War In Heaven

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Sable

Sable

I lay in an empty pew staring at the roof of this run down church. I’ve been in it before. Operated by the old man, Priest Chaplin it’s a Protestant Cathedral, small but pretty old. A small dome roof lies above me with stained class shielding the rays of the rising sun. I’ve spent an entire day here, watching people come, pray, cry, beg, and share their most intimate thoughts. There is so much faith in their voices that it’s impossible not to believe.

I envy them. Their devotion is simple. God exists. He watches over them.

My piety is a bit complicated. I hold the cross close to my chest, waiting for my life to start.

Dane left me. Some Saint he turned out to be. Apparently being a future Prophet isn’t important to him because he seemed very distracted while he was here. I’m kind of glad he’s gone. I am no one’s burden and I won’t be treated like I am. He was kind enough, I guess, to give me enough information to get by on my own. Hotels, schools, orphanages, and churches were safe havens. Anything else I would be accessible to another attack. Lucky for me I’m in New York and all of those are scattered about like leaves in the fall. Dane brought me here and I haven’t left it. I’d rather stay for all time in a place I know will never bring harm upon other persons.

Dane gave me one modest order. Find the other half of my Soul. Sounds simple, right? I feel like I’m supposed to dig into my pocket and pull out, yelling, “Found it!” But let’s be realistic for one freaking moment here. I have yet to grasp anything that’s happened to me and most of it I’m contemplating opting not believing all together.

The events happen so fast. I was surrounded by two muggers, normal people, normal everyday human beings, and then suddenly I’m in a choke hold and his accomplice is crawling down a lamp post like a raccoon or something. It’s like gravity had no effect on him. He then stands in front of me and when I meet his eyes, his eyes are black, simply black orbs, balls of colorless, pupil-less orbs; unfathomably round spheres that stare at me, seeing beyond just who I am, he knew what I am and desire spread across his rusty lips.

Where had he gone? Was he dead as well? Did Dane kill him too?

My fingertips come to nip at my piercing. The woman’s face flickers in my memory. I will not forget that. The gruesomeness of her eyes, the horrid disfigurement of her nose and lips, all of it had been eaten away and nothing remained. I nearly reached her with my words. She would have let me go and she would be living still if Dane hadn’t killed her. Piercing wails echo in my memory as her body eroded before me and I did nothing to sooth her passing, standing there dumbfounded and stupid.

My fingers touch the gauze wrapped around my bicep. Father Chaplin had received me with open arms. He tended to my wound, waking a few of the nuns for whatever reason. They cooked much to my dismay. I was not hungry in the least but after they went through the trouble, I couldn’t say no. I ate what was on my plate, forcing each bite even as bile threatened. They set up a bed in the back parlor of the church, a section meant for only the devout class. I welcomed their care after being alone but I again felt like I was a burden. Dane was gone and I was alone in the bedroom staring at four walls with only religious ornaments surrounding me. I couldn’t sleep and I haven’t yet slept since.

I hear faint footsteps. They will probably have to open up the church soon. I don’t want to be around people anymore. I feel like I am disconnected from them. The muggers had been normal. The man hanging from the lamppost had been normal and yet all three of them were more than what they appeared. Each teacher and my headmaster wore such pleasant smiles, I believed in them to be kind and true. I trusted they were good wholesome people. The man that killed my mother and my father, he had been a simple person, going about a typical day.

If I can’t trust my instincts, who in this world is safe?

It hadn’t mattered before. I forgave and let go. People do terrible things but the bright side of that, people conduct wonderful and miraculous accomplishments that outshine all the bad. I will not allow my past to dictate how I feel about my brethren.

Yet now, I falter. There is something much darker existing. It is causing my trust to waver and I wonder if someone out there right now is waiting for me to come from hiding. Stalking me. Hunting me. With the single desire to take my Light and this cross from God.

Hearing him before I can see him, Priest Chaplin takes a rough seat in the pew behind me. He leans up, resting his elbows on the bench, looking down at me. I attempt a weak smile. In return, he gives a bright, encouraging grin that makes me laugh and I rub my eyes. I feel as if I’m going crazy.

“Are you ready to talk?” He questions softly.

I shrug. “Do you know Dane?”

He nods absentmindedly, looking out around the church, “For many years. He’s a man unlike any other.”

I’m up for anything normal right now, “How’d you guys meet?”

