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Authors: Inger Iversen

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BOOK: Awakened
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Kale was probably worried out of his mind, but he knew that Laurent wouldn’t hurt
me yet. I shivered as a draft crept up my skin, a sign that there was a window somewhere
close. I hadn’t seen one, but I also hadn’t been out of this room in the few hours
that I had been there.

I figured honesty was best. Darke wasn’t stupid and I didn’t want him thinking that
I was planning some escape which would in turn have him watching me even closer.

“I am afraid—who wouldn’t be?—but screaming and begging to be released isn’t going
to help me.” I eyed him for a response before I continued honestly, “If anything,
it’s going to piss you off, and you seem like the type of guy who hates being pissed
off.”

Darke’s lips twitched, and it looked as if he was going to smile. Instead, he grunted.
“Damn straight. I am not gonna put up with you yelling and screaming for the next
three days. Babysitting is bad enough, but—”

“What?” I gaped at him, confused. “What do you mean babysitting me for the next three
days?” I felt relieved and confused. I didn’t want to see Laurent, and as calm as
I had tricked myself into being, my brain still knew what I was here for —to be used
and controlled— and wouldn’t let me forget it. The last Arc, Hélène, was used to cripple
the Council and hunt Laurent’s enemies. I reasonably assumed that he’d use me to finish
the job with the Council.

Darke stared at me for a moment and then continued as if I hadn’t even spoken. “Having
to keep you comatose would take a great deal of my energy that I don’t want to waste.”
He pushed off the wall and sauntered over to the fireplace. His loose jet black hair
layered down his back in silky waves.

He found some matches, grabbed a few logs, set the kindling below them ablaze, and
then turned back to me. He kept that black inquisitive stare that unnerved and annoyed
me. He started to speak and then thought better of it.

I wanted to ask him what he’d been going to say, but he seemed the stubborn type.
If I asked, he’d never tell me.

The fire quickly caught, sending a wave of warm and welcomed heat in my direction.
I wiggled my feet free and placeed them in direct line of the fire and watched as
Darke poked it. How could he side with Laurent and yet be so gentle and caring with
Ana? It made no sense.

In my book, good and evil were the same as black and white. I didn’t believe in a
grey area. What excuse would Laurent, Darke, and Ana have for the crimes that they
had committed?

I remembered how Kale once said that he had done bad things in order to survive. Was
that the grey area that I was all too ready to say didn’t exist? Kale didn’t elaborate
on any of the bad things, but I couldn’t believe that he’d killed anyone or even taken
them hostage. That didn’t seem like the guy Hélène had loved or like the guy that
I was falling for, so no, there was no grey area.

“What did you remember in your sleep just now?” The question pulled my gaze from the
fire that I was very thankful for and to Darke. What memory was he talking about?
I hadn’t—

“Oh, while I was sleeping.” I understood where he was going with the question, but
I was still thinking of good versus bad. “I don’t know. Some little girl named Agnes
and her father.” I said absently as my stomach growled.

Darke paused. I squinted at him. I was getting better at deciphering hidden reactions,
thanks to Kale. “What? Do you know them?”

Darke added some wood to the fire. “What would you rather know about: Why I am to
babysit you for three days, or who Agnes and the man in your memory are?” He smirked.
“I will only answer one question before I retrieve Anastaise with your dinner.”

I chose to ask him about Agnes. “Who is she, and why did I remember her?”

“Agnes, Hélène, and you are the only Arcs that Laurent has had the pleasure of controlling.”
Darke sat in the chair across from the bed.

“The girl in my memory was an Arc?”

“Yes, she was Laurent’s biological daughter. People believe that Hélène was his daughter,
but that is not so. She was his great grandniece, and you, I believe, are his great
great grandniece.”

“Oh, okay. I know that every Arc is a blood relative of Laurent.” It was disappointing
to be related to someone like him, but that was something that I couldn’t change.
“So, there have only been three Arcs?”

“That we have found.”

“What I don’t understand is, if I only see the past, what good am I to Laurent?”

Darke rolled his eyes. “You were with a Council member and that Chorý, and you don’t
know the answer to that? Agnes was given to the original immortals and given power,
Hélène was the reason the Counsel was discovered and nearly wiped out, and you are
the wild card in this.”

