I woke when I felt an electric shock coursed through my entire body. My pulse quickened as every fiber in my body came to life again. I squinted my eyes open but it was too blurry to make anything out. I was being carried and could feel myself cradled and pressed against someone else.
“Callias,” my voice broke making anything I say barely audible.
And I did. I slept like the dead which resulted in the extreme combustion off emotions when I finally did wake. I jumped out of bed like I usually did from a nightmare.
“Not too fast honey.” I heard my mother warn.
I opened my eyes to find her hovering over my bed watching me cautiously. Was it all just a dream then...a horrible, horrible dream?
“Mom what happened?”
“I’m not sure what’s going on with you or why so many catastrophic things have been happening to you lately.”
I took the glass of water she was offering me and practically chugged it. Then thoughts of blood filling up my throat forced me to spit it all back out. Either that was a very realistic dream or it wasn’t a dream at all.
My mother calmly wiped the watered spit from her hands. Opps.
“Cal brought you home. He said you passed out.”
Passed out? Wait, he stabbed me. My hand automatically covered the spot where a gaping hole should be. I even lifted my shirt to get a better look, but nope. Nothing. Not even a scratch.
My mother was giving me a curious look, probably thinking I was going crazy. Maybe I was. I felt like I was losing my mind.
“Where is he?”
My mother shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. He just left.”
I nodded in disappointment but did I really want to see him? Cal stabbed me. He actually almost succeeded in killing me. I couldn’t let this go any further. I was stupid enough to fall for his pathetic charm. Ughhh. I could hear my brothers now, ‘You should have told us soon. Laken how could you be so naïve?’
Was it wrong of me to have faith in a person like Cal? Well I guess that question was answered once he delivered me to near death. Was this all part of the plan? Was experiencing intimate moments with me part of it? Was kissing me, was that all part of his revenge? What now? I was alive. Would he come back?
I don’t know. How could I be so stupid? It was obvious Cal was only using me, digging into my brain. Perhaps he was getting to me so he could eventually destroy us all, my family. I was opening the door for him; warming my family up to him so eventually they would trust him. I’m so stupid. What was I thinking? He’s a fallen angel. Nothing good could come from a being who was cast out of heaven.
“Honey what really happened?” Mother pulled me out of my bubble of disproportional chaos.
I shook my head, throwing it back on the pillow. Bad idea. My head started to really pound after that. “Honestly mom, I don’t even know.”
“What do you mean?” Her worried expression was far worse than I had ever seen it.
“I don’t know. I’m fine now. Okay?” Maybe I could sooth her nerves by making her look at the bright side.
Her eyes barely concealed their concern. “Out of all my children, I worry for you the most.”
That didn’t surprise me. “Why? Afraid I won’t find a suitable husband.” Was this the right time for humor?
“You’d scare off any suitable man. I’m more afraid you’ll end up near death because of your reckless instinct and stubborn tendencies.”
I exhaled all the restless fight I had left. “I’ll be more careful. I promise.”
She didn’t believe me. “Cal seems to be at the scene of the crime more often than usual. What if he wasn’t there?”
I probably wouldn’t have gotten stabbed, but I had to wonder. What happened? What really happened and why wasn’t I dead?
“I guess God brought him to me for a reason then.” And what exactly the reason was beyond me.
I couldn’t tell my family just yet. I wanted the truth. I wanted Cal to face me and explain why he didn’t finish me off. He had me. He literally had me in his hands. I guess a part of me wished it was compassion. If he showed any ounce of hope than I wouldn’t mind the turmoil he put me through. Every lost soul was worth being saved. I was done playing games. This needed to end.
I steadied myself on the edge of the bed and when I was certain I had gained some sort of balance I got up and headed for the shower.
I didn’t want to answer anymore of her questions especially when I didn’t have a good answer. The water hitting my skin was exactly what I needed to calm my confused mind. By the time I got out Gabe and Pierce were standing by my bedside.
“Can I help you?” Honestly I anticipated their arrival. They were here no doubt to chew me out.
Gabe’s hard stare and stern flex of his biceps crossed over his chest made me believe this was going to be a heated discussion. Pierce turned his back on me and I dropped my head. The only time Pierce would intentionally turn his back on me was when he was extremely disappointed in me. I curled my arms around myself and waited for them to lay it on me. I was sure they had plenty to say.
