Cal and I spent the night talking under the stars on a rooftop of one of the highest buildings in town. We sat close to the edge on a small wooden platform that so happened to conveniently have a bench screwed into it. I guess people often came up there for the spectacular view. I had lived in the city most of my life and I had never stopped to admire the scenery from any building.
We weren’t too high to feel the treacherous vibration of wind but still falling down was definitely not something even the indestructible batman would do.
The sky was pitch black and bright stars illuminated the night with unimaginable beauty. As a child I used to believe that stars were angels watching over us. Stars were the lights that guided our path. I know it was cliché, this whole scene but extremely romantic considering the circumstances. Cal didn’t seem like the sentimental type so I appreciated the gesture.
“So what do you do for fun? Besides torture innocent girls.” Was it too soon for that kind of dry humor?
Cal took his suit jacket off and placed it about my shoulders. I didn’t even realize I was cold. I guess that stupid warm crush feeling was still keeping me company in the pit of my stomach. Was this healthy?
“I don’t know. Read I guess. I never give it much thought. I never have time for fun.”
That was a dumb answer. “You’ve lived for decades. What do you mean you don’t have time?”
He stared into the sky like he was looking for something. “I suppose I put so much of my energy on revenge that I had lost track of who I am and what makes me happy.”
I could believe that answer. “Did you really hate your brother that much?”
“It wasn’t just about the hate.” His gaze fell back down and locked onto my eyes. “I wanted to prove to my brother that God’s rules of life and death were unjust.”
I wondered if he still felt the same about that. I was honestly too afraid to find out. Did I really want to know? Was I ready to know? “Tell me a secret about yourself.” It was just safer to change the subject.
“I have nightmares.” He shyly confessed.
Was he pulling my leg? “You’re telling me that the big bad Callias, bringing of my own personal hell, has nightmares?” Would laughing be rude?
I could tell he didn’t want to talk about it...to me. Maybe he wasn’t ready to peel back all those thick layers of his. Vulnerability did not seem like his strong suit.
“The end, what this world will come to. I often wonder what will become of humanity.”
“And it scares you?” He was still passionate even though he lost his faith.
Finally he stopped looking through me and brought his attention back to the present. “I pity the people of this earth. They have no idea what the consequence of their actions will bring them.”
I was speechless. Perhaps Callias was open to redemption. My hopes fueled my desire to never give up on him.
“Laken!” Hannah woke me up from my little flashback of last night. “How did it go with your cousin?”
I shook my head a bit to thrown off my daydream. “Good. We got a free meal and then I hung out with Cal.” My voice was a bit groggy but expected.
“Oh really?” She put her paperwork down. “Tell me about it.”
“He took me on top of a rooftop and we basically stared at the stars. We talked and it was really, really nice.”
He wasn’t a hopeless cause in my eyes. Cal was a working progress and it was about time he accepted his potential. I think God let him stay on earth so he could find his second chance. We all get lost. Maybe Cal just needed to find himself all over again.
“He’s good looking and romantic? Now I’m extremely jealous,” she pouted.
It was mostly a cover. No one could fathom the chaotic foundation our “friendship” was built upon. I still couldn’t exactly pin point exactly what we were. I wouldn’t exactly call Cal my friend.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m in a dream; soon I’ll wake up and the strangely prefect guy will disappear.” And be replaced with the devil himself.
I kept coming back to that conclusion. Why was the devil so frequently on my mind? Obviously he wasn’t avoidable. Satan would always throw temptations and tragedies in my face. That was why I knew this good feeling was going to end really soon.
Hannah put her hand on my shoulder. “Good things can happen.”
“Not to me.”
I wasn’t ungrateful. I was just waiting for something bad to happen like it always did. Why was my faith deteriorating? God had me under his wing and I needed to trust that.
She wiggled me around and I exhaled all the bad energy out. “Laken you’re meant for better things. Don’t doubt your happiness. God hasn’t forgotten about you.”
Then why the heck was I developing these sick taunting and romantic feelings for a dark angel? Was this some kind of sick joke? I seriously needed to trash these emotions. They were driving me crazy. Cal and I could never be.
My phone rang and I answered without checking the ID.
“Laken, Miriam is in the hospital. It’s time. She’s in labor.” Paige warned me ecstatically.
“I’ll be right there.” I hung up and grabbed my jacket off the desk. “Miriam’s in labor.” I explained. “Do you want to come?”
