My entire body was sore and as I slowly worked my way to consciousness I became increasingly aware of it. The sun kissed my eyelids, begging them to open, and finally I obeyed, lifting them slowly.
“She’s awake. Tell Gabriel.”
I scanned the room, assessing where I was. It was familiar to me however I’d never spent much time in it myself. I was in the medical room, lying on an uncomfortable bed and still wearing the clothes I’d been knocked unconscious in. Black jeans, boots, and a navy turtleneck. Looking down at myself, I was still covered in dust and blood, none of it mine. I seemed to be intact save for a few scratches here and there as well as a rip in my pants. Turning to look at the person that stood beside my bed, I smiled.
It was Soraya, the first friend I’d made coming here and the Elioud I’d grown closest to. She was all strength and spunk but she respected me, knowing what I’d done for the world, and didn’t resent me like so many others. Her style, colorful and funky, matched her attitude. She was of Moroccan descent with smooth caramel skin and long black braids wrapped up in a bun, her eyes a honey brown. She had been friendly from the moment I’d arrived and defended me whenever necessary. She was my rock here.
“How are you feeling?”
“Like I was hit by a bus.”
She smiled. “Sounds about right. What were you thinking, girl?”
“I was trying to get through to him...” My voice trailed off as I thought back to the incident that had led me here. It had been a month since I’d closed the gates of hell, and everything had changed. The fellows had planned to erase my memory, but I’d escaped. And Gavin...it still hurt to think of him.
Carter, however, had left as soon as he’d discovered I was alright from the explosion the closing of the gates had caused. He hated himself for what he was and the fact that he’d had to keep it a secret his entire life. He had joined a group of half demons, otherwise known as Cambions, and I’d made it my personal mission to find him and convince him otherwise. A day prior I’d managed to track him down to a location in the city and went looking for him. I’d found him, but he’d completely embraced his new clan and lifestyle. After fighting with them I was knocked unconscious and now I was here. I wasn’t sure what had transpired between then and now, but I had an idea...
“It’s about time you stopped playing victim with this sleeping act.” The all too familiar deep voice entered the room, attended by furious footsteps that closed in on my bed.
Soraya rolled her eyes but said nothing, taking a step back.
The most attractive face I’d grown used to hating appeared, the person attached stopping at the side of my bed.
He was one of the most handsome men I’d ever met in my life but also one of the most pompous. He was tall, all rippling muscle, and tan. His eyes were an intense grey and his hair was jet black and always unruly. He had this rugged masculinity about him that had women drooling without shame.
I’d hated him from day one.
Not only because he was an arrogant prick but also because I couldn’t understand how someone so awful had been chosen to lead a clan of Elioud rebels. It literally made no sense.
“Glad to see you’re still in one piece after I saved your ass. What the hell were you thinking? You could have been killed if I hadn’t followed you.” Every word was just as furious as the last. Needless to say, communication wasn’t his strong suit.
I tried not to roll my eyes as Soraya had done, counting to three in my head before answering. “Carter would never hurt me.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure of that. He didn’t exactly rush to stop his cronies.”
“Because he knew I could handle myself.”
“Up until you couldn’t, and I had to save you. I can’t follow you around every time you decide to sneak out and do something that risks your life.”
I narrowed my eyes, sitting up and swinging my legs over the side of the bed, coming eye to eye with him. “I don’t recall being assigned a babysitter so don’t blame me for your tendency to put your nose where it doesn’t belong.”
The veins in his neck and arms were protruding, unconcealed by the black tee he wore. It was clear his anger was growing and to be honest, I enjoyed pushing his buttons. “Stopping someone who clearly is unable to think for themselves from attempted suicide is not being nosy. Pull this again and there will be consequences.”
His face was so close to mine I could feel his breath on my lips. “I would expect no less.”
He stared me down for a moment, seeming to be analyzing my reaction, before turning and leaving the room, taking his powerful masculine presence with him.
As soon as the door slammed shut, Soraya let out a whistle. “You really know how to piss off boss man. Or turn on.”
I stood from the bed, doing a few stretches to loosen up my tensed muscles. “Oh please. He is not the least bit attracted to me.”
“The only women that anger him this much are the ones he finds challenging. And the only women he follows in the middle of the night are the ones he wants to sleep with.”
“Or he just likes to be in control.”
Soraya crossed her toned arms. “That’s not control. That’s what denying feelings looks like.”
