Angel fever, p.73
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       Angel Fever, p.73

         Part #3 of Angel series by L. A. Weatherly
Page 73


  “Yes, fine,” he said shortly. He turned to Scott. “Will you show me where that is?”

  As they headed off, Rachel bit her lip. “Wow, he really doesn’t like me, does he?”

  I’d sensed how tightly Seb was holding his emotions in check. “It’s not you,” I said, gazing after him. “You just remind him of someone, that’s all. ”

  Alex stood studying a bulletin board; he glanced at me. “You’re kidding. He’s finally fallen for Meghan?”

  Suddenly I remembered Seb’s lips on mine, only days ago. My cheeks heated – though I wasn’t sure why; it wasn’t as if I’d had a clue that my boyfriend was still alive. Remembering why I hadn’t known, that odd emotion stirred again.

  “Kind of,” I said, managing a smile.

  Then, taking in the weary set of Alex’s shoulders, my heart twisted; everything else faded away. Alex was here. It was every dream I’d ever had since I thought he’d died.

  I touched his arm, stroking it gently. “You look really tired. ”

  He rubbed his eyes. “Yeah, I am,” he admitted. “I’m about ready to crash, if Seb doesn’t need any help. ”

  “We’ll let you know if he does,” Jonah said. “Do you want something to eat first? We’ve got canned stuff, or more canned stuff. ”

  Alex smiled slightly. “Thanks, I’ll pass. ”

  “I’m not hungry either,” I said – and then realized what that meant: Alex and I would be going to bed now. My heartbeat quickened. Suddenly I felt like I was sixteen again and had never even held hands with a boy.

  Nina took my arm. “Come on, I’ll show you where the sleeping bags and stuff are. ” As the two of us headed down the corridor, she lowered her voice. “Willow, this is all so weird. Are you okay?”

  I looked back at Alex, savouring the sight of him. He stood talking to Jonah and Rachel with his hands stuck in his back pockets – a pose I’d seen him in a thousand times.

  “Better than okay,” I said quietly.

  Nina shook her head. “It’s so unbelievable. I mean, I’m still stunned, and I don’t even know him. ” She grinned suddenly. “Oh, and he’s gorgeous, by the way. But then, so’s Seb. Are you just, like, surrounded by hot guys now?”

  I rolled my eyes. “Seb and I are just friends, Nina. ” But remembering what I’d sensed earlier, a tiny pang struck me. I’d wanted Seb to get over me for two years – but knowing that he actually had felt a little strange.

  Nina opened up a supply closet and started pulling out sleeping bags and pillows; I moved to help her. “So, you and Jonah, huh?”

  Her voice held a smile. “Yeah. For almost a year now. Jonah says he fell in love with me right when we first met – I was so fierce and suspicious, he said. For a long time we were just friends, though. Then when he started doing the Voice of Freedom, we did a lot of travelling together – he has to broadcast from all over, so he won’t get caught – and one day we were broadcasting from the woods, and I looked at him sitting there with the sun shining on his face, his expression so intense…and I just knew. ”

  A weary-looking group passed on their way to the lunchroom. I smiled automatically as people said, “Hi, Willow,” and “Oh, man, it is so good to have you back!” – and tried to ignore the awe in their eyes.

  “I was never this popular in high school,” I muttered to Nina.

  She shrugged. “I know, but I guess you’ve become kind of a hero here – you and Alex both. Besides—” She broke off, studying me.

  “Besides what?” I said uncomfortably.

  “Well…you are one, aren’t you? I mean, it’s you who we’re all counting on. ”

  I had no idea what to say to that. Just then I heard Alex and the others approaching. Nina glanced back and cleared her throat. “Listen, um – if you two want some privacy tonight, no one sleeps in the gym this time of year. ”

  My lips had gone desert-dry. “Yeah, privacy is probably good. ”

  She hesitated. “And…well, here. ” She opened the closet again and pointed. “See that big cardboard box? Our own personal Planned Parenthood. ” She gave me an impish look. “It’s amazing what you can find when you scavenge a whole town. ”

  I was saved from answering; Alex and the others were walking up. “And we’ve got guards posted, right?” Alex was saying.

  Jonah nodded. “All over town. They can alert us in minutes if the attack comes. ”

  “Okay, sleep with your gun next to you. All of you. Spread the word. ”

  As Jonah and Rachel continued down the corridor, Nina fell into step beside them; I saw Jonah link his fingers through hers. “Goodnight,” Nina called over her shoulder.

  “Hey, you,” Alex said softly once we were alone.

  He looked just like I’d remembered every second of this past year – every plane and angle of his face was exactly as I’d recalled. I swallowed, trying not to shake.

  “Hey,” I whispered back.

  Alex stroked my upper arms; even through my parka, I could feel the warmth of his fingers. “Willow, I—” he started, and then looked up as more people passed.

  “Alex Kylar,” I heard one whisper. Breathless hellos, eyes shining.

  Once they’d passed, Alex gave me a wry look. “It’s not going to be like this all night, is it? I just want to be alone with you for a few hours. ”

  I could feel my angel stirring, but I ignored her – because right then being alone with Alex was all that I wanted too. “Nina says the gym’s private,” I offered.

  That slow grin I’d dreamed of so many times spread across Alex’s face. “Yeah?” He kissed me lightly, then grabbed up the sleeping bags and pillows. “Let’s go. ”

  The gym’s shadows melted away as we entered with a lantern: a broad, cold space with a small stage at one end. Alex jumped on the stage with a light leap. “Look – we can close the curtains. It’ll be warmer that way too. ”

  I went and joined him. He was on his knees, opening up the sleeping bags – and as I kneeled to help him, our eyes met. I paused mid-motion; we both went still. Finally Alex reached out and ran a gentle hand over my hair.

  “I still can’t believe it, you know,” he said in a low voice. His thumb caressed my cheekbone. “Christ, I’ve missed a whole year of your life. ”

  A raw yearning for him rocked through me. I longed to reach for him – but all at once the shadows, the stage, came together in a surreal dream. If I moved, I’d wake up…and I couldn’t bear even the thought of that.

  He murmured my name and kissed me. When he’d first come back, his kisses had been quick, frantic – this one was so long and deep that I felt myself dissolve into nothing. Alex. His smell – his taste. With a sudden moan, I pressed close, wrapping my arms around him, kissing him back for all I was worth.

  “I love you,” I gasped. “Alex, I missed you so much – every day—”

  “I love you too – I thought about you every second—”

  Somehow our jackets came off; they fell to the stage with a rustle. I ran my hands under his T-shirt, needing to feel him; still kissing me, Alex pulled away slightly to yank the shirt over his head.

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