loved the person and that they weren't here anymore. Wandering in white mist, I walked on all the while hearing someone calling my name. The mist thickened until it felt like plaster pressing against me. The heaviness of it was crushing my chest, making it hard to breathe. I choked, pressing my hands to my throat, and crying out for help that didn't come. My body fell limp as I died, but my soul didn't leave my body. No, this time, I remained inside. I was there when the Martis found my body and burned it. I was there when the fires consumed my skin. When the flames licked my flesh from the outside and consumed my hair in greedy gulps. Finally, when I couldn't stand it another second, I shot up screaming and the dream dissipated. Sweat covered my entire body and my heart raced like it would explode.

Eric sat across from me, staring. With my hand on my chest, I slumped back against the headboard. I was still in my bra and jeans. Eric didn't care that I felt uncomfortable, so no new shirts were offered. When I pulled my hair out of my eyes, and wiped the sweat from my brow, I noticed that my strength had returned. Effonating drained me, but sleep restored my strength. I glanced at Eric wondering how long I'd slept. He stared back with an intense expression. Remaining slumped against the headboard, I feigned weakness. I'd have to kick his ass to get away, and surprising him would make it easier. My voice rasped, "What do you want?"

He unfolded his arms from his chest, and leaned forward. "I wanted to put you and Shannon together and watch what happens as you two try to kill each other, but this creates a flaw in my plan." Surely he wasn't serious? He stroked his chin, thinking. "But, you're too weak now, so she'll rip you to shreds. There's no way you could possibly win. Whatever you did to her in Hell has worked wonders for her fighting skills." He pushed off the sink and walked in front of me. "That might be fun to watch anyway, even knowing the outcome. I can hear your heart beating wildly, even now, and the look on your face is too much to resist."

Eyes wide, I looked up at him. I hadn't moved, thinking playing opossum was the best way to kick his ass. It would give me a leg-up that I needed to get past him. But the look on his face said he had other plans.  Without warning, he lunged at me. His golden eyes pooled crimson as his lips smashed against mine. His lips locked with mine and I felt him surround the tiny bit of soul I had left. His Valefar hooks dug into me as the razor wire sensation pulled. I didn't want to use my strength to push him off of me, but I had no choice. Eric didn't bother to pin me, so my arms were free. That was such a foreign thought. Nice, kind, sweet Eric forgot to pin me. But that wasn't him anymore. He wasn't the boy with the ironed jeans and the white sneakers. He wasn't the soft spoken, gentle guy who laughed at me in biology. He was this. Before the memories ended, my fist collided with the side of Eric's face. He staggered backwards and fell to his knees and broke the kiss. Stunned, he sat for a moment looking up at me. The expression on his face wasn't right. The way he looked at me made a cold chill run down my spine, as I stood there panting with my arms outstretched, ready to run.

Eric didn't move. His expression didn't shift. The irises of his eyes remained lost in lust, pooled blood-red without a single speck of gold, but the expression was haunted and hollow - like he'd seen a ghost. Part of me hesitated. Something happened. Something that wasn't supposed to happen, but I had no idea what. Whatever it was, it stopped Eric in his tracks, but I couldn't hang around to see what happened. Hardly a second passed from the end of the kiss, but I'd waited too long already. Spinning on my heel, I took off, and risked effonating to the only place I knew I'd be safe - somewhere that had someone to heal my wounds.


"You're taking too many chances with that boy." Al doted over me. I was back in my old room at the church. I moved in there with Al after my mother died last year. No one bothered looking for me here because I was never here. Add to that, it would be totally insane to try and hide amongst the Martis. But I was. It kept the Valefar away, so I only had to watch out for Martis. While others may have said I was crazy for going there, Martis were the lesser of two evils. I could handle them and Al could help me. I was sure she would.

I laid and stifled a yelp as Al poured left over coal-sludge over my wounds. I was glad she saved it. After Collin had made the last batch, she had him put the remaining contents into a Tupperware pitcher in the fridge. Collin had to take his brimstone with him, but he agreed with Al that there should be another person who could heal me, so he dusted the top of the mixture with brimstone dust. Al had a poisoned concoction sitting in the fridge at the church. On the side of the pitcher she scrawled NUN JUICE in big black letters. She poured it over me, careful not to spill any on herself. The brimstone in the mixture could have killed her, but she poured like she was handling Kool-Aid.

She continued scolding me for being stupid as my skin sizzled and painfully regrew. She waved a finger in my face, "He ain't Eric no more. He's something else, and if you can't accept that, I can't help you." I nodded, knowing she meant well. When Al found me, I had no skin on my forearms and throat...and I was half nak*d. The thought made my stomach twist. It didn't look good for Eric, but it wasn't like I was trying to protect him or something. That would be insane.

