Gravity Lies – Chapter 12

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Chapter 12

Cynder, do you care about me?”

Cynder held Beth in his arms as the two of them rested on her bed. He smiled as he ran his fingers through her hair. “Of course I do, child. It was your wish, after all, to be loved.”

But do you actually love me, or are you just doing this because I made that wish?” She turned her head a little to look up into his eyes. “Will you care about me when I’m dead? I mean, besides taking my soul…”

He narrowed his eyes and wrapped his arms tighter around her, hugging her close against him. “Does this have something to do with what I said back there at the park?”

Beth nodded her head slightly. “I don’t know. It didn’t really sound like you cared about me so much with the way you were talking.”

Mm, that was not my intention. I do care for you, Bethany, and I truly have no intention of causing you harm or grief. I was merely making a point to my brother.”

She shifted in his arms and laid her head against his chest, closing her eyes. “What will happen when you take my soul? Will it hurt, or will I feel anything at all?”

Cynder inhaled deeply, stroking his thumb across her cheek. “I’m afraid I don’t have an answer for that. It’s not something I’ve experienced before. I don’t believe it will be so terrible, though. You shouldn’t feel much pain, if any at all. You’ll finally be able to rest from the torments of this wretched world.”

I want it to feel like this,” Beth whispered, snuggling closer against him. “Just having you hold me forever. I wouldn’t even care that I died. Even if I faded out of existence, I don’t think that would be so bad.”

Cynder ran his fingers across her face then turned her head to look up at him. “You’re so innocent. It really is unfair that someone like you should suffer so much. I wonder how you can go on in this world at all.”

Beth hugged his arm close against her, gazing up into his eyes. “I didn’t think I could until you appeared.”

Cynder leaned down closer to her, their faces just inches apart. His voice was soft, his breath warm and tickling her skin. “If you really wanted, I could just take your soul now. You wouldn’t have to spend any longer in this miserable world. You could stay with me forever.”

Beth’s cheeks colored slightly. “I… I don’t know. I do want to stay with you, but I’m afraid.”

I understand. It’s only natural. Every living thing fears death. Even creatures such as I do, though it’s a bit different for me.” He continued to stroke her face as he talked, never breaking eye contact with her. “I would never force such a thing on you if you didn’t want it. Just be aware that the time will come eventually, and when it does I’ll be there to come and collect you.”

Beth slowly sat up and turned to face him fully. “I want to ask you for something. Do you think… I could run away from this place? That you could take me away from here and show me the rest of the world?”

Cynder’s eyes narrowed slightly. “I could, but I do not believe that would be wise. I couldn’t give you all of the care you would need. No shelter, perhaps not even food.”

You’re not powerful enough to be able to provide those sorts of things?”

He smiled and put a finger to his lips. “I have to follow rules too, you know. But you have a point. You shouldn’t stay in this place. It’s toxic. It’s killing you slowly, just like it killed your mother. Perhaps I’m acting as an antidote for your symptoms, but I’m not a cure. You need to find a way out of here on your own.”

Beth frowned slightly and sat back. “So what should I do, then?”

I’m afraid I can’t tell you as I do not know. Perhaps the answer will come in time.” He stroked her cheek and pulled her closer, then kissed the top of her head and whispered into her hair, “For now, you should focus on resting. Your mind, body, and spirit are weary. But I can see that you’re slowly beginning to get stronger.”

Beth closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around Cynder’s neck, never wanting to let go or leave the comfort of his strong embrace. Soon, though, she heard a knock on her door. Cynder let her go and Beth sat up in her bed. “Come in.”

The door opened and her grandma came in. “Beth, someone wants to see you. I’m not sure how comfortable I am with her being here, but she said you two were friends from school.”

Beth looked past her grandma and saw that Hannah was standing just behind her. Beth’s eyes grew wide and she almost wanted to scream, but she stayed calm and nodded her head. “We are.”

Her grandma frowned, then she turned that frown to Hannah and said, “Don’t stay too long. George will be home soon and I don’t think he would be happy to see you here, and he certainly wouldn’t be as forgiving as I am.”

I won’t be long, I promise.”

Beth’s grandma walked away with her nose turned up, and Hannah slowly stepped into the room and closed the door. Beth leaned back against Cynder, who she assumed Hannah was unable to see, mumbling, “What do you want?”

I want to help you,” Hannah said as she took another step into the room. “Look, maybe you hate me– hate the sight of me, and I get that, I really do. But I want to be your friend, and I want to help you get through this. If you would let me, I think I could.”

Is that so?” Cynder stood up, and by the expression on Hannah’s face, Beth could tell he was now visible to her. “What makes you think so? Why are you so confident about that?”

Hannah shook off her initial shock and scowled at him. “I can sure as hell help her better than a demon can. So let her go.”

Cynder chuckled and stepped toward Hannah, making her move back a couple inches. “You really think you can get me to do anything? You? A simple human girl? Don’t make me laugh.”

Demons make deals all the time, right?” Hannah shot back. “So make a deal with me to release her soul!”

Cynder and Beth both stared at her, rather shocked at what she had said. Cynder turned to Beth and murmured, “Let me step out with her, I’ll only be a moment.”

Beth nodded her head and Cynder went out into the hall with Hannah. Hannah glanced around to make sure Beth’s grandmother wasn’t in sight then she turned to Cynder with a scowl.

What would it cost for you to let go of her soul?” Hannah asked in a hushed voice.

Another soul,” Cynder said with a grin. “But I know you’re not going to give that up no matter how devoted you are to Bethany, so…” He stepped around her slowly, a thoughtful expression on his face. “If you want me to break my contract with her, you have to make it so she doesn’t need me anymore.”

And how am I supposed to do that?”

Cynder leaned in close, his nose just inches from Hannah’s. “By removing the thing that causes her so much strife: your father.”

Hannah gasped and took a step back. “My… father?”

That’s right. So if you want me to break my contract with Beth, what you have to do is kill him. That’s all.”

I’m not going to-!” Hannah bit her tongue and stepped back, realizing she was yelling loud enough that Beth’s grandma might hear. She lowered her voice to an angry whisper. “I’m not killing my father.”

Why? Because he’s your father and you love him?”

No. I despise that bastard. But I’m not going to kill him because I’m not going to kill anyone, regardless of who it is. Killing is wrong.”

You didn’t seem to have a problem with the idea of my own brother killing me,” Cynder retorted.

That’s different! You’re a demon!”

What of it?” Cynder glared at her, looking rather dangerous. “I really despise how you people act about your morality. You’ll say one thing is wrong and then end up doing it anyway but justify it by saying that it’s “different” so it’s okay. It makes me sick.”

Hannah scowled and turned her face away, giving no response. Cynder’s wingtip brushed against her face as he turned to go back into Beth’s room. She jerked her her head to look at him. “So that’s it, then? That’s the only thing I can do?”

Yes. Kill Bill Fulton, your father, and I’ll release Bethany’s soul. And it has to be by your hand. Nothing else will do.”

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