Hannah was a very good family friend. Her eyes turned to stone before pillars of sadness. I was inconsiderate and had forgotten about her abortion.
“No I’ll stay and cover you.” Her voice was flat of emotion.
I nodded and opened the door. “Thank you.” Stupid, stupid Laken.
By the time I got to the hospital the doctor was already warning us about her complications. Her labor was going to be long and hard. A part of me wanted to see my sister but the other half was thankful I didn’t have to see her in pain. My mother and Miriam’s husband were with her so there was nothing I could do but wait. We all waited in the waiting room. Pierce and Gabe were silently fidgeting with their phones while the rest of us were finding ways to occupy our thoughts.
I pondered whether or not I should call Cal. Why did I have this desire to have him near, like his presence would comfort my every worry? Ahhh Laken stop it. Just get him out of your head.
Two hours went by and nothing changed. There was no baby cry yet. Miriam was having a difficult time and all we could do is pray. I walked out of the stuffy waiting room and collapsed in the hallways. The ground was cold, exactly what I needed to cool down my pounding heart.
The hall was empty but that wasn’t the only reason I suddenly felt alone. I searched through my contacts for his number. He answered by the second ring.
Even just the sound of sultry voice was good enough to numb my mind for the slightest second.
“Why...” I stuttered like an idiot. “Why does God let bad things happen to good people, the people who praise his name?”
Cal exhaled before answering my random question with another question. “Where are you?”
I sniffed not even realizing I had buggers running down. Why was I crying?
“The hospital, Miriam is having her baby.” We were both silent till I couldn’t keep my mouth shut anymore. “I’m sure you tried searching for the answer. So tell me Cal. Why?”
I wasn’t even sure why I wanted to know. It’s not like Cal’s words would exactly comfort me. He had denounced his faith and rejected everything about God.
“Your sister is going to be fine Laken.”
I shook my head and a fresh batch of tears rolled down my face. “Why don’t I believe you?”
“Laken listen to me. Your family is called to a divine purpose. Your sister and that baby are part of the blessed. There is no doubt even in my mind that God will not spare them. You and your family are far more important to the human race to die.”
I wanted to laugh because he actually made sense. The sincerity in his voice was foreign and unbelievably overwhelming. He was actually making me feel better in this depression.
“Since when did you grow a heart and get sentimental?” My sarcastic remark was greeted with his light chuckle.
“What are you doing?” A distraction was probably a good thing. Maybe I’d stop crying.
“Driving.” Now that he mentioned it I could hear the sound of his engine purring.
“What’s the most expensive car you’ve ever owned?”
“Ferrari.” He didn’t take long to respond. “If you could drive any car, what would it be?”
I was honestly thankful he was indulging and even encouraging my distraction with conversation. I was positive he wouldn’t do it for anyone.
“Bugatti.” It was one of the fastest cars in the world and also an untouchable dream of mine. There was no way I could even afford to test drive that car.
“How are you feeling now?” He asked in a soft hushed tone.
I took a deep breath closing my eyes. My lungs filled with oxygen yet the pressure was still compressing down onto my chest. The ding of the elevator doors, which were coincidentally in front of me, buzzed in my ears forcing me to open my eyes. The doors parted and I was extremely shocked to see Cal walk out. His blues orbs were the picture of pure sympathy.
“I don’t know.” I whispered as my phone slipped from my hands, landing on my lap.
Cal dropped down to the floor right next to me, wrapping me in the blanket of his protective arms. The motion of his hand causing friction down my back soothed me to the bone. How could he do that? How was his mere presence that comforting?
“She’s going to be fine.”
I knew he was right. He had to be right. God couldn’t abandon us now. God never abandons us, no matter what we think. God is always there, watching over us.
“I thought you were driving.” I fiddled with the zipper on his jacket.
“I was close by. I just figured I’d come see you in person, unless you want me leave.”
I shook my head. “Stay.” What harm could happen anyway?
“What is he doing here?” Gabe practically growled from the door of the waiting room.
I scrambled for an excuse.
“He shouldn’t-” Gabe yelled, disturbing anyone in a 5 mile radius.
“Now is not the time nor place for this. Leave him be Gabe. He’s here on your sister’s account.” My father directed his wisdom.
I shifted out of Cal’s embrace and watched as my brothers threw daggers at him with their eyes. Well, that went well? I get it; they didn’t trust him. I mean could I? I still wasn’t entirely sure. Cal almost killed me and I think I’ll be hanging that in the back of my mind for the rest of my life.
