It was like someone had dropped baking soda into vinegar. A mushroom of black smoke and ash billowed up, only to be extinguished and swept down the creek with wave after wave. Yanking Delaney to the surface, I gasped as I sucked down the icy air.
“Gabriel!” I croaked, lost in a fog of black. ”Gabriel!”
Delaney nudged me, raising a blue finger. ”Look!”
Through the ash, I could see two walls of water quivering on each side of the creek. Gabriel stood in the center with his arms raised and eyes closed. Under his feet, the pebbled creek bed glistened under the stars. Swarms of darkly beating wings floated behind each wall, their shrieks barely audible over the roar of the waves.
“This is seriously biblical,” I muttered.
“This is seriously different.” Lucky’s lower teeth poked out, his furry face crumpled. ”This has never happened before. Never. This is outside our jurisdiction.”
“What do you mean?” My teeth rattled so hard my temples ached. Every muscle in my body screamed for heat.
“Let’s just say Gabriel overstepped his bounds.” Lucky jumped out of Delaney’s arms, skipping over the slick rocks. ”Don’t just stand there. Let’s go!” He leaped into the air and floated around Delaney’s head. ”Grab my tail!”
Her eyes slid towards me. I nodded. Wordlessly, she jumped up and grabbed his tail. Her feet floated off the surface and Lucky howled, his wings pumping. ”Come on, Ariella! We’ve got to go!”
“But”– I twisted around. Gabriel’s arms were quivering, his mouth twisted with pain. ”We can’t leave him!”
“We have to!” Lucky drooped down and Delaney screamed, tightening her grip on his tail. ”The second he drops his arms, Samantha will have him!”
“Ariella, come on!” Delaney swung under Lucky’s paws and clawed at me with her free hand. ”Gabriel will be ok! He’s an angel.”
I glanced at Lucky’s face. He turned away, but it was too late. I had seen the anguish in his brown eyes and the droop of his ears. Gabriel wouldn’t be ok. The columns of water around us staggered.
“Go!” Gabriel screamed. ”Lucky, get her out of here!”
“Ariella, come on!” Lucky pumped his wings, rising higher. ”Fly!”
“Ariella, please!” Delaney’s hand clutched for mine. I squeezed her fingers once, then let go. ”I’m sorry,” I whispered. ”I can’t.” Whirling around, I raced towards Gabriel as freezing water rained down. His wings quivered, damp in the icy mist and fog. ”Leave, Ariella.”
“Not without you.” I rested my hands under his trembling arms. His frigid skin seared my fingertips, quivering under my touch.
“LEAVE.” The ground shook underneath me. The walls of water inched higher and curled towards us, fat cold droplets slapping against my forehead.
“Not without you.” Pressing my heels against the rocks, I closed my eyes, trying to let my strength flow through him.
“Stop that.” He jerked back and sucked in his breath. Apparently, I was doing a crappy job. I let my hands drop and jammed my hand on my hips. ”I’m not leaving without you. So either tell me how to help you or get ready to deal with a seriously mad ex-girlfriend.”
“Get. Out. Of. Here.” Every word puffed into the air, his voice cracking. The walls rumbled as shrieks and Samantha’s cackle pierced the air.
“Nice try, Gabriel! But you know you can’t hold out forever!”
“Come on, Gabriel,” I pleaded, stomping my frozen toes against the rocks. ”Let’s fly out of here.”
“I don’t have the strength.” His chest strained with every breath, his blue eyes sharp with pain. ”You have to leave, Ariella. I’m expendable. You’re not. If Samantha gets your soul, all is lost. All is lost.”
I rolled my eyes. ”You know, you really are a drama queen. You’ve got to learn there’s always another way.”
“It hasn’t been that way for the past hundreds of years.” He grit his teeth, falling to his knees. ”Ariella, leave. Now.”
“Not without you.” Wrapping my arms around him, I pressed my face to his chest. His arms automatically circled around me. As the water fell, I tugged a feather from his wing and closed my eyes. The light blasted against my closed lids. Samantha’s cackle sliced through me as the water rained down, surging around my toes–
That were now nestled on something soft and squishy. Cracking one eye open, I whooped and dropped to my knees. ”I knew it would work! I knew it!” Rubbing my face against the crappy lime-green carpet my mom had bought on sale, I kissed the spot where I’d once dropped a bottle of bleach. ”I can’t wait to take a hot shower! And then I’m going to eat hot dogs.”
“Hot dogs?” Gabriel raised a weary eyebrow. Purple shadows circled the pale blue eyes, now the color of faded denim.
“They’re delicious,” I assured him. ”They taste like”–
“That’s not important,” Gabriel interrupted. ”Ariella, how did you”–
A black nose poked beneath the door before it blew open, smacking in the hip. Delaney stood over a scowling Lucky, her arms crossed. ”Young lady, you got a lot of explaining to do.”
“I’m not explaining anything until I”– My sneer faded as my mom stood behind Delaney, her eyes wide. ”Ariella?”
Fingering my dripping wings, my lips curled in a sheepish smile. ”Hi Mom.”
Stay tuned, Invisible Friends! A new post mañana!
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