Read Love's Long Shadow Online

Authors: Ciara Knight

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction

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The way he lingered on the word body made her cheeks flush again. Darn human response. How did humans on Earth keep their feelings a secret?

“You can ask me anything,” he added.

“So, are you? A demon?”

“You sure you want to know?”

He stared her down with warning and she swallowed hard. “Y-yes.”
Only if the answer’s no.

“Some might call me that. I live with demons. People assume that makes me one.”

“I’m not a normal person.”

“No, you’re not.” He stepped closer his intense stare stole the strength from her legs. “You’re much more.”

His knuckle brushed under her chin and she almost jumped out of the skin that contained her soul.

He leaned in, lips parted.

Oh my gosh, is he going to kiss me? What do I do?
Blood rushed through her ears and warmed her entire being.

“Touching, really.” A baritone voice, dripping with sarcasm broke their bond. Boon spun around fists clenched at his side.

One of the large, crew cut, letter jacket wearing goons strutted into their clearing.
“Who’s your friend?”

Boon stood tall with feet shoulder width apart. Was he going to defend her? He’d be demolished with one punch from that oversized minion from hell. “Don’t go there,
Forras
.”

“I’m Samantha Lorre.” She stepped in front of Boon, hoping to diffuse the situation. Certainly, she could handle one demon. Alex never had a problem. She’d watched him take down several without getting winded. Not like she was now with her head spinning from lack of oxygen.

“Hmm…sounds sweet.”
Forras
puffed out his chest and circled them.

Boon pushed her behind him.

“Are you visiting family, or do you live here?”

His piercing green eyes fluttered with orange and she stumbled back for a second before she regained her footing. “I live here with my mother and brother.” She would handle this, she didn’t always need protecting.

“I see.”
Forras
jumped on a rock then squatted and soared through the air up to a tree. The green leaves shuddered and the branch swayed under the weight of him. “You should join us tonight.” He swung down and landed between them.

Boon grabbed the sleeve of
Forras
’ jacket. “She’s mine. I’ve claimed her already.”

“Claimed me?” Her blood boiled at such a disgrace. “No one owns me.” She didn’t care what she felt when he stood next to her; no way did she belong to anyone.

Boon turned and glared at her.

Forras
grabbed her arm. “Feisty. I like that.”

Hot lava seared her skin. Her wings shot out, an involuntary response to fiery invasion.

“Pink? Damn, she is pure.”
Forras
chuckled.

Her breath hitched.

“Sure
ya
marked her.” He huffed and licked his lips. “Intriguing.” His eyes glowed. Hundreds of red lines snaked through orange globes. “I need to find out more about our little innocent, yet disowned angel.”

She glanced down at her skin, expecting to find a million of those ant things that built mounds on the ground. Nothing was there. Her skin crawling had to be some sort of warning from her mind, body, soul, or maybe even Heaven. It didn’t matter. Evil stood with a cocky smile in front of her.

Forras
sauntered back into the woods, swinging his arms by his side. He bent low then thrust from the ground, hopping to a tree branch several feet in the air. He gave a mock salute and jumped to another tree in the distance before he disappeared from sight completely.

“What’ve you done? He knows you’re an Angel now,” Boon said in a hushed tone, the spark gone.

A part of her wanted to beg forgiveness so she’d never have to see that look again. Another part wanted to slap him and tell him she could handle herself. No one needed to protect her. “I-I didn’t mean to, but what does showing him I’m an angel matter?”

“Trust me, it matters. Go home, Sammy. Stay close to Grace until I figure out
Forras
’ plan and how to stop him.”

She didn’t want to leave. She wanted to understand more and had a feeling Boon had the answers. Besides, this was the first time she’d connected with anyone on Earth outside of Alex or Grace. “Wait, you never told me who or what you are.”

“You’re not ready.” He choked on the last word. “You don’t have enough control over your human body yet. When you do, I’ll tell you everything. Of course, by that point you’ll probably be back in Heaven.”

“What do you mean I’m not ready? For what?” She stomped her foot. “I demand you tell me.”

She swore a hint of a smile crossed his lips but he quickly stifled it. “Go. Now. And for Heaven’s sake, don’t fly during the day. That’s all we need, hunters after you, too.”

Chapter Three

“My black heart is crushed.” Boon’s voice came from the front porch above.

Sammy stopped and crouched down next to the house below the front porch. The small patch of grass tickled her ankles. Blood pumped through her ears with hurricane force. What was he doing here?

“I know, son. It’s difficult to see someone you love when they have no memory of you.”

Love
? How could he love her, they just met. He didn’t even seem to like her.

“Centuries, and nothing. She doesn’t feel anything.” Boon’s voice cracked. “Of course, we haven’t been in the same realm for hundreds of years, either.”

She clutched her tight chest. His words meant nothing, yet everything. She tried to shimmy closer without giving away her presence. He spoke of centuries, and she only had a few weeks of memories.

“Your love was great. Angels wept when you were torn apart. I know I did. Have faith. A love like yours will never die. You’ll have plenty of time for her to remember.”

He paced the porch and stopped at the side above her. She held her breath and waited for him to look down and catch her spying on them.

He gripped the railing and his white knuckles blended with the paint. The wood cracked under his grip. “Not if
Forras
gets to her first.” He slammed his fist down sending a shiver through her body. His hands disappeared from sight and she heard his steps retreat to the other side of the porch.

She let out a long breath.

“Yes, there’s that.”