He chuckles. “Dane was like you. Lost, confused, and searching for meaning to his existence. He relishes conversation but I’m afraid I’m not up to par to his mentality. I could never help him.”

“So what did?”

He grins adoringly, “Love.” He looks down at me with crinkled eyes, “I know your secret, Sable.”

I spring into a sitting position, facing him awkwardly on the pew. “You do?”

“Dane filled me in on the details. I hadn’t known but now it all makes sense. You have nothing to fear from me. I’m on your side.”

“My side?”

Solemnity is stiff on his face and I don’t like it. How do I trust him? Do I trust because Dane does? But who was Dane? Dane was a murderer.

“You have been searching for something for so long now. You’ve known you’re needed. How many churches have you gone to?” My eyes flicker across the wood paneling in front of me. “You seek but you cannot find. You haven’t an idea what you search for but you know it’s connected to God so you go to random churches, aching for His help. You search for your Soul, Sable. Unknowingly you have been seeking it out for the last few weeks because you know the human race needs you. So what stops you?”

My brows knit deeply and I clear my throat. “I. I don’t know.”

“I believe you said you were Catholic before. Is that right?”

I nod my head before forcing out. “Yes.”

“Do you believe in Jesus Christ?”

“Yes.”

“Do you believe in the Virgin Mary?”

“Yes.”

“Do you believe in God?”

“Yes.”

“Do you believe you are the Prophet?”

I lift my eyes up and meet his gaze. How can I agree to that? That wasn’t ingrained into my head since the day I was born. I’ve had, at best, thirty hours to deal with this new development and I still don’t agree with it.

I shake my head and I feel myself go on a tirade. Everything I’ve held in till now releases, “How can I? Who am I? What can I do? I’m not Abraham or Moses. I’ve no visions of the future. I’ve sinned, Father. As much as my mother would have hated it, I’ve a piercing. I’m a wrestler. I don’t pray every day. I haven’t been to Mass in years. And as much as it is against my religion I’ve had sex before marriage to three other women and I didn’t take into account their Faith. My mother would have gelded me. But worst of all, father.” My back hits the opposite pew as I hold tight to the cross in my fist and my energy depletes. “Things happened to me that I couldn’t stop and sometimes I could have but I didn’t because I was scared. I’m not Prophet material, I promise you.”

His eyes are on me and I hope he sees what I see. Maybe he can talk some sense into God. He probably has a better connection with the old man than I do.

Priest Chaplin whispers, “’For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”’

I bow my head, nodding with humble understanding. I keep asking the question, who am I out of seven billion people to be elected as a Prophet but I guess I should be asking who I am to be questioning the will of God. It’s doubt that strangles me and that doubt has become fear. Fear grips to my ankles and keeps me seated. I have mounds of it.

When have I ever allowed fear to rule anything for me? I preserve. I do not quit. I owe such a dominating trait to my father who was just as stubborn.

I take a deep breath releasing it through my lips. “So would you have any idea where the other half of my Soul is?”

He cackles, “Haven’t a clue. I’ve never met an incomplete Prophet before.”

“As opposed to a whole Prophet? You’ve met one of those?” Priest Chaplin grins but stays silent nonetheless. Shaking my head, I continue on, “Do you think it would be something I own? Or someone I know?”

He points to the necklace in my hand. “What’s that?”

I hold it and the cross twirls. The rising sun hits it and rays reflect off it, glittering. “Well, if I’m believing everything that’s happened. God gave it to me.”

He chews on his lip and holds out a hand, “Can I see it?”

I flick my eyes to him, nervously, “Um. Yea, I guess.” Uneasily I hold it out and just as tentatively, his wrinkled hand wraps around the chain. I hold my breath. I trust Priest Chaplin but being a part from the necklace worries me. I keep my eyes upon the cross at all times even as he fiddles with it.

His shaking sausage-sized finger pokes at the metal. “You know you haven’t seemed as antsy since you’ve gotten here.” He murmurs.

“Yea.” I respond distantly. “Don’t really know where to go. I don’t know, maybe I’m tired.”

His blurry eyes lift, “Or maybe you’ve already found your Soul.” He holds the necklace back over to me and I grasp it with confusion shining in my gaze.

Staring at the trinket in question, “This is it?”

“I think so. It’s guarded well. If Dane couldn’t tell then it must be sealed up tight.”

“If I already have it, then what do I do with it?”

“I can only surmise. But I imagine it’s like evolving. You have to let go of all human fallacies. You are haunted by your past. That much is clear. You have to let that go.”