A goofy smile slid across my face as soon as the hissing subsided. My eyes were fixed on the pitcher and the black letters. "Nun juice?" I laughed.

She tilted the empty container and shrugged. With half a smirk she said, "Makes sure no one else touches it. Not that they would. This stuff smells putrid." I laughed lightly.

Al's smirk faded as she said, "Collin's been looking for you. I told him you'd come and that you were resting." My stomach twisted when she said his name.

"You talked to Collin?" I sat up frantic that she'd told him what happened and who I was with. I grabbed her wrist, not meaning to pull on her, but feeling utterly panicked, "Did you tell him Eric took me? Did you say I was with Eric?" My eyes were wide as I sucked in a gulp of air, ready to bounce out of bed to undo the damage. Oh my God! What was I going to say to Collin? How could I hide it now?

But before I could jump up, Al placed her hand over mine, and sat down next to me. "Why didn't you tell him? Don't you think he'd understand?"

I pulled my hand back and slid back against the headboard holding my head between my hands. "No, he won't understand. He thinks I'm this incredibly strong person," I looked up at Al, feeling utterly hopeless, "But I'm not. Eric was a mistake I can't undo. Collin's fought his entire life to get his soul back. When he finds out that I took Eric's away..."

"But the reason why you did it matters," Al replied. "It wasn't because you were doing something bad. It was because you were trying to save him. Ivy... "

Eyebrow arched, I gazed at her insane expression. "Al, there's no time for this. He won't forgive me." I lowered my head onto my knees, fighting back tears that wanted to stream down my face.

Al was quite for a moment, and then patted my knee. "I didn't tell him anything." My head shot up, surprised. "It ain't my place. I told him you effonated back from wherever you were and that you were in bad shape. I told him to come around in a little bit, knowing you need to rest some." A soft smile spread across my lips. Collin wouldn't be irate when I saw him. I wouldn't have to beg him to listen to me, so I could tell him what happened. He didn't know.

Al continued, "You're like a daughter to me, Ivy. I'd do anything to help you. What's mine is yours and all that. I think you already know that." She smiled at me. "The last time I had someone like that was Eric. He was my boy. I trained him and raised him right. He was one of the best Martis I'd ever seen. I was proud of him, Ivy - so proud. And I can't say he done wrong with what he did. If you didn't save him in the courtroom, I would have. Injustice is not tolerable." She folded her arms and shook her head, looking away from me. After taking a deep breath, she looked back up. "I knew that would be the last time I saw him. No matter where you took him, he couldn't come back. And I thought that'd be the last I saw of you as well. But here you are. Right in front of me again." She smiled sadly.

I didn't realize that Al didn't favor every Martis she took under her wing. It seemed like she was just as sweet to Shannon and the others, but maybe that wasn't it. Maybe she was accessible to all of them, but somehow Eric and I had claimed special places in her life. She looked at me like I was a child - her child. Thinking back, she did the same thing to Eric when he first introduced me to her. She beamed with pride and blatantly said he was her favorite. I thought she was a spooky old nun, but Eric knew better. He knew how amazing she was. Al patched him up after the Valefar killed Lydia, the girl he was going to spend the rest of his life with. No doubt Al sat with him and warned him of God-knows-what, while he was trying to recover from that nightmare. She transformed him into someone good and bled most of the hate from his heart. Eric had very little left by the time I'd met him, and I understood why he had it.

Some anger is difficult to release. Once, Eric told me that we were alike, and that must have been why the old nun put us together. In some ways we were. We lost more than we could bear, and we kept things buried too deep inside. I watched Al's face as I was thinking these things.

A question crossed my mind, one that I hadn't had the guts to ask before now, "Why don't you blame me for Eric's..." I closed my eyes not wanting to say it. When I opened them again, I looked into her aged face and asked, "How could you still talk to me after what I did to him? How could you sit here and act like everything is fine? I'm a monster. I did the unthinkable." Before that night I had no idea how much Eric meant to her. He was her child and I killed him.

She smiled sadly at me, "How could I not? How could I cut you off for being who you are, and doing what you thought was right?"

"I killed him. No, I did worse than that," tears were streaking my cheeks as I spoke. Al's gray eyes met mine but held no judgment. I couldn't understand why. "It was the very worst thing I could have done to him."

She shook her head. "No, that was done a long time ago. And you know it. Stop this. You are what you are, Ivy. You did what you thought was right, did you not?" I nodded at her. "Then stop this. Accept that you made a mistake, and it cost Eric his life. Things like that happen to the best Martis, so it's expected to happen to you - even more so. You'll have to make decisions faster and harder. Sometimes things will work out. Sometimes the price of the mistake will seem to be more than you can bear," I hung my head, feeling like I was drowning in guilt, but she flicked my chin with her finger and I looked up at her.

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