My fingers laced through his, my breath tearing from my lips in small spurts. Lucky nuzzled my elbow, his furry forehead pinched in a frown.
“Tell me it’s not real.” I forced myself to breathe, keeping my eyes squeezed shut. I didn’t want to see, couldn’t see. Bile burned the back of my throat as a corset of fear squeezed the panic from my ribs.
“It’s not real…” Gabriel trailed off. ”Yet. It can be.”
My eyes flew open, indignation spewing forth. ”But Delaney would never…that guy was GROSS!” I shuddered. ”She was valedictorian. She would never do something that stupid!”
“Humans are weak.” Lucky licked my hand. ”They can easily be lead astray by…other forces.”
“The devil.” I squeezed Gabriel’s hand so hard a feather popped off his back, fluttering across the cloud. ”That’s who that woman is, isn’t it? That’s who tossed me off the bridge.”
“She’s on their side, yes.” Gabriel eased his hand from mine, flexing. ”Technically, she’s a demon.”
“So they’re going to get to Delaney if they can’t find me?” I started to rise, tumbling back down to the soft white wisps below me. My butt was definitely soaked. It was not a good feeling. ”We’ve got to go! We’ve got to help her…”
“They’ll get to her regardless if you’re there or not.” Gabriel grabbed my shoulder as I tried to rise again. ”You’re the only one that can help her, Ariella.”
“How?” I wailed, jerking out of his grasp. ”I couldn’t even help my mom this morning!”
“You’re an Old Soul, Ariella. Why do you think I was assigned to you?” Gabriel brushed the feather across my cheek. Ripping it from his fingers, I flicked it across his nose.
“All that means is I’m more mature for my age.” I frowned as his lips twitched and Lucky burst into barking laughter, falling on his back. His stubby legs twitched in the air, his howls ringing across the sky. ”What? What’s so funny?”
“You’re much more mature, Ariella.” Gabriel tucked another feather behind my ear, his lips twitching. ”You not only can see the future, but you can see people’s true souls. That’s what an Old Soul really means.”
“Maybe that’s why I’ve never been popular,” I muttered, plucking the feather from my ear and shoving it in my back pocket.
“That’s exactly what it means.” Gabriel’s eyes grew dark. ”Your friend Delaney on the other hand is easily mislead. She can easily fall for the tricks demons pull.”
“So let’s get down there and stop them!” I shifted as Gabriel’s hands tightened around my wrists, keeping me anchored to the cloud. ”What are we waiting for?”
“We can’t go down there until you have some protection,” Gabriel informed me, ignoring my squirming. ”If you get down there and the demons get to you or get through us…” His voice made me shiver. ”Delaney–and your mother–will be doomed.”
“My mom?” I shut my eyes by reflex. ”What happens to her?”
“Nothing, if we save Delaney in time. Life is a chain, Ariella. And only you can fix the links.”
I cracked one eye open. ”How? What do I need?”
Gabriel held up a feather and smiled. ”Wings.”
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