Read Embers & Ice (Rouge) Online

Authors: Isabella Modra

Embers & Ice (Rouge)

EMBERS & ICE

ISABELLA MODRA

 

 

Copyright © 2014 Isabella Modra

 

www.isabellamodra.com

 

Cover art © Renu
Sharma|www.thedarkrayne.com

 

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-9922776-3-5

 

This is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s
imagination or, if real, used fictiously. All respective quotes used in this
book are for reference purpose only and their copyright belongs to their
respective owners. The author holds all exclusive rights to this work.
Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

 

This sequel would not exist if it weren’t
for the amazing support I received for Rouge, so I’d like to thank everyone who
read, reviewed, purchased, stored away for the winter or mentioned my first
novel to their distant relative of some sort – every ounce of encouragement
fuels me to write. I am humbled by the praise, and I thank you for that.

Mum. Thank you for your gift of gossip and
all of the books you helped me sell in your salon. Yes, I know, you
made
me. That deserves some gratitude.

And, as always, a HUGE thank you to my
Heavenly Father, for the brainpower, persistence and heart.

You are the greater love
.

 

‘THE NOIR HERO
IS A
KNIGHT IN BLOOD CAKED ARMOR. HE’S DIRTY, BUT HE DOES HIS BEST TO DENY THE FACT
THAT HE’S A HERO THE WHOLE TIME.’


FRANK MILLER

 

PROLOGUE

HUNTER

 

Everyone
is wrong about hell.

They
think it is buried thousands of feet below the earth, a dungeon of demons and
iron gates and endless, burning flames. If that were the case, hell wouldn’t be
so bad for me. It’d just be like having a vacation and picking the wrong hotel.
If hell is
really
as hot as they say, then they haven’t met me.

But
this place I’m in is not warm. This prison is cold. And I have never known such
cold.

It
is emptier than a chasm between two canyons, where only the wind blows harsh
and bitter. It is lonelier than a single iceberg bobbing on the deep, blue
waters. This cold is so dark and endless that I’ve begun to wonder whether
warmth exists any longer. Is there still a fire burning within me? Where is the
flame? Where is the passion and fury and love when all I feel now is this
hollow, bottomless, sickening, inescapable cold?

That’s
when I know I’ve arrived in hell.

I
am lying on a mattress thinner than a slice of bread and splashed with stains.
The mattress is placed upon a single bench just wide enough for me to lie on my
back and long enough for my feet to hang over the edge, tucked tightly beneath
a blanket that I’m sure couldn’t keep even the devil warm. Around me is a cell
no bigger than an average bathroom. It’s the color of tea with too much milk.
Paint crumbles from the walls and large cracks in the cement floor spider out
around me like channels in the Amazon River. The only part of the cell that
looks even remotely modern is the toilet beside my head and the giant glass
wall at my feet that doubles as a cell door. If I sit up now, I can see a
corridor outside running left and right and an empty cell opposite mine.
Identical.

It’s
dark now. Not that I would know, since I have no windows. But the lights are
off.

A
part of me wants to get up. To start smashing things. To find an escape. But I
can’t move at all. My limbs have turned to jelly. I’m tired, I ache, and in my
mind, all see is Eli.

As
I drift in and out of sleep, I wonder if this place is a part of my nightmares.
Perhaps I am so consumed by grief and bitterness that I’ve somehow retreated
into my own conscience and this is all a front for my harsh reality. Because
surely I would have been more careful in the outside world and kept hidden from
the Agents. Surely I wasn’t so blinded by the pain of losing the only person in
this world who calmed the fire. If I had been more careful, maybe I wouldn’t
have managed to get myself captured and thrown in this prison worse than hell.
In hell, at least I’d be warm. Here, there is nothing but cold.

The
soft hiss of my glass door sliding open wakes me from my thoughts, but I’m too
terrified to roll over. Several footsteps on the linoleum floors pad towards me
and hands remove the sheet from my body. The sleeve of my white jumpsuit is
yanked up and a sting in the crook of my elbow makes me gasp. I flip over and
blink at the bright lights from outside my cell. Is it day now?

I
see three men standing before me. They look the same in this bright light; all
wearing white with blurred faces and no eyes. They look at me like I’m a piece
of science, like a solution in a test tube or a fungus sample in a petrie dish.

There
are people out there who would want to do you harm if they knew what kind of
power you possessed,
Joshua once said to me
.
What would he
think of me now? Would he care? Would he be worried? Or would he just laugh
with that sadistic chuckle I still can’t erase from my mind and tell me I’m a
stupid girl, that I brought it on myself?

Whatever
the men in the white uniforms have injected into my blood works fast. My heart
begins to pound. A new kind of energy ignites in me as hands haul me to my feet
where I waver unsteadily and my vision finally clears.

