Angel fire, p.78
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       Angel Fire, p.78

         Part #2 of Angel series by L. A. Weatherly
Page 78


  “The air cleaner might be blocked,” said Willow thoughtfully. “Or it could just be the spark plugs. But I don’t have a toolkit, remember?”

  “There’s one in the hall closet – I saw it the other day. ” Alex went to the hallway and dug it out. “The Shadow’s parked out in the courtyard. ”

  “There’s not enough light out there now, though,” said Willow. He held back a smile; he could see she was itching to start tinkering. “Could we bring it into the range, maybe?” She smiled. “You can be my able assistant. And there’s something I want to tell you – we can talk while I fix it, okay?”

  The desire to pull her into his arms was almost overwhelming. Alex managed to restrain himself, and squeezed her hand instead. “Okay, I’ll be in with it in a minute. ” He glanced at Seb. “Can you give me a hand?”

  Seb’s brown eyebrows rose, but he nodded. “Yes, sure. ”

  Out in the dimly lit courtyard, Alex briefly explained the situation. He spoke in Spanish – Seb’s English was good, but he wanted to make sure there were no misunderstandings about this. As the moths battered against the bare light bulb overhead, he could hear the sound of a TV from one of the nearby houses.

  “What do you think – will you help us?” he finished finally.

  Seb was lounging against the Shadow with his arms crossed over his chest; Alex could see a long, thin scar on his forearm. Seb gave a wry smile. “Yeah, I’ll help, but I hope I can get the information psychically – ’cause I really can’t say I like your backup plan very much. Search the office with twenty angels hanging around outside? Amigo, you have got to be kidding me. ”

  “No, I’m not kidding,” said Alex. “But yeah, I’m not crazy about it either. Look, what I need to know most is what time the private audiences are going to be at the celebration and where exactly on the fifty-fifth floor, so that we can head straight for the Council once we’re in – if you can get that from the preacher, then forget about breaking into the offices. Do you think you’ll have enough time?”

  “Yeah, hopefully,” said Seb thoughtfully. “I mean, it’ll probably be on his mind anyway, so with any luck—” He broke off. A troubled look flickered in his eyes; he went silent, frowning.

  “What?” asked Alex sharply.

  “Oh, hell. ” Seb rubbed at his stubbled jaw. “Willow. ”

  “What about her?”

  “She’s going to want to come, too. ”

  Alex shook his head, picturing the ornate cathedral with its crowds of people; the cruising, feeding angels. “I don’t want her anywhere near there. Her aura’s way too distinctive with so many angels around. ”

  “Believe me, I don’t want her anywhere near there either. She’s told me about how those Church of Angels cabrones want her dead. But her aura’s the whole point. She finally learned how to disguise it today. ”

  Alex went still as he took in what this meant. So this was what Willow had been going to tell him. “She’s really mastered it?”

  “Once you’ve got it, I guess you’ve got it. ” Seb grimaced as he kicked at the concrete. “And I know she’ll tell you this if I don’t,” he added gloomily. “She’s better than me at getting details from people. If both of us went to the cathedral, you’d have a lot better chance of getting what you need – unfortunately. ”

  Alex saw that in this one thing at least, he and Seb were totally united – neither of them wanted Willow exposed to any danger. He pinched the bridge of his nose, wishing he could just not tell her about the plan. He couldn’t even use the possibility of someone recognizing her as a reason to keep her away now; Kara had been disguising herself with wigs and make-up every day to get in there.

  Somewhere in the darkness, a cricket was creaking. “Maybe I’m wrong, and she won’t want to do it,” ventured Seb, not even sounding like he believed it himself.

  “Oh, she’ll want to do it,” said Alex.

  Seb exhaled. “Yeah. . . I know. God, I should just search the office – she couldn’t help much with that; she doesn’t speak enough Spanish to read the documents. ”

  Now, that was appealing. But he couldn’t let Seb take that kind of risk unnecessarily – and it was true that if Willow helped, they’d have better luck in getting what they needed. No matter how fervently he might want to, he couldn’t put his girlfriend’s safety over that of the entire mission; not if there was a reasonable chance she’d be all right.

  Reasonable chance. Fear lurched through him; he pushed it away. “We’d better go and talk to Willow,” he said finally. “Come on, let’s get the bike inside. ”

  Seb detached himself from the Shadow and flipped up the kickstand. “At least this isn’t as dangerous for her as the Council attack,” he muttered as he wheeled it over to the back door. “When that happens. . . ”

  Alex had just been moving to the step to help lift the bike through the doorway; now he stopped in his tracks, his spine stiffening. “The Council attack?”

  Seb looked at him in surprise, then shook his head with a soft snort. “Hombre, how well do you actually know your girlfriend? I know you’re not psychic, but come on – you have to realize what she’s been thinking, don’t you?”

  Alex hadn’t, but suddenly it dropped into place with icy certainty: the Council. With a human-looking aura, Willow could be there when they attacked. He swore as he slumped against the outside wall of the house. “Oh, Christ, I’m an idiot. ” He scraped a palm across his face. “I can’t believe I didn’t see this coming. . . I am such an idiot. ”

  “No argument from me,” said Seb. He twisted at the bike’s throttle. “Still, you couldn’t have not wanted her to learn to disguise her aura,” he added grudgingly. “Or even put it off, really. She had to know how; it was vital. ”

  “How long has she been planning this?” Alex asked, massaging his temple, where a distant ache had started.

  Seb shrugged. “I picked it up from her a couple of days after I arrived. But knowing her, probably from the second she heard about it being possible. ” His gaze went over Alex, considering him. “She’s determined to be there, you know,” he said finally. “And not just to help the team – she loves you very much. ”

  Coming from Seb, this should have given him a feeling of satisfaction; instead he was just worried sick. “Yeah, I love her too,” said Alex. “So much that I think I’d rather see her get together with you than come along on the Council attack. ”

  Seb’s mouth quirked into a humourless smile. “That wouldn’t get an argument from me either. Just say the word; I’ll kidnap her and take us both far away from here. ”

  “Don’t tempt me. ” Alex dropped his hand and let out a breath. “Okay, look – we still have to get the security info if we hope to even have a chance. Let’s just focus on that for now. ”

  Seb helped him get the motorcycle into the house, then they wheeled it down the hallway into the range. Willow was crouched on her haunches, inspecting the toolbox. “I’d thought you’d both absconded,” she said, glancing up with a smile. Then she took them in more closely. “Hey, is everything all right?”


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