Passion, p.38
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       Passion, p.38

         Part #3 of Fallen series by Lauren Kate
 
Page 38

 

  He wasnt afraid for her, not because she was walking into the darkness of another death. He didnt fear that it might cause her pain.

  Daniel was afraid of her.

  Lu Xin! his voice cried out to her from the battlefield. She could see him through the haze of visions. He was the only thing coming in clearly--because everything else around her was lit up startlingly white. Everything inside her was, too. Was her love of Daniel burning her up? Was it her own passion, not his, that destroyed her every time?

  No! His hand reached out for hers. But it was too late.

  Her head hurt. She didnt want to open her eyes.

  Bill was back, the floor was cool, and Luce was in a welcome pocket of darkness. A waterfall sprayed somewhere in the background, drizzling on her hot cheeks.

  You did okay out there after all, he said.

  Dont sound so disappointed, Luce said. How about explaining where you disappeared to? Cant. Bill sucked in his fat lips to show that they were sealed.

  Why not?

  Personal.

  Is it Daniel? she asked. Hed be able to see you, wouldnt he? And theres some reason you dont want him to know that youre helping me.

  Bill snorted. My business isnt always about you, Luce. I have other things stewing in the pot. Besides, you seem pretty independent of late. Maybe its time to end our little arrangement, bust off your training wheels. What the hell do you need me for anymore?

  Luce was too exhausted to pander to him, and too stunned by what shed just seen. Its hopeless.

  All the rage left Bill like air being let out of a balloon. How do you mean?

  When I die, its not because of anything that Daniel does. Its something that happens inside me. Maybe his love brings it out, but--its my fault. That has to be part of the curse, only I have no idea what it means. All I know is, I saw a look in his eyes right before I died--its always the same.

  He tilted his head. So far.

  I make him miserable more than I make him happy, she said. If he hasnt given up on me, he should. I cant do this to him anymore.

  She dropped her head into her hands.

  Luce? Bill sat on her knee. There was the strange tenderness hed shown when she first met him. Do you want to put this endless charade to rest? For Daniels sake?

  Luce looked up and wiped her eyes. You mean, so he wont have to go through this again? Theres something I can do?

  When you assume one of your past selfs bodies, there is one moment in each one of your lives, just before you die, where your soul and the two bodies--past and present--split apart. It only happens for a fraction of an instant.

  Luce squinted. I think Ive felt that. At the moment when I realize Im going to die, right before I actually do?

  Exactly. It has to do with how your lives cleave together. In that fraction of a moment, there is a way to cleave your cursed soul from your present body. Kind of like carving out your soul. It would, effectively, extinguish that pesky reincarnation element of your curse.

  But I thought I was already at the end of my cycle of reincarnations, that I wasnt coming back anymore. Because of the baptism thing. Because I never--

  That doesnt matter. Youre still bound to see the cycle to its end. As soon as you go back to the present, you could still die at any moment because of--

  My love of Daniel.

  Sure, something like that, Bill said. Ahem. That is, unless you break the bond with your past.

  So Id cleave from my past and she would still die as she always did--

  And you would still be cast out just as youve been before, only youd leave your soul behind to die, too. And the body you would return to--he poked her in the shoulder--this one--would be free to live outside the curse thats been hanging over you since the dawn of time.

  No more dying?

  Not unless you jump off a building or get into a car with a murderer or take a whole lot of Unisom or-- I get it, she cut him off. But its not like--she struggled to steady her voice--its not like Daniel would kiss me and Id . . . or--

  Its not like Daniel would do anything. Bill stared at her purposefully. You wouldnt be drawn to him anymore. Youd move on. Probably marry some dull sweetheart and have twelve kids of your own.

  No.

  You and Daniel would be free of the curse you so despise. Free. Hear that? He could move on and be happy, too. Dont you want Daniel to be happy?

  But Daniel and I--

  Daniel and you would be nothing. Its a hard reality, okay, fine. But think about it: You wouldnt have to hurt him anymore. Grow up, Luce. Theres more to life than teenage passion.

  Luce opened her mouth but didnt want to hear her voice break. A life without Daniel was unimaginable. But so was going back to her current life and trying to be with Daniel and having it kill her for good. She had tried so hard to find a way to break this curse, but the answer still eluded her. Maybe this was the way. It sounded awful now, but if she went back to her life and didnt even know Daniel, she wouldnt miss him. And he wouldnt miss her. Maybe that would be better. For both of them.

  But no. They were soul mates. And Daniel brought more into her life than just his love. Arriane, Roland, and Gabbe. Even Cam. It was because of all of them that shed learned about herself--what she wanted, what she didnt, how to stand up for herself. Shed grown up and become a better person. Without Daniel, she would never have gone to Shoreline, never have found the true friends shed made of Shelby and Miles. Would she even have gone to Sword & Cross? Where on earth would she be? Who would she be?

  Could she be happy one day without him? Fall in love with someone else? She couldnt bear to think about that. Life without Daniel sounded colorless and grim--except for one bright spot that Luce kept circling back to:

  What if she never had to hurt him again?

  Say I did want to consider this. Luce could barely muster a whisper. Just to think it over. How does it even work?

