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An élite club of shamed angels – the Fallen – welcomes disgraced super-naturals, like me. Defiant and vengeful, we’re catalysts in destruction and mayhem, much to our angelic adversaries’ dismay. Satisfying the void left in our soulless bodies motivates many Fallen to play with feeble humans. For even though we wield infernal-powers, they have one thing we crave. Souls. As a Fallen, an infinite number of days lay before me – if I choose. The Big Man upstairs always gives us a choice. I can accept my fate and perish, or consume a human’s soul and live. The last one I devoured glows like a firefly inside my chest. One day, it’ll flicker and fade into darkness. The Archangels who cast me from heaven would claim victory in the everlasting battle we wage, unless I consume another. My next victim? A young man with ridiculously enticing lips. Gorgeous doesn’t define his otherworldly appearance. His vogue hairstyle accentuates his sky-blue eyes. His laugh echoes in my ears. His perfect smile is burned to memory. The undeniable urge to consume his soul unveils my wicked inhibitions. I want him… his soul. One teeny problem – he’s protected by a Guardian angel.
Late Eighteenth Century
Clouds whirled around me as I clutched the soul of a young man in my hands. I held on tight, for it was my duty to deliver him to the afterlife. To bestow Death’s Kiss was my most dangerous Talent – a celestial-power. I viciously pumped my powerful, crystalline wings that were hinged on my back. Wind surged around me as I soared into the sky.
My exhilaration escalated when I saw my sister, Jezebell, kneeling in front of pure white gates. Her wavy, crimson hair danced in the wind. The hues in her hair matched the tips of her wings, like they’d been dipped in scarlet paint. Her skin glistened like a ripple in a pool of water.
I landed gracefully next to her. The hem of my lustrous silk dress whirled around my ankles like it was tickling the clouds that I stood on. Kneeling, I held my hands up for her to see the glowing orb that was the soul. Her dazzling, chartreuse eyes sparkled when she touched it. Her expression told me that it was agonizing yet breathtaking to caress the mortal’s soul.
“It took a lot of Persuasion to entice him to come with me, Jezebell,” I said, keeping a tight grip. “Judging from his Longevity, he wasn’t ready to leave his world.”
The faintest sounds of footsteps stole my attention. Towering over us stood Gabriel, the Gate Keeper – one of a kind amongst the angelic race. The infamous soldier guarded the only entrance into a vast array of other realms in the afterlife. Gabriel’s pale skin accentuated his pearly-white wings. Each feather appeared softer than the next. However, the gentleness of his wings was off-set by his austere demeanor.
His age surpassed most angels by centuries, including me, but it did not make him weak; his resilience was admirable. Countless souls were carried by others like me and brought to him. They faced his judgment before given the courtesy of meeting His grace. I could only imagine how daunting Gabriel’s duty would be. Bowing my head, I raised my hands to the Gate Keeper and said, “Ashes to ashes.” He cupped his hands around mine. “Dust to dust.” Instead of releasing his soul into another realm of the afterlife, Gabriel hesitated. The Gate Keeper hardly ever hesitated. Something was wrong. Keeping my head down, I looked up to steal a peek. Gabriel’s blind eyes Foresaw what I could not – each mortal’s fate. The whites in his eyes revealed nothing. “Who told you to kill this man, Miriam?” Anger resonated in Gabriel’s voice as he jerked the soul from my grasp. I explained to Gabriel that I’d been instructed, by a trusted Messenger, my sister, to retrieve the soul via any means necessary. Jezebell pressed her lips together in the same manner our mother would when her nerves overpowered her hard-earned confidence. She never uttered a word, not even to defend herself or justify her actions. “You altered the destiny of a mortal, Miriam. You killed him before it was his time – a grave sin. For that there is one punishment,” Gabriel said, carrying the soul to the gates and releasing it.
