Home > Torn (Demon Kissed #3)(26)

Torn (Demon Kissed #3)(26)
Author: H.M. Ward

Defiance rose up inside of me. If he acted normal - like Eric - I would have answered his questions. I grabbed his arm and turned him back toward me. We stood nose to nose. "Try me." It wasn't a choice.

"Kiss me, Taylor," his lips turned up at the corners as his eyes bore into mine. "Kiss me like you need me. Like you want me. Open your lips for me, and think of me - think of the Eric you knew before I died." His arms were folded across his chest. He leaned down while talking to me, so that all my senses were going nuts. Normally, I would have never done it... but this time I did.

Without a second's hesitation, I reached out and took his face between my palms and pulled him to me. I swept my tongue over his lips once, and when they parted I kissed him deeply, knowing that he could take my soul any time he damn well pleased. Maybe it was insanity; maybe I had more issues than I thought. Either way, it was reckless. Collin and I never said anything about cheating, but he'd be pissed if he knew I willingly kissed Eric. I pushed back the thoughts as I focused on the thing Eric requested.

Little things shot into my mind, along with the big things - the fights, the tears I shed when I thought he killed Apryl, how I didn't really blame him for her death even though that wasn't what I told him. I thought about who he was and how I didn't mind his hands on my body, or his lips on mine. Breathless, I pulled away from him determined to get the information I needed.

He licked his lips, and gasped, "Thank you."

I nodded, not knowing what he was thanking me for. Jumping straight to my question, I asked, "How much of your old life do you remember, Eric?" He winced and turned from me, but I grabbed his arm and wouldn't let him walk away. "I just did what you wanted, no questions asked. You need to return the favor."

He smirked, "Fine," he folded his arms looking down at me. "What do you want?"

Hope swelled in my chest. I reached into my pocket and unfolded a page. I had copied it from the book when no one was paying attention. Al and Collin thought it was a bad idea to take the book with me, so I didn't. I only took one page and didn't tell them about it. I pressed the page into his hands.

"Read it to me."

Puzzled, he looked down at the crinkled paper, and smoothed it out. Walking over to a desk, he put it down and ran his finger over it. After a minute, he shook his head. "I don't know. It's coded or something." He crumpled it and threw it back to me.

"No! You have to read it!" I yelled, smoothing the paper again and thrusting it at him. He wouldn't take it back and just turned to look at me. There was no bond with Eric, nothing to tap into to see what he was feeling, but something had changed in the past few hours. He didn't go back to being the evil monster again. He stayed trapped somewhere in the middle. "I know you read it." I saw the flick of his eyes once he identified the pattern. I didn't think he wouldn't tell me... Especially if it didn't matter.

"Maybe I did," he said, shirking off the paper. "So what? You don't need what's on there. Go suck your boyfriend's soul out and get your life back."

What did he just say? Shock washed over me as my heart pounded in my chest. He knew what we were trying to do? He knew everything. But how? I stared at him in disbelief with my mouth hanging open. And, he could read that page, too. Too stunned to speak, I watched as Eric sat down in the chair and kicked his boots up onto the desk. He stretched, putting his hands behind his neck. The neck I almost severed...

Completely, frustrated, I made a face. "If you can read it, why won't you tell me? I need to know what it says."

Eric looked at me, his face expressionless. "It doesn't tell you what you want to know. Bring me the rest of the book and I'll find it for you." With that he shot out of the chair and left me alone.


Effonating sucks. Before I completely lost my mind and willingly elected to stay with Eric, I left. When he wouldn't read the page to me, I left it on his desk and wrote on top of it. The message was stupid, embarrassing really. I scrawled, I still believe in you. As if I had any reason to. Deranged and homicidal weren't two of my favorite characteristics in a friend, but apparently, it was growing easier to overlook terrible shortcomings.

When I appeared back at St. Bart's, several days had passed. I fell on the kitchen floor, screaming, with more skin spliced off my body than last time. Al found me first, with Collin right on her heels. I was quickly doused in the mixture to ease the pain. After the skin regrew, I felt weak, but had enough strength to talk. I told them some things, and intentionally left out other things...like my new Eric addiction.

When I awoke, I realized that strange dreams didn't plague me. Slowly, my eyes opened and I noticed that Collin held me in his arms. He pushed back a stray curl and said, "You seemed restless. I held you for a while, and chased off the dreams that usually plague you." His fingers brushed the hair away from my face as he looked at me. "It's kinda weird to be in bed with a hot girl in a church with a nun who doesn't seem to mind." He smiled at me.

I laughed and sat up, feeling awkward - and guilty for kissing Eric. I don't know if I was truly attracted to Eric, or if was because of his blood. Looking at Collin, I felt sad.

He lounged on his side, on my bed, and looked up at me. A black tee shirt clung to his chest, revealing perfectly sculpted arms. Dark hair fell into his eyes as he leaned toward me, asking softly, "What happened?"