“What happened yesterday?” Pierce’s voice was distant. He was probably trying really hard to keep his composure. He was fairly good at self-control.
I exhaled slowly to give myself time to come up with something.
“And don’t lie to us,” Gabe added.
I gulped. It was killing me that I couldn’t tell them. “I can’t tell you.”
“What do you mean you can’t tell us?” Pierce’s brows furrowed in distress.
I knew they were going to be pissed. They always wanted an explanation for everything.
“Look I need you guys to just trust me now. I’m ok.”
“You’re ok,” Gabe repeated hypocritically. “You’re ok for how much longer? Something is going on Laken and for some reason you don’t want to tell us. We’re your family or have you forgotten that since your boyfriend swept you off your feet?”
My worst fear was disappointing them. It was our nature to always be hard on ourselves. Now I know what Rob felt with his school. I was continuously letting them down since Cal had entered my life. I refused to tell l them about my guardian angel or how Cal was really a fallen angel. Most fallen angels were notorious for not having the best record. No doubt my brothers would find a way to end him if they could. Cal spared my life. I at least owed him the same till I found out why he didn’t kill me. Besides I wanted to be the only to kill him if it came to that.
I shook my head shamefully. “I won’t tell you guys. Not yet anyway.”
I knew for a fact my brothers wouldn’t abandon me but they would for sure give me the cold shoulder till I opened up.
“Laken,” Gabe’s eyes were lit with a glowing fiery, “if you don’t tell us we might not be able to help you when you need us the most.”
“If anything happens to you,” Pierce inquired about my death. “We couldn’t forgive ourselves. So you need to tell us what’s going on.”
Their desperate pleas were eating me alive and all I wanted to do was cry. Why was this so hard? I closed my eyes and refused to give in to their request. It was my burden to carry. It was my death and I know I was hurting them but it was a risk I was willing to take.
“Fine, then sentence your own death but don’t expect us to watch.”
Gabe’s words stung deeper than any dagger could. His anger problem had always been his worst characteristic that I had grown accustomed to but perhaps it was necessary in this case. I deserved it.
“We’ll let you get ready for church.” Gabe pushed himself of the wall and clinched jaw as he passed me.
Pierce stood in front of me for a moment. “Harboring secrets from family won’t keep you alive for long.”
He wasn’t much for threats but it was a rare thing for us to keep secrets. They were just hurt with frustration.
He left and I wanted to fall down and cry. I hated this. I hated my family not knowing but I was afraid. They weren’t supposed to know I got to see my guardian angel or that his brother succeeded in almost killing me. I wanted to understand the situation myself before I started this inevitable riot.
I sat restless in church with my hands clasped over my lap. I fumbled with my fingers when my mother covered my hands to stop my fidgeting. She smiled down at me and I did my best to return the gesture.
“We are not worthy,” the pastor grabbed my attention. “God does not forsake us. We are the ones to forsake him because we are stubborn and blind in our wicked way. We are drawn to the pleasures of the flesh. In Genesis 6: 1-2 it says ‘And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.’”
Well this was getting interesting.
“Sons of God,” he repeated. “Most believe that the scriptures speak of angels. Angels, followers of our holy father, came down and married the human women of earth. And we further find out that they bore children. Children. Can you imagine having a holy being as a father and a role model?”
I exhaled. Why was this subject touching so close to home?
“But even with the blood of angels running through our veins the wickedness was still there. So evil the humans of earth became that God felt like he had to wipe the slate clean. Except for one man and his family, Noah was saved from the flood.” His eyes searched the congregation dramatically. “It just goes to show us even the purest bloods fall into temptation. We must pray, fast, and ask for forgiveness. He is a just God but we can’t expect him to accept every mistake when we know better.”
I was engrossed in his sermon. Angels once were wed to humans.
“To repeat our mistakes on a daily basis will only win us a one way ticket to hell. The devil delights when we don’t listen to our father. The greatest trick the devil ever played was making people believe he doesn’t exist. Sometimes we forget or want to believe our actions won’t have a consequence. He is real my friends. We must remember who we are and where we come from. Lost souls can always be found and broken ones can always be mended.”
