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Authors: Christina Dodd

Stone Angel

BOOK: Stone Angel
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Christina Dodd’s
The Chosen Ones

 

 

 

STONE ANGEL

A novella of the Chosen Ones

By Christina Dodd
& Audrey Shaw

 

 

 

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2012 by Christina Dodd & Audrey
Shaw

 

All Rights Reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced in any
fashion without the express, written consent of the copyright
holder.

 

Stone Angel
is a
work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed herein are
fictitious and are not based on any real persons living or
dead.

 

 

 

The Legend of the Chosen Ones

 

 

"Long ago, when the world was young…" a
gorgeous and vain woman abandoned her children, a boy and a girl —
twins with hideous birthmarks — to the river and the forest to meet
their deaths. Instead, they became the first of the Abandoned Ones,
gifted with abilities that could save the world … or end it.

The boy was marked with a sinister tattoo and
given the gift of fire, and he gathered others around him with
similar gifts to become the Chosen Ones — seven men and women who
became a powerful force of light in a dark world.

The girl had the mark of an eye on the palm
of her hand and became a seer. She turned to the devil, gathering
six other gifted ones to her. They became the Others, bringing
darkness and death to the world.

The Chosen Ones and the Others have fought
for centuries for the hearts and souls of the Abandoned Ones.

All around the world, that battle goes on
today …

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

SHE COULD hear them singing.

Ignoring the mythical, musical stones around
her wrist, Charisma Fangorn concentrated on the difficult task
ahead of her — soundly beating the other Chosen Ones at Trivial
Pursuit.

It was winter in New York. The Chosen Ones
were cozy in Irving Shea’s mansion in the Upper East Side. And all
was quiet on the streets. Too quiet, Caleb D’Angelo said in an
ominous voice, but his wife Jacqueline hushed him, and told him to
cherish these moments, because it would get interesting soon
enough. Jacqueline was a seer, so everyone listened and obeyed.

Aaron Eagle was to Charisma’s right, trying
to keep a straight face while reading her the question on the next
Trivial Pursuit card. He finally managed to ask, "Is Uranus visible
to the naked eye?"

Samuel Faa dissolved into laughter.

Charisma sighed.

Boys
.

She exchanged an eye-roll with Isabelle Mason
Faa.

The four of them were gathered around the
gaming table in the center of the library, each of them perched in
dark mahogany chairs with beautifully patterned, but highly
uncomfortable seat cushions.

Charisma hadn't been able to feel her bottom
for twenty minutes now.

A few days ago, during a game of rummy, they
had tried sitting in the plush, midnight blue chairs that normally
surrounded the fireplace. Not only did they receive a withering
glare from McKenna, butler extraordinaire, for scooting furniture
across the solid wood floors, but they were sitting so low,
Charisma had to balance on a stack of ancient tomes to see the
table.

Personally, she thought they should buy a
card table and some folding metal chairs, but at the suggestion,
McKenna had reacted with such horror, she shut up and decided the
torturous mahogany chairs worked just fine .

So here they were, back to the hard-as-rocks
seats, trying to earn Trivial Pursuit wedges, their legs tingling
from the lack of blood flow.

The rest of the Chosen Ones, along with their
loved ones, were arrayed about the room, enjoying the fire while a
blizzard roared through the New York streets.

Rosamund Hall was sequestered in the window
seat, leaning against overstuffed mustard-colored pillows and
simultaneously reading and pouting. Her husband, Aaron, had said
she couldn't join the game of Trivial Pursuit because she knew all
the answers. So instead, she was reading a huge leather-bound
volume that looked from where Charisma was sitting like it said
something about physics. Since Honors Physics class had made
Charisma's senior year of high school a nightmare, she vowed not to
ask Rosamund what she was reading about today.

If she did, Rosamund would tell her.

And good manners had their limits.

Charisma turned to glance at Jacqueline and
Caleb D ‘Angelo, playing Uno in front of the fireplace.
Jacqueline's porcelain skin was flushed, as much from the fire's
warmth as from the look that Caleb was giving her. They had been
married for over two years, and they were still googly-eyed around
each other.

John and Genny Powell were shooting pool …
badly. At least Charisma assumed it wasn’t going well since they
hadn’t re-racked the balls for over a half hour. But then again,
it’s hard to finish a game when you’re busy making innuendo-laced
comments every five seconds.

The only member of the Chosen Ones absent
from their little gathering was Aleksandr Wilder. None of them had
seen him since a few days ago when he had jumped out of their cab
to get married at the courthouse.

At least, that’s what he had said he was
doing.

But none of the Chosen Ones but Charisma had
met the bride, and Alex had been so secretive of late. And everyone
had been stung by the fact that not one of them, presumably his
best friends after nearly three years of living and fighting in
close quarters, had been invited to his special day.

More worrisome, none of his family had been
there. And Aleksandr was close to his family.

Nothing about this felt like Aleksandr; it
wasn’t like him to be a selfish jerk. But Charisma had decided she
needed to stop worrying about the fact he hadn’t returned to the
mansion or called. She supposed he was on his honeymoon, and she
would ignore how oddly annoyed that made her feel.

Probably she suffered from the loneliness
that comes from being the only uncoupled Chosen One. She really was
going to have to do something about her lack of a mate, as much for
the sake of Jacqueline’s prophecy (which said each of the Chosen
had to find a mate before their true powers would be released) as
for her own sanity. Living in the Mansion of True Lu-ove could
really wear on a single person’s nerves.

Charisma sighed and turned toward Irving Shea
and his nurse, Amanda Reed.