I told him most of the story, leaving some things out. Collin hated Eric when he was a Martis, but now that he was a Valefar, his dislike turned to seething hatred. As I was talking about Eric, the bond was in turmoil. Collin was trying to hide his feelings, but the more I spoke about Eric, the worse it got. I left out the kisses, not wanting to cause him anymore pain. But I wondered if that counted as cheating on him. I was afraid that if I had to ask that question, then it was.

"So, he read the page?" Collin asked, shocked. "How? How did he remember it?"

I shrugged, "I don't know. But he won't tell me what it says without the rest of the book."

"Of course not," Collin mumbled. "No doubt he's going to steal the book and go after Satan's Stone himself."

I straightened, "I don't think so. It's hard to get a read on Eric, but he seemed like he couldn't be bothered with this stuff. It sounded more like a favor, for me." I looked up at Collin and realized that was the worst thing I could have said.

He asked me, "Did he do anything to you? You may not have noticed before, but that guy has always wanted you."

I smiled, not believing Eric wanted me at all before, and took his hands between mine. "I'm fine. He didn't hurt me. But I need this. Please, Collin? Please let me bring him the rest of the book. We can copy the pages so we have them too - in case he does something stupid." I looked up into his eyes, pleading with him.

He looked away from me. "Whenever Eric is around, bad things happen to you. I don't want you involved this time. Let me or Al do it, all right?" I agreed. It was the best I could get. I just hoped Eric would behave and do what he said he would do.


Al took the large leather book to the center of the clearing at the old park. Trees surrounded the wide field, jutting up jagged, leafless branches into the night sky. Eric didn't choose this place, we did. It made us think that things would at least partly go in our favor, but everything fell apart that night. Thinking about it makes me shiver. It was so obvious, but I never saw it coming.

Al held the book between her ancient hands waiting to see the boy she raised as her own - the boy she'd kill without an instant of hesitation if she had to. I wasn't a Martis and I was glad I wasn't. I didn't understand them at all. Everyone made me think the next time I saw Shannon that she would best me if I gave her the chance, but she was a mindless blood junkie living in Eric's closet, waiting for her next fix. It angered me that Eric tried to do the same thing to me, but he wasn't able to. That was the only reason I got away from him. But the words he said when he shattered the silver chains and stole me from the diner echoed in my mind, She's mine. He could have said a million different things, but that was what he chose to say. On some level now, I knew that I would always be his. I'd crave him and long for him in ways that made me feel torn inside. I pushed the thought away, too upset to deal with it right then.

I looked over at Collin. We were waiting for Al, under the trees about not too far away. We were close enough to see, but we wouldn't be able to hear her. I sat on top of a worn out wood picnic table with Collin sitting opposite me on top of another table. A question I forgot to ask crossed my mind. Now wasn't really the right time to ask, but we were alone, and I didn't want Al to hear. I watched the old woman, standing defiantly in the field. Waiting.

I asked softly, "Why didn't you tell me about the blood?" Collin glanced up, startled by my question. His leather jacket was hanging open, and he shoved his hands into the pockets. "Why didn't you tell me that Valefar blood had an addicting quality? That Eric would be able to mesmerize me like that? I don't see why you hid that from me..."

Collin stared at me as I asked, and shook his head. "Ivy, we can't talk about this now. We need to watch Al in case she needs us. I don't like you being here at all." Collin kept looking around; acting like something was going to happen.

Irritation shot through me. He was hiding something from me, and I wished he weren't. I glanced back up at Collin, not wanting to drop it. "He trapped me so easily because you didn't tell me something...something that you already knew."

Collin's blue eyes were stormy. He leaned forward on his elbows, hands clasped together. "You didn't need to know that. The odds of him doing that to you with his blood were miniscule. You didn't tell me that before. I didn't realize he'd done it to you before." He was angry.

I slid off the picnic table and walked over to him. Moonlight shone through the branches forming jagged patterns on the ground. "Why are we hiding things from each other? Just tell me, Collin." I placed my hands over his. "You knew, didn't you? You knew that Valefar blood can do that? He has Shannon locked in a closet, begging for more. It gave him control over me that I didn't think he had."

Collin jumped up, pushing me away. "It's never that severe. Valefar blood should have never trapped you. It just makes you crave it, and want more - more of the person who gave it. It makes you lust after it when it's gone. It does that to pure Martis. You aren't a pure Martis. Its effect on you should be miniscule." He shook his head, folding his arms close to his chest as he looked down at me. "Eric's stronger than I thought. He's stronger than any of us thought." He glanced back at Al sharply, and then at me. He was shaking his head, "This is a bad idea, Ivy. This is a trap. It has to be. He doesn't want the book. He's coming after you."

Exasperated, I sighed and shook my head. "He had me Collin. He could have made me stay, but he didn't. I didn't escape... He let me leave." The expression on Collin's face changed from fear to shock. His wide eyes were impossibly blue as he reached for me, wrapping his fingers around my wrist.

He said, "We need to leave. Now!" Panic spilled across Collin's face as his gaze cut between Al and me, looking for Eric.

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