Reading is so meticulous; I don’t see how Dane can withstand such a lackluster practice. Books of various sizes scatter around my king-sized bed with my Rupus wings covering some in their relaxed state. They love to rest as much as any lazy, slothful creature.
They flicker, batting my legs at the insult.
I can suffer through it no longer, I yank myself away, my feathers ruffling from the sudden disruption. I have been reading for hours with the cocky repetitive ’There are worse things than devil, darling’ droning on in my head. Dane thinks he knows everything and I so little. He constantly makes everyone around them less than whom they are. I will not allow him to do such a thing to me. I am better than the average Soul.
I flick my eyes around my dull quarters. Everything in Heaven is banal and so ordinary. There is a bed, a sitting area, and closet, elongated with a wall length mirror. Simple and to the point, I suppose but for someone who is exceptional like me it is far below my standards.
When I am here, I long for Earth and its glamour. Before my imprisonment, I had a gorgeous villa off the Amalfi Coast. With eight rooms to choose from, three gardens, a terrace on the roof, and a deluxe pool, there was an endless amount of room to do with as I like.
Now I am here, in a cramped studio. I can’t cook, there is no electricity. I can’t bathe, there are no baths. I may not get dirty in this pure environment, but a bath is devine and yet denied in Heaven.
But I certainly can read, can’t I? It is a Hell comfort.
When my probation ends, I will flee from this wretched world. Earth will be where I make my mark. Here in Heaven I feel obligated to follow the same path as everyone else. In this place, I am simply another Soul, another bit of Light with no purpose and no hope.
I dress quickly, always the same style with black trousers, a decorative corset, and red jacket covering my shoulders. I finish my outfit off with leather, knee-high boots, lacing them tight. I like the sound of them as I step into a room, plus it adds a bit to my height. I am impeccably short and there isn’t much I can do about that. Five feet tall is below average even in this day and age. It only tends to bother me when Dane is beside me.
In Soul form, he is near seven feet tall. I look like a Cherub standing beside him.
Hidden in my dresser on the bottom shelf underneath an array of fabrics is a dagger. It fits comfortably in the length of my boot. I do not travel without ample protection. This reliable dagger saved me twice and I find it has ample luck. If I am going to be great, I must survive in order to become it.
I leave the confines of my room, strolling down the numerous hallways of the Angel quarters. Second Heaven is miles wide. It needs to be because it harbors most of the population.
Third Heaven is restricted to Elders and the Arch Family. There aren’t even a third of their numbers compared to us but it is apparent they need more room to live then we do.
I grip the corner of the wall before I take my next step, my wings spreading to catch myself from running into the loud, obnoxious armor I hear drumming around the bend. I peek over the wall, wings rigid from the sight, and throw myself against the plaster. There is no hiding. He, no doubt has already felt my presence.
I gain my composure quickly, forcing a farce of a face and greet him with a bowed head, curtsying. I am required to lower to my knee, but I’ve yet done so for any such person and I’m not about to do so now. “Arch Michael.”
As per usual, he stumbles on a response. “An, Anna. Please. Please don’t greet me such a way. I’ve upset you.”
My black brows knit and I connect my orbs with his glorious blue. He is an attractive man, I grant him. Muscles stretch beneath the black of his skin. Gold and silver armor barely covers from the eye what many would die to see in bed.
I am not a physical person, if that has not been made obvious. Even in my human lives, I rarely gave in to sexual desire. For me, such things were painful. I proceeded to do my womanly responsibilities. I married out of duty. I produced children because society told me that was my purpose. Out of obligation, I performed relations with husbands I never loved.
Yet, Dane Monte is my Soul Mate and many things have changed since then.
I must divulge in Michael’s silly pestering if only to keep prying noses from pondering about my single status.
Michael continues, dropping his eyes often, keeping a hold of the hilt of his sword. “I. I want to apologize. I missed our lunch date. It is not like me, please be assured. I keep my appointments.”
I attempt to remain impassive as I filter through memories. Then I recall flaunting such a moment to Dane just yesterday. I had forgotten so quickly. There was no intention of actually having such an engagement. I was going to be the one blowing him off.
My wings fluster with sudden upset. “Yes, I had waited.”
We have no time in Heaven. We make up such things to entertain ourselves. Considering that my second class is about to start, then our lunch date was missed by approximately an hour, by Earth standards.
