Her Black Wings (The Dark Amulet Series Book 1) (22 page)

BOOK: Her Black Wings (The Dark Amulet Series Book 1)
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CHAPTER SIXTY

 

 

Amalya

 

Who knew the afterlife could be this awesome? Perhaps the best sex of her life was due to Elliott’s grief, but who cared? Unfortunately, she would have to ruin the mood soon. Amalya left Elliott sleeping. He’d finally dozed off from pure exhaustion after one AM.

She found Brandon’s car in the garage with him passed out at the wheel. The windows were rolled down. The feather plucked for this occasion she laid on the seat next to him with a note attached. It read

 

‘Please’.

 

Letting herself into the house, she discovered a wonderful smell; dried dirt, a musty-stale mix of grass clippings and skunk. Ah, weed. It smelled wonderful. She shook her head.

Not healthy, not healthy.

A ratty brown couch sat in the living room across from two equally shitty country blue chairs. Empty pizza boxes with congealed mozzarella lay open on the floor.
Ick.
She focused on the coffee table, a laminated pressed wood eyesore with cheesy gold plastic trim. On top, amid old
Car & Driver
magazines, a stack of
Maxim’s
, and beer cans, lived drug paraphernalia—Zig Zag rolling papers, a lighter, pipe, and a baggie only containing enough marijuana for one or two tokes. Virtually useless. She snatched the snack bag and stuffed it into her pocket then swiped her arm across the table, shoving everything onto the floor.

She plucked another plume, placing it on the coffee table. Four more feathers were set around the house in locations she thought Brandon might find them, each with a one word note laid alongside it.

Before leaving she checked on the soul. Yep, still passed out. She stared at him, wondering what his story was. She had to figure out how to help him. It was research time. Hopefully the angels back at Eternity had some connections. Anything that could help him make the right decision was worth investigating and she only had a day to figure it out.

 

***

 

“Have you tried Google?”

“Google? What the hell is Google?” Amalya asked after Tanner, the Guardian angel, suggested it for ideas on how to find out more about Brandon Smith.

Elliott shrugged with his hands out. “Don’t look at me, I was in Netherworld for the same amount of time as you, remember?”

Tanner sighed heavily. “You really don’t know? Come on, Max has a laptop.”

Max the Healer, as it turned out, was the guy who’d been watching her suspiciously since arriving at the basement of Eternity. The hot pink hair actually looked good on him, although, Amalya thought he could do without the furry pants.

Tanner waved him over. “Need to use your computer.”

“S’cool man,” Max said, bringing a MacBook with him as he came over. He sidled up and nudged Elliott in the shoulder. “Doing all right?”

Elliott didn’t give a response.

Tanner fired up the laptop. “Let’s see here…Brandon Smith.” He typed on the keyboard, bringing up a mostly white screen with the word Google across the top and a long box below it. He entered the name into the space and pressed ‘Enter’.

A listing of sources appeared on the screen. They scanned a few and visited those pages. The Brandon Smiths mentioned were not her Brandon.

“Can you search for events, like maybe my mur…I mean when I was killed? He was there.”

Tanner nodded. “Need a date. Some specifics.”

Squeezing her eyes shut, she pinched the bridge of her nose. “Last week, I dunno. Twenty years ago, first week of March, nineteen ninety-five. On M125, south of Monroe.”

My God, twenty years and six months in Hell.

“My—the killer’s name was Reed.”

Elliott’s posture stiffened at the one syllable name.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” she asked, taking his hand in both of hers.

“Nothing.”

“Tell me, ‘cuz if Reed is the reason you’re all messed up, I need to know. If you can’t handle your biz, I’m screwed.”

His brow furrowed and his eyes narrowed. “What does Reed have to do with anything?”

“Um, because he’s the other soul and he and Brandon are—”

“What are you saying?”

“They know each other. Damien is Reed. Or was.”

“Fuck fucking fucker! Abaddon!”

Amalya and Elliott both had the same thought occur to them at the same time.

Joelle…

Elliott backed up, shaking his head. His face paled.
“No no no no no.
No
.”

Max gaped at him then Amalya and muttered, “Shit.”

