47 — Sharifa
I couldn’t think straight. It was like I could still hear Sharifa’s whimpers, the sound of Cairo’s hand landing on her face, the blood on the floor. It was him. Cairo. The Centralia intruder. How he withstood the pain caused by an injury of that extent was still a big mystery to me. But I was right. Vladimir had to know.
My lungs ached with every labored breath. Blankly, I kept staring at Vincent’s face. He seemed to be saying something I didn’t quite get or deliberately refused to hear. Putting on a composed façade, he took my shoulders and made me sit on the side of his bed.
“Aramis,” he called for who knew how many times, snapping his fingers in front of my eyes.
I didn’t blink, continuing to ride the chaos of thoughts inside my head. “We should do it,” I murmured absently, holding onto him as if I would fall into some dark bottomless pit and disappear forever if I let go. It was madness. “We’ll do it!”
“Do what?” he said frantically. “Do what, Aramis. Look at me!”
Blinking out of the daze, I stared right through him. “Swear fealty to him—whatever that means…” I muttered frantically.
His expression darkened as he got up and started pacing the room as if in panic. “Are you out of your mind?!” he roared, his livid voice bouncing off the walls. In the blink of an eye, he rushed to kneel in front of me, grabbing my arms forcefully. “He wants you to swear full loyalty to him. He wants you—us—to be his playthings. His slaves for eternity. He’ll take you away! Haven’t you seen what they’re doing to Sharifa? Do you want to live like that forever?”
“I want to live!” I shouted at him. With you. I wanted to say but didn’t. He was so thick, so stubborn to see any sense anyway. “He’ll kill you too if we don’t do this.”
“This is not about me!” he yelled back, averting his smoldering eyes from me.
“How can it be not about you?” I choked out the words, wanting to break down but couldn’t. I was too overwhelmed, scared, hopeless. I didn’t even have the energy to cry. Wasn’t he the reason why I was here? Why I hadn’t crossed over? “There’s nothing you can say that would change my mind. If you don’t want to do it, I will,” I said in a surprisingly even tone.
Vincent heaved a deep breath, closing his eyes as his fingers dug on my shoulders. “There must be another way,” he murmured in a pleading voice. Even he sounded hopeless. “Don’t… Don’t do this to me,” he muttered weightily as if he wanted to say more but couldn’t.
“I’m doing this for me,” I slapped the words on his face.
After that, he kept quiet. His face was impossible to read, his hands fisted as he turned his back on me. That was a low blow but I was telling the truth. Somehow. If he died… If he… I couldn’t even bear to think of it. I couldn’t live with that.
I spun on my heels and walked out of the room, heading somewhere else, anywhere far away from Vincent so I could think without my guilt eating away at me. If I swear fealty to Pilgrim Reaper, that would mean dragging Vincent to hell with me. Like giving Death an all-expense pass to make our lives miserable for all eternity; if that would be considered a life at all. It was a selfish choice, but a choice that would keep Vincent alive.
I wandered off to the third story of the castle, willing my feet to continue moving despite how exhausted I felt. I stumbled upon what appeared to me as a huge study room full of tall bookshelves. I noticed another family portrait of two boys sitting near the feet of a dark-haired woman. She was plain-looking as compared to Mistress Roselle but there was an all-knowing sophisticated air about her, just like my Calculus teacher. One of the boys was stunningly handsome, while the other, the taller one, not so. I found myself smiling when I recognized the children in the portraits as Max and Alexis. Immortals. Who would’ve imagined they became kids at some point in their lives?
Mindlessly, I ran my fingers on the leather binds of the books neatly arranged, scanning the countless classic and academic titles. The rows and rows of shelves offered a perfect hiding place for me. I was about to pull Othello from the bookcase when I heard muffled voices coming from the back of the room.
|Saoirse Ronan||as Aramis Rayne|
|Landon Liboiron||as Vincent Sinclair|
|Asa Butterfield||as Vladimir Sinclair|
|Camilla Belle||as Rosario Cruz|
|Imran Khan||as Amyr Suresh|
|Richard Gere||as Archimedes|
|Jerry Trainor||as Maximillian|
|Ryan Potter||as Kyoshiro|
|Bradley Cooper||as Pilgrim Reaper|
|Taylor Swift||as Lindsay Moseley|
|Cody Linley||as Carter Applegate|