Glow by Lita Bronwyn

J was at a red-light when his cell phone rang. He pulled through the intersection and into Xtra Mart’s parking lot and answered.

“Hey girl, what’s crackin?” he sang

“My nose is actually, can you come by and pick me up?’
Glow
Glow by Lita Bronwyn
“Oh god, not again” J said “This is the last time. Trust me.” she promised “On my way sweets, I’m so sorry. I’ll be there in like five minutes.” “Don’t be sorry J, just get here. I’ll be waiting.” with that, she clicked her phone off. She woke up on the bathroom floor. Aching, stiff, semi disoriented, and in a puddle of her own blood. How long had she been out? And how badly was her nose broken this time? She pulled herself up off the tile and started to get cleaned up. She moved slowly, because of the pain, and because she wasn’t sure if he was still in the house or not. This was it. This was the last straw. She finally realized that he had no right. No right to put his hands on her, no right to leave marks on her body. She was going to make her way to the door, and she was never going to come back. And that’s exactly what she did. Once in the car, that’s when the tears began to flow. “I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m not crying because I’m sad, or injured, I’m crying because I am so beyond frustrated with myself. Once was an accident, a moment of chaos and a blur of screams. Twice, is thinking its ok because the first time was forgiven. “He was so apologetic, he said he didn’t mean it, that he didn’t know what came over him.” “I know what came over him, J spat “a case of asshole- itis.” “I just can’t believe it. I never thought I would ever be in this situation. I feel like such an idiot.” “Don’t say that Mel, you just wanted to see the good in him, and for a while, you did. That does not make you an idiot. If you stayed there after waking up on the floor for a third time, then you’d be an idiot.” “I’m so glad I have you J.” she said “Mel, you will always have me” J said as he reached out and took her hand. She sat back in the seat and closed her eyes. She was never going to speak to Ed ever again. This was the end. NINE MONTHS LATER “But I don't wanna" she whined like a little girl. "Oh come on girl, it'll be fun" J promised, "don't be such a sissy pants. I'll even treat.” "Good damn thing" she thought to herself, "cause I'd never pay for a load of crap." "Fine." she relented. "But you go first." "Yaaay!" J clapped his hands excitedly, "You'll thank me later." he sang "Doubt it." she thought. Just then, the fortune teller came out from behind a red velvet curtain. She looked ancient. She wore her gray hair free flowing down around her shoulders and was dressed in a floor sweeping peasant skirt with blouse to match. Bracelets all up and down her arms, charms jingling as she glided out into the open space of the shop. "Hello darlings" she purred. "Are you here to learn of your futures?" "Absolutely!" J exclaimed. "Well come right in darling, and you, she turned to Amelia, “can make yourself right at home, we shan't be long." "Okay, thank you." She replied. J gave her the thumbs up as he slipped behind the curtain with the old woman. She sat on an old gold Victorian looking love seat and twirled a piece of her long auburn hair between her fingers. As she looked down at the fabric of the sofa, she noticed that it almost matched her honey brown eyes perfectly. She'd always liked the color of her eyes, it was the hair she was constantly changing, and why not she figured, it's just hair, it can become any color she wants. And these days any color of the rainbow was stylish. She was too antsy to just sit there, so she decided to poke around the small shop. She saw crystals of every size, color and shape strewn everywhere, what looked like dried herbs in jars up on a shelf, bottles of brightly colored fluids, which she looked at with wonder. It all together actually looked kind of beautiful. Like a magical fantasy world right there in front of her. Everything was so shiny, and brightly colored and most of it she had never seen before. In the jewelry case she spotted beautiful pendants with crystals right on them. Some of them had little cards next to them explaining what the crystal was used for. Rose Quartz it read, wear to help soften a hardened heart, also to learn self-love. Interesting, she thought. She moved on to another piece that caught her eye, like she was drawn to it .It was the very same stone hanging from her own neck. This one's card read Moonstone ~ allows positive energies to flow smoothly, associated with Selene a moon goddess as well as the moon it's self. In ancient times, wedding vows were oft said over moonstones, to ensure a lasting love, for as long as the moon shone in the night sky. The Stone was beautiful. All this time, and she had never even thought to look up info on her necklace. She had had it since she was 12. Hers was much more beautiful than the one in the showcase, and she suddenly felt even luckier to have it. That's when she realized that J had called her name. "Huh?' she asked, dazed. "I said your name like five times, where's your head at girl?" J asked. "Oh, sorry," She muttered, I was just checking out the jewelry, it's really quite nice." "Look at it when your turn is done, no avoiding, Miss Lady, you said you'd have your fortune told." "Oh I will, I just really like one of these necklaces in the case here." "Later" J scolded, as he took her by the shoulders and turned her toward the old woman, who suddenly didn't seem to look quite as old as she had before. "Okay, I'm going she replied. "Right this way" the old woman invited, from her place next to the curtain. She followed the woman, but not before glancing back at J who gave another thumbs up. "Why did I let him talk me into this?" she muttered. Behind the curtain was a very small, dimly lit room that looked much like the rest of the shop. Crystals, some as big as her head adorned the shelves on each wall, as well as several candles lit all around the small space. It smelled amazing, like something so familiar, it was comforting almost, but Amelia couldn't put her finger on just what the scent was, but it was heavenly. The woman sat down at the small table, and motioned for her to do the same. As she took a seat, she felt warm, and her face flushed, an uncommon occurrence for her. She was a girl who didn't blush, flush, or anything of the