“Where are you going?” she asked, not expecting an answer. It didn’t, matter she knew where Elliott was going. He turned and ran for the back, his feet a blur. The double doors flung open and swirling pure white fog spilled out from the threshold. Amalya squinted, trying to see past the wall of mist.

Her wings flapped and brushed the back of Tanner’s head as she rose.

“Hey!”

“Sorry,” she said, the word barely a whisper. The ceiling grazed her hair. She banged her head.

“I got this one,” Max called over his shoulder, effortlessly navigating the space. He landed and blocked the doorway. Elliott slammed into the Healer angel. “Whoa, easy there,” Max said, the tone of his voice soothing.

“Let me go! I need, I can’t—” Desperation marked Elliott’s face.

“You need, you can’t…which is it?”

“Fuck you!” Elliott bellowed.

Amalya landed beside Max, hoping to offer more of a barrier between the white abyss and her angel.

“Sorry, but you only have preference for the ladies. I on the other hand—”

“Get outta my way, you asshole!” He grabbed Max, forcing the other angel’s upper body to contort. His feet remained cemented to the floor.

“Fine. But you’ll have to explain to Deus why you failed her too.” Max nodded toward Amalya.

Catching sight of Elliott’s narrow-eyed red face and knowing the look of a man about to throw a punch, she edged away from the pink haired angel.

Elliott’s right hand balled into a fist; Max grunted on impact. Blood flew from his mouth, spraying his chest as his head knocked to the side.

“Feel better? No? I didn’t think so.” Max moved aside. Elliott disappeared through the…clouds, Amalya finally realized.

The ornate doors started to close. Without a clue of what awaited her on the other side, she dove through the closing gap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER

SIXTY-ONE

 

 

Elliott

 

Home…

Elliott breathed, filling his lungs with untainted air. He ran through the clouds whirling and dancing around his feet and legs. Although he couldn’t see the ground beneath his feet, he knew the slopes, dips, and plateaus well.

Angels flew far above him, rising up and dropping down, rolling and gliding on the air currents. Their whooping cries of delight made him smile.

His lungs limped out and his body tired. He slowed to a walk then stopped altogether, bent over with his hands on his thighs. Huffing, he swallowed hard.

Four golden towers peeked up through the clouds; living quarters of the Redeemers. The last one in the row he called home. The more he ran, the further away the tower seemed. If only he had his wings he’d be there already. There was a break in the ground clouds and…

The solid path ended. He’d never thought about how he was going to reach his destination. Beneath his tower home was the portal to Earth.

No one had ever accidently plummeted through the gateway between Arcadia and Earth, but if you did, accident or not, you became a fallen angel and were susceptible to becoming a demon. Angels could use the large open portal to come and go to Earth’s realm, but by winged-flight only. Souls from humans that died and were eligible for an afterlife in Arcadia (what they called Heaven), rose up through the portal. They automatically went to the highest plane of existence, where only love and respect dwelled. Angels, on the other hand, had to earn the privilege at each level to move on to the next. Elliott didn’t know how many levels there were or how each one worked. As a Redeemer, he was only on his third step. A peon.

Elliott looked at the towers in the distance again. He was only a thousand feet from resting his head and now this. He shifted his weight side to side, picturing people or places he knew wouldn’t help here. Teleporting could only be done in the realm of Earth.

Hands grabbed him by the armpits and lift up. The wings of another angel flapped above him.

“Deus felt your presence, thought you might need a ride.”

Elliott groaned.

The other angel chuckled. They flew up and up, way above the highest tower, through the changing color clouds. The realm’s setting sun reflected purples, oranges, and yellows across the sky.

Elliott looked down. He didn’t know the angel carrying him and trust wasn’t something he was big on at the moment. Although in his heart he knew the angel wouldn’t want harm to come to him, Elliott’s behavior hadn’t exactly been stellar, particularly fornicating with Amalya when he should be helping her and fleeing because he couldn’t handle his shit. What a coward. He was totally ignoring his own words to her.

Deus won’t give you what you can’t handle.

Yet he felt justified fleeing.

“Where would you like to go?” the angel carrying him asked.

“My living space.”

