Read Forsaken Online

Authors: Keary Taylor

Tags: #romance, #love, #angels, #contemporary fantasy, #keary taylor, #fall of angels, #fantasy scifi humor action history immortality adventure urban fantasy contemporary fantasy vampire

Forsaken (22 page)

When I opened my eyes again, something
else caught my eye. Lying on the ground, among the spatters and
smears of blood was the gleaming gun I had tried to turn on
myself.

That was all it took to send me
running back up the steps.

I took a dozen gasping breaths as I
stood back in the living room. My head wouldn’t stop spinning for a
few minutes.

It seemed unnecessary, but I decided
to check the other rooms on the main floor. I tried to keep myself
from throwing up as I walked down the other hall. The first door
was just a storage closet containing only towels. The second door
opened to what was supposed to be the master bedroom.

It shouldn’t have creeped me out as
much as it did, to be in Cole’s bedroom. Angels don’t sleep so the
fact that there was a perfectly made bed in the room should have
looked like anything else in Cole’s home. It was probably one of
the most unused pieces of furniture in the house. It still sent a
slight shiver down my back to look at it.

There wasn’t much in the room. The
bed, a dresser, most of the contents piled on the floor in front of
it, a nightstand Emily seemed to have gone through as well. There
was a large walk-in closet off the room, though it was mostly
empty. The bathroom that was attached was mostly empty as
well.

I was about to leave when a painting
on the wall caught my eye. It was a simple seascape scene but it
seemed oddly out of place for the frame it was in. The painting
seemed like a cheap, mass reproduction, something anyone could buy
for twenty dollars or less. The frame it was in, however, looked
ancient and carved in intricate detail. It was obvious it had been
done by hand and there were no repeat patterns. Every surface of it
was different on all sides, yet blending perfectly with itself. It
looked expensive as well, a tarnished gold look. As I touched a
tentative finger to it I was pretty sure it was gold
leafed.

My fingers accidently brushed the
paper of the painting, surprisingly ruffling it. I then realized
that the picture wasn’t mounted to the frame right, it appeared to
only be attached at the top.

With curiosity, I lifted the paper to
see what was hidden underneath. Half a second later, I wished I
hadn’t.

My mind couldn’t make sense of what I
was seeing at first. I was sure I would find another painting
behind the false one, but at first glance I thought it must have
been a mirror. Except the elegant twist wasn’t the way I had done
my hair this morning, the intricate and detailed dress exposing my
shoulders wasn’t the gray t-shirt I had put on earlier.

The woman in the mirror could have
been my sister, no, my twin, if not a painting of myself in
different clothes and a fancy hairdo. My skin crawled and the scar
on the back of my neck prickled.

I searched the woman’s face and wasn’t
sure if I was relieved or not when I found the subtle differences.
Her eyes were much more green than my hazel, her bottom lip fuller
than my own, her nose slightly more narrow. The woman in the
painting wasn’t me, but like I said, she could have been my
twin.

Only after the mix of horror and
bewilderment started to ebb somewhat did I notice the words that
had been painted in the corner.

My Dearest

It landed on me like a pile of bricks.
This was the woman from the letters. The woman he had had an affair
with, created a child with, and the woman he could never
have.

And she looked almost exactly like
me.

 

X

 

We were both getting frustrated in
trying to figure out where Cole’s hometown was supposed to be. The
documents were difficult to decipher and we had nearly exhausted
all our resources except for having to pay a professional to take a
look at it. We weren’t against that, we just didn’t know where to
start.

The names that were attached to land
parcels weren’t town’s as far as we could tell. They were names of
family’s who had owned them, or other names that had no meaning to
us. And we couldn’t decipher a location from the hand drawn
maps.

I had stayed up all night with Alex,
poring over the book. I felt mentally exhausted and I could tell it
was getting to Alex that we hadn’t figured it out yet. I understood
his drive to solve the mystery. He had been tortured for Cole’s
location. In some way, I think we were both afraid he might get
sucked back into the afterlife and be terrorized again.

I was almost glad when Amber hauled me
into her bedroom to work on wedding plans. I needed a
break.


You know you have to call
and tell mom and dad sometime,” I said as I flipped through the
third bridal magazine.


Ugh,” Amber groaned. “I
know. I’ll do it tomorrow.”


No you won’t,” I half
teased, yet knowing it was true.


You don’t know
that.”


Yes, I do.”

We sat on Amber’s bed, flipping
through magazines that were scattered across it. I was being forced
into the quest of finding the perfect wedding dress.


Well you’re going to have
to call dad if you expect him to pay for a wedding,” I said as I
tossed the magazine aside and rolled onto my stomach. I may have
been giving Amber a hard time about this, but I understood why she
hadn’t called. I had run away from my parents myself.

Amber didn’t say anything as she
looked intently at something on the page.


So have you picked a date
yet?” I asked as I grabbed Amber’s left hand, again inspecting the
ring on her finger. Rod must have come from some money like Alex
had; the ring was stunning with a wide band and probably a dozen
diamonds on it. I wouldn’t say it out loud but I was jealous, even
if that jealousy wasn’t driving me crazy anymore. Sal’s reasoning
had fixed that. Who would have guessed it would be Sal who would
finally talk reason into me?


November fifth,” she said
as she turned the page.


Wow, that’s kind of
fast,” I said in surprise. “Only two and a half months
away.”


Neither of us sees any
reason to wait,” she said as she set it down and looked me in the
eye as I released her hand. “Even November seems forever away,” she
said wistfully.


Are you sure you’re ready
to be Mrs. Amber Gepper?” I asked in a teasing tone.


Yes!” Amber practically
squealed as she scrunched up her nose, a gigantic smile plastered
across her face.

I could only smile in
return.