Two Archangels materialized beside the Gate Keeper – Jael and her brother Neriah. They were perfect warriors, created to take down their enemy. Their ashen-colored wings spanned further than arm’s length. Neriah’s plated armor protected his chest; threads of silver had been spun to create his fitted pants. His dirty-white hair was twisted into dreadlocks that hit the tops of his shoulders. Streaks of charcoal were smudged onto his pale skin, highlighting the lines of his muscles. Using his brute strength alone, he could drag me to hell and imprison me…if he could catch me. Jael’s opaque fingernails shimmered against her ghostly white skin. She waggled her fingers; her nails were as sharp as razors. Her long, curly gray hair was braided back. Her silver, skin-tight shirt and pants looked like they had been melted on; they emphasized her athletic figure. Each thread of her attire twisted around each other, creating strikingly similar look to her brother’s plated armor. She knelt down, preparing to attack if I tried to escape. Jael gnarred when Neriah opened his mouth. A howl exploded from his throat. His blackened teeth dripped with poison. With each breath, he sucked in the light around us for the sky darkened. Neriah beat his wings, creating a wind-force of paramount proportions. With each breath he took, his strength grew and mine weakened. His Talent consumed vigor; Consumption was a common Talent for Archangels. My energy, my life-force, dwindled as he stripped me of my divine immortality. I grabbed a dagger from the sheath strapped to my leg. Jezebell shrieked when I pressed it against her throat. The blade’s pristine shimmer reflected sun-dogs onto her neck. “Jezebell, you’ve forsaken me!” I shouted as the winds roared.
Jezebell whispered, “I had no choice.”
“You always have a choice,” I said and sliced her skin just enough to stain her white dress with scarlet drops. Her eyes burned red like she was moments from shedding tears; none trickled down her cheek. She screamed, “Kill me. Do it!” A merciful act would be to shove my dagger into her chest and let her last breath be taken as a heavenly spirit. Instead, I clutched my weapon with a death grip and removed it from her neck. Leaping off the clouds, I dove and then plummeted toward the ground. Jael pounced. Her agility and speed surpassed mine; she tackled me and dug her nails into my flesh. The Venom that seeped from her nail beds was a poisonous Talent; it acted similar to Consumption, slowly weakening my energy reserves. I screamed out in agony. Free-falling from the heavens, I anticipated the collision we’d take upon hitting the dirt. The fall wouldn’t kill me, but her poison might. I swung my dagger around and shoved it into her back. She laughed; it didn’t pierce her clothes. “My clothing was woven to be worn as shield of armor, Miriam,” she said. “Not even your immortal blade can penetrate it.” Watching from above, Neriah howled. It deafened my hearing. Air whipped around us, slowing our descent. The noise he made burst my eardrums. Blood seeped from them. Jael reached around, grabbed my dagger, and tried to yank it from my hand. My strength eclipsed hers. I wiggled it out of her grasp only to let it descend onto the ground.
Enraged, she sunk her fingers into my side. My flesh became numb around her nails. She opened her mouth like she was laughing, but I couldn’t hear anything other than Neriah’s howl. Jael beat her wings viciously, carrying us upward. My vision blurred. My consciousness waned. After ascending to the heavens, she tossed me next to Jezebell. Moving in an inhumanly graceful way, Neriah knelt beside me and seized me. I tried to escape again, but my movements were uncontrolled, compliments of Jael’s poison. I moved slowly and uncalculated only to jerk forcefully and twitch, like I was having seizures. My vision darkened around the edges. I used all the Talents I possessed in an effort to flee, but it was useless. Everywhere Neriah grabbed, he sucked my vigor and stripped me of my Talents. Once I was rendered defenseless, Neriah opened his mouth. No sound came out, not that I could hear. Onyx liquid dripped from his teeth, and dark smoke spewed out. The haze drifted down until it covered me. Contacting my skin, it transformed into a black gel. The charcoal streaks on his skin dripped from his skin and onto mine. It bubbled upon contact, burning off my angelic features. Jezebell watched in horror. Even though I couldn’t hear, I cried out for help until my throat was hoarse. Others arrived, but no one came to my aid. I begged for their understanding as the demonic gel crawled up my legs, wrapped around my body, and ate away my innocence until all that was left was evil. The malevolence matter ate at my wings until they rotted to the point where Gabriel effortlessly ripped them from my back. The pain paralyzed me. A persistent ring deafened my ears; my vision was distorted, fading in and out as if I was coming out of a bad dream.