“I wouldn’t know anything about that.”
“Oh, you wouldn’t?”
I rolled my eyes at her. “I’m hungry. Let’s go to the kitchen and you can continue making false assumptions there.”
She smirked, walking with me out of the room. “They’re not false and you know it.”
Later that night I laid on my bed in my room in the twenty-bedroom penthouse I now called home. The penthouse had been donated by a wealthy Elioud to the group of rebels I lived with. That night, only a month ago, had changed everything.
And was also the reason I would never be with Gavin again.
My heart hurt every time I thought back to it. Or the hole in my heart that would never mend.
I’d been knocked unconscious after closing the gates and woken up at the mansion in my room. I was unscathed, and Natalia had been waiting beside my bed. Gavin was alright and had been carried out of the catacombs before they tumbled down over us. She told me that Gavin wanted to speak to me but the tone in her voice suggested the conversation was going to be anything but pleasant. I was also to have my memory erased the following morning, something I had forgotten about until that moment.
My nerves had been running wild as I walked down the hallway to Gavin’s room and our conversation hurt me to our core.
He’d told me he knew how much I wanted to hold onto my memories and felt that after all I’d sacrificed I deserved at least that. So, he’d contacted Makeda, the Elioud who had taught me how to better manage the power of my stone before I’d bonded with it, and had arranged for me to escape with her. I couldn’t go back to my regular life now since I was still a target, but the rebels she knew would take care of me. He, however, could not join. Nakir, the head fellow, would know who had helped me escape and he would have to go into hiding with Natalia, who had chosen to join her love, Amos.
He also thought it would be best that I move on for my own safety. We could and would never be together. Lucifer would still come for me, so he would check in with Makeda to make sure I was alright and in turn she was to tell him if anything happened to me.
That night Gabriel and three of his team met us a few miles from the mansion and took me away from my past, toward a new future.
I hadn’t seen Gavin since then and I was sure I never would again. He was determined to stay out of my life.
The only piece of mind I had was my brother. He’d woken up from his coma hours before we left that night and his memory had been wiped before the fellows returned him to his home. I’d gone to visit him a week after my escape and told him the story Gavin had advised I tell him of the passing of his girlfriend Fawn. That they’d both been in an accident and she died on the scene but there was no pain. I’d never seen my brother crumble the way he did. He fell into a deep depression after that and I was concerned but I knew he would make it through. My brother’s strength had always inspired me because it was unwavering.
The question now was how long could I go without having a mental breakdown myself?
I’d gone this entire last month without facing my feelings. The devastation of leaving Gavin, the difficulty of being unable to see my friends and family, and the everyday frustration of being an Elioud but feeling as if I didn’t belong in this group of rebels. Soraya was amazing, but she was one of the few that had accepted me. The rest were a constant challenge. They’d disliked me from day one and Soraya said it was because they were jealous. The Creator had chosen me to close the gates, but they didn’t understand why I was so special. Apparently, they were also jealous of the fact that I’d trained with fellows and in doing so was above par in fighting. I’d sparred with multiple of their strongest fighters and taken them all down with little effort. The only one who’d posed a challenge was Gabriel. We tied three times before he grew frustrated and walked off. Since then we hadn’t sparred and there was now an unspoken grudge between us. I’d embarrassed him in front of his peers, people who had never seen him lose a fight and certainly never tied. I had a sneaking suspicion he’d trained with fellows as well because many of our moves were similar. His past was something no one knew of though, so my suspicion remained just that.
A knock sounded on my door, shaking me out of my day dream. I sat up and swung my legs over the side of the bed, clearing my throat before shouting “Come in!”
The door opened slowly, and Soraya’s face greeted me. “Hey there, troublemaker. Gabriel wants to see you.”
I rolled my eyes at her. “Typical of him to use a messenger.”
“Well, just like the saying goes: don’t shoot the messenger. He’s in the combat room. Try to wait at least thirty seconds before letting the claws out.”
“I’ll wait maybe two.” I stood, slipping my feet into my boots. I had showered already and dressed in fresh clothes, a white shirt and jeans. My hair I’d dyed a darker shade of brown a few weeks back but still had the large ringlets.