This was exactly what I needed to hear today. Cal was a lost and broken soul. I thought he was beyond repair but he didn’t kill me. He could have but he technically didn’t let me die.
After the service the pastor came up to us and greeted us with a comforting smile.
“Reese family, how are you all today?”
He was a very respectable man. Despite his young age the gospel word always flowed through his tongue.
“Very well pastor Dan.” My father answered for all of us.
“That is very good to hear.” He stepped into our family circle a little closer. “Officer Sean had approached me sooner about a case he and his department have been working on.”
“What kind of case?” My brother asked.
It wasn’t unusual for Pastor Dan to come to us about information he had heard. Many people come to him with their spiritual problems. If it was a darker matter he liked to come to us. We were used to being called upon when the evil gets out of hand.
“A serial killer in Springfield has murdered over 20 people already. I’m afraid he is still on the loose. I can only imagine the many demons following him around.”
“Yes. Most killers have multiple demons harassing them.” My mother said sadly.
“We’ll leave tonight and find him before he claims anymore victims.” Pierce settled the matter.
An hour later we prepared ourselves. My brothers were still mad at me but they needed my help. Rob even decided to join us. We had dealt with a few serial killers before and had a concept of what to expect. I was extremely eerie being in such an atmosphere.
We didn’t have to look too far once we reached the distant county. The black cloud hovering over a tiny neighborhood was the only gps we needed. The negative energy radiating off the demons was like a siren in our eyes. We pulled up in front of what looked like an abandoned 1970s house. It was outdated and chipping away.
Gabe knocked on the door. “Anybody home?”
We walked through the entry way and were greeted by an ogre the size of a hippo. It charged at us when Gabe drew his sword. He waited till the beast was roughly out the door before slicing its head clean right off it’s back. The massive body tumbled to the floor then disintegrated into the air like ash.
“Gabe and Paige you guys check the upstairs. I’ll check this level while Laken and Rob head to the basement.”
We listened to Pierce’s orders and quickly yet quietly scattered to our destination. I lead the way as Rob covered my back. Like most older homes the basement entrance for was near the kitchen. I tried switching on the light switch but of course with my luck there was no light. It had blown out. The long staircase was barely visible with my flashlight. The plain wall paint was flaking but the bloody claw marks were what got my attention. There were many marks from different occasions and they ran all the way down to the unknown.
My mind wondered and I couldn’t help but envision the innocent people who had made those marks. Being dragged to the depths of a strange dungeon. With the thought of your death at the back of your head. Will you survive or will the torture be too much?
I typically never fell under the category of victim until lately. And even that was enough to scare me. I never wanted to feel that helpless again. The sick intentions of humans were produced by the aspects demons influence in our mind.
Once down the dreary basement the path split into two. I was a little hesitant on separating.
“You can go left and I’ll go right,” Rob suggested heightening my fear.
I grabbed his arm before he could disappear into the darkness. He stared down at me confused.
“Be careful.” I warned.
I let him go regardless of my conscience telling me not to. He was a big boy. He could handle himself, I hope. I mean he just didn’t have as much training as the rest of us. If anything happened to him I wouldn’t forgive myself.
I flashed my light down the hall and came across multiple doors on either side. My gut was quenching with adrenaline. I could only imagine the worst of my fears on the other sides of those doors. My steady hand clasped the handle and I quietly opened the door. The smell of dead, rotten flesh hit my nostrils making me want to gag.
“So sweet of you to join us.” A deep raspy voice from the far corner caused goose bumps to run up my arms.
The dim light coming off my flashlight was good enough to let me see the creepy, way too tall, hunk of muscle standing only a few feet away from me. His etched eyes were practically glowing red in the darkness. This was something I hadn’t seen before.
“Who are you?” He wasn’t the psycho serial killer we were looking for. This dude wasn’t even human yet something was telling me he wasn’t demonic.
“They call me Ares.”
I raised a brow. Now that was appropriate. I wondered if he lived up to the name. “The god of war?”
The ends of his lips curved. “Something like that.”
Well didn’t he seem a bit cocky? I ventured to the other side of the room to get a better view but once I spotted the decayed carcass my heart dropped. It was a small body, a child, balled up on the cold ground. By the discoloration of the skin and horrible smell it had to have been here for a little over a week.