Forcing me onto my back, Neriah easily held me in place. I whimpered, for I knew what was going to happen when I saw an Imbiber angel kneel beside me. She lifted my chin. Her translucent skin radiated with orbs of white glowing souls – angelic spirits that she’d consumed in her lifetime. Her eyes were pure darkness; I could look through them for all eternity and never see anything of consistency. Her hair was as white as the crest of an ocean’s wave. Hues of blue and green lingered throughout the white, but the harder I looked, the more the whiteness enveloped the sublet shades. Her lips were flush and rosy – devastatingly lovely. Instead of rendering Death’s Kiss, she sucked my soul from my body and devoured it. Emptiness filled me. My vision faded so much that I could hardly see the angels surrounding me. I locked gazes with my sister. Knowing that Jezebell was next filled me with a sliver of happiness. The Archangel released his grip. I fell.
Present Day Defiant and vengeful by nature, the Fallen were often the catalyst in destruction and mayhem of this world. Meddling with the humans’ lives, especially divine persons, was a pastime many enjoyed. However, that was before angels were recruited as Guardians, a millennium before I fell. Now, I was a Fallen – a wicked creature with no purpose and driven by an untamed urge to hunt. Filling the void left in our soulless bodies motivated many of us to play with humans. But the games we indulged in weren’t merry and innocent; no, we would partake in more torturous entertainment out of jealousy. For even though we wield infernal- powers, they have one thing we crave. Souls. An infinite number of days lay before me… if I chose it. There was always a choice. I could accept my fate and perish, or consume a human’s soul and live the length of their life. I’d chosen the latter. The last human soul I devoured glowed like a fireball inside my chest. Even though my body never aged, I grew older. Each passing day the soul I’d harvested faded a little more. One day it’d eventually begin to flicker and then never shine again. I would die. The Imbiber angel who’d consumed it would have one less glowing orb rippling through her hauntingly beautiful body. If that day came, the Jael and Neriah would know I’d finally perished.
Until then, it was game on. Night blanketed me as I left the abandoned firehouse, engulfing me in the shadows of the Santa Cruz. The ‘Holy Cross City’ wasn’t a home to many others like me because of its namesake. I was an outcast on godly levels and chose seclusion from the other Fallen as well. A horde of us would encourage chaos, and thus humans had a dangerously high fatality rate wherever we resided. Out of boredom, many Fallen would instigate fights; thus, our mortality was more likely. Since we were soulless, our death would ensure that we’d never be carried to an afterlife. Living in seclusion was my choice, one of the few I had left, thanks to my sister – wherever Jezebell lived now. It had been a few human lifetimes since I’d seen her last. I wondered if she dirtied her hands like me or accepted her fate. Archangels wouldn’t hunt her if she made the choice to die…no, the kicker was that they leave us alone and let us live out the days of our pointless life, unless we killed a human and consumed their soul. The faded memory of me holding my dagger to her throat replayed over and over in my mind even though it happened centuries ago. I could have saved her from this horrible fate, but I’d decided not to. She deserved a fortune similar to mine. For when angels sin, they fall. And Jezebell lied. The human she told me was awaiting death wasn’t ready. I carried his soul to the afterlife before it was time, affectively changing His plan. There were days I regretted the decision not to kill her as an angel and others I couldn’t have been more pleased. Why should Jezebell get to ascend into the afterlife if I couldn’t?
I shook the dismal thought from my mind. No use in feeling sorry for myself – save that for the poor fool I’d select. The soul harbored in my chest no longer glowed with radiance. My time was running out. I wasn’t about to lie down and die. It was time to hunt. *** The Guardian didn’t venture far from the young man, a modern- day prophet, which he swore to protect. The angel’s jet black eyes darted back and forth, scanning the lobby for possible threats. His onyx skin and hair were meant to help him blend into the shadows if he ever made his presence known. Angels were invisible to mortals and most Fallen, but my sight was still intact, as was my hearing. These senses were the only angelic features the demonic gel hadn’t been pillaged from me. My theory was that Jael’s poison had temporarily diminished my sight, so the Archangel thought she’d stripped me of it with her poison. Since Neriah damaged my eardrums with his howls, it was my best guess for my hearing too. Eventually both returned, but it had been painfully excruciating. All the same, I could still spy on my adversaries – like this Guardian. Daniel wore an ancient dark robe that shimmered in gray hues depending how the light hit it. Stitched into the fabric was a silvery design of a knife piercing a snake. The knife represented the Guardians; the snake stood for all that was evil. The emblem was meant to be symbolic amongst those who protected the righteous.