sort. The feeling made her a bit uneasy. She tried to settle herself, as the woman began..... "Let me see your hands, palms up" the woman asked. "Hmmmm" she mused, as every fortune teller begins a reading Amelia was sure. "Do you know where you come from?" the woman asked. "Um, yeah Providence" Amelia stated. "What the hell is with this lady?” she wondered. "I didn't ask where you were born, I asked if you know where you come from?" "I don't think I understand the question then." Amelia replied. "You're adopted, aren't you?" "How did you know that?" she asked. The old woman replied" If I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I'd be doing this gig in the Maldives. I know because I have a sight that was gifted to the women in my family centuries ago. A gift that has allowed me to be my own boss and help people for all these years." "Well I don't need help, I know I'm adopted, I've known since I was eight." Amelia retorted. "But do you know why?" the woman asked. "Well the best I can figure it, is that my birth mother couldn't care for me, so she found a family that could." "Know what? She stopped. Thank you for your time, but I just don't think this is for me. As she stood, she placed a twenty on the table. The woman said "But your friend already paid for you." "It's okay, think of it as a tip." As she stood from the table and turned to leave the woman stopped her. "There is much you need to know, come back and see me when you realize that." "Not likely" she thought. "Have a nice day." and with that she pulled back the red velvet curtain and stepped out into the normalcy of the sunlit shop once again. "So? How'd it go? J asked excitedly. "I'm sorry you wasted your money J, that broad's a crackpot." "Why, what did she say?" "I'll tell you later, right now, there's a certain necklace calling my name. she grinned. They walked over to the jewelry counter and looked down at the moonstone necklace. "Wow," J said, that's gorgeous Mel!" "I know right? and it's just like mine!" She exclaimed. Just then, the sales girl came over to help them. "May I help you with something from the case?' she questioned. “I was just admiring this moonstone pendant, it’s similar to my own.” Amelia said as she motioned to her own necklace. "What a beautiful piece" the salesgirl commented. “May I?” she asked “Oh, sure” Amelia said as he unclasped it and handed it to the girl. Amelia held it in her hands and it felt so familiar to her, the cool feel of the silver just felt right. She examined the stone. Iridescent white with seas of rainbows floating across its surface. She turned it over to the girl. She noticed some kind of markings on the back of the silver. It was apparently very old, because she could hardly make out what it said. It sure didn‘t say .925. It was so old that the letters were hardly visible, like they weren‘t carved in very deep. It looked like it said MDXL. “MDXL, what does that mean?” the girl asked. “I have no idea, thought I have wondered for as long as I have had it” Amelia answered “Maybe it‘s initials of some kind“J offered “Pretty strange initials“ The salesgirl was handing the necklace back to Amelia, and stopped. "Would you allow me to cleanse it for you?” the girl said. "Uh, okay, thanks” Amelia said, puzzled. The salesgirl took the necklace in her hand and then lit a piece of what looked like a silvery dried leaf of some kind, In the swirling smoke that arose the girl passed the necklace through it, mumbling something under her breath. “What are you doing exactly?" She wondered aloud. "Cleansing the energies of all others that have handled the stone." the girl explained. "Every person has their own vibration, and often negativity, that will stay with the stone if it remains uncleansed. This was so it will be clean and ready for you and you alone." "Wow, that's kinda cool." She said thanking the girl. "All set, it's cleansed, maybe your boyfriend would like to put it on for you?" the girl said. "Oh honey, lawd no, I am not her boyfriend. But I will do the honors." J said as he bowed in front of Amelia. "Just put it on me J." He lowered the stone in front of her eyes and she watched the rainbows dance across its surface, then he clasped it. As soon as the stone touched her skin, she felt that same flush just like earlier. This thing was such a beauty, it could have turned her green and she'd still have worn it. They were going to stop for lunch but it was already getting late and they had a long drive ahead of them, so they opted for a pizza on the go. “Great idea J, I don't think I have ever had pizza while driving before she laughed. “Just pay attention, only take bites when we stop." J offered. "Don't worry She said, I pay attention to the road." "So, she asked, tell me about your reading with Madame Crackpot?" "She is no crackpot, let me tell you" J declared, "She knew all about Roberto from last summer, I was so embarrassed!" "No way, did she really?" "Oh yes she did, and she knew lots more too." "Like what?" Amelia asked. "Oh like, how we've been best friends since we were four, that I'm working on my third black belt, that I hate Thai food.." he chuckled "That lady is the real deal Girl, I'm telling you" She sat back in the driver's seat, shocked. "What's with that face?" he asked her. "Well, she knew I was adopted, but she was asking if I knew where I came from. It was weird, I told her Providence, and she said that's not what she meant, and that I would be back when I realize that's there's a lot I need to know." "Ooh girl, sounds juicy to me. Make sure you let me know when you're ready to go back." "Honestly, I don't think I ever will. I guess we'll have to wait and see." An English Lit major, she had tons of free time to do as she pleased, especially since she was in her last year of school, Words and language have always come easily to her, so assignments were almost never a chore for her. With all thoughts of the fortune teller gone from her mind, on Friday night she came home and plopped down on her bed, exhausted. It had been a long day. Her roommate, Sara was Skyping with her boyfriend back in Cali. Why that girl ever left the fun and sun of the west coast to come to Rhode Island was always a mystery to her. There were great schools all over the country. She'd lived here all her life and would jump at the chance to be elsewhere. With graduation, that's exactly what she was hoping for. "Hey