Read Love's Long Shadow Online

Authors: Ciara Knight

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction

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Chapter Six

“Oh, God.” Sammy’s heart slammed against her ribs knocking the air from her lungs. She swallowed and forced a breath. “Where is he?”

Boon lifted a hand to her but then lowered it back to his side. His eyebrows rose with compassion. The muscles in his face relaxed with his normal gentle expression. “Winding Road, Montana.”

“I’m going after him. Don’t try to talk me out of it.” This was it. Her chance to prove she was ready to join the ranks of angels on earth. Make a difference, help others.

Grace held up her hands in surrender. “We should both go.”

Sammy turned to Boon expecting him to join in the quest but he’d disappeared already. A piece of her heart broke and she knew he carried it with him through the woods. She had carried half his heart for centuries. Somehow, someway, she’d figure out who and what he was and why her stomach flopped each time he was near. “He’s gone?” Sammy heard the disappointment in her voice.

“Afraid he can’t interfere.” Grace walked over and squeezed her hands. “And it’s killing him.”

Grace’s words comforted her. The thought that he wanted to be by her side meant something. “When this is over, I’m going to make him tell me who and what he is. I can handle it, human hormonal body or not.”

“I’m sure you will dear.”

Sammy stepped off the porch and tugged the back of her shirt. The Velcro secured slit Grace had sewn into the back of her garment ripped open. Cracking from her spine clicked in her head and the muscles were hesitant to give way. Obviously, she needed to practice. Her wings finally broke free and she sighed with relief. Grace already floated overhead, her brilliant wings spread wide shimmered like diamonds. Sammy bolted into the sky, soared beyond the drizzle and broke through the clouds. Despite the waning sun they sped for Montana, without a thought to the threat of hunters.

A couple of hours passed before they dove into the canopy of trees. Icy gusts of air stung Sammy’s face and arms matching her insides. The temperature caused her limbs to stiffen but her wings remained strong. A far different climate than Florida. The foliage and mountains appeared similar to where she woke her first day on Earth. She shivered from the cold and the memory of Alex by her side scavenging for something to fill the pains in their bellies. Grace found them eating a gnat-covered pumpkin left in a field. Her stomach churned and she refocused on finding Alex.

Darkness blanketed them. She tucked her wings and swooped down able to fly with more precision after the last few hours of practice. Never again would she remain grounded for so long. She’d fly at night if there were a real fear of hunters.

They dodged between tree trunks and searched ballparks, parking lots, and the vast forests, but no sign of Alex, or anyone for that matter. Even the small gathering of homes on the hillside stood lifeless, with only a plume of smoke from a chimney as evidence anyone lived in the area.

They banked left and followed a path to a two-lane highway. The name Winding Road, Montana fit the rocky edged, tightly curved road. It barely allowed enough room for one car, let alone two, to pass.

Tires squealed from ahead. The first sign anyone was awake in the dense forest area. She bolted toward the sound and spotted an army green car swerving around a bend traveling east, too fast for the small road. Why was he driving so fast?

She glanced below to find a tractor-trailer driving westbound, gears grinding against the steep incline. Then she spotted
Forras
. He stood in full demon glory at the top of the ridge between the two vehicles. Still no sign of Alexander.

Forras
jumped and landed on the roof of the tractor-trailer. Her blood froze in her veins with the pulses of evil radiating from him. He dipped his head pointing his four horns mockingly at her.

Alexander bolted from behind an old shed on a hillside. Her breath hitched at the sight of his glowing demonic eyes.

Alex slammed into
Forras
. They both flew through the air, smashing against the side of the mountain. Large rocks and debris tumbled down the rocky ridge to the road. The truck swerved and screeched to a halt blocking a narrow bridge.

The green vehicle rounded the last turn on a collision path with the semi. Her stomach dropped in horror. She tried to intervene, to stop them, but she hung mid-air frozen at the sight of evil pulsing in Alex’s eyes. Had he fallen further? Was she too late?

Tires locked tight, smoke rose. The vehicle skidded.

Adrenaline gushed through Sammy’s body, yet she remained paralyzed with fear. Everything happened so fast. A young girl clawed at the backseat, her eyes wide with terror before her head smashed against the rear windshield. Crimson liquid coated the cracked glass.

Alexander and
Forras
continued to fight, rolling down the side of the mountain. Sammy debated for a second whether to help Alex or the innocent girl. She banked right and circled back to the car, but Grace swooped down.

“Move!” Sammy yelled.

“You mustn’t interfere.” Grace hung in mid-air with her lips pressed to a thin line.

Blood boiled beneath her skin. “Why? You can’t let her die. I can help. That isn’t fair.”

“You can’t. The events have been set in motion by Alexander and
Forras
’ decisions. Now they must face the consequence.”

For the first time, she wanted to ball up her fist and smash a rock to pebbles and scream to the heavens they were unfair and unjust. She tried to dive down and help but her wings seized and wouldn’t move.

“Let me go.” Sammy whimpered but the invisible force didn’t release her. Instead, Grace moved to the side and allowed Sammy to watch the horror unfold.

Everything around her magnified, she saw through the darkness to the far side of the road and the smell of pine burned the inside of her nose.

“Your angel abilities are returning.” Grace reassured her.

“Then I can help.” She struggled but there was no use, she wouldn’t budge.

“It isn’t your time to help, only your time to observe and learn.”

The car catapulted into the air.

Screams, lights, burning rubber.