Even though the Guardian was dressed in dark clothing, I’d be able to spot this particular angel in the darkest of nights for I’d spent countless years training him. Daniel had been my Disciple – my pupil. But that was a lifetime ago. Daniel was now just another faceless enemy who’d slay me if given the chance. Guardians had the power to Beckon angels by touching the snake and knife emblem that was sewn into their robes; thus, I could quickly find myself in unwanted company. He gripped his granite crossbow. The quiver holding his deadly poisoned-tipped arrows hung loosely over his bare shoulder. It irked me that he didn’t tighten the strap. Even when I was training him, it had driven me insane to see him so sloppily dressed. Since I’d trained Daniel to kill mercilessly, I knew I should have turned around the moment I’d spotted him. But I was unexplainably drawn to his protectee; an indescribable force tugged me closer to the young man. I’d never been so drawn to a mortal’s soul before. My hunger compelled me to hunt for any soul, but something about this particular human awoke my appetite tenfold. Peering around the ticket booth, I kept my distance but memorized every feature about the human. The sight of him made me squirm – not merely because of his youth, which would grant me many years before I technically needed to hunt again. There was something else about him that mystified me. Gorgeousness couldn’t define his otherworldly appearance. His sandy blond hair was gelled; the product twisted his locks upward and slightly off-centered. The vogue hairstyle accentuated his sky-blue eyes. Our eyes locked for a fraction of a second, but in that moment I lost the ability to breathe. His gaze didn’t veer away either. I dug my nails into the ticket booth as if it’d keep me grounded.
I wanted him – craved his soul. Lingering in his eyes was a hunger as well; one that shouldn’t have resided. Even if I had worked my Persuasion, he shouldn’t have found me so intriguing. I quickly found it impossible to continue our eye-contest and dropped my gaze. But even then I couldn’t take my eyes off his lips – his luscious, delicious looking lips. I’d kissed many mortals before, but none were as delectable as his. As if sensing a change in his protectee, Daniel stepped in front of him. Ducking back behind the booth, I closed my eyes and listened for footsteps that would signal Daniel’s approach. Nothing. I forced my head down and acted like I needed to powder my nose rather than memorize everything about the young man. Walking behind a group of noisy girls, I headed toward the restrooms. Standing behind a privacy wall, I peered out and studied the group of high schoolers the young man talked to. They stood in line for snacks that would sustain their appetite during the movie. The scent of buttered popcorn and chocolate didn’t make my mouth water in the way he did. The sharp line of his jaw pleased me; there was still touch of baby-fat to his cheeks. His soul was still young enough to sustain me for more than a few decades, unlike the last one. His bone structure and muscular physique suggested he participated in high-school sports. His body was healthy and strong – not an indication that his spiritual health was intact, but since he had a Guardian, I assumed his ethics and morals would prove to be adequate to sustain me.
He towered over his lady friend, a blond haired girl. Her shirt hugged her figure, although I thought it was a little tight. But I wasn’t one to judge. Tonight, I’d dressed skimpy to match my demonic shell the Archangels had condemned me with. At least my provocative appearance easily lured unsuspecting humans. However, my manifestation shell backfired with this human. It didn’t take long to conclude it wouldn’t appeal to the sophisticated young man. Nevertheless, I’d followed him and his company into the movie theater. Even the cat-calls I’d gotten from others hadn’t distracted me from hunting him. His button-up white shirt and khaki slacks suggested he was well- off, but it was his Oakley shades hanging from his shirt, Rolex watch strapped to his wrist, leather jacket that covered his wide shoulders that screamed privileged. As enchanting as his sky-blue eyes appeared, I kept getting distracted with his lush, rosy lips. It didn’t help that he licked them when our gaze locked again. He narrowed his eyes and looked at me, really studied me like I looked familiar. I sincerely doubted that. Even if I was a normal high-school girl, our paths would hardly cross. I was like the white chocolate coating that covered a sinfully delicious cherry. My chipped fingernail polish, provocative shirt, and tight jeans were meant to engross men, but his gaze never dropped from my eyes. The piercings in my ears and studs in my eyebrows would have sent his parents running. Even the illusive, sparkling tattoos that decorated my back, neck, and hair line couldn’t sidetrack him from my gaze. It was an unspoken, animalistic attraction. We would never speak more than a handful of words to each other. We were of different social status. Even if our attraction compelled us, we’d never break from our social cliques.