This couldn’t be all for show, could it? Were my brothers right? Was Cal just tricking me to get close enough to kill us?
“Are you thirsty?” His voice broke my intense thought process.
My mouth was extremely dry. “Yes.”
Cal turned to my family. “Would you guys like anything from the vending machines?”
“Water.” Paige smiled.
“Me, too.” Pierce’s wife, Jess, said.
Cal left, out of sight and my brothers began again.
“You shouldn’t have involved him.”
“Newsflash, he’s always been involved.” The urge to stand up for him came out of nowhere.
“You should have told us about him from the beginning.” Pierce fumed.
“That is enough!” My father demanded our silence. “We have other things to worry about. Just focus your prayers on your sister and the baby. Pray that God shows his mercy.”
I did regret not telling them. Maybe this whole thing could have been avoided, but than maybe Cal would have died by the hands of my brothers. Did I really want that? No. Knowing what I know now just further proved to me that things happened for a reason. God saw this and wouldn’t have placed him in my life if it wasn’t meant to be. I trusted God.
It took 6 hours of labor for little Joseph to enter this world and thankfully Miriam was getting over her fever. She was extremely weak when we went to see her and already asleep. I couldn’t imagine the struggle she had to bear but staring down at my strong healthy little nephew I knew Miriam would agree that it was worth it.
He was beautifully healthy at 9 lbs and 22 inches long. No wonder she had a difficult time. This baby was huge. His tiny one sided dimple smile reminded me of Miriam, really, all of him reminded me of her.
This was life. This was what we were fighting for. We shouldn’t have to merely exist. Life was meant to be lived not wasted. Life was meant to be filled with love, happiness, and well-being.
Walking back to the elevator I spotted Cal hunched over with his head in his hands.
“I thought you would have left by now.”
Cal got up at the sound of my voice. “I was curious.”
“You were right. They’re both fine.” I confirmed. “He’s perfect.”
Cal seemed pleased to hear of this knowledge. “It’s past midnight.” He placed his hand over my shoulder. “I’ll walk you to your car.”
Walking down the pale white narrowed halfway we were greeted with another visitor or maybe he was a patient. It was strange for any person to be up this hour but this old man was barely pacing to the other side of the hall. I felt sorry for him. I couldn’t imagine how it was to be his age and feel physically weak all the time.
His back was slouched over yet he still looked up at us and gave us a bright smile. It warmed my heart and I couldn’t wipe off my own smile once we were in the elevator.
My mind began to wonder on its own accord and I thought about Cal. He would never be that old, never have to go through that physical weak pain of growing old. Cal would forever be frozen in time to the perfection he was. He was a freaking fallen angel. I would eventually be getting older than dust while Cal would stay his same beautiful self. I would wrinkle and shrivel up and Cal would eventually see me die. I wanted to laugh. Oh, the irony.
The parking lot was hardly lit but I could still tell it was empty. Our footsteps were the only things heard echoing throughout the garage. My paranoia kicked in and I searched the lot for anything bad to pop up but all that filled my vision were the tops of cars.
“I’m truly surprised this one is still alive Callias.” A thick voice rang through the darkness.
I literally jumped from fright. I hated being snuck up on. A few cars down we saw Ares all high and mighty staring us down. His biceps flexed as his arms crossed against his chest disappointedly.
Cal took a protective step in front of me. “Things have changed.”
Ares arched a terrifying brow and glided towards us with his large muscular horse legs. I could only imagine the long hours we spent in the gym to get that bodybuilding armor as muscles.
I could feel Cal’s uneasy tension.
“Don’t tell me you’ve gone all soft? You have no room in that little black heart of yours.”
“She’s not going to die; not by anything supernatural.” Cal said confidently.
Ares’ laugh echoed maliciously around us. “So you’re going against your word? You won’t end her life like you said you would.”
He was saying it like it was written in blood on a contract. Hmmm, perhaps it was. Ewwww.
“No. I will not harm her and neither will you.” Cal was staying true to his word to me. If he wanted to be a traitor now was the appropriate time.
Ares shook his head. He was probably envisioning the million ways he was going to torture us. “Then I have no choice but to drag your ass back down to hell then come back and kill her.”
Cal turned his back on him to look at me. His eyes were pale and concerning. Was he worried? “Whatever happens, don’t get involved.”
It was a strict warning but I felt it was made out of genuine concern. He cared for me. He didn’t want me to get hurt.
