Angel fire, p.7
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       Angel Fire, p.7

         Part #2 of Angel series by L. A. Weatherly
Page 7


  I fell silent as I threw the damp tissue into the overflowing trash can. Project Angel had been the covert CIA department Alex had worked for; after it had been taken over by the angels, Sophie and Nate had been its only two agents left. Now Nate – a renegade angel who’d tried to help humanity – was dead, and though I assumed Sophie was still alive, I had no idea where. She’d left me at the Church of Angels cathedral with no way to contact her, believing I was going to die just like Nate.

  And yeah, maybe I’d agreed to that plan, but it was still kind of hard for me to like Sophie after that. If Alex was right though, and she’d really taken Mom into protection, then she was officially my new favourite person.

  A chilling thought came. “Wait a minute – if Mom and Aunt Jo are okay, who were in the body bags?”

  Alex shrugged. “Two women of about the right age? It wouldn’t be hard for the CIA to find a couple of unclaimed bodies; the morgues in New York City must be full of them. ”

  In a flash I saw again the body bag on the stretcher, slipping as the fireman stumbled. Oh my god. Who had been in it?

  “Or maybe the bags had living people in them, just to make them look right for the cameras,” added Alex. “It depends on who was at the scene; whether they were CIA or not. ”

  “I like that version better,” I said softly.

  “Okay. We’ll go with that one, then. ” He wrapped his arms around me and I closed my eyes, just drinking in the solid warmth of him. There were no words to explain what I felt for Alex; for how grateful I was that, even with everything that had happened, we somehow still had each other.

  Finally I cleared my throat, fingering the damp patch on the collar of his T-shirt. “I got you all wet. ”

  “Don’t worry, I’m waterproof. ” He squeezed my hand. “Come on, we’d better get going. We’ve still got all of New Mexico to get across. ”

  “No, wait,” I said. “There’s something I want to do first. ” And rising up on my tiptoes, I twined my arms around his neck and pressed close against him, kissing him deeply.

  I felt his heartbeat leap against mine, and caught my breath as his hands slipped into the back pockets of my jeans, pulling me closer still. The soft-rough heat of his mouth; the feel of his hair as I stroked my fingers through it. . . I never wanted this to end. But finally, softly, we drew apart.

  “Wow,” murmured Alex. He nuzzled at my neck. “What was that for?”

  “Well, A, because I wanted to, and B. . . ” I stopped. “B, to say thank you. I don’t know if it would even have occurred to me to search psychically for Mom, after what I saw on TV. I would have spent the rest of my life just. . . thinking she was gone. ” My chest clenched; I couldn’t say any more.

  Alex rested his hand on my cheek. His eyes looked darker than usual – a stormy grey that melted me. “We’re a team,” he said quietly. “Always, remember?” Then he grinned. “Hey, do I get to say ‘You’re welcome’ now?”

  I managed a casual shrug as my pulse skipped. “You know, I think you should. It’s good to be polite. ”

  He put his arms around me. “Polite’s my middle name. ”

  “I thought it was James. ”

  “Yeah, ‘Polite James’. My parents had weird taste in names. ” He lowered his head to mine again, then both of us jumped as the doorknob rattled.

  “Hey,” came a man’s voice. “Is anyone in there?”

  I stifled my laughter against Alex’s chest. “Be out in a minute,” he called.

  “What’s he going to think when we both come out?” I whispered.

  “Well, the truth, obviously. Two wild teenagers, making out in a bathroom. ” He gave me a quick kiss, and we pulled apart.

  I went over to the sink and hastily splashed cool water on my face. In the mirror, my short hair was like an explosion from the wind and the crying. And it still looked very red. I held back a sigh as I tried to smooth it down, wishing I’d asked Alex to buy a hairbrush.

  “You know what, I think that colour makes your eyes look greener,” said Alex suddenly.

  I looked up in surprise. “Really?”

  He nodded, studying me. “It really does. They look a lot more. . . vivid now, or something. ” He touched a spiky lock of my hair, his finger stroking gently through it. “You look beautiful, Willow. ”

  He meant it; I could tell. I smiled. “So, you think you can get used to me as a redhead?”

  “Hmm, tough call. Yeah, I think I can deal with it. ” Alex dropped a kiss on my nose, then closed his eyes. I felt the slight shift as he lifted his consciousness up through his chakra points, until it was hovering somewhere over his crown.

  “Okay, the parking lot’s clear of angels, at least,” he said after a second. “What about you, do you sense anything?”

  I’d already been checking, relaxing my mind and imagining the service-station forecourt. No particular feelings came. “I think we’re all right. ”

  We left the bathroom holding hands. My cheeks were burning.

  “Sorry,” said Alex to the man waiting outside. He didn’t sound sorry; I could tell he was trying not to laugh. The man shook his head and didn’t answer, disappearing inside and banging the door.

  “He thinks I’m a floozie,” I said as we started back to the bike. It was almost dark now; the town’s street lamps were casting soft pools of light up and down the main road. Happiness that Mom was alive still pulsed through me, making my steps light and springy.

  “Definitely,” said Alex. “But he thinks I’m lucky. ” He started to say something else and stopped, looking across the street.

  Following his gaze, I saw a run-down shopping strip with a Goodwill charity store on the corner. The lights were on, and I knew that Alex was thinking of going in, if it was safe. Neither of us had any clothes, apart from what we had on – and hardly anything else, for that matter.

  I let my thoughts drift towards the store, scanning it. “It’s okay,” I said. “It feels almost empty. ”

  He nodded, eyes narrowed in thought. “Maybe we should risk it,” he said. “If they have some second-hand camping gear, we could avoid motels until we find someplace safe in Mexico to hole up. Plus we could maybe get another helmet, so that both our faces are hidden. ”

  “Oh,” I said.

  Alex glanced down at me. “What?”

  “Nothing. I just thought you were thinking about clothes. ”

  His dark eyebrows arched in amusement as we continued to the bike. “We’re on the run, and you think I’m worrying about clothes?”

  “Alex, I’ve worn this same outfit for three days now; it’s getting foul. And, you know – as long as we’re in there anyway. . . ”

  “This is a girl thing, isn’t it?”

  “It’s possibly a girl thing,” I admitted.

  The Goodwill store was huge, but it was so near closing time that we were the only ones in there. The old woman behind the counter was reading a romance novel; she didn’t even look up as we came in. We both got some clothes, and Alex found another helmet for the bike, plus two old sleeping bags and a two-man tent. Then, as we were carrying our stuff to the checkout counter, I saw them: an almost-new pair of grape-juice-purple Converse sneakers, just my size.


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