Picking up on his inattentiveness, his lady friend kissed him on the cheek. I tightened my fists. I leaned back against the wall and commanded my heart to stop beating like I’d just run from the cops. When I’d calmed down, I looked back and analyzed the girl. She obviously appealed to him; he’d choose to be seen in public with her – not me. Her bright green eyes were decorated perfectly with light eye-shadow and liner. Her lip gloss needed to be touched up, but otherwise she looked impeccable. A shimmer caught my eye; I barely saw Daniel string his bow. If it weren’t for the arrow’s silver tip I wouldn’t have seen the glimmer it made in the light. I ducked behind the wall just as he feverously looked in my general direction. He sensed that I was a demonic creature. But I had an advantage. I knew his weaknesses; Daniel hesitated. Not that it’d matter to any human he might aimed for; his arrow would kill a mortal if merely scratched, whereas I’d need to be taken down by a fatal blow. All immortal weapons were that potent. It was all the more reason I should have used my Talents and escaped, but I couldn’t waste energy – not yet. I needed to save my strength if I was to be successful in luring the young man that his friends called Lincoln. His death would be my salvation… for a few years anyway.
Standing in the middle of an abandoned firehouse in the city’s old industrial district I faced a tarnished mirror. I imagined what I looked like before I lost my wings. My pixie hair had looked like ice crystals unlike the flowing, dark-brown shade it held now. Even if I could convince myself that I didn’t hate the brunette color, a ridiculous white streak was woven throughout it. My prism eyes once sparkled in a way that no mere human could gaze upon without shedding a tear. Now, I was left to look at dirty brown eyes. The luminosity that once left my skin sparkling even in the moon’s light vanished. Now my skin was flecked with phosphorescent tattoos, illustrating my impious character. The detailed ink decorated my back and peeked over my shoulder. Some even splattered onto my face by my temple. I hated it. I raised my finger to the blemished mirror and began painting, using one of the two Talents I still possessed. Prestige – an illusion. I imagined myself with red-hair and then quickly nixed the idea. A young man who was raised with money and privileges like Lincoln might not go for a ginger. I lightened my hair to the point where it vaguely reminded me of my straight, angelic hair. It was similar to the hue of Lincoln’s lady friend and flowed to the middle of my back. I painted dark blue eyes instead of the murky brown. I widened my willowy figure to appear more like an hourglass shape. There was one facial feature I enjoyed in my condemned appearance – my lips. However, they might seem a touch too suggestive for someone with proper upbringing so I thinned them. I also erased the darkness lingering around my eyes. For a final touch, I hid the piercings and tattoos. I looked like a Barbie doll – a boring, perfect doll. I grabbed the backpack that I’d convinced a clerk to give me without handing over a dime. Persuasion – it was another Talent of mine. Angels referred to our power as infernal-powers, but we knew the truth; Archangels were rarely successful in stealing every Talent before our wings were ripped off. Angels weren’t the only powerful beings in this world – granted they were immortal. But that didn’t mean the Fallen weren’t eternal. We simply had to get our hands dirty.
