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Authors: Ciara Knight

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction

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BOOK: Love's Long Shadow
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Her back and shoulders ached and she longed to spread her wings. She’d wanted to fly around and relieve some tension but wouldn’t risk it. To be seen by a hunter, especially when she didn’t know how to spot one, would mean her death and possibly Grace’s.

Sweat dripped down her temple and her shirt clung to her skin. No wonder the demons liked Florida, it burned like home for them.

She made her way to the tree line. Dark clouds formed in the distance in warning of a coming storm.

Wind carried the sulfuric odor of demons and she struggled not to gag. She wasn’t sure if the heat or smell was worse. Now would be a good time for Boon to arrive with his peanuts.

“I thought I told you to stay away from here.” His voice caressed her ears like a bird’s song.

Her upper lip twitched and she fought to stifle a grin. “Do you have any of those peanuts? I could sure use some.” She wanted to shake him and demand he tell her the truth, but she didn’t want to scare him off too quick.

“Sure.”

She sat on the tree again, and patted the rough bark by her side.

He took a few hesitant steps.

“What is it?”

“Nothing.” He sat down and handed her a few with the shells already cracked open. “Why are you out here? I told you to stay close to Grace.”

“She knows I’m here.”

He huffed and shook his head. “Of course she does.”

“Who are those girls?”

“Cheerleaders from the local high school. Demons like the ones who are full of life.”

One of the girls walked onto the beach with her tiny bikini barely covering her large chest. Sammy looked down at her tiny frame. It had fewer curves than the tree they sat on.

“You’re beautiful,” he whispered. Heat warmed her face and her heart.

“How long have you known Grace?” She braced herself for the emotions that plagued her earlier but no pain or suffering broke her consciousness. He sat stiff by her side, hands in his lap, like a rock with no emotion.

“A long time.”

Great, that got her nowhere. “Did you meet her here in Kemp?”

“No.”

One word answers. Seriously? No, not acceptable. “Tell me how you met her.” That wasn’t a yes or no question.

“No.”

She wanted to strangle him. “Are you going to say more than one word answers to me? Is this how you talk to the girl you love?” The words slipped out in a moment of anger.

He smashed the remaining peanuts into dust, but still she didn’t sense anything. No anger, except her own.

She touched his forearm gently and forced a welcomed tone to her voice. “Tell me. Is it true?”

“You need to leave.” He pulled away and bolted up.

“No. Talk to me. I want the truth. You don’t have to tell me everything, just tell me about our great love.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because, I can’t control the pain. If I let it out, you won’t be able to handle it. Trust me, human emotions are overwhelming and debilitating when you first arrive.”

She stood behind him and stroked his shaking shoulders. His husky, clean smell drew her closer and she leaned her head against his back, concentrating on the rise and fall of his body with each breath. He stiffened then relaxed. “What are you doing?”

“I think I already felt your pain. It seeped into me earlier.”

“When?”

She hesitated, should she tell him the truth? He turned around and clutched her arms.

“Tell me.”

“When you spoke to Grace at our house. You told her we were in love centuries ago. A great sadness surrounded me. I couldn’t breathe…but I handled it. I’m fine.”

“Didn’t know you were there or I would’ve blocked my emotions.” He took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose, folded and shoved them in his pocket.

“You don’t have to. I handled it. Everyone thinks I’m not strong enough but I am.”

“That was only a hint of the darkness. A minuscule sampling of what I feel each time I relive losing you. You don’t know—”

“Then tell me.”

His head dropped and he fell to his knees. “I want to. I want to tell you everything and hold you in my arms. Feel the warmth of your skin against mine, but I can’t. If you knew the truth…”

She knelt by his side. The sight of his anguish drew her closer with the need to ease his suffering. Intuition told her it was linked to her soul and their love. She ran her fingers down his cheek. “Let me in.”

He cracked open the invisible door to his wound sending her into a spiral of burning need to grab onto him and never let go. She fell into his arms and the door slammed shut severing the connection between them. Waves of aftershocks rolled through her body as he held her tight. For several moments, she remained in his arms unable to let him go.

His body trembled but no emotions flooded her. She finally found the strength to pull back. “I don’t remember what we had.” She pressed her lips to each of his cheeks then held his face in her hands and rested her forehead against his. “But it doesn’t mean we can’t—”

“No.” He shoved her away and his eyes blazed with blood-orange flames of demonic possession. “It’s over. Go. Leave me before it’s too late.”

Sammy dug her heels into the ground, not wanting to shuffle away from him. His face contorted and twisted, his biceps grew to the size of her thigh, and his body trembled in some sort of evil seizure. Not a hint of angelic love remained in his now deformed, black face. The sight of him sent a bone chilling fear through every limb.

“Run!”

Chapter Five

The roll of thunder faded in the distance. The grey sky reflected her mood and the tapping of raindrops against the tin roof of the porch played a sad melody. Sammy’s body ached from tension and lack of flight. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Part of me wanted to stay and find out but he yelled for me to go. I-I was scared.” She bowed her head in shame and shook so hard her teeth chattered.

The afternoon shower stirred up the ocean and waves crashed against the shore, a beautiful and powerful sight. She managed a long breath and the smell of damp grass and sand relaxed her into Grace’s touch.

