Torment, p.3

Torment, страница 3

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Torment
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  "Why wont you tell me?" She couldnt help herself. She didnt know why it felt so important to ask. If she was going to trust Daniel when he said he had to abandon her after longing all her life for this reunion--well, maybe she just wanted to understand the origins of that trust. To know when and how it had all begun.

  "Do you know what my last name means?" he said, surprising her.

  Luce bit her lip, trying to think back to the research she and Penn had done. "I remember Miss Sophia saying something about Watchers. But I dont know what it means, or if Im even supposed to believe her. " Her ngers went to her neck, to the place where Miss Sophias knife had lain.

  "She was right. The Grigoris are a clan. Theyre a clan named after me, actually. Because they watch and learn from what happened when . . . back when I was still welcome in Heaven. And back when you were . . . well, this all happened a very long time ago, Luce. Its hard for me to remember most of it. "

  "Where? Where was I?" she pressed. "I remember Miss Sophia saying something about the Grigoris consorting with mortal women. Is that what happened? Did you . . . ?"

  He looked over at her. Something changed on his face, and in the dim moonlight, Luce couldnt tell what it meant. It was almost like he was relieved that she had guessed it, so he didnt have to be the one to spell it out.

  "The very rst time I saw you," Daniel continued, "it wasnt any di erent than any other time Ive seen you since. The world was newer, but you were just the same. It was--"

  "Love at rst sight. " That part she knew.

  He nodded. "Just like always. The only di erence was, in the beginning, you were o -limits to me. I was being punished, and Id fallen for you at the worst possible time. Things were very violent in Heaven. Because of who . . . I am . . . I was expected to stay away from you. You were a distraction. The focus was supposed to be on winning the war. Its the same war thats still going on. " He sighed. "And if you havent noticed, Im still very distracted. "

  "So you were a very high angel," Luce murmured. "So you were a very high angel," Luce murmured.

  "Sure. " Daniel looked miserable, pausing and then seeming, when he spoke again, to bite out the words: "It was a fall from one of the highest perches. "

  Of course. Daniel would have to be important in Heaven in order to have caused such a big rift. In order for his love of a mortal girl to be so o - limits.

  "You gave it all up? For me?"

  He touched his forehead to hers. "I wouldnt change a thing. "

  "But I was nothing," Luce said. She felt heavy, like she was dragging. Dragging him down. "You had to give up so much!" She felt sick to her stomach. "And now youre damned forever. "

  Turning o the car, Daniel gave her a sad smile. "It might not be forever. "

  "What do you mean?"

  "Come on," he said, hopping out of the car and coming around to open her door. "Lets take a walk. "

  They ambled to the end of the street, which didnt dead-end after all, but led to a steep, rocky staircase going down to the water. The air was cool and moist with sea spray. Just to the left of the steps, a trail led away. Daniel took her hand and moved to the cli s edge.

  "Where are we going?" Luce asked.

  Daniel smiled at her, straightening his shoulders, and unfurled his wings.

  Slowly, they extended up and out from his shoulders, unfolding with an almost inaudible series of soft snaps and creaks. Fully exed, they made a gentle, feathery fwump like a duvet being ung over a bed.

  For the rst time, Luce noticed the back of Daniels t-shirt. There were two tiny, otherwise invisible slits, which parted now to let his wings slip through. Did all of Daniels clothes have these angelic alterations? Or did he have certain, special things he wore when he knew he planned on

  ying?

  Either way, his wings never failed to leave Luce speechless.

  They were enormous, rising three times taller than Daniel, and curved up into the sky and to either side like broad white sails. Their broad expanse caught the light of the stars and re ected it more intensely, so that they glowed with an iridescent shimmer. Near his body they darkened, shading into a rich earthy cream color where they met his shoulder muscles. But along their tapered edges, they grew thin and glowed, becoming almost translucent at the tips.

  Luce stared at them, rapt, trying to remember the line of every glorious feather, to hold all of it inside her for when he went away. He shone so bright, the sun could have borrowed light from him. The smile in his violet eyes told her how good it felt for him to let his wings out. As good as Luce felt when she was wrapped up in them.

  "Fly with me," he whispered.

  "What?"

  "Im not going to see you for a little while. I have to give you something to remember me by. "

  Luce kissed him before he could say anything else, lacing her ngers around his neck, holding him as tightly as she could, hoping to give him something to remember her by, too.

  With her back pressed to his chest, and his head over her shoulder, Daniel traced a line of kisses down her neck. She held her breath, waiting. Then he bent his legs and gracefully pushed o the edge of the cli .

  They were ying.

  Away from the rocky ledge of the coastline, over the crashing silver waves below, arcing across the sky as if they were soaring for the moon. Daniels embrace shielded her from every rough gust of wind, every brush of ocean chill. The night was absolutely quiet. As if they were the only two people left in the world.

  "This is Heaven, isnt it?" she asked.