I hadn’t changed much physically since leaving the fellow mansion but mentally I was a different person. The Ava from two months ago had died in the catacombs and been reborn. In her place was a spitfire, slightly bitter new version. The only difference was the tattoo I now had on the back of my hand, similar to the mark of a guardian. It only appeared when I asked it to, swirling glowing blue symbols across my skin. It served as a constant reminder of the fact that I was now immortal and the Elioud energy lived inside of me.
Leaving my room, and Soraya chuckling in the hallway, I headed for the combat room in the west wing. The walk was anything but quiet seeing as how it was a Friday night and the rebels did everything but sleep on the weekend. They were littered about the penthouse organizing their weapons, drinking, play fighting, and generally acting very un-angelic. It was an interesting dynamic to say the least. Part angels that took the term ‘rebel’ to another level.
After about a minute I came to the end of the west wing where the combat room was located. I could hear the loud rock music before I even reached the door. Gabriel was definitely letting out his frustration through training. Whenever he was upset he needed to over exert himself and beat the shit out of something. In this case a punching bag. He also loved to have conversations while doing so because he figured it was intimidating to the other person.
To me, it was just a misogynistic power trip.
I walked inside and was sure to close the door behind me before crossing my arms, clenching my jaw. “You wanted to see me?”
He’d decided to forego a shirt, wearing only a pair of black joggers, so his upper body was all sweat, tanned skin, and muscle. His hair was pasted to his forehead in a frustratingly sexy way and his hands were wrapped in white cloth. I could see his red fingers from afar as he continuously punched and kicked the punching bag strung up in the middle of the large black wood room.
“I did.” Another kick. “I wanted...” Kick. “To talk about...” Punch punch. “What happened...” Punch. “Last night...”
Well, this was going to be pleasant.
I strolled across the room and stopped a couple feet from where he was letting out his anger on an immobile object. “For some reason I thought our conversation earlier was sufficient.”
Kick. Kick. Punch.
“You thought wrong.” He paused, breathing heavily, one hand on the swinging bag to steady it. “Why are you here, Ava? The real reason. Not the bullshit one about how it’s the only safe place for you because we both know the fellows would never harm you.”
I wasn’t expecting this question, so I opened my mouth to answer but nothing came out, so I closed it.
“Do you want to know what I think?”
“Indulge me.” The sarcasm came so naturally around him.
He began to unwrap his hands, looking over at me. “I think you’re here because you don’t know where you belong. You don’t fit in with the fellows, but you also don’t fit in with the Elioud. You’re somewhere in between. But being alone is much more terrifying so you stay, hoping that eventually everyone here will accept you.”
I already hated him, and this certainly was adding to the list of reasons why. Though...he wasn’t wrong. Even in my current defiant state I knew that he was on to something and it was frustrating how well he seemed to read me. “What’s your point?”
His eyes were practically boring a hole into my own. “If you want to find your place with us you have to learn more about the people here. You also have to learn to listen.”
Well that wasn’t going to happen. “I respect what you do here, I really do. But I’m not interested in being a permanent part of your cause.”
“Why, because you feel as if you’re hurting or rebelling against the fellows? As far as they’re concerned, you became a rebel as soon as you left the mansion. You may have done a good thing for the world, but insubordination means more to them than anything. They won’t take you back. So, for now you’re stuck here. Which means you need to start trying to fit in.”
I already knew he was leading toward a suggestion of some sort, or rather an order, one I wasn’t going to like.
“You’re going to start teaching, once a day, two hours. It’s obvious you’re skilled and the team could use a fresh take on things. It’ll give you the opportunity to be useful, meanwhile bonding with them.” He tossed the used cloth onto the nearest chair against the wall.
“And what if they don’t want to be taught by me?”
“Oh, I know they won’t want to. But you have no choice. Make it work. You may have your boyfriend watching over you, but the rules here apply to everyone. You’re not an exception. You’re not to leave the premises alone or without informing someone. And certainly, no contact with malevolents or cambions.”
I really didn’t want to train with the Elioud rebels, but I did enjoy a challenge. I also wouldn’t mind working with a few of the more unkind ones here and putting them in their place.
“Fine. I’ll train on my own terms though.”
“That’s fine. Lailah will assist you.”
Damn it. Lailah was the biggest pain in the ass and probably the Elioud that hated me the most. I had a sneaking suspicion it had to do with her secret affair with Gabriel and the jealousy she’d developed toward the attention he showed me, whether or not it was negative.
“We can’t stand each other.”
“Even better. You two need to work through your issues. And getting her on your side will help the others follow suit.”
