Angel fever, p.31
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       Angel Fever, p.31

         Part #3 of Angel series by L. A. Weatherly
Page 31


  “Brendan’s dead,” Alex added after a pause. “He was fatally injured in the Mexico City quake. ”

  Sorrow stirred through me, though I’d already grieved for both Brendan and Kara months ago. Wordlessly, I touched Alex’s arm, rubbing his tattoo.

  He still sat looking down, the muscles of his torso firm even though he was relaxed. Or was he? Studying him more closely, I became aware of a faint feeling of tension, and I glanced again at the backpack, gaping open. A folded T-shirt lay on top and a couple of spare magazines for his pistol.

  I slowly dropped my hand. “So…what does all of this have to do with you going somewhere?”

  Alex got up from the bed, and if it had been anyone else, I’d have said that he was moving to avoid looking at me. “Kara’s brought some new information,” he said as he picked up his camouflage trousers. “I’ve got to go check something out at the old AK camp. ”

  “You mean you’re going to New Mexico?” I shoved back the covers and scrambled to the bottom of the bed. I took the trousers from him and put them aside. “Hey, stop packing for a second. What new information? About the angels?”

  “Yeah. It’s probably nothing, though. ”

  “Well…what did Kara say?”

  Alex’s blue-grey eyes met mine. I had the fleeting sense that the moment was poised on a knife’s edge. Then he let out a small breath. “It’s…something my dad was working on years ago, that’s all. ”

  He stopped, and I opened my mouth to say, Yes, but what? Then he turned away and went on: “It was, um – kind of to do with the earth’s energy field. I always thought it was crazy. But if he was right, then…” He shrugged.

  “The earth’s energy field,” I repeated blankly.

  “Well, not really. It’s complicated – I don’t have time to explain. ”

  “Cully,” I said suddenly. The name had just popped into my head; I frowned as I tried to put the pieces together. “Did Kara see Cully? Is this coming from him?”

  Alex had gone to the desk to get his pistol; when I spoke, he stopped in his tracks. His shoulders flexed as he propped his hands on the desk. “Willow, listen – don’t try to get it, all right? It’s better if no one but me knows some of this. ”

  “Whoa, whoa. ” I went quickly to him. Sliding a hand across the smooth warmth of his back, I leaned around to look into his face. “Alex, what’s going on?”

  “Nothing, it’s – just a precaution,” he said, squeezing my hand briefly and releasing it. “I don’t think anything will happen here while I’m gone, but if it does, none of you would be able to tell the angels any details. Just…trust me and leave it alone, okay?”

  I didn’t know what to say. He’d gone back to packing; his dark hair was half-dry now, looking soft at the edges. “Is this something dangerous?” I asked at last.

  His gaze stayed on the backpack as he put the camouflage trousers in. He shook his head. “No. Nothing I can’t handle. ”

  I fell silent, thinking about the promise he’d made. I almost said something, but then he looked up and I saw the expression in his eyes. He hadn’t forgotten; I could tell.

  If he were putting himself in danger, he’d tell me.

  There was a long pause. Finally I nodded reluctantly. “All right. But – well, why don’t I come with you? Or Sam, or Seb, or someone?”

  Alex fastened the backpack. “No, it – makes more sense if I go alone. There’s no reason to take anyone else away from training the team, when I can do this myself. ”

  He paused and touched my hair then, gently fingering a wavy strand. As if thinking about something else, he said, “Willow, look – this is just something I need to do. I mean, it’s probably nothing, but if it is something, then…”

  He didn’t go on, though I sensed in a rush how important this could be – and knew that whatever objections I had weren’t going to make any difference.

  The words didn’t want to come out. “So…when are you leaving?” I asked finally.

  “Now. I just need to tell the others. I’m leaving Sam in charge while I’m gone – is that okay with you?”

  “Yeah, good call. ” I rubbed my arms, still hardly able to believe we were having this conversation. “How long will you be gone, exactly?”

  Alex’s eyes met mine. For a second I thought he was going to say something, then he turned away and tightened a strap on the backpack, yanking it taut. “However long it takes, I guess. ”

  However long what takes? With an effort, I bit the question back.

  I watched as Alex pulled on a blue T-shirt and then reached into our closet for his leather jacket, scavenged almost a year ago from an abandoned store in Phoenix. He shrugged into it, and for a second I was reminded of when I’d first met him – he’d been driving a black Porsche and wearing a jacket just like this one. Even then, back when we’d hated each other, I’d thought he was the best-looking boy I’d ever seen.

  Once we’d gotten the others up, Liz and Sam were as stunned by the news that Kara was here as by Alex leaving. Only Seb seemed unsurprised; I saw him give Alex a sharp look.

  “Look, Al, I seriously don’t like this—” Sam was saying as we walked down the corridor towards the garage. Outside, I knew it wasn’t even dawn yet; the rest of the base was still asleep.

  “Wait a sec; I’ll just grab a sat phone,” interrupted Alex as we came to the comms room. He ducked inside and was out again a few moments later. I had the brief sense that he’d stuffed more than just a sat phone into his jeans pocket.

  Alex was walking a little ahead, fielding a barrage of questions from Sam.

  “Did you know about this?” Liz whispered.

  I shook my head, still gazing at Alex. Without trying, I was aware that there was something buried in his mind; that he was consciously piling other thoughts on top. I crossed my arms tight, resisting the urge to look further. He’d asked me to trust him and I did, but…what was going on?

  Alex grabbed some food and a rifle, and then, all too soon, we were in the garage and he was loading up one of the 4 × 4s. He shook hands with Sam and Seb, gave Liz a brief hug. “Okay, I’ll check in when I can, but try not to worry if you don’t hear from me. ”

  Like the night Alex and I had gone to Colorado, Sam was in his pyjamas, his broad face a scowl. “Yeah, we’ll just throw a party. Bud, all this secret squirrel stuff is not reassuring. ”

  Seb hadn’t said much, though his hazel eyes were troubled. He said something to Alex in low, urgent Spanish; Alex shook his head. “No, pero gracias, amigo,” he replied in an undertone – and I knew Seb must have asked, as I had, whether he could go along.

  “Look, if – I mean, it won’t, but if anything happens—” Alex broke off, jiggling the keys in his hand. “Sam, you’re in charge, but the others are allowed to mutiny if you do anything stupid,” he said, his voice abruptly curt. “Seriously, just keep on training everyone, all right? If what I’m checking on doesn’t pan out, that’s all we can do. There are plans on my laptop I’ve been working on; Willow knows the password. ”

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