Grace patted her shaking hands “You’re in shock, my dear. Boon lost control. You not only saw something but his fear seeped into you.”

Nervous energy charged through Sammy. Unable to sit, she rose and paced the front porch, the boards creaking with each step. The first chance she had to prove herself, and what did she do? She ran back home to ‘mommy.’ She rested her waist against the banister and toyed with the string hanging from her shirt hem. “I should’ve stayed and faced him.”

“You did nothing wrong. Sometimes we need time to process, we are only human now. Yes, we can fly and possess great strength. We are also encased by the same delicate skin and powerful emotions as humans. If we aren’t careful, it will direct everything we do in this life. You’re a bright light in the storm, Sammy, and capable of great things. You’re lost and confused right now. Trust me; you are truly a special gift for those here on earth. One of the most caring and compassionate souls I’ve ever known. That’s one of the reason’s Boon is having such a difficult time.”

She sat and waited for some information about the monster she’d caught a glimpse of yet wanted to see again. The hideous image twisted in grief was still vivid in her head and etched on her soul.

“Boon is the calmest most disciplined angel I’ve ever known. He hasn’t lost control since the early years. Even then his transition to a life here was easier than most. Sammy, I know you saw something but trust beyond your vision—”

“But h-he looked demonic. Everything about him would confirm Alexander’s accusations. And based on what I saw he could be dangerous.”

“Alexander isn’t here and this is your choice.”

Grace had an edge to her voice she hadn’t heard before. Something bothered her. Sammy remembered Alex’s words of warning from the day he left. Did he already know who and what Boon was? “I know but—”

“You’re confused.”

“Yes.”

“And you miss Alexander.”

“Yes. Do you think he’s okay? I mean we haven’t heard anything.”

“I’d hoped he was going to fly away for a few hours then return. I’m now afraid I underestimated his determination. There are many lessons we have to learn on our journey, some are easier than others. I fear Alexander will be learning things the hard way.”

Sammy knew she spoke the truth. Alex always wanted to protect her and control everything. No place in heaven for a control freak.

“There is something I will tell you about your past.”

Sammy’s heart thumped. Finally, a glimpse into where she came from.

“There is much animosity between Alexander and Boon. It will be a long time before either will trust the other.”

More riddles. Didn’t anyone get tired of the games? “Why? What does that mean?”

“Although you can’t remember it, you’ve already figured out about the great love you and Boon shared. Boon is dealing with that and the fact you fell. He prayed to be with you again and now he feels guilty and shares the blame with Alexander.”

“It wasn’t his fault or Alexander’s. I honestly don’t remember much, an accusation of behaving in a manner unbecoming an angel then falling, nothing more. Not even sure what sin I committed. He had nothing to do with any of that and neither did Alex.” Her mind spun with possibilities. Did something happen between Boon and Alexander in Heaven? No, Boon wasn’t even in Heaven, that much she had figured out. “I can’t imagine how it must feel to see someone you love who doesn’t remember you. But this much I do know, he had nothing to do with my fall. And even though I don’t remember our love something inside me connects with him.”

“Sometimes you don’t have to understand you just have to believe and trust things will work out. That’s what we have to do with Alexander. He has his own choices to make.”

A chill ran down her arms. “I’m scared for him.”

“Me too. We must remain strong and ready to help when he needs it but he isn’t the only one on a journey. We all are. Right now you need to concentrate on your own. Did you ever think you and Alexander are separated for a reason?”

Was this part of the plan from Heaven or punishment for their fall? “Why can’t they tell us what we need to do?

“Because the journey and growth is designed to prepare us for what is to come.”

Grace’s words sent a cool current through her body. “What if I fail?”

“Then you will learn from your mistakes. Like Alexander will. You’re not alone Sammy. I’ll be here for you and Alexander will return. Have faith.”

Grace froze. Sammy followed her gaze to the woods.

“We’ll need to finish this talk later.”

Something was wrong. Boon appeared at the edge of the woods and her pulse quickened. He ran to the porch, dirt slung up in his wake, and his jaw clenched tight.


Forras
left.”

“That’s good, right?” Sammy’s heart floated. This would give them some time together to figure things out without that demon lurking about. Grace had encouraged her to give him another chance. Or did she only hear what she wanted to? All she knew was that her skin warmed at the idea of spending more time alone with Boon. To feel his gentle, loving touch without the worry of some garbage smelling freak barging in on them. Wait. The way the demon’s smelled, it was distinctive. Grace said Boon wasn’t demon, but she had to know for sure. Sammy moved closer and leaned into Boon. The sea breeze didn’t carry any foul stench. She smiled and leaned in a little closer to make sure and lost her balance. Boon caught her before she reacted. Dang, he was fast. His touch sent a zing of electricity up her arms but it didn’t last long. He propped her back up and redirected his attention to Grace.

Boon raked his hands through his hair. His right eye twitched. “
Forras
heard of a fallen angel gone vigilante, killing demons. He went after him.”

“So?” Sammy cared about this angel in distress but she didn’t follow. All she wanted was to spend time with Boon and discovering where she came from.

“The angel’s named Alexander.”

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