I hated to admit it, but he was right. A lot of them looked up to her. Befriending her was the quickest way to gain their acceptance.
“Fine. When will I start?”
“Tomorrow morning. First session will be at ten. After a couple weeks we’ll move you to group training.”
Great. Just what I wanted. To train multiple people who hated me at once. “Alright. Is that all?”
He shouldered his bag, wiping the sweat from his brow with a towel. “No. Put on something nice. We’re going hunting tonight.”
A few hours later, four black cars were lined up in the garage of the upscale residential building, prepared to take our group of sixteen to our destinations. As usual, I was paired with Gabriel, so he could keep an eye on me. With us were Soraya and Lailah.
Thankfully, I always sat in the back of the car while Gabriel drove, and Lailah rode shotgun. This way Lailah could only glare at me in the rearview mirror and I could pretend not to notice. She and Gabriel were two of five Elioud in our rebel group that had bonded with their stones. Soraya and I counted for two and another Elioud, Zeke, made five. It certainly set us apart from the rest of the thirty plus group we lived with who still wore their stones on necklaces, bracelets, or earrings. Another reason why the Elioud wouldn’t accept me. They saw those who’d bonded with their stones as self-righteous showoffs. The fact that I’d done it to save mankind and the people I loved apparently didn’t matter.
Lailah, my biggest critic, was gorgeous but had this raw toughness about her. She was short and curvy, certainly a family trait from her Columbian heritage along with her wavy pixie cut black hair. She had the sassy attitude to match but something told me it had a lot to do with her past. I’d heard rumors of her life before joining the rebels. It wasn’t a pretty story and she’d lost a lot of people she loved and cared for. Perhaps that was why it was so difficult to gain her trust. And why maybe she saw me as a threat to the close-knit bond she had with her fellow rebels.
“You’re to find your own possessed tonight, Ava. We’ll cover more ground if we all split up rather than work in teams,” Gabriel said.
“Don’t play hero this time either,” Lailah snapped.
I wanted to strangle her, but I composed myself. And I had messed up our last hunt by intervening too soon to protect a girl who’d unknowingly been drugged by a possessed at a nightclub. This had given the possessed an opportunity to escape and alerted others in the area. I now knew the importance of waiting for the right moment. However, I’d made it clear to Gabriel that I wouldn’t stand by while an innocent person was harmed.
“Don’t worry. I’ll leave that to you,” I snapped in return. I couldn’t help it. She knew how to get under my skin.
“Unlike some, I know how to control my emotions.”
“I think you’re confusing that ability with being emotionless.”
Her eyes were glaring daggers at me now in the rearview mirror. “I’d watch my tongue if I were you. Your precious fellows aren’t here to protect you. Your guardian even ran away from you. You have no one.”
I opened my mouth to respond but Gabriel beat me to it. ”Enough. We’re here.”
It was somewhat satisfactory that he’d cut things off after her last statement because the frustration shone on her face at his disloyalty to her cause. It was almost as satisfying as what I wanted to do to her which was beat the living daylights out of her.
Oh well. This would do for now.
We exited the car and started for the club entrance. A few wolf whistles greeted us as we crossed the street to the warehouse style building. Fall was near it’s end so each of us wore coats, however our bare legs and heels seemed to attract attention.
This was good. We wanted to be noticed inside. The more we stood out, the more likely the possessed were to approach.
Gabriel led us to the front of the line and nodded at the bouncer who let us in.
The other three rebel groups would be at other clubs and bars, conducting hunts of their own. We spread out immediately, aware that it was sometimes a giveaway if there were too many of us in the same place. Tonight’s plan would be no different from any other. I would pretend to drink too much, labeling me an easy target, and agree to go out back with the possessed.
They always wanted to take advantage of someone defenseless and either kidnap them to take to a lair to be possessed by a malevolent or hurt in some way. Recently, possessions were happening more frequently. It was becoming an epidemic and it was all due to the fact that the gates were closed. The malevolent spirits were afraid of going extinct on Earth, a day that was far away from the present but possible. We were here to ensure they met that day sooner than later.
Soraya and I split off and made our way to the bar on the second floor, the club compact in width but consisting of four floors, including a rooftop. We’d left our jackets with coat check so the glances from men were beginning to grow in number. Soraya wore a strapless red spandex dress that left little to the imagination. I wore a sheer glittering silver dress with a strappy black one-piece underneath. This was New York so you had to take the risqué to another level if you wanted to stand out.