Ares charged towards us in such a powerful force that reminded me of lighting. Cal met his approach with an ironed fist, tossing Ares into the air and clashing against the cement wall. Ares was hidden beneath debris but eventually he got up, pissed as ever. He was headed towards us with smoke rings coming from his nostrils; literally. Cal pushed me aside just in time to have himself knocked over by the raging bull.
Fists collided and blood was splattered like a Jackson Pollack painting. They were moving so incredibly fast that it was hard to see who was hitting who. Was that an angel thing, supersonic speed? My heart was thumping with unnerving anticipation. I wanted to help. My hand automatically searched for my dagger but that was no use. The dagger killed demons not fallen angels. My efforts would be pathetically hopeless. I doubted I could even get close enough to cause any permanent damage.
They both seemed to be equally matched and skilled in the same combat. They were tumbling and throwing each other around like sacks of potatoes making me doubt on butting in. They’d seriously squash me like a banana.
“You renounce your allegiance for her!” Ares heaved.
Cal didn’t answer and again they tackled each other but this time Ares pulled out a dagger. I opened my mouth to warn Cal but it was too late. Ares plunged it into Cal’s heart and he groaned in pain. I could imagine the whiplash he was getting. Did Cal not recently stab me in the heart? I subconsciously felt my lungs fill up with blood thinking back to that horrible moment. Did he feel pain the same way I did?
“You’re a damn fool. I knew it from the start.” Ares took a step back as if the blood coming from Cal was suddenly disgusting him.
My mind went on overload with one direct action. I needed to help Cal. It was like he heard me or something because in that instant his menacing eyes froze my attempt. He mouthed “don’t” and I knew I couldn’t refuse him. He had something up his sleeve.
“Does the little girlfriend want some fun too? Come here darlin and I promise I’ll go easy on you.”
Ares’ sadistic smile was nothing compared to the promise of torture in his eyes. If he ever got a hold of me I knew I was in for an eternity of torment.
Cal quickly yanked the dagger from his own flesh and stood up. Without hesitation he slide the blade through Ares’ throat. So clean and swift with motion that it sliced through the end sides of his neck. Ares’ smirk was replaced with pure shock as his head descended to the floor. His body promptly followed.
I too was still in shock. Did I just witness a fallen angel get decapitated? For some reason I didn’t think that was possible. Cal placed his hand over his wound, putting as much pressure as possible to stop the bleeding.
“Laken are you alright?” I was still processing that beheading. “Laken?” Cal asked again more gently this time.
Snap out of it Laken. “Yes, yes, I’m fine.” I finally acknowledged his stained bloody shirt. “Are you?” Why was he still bleeding?
“It will take some time to heal but I’ll be alright. Luckily he missed my major organs.”
I tore my eyes away from his face for the slightest second to see Ares’ lifeless body. I had to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
“Is he really dead?”
“When we’re banished to earth we’re no longer immortal. When we die here we cease to exist.” He explained and I soaked in the information.
“Oblivion. That’s what awaits you if you die?”
“We had our chance in heaven. If God kicked us out do you really think he wants us back?” His eyes squinted and I could tell he was holding back his pain.
My hands were trembling without my awareness. Cal clasped them to hold me still. I was incredibly scared for the first time in my life. These beings were on a quest to murder me and everyone I loved. Suddenly everything felt too real. This was actually happening.
“Laken it’s ok.” He tried to calm me.
I shook my head. “No, no it’s not.” If it wasn’t for Cal I’d probably be dead. I tried focusing the attention on his wound. “You’re still bleeding.”
“I’ll be fine.”
At least he was sure of that. Honestly I wasn’t fine or ok. Could Cal truly protect me? And for how long, forever? I was used to looking over my shoulder but somehow this felt extremely different. What if one of us got hurt? What if they succeed in killing someone I love? I didn’t think I could bear it after that.
“Who will be home with you if I drop you off?” He was pulling me back to sanity.
“My father and little brother I suppose.” I bit my lip. Could I tell him I didn’t want to be away from him? Cal had proven himself worthy of guarding my life. I felt safe and knew I couldn’t sleep a wink tonight without him close by.
“Would you want to come home with me? I won’t force you to but I’d feel more relieved to have you at arm’s reach.”
I trusted him. I couldn’t believe it. Only a month ago Cal was the bringer of my hell and now he was my knight in shining armor. Well sort of. Things had definitely changed between us.