Angel fire, p.100
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       Angel Fire, p.100

         Part #2 of Angel series by L. A. Weatherly
Page 100


  I’m not sure which of us moved first. I saw Seb swallow; one or maybe both of us leaned forward. . . and then somehow I was running my hands through his loose curls and his lips were on mine, so warm and gentle that I was falling.

  Time faded to nothing as our mouths teased each other – tiny, sipping kisses that sent electricity pulsing through me. Seb’s curls were so soft under my fingers, just as soft as I’d always imagined, and I could feel the prickle of stubble near his mouth; the strength of his hand as he lightly cupped it around the back of my neck. He murmured my name, pulling me to him. The kiss slowed, deepening into heat as our mouths opened together, exploring each other. Seb’s arms were locked around me as I pressed tightly against him, stroking his firm back and feeling his heartbeat pounding with mine, and if I could have gotten even closer to him, I would have – and meanwhile our angels were still touching hands above, and there was nothing in the world but this kiss; this kiss that was the most amazing thing I’d ever felt.

  The minutes passed. We sank down to the sleeping bag, our mouths still drinking hungrily at each other. Whispering something in Spanish, Seb kissed my neck, then my mouth again, his hand caressing its way up my side. . . and I wanted it to feel as wonderful as it had at first, but little by little, unease was growing in me. Seb’s lips weren’t the ones I was used to; his body against mine felt different. I shoved the thought away – I refused to think about Alex now; I didn’t want to think about anything; I just wanted to keep losing myself in this warmth, this moment – but then slowly, slowly, the kiss ended.

  Seb raised his head, looking down at me.

  And it all felt so wrong suddenly that I wanted to cry.

  The weight of what I had done came crashing down on me. I sat up shakily as our angels rushed back to us. “Seb, I – oh my god, I’m so sorry—”

  He sat up too. His mouth looked bruised where I’d just been kissing it. “Why are you sorry?” But from the expression in his eyes, he knew.

  I hated saying the words; they tasted like bile. “I’m not in love with you. I shouldn’t have done this – it was a mistake. ”

  Seb hesitated. Almost in slow motion, he touched my hair, just like he’d done the first day that we’d met. “You are in love with me, a little,” he said softly. “I can feel it. ”

  I shook my head, hardly even aware I was doing it. “No. I love you as a friend. That’s all. ” My words came out quiet and certain. Because no matter how wrong it had been, kissing Seb had done one thing at least: rid my mind of any confusion I might have had. Everything seemed so clear now, as if the world had just leaped into sharp focus.

  His throat moved. The candles still burned around us, their warm golden light playing on the wall. “Maybe this was just too soon – maybe someday you’ll feel different. ” He reached for my hand and gripped it tightly, his emotions raw on his face. “I’ve loved you for so long, Willow. It’s always been you, my whole life. ”

  My heart was breaking. I wished so much that I was in love with Seb; that it was possible for me to say that someday I might be. But it wasn’t. Whatever strange alchemy it is that makes you fall in love with one person and not another just wasn’t there for me, with him. Maybe I’d been picking up on his feelings and mistaking them for my own, a little – but now, when I was really looking at it, I could see the truth.

  Gently, I disentangled my fingers from his and cleared my throat. “You know, my dream was right,” I said. “I hate the thought of ever being without you, Seb. You’re one of the most important people in my life. And you deserve an amazing girl who’s just. . . so completely in love with you. But I don’t feel that way. I’m sorry. ”

  A long pause spun out around us. “You don’t have to apologize,” said Seb at last. “You never have to apologize. ”

  I pushed my hands through my hair, leaving it in wild spikes. “I do! I shouldn’t have kissed you, not when I wasn’t sure—”

  “It was very nice, though,” he said, trying to smile. “I think I’ll manage to forgive you. ”

  Maybe, but I’d never forgive myself. Oh god, why did everything have to be such a mess? Unconsciously, I touched my neck – it felt bare and wrong without the crystal pendant Alex had given me hanging from its slender chain. Remembering his coolness as Seb and I had gone into the cathedral, I wrapped my arms around my knees and rested my cheek on them, wishing so much that I’d seen a hint, just a hint, that he still felt the same way about me.

  “Yes, he still feels the same,” said Seb quietly.

  My heart quickened with sudden hope. Seb sat gazing down at the sleeping bag; when he felt my eyes on him, he glanced up and shrugged. “I saw him, when you weren’t watching. The look on his face—” His mouth twisted. “He’s still in love with you, just too stubborn to back down yet. ”

  I should have been relieved – instead, staring at Seb, dread started growing in me like a dark, tangled vine. “There’s something else, isn’t there?” I said. “Whatever it was that you said you’d tell me later, back at the cathedral. ”

  Seb let out a ragged breath. Leaning back against the corrugated metal of the warehouse wall, he scraped his hands over his face. I could feel his reluctance like a weight on my throat.

  “Seb?” I whispered.

  “Querida, please, believe me,” he said finally. “This is the last thing in the world I want to tell you. ”

  A LONG TIME LATER, I was lying on my back on the sleeping bag, staring up into the dark shadows. Seb still sat against the wall. The flickering light had drawn in around us as the cluster of candles burned lower. One of them had sputtered out altogether, dying with little hissing noises.

  I still couldn’t sense Alex very clearly, no matter how much I wanted to. I kept searching for him, and feeling that he was alive but getting nothing about his emotions. His energy was there though – his warm, familiar energy that I loved so much – and I ran my thoughts gently over it, wondering what he was thinking; whether he was still angry at me.

  After what Seb had told me, I hoped that he was. That he never got over being angry, ever.

  “I’m sorry,” said Seb again, for about the tenth time. “I really didn’t know. When you first asked me, I was sure that we didn’t, but. . . ” He trailed off.

  “It’s okay,” I whispered. I could hardly even imagine how Alex would have reacted if I’d tried to break things off with him because Seb had told me that we cause angel burn – I think he might have tried to kill Seb.

  Even though it all fitted. Oh god, it all fitted – his migraines, his headaches. The worst ones always seemed to happen just a few hours after the two of us had been close together. I had a flash of lying on his bed in his arms, and closed my eyes tightly against the sudden pain. I wiped my cheek with the heel of my hand and tried to marshal my thoughts.

  “The Council attack is the most important thing, for all of us,” I said. “So when we go back to the house, I can’t touch Alex, not at all – I have to stay as far away from him as I can. If he got a migraine during the attack—” I broke off; the thought was too terrible to contemplate.


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