Walking to Saint Mary’s High, the private Catholic school I’d seen Lincoln attend while I watched him the past couple months, I kept a vigilant eye out for his Guardian. I gracefully walked over the curb and shrugged my backpack over my shoulder. I neared the enormous brick building where the bricks were choreographed to make a giant cross on its side. Strung on a flag pole, a blue and white pennant waved in the sky. There was a snake sewn onto it. I’d never had to venture into a school house before, much less one decorated with crosses or serpents. I looked around the school yard and spotted a group of girls that looked much like me hanging around the main doors. Lincoln’s lady friend was there too, even though they’d spent a significantly less amount of time together now. They leaned against a railing that funneled students toward the main doors. A few good-looking fellows chatted with the girls. When I couldn’t find Lincoln, I bit my lip – a habit I’d never been able to shake even as an angel. “Can I help you, miss?” After stalking Lincoln for months on end, I recognized his voice before I turned around. Conversely, I had to admit that I wasn’t expecting Lincoln to be so tall. I was barely eye-level with his chest – his mesmeric, broad chest. He held his backpack over his wide shoulders much like I did. I breathed a sigh of relief; at least I fit the part of a high-schooler. His sky-blue eyes shimmered. He grinned, which distracted me. Once more, I found myself staring at his enticing, lush lips. “I’m new,” I said and then nodded to the building. I had yet to look away from his smile. The kiss I’d been imagining as I memorized the shape of his lips had diverted my attention. My chest tightened as I thought about consuming his soul. “That was my suspicion,” he said as he bent forward and then tilted his head to the side like he was trying to get me to look into his eyes, instead of his lips. My inability to tear my gaze away pleased him. His grin widened. “If you’d attended here a single day, I’d have known. What year are you?” I had absolutely no idea what that meant. “You first.” “Senior,” he said and leaned a fraction of an inch close to me. “Same as me,” I said eagerly. I batted my lashes. Humans were silly – their mating calls were easy to conquer and completely apparent. He was easily falling for my bait. This might not be so difficult after all – even if he had a Guardian. “Can you keep a secret?”
His grin deepened, which drew my attention back to his lips for a millisecond. He leaned on his back leg. My gaze dropped. As wide as his chest and shoulders were, his waist was not. His jeans hung off his hips; they seemed to be only held up by the belt synched around his waist. Yet, his pants were still somehow tight in all the right places. When my wandering eyes made it back upward, my face warmed. He raised an eyebrow as if to say ‘what were you saying?’ How on Earth should I know what I was speaking about when he’d just presented himself like that? He’d merely shifted his weight – so why was my tongue refusing to work? Taking a time- out, I blinked slowly as I regained my composure. Okay, humans’ courting mannerisms were easy to replicate, but they were more effective than I anticipated. “Of course I can keep a secret,” he said encouragingly, keeping the conversation flowing. Oh…yeah. “This is my first day at a school. Ever,” I said. “Ahh, a home-schooled student,” he said – whatever that meant. He gestured to the front door. “Let me show you the ropes.” “I’d like that very much…” “Your turn, I went first last time,” he said and then winked. I swear my heart stopped beating when he winked. I opened my mouth but no words came out. As I tried to recall how to speak, I brushed my hair out of my face. “Miriam,” I said and then properly extended my hand. I didn’t exactly like touching mortals, but I’d make an exception for him. “I’m getting over a bug and don’t want to chase you away by getting you sick,” he said just as his Guardian metamorphosed. Still invisible to mortals, Daniel stood confidently a few paces away. I panicked. Had Daniel heard me reveal my name? Even though my Prestige blanketed my body with illusions, he’d surely notice my nuances. Keeping in mind that no human could see angels unless they revealed themselves, I looked past Daniel, but waited for him to string an arrow and point it at my heart. Daniel looked me up and down like he was assessing a possible threat. I fought the urge to run and hide. Deeming me harmless, Daniel distanced himself. He leaned against the building beside a few guys with skateboards. I clenched my teeth and forced myself to relax. I had to ball my hand into a fist to keep from reaching for the only immortal weapon I possessed after a huge undertaking – my dagger that was strapped to my leg.