I closed my eyes and controlled my nerves before I attacked this guy. All this guilt and frustration was building up inside of me far too quickly. If only we could have gotten here sooner. This was an innocent child lying dead at my feet.
“What are you?” Something told me this thing wasn’t a demon.
His jet black gelled hair reminded me of Cal’s slick combed back hair style. Why was I thinking about Cal at a time like this? And where was he?
“Let’s just say I’m not the nicest thing you’ll meet,” he said like he was playing a guessing game.
“But you’re not a demon.” A sudden thought entered my mind. “Are you a fallen?”
I only knew of one fallen angel so I couldn’t be sure but lately they seem to be falling out of the sky and into my life. Literally.
His answer was a simple nod. “Beauty and brains.”
Should I be offended? “Would you like to see bronze as well?”
“You’re cute,” he smirked fortuitously.
I bet he thought I couldn’t bruise him. Oh, was he wrong or what. I was about to braid his arms into a pretzel.
“You’re not.” I traced the end of my blade to mentally prepare myself. I had plenty of bent up aggression caged up and ready to be released thanks to Cal that is.
“You honestly don’t know what we’re capable of. Mmmm,” he undressed me with his eyes, “Callias just might have a soft spot for you if he hadn’t killed you yet.”
Callias? He knows Cal? “How do you know Cal?”
“The sweet sound of your voice caressing his name makes me believe you too also share that soft spot.” He laughs to mock me. “This is strangely adorable. I can’t wait to see this star crossed love end when he kills you.”
I bit down my tongue and didn’t stop till I tasted blood. The mere thought of Cal almost killing me built a painful pressure in my chest. “What do you want?”
“A lap dance.”
His playful venomous eyes were trying my patience. He had absolute no shame tracing my body with the liquid red poison he called his eyes.
I threw my throwing knife into the air before he could even blink again. I guess he predicted my rash decision and pivoted last minute but I still hit him. The knife pierced his flesh but not close enough to the heart to cause any permanent damage.
Ares hunched over a bit and growled while pulling the knife out. “Oh darling,” his thick country accent sounded more dangerous than the venom inscribed in his eyes. “You really don’t want to start anything you can’t finish.”
His bloody hands toyed with my knife.
“Shall I ask again?”
He pointed the knife in my direction. I couldn’t deny the slight fear factor I had at his sudden attempt. “For the little thing you are, you’re too brave.”
In one quick blaring motion the douchebag throw the knife back at me. The sharp blade sliced through my shoulder blade. The pinching pain of needles forced me to groan in anguish as I retrieved it from my flesh. It was a great thing I healed incredibly fast otherwise my sword would have been the next thing flying in his face.
“In a world like this I have to be,” I gritted through my teeth.
“Yes so corrupt and vile this earth can be.”
I snorted in disgust. “It’s because of nasty creatures like you it is the way it is.”
He tsked me. “Now, now, God created free will. We simply plant an evil seed but it’s up to you whether you want to nurture it.”
He turned his head to the side and I noticed a faint scar stretching from the tip of his brow to the middle of his left cheek.
“What do you want with me?” I tried not to sound desperate.
Cal wanted me dead. Did this fallen want me dead too? I still didn’t know exactly why.
“I’m just checking in on things. Tell Callias next time you see him that I’ll be back.” He turned his back on me.
The jiggling of the door handle forced me to look away for two seconds. Gabe walked in and I turned back to the dark angel but he was gone. Well I know I didn’t make that up. Then again maybe I did. Maybe I had some sick disease where I create my own messed up world. Perhaps I’ll wake up and all of this will be gone. And I’ll be in an insane asylum or something. The outcome for my fate never looked good.
“Are you alright?” My brother asked.
I nod, covering my wounded shoulder. I didn’t want him to worry. “I found a dead body.”
“We emptied out the place and found the killer.”
I gave him a weak smile. He moved closer to me and really searched my eyes. I tried to cover up as much emotion as possible. Lately I’ve been all over the place. I needed to keep it bottled up just a little longer.
“Laken are you alright?”
Except for the fact of having fallen angels harass me; sure, yeah. I was great.
“I’ll be fine.” Even my voice sounded shaky.
Gabe pulled me into a hug and I couldn’t describe how much I needed it in that moment. The shelter he provided was a sweet release to my soul. It made me believe that everything was going to be ok.