I recall the stunted man in God’s clothing telling me to do the same. “How?”

“Face it. Forgive it.”

My therapist always said I needed to return to the school, to my parents blood soaked sidewalk, and now it’s being shoved in my face without much of a choice. It’s kind of rude. I’ve made peace with it on many different levels. Emotionally and mentally, I’ve come to grip with what happened but physically I can’t seem to erase the scars. They linger and fester and with time, it weakens me. It’s the reason why every year I go through a phase of mourning. I’m not completely over anything.

I don’t think of what life could have been or what should have been. I don’t taunt myself that way. I’m not that cruel to myself. I live to the best of my ability and hope my parents are proud no matter what. I apologize for what happened in the orphanage. Somehow, I doubt my mother would understand.

’The man that killed my parents,” My eyes flicker distant. “He has a son. Should be sixteen soon. His name is John. He’s a good kid. He helps at a homeless shelter on 5th Ave. When I realized that he and I both shared the same pain of growing up without a father, I lost my hate toward what happened.” I sniff, rubbing my palm against my nose.

Uneasily I shift. “A year after I left the Orphanage, it was finally shut down. Apparently, they were behind on their taxes. They were operating illegally; Catholic Orphanages don’t even exist anymore. It was a sham. A fake. And we were all too naïve and stupid to realize it. My mother must have known. She was so blind in her faith.” Hatefully I rub a stray tear from my cheek. I straighten and clear my throat. “Anyway I saw my headmaster rotting in prison a few weeks later. That was enough for me. I think a few of the orderlies are there as well. It makes it kind of funny.”

“Why?”

Smirking I met his gaze, “All through it they made me feel as if I was the sinner. Yet they ended up being locked behind bars.” Priest Chaplin doesn’t find it as humorous as I do. It’s one of those, ‘you had to be there’ type of situations.

“Do you talk to any of the other boys?”

I shake my head. “No.” I sniff. “No, even if I saw them on the street, I wouldn’t.” I shrug, careless. “There’s nothing to talk about.”

His observant stare tells me otherwise. I spoke with a therapist for over two years after I escaped the orphanage; I know when I’m being judged. He’s determining my sanity no doubt. I quickly come to my defense. “I’ve made my peace with it.”

He smiles reassuringly. “You are a strong man, Sable, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ve overcome many obstacles. But,” He pauses much to my agitation. “I think you’ve separated yourself from the situation. You, who you are now, a mature adult, living on your own, being a man; that person can forgive and forget the wrongs of a religious faction gone astray from the Light of God. You can even cope with the fact that your mother placed you there, knowing that it wasn’t for your own good. But I wonder about the child inside you. The little boy of twelve that saw his parents murdered on the sidewalk, that was alone and terrified as he was placed in a home full of horrible events to come, that could do nothing to stop it, all on the word of a mother that should have known better.”

Laughing, I rub my eyes full of water. “You’re harsh, father.”

Warmly, his eyes twinkle as he grins. “I’ve done this for a while.”

“Guess I’m going back to the orphanage.”

“Guess so.”

Sheepishly, I reply, “To find my inner child?”

“To find your inner child.” He affirms.

“I thought it was hard enough looking for my Soul.” I heave to my feet as he laughs.

I swing around, feeling the presence of someone else close by. My brows knit meeting the gaze of a man standing a few pews back by the center altar. The sunlight refracts in the stained glass and directs upon him from an odd angle. It’s as if it searches for him. Dressed in black priest robes, covering every ounce of skin, I panic. It reminds me too much of the muggers. The dark hoods hid their faces and even though I could see his expression plainly, I backed out of the line of the pew, into the opposite aisle.

Priest Chaplin puts up a comforting hand, “You are safe, Sable. This is Vaul. He’s going to be your guardian for a while.”

I pant, attempting to ease the rapid beating of my heart. The stranger’s gaze is impassive. Thick black brows, bulbous nose, and a square jawline that would be tough to crack, this guy is enormous and holds his shoulders with the knowledge of power. He’s aware he’s made of brute strength. The robes that hide his muscle stretch. He’s not used to such clothing. As a person that’s been around fighters most of my life, I can recognize one quickly.

I concede. “Hey.” I oblige, feeling a bit ridiculous for darting away.

He flicks his eyes over to the priest careless. “Is this him? My lord Dane is positive?”

I scoff. I can see we’re going to get along just fine.

