Home > Forsaken (Broken City #2)

Forsaken (Broken City #2)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

Chapter One




I’ve been out of the channels for almost a week now, and I’m discovering more about myself than I ever thought was possible: my likes, dislikes, preferences, and phobias. For instance, take heights. I utterly loathe them. Well, not necessarily heights so much as the idea of how easily I could plunge to my death from a high enough distance.

“Come on, Allura. You can do this,” Ryder calls up to me from the trail below.

He made it to the bottom of the cliff several minutes ago, and I was supposed to follow. But halfway down, I panicked, and now I’m clinging on to an uneven ledge, too terrified to move.

“You only have about a hundred feet to go,” Ryder adds, trying to be encouraging.

“A hundred feet?” My fingernails claw into the gritty cliff as I hang on for dear life.

Don’t look down, Allura. Don’t look down.

My gaze flicks up to Blaise and Reece, who are watching me from the top of the cliff. The sun blares down from the bleeding red sky, highlighting the concern on their faces.

See, even they think you’re going to fall.

“Sweetheart, you’re not going to fall.” Ryder softly tugs on the rope cinched through the harness around my waist. “See? We’ve got you.”

I draw in a breath before gradually sliding my foot down, but I make the mistake of letting my gaze drop to Ryder standing on the trail below and the seemingly endless drop off just behind him. My skin and fingernails scrape against the rock as I wrench my foot up and grip the ledge. A violent gust of wind blows up, and rocks tumble from the cliff and crash to the ground. I press my forehead against the cliff, shutting my eyes in shame.

“I’m sorry. I-I don’t think I can do it.” I feel so weak and useless. Just a handful of days ago, they risked their lives to rescue me from the channels and then saved me from a Tracker and from Maxx and Lucille, and here I am, unable to climb down a cliff for them.

You can do it. You can do it.

No! No! I can’t.

The dry air nips against my sweaty forehead and cheeks; blood trickles from the open wounds on the pads of my fingers; and my limbs grow tired as the sun scorches down on me. Dehydration sets in. If I don’t get down soon, I’ll pass out.

“Allura, open your eyes,” Blaise says, sounding close.

I open my eyes and suck in a breath. He’s dangling to the side of me without a harness or rope, his fingers are gripping a small lip in the cliff, and his boots are planted firmly against the side.

“W-what are you doing?” I sputter. “Y-you don’t have on a rope. You’re going to fall.”

“I’ll be fine,” he insists. “Let’s just get you down.”

“I don’t think I can do it, Blaise. I’m so sorry.”

“Yes, you can. And I’m going to help you. You have to trust me, though.”

Trust him? Do I?

I take in his intense eyes, his blond hair shaved on one side, the metal barbells ornamenting his lips and brows, and the intricate tattoos on his neck. When I first met Blaise, I was afraid of him. His rugged looks and hard expression reminded me too much of some of the visitors who had passed through my cell. He’s also insanely strong and may have killed Maxx and Lucille for hurting me. Yet, despite all of this, I trust him. He has never done anything to hurt me, only protected me.

“Here’s what I need you to do.” He keeps his attention fastened on me. “Let go of the rock with your right hand and wrap your arm around the back of my neck. When you get a good grip, bring your leg around and climb onto my back.”

“But you’re not wearing a rope. What happens if we fall?”

“You’ll still be wearing the rope, so you’ll be fine. That’s all that matters.”

“No, it isn’t. I don’t want you to get hurt or …” I dare a glimpse below. “If you fall, you’ll die.”

“It’s not that far,” he replies nonchalantly. “I’ll probably break a few bones, if that.”

I gulp, glancing down again. “You’d splatter apart like a dropped watermelon.”

His head cocks to the side, his forehead creasing. “That’s a really graphic image you just painted. I didn’t think you could be that morbid.”

“I think it’s the height. It’s messing with my head.” I drop my forehead against the coarse rock. “I’ve been picturing myself splattering against the ground the entire time I’ve been stuck here.”

“Then let’s get you down,” he says. “Come on, climb on my back.”

I elevate my head to look at him. “You promise you won’t fall? Even with the extra weight on your back?”

“You weigh practically nothing.” He gives a long sigh. “But yeah, I promise I won’t fall.”

I weigh my options: climb down by myself, stay here until I die, or let Blaise help me.

Blaise tries to remain as patient as possible while I deliberate, but I can tell he’s struggling not to just reach out and grab me.

Finally, I manage to pry a hand away from the cliff, but I instantly teeter backward. Anxiety slams through my veins as I throw my chest forward while reaching out and wrapping my arm around Blaise. I don’t allow enough time to get psyched out, slinging my leg around him.

Once I’ve steadied myself, I lean my weight to the side and shift all the way onto his back, looping my arms around his shoulders and my legs around his hips.

“Good?” he asks, his voice strained.

“I think so.” I press my forehead against the back of his neck. “Are you?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Despite his words, tension currents off him.

“I’m not hurting you, am I?”


I carefully wiggle around, trying to support more of my own weight. “Do I need to move? Am I too—”

“You’re fine, Allura. Just hang on. I’m going to get us down.”

I nod and tighten my hold. His chest puffs against my interlocked hands as he lowers his foot, keeping his body close to the cliff. He slips his other foot down, and then his fingers mimic the movements. Over and over again, he descends, scaling toward the bottom. He moves so flawlessly, so effortlessly I feel silly for not being able to get down by myself.

“It’s not your fault,” Blaise says as we near the bottom. “You’re afraid of heights. I’m not.”

How did he know what I was thinking? Can he read minds?

I shove the thought from my mind. No, if he could read minds, then he’d know I’m keeping a secret from all of them. A horrible secret that would make Blaise want to drop me and watch me splatter.

“We’re almost there.” He drags his hand downward, his fingertips leaving imprints in the rocks. “Ready?” Without warning, he throws his weight back.

For a horrifying instant, I think we’re going to die, but we’re only airborne for half a heartbeat before Blaise’s feet touch the ground.

His fingers fold around my knees, securing me in place. “You good?”

My heart pounds so forcefully he can probably feel it against his back. “I-I think so.” I calm my breathing before hopping off his back. “I’m so sorry you had to do that.” My legs wobble as I step back, sweeping strands of my long, tangled brown hair out of my eyes.

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