I used to want to kiss Gabriel. Now I wanted to kill him.
“You jerk,” I hissed, darting away from his hand. My back throbbed, my shoulder blades smoldering with a dull ache. ”You just stood there!”
“You could have saved her, but you didn’t!” I shoved him back as he started toward me, my throat choked with fury. ”I wish you’d just left me alone! I wished you’d never saved me!”
“Don’t say that.” His icy blue eyes sliced through me, his fingers wrapping around my wrist. ”Never say that.”
“Let me go.” I thrashed in his grasp, glaring. ”That woman’s got Delaney. We’ve got to help her.”
“And we will.” His fingers tightened, white imprints speckled across my porcelain forearm. ”But Ariella, you have to listen to me. You have to trust me.”
“Why should I?” I twisted away, scowling. ”How do I even know you’re a good angel? What if I’ve got it all wrong?”
The door burst open and Lucky scrambled inside, yelping as the door clipped his tail. ”Sorry. Had to scare off a cat.”
“What’s wrong with cats?” I demanded, automatically turning toward the window. A grey tabby glowered from across the street. Its yellow eyes glowed in the falling dusk, flashing red. I yelped, stumbling back as a car flew by. ”Did you see that?”
“See what?” Gabriel whipped his head around as the car passed. The sidewalk was empty.
“Told you.” Lucky’s hind leg scratched behind his ear. ”There’s a reason witches like cats. And the ancient Egyptians.” He shuddered.
Shaking my head to calm my swimming thoughts, I slid my hand from Gabriel’s. ”I don’t have time for this. I’m going to save Delaney.”
“How?” Gabriel’s empty voice echoed after me as I turned towards the door, starting up the stairs. ”How are you going to fight something you don’t understand when you barely understand who you are, what you can do?”
I crossed my arms and scowled. ”I…don’t know. But I’ll figure it out!”
“As much as you may dislike the fact, you need us.” Gabriel’s eyes locked on mine. ”But if you want our help, you’re going to have to listen to us.”
I narrowed my eyes. ”The only thing I’ve gotten from you is trouble. Why should I trust you?” I glared. ”You’re only here because it’s your job.”
“It’s not my job,” Gabriel muttered.
“You’re a guardain angel, aren’t you?” I pointed out. ”My guardian angel?”
“Yes, but…” Gabriel trailed off. ”It’s not my job.”
“Then why are you here?” I demanded.
“You don’t know?” Lucky dropped his leg, mouth agape. ”She doesn’t know?”
“Know what?” I turned to Gabriel. He stared at the ground, his face hidden in the shadow of his wings as they rose and fell with his every breath.
“Know what?” I repeated, stepping closer. ”Tell me.”
“Tell her, Gabriel.” Lucky’s tail swept across the floor, an ornament scuttling by my foot. I reached down at the same time Gabriel did, our foreheads nearly colliding. He scooped up the ornament and placed it in my hand, his eyes never leaving mine.
“I will,” he murmured. ”But I can’t. Not yet.” The pain in the pools of icy blue washed over me, pangs of sorrow making me gasp. His fingers wrapped around mine, entwining.
“You can’t catch me!” Delaney laughed, bolting across the park. Her pigtails smacked against her shoulders with every step, beating in rhythm with her feet.
“Can so!” I darted after her, leaping over clumps of weeds and misplaced rocks. ”You’ll never be as fast as me. I’m super girl!”
“I’m wonder woman!” Delaney crowed. She dashed through the trees, winding down the hill to the creek. Grabbing an old rope, she cackled, swinging across the bubbling waters to the other side.
“That’s not fair!” Panting, I pouted on the water’s edge. ”You know I’m scared of water!”
“Then I win after all!” She giggled, throwing leaves up in the air. ”I told you you couldn’t catch me! I win, I win!”
I never could stand to lose. Gritting my teeth, I grabbed the rope. Pulling it back to the ridge, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and jumped.
And fell. Hard.
Cold sucked me down, darkness enveloping me. Delaney’s screams blended with the roaring waters, rocks slicing across my feet and hands. I flailed and twisted in the murky darkness, my lungs screaming when my lips couldn’t.
Strong hands grabbed me, warm arms wrapping around me. I sucked in air as I flew to the other side, landing on a pile of leaves with a gentle thump. Coughing and gasping, I opened my eyes. Delaney stared down at me, her mouth open. Behind her, a glimpse of gossamer winked, a flutter on a ribbon of sunshine.
“How did you do that?” She whispered. ”How did you get out?”
I stared past her. The trees didn’t stir, the creek burbled quietly in regret.
“I have no idea,” I whispered. ”I have no idea.”
My eyes flew open. Squeezing Gabriel’s hand, I whispered, “She’s at the creek. We’ve got to get to the bridge. The one you…” I trailed off as he nodded, knowing what I couldn’t say.
His crooked smile made my heart flutter. ”Then let’s go.”
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