Priest Chaplin forces me to dress in the same black robes as my amiable partner. The less I show my face, he says, the safer I’ll be. No one knows who I am yet. And just because the sun is up, doesn’t mean I’m safer. I thought that’s how it is in movies. The sun rises, evil sleeps, and I’m safe until the sun goes down but apparently it doesn’t work in reality.

A chain encircles my neck, much like Dane’s, much like Vaul’s. It’s slightly heavy with odd markings on the back. I play with it, heading for the bus stop. The Orphanage is on 36th street: what’s left of it anyway. There is construction around it from the World Trade Center. We can take the bus that heads to the convention center.

“Kid.” I shift my gaze and notice Vaul holding onto a car door. “Get in.”

Unmoving, I blink. Priest Chaplin stands on the top of the chapel stairs to see us off. I don’t want it to appear as if I’m untrusting so I force my feet forward and stiff and completely uncomfortable. I nervously grip my robes, watching every move he makes. He’s in the driver’s seat and takes off. I don’t have a weapon. I have nothing to protect myself against this stranger except my own fists and I know it would be hard to fight him. He’d use his weight against me. The only thing I’d have in combat would be stealth.

“Take a turn up here. You don’t want to go on 10th Ave at this time. It’s jammed with morning traffic.”

He does as I order to my surprise. I ease out a shaking breath. I worry for nothing. If Priest Chaplin trusts him then I need to trust him. I reach into my jeans under my black robes and I rest my cell phone in front of me. I’ve gotten random texts from friends. They want to know what happened between Issie and me. A couple voicemails blink in alert. I raise it to my ear, keeping a steady eye on Vaul watching every movement he makes.

I peek out the window. I hate cars. They are so impersonal. I am detached from the population. I am disconnected, boarded up, completely blocked from the people I love to hear. I reach for the button to the window but it doesn’t move. My glare sends to the driver. He’s put on the childproof locks.

The voicemail makes me laugh, gaining Vaul’s attention. It was from Isabella’s best friend, basically telling me I was a dumbass for dumping her and I will never do any better. She screams for about two minutes before ending it with an explicit derogatory term.

Vaul’s hand is before me. “Give it here.”

“Excuse me?”

“Your phone. Give it to me.”

I demonstrate that, that’s not going to happen and he suddenly snatches it from my fingers, the car jolts in the process and I grip my door. “You nuts! Give me my phone!” He rolls down his window and flings it out the window. I watch it shatter on the cement. “What the fuck!”

“They can track you.” He explains simply.

I huff, slamming back down, clenching and uncleaning my hands, hating this man more and more. “So who are you? You a professional killer too like that guy Dane?” His eyes flick in the rearview mirror but he gives me no response. I pick on my eyebrow piercing. “I’m certainly meeting some screwed up people.”

After minutes of silence, I feel his gaze upon me and I meet his eyes in the mirror. He flicks his gaze back to the street. “You’ll understand soon.”

“That’s what they tell me.” I mumble. My fingers play with the cross in my pocket before leaving for the amulet around my neck. “What is this? Am I allowed to know that much?”

Vaul thinks on it for a moment. “It’s a diffuser. It makes you invisible to the Darkness that seeks you.”

I shift to look at him. “Yours is different from mine.”

“I have a hollow. It makes me visible.”

I knit my brows. “Visible? Why would you want evil to find you?”

“You’ll under--”

“Understand soon, yeah, whatever.”

He scoffs, mumbling, “The last prophets weren’t so bloody lippy.”

“What was that? Didn’t quite hear you.”

“I said we’re here.”

He stops short, my head hitting the seat in front of me. He chuckles smugly, unbuckling his seatbelt and exiting the car. I take a deep breath, pray for patience, and when he opens the car door, I don’t bother glaring. It would only feed his ego.

When my gaze lands on the building, thoughts cease to exist. My body stills, I forget that I’m breathing, I forget my heart beats, and I don’t even realize there is someone else here beside me. I’m twelve again, exiting the limo, clenching tight to my book bag, wearing a long black trench coat and leather gloves over my small hands.

The building replenishes and comes to life. Fresh red paint decorates the front of it and bold bright white letters read ‘Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam’. Translated from Latin it stands for: For the Greater Glory of God. It is a traditional saying in the Roman Catholic Church. The door is pure white with a gold metal cross pinned to its wood. I even imagine the knob twisting and a bright light beaming as my headmaster steps from its entrance.

“Boy.”

