Passion, p.17
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       Passion, p.17

         Part #3 of Fallen series by Lauren Kate
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Page 17

 

  cannot get you out of my mind. Will you meet me in the gazebo this evening at nine oclock? Ill

  be waiting. Yours eternally,

  Lucinda Biscoe

  Luce ripped the letter into shreds and tossed them into the parlor fire. If she never gave Daniel the note, Lucinda would be alone in the gazebo. Luce could go out there and wait for her and try to warn her again. She raced into the hall and made a sharp turn toward the servants stairs down to the kitchen. She ran past the cooks and the pastry makers and Henrietta.

  You got both of us in trouble, Myrtle! the girl called out to Luce, but Luce was already out the door.

  The evening air was cool and dry against her face as she ran. It was nearly nine oclock, but the sun was still setting over the grove of trees on the western side of the property. She tore down the pink- hued path, past the overflowing garden and the heady, sweet scent of the roses, past the hedge maze.

  Her eyes fell on the place where shed first tumbled out of the Announcer into this life. Her feet pounded down the path toward the empty gazebo. She had stopped just short of it when someone caught her by the arm.

  She turned around.

  And ended up nose to nose with Daniel.

  A light wind blew his blond hair across his forehead. In his formal black suit with the gold watch chain and a small white peony pinned to his lapel, Daniel was even more gorgeous than she remembered. His skin was clear and brilliant in the glow of the setting sun. His lips held the faintest smile. His eyes burned violet at the sight of her.

  A soft sigh escaped her. She ached to lean a few short inches closer to press her lips on his. To wrap her arms around him and feel the place on his broad shoulders where his wings unfurled. She wanted to forget what she had come here to do and just hold him, just let herself be held. There were no words for how much she had missed him.

  No. This visit was about Lucinda.

  Daniel, her Daniel, was far away right now. It was hard to imagine what hed be doing or thinking right now. It was even harder to imagine their reunion at the end of all of this. But wasnt that what her quest was about? Finding out enough about her past so she could really be with Daniel in the present?

  Youre not supposed to be here, she said to Helston Daniel. He couldnt have known that Helston Lucinda wanted to meet him here. But here he was. It was as if nothing could get in the way of their meeting--they were drawn toward each other, no matter what.

  Daniels laugh was precisely the same laugh Luce was used to, the one shed heard for the first time at Sword & Cross, when Daniel kissed her; the laugh she loved. But this Daniel did not really know her. He didnt know who she was, where she was coming from, or what she was trying to do.

  Youre not supposed to be here, either. He smiled. First were supposed to have a dance inside, and later, after weve gotten to know one another, Im supposed to take you for a moonlit stroll. But the sun hasnt even set yet. Which means theres still a good deal of dancing to be done. He extended his hand. My name is Daniel Grigori.

  He hadnt even noticed that she was dressed in a maids uniform instead of a ball gown, that she didnt act at all like a proper British girl. Hed only just laid eyes on her, but like Lucinda, Daniel was already blinded by love.

  Seeing all of this from a new angle put a strange clarity on their relationship. It was wonderful, but it was tragically shortsighted. Was it even Lucinda whom Daniel loved and vice versa, or was it just a cycle they couldnt break free of?

  It isnt me, Luce told him sadly.

  He took her hands. She melted a little. Of course its you, he said. Its always you.

  No, Luce said. It isnt fair to her, youre not being fair. And besides, Daniel, shes mean.

  Who are you talking about? He looked like he couldnt decide whether to take her seriously or laugh.

  From the corner of her eye, Luce saw a figure in white walking toward them from the back of the house.

  Lucinda.

  Coming to meet Daniel. She was early. Her note said nine oclock--at least it had said nine oclock before Luce had tossed its fragments into the fire.

  Luces heart began to pound. She could not be caught here when Lucinda arrived. And yet, she couldnt leave Daniel so soon.

  Why do you love her? Luces words came out in a rush. What makes you fall in love with her, Daniel?

  Daniel laid his hand on her shoulder--it felt wonderful. Slow down, he said. Weve only just met, but I can promise you there isnt anyone I love except--

  You there! Servant girl! Lucinda had spotted them, and from the tone of her voice, she wasnt happy about it. She began to run toward the gazebo, cursing at her dress, at the muddiness of the grass, at Luce. What have you done with my letter, girl?

  Th-that girl, the one coming this way, Luce stammered, is me, in a sense. Im her. You love us, and I need to understand--

  Daniel turned to watch Lucinda, the one he had loved--would love in this era. He could see her face clearly now. He could see that there were two of them.

  When he turned back to Luce, his hand on her shoulder began to tremble. Its you, the other one. What have you done? How did you do this?

  You! Girl! Lucinda had registered Daniels hand on Luces shoulder. Her whole face puckered up. I knew it! she screeched, running even faster. Get away from him, you trollop!

  Luce could feel panic washing over her. She had no choice now but to run. But first: She touched the side of Daniels face. Is it love? Or is it just the curse that brings us together?

  Its love, he gasped. Dont you know that?

  She broke free of his grasp and fled, running fast and furiously across the lawn, back through the grove of silver birch trees, back to the overgrown grasses where shed first arrived. Her feet became tangled and she tripped, landing flat on her face. Everything hurt. And she was mad. Fuming mad. At Lucinda for being so nasty. At Daniel for the way he just fell in love without thinking. At her own powerlessness to do anything that made a bit of difference. Lucinda would still die--Luces having been here didnt matter at all. Beating her fists on the ground, she let out a groan of frustration.