I
stand between two men who appear rather like guards or orderlies; stoic and
emotionless. A thirty-something guard leans against my doorway. He is tanned
with wispy brown hair that droops over blue eyes. On his neck I see a tattoo of
a weeping angel with wings that curl around his throat.

“Time
for breakfast,” he says and his mouth curves into a smile.

“What
did you inject in me?” My voice is a low croak.

“B-12.
We give it to all the newcomers who don’t have the drive to get up. It gives
you just enough energy to walk to the breakfast hall and join the others.”

“Others?
What others?”

He
turns in the doorway, his eyes glimmering with a secret I am most likely about
to uncover. “The others like
you,
Fire Girl. You’re not in Kansas
anymore.” He chuckles as he leads the way.

I
should have argued or hit someone or unleashed the anger inside me in the form
of a deadly flame. But I can’t, and for two reasons.

One;
the fire is caged inside me. I feel panic rise as I summon the flames and push
with all my might to release them, to form a ball of fire and hurl it at these
men who grip me tightly. But it won’t break through my skin. I look down and
notice a silver band around my wrist. It glows blue around the edge, and black
veins spider out beneath my skin, as if the accessory is poisoning me. The cold
sensation comes from more than the chilly air around me; it is ice, seeping
through the fire, dousing it down to dying embers. I know without having to
guess that this restraint has stripped me of my powers.

And
two; I have no idea what kind of trouble I’d be in if I disobeyed this man. I
have to be smart, to wait until I know more about my prison before I stand up
and fight.

So
I let them lead me out of my cell and deeper into imprisonment, where I would
dine with other mutants like me.

 

PART 1

WELCOME TO DEATH CAVE

 

ONE

 

Jack
always hated the rain. He hated how wet it made his clothes, how it always
seemed to slide like a slippery snake down his neck and against his back. Most
of all, he hated that it soaked through his shoes and into his socks and made
his feet eternally cold.

But
as Jack stumbled out of the warehouse, bloodied, bruised and aching in every
part of his body, he found he cared more about making it to a hospital before
he passed out than he did about the downpour. As he limped towards the sidewalk
and down a path that led to one of the more occupied areas of the suburb, Jack
shot a glance back at the warehouse that towered above him. Rain washed over
the roof and it looked almost like a scene from a horror movie.
The
Warehouse of Doom.
That’d be a bestseller.

Making
jokes seemed to be an easier way to deal with what Jack had just been through,
and what he’d discovered about himself.

He
had a power. A real, slightly confusing power. Some kind of… destruction.
Destruction of objects.
Hey, that could be useful,
he thought.
I
could get a job as a demolisher. I’d make a ton of money in the trading
business. Or maybe the President would hire me as a bodyguard. I’d kick all
kinds of ass with this power.

Jack
distracted himself as he stumbled about in the rain, letting every fantasy he’d
ever had come to life inside his mind. He could feel more blood oozing from the
slash in his ribs as he walked.

Half
of his thoughts were on the pain, but he also worried about Hunter. She had
been in terrible shape after he fell off the rack and freed himself, but she
changed. She softened. It was something in the rain that turned the fire off,
and she just gave up. But had Joshua killed her? Was she safe, alive even?

A
part of Jack wanted to go back and help her. She needed back up in case the
psycho Iceman tried to kill her again. But she seemed capable, and she wanted
him gone, wanted him safe. He needed to respect that.

So
the next thing to do would be to contact Clare somehow. He wasn’t at all
looking forward to explaining to her why he’d been missing for a week and why
he was so beat up. But Clare was his only family and he loved her more than
anyone. She was his only chance at survival. So Jack searched through the rain
for a payphone.

Once
he’d limped a few blocks, the rain stopped and he came to a more developed area
with houses and little cafés. He spotted the silver-blue box and limped hard
towards it. Hurriedly fishing out quarters from his filthy pockets, Jack dialed
home.

“Come
on Clare, please pick up!” He drummed his fingers on the phone box and tapped
his foot impatiently. If she didn’t pick up and he passed out, would anyone
find him? How could he survive?

A
dirty black van whooshed past him on the road and a great puddle of water
splashed against the plastic wall of the payphone box, making him jump a mile
in the air. Then, after a few rings, the message machine beeped.

Jack
swore. In a spontaneous rush of anger, he threw his fist into the phone box.
Power he didn’t know he had surged through him and immediately, the box
exploded. Jack was blown back by a burst of sparks and smoke, landing painfully
on the sidewalk. He coughed and winced and felt dizzy again as he peered up at
the phone box. It looked as if it had been run over, smoke climbing up into the
dark night sky.

Once
more, Jack sat on the wet sidewalk, amazed at his own abilities. That was,
until he became so consumed by pain and exhaustion that he just couldn’t stay
awake anymore. Finally he collapsed, wondering just for a split second where he
would wake up. Praying it was back at his apartment with Clare by his side, he
fell into darkness.

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