Vaul breaks my vision and what is before me is a mutilated construction, withered by age and vile malevolence that seep into its cracking pours. No longer so intimidating, it seems to droop and sag before me, as if it’s barely capable of keeping to its feet. The windows have busted due to its tilting and soon, I wouldn’t be surprised if it tumbled over on itself.

I climb the stairs and feeling Vaul following, I ask him to stay. I need to do this on my own.

The door has already been broken up. Vandalism is large in this part of the city and I shouldn’t be surprised if I find squatters. I peek in, swallowing.

My twelve-year-old self returns.

Gripping tight to my shoulder, my father’s brother pushes me forward. Leading the way, is my aunt, on my mother’s side, dressed in a grey dress reaching past her knees with her dull blond hair tight in a bun. I stare at her, mindlessly following. My footsteps sound on the wood as all three of us move into the welcoming parlor. She resembles my mother slightly. The way she stands, with her back straight, her head held high and the color of her hair and eyes. But she lacks the natural luster, the glitter and glow my mother possessed. The blond tresses, the blue eyes, they are dull and lifeless where my mother was purely thriving.

My uncle’s eyes dart in complete disorder, brown hair, brown eyes, the same colors of my father but there is little resemblance. My father had a thin face where doubt never lingered and a smile beamed constantly on his thick lips. His brother trusted little and it proved itself here. “I don’t like this.”

“Shh.” Aunt Maryanne whispered.

I met the eyes of Father Fredrick. Rosy red cheeks, bright red lips, hazel eyes and long eyelashes make up his honest face. He smiles charmingly and I can’t help but smile back. “Is this the poor boy?”

“This is Sable, Father. Thank you for meeting with us.”

Uncle George quickly cuts in, “It’s only temporary. Until we can come to an agreement.”

Aunt Maryanne sends a sharp glare, “This is what the boy’s mother wanted. Do you have no respect for the dead?”

He spits back, “And what of the father? Doesn’t he have a say in this!” My shoulder jerks in his hold and I bury my face in my bookbag, hearing the same old argument, again and again.

“That man is condemned to Hell! He wasn’t of the true Faith!”

“My brother was a Catholic through and through. You and your family are sick and twisted!” Aunt Maryanne blesses her family quickly in Latin, holding tight to her rosary beads.

Father Fredrick raises a tiny hand, “Please, not in front of the child. It is a blessing he comes here. We will take good care of him until God decides his proper place. There are plenty of other boys his age. He will fit right in. You’ll make many friends, Sable.”

I blink, staring at the same parlor. The fireplace is empty aside from old ashes. Couches covered in tarps lay against the walls. The carpets have been rolled up and piled into the corner. It was a room I was never allowed in again after the first day. It holds no more memories.

I back up and turn around. Across the hall is the kitchen. The nuns spent their time there, making meals for us. In the mornings: after prayer and before class, our options consisted of a banana or an apple. At midday: after prayer and three hours of class, we ate peanut butter and jelly or tuna sandwiches. Then three more hours of school, homework, chorus: we ate at seven every evening, with oatmeal or grits as our main course. Rare occasions, we had instant mashed potatoes or rice. Prayer again and bed was sharply at nine. Needlessly to say, none of us battled with being overweight. Gluttony is an obvious sin.

I straighten and take a few steps forward. To the left of me is the entrance to class. The desks shove against the walls just as the couches had been. The black chalkboard is dusty and I have to keep myself from locating a wet towel. Someone’s job always consisted of keeping it pitch black, clean and unsullied. Dust is a sin.

I flicker my gaze behind me and the door to the Headmaster is closed. If I attempt, I could probably make out the letters to his name on the stained glass. I step up to the door. My heart thumps wildly and I wonder what it would look like behind there. Everything is so much smaller now. I’m taller, I’m stronger, I’m a man now. Will I be intimidated? Will the picture of Jesus hanging behind his desk, still produce fear into my heart as his eyes burn down on me?

I move away from the door. I’ll return to it in a minute.

Shifting down the hall, I recall all the times I washed the wooden floors on my hands and knees. Names and faces of the other boys float in my memory as I see them running by. Uncommon moments when laughter would echo in these halls. Manny, Paul, Arnold and Jared; they were my pact. We were the youngest of the crew. There were ten of us altogether but age divided us. Innocence alienated us.

