Authors: Amy Lignor
UNTIL NEXT TIME
THE ANGEL CHRONICLES
Copyright © 2012 Amy Lignor
Except for the use of short passages for review purposes, no part of this book may be reproduced, in part or in whole, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronically or mechanically, including photocopying, recording, or any information or storage retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.
Cover design: Emma Michaels
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In the Beginning
I know those cerulean blue eyes.
They belong to Matt, the one created to stand by my side—no matter what, through all eternity. Those eyes will forever haunt me. Even in the lives we have yet to live. But at this moment, I’m overwhelmed by how much they’ve changed; how much darker and colder they’ve gotten since I made my decision.
I’m not going back down.
Matt raises his gleaming sword in the air, ready to attack. The muscles of his hands are pulsing as he grips the steel hilt about to strike. Our blades smash together, and the floor of the fiery pit shakes beneath my feet. In the blink of an eye he lunges again, and I counter quickly, feeling the heat of the flames against my flesh. But nothing burns me as much as the hate and disappointment shining in those now frigid, cobalt eyes.
I want to look up from the pit at our teachers, just to see if they’re going to stop this battle, but as soon as I flick my eyes away from Matt’s face, the finely sharpened metal slashes through my shoulder. His eyes wince at my pain, but he rises up and comes at me again, slashing my wrist. I counter. I know I should aim better; at least, that’s what my teacher would tell me. I should draw blood from Matt, but I can’t. I think I’ve already drawn enough without even trying.
The steel whips through the air, and I block. I’m so tired. Maybe it would be easier to let Matt kill me and get it over with. But then there would be the whole healing process, and I would have to listen to Michael yell at me for not being prepared. I swear, he’s worse than an overprotective mother or enraged Boy Scout leader, and I don’t want to hear it. Besides, I owe Matt this win. He
be allowed to jab, cut, and slice. After all, I did it first. I walked away from him when I fell in love. I didn’t mean to…it just happened. So, I suppose that gives Matt every right to act like a raving lunatic.
Matt executes a parry like a fencing champion, and puts himself in position to win. The flames rise higher around us. They sizzle and groan as they leap up from the pit. It sounds almost like they’re shouting to him, egging Matt on.
I used to love this pit. Our teachers would throw us in here—into the flames—to make us learn the hard way. They told us that when we were sent to save or brutalize humans—depending on what the mission would be—we would need fighting skills. Of course, Matt’s better at fighting than I am. He’s supposed to be;
the warrior. I help in other ways as his significant other—up here (and down there). That’s
job. On this team, I’m on the angel side.
The blue eyes flash, and I can see into his soul. He keeps remembering the kiss, and I really wish he’d just forget about it. Even though the craving I have for Jason is still gnawing at me inside, Matt doesn’t need to worry about it.
the whole thing with him is over. I know Matt is my soulmate, and these feelings I have for Jason will pass. But looking into Matt’s eyes, I can see that all he wants to do is purposely inflict the same amount of pain on me that I unintentionally caused him. In his mind, that’s the only way it’ll be fair.
His sword gleams in the light of the fire. Matt raises his arm and aims directly at the heart I know I don’t have. I should take the blow, but my pride (which I’m not supposed to have, by the way) won’t let me back down without a fight. I feel my wings start to expand. The bright pearl color dances in the corner of my eye as they unfurl. The powerful, mind-numbing pain in my back reminds me of the price I pay for the power I wield, but it seems like a much easier price than losing everything I thought I’d found.
Matt’s handsome face glistens; the sweat drips from his forehead as his ebony wings appear from behind his muscular chest that is covered with scars. I let my double-edged sword fall on the floor, and the flames reach out for it. The scorching heat turns the dagger of death into a warped piece of metal that couldn’t hurt a fly.
I can hear my teacher above me sigh. I can feel him rolling his eyes, and I don’t blame him. He gave the title of
to a soul who has no idea what it means to carry the pearl wings that weigh down my shoulders.
I have no defense against Matt. But…my sinful pride just won’t let it go. I look into Matt’s hard gaze. I wish I could fix what I’ve done and the choices I’ve made, but I can’t. It’s over. I just don’t feel like dying twice in one week. As the sword comes at me, I open my mouth, and whisper the word
The flash of white light dowses the flames around me. All I can hear as I disappear from the pit is Matt shouting, “No!”
Even after everything…I’m
My wings return to my flesh. I watch the blood dry quickly from my wounds. Up here even my blood is luminescent, like a river of pearls, a shining embodiment of Matt’s anger.
A musty old book sits in front of me on the library table and I know what’s about to happen. I can’t hide from everything, I suppose. Written on the pages is our first story—a time when we couldn’t wait to get out of this place. Our names, Matthew and Emily, are etched in gold on the cover—like a wedding invitation that will never be sent.
I’ve become very cynical in my seventeen human years. My teacher says I’m too young to be so cynical. But historically, isn’t that when all of life’s crap begins? Your first broken heart, your first real mistakes—all the firsts happen when you’re a kid. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be called firsts.
It’s twilight in Heaven now, but the library is packed. All around me are the hushed whispers of partners who long to succeed. I wonder which teams will make it. Who’ll be the next ones to leave? It wasn’t so long ago that
was the gung-ho candidate waiting for the chance to prove myself worthy of the job I was created for.
What a joke.