“Is your name Hebrew?” Lincoln spoke like he’d asked the question once or twice before I heard him. I cursed myself for not giving the mortal a false name and then immediately wondered how he’d know such a fact about my namesake. He nodded to the building and explained that they were expected to know an infinite number of random facts about the woman their school, Saint Mary’s High, was named after. “My name has been in my family for generations,” I said and looked at my feet. “It’s derived from my mother’s name, but we had a falling out. I’m emancipated, so to speak. I go by Miri now.” He apologized for my family history. Why he felt the need to utter his apologies for another person’s inadequacies was so human. Many people offered their condolences when something bad or seemingly unpredictable happened to others, but few actually were pained by the information. Few could actually understand the heartache and offer a true condolence. However, the sincerity in his voice made me second- guess him. “My name’s Lincoln, but you can call me Linc,” he said and we started walking slowly to the school’s doors. I repeated his nickname. I hadn’t heard his friends call him by that. I wondered why he told me to address him by the abbreviation. I sincerely doubted we had the same reason to be addressed by nicknames. As we walked closer to the preppy looking clique leaning against the railing that led up to the main doors, I observed their behavior. The girls eyed me suspiciously, especially the blond haired one whom I’d seen with Lincoln many times – none of which were recent. “Pick up a stray?” The blond girl asked. “Be nice, Brooke,” Lincoln warned her. The girls standing next to Brooke glared at me. Then they walked up the steps and went inside the brick building. The blond girl looked me up and down before turning on a heel and following her group inside. “Don’t mind Brooke,” Lincoln said. “Her panties are in a bunch.” “Why?” I asked.
“Bad break-up,” one of the boys said and then introduced himself as Kele. He dressed similar to Lincoln but had more of a Messenger’s physique – a runner’s body. His dark brown hair twisted into knots, like he’d just crawled out of bed. However, judging from his meticulous chosen attire, I doubted he hadn’t looked in a mirror before going out in public. He eyed me over. “You must be new here.” “Is it that obvious?” I asked and nervously tightened my grip on my backpack strap. Kele grabbed the price tag on my backpack and jerked it off. “I’m no Sherlock, but I’d say you’re new in town. Besides, every mighty Python knows that the homecoming king dumped his queen.” “Python?” “Our school’s mascot,” Lincoln said and nodded to the snake flag like it explained everything. He then gave Kele a look I couldn’t decipher. “It’s not like I broke up with Brooke for no reason.” “According to Brooke, you’re a huge dic-tator,” Kele said, pausing after the speaking the first syllable. “We only have a couple months before graduation. And our class only has a few hundred people per class, most of which I know because I’m head of the yearbook committee. That’s why it’s obvious you’re new. I’m Mackenzie by the way,” a girl said, speaking rapidly. “First day and you’re making enemies with Brooke, not a good idea. She’ll eat you for breakfast.” Her skin looked like it’d been dipped in caramel. If it would have glistened a little more in the sunlight, it’d have looked angelic. Her big brown eyes lit up when I smiled politely and told her my name. Her black hair was straightened into an emo style. Telling me that we’d better get to the office so I could register for class, Lincoln nudged me. His hand brushed up against mine that had a tight grip on my backpack. His touch electrified me. My stomach turned like it’d been weeks since I’d eaten or days since I’d taken a drink of water. My hunger escalated. My eyes burned like the air was capable of melting them off. I blinked several times trying to rid the sting. If Daniel wouldn’t have been nearby, I would have used my Persuasion and been done with the charades. My mouth dried. I couldn’t speak with him touching me. I stumbled away. Mackenzie grabbed my opposite arm before I fell. Nausea passed over me. She let go. The sensation reminded me just how far I’d fallen; I no longer possessed the ability to determine a soul’s Longevity. It was the reason I hated touching mortals; they literally sickened me. Lincoln looked down at his fingertips. His face went white. He leaned against the short brick railing.
I sifted through my distorted memories of the centuries I spent in the heavens. Few angels jolted me with such force before, and I’d never reacted to a human before. Mostly, I’d compartmentalized them as dim- witted creatures that I had the privilege of showing them the light by carrying them to the afterlife.
“I thought your eyes were blue,” Lincoln said, staring at me like the demon I was.
Moving into a defensive position near his protectee, Daniel turned his attention to me. His jet-black eyes seemed to bore into my very essence.
“You can see me, can’t you?” Daniel demanded.
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