Michael is a simple Soul. He appears easily pushed and persuaded that any creature can rule him. I am far from understanding the ways of the Merci but Dane sees Michael as exactly that: The Merci’s very own marionette. He is a dangerous piece to be assured.
‘God’s army commander held on the whim of Angels that fear their own shadow’, Dane had once said. He then looked at me with a simple smile and waved it away as if it meant nothing to me. I am young and therefore incapable of grasping such intricate detail. He makes me sick on how stupid he thinks I am.
Michael is not so senseless either. He is unpretentious and humble but when he is before his army, he is a different man. There is no hesitation and there is no lack of confidence. His voice booms with authority and his chest fills with conviction. Ten thousand Angels heed each command. They do not question or think. They make haste to do as he bids. It is amazing the force of his strength.
He is no puppet.
Perhaps, right now however, he is mine. “I felt tricked.”
He steps closer, “No, Anna. It was no trick.” He leans his head down with his plea. His wings encircle me, an action to make our talk more private. It edges my nerves. Dane is the only one that should be this close to me. “I wish I could explain better but I cannot. I am required elsewhere for the time being. I must put us aside.”
He is an amusing little child it is nearly pathetic.
Despite his silly ways, I do feel guilty. I might consider Michael a friend, if I considered any of the people I speak with, friends. He saw me every year on visiting day while I was in prison. I cannot say the same for my closest comrades. He brought me cupcakes from a bakery in Italy and a bottle of wine from my ancestor’s vineyard. It is against protocol for an Arch to go to Earth. They are Heaven Patrons and beings with very valuable Souls.
I didn’t understand how much he risked for me until Arch Gabriel crudely told me one year.
So subtly, my wing brushes his, “Is there something wrong?”
He flushes from the contact, easing backward. “Nothing you need to concern yourself with. Stay in Heaven as often as you can. Earth isn’t as safe as it should be. Your classes will be canceled soon.”
My interest elevates, “What’s going on?”
“I’ve said too much. Please keep this quiet until the preparations have begun. Stay safe.” Michael ascends, out of my sight and out of my reach.
I stomp my foot and my wings flap roughly. I can hear Dane’s nasty little comment, ‘There are worse things than the devil, darling.’
Oh, if he didn’t think himself so grand and just explained to me what he was speaking of I wouldn’t be going out of my mind in wonder.
In the multiple books I read, I’ve concluded several different things.
Mother Nature is a very active ingredient to the world. Though I have never heard of her until the story of Atlantis, I now understand that God is not alone and that she is His other half.
It’s interesting to see the intricate design, how mostly everything in Heaven has an opposing force. I suppose when God and Nature created the world together that they created it equally. As a result, everything is then a cause and an effect.
I get confused after Atlantis sinks into the ocean. Our Supreme Chancellor Metatron and his twin brother Sandalphon become the only surviving Souls. What happens to the four thousand victims trapped on the island? The book breaks off, as if the end has been ripped from history. What does Mother Nature do with all that Light?
There are other things I learned, which I mean to share with Dane to prove my intellect. I know what Vetalas are now. And though I’m not clear on the concept of Sins, I have a notion that these Sins were what Dane was speaking about with his little haughty comment.
I descend to the First Level of Heaven.
It is an airport, bustling and thunderous with thousands of Souls. Waiting areas and lounge corners are on both sides of a mile long footpath. There are newsstands and markets selling erotic candies from different parts of Earth. Informational booths battle for customers. They sell language convertors and speech contraptions to assist in speaking in any dialogue. As I get closer to the front, there is less traffic. Clothing shops for fresh made Angels sit quietly and happily greeting me as I pass by.
Reaching Sandolphan’s memorial statue, I turn left abruptly coming to a halt. As always, there is long line to exit Heaven. Thankfully, it takes only minutes but I can’t help begrudge Elders. They have their own private access in Second Heaven and there is never a line.
I should be given privileges of related rank. Not only am I Soul Mate to one of the most prestigious Angels in the history of our society but I am also a mediator for Arch Remeil. I have a job to do and being late because I’m stuck in line is pitiable.
I step to the side craning my neck over to a bunch of people in my way. My brown eyes roll spotting Rashnu jittering at the entrance. She holds a clipboard in one hand and a pen in the other, stumbling on high heels. Her short, curved Jourse wings wiggle and bounce with each movement she makes. Black hair clipped short, tight to her cheek and her skirt is snug to her hips. The whole sight of her is disgusting and unholy. I pull back in line so she doesn’t see me.