“Wild card? What could he want, if he accomplished so much with Hélène? Money? It
seems like he has more than enough of that.” I eyed all the expensive items in the
room.

“You can’t be that clueless, Ella.” Darke shook his head, and I felt my face warm
with embarrassment. “Knowledge is power, and in that head of yours is knowledge from
the past and the future.”

“Why does everyone think that?” I asked, exasperated. “I can’t see the future. I only
see Hélène’s past, and this is the first time I’ve seen this Agnes.”

“You can.”

“I can’t, and I never have been able to.”

“He’ll teach you.”

“That’s a responsibly I don’t want.”

“It won’t be an option, Ella. You’ll learn, or he will kill you.”

 

Chapter 8

Alex

Mia and I sat on the soft cream-colored couch in Kale’s “home”—more like a swank cottage
in the hills—waiting for a phone call from Jace. Mia and I had been spending a lot
of time together, and Kale seemed okay with it, despite his original annoyance. Maybe
he and Jace were used to this kind of crap, but she and I were different, and those
differences were becoming more and more noticeable each day.

Kale stalked the room like a caged animal as he waited for the phone to ring. Mia
sat close to me on the couch and eyed Kale nervously. He seemed on edge—understandably
so—but there was more to it. His eyes had darkened on a few occasions, and the way
he looked at us left me wondering if we’d survive the day with him. There was no one
to talk to about it, because though Jace claimed he wanted to help rescue Ella, he’d
been nowhere in sight for the past two days.

It was getting harder and harder to stand Kale’s erratic attitude. I had asked him
to keep an eye on Mia—who’d been spending most of her time with me, which meant I
was spending most of my time with him—so his attitude change didn’t go unnoticed.
I didn’t leave Mia alone if I could help it, and when I couldn’t get away to be with
her, Kale was there. That was all good, but his strange behavior concerned me and
Mia.

Ella was gone, and we were waiting for Jace to convince the Council or whomever to
allow him to continue to search for Ella. I wanted to yell, punch the wall, or even
tell the truth to my dad and Sheriff Making. I felt as though my back was to the wall.
On one hand, Ella was missing, and anything could be happening to her. On the other
hand, she had trusted Kale and Jace to keep her safe, and though they had failed,
I still believed that she had faith in them to get her back.

They had to get her back, because being without her was getting damn close to impossible.

“I’m hungry,” Mia whispered.

“I don’t have any food here,” Kale’s voice sounded rough. He ground his teeth, still
pacing. I was starving; he had called me at four that morning, telling me the address
to his home and to meet him at noon. After the call, not only could I not sleep, but
when my mom cooked the morning bacon, eggs, and pancakes, I was too nervous to eat;
so I sat with a growling stomach, a complaining Mia, and a brooding Kale.

Finally the phone rang, and Kale dashed to pick it up. “Vesco.” He set it down and
pressed the intercom button. Mia and I scooted the edge of the sofa and waited.

“Everyone is here; let’s start this,” Kale demanded, voice hard.

A bit of static played over the phone. When Jace did speak, it was hard to hear him
“There is a problem. It’s been requested—or, you could say, demanded—that I fly to
Rome and handle an issue there.”

“Vesco, you are wasting my time! I am here, calling in favors that could cost me my
neck, and you are on a plane to Rome to deal with Council politics?” Kale all but
spat the words into the phone.

I agreed with Kale. We needed Jace to supply us information from the Council, but
I had to wonder… Why help us? Why would he need us at all, if he and the Council had
everything they needed? I met Kale’s aggravated stare, and he seemed to know what
I was thinking.

Before Kale could accuse Jace of anything, a knock came at the front door.

“Let me in,” Jace said.

***

An hour later, Jace sat across from Mia and me at the bar in the middle of Kale’s
kitchen. I’d ordered some Italian food for everyone, and we all sat at the bar and
ate. Mia sat beside me to my right, while Jace had taken his seat in front of us.
Even with the stressful situation, we all dug in and ate—expect for Kale, who leaned
against the sink on Jace’s side of the counter, eyeing us warily. The news that Jace
had brought was bad, but at least he came. I wondered what ditching the Council’s
orders and helping us find Ella was going to cost him.