Grace sounded calm and collected but anxiety pulsed all around. Deep loss hung in the air like a great weight on her shoulders. Boon spoke of centuries and great love. Her head swarmed and she leaned on the wood lattice covering to the crawl space below the house.

“It took everything in me not to kill him when he touched her.”

Anger warred with sorrow and her heart ached for something not her own. She was sharing his grief. But how? Maybe it was a gift from Heaven, an ability granted on earth. She doubled over pressing her palms to her abdomen…or a curse. Footsteps sounded from above and she wanted to scream out for him to stop. Make the never-ending black hole of loss go away.

“I’m sure,” Grace said.

How was she calm? Didn’t the pain wrap around her middle and force the breath from her lungs? Perhaps the emotions weren’t coming from Boon, but a trick from a demon. She scanned the woods to the side of the house.

“I have to give her time to adjust, but my heart and soul will break if she doesn’t remember us soon.”

Involuntary tears leaked and rolled down her cheeks leaving the taste of the ocean.

“Her soul remembers, but it will take time for her brain to catch up and grasp the depth of it all.”

Engines hummed in conformed harmony beyond the trees. Maybe it did come from
Forras
or one of the other demons. It didn’t matter; she wanted it to stop.

“I better go.
Forras
is up to something. It’s best I figure out what before it’s too late.”

Feet thudded against the wood-planks. A moment later, there was only the sound of the ocean breeze through the leaves of a nearby Magnolia tree.

The clutch of agony released and she breathed again. Only a dull ache of regret rippled through her senses. If the pain came from Boon, how did he survive life, let alone walk upright with such heaviness on his heart?

“You can come out now, Sammy,” Grace said, her voice filled with amusement.

A sting of surprise jolted Sammy to her feet. “If you knew I was here, why didn’t you—”

“Because sometimes boys—human, demon, or angelic—have difficulty expressing themselves.”

Again with the riddles. Someone needed to start talking and explain why an overwhelming sense of desolation plagued her and what it had to do with Boon. The only word that repeatedly played in her mind was affection. Deep down in a pit of darkness something more existed. She walked up the steps, her legs collapsed and she fell into the white wicker chair. “He loves me? Why don’t I remember him?”

“I think you do. Give yourself some time to remember the details.”

She searched the barren plains of her mind. Only the memory of her sentence to banishment gave a clue to what happened. A trap snapped around her, squeezing…suffocating. Clutching her throat, she heaved in a ragged breath. Her lungs burned and a tremor shot through her body. Nowhere in the jumbled mass of flashes did she remember why she fell or if Boon was there. “Can’t you tell me or give me a hint?”

Grace gave one of her reassuring smiles and a little warmth blanketed the few remaining pains of sadness “I’m afraid not. You’ll know when you’re ready.”

Everyone kept telling her she wasn’t ready. The muscles in her body tensed. She had an urge to scream, demand that Grace tell her the truth. She held back. Something warned her that with the truth came a great price.

She focused on calming herself and she realized the emotions from a few moments ago were only a sampling of what was to come. With only that small introduction, her body turned inside out with a nervous energy making it impossible to remain still. Besides Grace’s look of, “don’t even try, I’m not going to tell you,” forced her to accept the inevitable. But she needed information. If Grace refused to discuss Boon then she’d try a different route. “What are hunters?”

Grace’s lips pursed. “They’re humans who believe we’re evil. Demons, angels, anything not of this world.”

Didn’t humans understand angels were on Earth to help them? Protect them. Never hurt them. “What will they do if they catch us?”

“They will try to send us back to where we belong.” Grace sat with a stiff back, eyes distant.

Sammy’s mind swirled. “Will I die?”

“We believe that you’ll return to Heaven, unless your work is not done here on Earth. In which case, you’ll be reborn in another body.”

“How many times have you been reborn? I mean, I know you’ve been here awhile.”

Grace chuckled. “Yes, child. A while. Let’s just say I’ve been through several human forms.”

Sammy was determined to start figuring things out. No more living in the dark. “Did they all look like you do now?”

“Most angels have similar forms to what their spirit looks like. Some soft and gentle, others masculine and commanding.”

That meant if Boon was an angel he had a soft and gentle heart. She smiled at the notion. Something in his eyes told her he had a compassionate soul, but why didn’t he tell her he was an angel? There was something else, something more. “If we come back as another human or go to Heaven why should we fear hunters?”

“Because there is no guarantee you will return, an angel can die and go nowhere.” Grace wrung her hands. “Or fall to hell.”

She gasped. That swirl in the pit of her stomach Grace told her was fear returned with fury. She steadied herself.

“Alex, he’s out there. If—” A knot in her throat wouldn’t allow her to finish. She wanted to race out to find him, warn him. “Do we know for sure?”

Grace leaned over and patted her hand. “No one’s returned. If a hunter succeeds, the angel or demon disappears.”

Chapter Four

Sammy drew in the dirt with a stick while she sat on a fallen tree trunk in the clearing where she’d met Boon. Sounds of laughter drew her attention back to the water where several teenagers splashed around. She’d been waiting over an hour in hopes Boon would arrive. He hadn’t. Only these girls splashed in the surf being knocked around by some demons. Several times she stood and paced, wanting to get involved. Chase the demons away and snatch the girls by their hair and drag them home. She’d never been in a demon fight. That was Alex’s thing. Although she was sure she could handle one or two of them. But there were five. Someday she’d find a way to help the humans.

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