The Beautiful Ashes Page 15

’’Turn around,’’ I said, my voice suddenly breathy.

’’It wouldn\ matter’’ was Adrian\s chilling reply. ’’He\d only follow us. I need you to find hallowed ground, Ivy.’’

I couldn\ take my eyes away from the billowing clouds in front of us. They were so dark, they seemed to devour the beams that came from Adrian\s headlights.

’’All right,’’ I mumbled. ’’Give me your phone, I\ll look up the nearest church or cemetery.’’

’’It\s too late for that,’’ he said, stunning me. ’’You need to find it yourself.’’

’’How?’’ I burst out. We were almost at the line of black clouds. The temperature in the car plummeted, making my skin feel like it had turned to ice.

’’It\s in your bloodline,’’ Adrian said, swinging off the road so sharply that the back end began to fishtail. ’’You can sense hallowed ground, so find some, Ivy. Now.’’

’’I don\ know how!’’ I shouted.

The car shuddered over the uneven terrain, bouncing so much I almost hit my head on the roof, but I didn\ tell Adrian to slow down. That wall of darkness filled up the rear window of the Challenger until I couldn\ see the glow of our tail lights anymore.

’’Yes, you do.’’ A growl that sounded comforting compared to the horrible hissing noises coming from outside the car.

’’I don\ !’’ What was that flash of white on my side of the car? Or that new, ripping sound? Oh God, were those teeth scraping away at the metal on my door?

’’It\s getting in, it\s getting in!’’

’’He can\ get in the car.’’

Adrian\s strong voice broke through my panic. I stared at him, my eyes starting to burn from the acrid stench that crept in through parts of the car we hadn\ been able to seal.

’’I warded it against demons a long time ago,’’ he went on.

I felt better about that for three seconds, which was how long it took before the car lifted up on one side like a gargantuan hand had swatted it. For a paralyzing moment, I wasn\ sure if we were going to flip completely over. Then we crashed down hard enough to make the windows shatter, and I tasted blood from my jaw snapping shut on my tongue.

’’\Course, that doesn\ mean he can\ tear the car apart around us,’’ Adrian said, stomping on the gas as soon as all four wheels were on the ground. ’’We\ e running out of time. Where\s the hallowed ground?’’

’’I. Don\ . Know,’’ I screamed. My heart was pounding out of my chest from terror. If I knew a way out of this, I\d take it.

’’Yes, you do,’’ he insisted, those sapphire eyes searing me when he glanced over. ’’Tell me which direction you want to run. That\s the right way, I promise.’’

Which way did I want to run? In whatever direction this living nightmare wasn\ ! The car lifted again, and everything in me braced for another impact. That awful hissing noise grew into a roar, and Adrian\s gaze met mine. In those darkly beautiful depths, I realized these would be the last moments of our lives if I didn\ use an ability I\d never heard of before.

In the seconds before the car came crashing down, I closed my eyes. Concentrated on which direction I wanted to flee to, and tried to ignore the pain as flying glass pelted me from all sides. My instincts were screaming at me to run from the horrible thing outside these crumbling metal walls, and I let those instincts consume me, filling me until I couldn\ focus on anything else. I needed to get out of here. I needed to leave right now and go...there.

’’That way,’’ I said hoarsely, opening my eyes and pointing.

Adrian\s hand closed over mine, his grip strong and sure. Then the car crashed down hard enough to make my vision go black and my whole body ache, but he didn\ hesitate. As soon as the worst of the impact was over, he grabbed his coat, yanked me into his arms, and then flung us out of the car.

His body took the brunt of the impact, but it still felt like I hit the ground with almost the same force as the car crashing down. My yelp was swallowed up by a tremendous boom! as Adrian threw something at the fog that rushed us. White flashed, more bright and brilliant than a lightning bolt. Those hideous clouds recoiled with a scream as though they were in pain.

Adrian leaped up, still holding me in his arms. Then he began to run in the direction I\d pointed, leaving that ugly, writhing darkness behind us.

Even without the nightmarish clouds surrounding us, I could barely see. Nothing but desert stretched out in front of us, and the headlights from Adrian\s car were now too far away to do any good. That strange flash of light was gone, too. Even the moon seemed to hide, but Adrian\s incredible strides never wavered. It was as if his eyes had night-vision technology built into them.

His speed had startled me when I was only an observer of it. Now that I was locked in his arms, hurtling through the night like I\d been strapped to the front of a bullet train, it filled me with terrified awe. His heart pounded next to my cheek, but he couldn\ be human. No mere mortal could move this way. Hell, some hybrid cars couldn\ go this fast.

’’Where is it, Ivy?’’ he yelled, the wind snatching away his words almost before I could hear them.

I wasn\ sure anymore. All the darkness had disoriented me, and it wasn\ like there was a neon sign that said Hallowed Ground This Way. I didn\ say that, though. What I saw when I glanced over his shoulder froze the words in my throat.

That roiling mass of evil was right behind us. I shouldn\ have been able to see it against the midnight-soaked desert, but I could. The shadows forming it were filled with such seething malevolence that their darkness gleamed. Then something like a huge mouth gaped open, teeth long and razor-sharp.


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