The green hunk of metal flipped. The impact tore open the passenger side door. With flailing arms and legs, the girl was ejected from the car.

The old vehicle rolled down the side of the highway without her.

Sammy’s stomach lurched. Tears slid down her face as the girl’s body was flung like a rag doll onto the ground. The metallic smell of blood, sound of bones cracking, tendons popping, and an iron taste invaded her senses.

“Why am I being tortured?”

“Sometimes we are forced to stay back and allow others to make mistakes. You fell because you interfered with Heavens will.”

At the sounds of metal crunching and terrifying screams, acid burned her throat. She prayed for the nightmare to end.


Elianna
.” The cry was a foreboding echo through the tall pine trees. The man cradled a woman’s body in his arms, and Sammy knew instinctively it was his wife.

Her heart shattered. The young girl rolled on her side and crawled, dragging one leg, towards the pair.

Sammy’s hands trembled as she struggled against the restraint. “Grace. Please.” She cried, but Grace didn’t respond. “This is my punishment?”

“No. It is a lesson, and not just for you.”

Sammy followed her gaze to a nearby ridge where Alexander fought to stay in the air, but he thudded around like a bird with a broken wing. The pine branches snapped against his body as he crashed to the ground.

Her wings released and she floated down to a rock and collapsed next to Grace.

The ground beneath her feet rumbled, a subtle vibration only an angel could detect it. The hair on her body stood at attention when a brilliant light descended. It lingered for a moment then ripped a reluctant soul from Earth.

It was the woman’s soul. The cries of the loved one’s left behind sent a shiver through her wings and into her body, squeezing her heart.

She clutched her chest and cried out. Hope yanked from between her ribs, leaving an empty space. Memories of a past life invaded her mind. All her senses bombarded with the pain and suffering of her fall.

Wings shredded, fire, ash—she gagged at the odor of burnt feathers.

“What’s happening?”

“You’re remembering.”

“Samantha you have been accused of disobeying angelic law and Alexander for an act unbecoming an angel.” Words as deep as the darkest depths of the ocean boomed in her head. “You were once a great angel. Loved by many.”

Visions of Boon by her side centuries ago shot through her mind and she wanted to grab one but they were gone. “You will be sentenced to banishment.”

White shimmers covered her with a tender caress. She took a deep breath and the snow-colored specks merged into a grey pool of sorrow.

It clamped around her and constricted like a straight jacket of terror.

“Fall!” She managed through gritted teeth. “My fall!” Her cry muffled by the sounds of emergency vehicles.

A warmth seeped in and tugged the fingers of grief loose. “
Shh
.”

“C-can’t b-breathe.” Bones snapped around her soul and skin burned into them, she slammed against the ground, gasping. With hands wrapped around a jagged rock, she sat on the cold, damp ground heaving. Her lungs expanded but the memory of her great loss remained. She’d woken up only to live another nightmare away from Heaven. She sucked in the scent of fresh pine and peanuts.

“Peanuts?” She blinked. Through blurry vision she discovered Boon kneeling by her side.

“I thought you might need these.” He dropped several into the palm of her hand and brushed the hair from her forehead.

A shutter of light shone through him. She caught a glimpse of his soul and their great love, but couldn’t comprehend it. Only warm happiness remained as evidence.

Grace joined them, kneeling by her other side. “You were right. Both of you.” Sammy clutched both their hands. “I’m not ready to remember everything.

Boon’s gaze grew distant and his reassuring smile drooped.

“But I don’t have to. I trust what I feel.” She brought his hand to her cheek. “And my heart tells me you are something truly special.”

Boon’s lips curled into a wide grin and he lifted her into his arms. Her aura collided with his and an amethyst light glowed around them. He pressed his forehead to hers. Finally, I’m whole again.

Chapter Seven

Grace stepped to the edge of the rocky ridge. “It’s time.”

They floated down to the clearing across from Alexander. Sammy’s sandaled feet crunched into the icy snow. She shivered and leaned into Boon for warmth and listened to the tree’s creak overhead. Boon pressed his lips to hers and she melted against him. Her body warmed to his touch, one of the few pleasurable human reactions. They were connected somehow. There was no way to deny it anymore. She yearned to return to Kemp and discover the rest of the mystery between them. His arms squeezed tight before he let her go.

Sammy tugged him toward Alexander but he resisted. “This is as far as I go for now.”

“Why? Certainly we can—”

“Trust me.” He glanced at Alexander. “He doesn’t need any complications right now. He needs you. I understand now. Alex has a pure heart no matter how misguided he is by his passion. Hatred is a wasted human emotion. No matter his part in your fall from Heaven, I won’t hold a grudge any longer. I see now we will need one another. In time, Alexander will realize this too. Now go, be with Alex. He needs you.”

She clung to his strong yet small frame one more time before she released him. Boon remained in the shadows at a distance. Warmth filled her. He would always be near watching over her and she didn’t mind.

Alex sat with slumped shoulders pounding his fists against his head in the snow. A great devastation surrounded him. He blamed himself. He tried to help them but instead played right into
Forras
’ plan. She understood now what Alex had meant about Demons being manipulative. Too bad he hadn’t heeded his own warnings.

A husky laugh from
Forras
gloating sent a wave of heat down her arms and legs. Headlights shone through the woods. The shadow of four horns appeared on the ground near Alexander.
Forras
’ massive smoke-grey arm and blood orange eyes reflected in the light, before he vanished into the forest.

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