The second floor housed a good portion of the VIP tables which meant high rollers. We would definitely find a malevolent spirit possessing someone up here.
The bartender, an attractive Latin man, grinned as soon as he saw us approaching.
“Ladies. What can I get you?” He flashed a brilliant smile, his blue Elioud stud earrings twinkling in the nightclub lights.
“Six each. Feel free to get creative,” Soraya told him.
He winked. “Coming right up.”
A little later twelve shots lay before us in a straight line. Only two were actual alcohol and the rest were juice, but we took this many to keep up with the whole sloppy drunk image. We cheers-ed the first shots and as soon as we set our glasses down Soraya’s eyes became laser focused on something.
“I think I’ve got one. You?”
I’d been scanning the crowd but so far, no luck. It wasn’t hard to spot a possessed, they all had the same pale skin and dark clothing look. I just wasn’t on my game this evening. I wanted to find Carter again and that was all I could think about. “Not yet.”
“He seems to be alone. I’m going in after this last shot.”
“Let’s give him a show then.”
We downed the shots one by one and made sure to giggle a fair amount in between, dancing to the music occasionally and pretending to check out men in the club.
Gabriel walked by at one point with a beautiful woman to which I rolled my eyes, wondering if Lailah was off pretending not to be jealous somewhere. After the final shot, Soraya winked at me and sauntered off to seduce her prey. I sighed and turned around, placing my elbows back on the bar. I wasn’t really in the mood to hunt tonight. Especially since I was one of the few concerned about extracting the spirit and saving the host. Staying true to your morals was exhausting.
I watched the crowd, smiling when I caught Soraya flirting shamelessly with the possessed and pretending to stumble as if she’d had too much to drink. Lailah had found a group of gentlemen in the VIP section who seemed to truly be enjoying her company. Gabriel was nowhere to be found of course, probably already taking care of his first possessed in the alley out back.
“Not enjoying yourself?”
I looked to my left, where an attractive woman had sauntered up beside me. The black dress she wore hugged her curvy frame, her brown hair wrapped up in an elegant up-do. Her body language suggested she was being more than friendly and the scent on her, a rotten scent that was enhanced for bonded Elioud, immediately gave away the fact that she was possessed.
“Not really. Any suggestions on how to fix that?”
She grinned, leaning toward me and placing a hand on my arm. “A few. How about I buy you a drink?”
“I only drink tequila,” was my response, accompanied by a wink.
“I like you already.” She turned to the bartender. “Two tequila!”
I was already bored and wanted this night to end. Perhaps I could fast track this interaction and then go sit in the car until it was time to go.
“What are we cheers-ing to, beautiful?”
I took the shot she handed me and giggled like an inebriated teenager. “To how drunk I am.”
She grinned. “I’ll cheers to that.”
As we took the shot I spotted Gabriel over her shoulder. He was at the other end of the bar with the beautiful woman, but he wasn’t paying her any mind. Instead, his focus was on me, and his expression was blank. He was definitely watching to make sure I didn’t run off, as I expected, but his stare still sent a shiver through me.
“Interested in a dance?”
I switched my gaze to the woman. “Actually...want to get out of here?” I made sure to shift my weight and twirl a curl of my hair.
The hunger danced in her eyes, ignited by my suggestion. “Wont your friends miss you?”
“No, I came alone. I needed a night without any drama.”
“I’m impressed. There’s nothing sexier than an independent woman. Well, my car is right out back.”
“Great.” I caressed her arm, stepping away from the bar. “Shall we?”
Her grin widened as she moved to follow me. “I’ll lead the way.”
Gabriel’s gaze followed me to the stairs and I could still feel it as I descended them with my prey. We exited through a door at the back that took us to a dimly lit alley. It was deserted save for a sleeping homeless man curled up against the wall.
The woman began walking but stopped when she realized I wasn’t following. She turned to look back at me. “Coming?”
I slowly took a few steps to the side. “I just realized I didn’t get your name.”
She raised a brow, walking forward to meet me. “Of course, hun. I’m Carmen. And yours?”
The fear rushed to her eyes as soon as the word registered with her. She knew me. Most malevolent spirits did. And most knew how an encounter with me would end.
“No...” She turned to run but that move I’d already anticipated.
I grabbed her wrist and twisted, forcing her to drop to her knees or risk a broken bone.