  Daniel laughed. "I wish it were. Maybe one day soon. "

  When they had own out far enough that they couldnt see land on either side of them, Daniel banked gently north, and they swooped in a wide arc past the city of Mendocino, which glowed warmly on the horizon. They were far above the tallest building in town and moving incredibly fast. But Luce had never felt safer or more in love in her life.

  And then, all too soon, they were descending, gradually nearing a di erent cli s edge. The sounds of the ocean grew louder again. A dark single- lane road wound o the main highway. When their feet touched down lightly on a cool patch of thick grass, Luce sighed.

  "Where are we?" she asked, though of course she already knew.

  The Shoreline School. She could see a large building in the distance, but from here it looked completely dark, merely a shape on the horizon. Daniel held her pressed to him, as if they were still in the air. She craned her head around to look at his expression. His eyes were damp.

  "The ones who damned me are still watching, Luce. They have been for millennia. And they dont want us to be together. They will do anything they can to stop us. Thats why it isnt safe for me to stay here. "

  She nodded, her eyes stinging. "But why am I here?"

  "Because I will do everything in my power to keep you safe, and this is the best place for you now. I love you, Luce. More than anything. Ill be back to you as soon as I can. "

  She wanted to protest, but stopped herself. Hed given up everything for her. When he let her out of his embrace, he opened his palm and a small red shape inside it began to grow. Her du el bag. Hed taken it from the back of the car without her even knowing, carried it all the way here inside his hand. In just a few seconds, it had lled out entirely, back to its full size. If she hadnt been so heartbroken about what it meant for him to hand it over to her, Luce would have loved the trick.

  A single light went on inside the building. A silhouette appeared in the doorway.

  "Its not for long. As soon as things are safer, Ill come for you. "

  His hot hand clasped her wrist and before she knew it, Luce was caught up in his embrace, drawn to his lips. She let everything else fall away, let her heart brim over. Maybe she couldnt remember her former lives, but when Daniel kissed her, she felt close to the past. And the future.

  The gure in the doorway was walking toward her, a woman in a short white dress. The gure in the doorway was walking toward her,
a woman in a short white dress.

  The kiss Luce had shared with Daniel, too sweet to be so brief, left her just as out of breath as their kisses always did.

  "Dont go," she whispered, her eyes closed. It was all happening too fast. She couldnt give Daniel up. Not yet. She didnt think she ever could.

  She felt the rush of air that meant hed already taken o . Her heart went after him as she opened her eyes and saw the last trace of his wings disappear inside a cloud, into the dark night.

  Chapter One

  EIGHTEEN DAYS

  Luce planned on keeping her eyes closed all six hours of the cross-country ight from Georgia out to California, right up until the moment when the wheels of the plane touched down in San Francisco. Half asleep, she found it so much easier to pretend she was already reunited with Daniel.

  It felt like a lifetime since shed seen him, though it had really only been a few days. Ever since theyd said goodbye at Sword & Cross on Friday morning, Luces whole body had felt groggy. The absence of his voice, his warmth, the touch of his wings: it had sunk into her bones, like a strange illness.

  An arm brushed against hers, and Luce opened her eyes. She was face to face with a wide-eyed, brown-haired guy a few years older than her.

  "Sorry," they both said at the same time, each retreating a few inches on either side of the planes armrest.

  Out the window, the view was startling. The plane was making its descent into San Francisco, and Luce had never seen anything like it before. As they traced the south side of the bay, a winding blue tributary seemed to cut through the earth on its way to the sea. The stream pided a vibrant green eld on one side from a swirl of something bright red and white on the other. She pressed her forehead to the double plastic pane and tried to get a better view.

  "What is that?" she wondered aloud.

  "Salt," the guy answered, pointing. He leaned in closer. "They mine it out of the Paci c. "

  The answer was so simple, so . . . human. Almost a surprise after the time shed spent with Daniel and the other--she was still unpracticed at using the terms literally--angels and demons. She looked out across the midnight-blue water, which seemed to stretch forever west. Sun-over-water had always meant morning to Atlantic coast?raised Luce. But out here, it was almost night.

  "Youre not from around here, are you?" her seatmate asked.

  Luce shook her head but held her tongue. She kept staring out the window. Before shed left Georgia this morning, Mr. Cole had coached her about keeping a low pro le. The other teachers had been told that Luces parents had requested a transfer. It was a lie. As far as Luces parents, Callie, and anyone else knew, she was still enrolled at Sword & Cross.

  A few weeks before, this would have infuriated her. But the things that had happened in those nal days at Sword & Cross had left Luce a person who took the world more seriously. She had glimpsed a snapshot of another life--one of so many shed shared with Daniel before. Shed discovered a love more important to her than anything shed ever thought possible. And then shed seen all of that threatened by a crazy, dagger- wielding old woman whom shed thought she could trust.

  There were more out there like Miss Sophia, that Luce knew. But no one had told her how to recognize them. Miss Sophia had seemed normal, up until the end. Could the others look as innocent as . . . this brown-haired guy sitting next to her? Luce swallowed, folded her hands on her lap, and tried to think about Daniel.

 
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