Amanda
sat in a velvety blue chair, reading to Irving from
To Kill a
Mockingbird
, and the old
man and the young woman were a study in contrasts.

Irving was almost a hundred years old,
confined to a wheelchair, one of the first black CEOs of a major
corporation in America.

Amanda was slender, pretty and blond, and her
appearance, combined with her profession, made her seem to the
casual observer to be soft and gentle. That was, until the casual
observer looked into her stern gray eyes and realized this woman
could have brought the Roman Empire to its knees. During the time
she had been with Irving, she had made no friends among the Chosen
Ones, allowed no trouble in her handling of her patient, and even
faced off with their cook, Martha — and won.

Of course, when it came to Irving and his
precarious health, she was always right, and tonight she seemed to
be lulling him to sleep with her soft voice.

It was working, too. Irving was nodding off,
yet every once in a while, he would stop Amanda and ask her to
repeat a passage.

To Kill a Mockingbird
was one of his favorite novels, and when he was feeling up
to it, he liked to tell the Chosen Ones about the time that he met
Harper Lee at a luncheon. The part Charisma always enjoyed the most
was his description of the food: devilled eggs, fried chicken, and
butter cake.

Irving's love of food nearly matched
Charisma's own. After he had shown her the section of the library
filled with cookbooks, including a signed first edition of Julia
Childs's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," she had spent hours
poring over the recipes, tips, and step-by-step instructions for
how to truss a chicken properly. Not that she was ever going to get
to try it out, since Martha kept such a strict eye on the mansion's
enormous, pristine kitchen.

As if on cue, Martha with her usual stern
look and tightly braided gray hair came through the door with a
cart carrying what was referred to as "high tea" by Irving and "an
amazingly filling midday meal" by the Chosen Ones. After a week of
Martha's meals, if not for the well-equipped gym in Irving's
basement, Charisma and the rest of the Chosen would be plump. Maybe
even rotund.

Going to the sideboard, Martha set up
cranberry scones with heavy Devonshire cream, tiny smoked salmon
and cream cheese sandwiches, cubes of raw sugar, yellow thistle
honey, and heavy red ceramic mugs of steaming Earl Grey tea.

The fine china had been retired after
Rosamund knocked a priceless, hand-painted tea cup onto the floor a
few months ago, spraying chamomile tea and shards of china across a
corner of the Aubusson carpet. Martha's perfectly contained wrath
had brought Rosamund to tears, and Aaron had had to take her
upstairs to "comfort" her.

Charisma turned back to the game, ignoring
the insistent humming of her stone bracelet. The trouble with
having a magic bracelet was — sometimes it mumbled. Right now, she
knew her stones were fussing about something to do with Osgood. But
what? And why was this news?

Osgood
was always trouble. Always. She needed more
direction
.

Osgood wasn’t the biggest bad guy, strictly
speaking. That honor belonged to the devil, and the Chosen were
doing their best to keep him from grasping the Earth in his hands.
But it was pretty clear to Charisma and the rest of the Chosen Ones
that Osgood was the devil’s vessel, possessed and given power for
the express purpose of eradicating the Chosen Ones and descending
the world and all of its inhabitants into hell.

After the destruction of the Gypsy Travel
Agency, along with most of the former Chosen Ones and almost all of
their resources, the current Chosen Ones were the last line of
defense in an epic battle. Times like this, when the Chosen could
relax and enjoy each others’ company, were getting fewer and much
farther between.

So Charisma gave the ridiculous question
about Uranus her best fifty/fifty guess since she wasn’t an
astronomy buff.

"No?" she guessed.

“Yes!” Aaron said in triumph. “You need dark
skies and good star charts, as it is very faint, but it is visible
with the naked eye.”


Well,
excuse
me!”
Charisma said.

“We are talking about the planet, right?”
Samuel asked.

Isabelle
sighed. “You just can’t let it go, can you? Honestly, Samuel, you
act like you’re five years —
Charisma, what’s wrong
?”

Charisma clapped her hands over her ears. The
stones at her wrist shrieked a warning.

Uno cards hit the floor.

Jacqueline screamed.

Message delivered, the warning from the
stones slowly faded.

For Jacqueline writhed on the floor, immersed
in a vision that swept her from the real world and into sepia-toned
foreboding.

Caleb sat, trying to hold himself back from
jumping to her rescue. As if he could…

The Chosen Ones watched, riveted, as
Jacqueline rose from the carpet and blindly reached out as though
to stop something awful from happening. Her eyes were blank; for
long moments, she swayed as if she was moving in the wind. “No,”
she whispered. “No!”

Everyone in the library crept forward, hushed
in anticipation of what her vision would reveal.

Then, as suddenly as it had come, Jacqueline
blinked, her face cleared … and she was herself once more.

The vision was over.

Caleb stood quickly, gathering her into his
arms.

Irving, still pale, but now completely alert,
said, "Perhaps, dear, you'd like to share the vision with us while
it's still fresh in your mind."

Jacqueline sagged, leaning on Caleb for
strength. "I can tell you what I observed, but I don't know what it
means. I just … I don’t know what it means."

“You never do,” Samuel said.

Isabelle
elbowed him hard enough to make him go, “
Oof
.”

“I know, Samuel. I’m sorry, but those seem to
be the rules.” Jacqueline trembled from the force of the vision.
"Listen and see if you can understand what I saw.”

“Give it to me. Let me see what I can do.”
Samuel might be a jerk, but Charisma would give him one thing — he
was a willing jerk who tried his best.

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