Angel fire, p.90
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       Angel Fire, p.90

         Part #2 of Angel series by L. A. Weatherly
Page 90


  Except that it was too late for that now, wasn’t it? Studying Alex’s aura again, Seb could see more clearly than ever that he hadn’t been mistaken. His throat felt like sand. How exactly was he supposed to tell Willow this?

  She nodded stiffly at Alex’s words; he could feel the depth of her hurt that he wasn’t backing down even now. “Seb, are you ready?” She turned towards him – and her expression slackened in surprise as she picked up on his anxiety.

  “Yes, I’m ready,” he said, burying his thoughts as best he could. His gaze met Alex’s. A fierce look flashed in the blue-grey eyes, and Seb knew Alex was telling him to take care of Willow, to keep her safe in case some rabid Church member recognized her and raised the alarm. As if he really had to be told that.

  “Okay, you’ve both got your tickets – and you know the code if you need it, right?” said Alex out loud.

  Seb nodded; he and Willow had both memorized it. “Don’t worry,” he replied evenly. And added in his head, Believe me, hombre, I’m not keeping her safe for you – but I’ll keep her safe with my life.

  He and Willow started across the uneven expanse of the square; she was taller than usual in her heels as she glanced at him worriedly. “Seb, what’s wrong?”

  “I’ll tell you later,” he said.


  He heard the strain in his own voice. “Please, querida. I’ll tell you later, I promise. ”

  Willow wavered, searching his face, and finally nodded. “Okay. ”

  The line moved slowly once they joined it, but everyone seemed cheerful, chatting happily about the angels and how exciting it was to be going to such an important service. He and Willow fitted right in with their satiny angel wings. After a while, they could see the stairs that led down to the cathedral entrance, with the rectangular shape of the metal detector set up at the bottom of them.

  “I’m relieved to finally be doing something, you know,” said Willow in a low voice. Her gaze was fixed on the metal detector and the guards flanking it either side as people shuffled through, showing their tickets. “I’ve hated, hated, having to just sit at home while all this is going on. ”

  Her aura, like his, appeared grey and listless. Seb wasn’t surprised that she hadn’t noticed Alex’s. Her natural psychic focus just wasn’t centred on auras; she didn’t tend to bring them into view unless she thought there was a reason to. And in Alex’s case, why would she? Seb had told her himself that she wasn’t causing him any harm.

  Seb cleared his throat. “Yes, I know how much you’ve hated staying at home. ”

  At his non-committal tone, Willow smiled. “Let me guess, you wish I was still there. Honestly, you’re as bad as—” Catching herself, she broke off with a sudden wince, her expression pained.

  Seb couldn’t help himself; he put his arm around her, squeezing her shoulders as he drew her against his side. It’ll be all right, mi amorcito, he wanted to say. But he didn’t really see how it could be, now. Oh god, this was going to destroy her. And what did it do to Seb’s own hopes? True, it probably meant Willow would never get back together with Alex, but for it to happen like this – when she was still in love with him; when she knew she’d hurt him with her touch – she’d never get over him then. Never.

  Willow was gazing up at him, her expression full of dread. “You’re thinking about. . . whatever it is again,” she said softly. She swallowed. “It’s something to do with me and Alex, isn’t it?”

  He was saved from answering. Just as they reached the top of the stairs, there was a squeal and a flurry of angel wings. Three pretty girls raced up to them. “Seb! Bonsoir!” exclaimed the one with dark hair. Before Seb quite knew what was happening, she was kissing him on both cheeks; he reciprocated automatically. The other two girls followed suit. Willow blinked, looking taken aback by the social kisses.

  “You left the hostel!” laughed the dark-haired girl in French, her tone mock-chiding. Céline, that was her name. “None of us knew where you were; one day you just vanished. ” Her gaze went to Willow, taking her in curiously.

  Seb was acutely conscious that the three girls were devouts, and had almost certainly seen Willow’s photo on the news, or the Church of Angels website. “Oui, I met my girlfriend,” he said, his arm still around Willow’s shoulders. “Maria. ” It was the first name that came to mind. In English, he said, “Maria, this is Céline, and – I’m sorry,” he said to the blonde. “Is it Nicole?”

  The girl tsked and shook her sleek head; she looked pale and too thin. “Ah, you see, he forgets all about us once he has you,” she teased, glancing at Willow. “Maria, this is Nicole” – she indicated the third girl, a tall redhead – “and I am Adèle. ”

  “Hi,” said Willow, offering her hand to them.

  They started moving down the stairs; to the irritation of the people behind them, the trio showed no signs of leaving. Céline was still gazing at Willow. “You look so familiar,” she said suddenly. “Are you an actress?”

  Seb’s muscles went tight as Willow tried to smile. “No, but everyone says that,” she said. “I think I must look like someone. ”

  “So this is where you girls ran off to – I thought you’d abandoned me,” said a cheerful American voice. A guy with floppy brown hair had come up behind them. Mike. He caught sight of Seb and his face burst into a grin as he slapped his shoulder. “Seb! God, man, where have you been?”

  “He has a girlfriend now,” pouted Céline, tucking her arm through Mike’s. “I am very sad at this. You’ll have to comfort me later. ”

  “Oh, hey, that’s too bad,” said Mike in a soothing voice. “Yeah, we’ll have to have some serious comforting time when we get back. ”

  They’d reached the bottom of the stairs; somehow the three girls and Mike had gotten ahead of them. Smiling widely, Mike turned and gave Seb a double thumbs up as the girls started filing through the metal detector.

  Willow’s expression was slightly dazed. “Friends of yours?”

  Seb shrugged; he could hardly believe they’d all appeared. “I know them from the hostel I was staying in. ”

  Something in Céline’s handbag had set off the machine; the guard went through it as Mike and the girls clustered around. The other guard motioned for Seb and Willow to wait.

  Willow watched as Céline laughed and flipped back her chocolate-brown hair. “The girls are all very pretty, aren’t they?” she said in a neutral tone. “That one, Céline, really seems to like you. ”

  Seb stared down at her profile. Was he imagining things, or had there been a glimmer almost like jealousy from her? Then Willow seemed to shake her head at herself and the sense faded. The guard motioned her through; she groped in her pocket for her ticket and moved forward, heels clicking on the marble floor.

  They came out into the packed main cathedral. As Seb had seen before when he’d had a look around, the bones of the place had been altered somewhat since his boyhood – but its flesh was now completely different. Far away down the aisle, golden angels shone from the ornate floor-to-ceiling altar; smaller ones held candlesticks aloft from the corner of each pew. There were several real angels too, gliding through the high-domed space, wings flashing like mirrors. Reaching out with his mind, Seb found a throng of them sitting in the unseen office area – easily over a dozen.

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