They would’ve been better off making me a librarian. I like books. They’re not real, so when you get to the last page and close the cover, nothing bad ever happens. That’s the beauty of fiction.
I look at the other books on the shelves. I can almost hear Shakespeare’s words. They mix with the poetry of Keats, and the dark thoughts of a man called Poe. I like Poe. He understood. That’s one of the facts that I learned from my time down there—the so-called crazy ones—seem to know more about life than everyone else.
Right now, I really want to pull
off the shelf, kick back, and forget about everything. But today, the book in front of me is the only one I’m allowed to read because Matt and I are being sent back down—whether I like it or not. They want me to go back down to the human world with a partner who absolutely despises me.
I look around at the hard workers. I want to shout at them to stop studying. It won’t help. Times have changed down there. They have no idea that they’ll have to fit in by breaking and twisting the rules they are taught to live by up here.
Matt’s dark blue eyes stare at me from the doorway. The anger is still there, but the blood and the sweat have dried. A student walks in front of Matt offering him a smile, then suddenly turns on his heel and runs away.
I don’t blame the kid.
Matt is sending out a clear and powerful message. He’ll kill anyone who gets in his way.
He marches over to the table, whips out a chair and lets the old wooden legs screech across the marble floor. Referring to my sudden departure from the pit, he yells, “I hate when you do that!”
I just nod.
“You had the nerve to...
? You should’ve taken the hit!” He brings his fist down hard on the table. “I did!”
I know whatever I say won’t be good enough.
Matt sulks in his chair, his body rippling underneath his shirt. He’s had so much training that his muscles make him look like a rock formation—completely immovable. “
free will just sucks,” he mutters.
I completely agree.
It’s like leaving a hungry wolf in a room with a defenseless baby…no
choices are going to be made in that scenario.
I look over at him. Even after all this time together, I’m still stunned by him. I can’t understand why he wants to go back down there. I have no idea how he’s kept his faith in humanity for so long.
“But I can’t help it, I still love you,” he says while lifting his head.
His voice is clear and honest. I sigh.
—what a dumb word. A soulmate is the eternal partner you have in every lifetime—the one created just for you.
Easy concept, right?
Unfortunately, what Matt and I didn’t know is that when you’re human, you can fail to recognize your soulmate. You can end up feeling attracted to other people. It’s easy to get all messed up and confused. Hearts are broken fast that way.
Matt reaches across the table. The minute our hands touch; the love, loyalty, friendship, and attraction are so powerful, I can barely breathe. “I love you,” he repeats. “And I
you love me.”
Someday I know that I’ll have to choose between the one I was made for and the one I made a promise to down there…but not today. “You already know I love you,” I answer. “I’ve said that to you since we were ten-years-old.”
His blue eyes sparkle. “Like you love him?”
Thankfully, I don’t have to answer that…yet. Luckily, Gabe and Mike appear out of nowhere causing me to jump out of my chair. “Jesus! What is it with you guys? Can’t you cough, or something?”
Gabe, my teacher, swats my hand. “Watch your mouth, young lady.”
“Sorry about the Jesus thing,” I mutter.
Gabe plunks down in the chair next to Matt. His cool orange and black robes fly out behind him like a Halloween display. “Actually, I was more offended by the ‘you guys’ part. We have names you know,” Gabe says while smiling from across the table.
Looking at Gabe, Mike sighs, “I swear—you’re worse than they are.”
“You shouldn’t swear,” Gabe smirks. “I hear it’s frowned upon up here.”
Matt was starting to laugh at his teacher, the sound quickly fading when he saw Mike’s angry expression. “Sorry,” he mumbled.
Sitting next to me, Mike said, “That was a horrible match. Have you forgotten how to fight?”
“No,” I groaned.
“I’m surprised you’re still alive.”
Turning on him without thinking, I shout, “I’m not!” I immediately hang my head as the teacher that demanded and deserved respect shot me a gaze that would’ve turned any normal being into a pile of dust.
Mike cleared his throat. “You did your jobs well…both times.”
“Okay…well enough,” a sigh could be heard escaping from Mike as he touched the old book in front of him. “However, you do have one more time out. And I know you’ve decided you won’t go back, Emily—but you have to.”
“What about the free will thing?” I reminded him.
Mike simply shrugged. “It’s a gray area.”
I watched Gabe cover his mouth so that his deep, melodious laugh wouldn’t echo across the library.
“We need you both to go back, and this time will be worse,” Mike continued.
“What a shock,” Matt whispered.
Gabe took over before Mike’s eyes popped out of his skull. “Matt, you both lost your heads while you were down there the last time. Now we need you to find a way to work together—no matter what. Hearts…souls…nothing can get in the way this time around.” He lowered his voice. Shooting me a serious glance, he said, “We’re looking at what could be the end. And your partnership is the only thing that may save them all down there. It’s up to the two of you.”
“We remember what happened before,” I said while looking at that horrible book.
Mike interjected, “Your relationship needs to be stronger. It was created to be the strongest union possible.”
Matt’s blue eyes held me in their grasp. “He’s right. I did things that were wrong, too. But Emily, you and I have trained forever for this one last chance down there.”
“And to go forward, you need to get rid of your anger. And in order to do that, you need to go back to the past,” Mike said.
“You sound like a fortune cookie.”
Both Matt and Gabe snickered.
I looked at my teacher’s angry face and put my hand in the air. “Sorry…sorry. Just trying to lighten you up a little bit.”