The Lost Soul (Page 15)
“You told me—or the Lost Soul inside you told me about it.” I lead us to the bed and sit cross-legged. “It doesn’t make sense. Helena wants my soul, but I can’t be possessed. And according to my mom, I have to give her my soul. So Helena decides to have a Lost Soul take over your body instead? Why would she do that?”
He brushes my damp hair from my eyes and lets his hand linger on my cheek. “To get to you. It was like I was there but I wasn’t, you know.”
“Do you remember everything that happened?” I ask.
He nods, his eyes never leaving mine. “I’m sorry. You know that wasn’t me, right?”
“I know.” I nuzzle my cheek into his hand. “It kind of reminded me of when we first met and you were still brainwashed by your father. That’s how Aislin figured out what was going on.”
“I’m so sorry,” he apologizes again.
“You don’t need to apologize.” My voice exudes sincerity. “I know it wasn’t you. It was the Lost Soul.”
His fingers explore my cheekbone, my jawline, the back my neck. “Laylen said Dyvinius took your Foreseer power.”
“He discovered my plan to save my dad,” I say, nodding. “Nalina served me poisoned tea that allowed Dyvinius to get inside my head. And Nicholas has a Serpent mark on his back that helped them capture me.
Alex face distorts with puzzlement. “Why’d Dyvinius have to poison you? Why didn’t he read a vision or change one?”
“Because then he’d be tampering with visions. And then he’d be guilty of the same thing my father did.” I pause, a question tickling at my lips. “Why was Stasha at the castle?”
“I didn’t invite her there,” he grimaces, his fingertips molding along my shoulder blades. “She showed up on her own, but…”
“But what,” I press.
“But I’m pretty sure she knew I was possessed by a Lost Soul.”
“If she does, then it’s bad. That means she might be helping Helena. And a girl full of death, helping a Banshee who rules over Lost Souls and The Afterlife can’t be a good combination.”
“I won’t let her hurt you,” he growls, digging into my skin as if he never wants to let me go. “If she tries to use her death on you I’ll cut off her hands.”
“First of all, that’s gross.” My tone is light, but my stomach ties in knots. “And second of all, she can’t kill me. Hurt me, yes. Kill me, no.”
“I don’t believe that part,” he speaks softly. “You don’t have the Mark of Immortality. You have to be able to die.”
“The Queen didn’t say I was Immortal.” Needing to touch him, I interlace our fingers, the contact bringing some comfort. “So I think there could be a way for me to die, like from old age or something. But I am immune to strangulation.” I pause, fear overwhelming me. “And Alex, she said you can die now. So you have to be careful.
“I’m always careful,” he jokes like it’s no big deal.
“Promise me.” My words press firm. “You won’t do anything reckless.”
“Okay, I will,” he promises. “And when we get out of here, we’ll do everything we can to fix this. If you’re no longer a Protected One, Helena won’t want you.”
I bite my lip, wanting to believe him. “Alex, I’m not sure if this problem is going to be an easy fix.” I motion my hand at our cell. “Look where we are.”
He dips his head in, his voice husky. “I made a promise that I’d always save you and I will.” Then he kisses me. My fingers curl through his hair and I let myself pretend we’re back at the castle, in his bed, with our bodies pressed together.
“Aw, to be young and in love.” Lucinda stands in the doorway, watching us intently.
“Aw, to be a creepy faerie watching people make out,” Alex says derisively, hiding me behind him.
Her lips snarl. “Saying things like that are going to get you killed.”
“You already plan on doing that anyway.” Alex stands, fists tightened. “So why should I care?”
“What are you doing?” I hiss, grasping onto his damp sleeve.
He squeezes my hand, hinting he has a plan. “We can do, or say anything that we want, and you’ll still torture us regardless.”
“You mortals think you’re so clever.” She prowls for us, her bony feet padding against the cement floor. “You think you have life all figured out, but I’ll let you in on a little secret amongst the dead. Death always wins, that’s why people fear it so much. No matter what you do, you can’t outrun it forever.”
My palm sweats against Alex’s. “You don’t think we get that?”
She laughs, tipping her head back and shaking it. There’s a gut-crushing silence as she catches her breath. Her pale lips part, but Alex interrupts.
“We may fear death.” Alex voice is steady. “But you fear life, or too much of it anyway. How does your story go again? Once the Queen of Immortality, who chose to be mortal because she fell in love, only to have her heart broken. Alone, and fearing life and death, she begged her mother to take her back and let her be the Queen of Immortality again. Instead, she ended up in this God awful place.” He signals around us.
The Queen’s ghostly skin scorches. “Tell me how you know that story!” Every part of her radiates fear as she clutches Alex’s neck. “Who told you this?!”
Alex struggles to breath. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” He chokes, his legs dangling, his skin tinting blue.
