I backed away, shaking my head. ”No. No. Tell me it’s not true.”
“Oh, poor baby.” Samantha pursed her lips, snickering spilling between them. ”Did your angel boyfriend not tell you we were in love once?”
“You remember, don’t you?” Scarlett nails raked down his arms, tracing the rippling biceps slowly. ”After all, you never forget your first love.”
Gabriel’s pale face blazed with light, twisted in a snarl. ”You don’t know what love is, you heartless harpy.”
“How original.” She snorted, drawing her finger up his arm, crawling up his neck. ”You’re why I left heaven, you know. All talk and no action.” She turned to me, lowering her voice to a near whisper. “So boring, these good boys.” Raising an eyebrow, her tounge flicked across her lips. ”You, however…there’s hope for you, yet. Despite what Gabriel’s told you, you don’t have to do this, you know. You have choices. Every human does. You’re just privileged to see the side most people don’t want to see.”
Swallowing the bile eroding my throat, my wings constricted, raising as high as my chin. ”Give me Delaney.”
“She doesn’t mess around, does she?” Samantha tossed her dark hair, the red orbs in her eyes smoldering as her gaze swept over me. “That’s all right, Old Soul. I tell you what. I give you your friend and you give me what I want, agreed?”
“She’s not doing that.” Gabriel shoved me back behind him. Lucky growled and circled Samantha, but she didn’t even glance at him.
“What do you want?” I asked.
She flicked one nail to the sky, her smile twisting to a sneer. ”So he hasn’t told you that either? Boy, Gabriel, you’ve been guarding her well. I shouldn’t be surprised, I suppose.”
“What do you want?” I raised my voice, trying to past Gabriel’s outstretched wings. ”I’m tired of playing games. Give me my friend back. She hasn’t done anything to you.”
“But she can, don’t you see?” Samantha stepped around Lucky like a spilled drink, her nose crinkling. ”She can help me so much, in so many ways. Would you like to see?”
“No!” Gabriel shouted. But it was too late.
Samantha’s arm shot out, her fingers locking around my wrist. Flames licked over my skin, images burning into my mind, slamming one after the other.
Delaney smiling at a dark haired stranger….Smiles turn to screams, she’s twisting, running, gasping…pain, sharp searing pain as the ground opens, swallowing her whole…
My mother, standing in the middle of her shop, surrounded by shattered windows and shredded Christmas trees. Tears stream down her face, her eyes hollow…
Gabriel, pale lips cracking and bleeding in a smile. Ragged words jerking from him, every breath a monumental effort. ”I…Love…You.”
“NO!” Gabriel wretched Samantha’s arm off me and I jerked back, gasping for air. Panting, she stared at me, red eyes beady in the falling dusk.
“Three choices, three destinies. Which one do you choose, Ariella?” Without waiting for me to answer, she twisted her hair up, smirking as the dark curls tumbled around her fingers. ”Or you can just give me what I want. Then everyone’s happy, right?”
“That will never happen.” Gabriel’s wings bristled.
“Suit yourself.” Samantha grinned. ”Let the games begin.” She rubbed her hands together. ”Third time’s the charm, right?”
“Go to hell,” Gabriel snarled.
“Always do.” Her grin grew wider.
As her head swiveled toward me, all the rage in my body shattered, bursting from my fingers of toes. In a blur of white, I blasted toward her, my shoulders screaming as my wings fluttered in a frenzy.
“Give me back Delaney!”
I reached out for her, clawing towards her face and hands, but my fingers grasped only shadows. Falling to the ground, I twisted, groaning under the weight of my wings. Opening my eyes, I stared at a leaf on the sidewalk.
“This means war,” I informed it.
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