Sara, hey Tommy." she called from her face down position on her bed, she heard Sara and the guy on the monitor both say hey back to her. "Hope I'm not interrupting anything, I just need to lay here and chill out for a few." she apologized. “You could never be an interruption Amelia.” Sara beamed. She really liked Amelia, and had since they first met almost four years ago at orientation day. They were assigned a room together and became fast friends, so they kept it that way ever since. Girl woke up to darkness. "Oh my god, how long did I sleep for?" she asked aloud looking at the red glow of her clock that now read ten pm. That's when her phone buzzed. She grabbed it and saw that she had six missed calls. "Oh crap! I was supposed to call J to go out tonight!" CHAPTER 2 They sat in the shadows on the side street next to the club. His black muscle car idling. The wipers were on even though the rain was turning to just a mist. The front of the club was well lit and had lots of people milling about, impatient dudes waiting in line, girls with too much make up and not enough clothing, were whining to the bouncer that they were indeed on the list, he needed to check it again. Then there were the rich, and or beautiful types who the velvet ropes were parted for before their feet even hit the sidewalk. "I don't know if I really feel like doing the whole club thing again tonight" he said. "Oh come on dude, you act like such an old fart every time we come here." the guy in the passenger seat complained. "That's because every time we come here, I leave hungry." "Well that's your own fault. You’re the one who doesn't wanna use "The Eye" on anyone, hell knows why." he puzzled. "Because it's bad enough that I'm taking someone's life force Rob, I don't wanna have to lie to do it." he said "Why do you think we were given "The Eye" in the first damn place? To make our survival that much easier. So we aren't walking half dead, like you are more often than not." he said. "Besides, it's like all the girls in this place know enough to stay away from me, its weird." he said "Well, Rob conceded, let's just go in for a while, and if nothing's happening, you can go find a vagrant or something, that always seems to lift your spirits." "It does nothing for my spirits, it's my hunger that it helps." He spat. They sat in silence for a moment more, then stepped out onto the damp street. The music vibrated through her body as Amelia made her way through the dimly lit club. Slow, steady beats filled the air, as bodies mingled together spilled from the dance floor to almost every available space in the club. The DJ was on, and the crowd was loving it, cheering and reaching their hands up in the air to the beat of the music. With only neon lighting the way, she made her way to a table in back, which is where she found J. "There she is! ”Muah, muah, they air kissed. "So glad you made it Mel, you need to cut loose girl!" It’s been nine months, and you need to get your party on." "Agreed. I'm ready for a night of fun with my bestie." She confirmed "That's my girl! Lots of man candy here tonight too." J teased "I said nothing about man candy, although I do plan on having a few drinks." she corrected. "Mel, meet the lovely ladies who are joining us at the table this fine evening, this is Vikki, Sammi and Deana." J presented "Hi ladies, thanks for sharing a table, it's nice to meet you all." she smiled "Our pleasure, Vikki, the redhead beamed, first round's on us." "Cool, thanks" she said as the waitress stopped to take their orders. "Five shots of tequila and two pitchers of light beer please." Sammi asked "Oh my god, Amelia said, shots to start? It is going to be a long night. "It's going to be a great night!" J exclaimed Several shot and pitchers later, the group were on the dance floor, letting loose and feeling the music. Amelia hadn't had such a great time in ages. After breaking up with her boyfriend almost nine months ago, she hadn't been out anywhere besides the library, one of her favorite places of course. Even still, that wasn't the same as having a few cold ones and letting the music carry her away. The beat, the melody, the lyrics, she felt it all so deeply. She loved it and it made her happy, especially tonight. She'd missed it so much. "This DJ is amazing! J screamed over the music "I know, right? I'm loving this! Amelia screamed back. As J grabbed her and spun her around the dance floor, she shrieked with delight, they had danced together hundreds of times over the years, every time was fantastic. Gabriel and Rob made their way to the back of the club, scoping out a spot to watch the action from, when from somewhere in the crowd he heard a girl's infectious laughter. He turned to see where it came from. That's when he saw her. Long auburn hair, streaked with pink, fell down below her shoulders, her eyes looked almost golden in the neon light. Her mouth open wide as laughter and happiness spilled from her. Looking at her stirred something within him. He felt weakness invading his body, as though he had been in battle for days straight. That’s something he had never felt. Weakness was practically unknown to him. An intensity came over him, stealing the air from his lungs, tightening his chest. The pounding of the music faded away and was replaced by his own heartbeat, screaming in his ears. It was as if he a realization of sorts. Had he seen her before? Surely he would remember seeing a girl like this. She was, beautiful, stunning, and full of light. The guy who held her close looked just as happy. Gabriel’s gut lurched. How he wished he could know that feeling, how he wished he could be holding someone like that, someone like her. "Okay, let's hit the bar dude." Rob said "You go ahead, I’m gonna chill right here for a minute." Gabriel said "Grab me a draft will ya?" "No problemo, back in a flash." Rob said He wanted to stay exactly where he was. Where he could watch the girl. She was beautiful, she was happy, she was having fun. Something he can never have. He wondered what it would feel like if he were the one twirling her around the dance floor, if he were the one she was smiling at, laughing with. But of course, he must push these thoughts aside. Those things are not in the cards for him. What he exudes, is what he is, fear. He hasn’t come across a woman in a hundred and fifty years who didn't practically cower from him. He had