I charge at Lucinda, my fist flaring, but she flicks me away like a fly. “You must be really stupid.” Her lips tremor. “Bringing up secrets of the Queen of The Underworld like that.”
“No, you are,” Alex chokes, diving his nails into the backs of her hands.
The Queen snickers, her veins bulging beneath her skin. “How dare you insult me?! ME!”
A herd of Water Faeries burst inside the cell, hundreds of white ribbon bodies floating around, searching for something. Some of them look strange, their facial features almost humanlike. But their bodies are still bone and wisps.
Panicking, I leap to my feet, prepared to do whatever it takes to free Alex. But the fey don’t advance at Alex or me. Their hungry eyes lock on Lucinda.
“Get them!” Her fingernails puncture Alex’s neck, sending a line of blood down the front of his shirt. “Get them now!”
“Get her!” They repeat in a frenzy.
But instead of attacking Alex and me, the Water Fey target Lucinda. Her shoulders stoop over and her gaze fleets to the doorway. “You’re all dead after this!” She drops Alex and bolts out the door, her dress dusting a path on the floor. The Water Faeries chase her with eagerness in their quick movements. In bundles of death and bone, they soar down a tunnel, pursuing Lucinda’s terrified shouts that ricochet through The Underworld.
“Run!” Alex grips my hand and we sprint down the tunnel in the opposite direction of the fey and the Queen. They are brutal, and I’m guessing they won’t hold back, even for Lucinda. I don’t look back. I’ve seen Water Fey torture before and I don’t care to see it again.
Our shoes thump against the mud and water rivering from the ceiling to the floor. The prisoners scream for help as we pass the line of cells and torture chambers. There is nothing we can do though. They were put in The Underworld because they committed horrible crimes. So we leave them behind to be tormented by the Water Faeries.
The tunnel forks and we veer to the right toward Lucinda’s chambers. Twisting and turning around corners, we descend further into the ground beneath the lake. The air grows quiet and damp.
“Alex.” I pant. “Please tell me why they did that… why did they chase her down?”
We verge around another bend and an archway ascends into view. We speed up, smacking away vines dangling from the ceiling.
His hand tightens around mine. “Lucinda was terrified that I knew about her past. That’s the one bad thing about being evil.” Our legs hammer down the stairs and we dash for the throne. “You can’t trust anyone, including your own.” He slips his hand from mine and flings himself onto the back of the throne.
I follow, springing to my toes and shoving upward. My fingers and feet brace against the lips of rock. Alex ascents up the back and I match his moves, carefully maneuvering to the top. There is a secret escape route hidden in the ceiling. It’s not the first time we’ve had to use the exit. And I have a feeling it won’t be our last.
Alex hoists himself into the hole, his body and legs vanishing into the dark. He reaches down, catches my hands, and lifts me up like I weigh nothing. Darkness capes our bodies. I grasp his arm and let him lead me into the dark.
“Sorry,” he apologizes when he crashes into the wall.
I find myself wishing Laylen and his night vision was with us.
Finally, we emerge out the end and into the light flowing in through cracks in the wall. A waterfall rumbles, the cliff sloping to the violent water below. The white water swirls, creating a funnel that sucks toward the bottom.
“We did it once.” Alex envelops his arms around my middle and presses his hands against the small of my back. “We can do it again, right?”
I drape my arms around his neck, pulling against him, trusting him completely. He inches us to the ledge. For a split second, the chill overtakes me again. I consider running back to the cell—back to the Queen and her fey. But I shake my head and the thought drifts away.
Inhaling, Alex launches up and dives us off the cliff. Entangled together, we plunge into violent water. Oxygen is ripped from my lungs. I force myself not to gasp as Alex swims down, towing me with him. I hold onto him like my life depends on it, knowing if I slip from his grasp, I’ll be lost to drown in the water. He paddles with one arm, gripping me with the other. His powerful legs carry us upward. We burst through the surface, winded and breathing in the air. Water trickles off our skin as we float for the shore.
I spit a mouthful of water out and catch my breath. “Aren’t you worried they’ll come after us?”
“They’ll be busy with her for a while,” he says light-heartedly. “The Queen who feeds off fear is full of the emotion herself.” He paddles us toward the shoreline.
“Will they kill her?”
“You know they like to torture, not kill. I’m sure she’ll survive.” He kicks his legs and draws me closer. “You aren’t worried about her, are you?”
Part of me is and it’s strange and unsettling. But I press the thought into the back of my mind.
My legs are enclosed around his waist, my arms around his neck. I watch his face as he swims us to shore. Life has returned in his eyes, but Nicholas’ words replay. Who knows how long he’ll stay like this before another Lost Soul shows up. I need to find a way to protect him.
“I love you,” I whisper, feeling like I don’t say it enough. In fact, I know I don’t, because the three small words carry more emotion than anything else in the world.