“Figured you’d say that. It’s just as you left it. Hang on.” The angel flew faster. Elliott imagined how a mouse must feel after an owl swoops in and carries it off for a meal. His armpits were getting sore. He thought about allowing his arms to come up and slipping out of the angel’s grasp, until he realized he didn’t want to die or fall. He had seen Netherworld and didn’t care to return. Wings gave an angel his strength, and without his wings he could neither fly nor recover from an impact injury.

Approaching the white sandstone building they plunged headlong, spiraling downward for what felt like hundreds of miles. Elliott’s hair whipped behind him and plastered to his scalp. He squinted to keep the wind from drying his eyes.

They flew under the open archway of the tower then soared all the way to the top floor to his apartment chamber. Elliott glanced below them. At the lobby level, the angels milling about looked smaller than they should be. The tower appeared taller than he remembered. Was it? Or was he just fearful of falling to his death? He’d never been afraid of heights before. He swallowed hard, gulping in large quantities of air. Sweat beaded on his forehead.

Reaching his open flat, the angel set them both down on solid footing. Elliott let out a slow breath. His ride smiled, pivoted, and swan dived off the ledge. The wingless angel trotted to the edge.

Whoa.

He caught himself from tumbling off by gripping a rounded stone pillar sticking through the stone floor about halfway to the ceiling. Loose sand shot out into the shaft. The once Redeemer peered over the side. The one who’d given him the lift hovered outside the chamber of someone two stories down and across the vertical tunnel.

Elliott backed away. Looking around the interior of the apartment he’d once known well, he choked on his own saliva. The place was a cavern with stalagmites and stalactites along the perimeter. A pool filled with perfect sky blue water had been dug out of the stone. On the far wall sat a bed platform that received privacy from what he always called pillars. He shivered as a chill traveled along his spine.

Netherworld…

Why had be not seen the similarities before? Had he been blind?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER

SIXTY-TWO

 

 

Amalya

 

Amalya hadn’t landed hard as she expected. Her wings had begun to flutter the second she dove through the back door.

Boom!

What the…

Click.

Awesome.

Her beating wings blew the clouds away from her. The door had slammed shut and locked behind her. She gaped at the door. On the other side, the doors were wooden double panels, nothing special. On this side stood a gold leaf embellished dark wood door and outer jamb with nothing holding it up. Behind the door was nothing but more clouds. Thick and billowing like plumes of smoke from a blazing inferno without the heat. Uninviting. Amalya knew going that way wasn’t going to be helpful to her. The clouds were a warning to stay on the course. That was not the way toward Elliott.

She flew straight forward. Flying made her feel strong. Purposeful. Even meant for wings. Her angel told her this realm would hurt her. And she couldn’t bring anything with her, but he had had clothes on when he leapt through the doors. Had he wanted to trick her? Keep her out?

Amalya spotted golden towers peeking up through clouds. The sun was setting. The clouds were tipped orange. The sky looked pink. Or was that purple? Perhaps both. Something told her Elliott would be in one of these buildings. Birds flew in and around the structures. No…not birds, angels. Maybe one of them knew her angel.

Flapping faster, she made it within shouting distance of some angels. The air cooled her skin. “Can you help me?!”

The closest flyer halted. Hovering, he waited for her to close the distance. He put a palm up when he thought she was getting too near. The gesture caused her to tear up.

Reject.

A breeze skated across her body. She wasn’t a reject, she was naked and had nothing to cover up with. The angel didn’t seem to even notice, although he’d stopped her. She beat her wings in a way that allowed her to hover. She was
so
getting the hang of this. Maybe even record fast.

The edges of the angel’s wings glowed yellow with the low sun behind him. His face was in partial shadow.

“What do you need? I suggest a Healer, for your wings.”

“I don’t need a—I need Elliott.”

The angel cocked his head, “Do you know his Order?”

“Um, I…I think…ah, I’m not sure what you mean by—”

“You seek him but you do not know him?” The angel crossed his arms over his chest, expending no extra effort to flap his wings. Amalya, on the other hand, tired. She drew in gasping breaths.

“I do know
him
, but I don’t know what
that
means.”

Not being able to see his expression, she guessed he was confused by her tone.

“It is like a title,” he said.

“Oh, I—a Redeemer.”

“Ah.” He nodded again as if he now understood and the black wings made sense. He pointed. “The last tower in this row. Tower of the Redeemers. You may ask for him there.”

