Read Tasting Darkness By Jessica Hall Chapter 26 – Aleera POV
Hushed voices woke me. They sounded angry as I opened my eyes. The last thing I remembered was choking on the shadows and Darius grabbing me; I felt myself dying and, in some ways, I even prayed for death. At least I wouldn’t feel like this. I felt hollow. I had tasted only briefly their magic before they took it from me. My bond screamed angrily, writhing within me for it back. “Darius, just leave him be. I am right here with them.”
“Anything happens to him, and it is on you. It will be your fault,” Darius growled before I heard the door slam. I jumped a t the sound and my eyes opened to find Kalen beside me asleep. He looked so peaceful, and I gently brushed his cheek with my fingertips. His stubble was rough and scratchy when I felt the bed dip behind me, and I glanced over my shoulder to see Lycus sit next to me.
“You are awake,” He states, and I turn back to face Kalen. I tried not to let his emotionless tone upset me. He didn’t seem too pleased that I was awake.
“Thank you,” Lycus murmured, and I chewed my lip and nodded at his words. It actually sounded like it physically hurt him to say it.
“Why did you give it back?” He asked. I wondered briefly the same thing. It was clear that even with me helping Kalen, nothing would change and I just tossed my only opportunity o fescape out the window. Yet the thought of Kalen being the way he was, I knew I would have done it again.
“Darius is angry,” I stated, ignoring his question.
“He always is,” Lycus stated before he leaned against the bedhead of my tiny bed.
“Kalen struggles to cope. He hasn’t had an episode like that for a while. It has made Darius more anxious,”
“He blames me for it?”
“We all do. He has been fine for almost a year, then you show u p, and he backtracks,” Lycus growls before he sighs.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to snap at you,”
“How many times,” I asked Lycus, rolling onto my back to look at him.
“How many times he had tried to kill himself, or do you mean how many times he successfully did before were brought him back?” I swallowed.
“Brought back, 8 times, lost count of how many suicides attempts he has had,” Lycus answers and my heart sank. Kalen was far from alright.
“You did something to my magic,” Lycus says, and my heart quickens at his words, making him glance down at me. He watched me waiting for my answer.
“What do you mean, I did nothing to it,”
“It feels different, stronger,” I let out a shaky breath.
“I’m your keeper, of course, it does,”
“Yeah, but I didn’t expect it to feel as strong as Darius’s and Tobias’s power, you may be a keeper, but you are supposed to pass and share our energy amongst us, so we are all the same strength, yet when you handed mine back for a while it wanted to challenge Darius’s,”
“Because I never shared it, it is the bond,” I tell him, and he nodded.
“Yeah, and I bet it is playing havoc with my magic out of your system and Darius’s. Although it makes me wonder what you would be capable of if you shared all our power along with your own,”
“I never touched Darius’s magic,” I tell him.
“Why do you think you are alive? Tobias fed off you and tried t o clean it from your blood. His saliva has magic in it, but he couldn’t take it all. Darius flooded you with his power, so I bet you feel pretty uncomfortable now. Once a keeper shares power the first time, your bond will crave it for a bit until it is out of your system, which happens to Darius sometimes,”.
“Well, you all seem intent on keeping me defenseless, so of course, I feel like crap,”
“That wasn’t the original intention. It didn’t need to be this way,” Lycus told me. Lycus went to say something else when Tobias walked into the room.
“Where is Darius?” Lycus asked him, but Tobias was too busy staring at me.
“Tobias?” Lycus snapped, and Tobias shook himself before he looked over at Lycus.
“Darius, where did he go?”
“Where do you think?” Tobias snapped at him. Lycus growled before running his hand through his hair.
“I know it’s not you, but I just copped it off, Darius. I don’t need you starting on me too,”
“I was just checking on Kalen. I wasn’t here to argue,” Tobias said.
“He is fine as you can see, I won’t leave him alone with her,”
“Oh, for fuck sake, I am not going to hurt him,” I snapped as anger rippled through me. They both stared at me, stunned and honestly, I was surprised I voiced those words because I didn’t mean to.