“Oh don’t you look lovely.” I hear her squeaky voice the closer I get to the exit.
“That hat is simply amazing, where did you get it?”
She is going to notice me and no doubt talk my ear off. For some reason she takes my harsh and bitter comebacks as a sign of friendship.
“Have fun down there. Not too much now.” She giggles with a terrible shrill. Her hazel eyes finally land upon me and her smile widens at the sight, “Anna! I’ve got something grand to tell you!” She dances on her feet in excitement and attempts to snatch my arm to pull me out of the line.
I roughly whip back keeping my place, “I have class.”
She deflates but steps with me when the line moves. “I’m getting promoted! Isn’t that great! No more guiding new Angels or shipping off Souls.” Each movement is over dramatic and every hand gesture is wide and dangerous. “A thousand years directing traffic and now they have me sitting at a desk! I’ll tell you all about it when you get back!”
“I can’t wait.”
At the gate, Puriel sits behind a desk barely paying attention to the activity going on around him while engrossed in a card game with a friend of his. I am fully aware that his mind is more like a computer and I doubt there is any thought mixing up his brain cells. “What is your destination?” He doesn’t spare me a glance.
For entertainment, I spout off, “Rio.”
He throws a card down, “Anna Martholow Fiorenzo.” He butchers my last name like any English fool. “You are contained to areas of the Merci until the year 2025. Would you like a copy of the terms to the agreement?” He scoffs at his friend cursing in Farsi.
“I’m going to Central Park.”
I arrive in Central Park if only to clear the protocol. After that, they can’t deny me anymore. I am free when I’m on Earth soil.
I reenter the Dust if only to step out moments later onto the filthy cobblestones of Dane’s dark apartment. I find him flitting about, with his glasses on the tip of his nose reading the side binders of books searching for one he hasn’t yet read.
I fill my chest up with smugness, ready to reveal all that I’ve learned happy to announce that I know who has Tymician when he cuts me off, “How was your engagement?” He mumbles unfocused.
My feathers flutter and fuss. I tuck them in hoping he doesn’t notice. He pays no attention anyhow, picking out a book and setting it in his overly large palm, flipping the cover open and carefully turning the frayed pages.
The fact that for one moment I felt guilty in Michael’s presence clenches my teeth. “It was pleasant.”
“A true gentlemen.”
He nods his head.
“He is very apt with his hands, and assertive with his tongue.”
Dane sits in his chair, throwing a leg over the armrest, flipping another page.
With aggressiveness in my tone, I growl through clenched teeth, “He knows how to make a woman beg.”
“I’m glad you had a good time.”
I stomp up and knock the book from his hand. It slams shut and dust swirls up from the cracks in the stone. His eyes crinkle as he looks up at me with a broad smile, chuckling softly.
He takes off his glasses, setting them on the side table. “You fib so often it’s laborious having a conversation with you.”
“You pay no attention, what’s the point of speaking true?”
“If you ever voiced factual I might pay some interest.”
I spin around but he grasps my hand. His thumb dances over my palm. “From your lie, I take it you did not meet with him. From the route you took, I conclude you desire my affection.”
“I desire nothing.” I bite ripping away.
“What if I desire you?”
Timid, I glance over my shoulder. He rests his chin upon his hand. Though he has a white scruffy beard and gray hair, it is his eyes that remain the same. Grey blue eyes, weary and ancient. I’ve stared into those eyes for hours. It’s his eyes that have seen me at my weakest and have loved me still.
I yearn for his Soul more than I wish I did.
I notice there is mud on his shoes. It draws my thoughts to worry. With Michael warning me about impending danger, a moment of fear creeps unnaturally into my heart.
If Tymician can die, could Dane? Why would he leave his protection? There is no need for him ever to be without it. “Where have you gone today?
A smile grows on his lips, “Typical of you, love. I confess I need your comforts and you thwart me aside.” He leans over to grasp the book off the floor.
I turn away, hiding a smirk. “I will not touch you in such a hideous shell. I will be in Heaven later.”
“I have means to return. I am being summoned. Perhaps I will make time.”
I scoff at such a response. I am not to be put in second place, or held off as an afterthought. I stomp out. “Don’t bother!” I hear his boisterous laugh as I leave the hall. I fume in hate swearing to have my door locked and barred. Only after I leave do I remember the point of my visit and it only sets fire to my aggravation. I can always make him regret in bed, I suppose.