Passion, p.42
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       Passion, p.42

         Part #3 of Fallen series by Lauren Kate
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Page 42

 

  You always did have an inner fire. I love that about you. He smiled, and it was a terrible thing. If only your spark stayed inside, hmm? Some people are just unlucky in love.

  Dont talk to me about love, Luce spat. I cant believe I ever listened to a word that came out of your mouth. You dont know a thing about love.

  Ive heard that one before. And I happen to know one important thing about love: You think yours is bigger than Heaven and Hell and the fate of all that rests between. But youre wrong. Your love for Daniel Grigori is less than insignificant. It is nothing!

  His shout was like a shock wave that blew back Luces hair. She gasped and struggled for air. Say whatever you want. I love Daniel. I always will. And it has nothing to do with you.

  Satan held her up to his red eyes, pinching her skin with his sharpest pointer claw. I know you love him. Youre a fool for him. Just tell me why.

  Why?

  Why. Why him? Put it into words. Really make me feel it. I want to be moved.

  A million reasons. I just do.

  His snaggletoothed smile deepened, and a sound like a thousand growling dogs came from deep inside him. That was a test. You failed, but it isnt your fault. Not really. That is an unfortunate side effect of the curse you bear. You dont get to make choices anymore.

  Thats not true. If you remember, I just made a big choice not to kill my soul.

  That angered him--she could see it in the way his nostrils flared, the way he reached up and balled his claw into a fist and made a patch of the starry sky go out like a light switch had been flicked somewhere. But he said nothing for the longest time. Just stared away into the night.

  A horrible thought struck Luce. Were you even telling the truth? What would really have happened if Id used the starshot to-- She shuddered, sickened that shed come so close. Whats in all this for you? You want me out of the picture or something so you can get to Daniel? Is that why you would never show yourself in front of him? Because he would have gone after you and--

  Satan chuckled. His laughter dimmed the stars. You think Im scared of Daniel Grigori? You do think very highly of him. Tell me, what kind of wild lies has he been filling your head with about his grandiose place in Heaven?

  Youre the liar, Luce said. Youve done nothing but lie from the moment I met you. No wonder the whole universe despises you.

  Fears. Not despises. Theres a difference. Fear has envy in it somewhere. You may not believe it, but there are many who wish to wield the power that I wield. Who . . . adore me.

  Youre right. I dont believe you.

  You just dont know enough. About anything. Ive taken you on a tour of your past--shown you the futility of this existence, hoping to awaken you to the truth, and all I get from you is Daniel! I want Daniel!

  He flung her down and she fell into blackness, coming to a stop only when he glared at her, as if he could fix her in place. He moved in a tight circle around her, his hands behind his back, his wings drawn tight, his head tilted toward the sky. Everything you see here is everything there is to see. From far away, yes, but its all there--all the lives and worlds and more, far beyond the weak conception of mortals. Look at it.

  She did, and it looked different than it had before. The veldt of stars was endless, the dark of night folded again and again over so many bright spots that the sky was more light than black. Its beautiful.

  Its about to be a tabula rasa. His lips curled into a twisted smile. Ive grown tired of this game.

  This is all a game to you?

  Its a game to him. He swept his hand across the sky and left a dark swath of night in his wake. And I refuse to concede it to that Other simply because of a cosmic scale. Simply because our sides are in balance.

  Balance. You mean, the scale between the fallen angels who allied themselves with you, and those who allied themselves with--

  Dont say it. But yes, that other. Right now there is a balance, and--

  And one more angel has to side, Luce said, remembering the long talk Arriane had given her at the diner in Las Vegas.

  Mmm-hmm. Except this time, I wont leave it to chance. It was a shortsighted goal of mine, the whole starshot bit, but Ive seen the error of my ways. Ive been plotting. Ive been planning. Often while you and some past iteration of Grigori were preoccupied with your B-grade heavy petting. So, you see, no one will be able to sabotage what I have planned next.

  Im going to wipe the slate clean. Start over. I can skip the millennia that led up to you and your loophole of a life, Lucinda Price--he snorted--and begin again. And this time, I will play more wisely. This time I will win.

  What does that mean, wipe the slate clean?

  All of time is like a grand slate, Lucinda. Nothing is written that cant be erased by one clever sort. Its a drastic move, yes, and it means that Ill be throwing away thousands of years. A big setback for everyone concerned--but hey, whats a handful of lost millennia in the yawning concept of eternity?

  How can you do that? she said, knowing he could feel her tremble in his grasp. What does it mean?

  It means Im going back to the beginning. To the Fall. To all of us being cast out of Heaven because we dared to exercise free will. Im talking about the first great injustice.

  Reliving your greatest hits? she said, but he wasnt listening, lost in the details of his scheme.

  You and the tiresome Daniel Grigori will make the trip with me. In fact, your soul mate is on his way there now.

  Why would Daniel--

  I showed him the way, of course. Now all I have to do is get there in time to see the angels cast out and begin their fall to Earth. What a beautiful moment that will be.

  When they begin their fall? How long did it take?