  There, there. A tiny stone hand patted her back.

  Luce flicked it away. Leave me alone, Bill.

  Hey, it was a valiant effort. You really got out there in the trenches this time. But--Bill shrugged-- now its over.

  Luce sat up and glared at him. His smug expression made her want to march right back there and tell Lucinda who she really was--tell her what things were like not so far down the road.

  No. Luce stood up. Its not over. Bill yanked her back down. He was shockingly strong for such a little creature. Oh, its over. Come on, get in the Announcer.

  Luce turned where Bill was pointing. She hadnt even noticed the thick black portal floating right in front of her. Its musty smell made her sick.

  No.

  "Yes," Bill said.

  Youre the one who told me to slow down in the first place.

  Look, let me give you the CliffsNotes: Youre a bitch in this life and Daniel doesnt care. Shocker! He courts you for a few weeks, theres some exchanging of flowers. A big kiss and then kaboom. Okay? Not much more to see.

  You dont understand.

  What? I dont understand that Victorians are as stuffy as an attic and as boring as watching wallpaper peel? Come on, if youre going to zigzag through your past, make it count. Lets hit some highlights.

  Luce didnt budge. Is there a way to make you disappear?

  Do I have to stuff you in this Announcer like a cat in a suitcase? Lets move!

  I need to see that he loves me, not just some idea of me because of some curse that hes bound to. I need to feel like theres something stronger keeping us together. Something real.

  Bill took a seat next to Luce on the grass. Then he seemed to think better of it and actually crawled onto her lap. At first, she wanted to swat him, and the flies buzzing around his head, but when he looked up at her, his eyes appeared sincere.


  Honey, Daniel loving the real you is the last thing you should be worried about. Youre freaking soul mates. You two coined the phrase. You dont have to stick around here to see that. Its in every life.

  What?

  You want to see true love?

  She nodded.

  Come on. He tugged her up. The Announcer hovered in front of them and began to morph into a new shape, until it almost resembled the flaps of a tent. Bill flew into the air, hooked his finger into an invisible latch, and tugged. The Announcer rearranged itself, lowering itself like a drawbridge until all Luce could see was a tunnel of darkness.

  Luce glanced back toward Daniel and Lucinda, but she couldnt see them--only outlines of them, blurs of color pressing together.

  Bill made a sweeping motion with his free hand into the belly of the Announcer. Step right in.

  And so she did.

  Chapter Eight

  WATCHING FROM THE WINGS

  HELSTON, ENGLAND JULY 26, 1854

  Daniels clothes were sun-bleached and his cheek was caked with sand when he woke up on the desolate coast of Cornwall. It might have been a day, a week, a month that hed been out there wandering alone. However much time had passed, hed spent all of it punishing himself for his mistake.

  Encountering Lucinda like that in the dressmakers had been so grave an error that Daniels soul burned every time he thought of it.

  And he couldnt stop thinking of it.

  Her full pink lips curling around the words: I think I know you. Please. Wait.

  So lovely and so perilous.

  Oh, why couldnt it have been something small? Some brief exchange well into their courtship? Then it might not have mattered so much. But a first sighting! Lucinda Biscoes first sighting had been of him, the wrong Daniel. He could have jeopardized everything. He could have distorted the future so badly that his Luce could end up dead already, altered beyond recognition--

  But no: If that were so, he wouldnt have his Luce in his memory. Time would have revised itself and he would have no regrets at all because his Luce would be different.

  His past self must have responded to Lucinda Biscoe in a way that covered Daniels mistake. He couldnt quite remember how things had begun, only how theyd ended. But no matter: He wouldnt get anywhere near his past self to warn him, for fear of running into Lucinda again and doing yet more damage. All he could do was back away and wait it out.

  He was used to eternity, but this had been Hell.

  Daniel lost track of time, let it drift into the sounds of the ocean washing up against the shore. For a little while, at least.

  He could easily resume his quest by stepping into an Announcer and chasing Luce to the next life she visited. But for some reason, he stuck around Helston, waiting until Lucinda Biscoes life ended here.

  Waking up that evening, the sky slashed by purple clouds, Daniel sensed it. Midsummer. The night she would die. He wiped the sand from his skin and felt the strange tenderness in his hidden wings. His heart throbbed with every beat.

  It was time.

  Lucindas death would not happen until after nightfall.

  Daniels earlier self would be alone in the Constances parlor. He would be drawing Lucinda Biscoe one last time. His bags would sit outside the door, empty as usual save for a leather-bound pencil case, a few sketchbooks, his book about the Watchers, an extra pair of shoes. He really had been planning to sail the next morning. What a lie.

  In the moments leading up to her deaths, Daniel rarely was honest with himself. He always lost himself in his love. Every time, he fooled himself, got drunk on her presence, and lost track of what must be.

  He remembered particularly well how it had ended in this Helston life: denying that she had to die right up until the instant he pressed her up against the ruby-velvet curtains and kissed her into oblivion. Hed cursed his fate then; he had made an ugly scene. He could still feel the agony, fresh as an irons brand across his skin. And he remembered the visitation.

 
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