Passion, p.26
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       Passion, p.26
 

         Part #3 of Fallen series by Lauren Kate
Page 26

 

  No, not Cam, his past self responded. Two kids.

  Shelby? Now Daniel pounded his fist into the stone floor. And the other one . . . Miles. Youre not serious? Those Nephilim? They were here?

  About a month ago, I think. He pointed at the wall behind him, where some crooked tally marks were etched into the wall. I tried to keep track of the day, but you know how it is. Time passes in funny ways. It gets away from you.

  I remember. Daniel shuddered. But the Nephilim. You talked to them? He racked his memory, and faint images came to mind from his imprisonment, images of a girl and boy. Hed always taken them for the phantoms of grief, just two more of the delusions that beset him when shed gone and he was alone again.

  For a moment. The prisoners voice sounded tired and far away. They werent all that interested in me.

  Good.

  Once they found out she was dead, they were in a great hurry to move on. His gray eyes were eerily penetrating. Something you and I can understand.

  Where did they go?

  Dont know. The prisoner cracked a smile too big for his thin face. I dont think they did, either. You should have seen how long it took them to open an Announcer. Looked like couple of bumbling fools.

  Daniel felt himself almost begin to laugh.

  It isnt funny, his past self said. They care for her.

  But Daniel felt no tenderness for the Nephilim. Theyre a threat to all of us. The destruction they could cause . . . He closed his eyes. They have no idea what theyre doing.

  Why cant you catch her, Daniel? His past self laughed dryly. Weve seen each other before over the millennia--I remember you chasing her. And never catching her.

  I--I dont know. The words stuck in Daniels throat, a long sob building behind them. Quivering, he stifled it. I cant reach her. Somehow I am eternally arriving a heartbeat too late, as though someone or something is working behind the scenes to keep her from me.

  Your Announcers will always take you where you need to be.

  "I need to be with her. "

  Perhaps they know what you need better than you know yourself.

  What?

  Maybe she shouldnt be stopped. The prisoner rattled his chain listlessly. That she is able to travel at all means something fundamental was changed. Maybe you cant catch her until she works that change into the original curse.

  But-- He didnt know what to say. The sob rose in Daniels chest, drowning his heart in a torrent of shame and sadness. She needs me. Every second is a lost eternity. And if she makes a misstep, everything could be lost. She could change the past and . . . cease to exist.

  But thats the nature of risk, isnt it? You gamble everything on the slenderest of hopes. His past self began to reach out, almost touching Daniels arm. Both of them wanted to feel a connection. At the last instant, Daniel jerked away.

  His past self sighed. What if its you, Daniel? What if youre the one who has to alter the past? What if you cant catch her until youve rewritten the curse to include a loophole?

  Impossible. Daniel snorted. Look at me. Look at you. Were wretched without her. Were nothing when were not with Lucinda. There is no reason why my soul wouldnt want to find her as quickly as possible.

  Daniel wanted to fly away from here. But something was nagging at him.

  Why havent you offered to accompany me? he asked finally. I would refuse you, of course, but some of the others--when I encountered myself in another life, he wanted to join in. Why dont you?

  A rat crawled along the prisoners leg, stopping to sniff at the bloody chains around his ankles.

  I escaped once, he said slowly. You remember?

  Yes, Daniel said, when you--when we--escaped, early on. We went straight back to Savoy. He looked up at the false hope offered by the light outside the window. Why did we go there? We should have known we were walking right into a trap.

  The prisoner leaned back and rattled his chains. We had no other choice. It was the closest place to her. He drew in a ragged breath. Its so hard when shes in between. I never feel I can go on. I was glad when the duke anticipated my escape, figured out where Id go. He was waiting in Savoy, waiting at my patrons dinner table with his men. Waiting to drag me back here.

  Daniel remembered. The punishment felt like something Id earned.

  Daniel. The prisoners forlorn face looked like it had been given a jolt of electricity. He looked alive again, or at least, his eyes did. They glowed violet. I think Ive got it. The words rushed carelessly out. Take a lesson from the duke.

  Daniel licked his lips. Excuse me?

  All these lives you say that youve been trailing after her. Do as the duke did with us. Anticipate her. Dont just catch up. Get there first. Wait her out.

  But I dont know where her Announcers will take her.

  Of course you do, his past self insisted. You must have faint memories of where shell end up. Maybe not every step along the way, but eventually, it all has to end where it started.

  A silent understanding passed between them. Running his hands along the wall near the window, Daniel summoned a shadow. It was invisible to him in the darkness, but he could feel it moving toward him, and he deftly worked it into shape. This Announcer seemed as despondent as he felt. Youre right, he said, jerking open the portal. There is one place shes sure to go.

  Yes.

  And you. You should take your own advice and leave this place, Daniel said grimly. Youre rotting in here.

  At least this bodys pain distracts me from the pain in my soul, his past self said. No. I wish you luck, but I wont leave these walls now. Not until shes settled in her next incarnation.

  Daniels wings bristled at his neck. He tried to sort out time and lives and memories in his head, but he kept circling around the same irksome thought. She--she should be settled now. In conception. Cant you feel it?

  Oh, his imprisoned past self said softly. He closed his eyes. I dont know that I can feel anything anymore. The prisoner sighed heavily. Lifes a nightmare.