“Thanks,” she panted. Flying in the direction he pointed she could feel his eyes still on her. She couldn’t look back even if she wanted to.

By the time she reached the last building, which was white and not actually golden, and caused by the yellowing effect of the sun, she fought to keep herself aloft. She would flap her wings a few times then plummet. Flap her wings. Plummet. The cycle continued until she was almost at the level marked “Lobby.”

The structure wasn’t on the ground but held up in the air by an unseen force. Looking down, she gasped. A break in the clouds revealed a city skyline below, like Chicago or somewhere. Frantic wings flapping lifted her but wouldn’t move her forward enough to enter the tower. Her wings gave out. She screamed, dropping like a large rock in a pond.

Clouds surrounded her, she coughed. The bottom of the floating building that looked like an upside down rocky mountain, hung below the lobby. She hit the side of the structure, her fingernails scratching at the sandpaper like side. The fingertips of one hand caught on a ledge. Tears misted in her eyes making her vision blurry.

Something warm wrapped around her forearm below her wrist. A force yanked her onto a landing. Her knees buckled, her rubber legs folded, and she collapsed to the rough floor. She lay on her stomach with her cheek pressed to the gritty floor. Tears slid over the bridge of her nose creating darker spots on the hard-packed white sand.

A pair of bare feet stood in front of her. Then a smiling face of an angel appeared. His hand gently caressed one of her wings along its crest, smoothing the feathers, soothing her.

“You are weak.” He snapped his fingers. “Healer.”

With her ear to the floor, the padding feet sounded like thunder. “Elliott,” she whispered, hoping the angel could hear well enough over the storm.

He crouched lower. “What did you say?”

She attempted to lift her iron head. “I need…E-Elliott…”

“Then I shall take you to him. He’s just arrived as well.”

Her savior, thank God, cradled her in his arms, close to his chest. He warmed her and smelled like sugar cookies at Christmas. She laid her head on his shoulder to steady her labored breathing.

Halfway up the interior of the tower to Elliott, her eyes became clearer. The inside of the building was a single shaft, and niches were carved into the sandstone walls. The color reminded her of the white sand beaches of Australia. Inwardly, she groaned, thinking her mother would refer to the color as “winter white.” Passing by the countless open apartments, she could see angels lounging or flitting around, alone, or sometimes in pairs. Booming laughter drowned out quiet conversations. Angels glided between the arched entries above her.

The angel carrying her ducked into one of the niches. Without the strength to hold her head up anymore, Amalya let it loll to the side. Her arms dangled, her wings hung loosely, the feathers dragging across the floor.

“Elliott the Redeemer, this one seeks you.” The angel walked over and tried to place Amalya in her wingless angel’s arms.

Elliott took a step backward.

“She is weak.”

“I can see that for myself,” Elliott said testily. “She’s not supposed to be here.”

“Be that as it may, she is here and has asked for you.”

“So you brought her here? She should be—”

“Elliott, I cannot imagine the suffering you have endured, but from the color of her wings, she is in much greater immediate peril than you.”

Amalya couldn’t see his expression and pictured the winged angel with one brow raised. His voice was even toned.

Hello, Mr. Spock.

“What’s that supposed to mean; ‘
immediate
’?” Elliott scoffed.

The angel adjusted his hold on Amalya, jostling her. “Is your soul not in danger? You almost fell again.”

Elliott glanced at the ceiling, tilting his head back. “Are we done here, Virgil? Because I don’t need another one of your lectures.”

“Clearly you do.”

Virgil laid Amalya on a fluffy mat in front of a pool, arranging her wings with care. She sighed; the only thing she could do at this point. Her eyes were open and blinking but her limbs were immobile.

Elliott sighed with exasperation. “You can stop
touching
her now.”

Was he?

Oh yeah, he was. In the places he touched, her feathers stood on end as he passed over them.

“One last thing, Redeemer…not everyone is as lucky as you.”

Lucky?

Virgil’s index finger pushed a lock of hair behind her ear and he regarded her face.

At least someone appreciates me.

The petting ceased as he rose to his full height, towering over her prone form. Hello, he was hella gorgeous, and his wings were so white they glowed.

BOOK: Her Black Wings (The Dark Amulet Series Book 1)
8.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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