“Please! I haven’t hurt anyone, I swear.” The pain from the angle of her wrist was evident on her face as well as her hunched position but her focus was on getting out of this situation completely.
“And what did you intend to do with me?”
Her eyes were pleading. “You seemed drunk. I was going to get you home safe.”
Her lie was almost insulting. Being who I was meant I had a lot of experience with her kind. Did she really think I was going to believe her? “That’s possibly the worst lie I’ve heard so far. And I’ve heard a lot of bad lies.”
Her fear flipped to desperation and anger, her eyes flashing red to reveal the evil spirit inside. “You can’t finish us all. He will stop you!”
“Lucifer is no concern to me. And he doesn’t care how many of you live or die.”
“You’re wrong!” She attempted to wrench her wrist from my grasp and was surprised when I let go. She wasn’t expecting the force field I dropped around us though. As soon as she was on her feet, she ran toward the clear rippling barrier and banged her fists against it. “Let me go!”
I narrowed my brow, the angelic energy coursing through me, anxious to be released. As soon as she turned around to look at me, I let it escape.
A blue beam shot out, throwing her back off her feet and slamming her against the force field, pinning her between it and the energy. The blue rushed through her veins, crawling through every inch of her body before reaching her eyes, igniting them as she screamed.
In moments it was over.
I pulled the energy back into myself and watched her limp body fall to the ground. Removing the barrier, I walked over and squatted, checking for a pulse.
She reacted immediately to the touch of my hand at her throat by gasping and sitting up. “What happened? Where am I?”
I feigned concern, placing my hand on her shoulder. “You passed out miss. Are you alright?”
She nodded. “I think so. I can’t remember anything. How did I get here?”
“You looked a little dizzy inside the club, so I brought you outside for some air.”
Her eyes were confused but her breathing was beginning to slow. It was clear she had no idea she had been possessed only moments prior. “I had the strangest dream...I think maybe I should go to the hospital.”
“I think so too. You hit your head pretty hard. You may have a concussion. I’ll help you get a cab.”
I walked her to the street and helped her into a taxi, watching it drive off and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Each time I remembered why I so badly wanted to fit in with the rebels. They were making a difference and it felt good to still be doing so after closing the gates.
I stepped back and put my hands in my coat pockets, inhaling the fresh cool air. I was aware of the fact that someone had been watching me but didn’t turn to look as they approached. I knew who it was. “I’m not running away. Don’t worry.”
“I haven’t said anything yet.”
“I know you were going to, so I figured I’d save you a breath.” Besides, I was going to wait at least a few days before I went after Carter again.
Gabriel sighed, looking out at the passing cars from where he stood beside me. ”You make me the bad guy, Ava. Not the other way around.”
“Well, you insist on controlling me which I’m sure you’ve realized by now is not how I prefer to live.”
“I’m not control-...let’s make a deal.” He turned to face me, hands in the pockets of his black pea coat. His grey eyes looked different in the street light. Less...angry.
I rotated to meet him, still guarding my feelings. “Alright.”
“You and I will train every day after you teach. I’m sure we can learn a lot from each other. In return, I’ll give you some space. The house rules still stand but if I feel I can trust you, I’ll back off.”
Well, this was unexpected. I didn’t hate it but it still felt like some sort of trick.
“Fine. Deal. But just because I don’t follow your rules doesn’t mean I’m not trustworthy.”
He didn’t smile but he did seem to soften a bit. “I know.”
As if sensing the walls breaking down between us, Lailah sauntered up and threw me a glare. “Look at you over achievers finishing early.”
Gabriel’s eyes lingered on me a moment longer before flickering to her. “Seems the targets are easy tonight. Let’s head to the car.”
“I’ll wait here for Soraya,” I said, not exactly jumping at the opportunity to sit in a car alone with the two of them. Awkward silence much?
Gabriel nodded. “We’ll see you in a few.”
Lailah’s eyes looked me up and down with disdain before she walked away with Gabriel.
I may have been looking too much into things, but he never seemed to hold her hand or do anything to suggest they were together. Maybe public displays of affection weren’t his thing? Who knew. Why was I wasting my time thinking about it?
“Spare a dollar miss? Spare a dollar?”
I sighed, turning to speak to the man’s voice that had just pulled me out of my thoughts but was surprised to see no one was there.
I glanced down the street and that’s when I saw her. Dressed in all black with her hood up.