resigned himself to the fact that he would never have anyone but Rob, who was with a new girl every week, who also threw "The Eye" on any female he desired, for food, pleasure, or both. He and Rob had been friends almost since the beginning. They were both turned around the same time, by the same man, and lived with his crew for a few decades. They were practically pirates. They would rape, murder, steal, and worse. None of these things came easily, or naturally to Gabriel even though he was now something other than the human man he had been. He was something more, something primal, something dark, and something he still could not even grasp. Even still, he had no desire to do any of the things the crew were involved in. It seemed as though the only thing they had in common was the need for sustenance. After a while, that just wasn't enough to keep him there, forced to turn a blind eye, to their horrible misdeeds, for fear of execution. They both decided living as savages wasn't for them, and they left the crew, setting out on their own. That was over four hundred years ago. They had drifted apart from time to time, for a decade or a few, traveling to distant places, trying to find a place to fit in, but they always found each other eventually. Rob returned with their drinks, seeing him preoccupied, he follows Gabriel’s gaze across the room "Okay, so what's so interesting over there?" Rob questioned "Just people watching" Gabriel answered "Dude, you have that look in your eye." "What look would that be Rob?" he asked irritated at his friend's presumption "The look that says "I'm in a mood and I might disappear for a decade or so." That look." "No, Gabriel corrected, just reminding myself of some truths, that's all." "Which truths are those Gabriel? Ones that say you'll never be as strong, or as fast or as healthy as you should be because of your refusal to use "The Eye?" The truth that you're hungry as hell, and refuse to get out there and scoop up a delicious little co ed for the evening, those truths Gabriel?" "No, the truth that I am destined to spend eternity watching you gorge yourself on said co eds, and never have any companionship, save yours." “You wound me Gabriel.” Rob teased “You know what I mean.” Gabriel said "Oh my god Gabriel, it's been over four hundred and fifty years, are you still belly aching about Caroline?" "Absolutely not. She was bat shit crazy. The only thing is, she was a good companion, for a time. You'll never know what it feels like to be on the outside looking in, especially for all these years." "Dude, Rob pleaded, you bring this misery upon yourself, you choose to be without female companionship, as they say, man cannot live on bread alone." Rob waggled his eyebrows "Just don't go getting all depressed and disappear again bro. I have much more fun when you're around" Rob smiled "I'm not going anywhere” Gabriel said, “Just thinking about things is all" "Know what, Gabe? I know what you need, something fresh to eat. Not some old, homeless, sick dude, or some unconscionable criminal type. Something healthy, and vibrant. It'll make all the difference." Rob said "I don't know how the hell you think I’m gonna do that" Gabriel questioned, I don't use "The Eye", women seem to steer clear of me, the ones with half a brain anyway, and I really don't feel like chasing my lunch." "Have you thought about prepackaged?" Rob asked "You know I don't have the connections for that" he answered Rob grinned, "Well let's see what we can do about that, shall we?' Amelia had always loved dancing with J, it made her forget everything, except the music taking her away to a place where all the terrible things she had been through didn't even seem real anymore. A place where the pain of losing her family didn't threaten to rip her heart out with every passing moment. When she felt happy like this, it didn't matter that the first person she dared to get close to after everything that happened, used her as a punching bag. In moments like this, she was free. The song ended and she gave J a hug and thanked him for dancing with her. Catching her breath, she glanced around at all the people jammed into the club. It was busy in here tonight that was for sure. She looked over to the area of their shared table and saw him. He was standing right in front of their table, and he was looking right at her. She felt a pang of familiarity instantly. Sure that she had never seen him before, she wondered why she felt as if she had. The tables were set up higher than the dance floor, so she got a good look at him, from head to toe. He was probably about six foot two, one hand in his pocket and a drink in the other. His long dark hair threatened to fall into his face, which had high cheekbones and a strong jaw. He wore a fitted black tee, dark jeans and black biker boots. She couldn't see the color of his eyes from where she was, but she could feel him looking right into her. He was looking at her as if he knew her, if that even makes sense. She felt herself flush with warmth, her breathing grew more ragged than it already was, and it wasn’t just from dancing. She felt herself get a bit light headed, but it passed quickly. She absent mindedly fingered her necklace as she looked back at him. She felt the necklace warm beneath her fingers, when she looked down at it she could see the rainbows swirling perfectly, even in the dim light of the club. She looked up again and he was gone. They made their way through the crowd back towards their table, when they got there, Vikki, Sammi and Deana were in hysterics over something one of them had just said. Her curiosity getting the best of her, she asks the girls, "Hey, did any of you see that guy that was standing here a minute ago?" "Which one?" they giggled in unison "He was standing right in front of our table, big, biker type dude, long dark hair, tight jeans, and tight tee? "No sweetie, sorry we didn't notice, sounds like a hottie though, better go track that man down." Sammi advised. "Oh no big deal, I was just wondering" she blew it off. “Thought he looked familiar, that’s all.” But in the back of her mind, she was wondering who he was, why he seemed so familiar, and where he had gone. It was time to call it a night, Amelia had danced her ass off as planned, and she had a few drinks, also as planned. So she handed J her keys. "Sir, would you be so kind as to drive me home?' "That's