  Bill reached behind him and slowly unsheathed something long and silver from a tiny black strap on his back. Shed never noticed it before. He held out a dull, flat-tipped silver arrow that she immediately recognized.

  Then he smiled. Have you ever seen a starshot?

  Chapter Eighteen

  BAD DIRECTIONS

  JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 27 NISSAN 2760

  "So, youre not actually that bad of a guy? Shelby said to Daniel.

  They were sitting on the lush bank of the old Jerusalem riverbed, watching the horizon where the two fallen angels had just parted ways. The lightest breath of gold-hued light hung in the sky where Cam had been, and the air was beginning to smell a bit like rotten eggs.

  Of course Im not. Daniel dipped his hand in the cool water. His wings and his soul still felt hot from watching Cam make his choice. How simple it had seemed for him. How easy and how swift.

  And all because of a broken heart.

  Its just that when Luce found out you and Cam struck up that truce, she was devastated. None of us could understand it. Shelby looked to Miles for affirmation. Could we?

  We thought you were hiding something from her. Miles took off his baseball cap and rubbed his head. All we knew of Cam was that he was supposed to be pure evil.

  Shelby made claws with her fingers. All hiss! and rawr! and like that.

  Few souls are pure anything, Daniel said, in Heaven, in Hell, or on Earth. He turned away, looking high in the eastern sky for a hint of the silver dust Dani would have left when he unfurled his wings and flew away. There was nothing.

  Sorry, Shelby said, but its so weird to think of you as brothers.

  We were all a family at one point.

  Yeah, but, like, forever ago.

  You think just because somethings been one way for a few thousand years, that its fixed across eternity. Daniel shook his head. Everything is in flux. I was with Cam at the Dawn of Time, and Ill see him through the End Times.

  Shelbys eyebrows shot up in disbelief. You think Cams going to come back aroun
d? Like, see the light side again?

  Daniel started to stand. Nothing stays the same forever.

  What about your love with Luce? Miles asked.

  That stopped Daniel cold. Thats changing, too. Shell be different, after this experience. I just hope . . . He looked down at Miles, who was still seated on the bank, and Daniel realized he didnt hate Miles. In their recklessly idiotic way, the Nephilim had been trying to help.

  For the first time, Daniel could say truthfully that he didnt need help anymore; hed gotten all the help he needed along the way from each of his past selves. Now, finally, he was ready to catch up with Luce.

  Why was he still standing here?

  Its time for you two to go home, he said, helping Shelby, then Miles to their feet.

  No, Shelby said, reaching for Miles, who gave her hand a squeeze. We made a pact. Were not going back until we know shes--

  It wont be long, Daniel said. I think I know where to find her, and its no place you two can go.

  Come on, Shel. Miles was already peeling away the shadow cast by the olive tree near the riverbank. It pooled and swirled in his hands and looked unwieldy for a moment, like potters clay about to spin off the wheel. But then Miles reined it in, spinning it into an impressively large black portal. He pressed open the Announcer lightly, gesturing for Shelby to step through first.

  Youre getting good at that. Daniel had drawn up his own Announcer, summoning it from the shadow of his own body. It trembled before him. Because the Nephilim were not here through their own past experiences, they would have to leapfrog from Announcer to Announcer to get back to their own time. It would be difficult, and Daniel did not envy them their journey, but he did envy them because they were going home.

  Daniel. Shelbys head popped out of the Announcer. Her body looked warped and dim through the shadows. Good luck.

  She waved, and Miles waved, and the two of them stepped through. The shadow closed in on itself, collapsing into a dot just before it vanished.

  Daniel didnt see that happen. He was already gone.

  Cold wind gnawed into him.

  He sped through, faster than hed ever traveled before, back to a place, and a time, to which hed never thought he would return.

  Hey, a voice called out. It was raspy and blunt and seemed to come from right beside Daniel. Slow down, will ya?

  Daniel jerked away from the sound. Who are you? he shouted into the invisible darkness. Make yourself known.

  When nothing appeared before him, Daniel unfurled his rippling white wings--as much to challenge the intruder inside his Announcer as to help slow him down. They lit up the Announcer with their glow, and Daniel felt the tension inside him ease a little.

  Fully extended, his wings spanned the width of the tunnel. Their narrow tips were the most sensitive to touch; when they brushed against the dank walls of the Announcer, it gave Daniel a queasy, claustrophobic feeling.

  In the darkness before him, a figure slowly filtered into view.

  First, the wings: undersized and gossamer-thin. Then the body deepened in color just enough for Daniel to see a small, pale angel sharing his Announcer. Daniel did not know him. The angels features were soft and innocent-looking, like a babys. In the cramped tunnel, his fine blond hair blew across his silver eyes in the wind that Daniels wings sent back each time they pulsed. He looked so young, but of course, he was just as old as any of them.

  Who are you? Daniel asked again. How did you get in here? Are you Scale?

  Yes. Despite his innocent, infantile appearance, the angels voice was gravel-deep. He reached behind his back for a moment, and Daniel thought perhaps he was hiding something there--perhaps one of his kinds trapping devices--but the angel simply turned around to reveal the scar on the back of his neck. The seven-pointed gold insignia of the Scale. Im Scale. His deep voice was rough and clotted. Id like to speak with you.

 
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