Amber gave a sigh before checking her
phone for the fifth time in the last five minutes, looking for a
text from Rod who was supposed to be getting off any minute. “So
what about you and Alex? You two already live together. And don’t
try and tell me that you don’t sleep in the same bed, I know you
do.”


Yes we do, but it’s not
like that,” I sighed as I shifted my position on the bed. “And
actually, Alex doesn’t sleep. Things are…” I hesitated, not knowing
how to answer. “Complicated I guess. You know what Alex is. We just
don’t know what is going to happen. I told him I don’t care but
he’s not willing to risk that something might happen to
him.”

Amber didn’t say anything for a minute
as she just looked in my face and took my hand. For some reason, I
suspected she had already known the answer to her question before
she had even asked it. “Everything will work out. It has to. You
and Alex are perfect for each other. I keep telling you that. And
just look at what you two have been through together. You have to
finish the fairy tale.”

I couldn’t help but laugh at this and
Amber joined me. I didn’t think that fairy tale was the right term.
It all seemed like a nightmare with a few blissful chapters
inserted into it.

Even though I wanted to be helping
Alex figure out where Cole had gone to, I knew I needed to spend
some time with my sister. Getting married was a big deal. And the
fact that Amber had asked me to be her maid of honor made it an
even bigger one. We had a lot of lost years to make up
for.

Within an hour or two of being hauled
into her room, Amber and I had chosen her colors and had a pretty
good idea of the type of venue she wanted to have the wedding at
and the reception at. She still didn’t have any idea what kind of a
dress she wanted though. Maybe the fact that Alex and I had no
wedding in the foreseeable future wasn’t such a bad thing. This was
going to be a lot of work and even more money.

It was well past three before I got
out of Amber’s room and back out to find Alex. He was seated at the
dining table, his laptop set in front of him, and had just set down
his credit card and clicked on something.


Sorry,” I said as I
walked to his side, resting one hand on his shoulder. “Um… I,
Amber,” I stumbled through my words.


No, its fine,” he said as
he placed a hand over mine, his eyes still on the screen as he
continued working. “This is important. You should be helping
her.”


Any more luck?” I asked
as I looked at what he had on the screen. It looked like a
confirmation page for airline tickets.

Alex clicked over to another page
which brought up a map. “I think I finally figured it out. I did
some more research online and I’m about ninety-five percent
positive that I’ve found it. It used to be called by something else
but a lot can change over a few hundred years. This is it though,”
he said as he indicated the map.

I peered at the screen but it didn’t
mean anything to me. “You’re sure?”

Alex nodded. “I just booked us flights
for tomorrow morning,” Alex said as he finally turned toward me. He
placed a hand on either side of my waist and maneuvered me until I
sat in his lap. “I thought we could head down to Seattle tonight,
get a hotel so we don’t have to leave so early in the
morning?”

The smile that spread on my face
couldn’t be helped. “That sounds great,” I said as I pressed a kiss
to his lips briefly.


Good,” he said as he
tucked a lock of hair behind my ear. “I booked a suite. I think
you’re really going to like it.”


We could be staying in a
cardboard box and I wouldn’t care. Just so long as you’re there.” I
would have felt embarrassed for sounding so cheesy if what I said
wasn’t so true.


Why don’t you go get
packed and we’ll head out?”

“’
K,” I said as I bit my
lower lip to prevent my face from cracking from the smile that was
spreading there.

CHAPTER
SIXTEEN

 

JESSICA

It was hard to explain to Amber why I
had to leave. I knew the whole angel thing was already confusing
and frightening to her so I didn’t know how to explain the whole
mess with Cole. In the end we just left it simple. I needed to go
help my friend before something bad happened to her.

After a quick introduction, Amber met
Sal and I carefully explained to her that Amber would be helping
her while I had to be gone for a while. I really, really hoped Sal
could get along with Amber. It made me sick; it felt a little like
leaving my own child behind in someone else’s care. I didn’t have
any other choice though.

I went into work to tell Rita that I
was going to be gone myself. She was in a hurry to leave so I only
had a few moments to tell her that I wouldn’t be coming into work
the next day and that I didn’t know when exactly I would be back.
If my boss had been anyone but Rita I was sure I would have been
fired right then and there. She only said for me to call her when I
knew when I was going to be back. It was so easy to love a woman
like her.


Are you in trouble or
something, Jessica?” Austin asked as I stepped out of Rita’s
office.


Were you listening?” I
asked, my voice harsh.


Where are you going?” he
ignored the accusing tone in my voice, putting it in his
own.


It’s not really any of
your business,” I said as I started toward the front door. “But if
you have to know, I found Emily.”


Is she alright?” he
asked, following me.


Not really. She’s in a
lot of trouble,” I said with a sigh as I paused at the door, seeing
Alex waiting out in the truck for me.


Is there anything I can
do to help?”

I just looked at him for a minute,
suddenly feeling incredibly guilty for having to have Alex mess
with his memory. My eyes dropped to the cast on his right arm for a
moment. He scratched at a spot where his cast ended. “No, but
thanks, Austin.”

The drive both flew by and crawled at
the same time. I felt a sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach
at the thought of going to England to find Cole. The last time I
had actually seen him was when he killed Alex. I wasn’t sure how I
was going to react to seeing him again but I was sure it wasn’t
going to be good. And the panic and urgency I felt to get Emily out
of a situation she didn’t fully understand was getting more frantic
by the hour.

And yet at the same time I felt a
rising anticipation at the evening before us. The memory of a day
so similar in the past haunted me. The day we spent in Seattle just
bumming around and the night on the yacht when Alex was supposed to
propose to me. I wasn’t getting my hopes up that Alex might change
his mind but it still sent warm, tingly feelings throughout my body
to think about it.

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