“Is that so. Fine, answer me this then,” I rolled my eyes, and Tobias was on top of me within seconds, his fingers squeezing my face.
“Tobias, what are you doing?” Lycus snapped at him and gripped his arm.
“She said she won’t hurt him. Let’s see how true it is,” Tobias said, sending a glare at Lycus, who shrugged. Tobias’s fingers dug painfully into my cheeks as he stared at me.
“If given the opportunity would you run again?” Tobias asked me, and I felt my heart skip a beat which earned a growl from him.
“Answer,” Tobias growled and Lycus sat up more, looking down at me. What kind of question is that? What answer did they expect to get?
“If you were in my place, would you stay?” I asked instead.
“I wouldn’t be stupid enough to run from my mates. I wouldn’t risk killing them, now answer the question,” Tobias growled.
“You already know the answer, or you wouldn’t be asking just t o catch me lying, Tobias, now let me go,” The noise that left him made goosebumps rise on my skin before he shoved off me.
“Still think she won’t hurt him?” He asked Lycus. Lycus sighed.
“Now get him to bed, make sure you lock her door. I knew she only helped him to regain our trust,”
“That is not true; I like Kalen. It’s the rest of you I can’t stand,
“You don’t like him enough to stay for him, though, do you?” Tobias spat at me. He turned on his heel and stalked out of the room.
“You had to ruin it,” Lycus snapped when he left. Lycus climbed off my bed before walking around to the other side and scooped Kalen off the bed with one swift movement. My heart hammered in my chest as the bond cried out for him.
My hand gripped Kalen’s before I could hold myself back, and Lycus’s eyes flickered angrily. “Wait, you don’t need to take him, just let him sleep here,” I blurted, needing him back where I could feel him and know he is alright.
“Thank you for bringing him back to us, but Tobias proved you only intend on hurting him again. I won’t allow that,” Lycus said.
He walked out, taking Kalen, who remained unconscious with him, his energy left the room, and I suddenly felt cold without any of them in here.
Time slipped by and the cold set into my bones. I would take their wrath if one would come back and stay, anything to chase the cold of the empty bond away. One taste of their magic and my bond ached for them only now they were gone.
I tugged the blanket up as I shivered, needing their magic or some of my own. Why was I so cold? Why did it hurt like this? Being the keeper, I required their magic, but I lived without it for so long, deprived it so long, so I didn’t understand how after one encounter, one taste that it felt like they were tearing me apart piece by piece when they took it away.
No matter how close I sat to the fireplace, no matter how many blankets I surrounded myself with, I couldn’t warm up. My teeth chattered, and my entire body ached. I hoped it was just an after effect of the shadows, yet I had a nagging feeling i t was them, and Lycus was right. I just hoped he was always also right about it wearing off.
The door opened up, and my bond leaped with joy as I turned around to see who had entered. I tried to slow my heart rate as he stepped into the room.
“The effects of you touching our magic will wear off; give it a day or so, and you will be fine,” Darius said.
“Maybe you could?”
“Not a chance,” Darius said without looking at me.
“We will never give you magic. That was a once-off Aleera. Like I said, it will wear off.” I turned my attention back to fire and tried to warm up. He didn’t even have to give me much, just enough to settle the bond until the effects left.
This was torture in itself, and I promised myself that I was going to run as soon as I was able. I would rather battle it out there than live with this torment. Kalen would learn to survive without me, or maybe I could convince him to come?
Darius walked over to me and dropped a box beside me on the floor.
“Shoes, don’t be late to class tomorrow,”
“Socks?” I asked, hopeful.
“In the box,” He called out over his shoulder as he left. My hands snatched the box up, instantly rummaging through it for the socks to place on my cold feet. I would hardly call them shoes. They were flats, nothing special or even protective for m y feet, and the soles were paper thin but better than nothing. I told myself little victories, and if it was shoes, I would take any triumph right now.