what I'm here for bestie" J said as he threw his arm around her neck "Ladies,” J addressed the girls at the table, "It has been a pleasure sharing space with you this evening, but I need to get my girl here home to some aspirin and bed, maybe we'll see you next time" They all blew kisses and said their goodbyes as they exited the club. "Thank you J, I had a great time tonight, it was just what I needed" "I'm glad you made it, girl, I had a blast too, and did you see the men in there tonight? Lawd!” But for now, let's get you home.” J said As they made their way through the parking lot, Amelia noticed a beautiful classic car parked on the side of the building. She had always liked old school cars, there was always one in her Dad's garage growing up. She had spent many hours handing him tools, getting her hands dirty, chatting about everything under the sun. She felt a pang of sadness as she recalled the memory. Gabriel was sitting in his car, waiting for Rob to drag himself away from his catch of the evening, when he saw her, the girl from the dance floor. She was leaving with the guy she had been dancing with. He could see by watching her that she was strong and capable, but he was leading her, she stumbled a bit. She must have had too much of a good time. He watched them get in the SUV and pull away. Rob was taking forever, as usual, so Gabriel decided to get out of the car and walk across to the parking lot. He was curious to see if he would be able to smell her, still lingering in the air. His boots crunched the wet gravel beneath them as he walked the twenty or so yards to where the girl had been parked. As he got closer, he caught a scent in the air, one, female, the other, also female. He inhaled deeply, and let the scent wash over him. Must not be her he thought, she was with just that one guy. The damp air often washed out and blurred different scents, so it was a long shot anyway. One of the scents, smelled like warm amber, comfort and sunshine. He imagined that's what she might smell like. The other was a scent of spring rain and freshly laundered sheets. From the corner of his eye, something on the ground glittered, he turned to see what it was. He knelt down to the damp pavement and saw what he hadn't seen in over three hundred years. His mother's moonstone necklace. He picked the necklace up off the ground and examined it. It was definitely his mother's. MDXL was barely visible, but was engraved on the back. He lost this necklace three hundred years ago. How in the hell did it end up here? And around that girl's neck? She had to be the one who dropped it. There were no other cars parked near hers. He slipped it into the front pocket of his jeans for safe keeping. He made his way back to his car just as Rob emerged from the shadows with a blonde whose waist his arm was wrapped around. "Oh come on man," Gabriel complained "Just drop us off at her place." Rob instructed "Will you be leaving left overs for the next guy?" Gabriel asked "I promise I will leave this little morsel in perfect condition." he said The blonde just looked at them both blankly, obviously under influence of "The Eye" "Fine. Get in." He commanded The big block motor roared to life, Gabriel dropped it into gear and they sped off into the night. Gabriel’s throat started to burn, he was starting to feel depleted, tired. He had waited too long, as usual. He knew he had to take a ride. He pulled his car into the crowded downtown lot, killed the engine and sat and looked around for a few minutes. The bars were letting out, and there were lots of college kids milling about, couples, groups of kids, lots who were obviously drunk. That’s what always got his attention. He got out of the car, and started to stroll through the parking lot. It was huge, probably half the size of a football field. He was just meandering, blending in with the partiers. That’s when he heard it, a woman’s muffled scream. No one else seemed to notice, probably due to his superior hearing. He started to walk in the direction of the scream. He could hear scuffling, there was obviously an altercation happening that someone was trying to keep quiet. He made his way to the back of The Shark Bar and that’s where he found them. The man was about six feet tall, and the woman whose neck he had hold of, was about five foot nothing, and looked terrified. “John, I swear, I don’t know who that guy was, he bumped into me, and excused himself, that’s all.” she pleaded “You’re nothing but a slut, he said, “I should have never even bothered to take you out tonight. You can’t keep your hands to yourself, is he the guy you’re screwing around on me with?” he yelled “I don’t even know him” she cried. He slapped her across the face. Hard “You lying tramp, don’t think you can lie to me” he yelled as he shoved her up against the brick of the building. She was bleeding from her lip, and her eye was swollen shut. “Well here’s the asshole of the evening.” Gabriel said The man turned to look at him. “Mind your own business friend, keep walking.” “Oh, I’m definitely not your friend, and I’m all done with my walk.” Gabriel said He man turned his attention away from the girl, and looked at him. “You got a problem buddy?” he yelled. Gabriel looked at the girl “Get out of here.” he said sternly The girl looked at him blankly “I said, go. Go home. Now.” he told her The girl started to move, and the man grabbed her arm “I’m not done with you yet, slut.” he said to her “Oh, you’re done alright “Gabriel said Gabriel grabbed the man by his neck and lifted him a good two feet off the ground. He turned back to the girl, “I said, go home.” She ran like her life depended on it. It was just Gabriel and the man now. “So, you like hitting women do you?” he asked “That was none of your business.” the man said, he reeked of alcohol “Well, I made it my business” Gabriel said The man swung at Gabriel, trying to punch him in the face, but he ducked, holding the man, still off the ground with one hand, and punched him in the gut with the other. He let go and the man fell to the ground, gasping. “You assholes are all the same, you get drunk, and think everyone is against you, that’s when the real you comes out. You smack your girl around just because of your own insecurities.” “You don’t know what you’re talking about buddy.” the man said as he got to his feet and swung at Gabriel again. “Oh I know exactly what I’m talking