At the end of the hall are the creaking steps. I don’t need to lay a foot on them to know the noise they make. How many attempts at mayhem did we conduct only to be caught by these damned stairs? The nuns’ quarters attached to them. They hear everything. Starvation makes you stupid, it makes you attempt the dumbest things. Plans with such obvious holes seem fool-proof when you haven’t eaten in two days. Or, when you’re trying to bust one of your buddies out of Prayer Prison.

Even though my hands are on the banister, ready to take myself away from the worst of it all, I swing my head away and find the door that leads to the altar. Inside it, are memories that are nearly equal to the ones hiding the headmaster’s office.

We called it Prayer Prison. Punishments came often, that was true enough. Every infraction was a sin against God but there were certain things that beatings couldn’t atone. Using the Lord’s name in vain deserved a special penance.

They would drag us into the room where candles drenched the floor. It was at one time a sunroom with so many windows but they boarded those up, covering them in black curtains and pinned a giant life sized cross to the wood floor. The Old Testament lies on a podium before it. It is there one must rest upon his knees for an allotted time frame, an hour, two or three, never moving, never wavering, staring with sorrowful eyes upon the cross of Jesus Christ, begging for mercy.

If one should falter, there were whips hanging beside the door, to help with their fluttering faith.

I push the door open, boldly, with pride in my chest. No one will ever take a leather strip to my back again. I have plenty of scars but my scars are healing and that little boy who wept, will see how far he’s come.

I step back, unprepared at the sight before. Knit brows land on the woman stretched out in front of the deteriorated cross that hangs to the side. Sun shines down from torn curtains, landing her. I look to my right and left but there is no one else about. Tentatively I whisper. “Miss?”

Her white medical clothes are dusty and dirty. Worry sets my feet in motion. I drop to a knee but I don’t touch, “Miss, you okay?”

Confusion sweeps over me. Tears roll down her temple, her skin is pale but her cheeks are red. Nervously my fingertips rest on her forehead. “You’re burning up.” I flick my eyes all about, wondering if she’s injured somewhere and then notice the enormous scar ripping across her neck. “Oh, God.” I observe it openly and perhaps rudely. I’ve never seen such a terrible scar before. It’s thick and coarse. It billows from ear to ear, wretched and jagged.

Rage steadily climbs inside my chest the more I examine the old wound. She’s an attractive young girl and here she is, squatting in this old rundown place. If she’s anything like me then she’s haunted by the day she got this, just like I’m stuck on the days in here. Though I chose a different path, there were plenty of times I wanted to give up and waste away.

My gaze rises to her face and my thumb brushes a tear from her cheek as I smile. I can’t help thinking that she and I are similar. We’re refusing to be who we are so we are hiding, avoiding, and perhaps lying to ourselves.

“You picked a funny place, miss.” I tuck a stray piece of black hair behind her ear.

I look to the familiar cross. Why did I come here? There’s nothing left for me here. It’s time I let go of all this. There’s no reason to live in the past. It’s the future I want.

I want to help her. I want to help the human race. I want to help God.

It’s time.

“You’re okay.” I assure her, hoping I can reach her even in her sleep. I’m going to take on every single burden and make sure that everyone knows they are all going to be okay. I’m going to protect them. I may not really understand what it means to be a Prophet, but I’ll make that my main priority.

I reach into my pocket and grab ahold of my cross. I’m ready to combine with my Soul.

“Who are you?” My head snaps around and I come face to face with a barrel pointed at me. His blue eyes flip to the girl but he holds steady to the gun in his hands. He flicks his blond locks out of his face, stepping closer.

My hands quickly rise and he flicks the gun, “Get away from her.”

They must be friends. Of course, she wouldn’t be alone. I should have realized that. “Is she okay?”

“Who the hell are you?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean--”

“Get away from her--” The stranger snatches me by the arm and yanks me out of the room, pushing me across the hall.

I snap out of his hold, any apology darting out the window, “Don’t touch me again, douchebag. I think that girl needs medical attention.”

“I’m her doctor. I know what she needs.”

“Then why isn’t she in a hospital?”

“That’s none of your concern. Get out.”

The door snaps open and Vaul spots the man quickly. “You.”

The stranger seems unsure how to react. “You.”

I notice Vaul grip his necklace as he struts forward. He inquires. “Is she here?”

Licking his lips, the blond male, hesitantly replies, glancing backward into the room. “Yes.”

“Good.” Vaul lifts off his necklace and then, promptly, disappears.

My heartthrobs, but it’s only for a moment. Darkness prevails as I’m knocked unconscious by an unseen force.

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