“The problem is that without the full support of the Council, we are severely limited
in what information that we will have versus what they will have.” Jace had told us
that he’d been reassigned to Rome to deal with “other issues” and exchanged a look
with Kale. “I still have connections within the Council, and it’s believed that I’m
on sabbatical for the next few weeks.”

Kale scoffed and turned to meet Jace’s stare. “And you are telling me that the Council—”
Kale shook his head. “That
Tamsin
believes that you will sit back and allow two other Council members do the job you
couldn’t?” Disbelief colored his voice.

“Who is Tamsin?” Mia asked, echoing the question in my head. Would this person get
in the way of bringing Ella home, or was this person just a personal obstacle for
Jace?

Jace waved a hand at Kale’s worries. “I am out of the search for Ella, in their book,
but—”

Mia didn’t give Jace a chance to explain. She hopped up and around the bar to stand
beside him. “So what you are saying is that we are on our own in finding Ella, and
you have defected from our only means of help?” Mia placed a hand on her hip, and
I wished that I was close enough to nudge her since I couldn’t I toss her an annoyed
glance, silently warning for her to watch her mouth.

“He is not the only one with resources,” Kale objected.

“So far, yes, he is,” Mia retorted. “I haven’t seen anything other than you pace,
Alex eat, and me— Well, I have the least to offer, really, but I’m here, so…”

We were all here, and none of us had much to offer.

“I have plenty to offer, and I have not defected from the Council!” Jace placed his
fork down and pulled a piece of paper from his pocket. “Not all of the Council think
that I am incompetent for losing Ella. Zed, our tech guy, has promised to keep in
touch, and Servitto has also decided that helping us could work in the Council’s favor,
once Ella is retrieved.” Jace lay the list in front of us. I peeked at the list of
names and a few numbers, but I had no clue what they were, so I leaned back and waited
for Jace to continue.

Mia squinted as she thought. “Why would the Council need us?”

She was reading my mind. Kale didn’t think he needed us, and he was only one person.
Why would a group created to protect Ella—as Jace had explained the Council to be—need
us once they found her? Stuff wasn’t adding up, like why did Ella really need protection?
What was up with her visions, and why did Jace really leave the Council?

Kale tilted his head, eyeing Jace suspiciously. “There is more than you are telling
us, isn’t there?”

Mia crossed her arms over her pink “Blow Me” Blow Pop shirt and huffed. “Vesco, if
you can’t be up front with us about what’s going on, then why did you come back?”
The use of his last name—the name Kale often used when angry with him—made Jace raise
an eyebrow. He looked annoyed at being in the spotlight.

Kale added, “What do you need from us that the Council can’t provide?”

All eyes were on Jace. I waited for the truth but half expected a lie.

“Look,” Jace said. “This is very sensitive information, but the Council and I do not
see eye-to-eye in the proper use for Ella.”

Kale’s eyes darkened, and his nostrils flared.
Not good.

He pushed past Mia gently enough that she didn’t fall, but forcefully enough that
she bit out a curse in his wake.

“‘The proper use.’” Kale growled in disgust. “What do you mean, ‘the proper use’?
She is not a damned napkin that can be thrown away once Aleixandre has cleaned his
conscience by killing his former
master
!” Kale all but roared.

Mia and I stood in the middle of the floor. When I glanced over at her, she looked
as confused as I felt.

Who the heck was Aleixandre, who was the master, and who was planning to use Ella,
other than Laurent?

Mia looked at me and shrugged. She and I had come for information like this. We stood
quietly as Kale and Jace stood toe-to-toe, talking about the “proper use” of my childhood
friend, a girl they hadn’t known for as long as I had. An empty feeling settled in
the depths of my belly, and I wondered if I should’ve been between Kale and Jace,
saying my piece, demanding that we bring Ella home on my terms—or at least having
a say in how we’d initiate the process of bringing her home.

“I said that the Council and I are at a disagreement. They want to hide her away,
and I want her to tell us how to kill Laurent, meaning I am on your side.”

“For now!” Kale growled—literally,
growled
—and knocked the bottle of Pepsi from the bar onto the ground. Mia jumped and squealed,
while Jace let out a frustrated breath.

BOOK: Awakened
5.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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