about, and you’re not going to do that again. To her, or anyone else.” he said The man lunged for him, that’s when he wrapped his arm around the man’s neck and pulled him to the ground. He could hear the man’s heart pounding, it made his throat burn, and his gums ache. No more playing. He held the man in a headlock and as he gasped for air, Gabriel placed one huge hand on the side of his head and the other on his shoulder. His fangs protruded from his gums in agony, as he sunk them into the man’s neck. He gulped, as the hot fluid came into his mouth in waves, quickly at first, then slowing, as the man’s heartbeat slowed. It was ultimate satisfaction. It calmed every urge in his body, it soothed the burn in his throat. It quieted the beast. He dragged the man over to the dumpster in the rear of the lot, hoisted him up, and tossed him in. “Good riddance to bad rubbish.” he said CHAPTER 3 Amelia woke up with a pounding headache "Aghhh, I think I had too much fun last night, “Hey Sara,” she called, “do you have any aspirin?" "Already on the way rock star," Sara said as she walked over to Amelia’s bedside with aspirin and a glass of water. "You're a lifesaver Sara, thanks," she said as she took the glass and pills from her friend’s hand. "Have fun last night?" Sara asked "Definitely." She answered "Now I gotta get my ass moving or I'm gonna be late." As she dashed for the bathroom to get ready, she put her hand to her neck. "Oh my god" she cried, my necklace is gone." she frantically searched her bed, the floor and her clothes from the night before and came up empty. "Oh man, I must've lost it at the club, I'll never get it back." she moaned. She hustled and was out the door in ten minutes, she had never been late, or missed a day of work. She loved her job, the pay didn't suck, and she got to spend time in one of her favorite places. The library. It was a secondary on campus library, not so much for text books, more for research and reference, and it was enormous. Her home away from dorm. As she made her way inside the huge marble building, there were several students, but mostly professors and researcher types lounging on the various couches, at tables amongst piles of books, most of them taking notes or photocopying pages. A typical day at the Fortress, which the library had been nick named years ago by students due to its massive size and being built of marble. During Hurricane warnings, this was the evacuation/safe place that the entire campus and also locals fled to wait out the storm. "Good morning Mrs. Jones" she greeted the head librarian. "Oh good morning Amelia, how are you today?" "I'm well thanks," She replied "That's good, because I have a ton of books that need to be gone through to be retired. I know you love research, so any that you come across that you'd like to take home, you may. All others need to be scanned and cataloged into the system, then brought to research three." "Okay Mrs. Jones, I'm on it" she grinned Hours had gone by when she looked at the time and realized that she had missed her lunch break. Since she was working there, not for school credit, but as an actual job, she was allotted an hour lunch, so she hopped in her SUV and headed off campus for a quick bite, she was famished. Being in a coastal town, especially as the weather was breaking, could be kind of hectic, but she missed most of the traffic and pulled up at her favorite lunch spot, Ms Muffit's. A chicken Caesar salad was in order. She placed her order and sat at a table by the window, and pulled out her laptop. After ten minutes of browsing Face book and her email, her lunch arrived. She ate slowly as she looked out the window at the passersby, families taking pictures next to the giant lobster, kids running through the common across the street. It really was a picturesque little town. She twirled a lock of her hair between her fingers as she zoned, looking out the window. That's' when she saw him. It was the guy from the club. He was sitting on a bench in the common, looking right at her. After his snack in the bar parking lot, Gabriel decided to go for a walk. His mind felt too full. When he felt that way, walking usually seemed to help. He pulled into the dirt parking lot at the closest beach entrance and killed the engine. He sat for several moments staring out at the black of the ocean, then pulled the moonstone from his pocket. Staring at it in disbelief, it felt so good to have it in his hands again. His mind drifted back to 1540, when his mother first gave it to him, it was about five years after he had been cursed. His mother knew some very powerful people, and she had her most prized possession, this necklace, spelled. To protect her only son during his travels, which she knew would be extensive, due to his recent condition. His mother knew what he had turned into, she still loved him just the same, for he was still the same wonderful man she had raised him to be. He wasn't crazed or violent like the others. She knew he would outlive her, and probably everyone he knew, so she had the stone spelled by an ancient seer that she had befriended in her childhood. She prayed that someday the spell would take effect and end the misery and loneliness that she knew he would endure, but it could take his entire unfathomable life span for it to happen. She also had it spelled with her love and wisdom, to comfort and guide him always. He never took it off. From the day that she gave it to him, he wore it every day, all the time. But after being stolen from him, by his then love, Caroline, in the 1600s, he never saw it again. He missed it. He missed his mother. Even after 400 years. She was the most beautiful, intelligent, brave, caring person he had ever known. Still. He slipped it back into his pocket and got out of the car. He headed towards the sand with the intention of going for that walk he felt he so needed, but instead, he chose to sit. He sat and listened to the ocean for hours. It soothed him. The smell of the fresh salt air rejuvenated him. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, let his thoughts wander. They led him back to the club. Back to the girl. He couldn't seem to get this girl off his mind. It had been a long time since he had a girl on his mind. Why her? Why now? Why did he feel as if he knew her? But thinking about a girl, would do him no good. He blamed it on the curse, meant to make him suffer, and worse yet, starve. Women instinctively shied away from him. They would only ever speak to him for a few moments before their fight or flight response kicked in. Flight was the usual choice. In these modern times, they were much more polite about it, but that still did no good for his ego, or his hunger. The sun rose as he sat there on the beach, Teenagers began showing up, trying to catch a wave, then families with small children came, bringing their picnics and hoodies. It was nice enough to be out, but not quite. Being in the Northeast, folks tended to get cabin fever during the long, cold winters, so as soon as the temperature rose, even a bit, they were out and about trying to take full advantage. He decided to go into town and get something to eat. Actual food that is. He loved food, it just never satisfied him, it did nothing to quell his true hunger. His levels were too low, more often than not. But he craved a sandwich just the same. He came into town just as the lunch rush was beginning, so he decided to wait it out on a bench in the common. He took his journal from his coat pocket and began to write. Another thing he did to keep himself sane. He wrote. Not all the time, but when he had occasion to put something of interest on the pages. This was one such day. He wrote for a while then paused, and looked around. His eyes fell upon the very spot where he would get his sandwich. In the window he saw long auburn hair with a streak of pink running through it. He knew that hair. That’s when she turned her head, and looked right at him. She felt her face flush, her heart rate definitely rose, she didn’t understand. She nearly choked on her salad. “My god, he’s beautiful.” she said aloud to herself She put her hand to her neck, and again noticed the absence of her necklace. She missed it already. “Focus” she thought. “What if he comes in here?” “What if he doesn’t come in here?” “What should I do?” She had never been bold when it came to approaching guys, but she had never seen a guy like this one. “Screw it.” she said as she began to gather her things. She left a few bills on the table and made her way outside. She stepped onto the sidewalk, slung her bag over her shoulder and raised her hand to shield her eyes from the sun. He was gone. “Oh what the hell.” She complained. She got into her SUV and headed back to the library. She moved through the rest of her day without thinking. She was in a daze and didn’t even realize it until Mrs. Jones came to find her in research room three. “Amelia, she asked, “are you going to work straight through till Monday?” She looked up from a book to see Mrs. Jones standing in the doorway. “What do you mean?” she asked “What I mean is, that its five forty five on a beautiful Friday evening, and you still have your head stuck in these old musty dusties. Isn’t it time you pack it in for the day?” she questioned “Wow, I guess you’re right, I didn’t even realize the time. Lost in my work I suppose.” Amelia said “Well you work too hard, go get lost in some fun, I’ll see you on Monday.” Mrs. Jones smiled. “Sure thing Mrs. J, I’m just gonna finish up these last few books, then I’m outta here.” she promised “Okay then, just be sure to lock up when you leave. I have a date with Professor Thomas.” she beamed. “That’s fantastic,” Amelia said, “have a wonderful time, and I will see you on Monday” Mrs. Jones said goodbye and left Amelia to finish up. Amelia entered the information for the last few books into the system and was jotting down a few notes when she noticed a book with a binding unlike the others, it seemed even older than the rest, if that was even possible. She picked it up and turned it over to the front cover. Looking back at her was a beautiful woman, she looked to be from the renaissance period. Most of her jet black hair tucked up into a cap of some kind, with the rest freely falling to her waist. Her dress a reddish color, adorned with silver and gold, and at the hollow of her throat, a moonstone necklace. Not just any moonstone, HER moonstone. “That can’t be” she whispered. But there was no mistaking the size and shape of the stone, or the bed of fine silver it lay upon. She stared at the woman, at the necklace. The book had no title and seemed to be written in a language that she had not seen, even in all of her reading, cataloging and such. She decided that this book was going to be one that she kept for herself. Most definitely. When her amber eyes met his, he felt himself warm, his skin started to glisten, his breaths grew soft and shallow. He couldn’t look away, even though he wanted to. It was a perplexing feeling. He felt like if he didn’t look away, she would know everything, every secret his centuries old mind held, like, his very soul was showing. As soon as she looked away from him, he got up from the bench and disappeared. Back in his car, he got his cell phone out of the glove box and dialed Rob. His groggy voice came on the other end “Dude, it’s like two o’clock in the afternoon, what the hell?” “Get up, get dressed, and meet me at my place.” He said “Why, what’s up? Everything okay?” “I’m not sure. See you in twenty.” He got up to open the door when he heard Rob’s car pull in “Okay man, I’m here, what’s goin on? “Like I said, I’m really not sure. I’m having a real hard time here, I don’t know what’s happening.” He offered. “Okay, well tell me what happened.” “I was sitting in the common, I had been writing in my journal, when I kinda zoned out a little, and I was just looking around and I saw her. “Saw who?” “The girl from the club.” “What girl? What club? What the hell are you talking about?” Rob asked He remembered that he had kept to himself the details of the previous evening, he started, “Last night, I saw this girl, and I .. I um.. I feel like I know her somehow. She was so beautiful, I was watching her dance, and I got this feeling, like she knew me too, it was strange and it kind of made me curious about her.” “Oh my hell, has Gabriel Alexander finally found himself a co ed cutie?” “No.” he snapped “Must you always be such a tool? Everything isn’t about getting drunk, laid or fed you know.” “Woah, dude, sorry, why so touchy? Who’s the girl?” “I don’t know who she is, but I have seen her three times in total and two of them had Me practically gasping for breath” he explained “What do you mean, ‘gasping for breath‘?” “I mean, we looked at