Angel fire, p.61
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       Angel Fire, p.61

         Part #2 of Angel series by L. A. Weatherly
 
Page 61

 

  Seb got the hint that I really wanted the subject to change – like, yesterday. He nodded. “Yes, you’re right,” he said. “But first I think I should try one of these – see if there’s any orange in it. ” Stretching across, he reached for the bag and helped himself to a few cookies.

  He bit into one. There was a pause.

  “Well?” I said finally.

  “Maybe it’s all right,” he said with an uber-casual shrug. “I’ll have to try again to make sure. ” He took another bite, chewing slowly. “Hmm. No, it’s hard to tell. ”

  My embarrassment faded a little. “Yeah, you big phoney,” I said. “You just won’t admit you like them. ”

  He raised an eyebrow at me. “You need to be careful, you know,” he said mildly. He gave me a warning glance as he licked a crumb from his finger. “I saw from your hand that you’re very ticklish. ”

  “Oh, now that is just completely unfair. I didn’t get any of your weaknesses. ”

  Seb looked smug. “Maybe you’ll find out someday. ” And as he popped the rest of the cookie into his mouth, my tension melted away at his teasing look. It was what he’d been trying to do, I realized – make me see it was all right; that he wasn’t going to pressure me, not ever. No matter what else he might hope for, Seb was my friend. He’d told me that before, and he really meant it.

  “Thanks,” I said, before I could stop myself.

  He didn’t ask what for, though I knew he knew – he just tsked and shook his head. “I don’t think you’ll thank me when you see what a tough teacher I am. ”

  “Are you?” I said with a smile.

  “Oh, yes. Very strict. ” Seb sat up, brushing his hands off. “Okay – let’s get started. ”

  That night I lay in bed in the darkness, listening to the soft sounds of sleep around me. Even with the worry about the Council, I felt happier than I’d been in a long time. I could trust my angel again; it was just me inside of me after all. And even better, earlier that night Alex and I had slipped away to his room for half an hour and the world had fallen away into nothingness. I let out a shivering breath, hugging myself under the covers, and wished I was with him right now; that I could sleep wrapped up in his arms all night. But meanwhile, just having been close to him for a little while, without the gut-wrenching anxiety that had been chewing me up inside. . . well, it wasn’t enough, but it was still pretty amazing.

  Rolling over onto my side, my gaze fell on the small framed photo of myself when I was a little girl, peering up through the feathery leaves of the willow tree. I gently touched its frame. After I’d had a few fruitless hours of working with my aura that afternoon, Seb had finally stood up from the sofa and stretched.

  “Come on, you need to take a break,” he said.

  “Come on where?” I asked, getting to my feet. It was a relief to stop for a little while; I hadn’t really expected this to be so hard.

  “There’s something I need to give you. ”

  I glanced at him in surprise – and then I understood. “Is this what I’m thinking?” I asked as we left the room.

  His face was a picture of puzzled innocence. “How could I know what you’re thinking? Do you think I’m psychic or something?”

  “Yes, very funny. ”

  Seb’s storeroom bedroom was filled with boxes; his camp bed literally took up the only empty space, so that when we got there he had to crawl over it to grab his knapsack from where he’d stowed it on the floor. I watched from the doorway, taking in the strong lines of his back and shoulders despite myself.

  There was a ragged sound as Seb unzipped the knapsack, and then he stood up and handed me my shirt and photo. His fingers seemed a little reluctant to leave them, but he smiled. “Here, these are yours. And I lied; I could tell what you were thinking,” he added. “You were right. ”

  My eyes went straight to the photo of myself and the willow tree. I’d been so sure I’d never see it again. “Thank you,” I said softly. Then I gave a small laugh, clutching its frame. “You know, it’s so funny – this photo keeps getting stolen and then finding its way back to me somehow. ”

  Seb didn’t say anything, but I could feel his emotion – the photo had been how he’d known he wasn’t the only one of his kind after all. Looking down at my seven-year-old self, I was so glad that fate, or whatever, had led him to that Chihuahua marketplace that day.

  “Thank you,” I said again, and tucked it in my jeans pocket. Then I glanced at the shirt in my hand and thought of something. “Wait – you paid for these things, right? So I need to pay you back. ”

  Seb’s expression turned gravely serious. “Well, they were very expensive, you know,” he said, stroking his chin. “But I’m sure we can work something out. What do you call it – a payment plan? Perhaps if we make an agreement for how much you’ll pay me back each month – but no, we need to think about interest, too—”

  He broke off with a grin as I started laughing. “Okay, okay,” I said. “Why don’t I just say, ‘thank you very much’?”

  “You have said that,” he said, his eyes warm. “And you’re very welcome. ”

  SILVER TRAIL, COLORADO, WAS A small mining town high in the Rockies. The place had had a heyday once, complete with several brothels and saloons – now, its silver depleted, it was home mostly to artists and people who wanted to get away from it all. There were also, Raziel believed, several llama farms, though thankfully he hadn’t encountered one. The field he was currently examining appeared to have had cows in it at some point, though. He stepped carefully as they walked, surreptitiously checking the bottoms of his shoes at times.

  “See, we could have the school here – and maybe a library or something nearby,” said the man, motioning around him. He was named Fred Fletcher, and his round face was flushed with sincerity.

  Raziel had almost cancelled this meeting, but decided it might take his mind off the news about the Council he’d gleaned from Willow’s thoughts two days before – with not a single word from Charmeine meanwhile. Not to mention that there was another half-angel in the world; he’d barely even begun to get his head around the implications of that. The boy’s energy as experienced by Willow hadn’t rung any particular bells for him, though he’d dearly love to know who the father was – it could be a useful little piece of blackmail material if he ever found out.

  Raziel took out his phone again as Fred continued to talk. Nothing from Charmeine. Obviously this was what she’d tried to tell him – that the Council was in Mexico City weeks ahead of schedule, at a totally different place than planned. He could sense she was still alive, at least, so presumably their alliance hadn’t been discovered. But what was going on?

  “So that was my idea, Mr. Raziel, sir,” Fred summed up finally. “Because you see, as wonderful as it is for people to pledge themselves to the Church and live there, not everyone can do that – lots of us are just as devout, but have families, y’see. ”

  “Yes, naturally,” said Raziel absently. He linked his hands behind his back, scanning the frosty fields that sparkled in the late afternoon sunlight, with the Rockies a dusky purple rising up behind them. Forcing himself to focus, he saw that Jenny was right. It wasn’t a bad idea at all. Camp Angel: a community where entire families could live in honour of the angels, with schools, a church, a library devoted to angelic works – everything.

 

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