  Nine days by some accounts, he murmured, but it seemed an eternity to those of us cast out. You never asked your friends about it? Cam. Roland. Arriane. Your precious Daniel? All of us were there.

  So you see it happen again. So what?

  So then I do something unexpected. And do you know what that is? He snickered, and his red eyes gleamed. I dont know, she said softly. Kill Daniel?

  Not kill. Catch. Im going to catch every last one of us. Ill open up an Announcer like a great net, casting it to the forward edge of time. Then Ill cleave to my old self and spirit the full host of angels into the present with me. Even the ugly ones.

  So what?

  So what? We will be once more starting at the beginning. Because the Fall is the beginning. It isnt a part of history; it is when history begins. And all that has come before? It will no longer have happened.

  No longer have hap--You mean, like that life in Egypt?

  Never happened.

  China? Versailles? Las Vegas?

  Never, never, never. But its more than just you and your boyfriend, selfish child. Its the Roman empire and the so-called Son of that Other. It is the long sad festering of humanity rising from the primordial murk of the earth and turning its world into a cesspool. It is everything that has ever taken place, taken away by a tiny little skip across time, like a stone skipping across water.

  But you cant just . . . erase all of the past!

  Sure I can. Like shortening a skirts waistband. Just remove the excess fabric and draw the two parts together and its like that middle part never existed. We start fresh. The whole cycle will repeat itself, and Ill have another shot at luring in the important souls. Souls like--

  You will never get him. He will never join your side.

  Daniel hadnt given in once across the five thousand years shed witnessed. No matter that they killed her again and again and denied him his one true love, he would not give in and choose a side. And even if he did somehow lose his resolve, she would be there to support him: She knew now that she was strong enough to carry Daniel if he faltered. Just as hed carried her.

  No matter how many times you wipe the slate clean, she said, it wont change a thing.

  Oh. He laughed as if he were embarrassed
for Luce--a thick, scary guffaw. Of course it will. It will change everything. Shall I count the ways? He stuck out a spiky, yellowed claw. First of all, Daniel and Cam will be brothers again, just as they were in the early days after the Fall. Wont that be fun for you? Worse still: no Nephilim. No time will have passed for angels to walk the earth and copulate with the mortals, so say goodbye to your little friends from school.

  No--

  He snapped his claws. Oh, one more thing I forgot to mention: Your history with Daniel? That gets erased. So everything youve discovered on your little quest, all those things you so earnestly told me youd learned in between our jaunts in the past? You can kiss them goodbye.

  No! You cant do this!

  He swept her into his cold grasp once more. Oh, darling--its practically done. He cackled, and his laughter sounded like an avalanche as time and space folded around the two of them. Luce shuddered and cringed and fought to loosen his grip, but he had her tucked too tightly, too deeply under his vile wing. She could see nothing, could only feel a rush of wind rip into them and a burst of heat, and then an unshakable chill settling over her soul.

  Chapter Twenty

  JOURNEYS END

  Of course, there had only ever been one place to find her.

  The first one. The beginning.

  Daniel tumbled toward the first life, ready to wait there for as long as it would take Luce to make her way there, too. He would take her in his arms, whisper in her ear, At last. I found you. I will never let you go.

  He stepped from the shadows and froze in blinding brightness.

  No. This was not his destination.

  This ambrosial air and opalescent sky. This cosmic gulf of adamantine light. His soul constricted at the sight of the waves of white clouds brushing against the black Announcer. There it was, in the distance: the unmistakable three-note hum playing softly, endlessly. The music the Throne of the Ethereal Monarch made purely by radiating light.

  No. No! No!

  He was not supposed to be here. He meant to meet Lucinda in her first incarnation on Earth. How had he landed here, of all places?

  His wings had instinctively unfurled. The unfolding felt different than it did on Earth--not the vast release of finally letting himself go, but an occurrence as commonplace as breathing was to mortals. He knew that he was glowing, but not in the way he sometimes shone under mortal moonlight. His glory was nothing to hide here, and nothing to show, either. It just was.

  It had been so long since Daniel had been home.

  It drew him in. It drew them all in, the way the scent of a childhood home--pine trees or homemade cookies, sweet summer rain or the musk of a fathers cigar--could do for any mortal. It held a mighty power. This was why Daniel had stayed away these last six thousand years.

  He was back now--and not of his own volition.

  That cherub!

  The pale, wispy angel in his Announcer--he had tricked Daniel.

  The pinions of Daniels wings stood on end. There had been something not quite right about that angel. His Scale brand was too fresh. Still raised and red on the back of his neck, as if it had been freshly carved . . .

  Daniel had flown into some sort of trap. He had to leave, no matter what.

  Aloft. You were always aloft up here. Always gliding through the purest air. He spread his wings and felt the white mist ripple over him. He soared across the pearly forests, swooping above the Orchard of Knowledge, curving around the Grove of Life. He passed satin-white lakes and the foothills of the shining silver Celeste Mountains.

  Hed spent so many happy epochs here.

  No. All that must remain in the recesses of his soul. This was no time for nostalgia.

 

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