  No, its not. Not anymore. Ill find her. Ill redeem us both, Daniel shouted, desperate to get out of there, desperately taking another leap of faith through time.

  Chapter Thirteen

  STAR-CROSSED

  LONDON, ENGLAND JUNE 29, 1613

  Something crunched under Luces feet.

  She raised the hem of her black gown: A layer of discarded walnut shells on the ground was so thick the stringy brown bits rose up over the buckles of her emerald-green high-heeled slippers.

  She was at the rear of a noisy crowd of people. Almost everyone around her was dressed in muted browns or grays, the women in long gowns with ruched bodices and wide cuffs at the ends of their bell sleeves. The men wore tapered pants, broad mantles draping their shoulders, and flat caps made of wool. Shed never stepped out of an Announcer into such a public place before, but here she was, in the middle of a packed amphitheater. It was startling--and riotously loud.

  Look out! Bill grabbed the neck of her velvet capelet and yanked her backward, pinning her against the wooden rail of a staircase.

  A heartbeat later, two grimy boys barreled past in a reckless game of tag that sent a trio of women in their path falling over one another. The women heaved themselves back up and shouted curses at the boys, who jeered back, barely slowing down.

  Next time, Bill shouted in her ear, cupping his stone claws around his mouth, could you try directing your little stepping-through exercises into a more--I dont know--serene setting? How am I supposed to do your costuming in the middle of this mob?

  Sure, Bill, Ill work on that. Luce edged back just as the boys playing tag zipped by again. Where are we?

  Youve circled the globe to find yourself in the Globe, milady. Bill sketched a little bow.

  The Globe Theatre? Luce ducked as the woman in front of her discarded a gnawed-on turkey leg by tossing it over her shoulder. You mean, like, Shakespeare?

  Well, he claims to be retired. You know those arti
st types. So moody. Bill swooped down near the ground, tugging at the hem of her dress and humming to himself.

  Othello happened here, Luce said, taking a moment to let it all sink in. The Tempest. Romeo and Juliet. Were practically standing in the center of all the greatest love stories ever written.

  Actually, youre standing in walnut shells. Why do you have to be so glib about everything? This is amazing!

  Sorry, I didnt realize wed need a moment of bardolatry. His words came out lisped because of the needle clipped between his jagged teeth. Now stand still.

  Ouch! Luce yelped as he jabbed sharply into her kneecap. What are you doing?

  Un-Anachronizing you. These folksll pay good money for a freak show, but theyre expecting it to stay onstage. Bill worked quickly, discreetly tucking the long, draped fabric of her black gown from Versailles into a series of folds and crimps so that it was gathered along the sides. He knocked away her black wig and pulled her hair into a frizzy pouf. Then he eyed the velvet capelet around her shoulders. He whipped off the soft fabric. At last, he hocked a giant loogie into one hand, rubbed his palms together, and welded the capelet into a high Jacobean collar.

  That is seriously disgusting, Bill.

  Be quiet, he snapped. Next time give me more space to work. You think I like making do? I dont. He jerked his head at the jeering throngs. Luckily most of them are too drunk to notice the girl stepping out of the shadows at the back of the room.

  Bill was right: No one was looking at them. Everyone was squabbling as they pressed closer to the stage. It was just a platform, raised about five feet off the ground, and, standing at the back of the rowdy crowd, Luce had trouble seeing it clearly.

  Come on, now! a boy shouted from the back. Dont make us wait all day!

  Above the crowd were three tiers of box seats, and then nothing: the O-shaped amphitheater opened on a midday sky the pale blue of a robins egg. Luce looked around for her past self. For Daniel.

  Were at the opening of the Globe. She thought back to Daniels words under the peach trees at Sword & Cross. Daniel told me we were here.

  Sure, you were here, Bill said. About fourteen years ago. Perched on your older brothers shoulder. You came with your family to see Julius Caesar.

  Bill hovered in the air a foot in front of her. It was unappetizing, but the high collar around her neck actually seemed to hold its shape. She almost resembled the sumptuously dressed women in the higher boxes.

  And Daniel? she asked.

  Daniel was a player--

  Hey!

  Thats what they call the actors. Bill rolled his eyes. He was just starting out then. To everyone else in the audience, his debut was utterly forgettable. But to little three-year-old Lucinda--Bill shrugged--it put the fire in you. Youve been quote-unquote dying to get onstage ever since. Tonights your night.

  Im an actor?

  No. Her friend Callie was the actor, not her. During Luces last semester at the Dover School, Callie had begged Luce to try out with her for Our Town. The two of them had rehearsed for weeks before the audition. Luce got one line, but Callie had brought the house down with her portrayal of Emily Webb. Luce had watched from the wings, proud of and awed by her friend. Callie would have sold off her lifes possessions to stand in the old Globe Theatre for one minute, let alone to get up on the stage.

  But then Luce remembered Callies blood-drained face when shed seen the angels battle the Outcasts. What had happened to Callie after Luce had left? Where were the Outcasts now? How would Luce ever explain to Callie, or her parents, what had happened--if, that is, Luce ever returned to her backyard and that life?

  Because Luce knew now that she wouldnt go back to that life until shed figured out how to stop it from ending. Until shed unraveled this curse that forced her and Daniel to live out the same star-crossed lovers tale again and again.

 
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