each other, and all of a sudden I started to sweat, lost focus, I felt something foreign come over me, something I have never experienced before. I felt light headed, I was unsure of my own thoughts. It was beyond unnerving.” he explained “Wow, dude. I have no idea what to say right now.” Rob stammered “Maybe it was love at first sight or something.” he offered First of all, be reasonable Robert. I am not some pimple faced pubescent, seeing a female look at me for the first time. Secondly, I can’t get close enough to a woman to, well, to do anything actually. Then all but run screaming. She looked away when I looked at her.” he argued “So as I said, I have no clue what is happening to me, but it makes me feel as if I want to crawl into a hole and stay there, and just close my eyes, and stay there.” he said “Shit, dude, this isn’t good, this is not good. Rob worried “This is not the Gabriel Alexander I know. “Do you feel okay right now?” “Yeah, it only happened when I saw the girl.” “Okay, well, the way I see it, you have two options. Option one, steer clear of her. You never saw her before the other night, what’s saying you have to ever see her again, right?” Rob reasoned “Okay, and what’s option two?’ he asked “Option two my friend, is that the next time you see her, you pull yourself together, and approach her. Say hello to her, ask her name, you know, the usual.” “All that may be the usual for you Rob, but you know that just isn’t a scenario I can ever see happening and you know it.” “Well like I said, those are the only two ways I can see this playing out. As far as the whole, stuttering, sweaty, dork that seems to come out of you when you see her, I don’t know man, It sounds to me like you just need to get a hold of yourself.” Rob concluded “If it was that simple“, Gabriel snapped,” I would not be standing here discussing this with you.” For the next two weeks, she went to work, came home, and went to work again. She was working on the books that needed to be retired and it was never ending. She hadn’t even looked at the book with her necklace on the cover. She needed to take a break, so she called J to see if he wanted to meet up for lunch. Of course he did, they hadn’t spoken much in the last week or so. They met at Ms. Muffit’s, they had such a way with Caesar salads that she almost never had lunch anywhere else. She was already at a table when J came in. “Hiya, Sweets” he greeted her “Hi J, “she got up and kissed him on the cheek,” what’s happenin?” “Not too much girl, just went and got my eye brows done, am I gorgeous or what?” he batted his eyes at her. “Most definitely” she assured him “So, salads?” he asked “Again, most definitely” she smiled Over their salads, she told him about the guy from that night at the club a couple of weeks ago, and the day at the common as well. “How could you not have told me this Mel?” he exclaimed “It didn’t really seem that there was anything to tell” she said “Nothing to tell? Nothing to tell? You spot a hottie in the club, feel some weird Deja vu, You were actually about to go and speak to this man, but he mysteriously disappears, and you say there‘s nothing to tell? Girl, we are now an official mission to find this man.” he said excitedly “No, no mission J. This guy is, I don’t even know, I’m not going to try to hunt him down like a crazy stalker chick.” she said “This guy is what exactly?” J asked, as he crossed his legs and rested his chin on his hand, like he was ready to hear some juicy gossip. “He is, absolutely gorgeous, like six-two, long dark hair, intense eyes, probably new around here, as I have seen him in two of our regular spots, but have never seen him before a few weeks ago. Also a stranger, who is probably married, or crazy, or both.” “Wow Mel, that’s pretty harsh. All we really know is that you saw this man, and felt all topsy turvey.” “Which really amounts to zero.” she said “Okay, so let’s just say, for argument sake, that he ends up being single and sane, two of the biggest prerequisites are already out of the way. I say we track him down and she what’s the what.” he decided “Okay, I counter with this, next time we go to Club Gold, we scope it out. If he’s there, well, we will come up with a plan then.” “No, no, no, you don’t wait till the last minute for a plan. We have to decide what you’re going to do if we see him.” “Oh J, you’re killin me”, she complained “How’s this plan supposed to work, without a plan?” he questioned “Okay J, what’s the plan?” she conceded “Here’s what we’ll do, when we spot him, all you have to do, is walk over to him and say hello.” “Really? That’s your plan? I walk over and say hello?” she questioned “What else is there to do? You’re a normal girl, he’s probably a normal guy, just say hello, it’s not that hard. How do you think I have met all the hotties I know?” He smiled “Say hello on what premise? That I’m into just going up to random people and saying hi?” “Yes, that’s how it’s done. That’s how we meet people, make friends, etc. so, it’s Friday, and we’re hittin Club Gold tonight. So after work, go home, get even more gorgeous, and I will pick you up at nine. “Okay. I guess it’s an official plan.” she said They chatted some more as they finished up their lunches. She finished out the rest of her day, antsy and nervous at the prospect of having to go up to this guy if he happened to be there. Then on the way home after work, she decided that she shouldn’t worry, he probably won’t be there, he was more than likely just a tourist anyway. Even though tourist season was just beginning. Gabriel considered Rob’s two options. So far, he hadn’t needed to really do anything except stay out of the commons, and Club Gold, which was an easy task. Rob stopped asking him to go to the club after about a week, he knew he didn’t like that place anyway. His cell rang, he leaned across the couch to grab it, it was Rob. “Hey man, what’s up?” Rob asked “Not too much” he replied. Just relaxing, what’s up with you?” “Same ol’ same ol’, you know me. “Rob grinned into the receiver. “Whatchya got goin on on this fine Friday evening?” “Probably heading downtown at some point” he said “Dude, you still eating down there? You need to break that habit.” “Rob, I’m not having this discussion, I’m not in the mood.” “Okay grumpy pants, come pick me up, we’ll go to Gold.” “You know I’m over that place.” he said “I know, but it’s been weeks, let’s just drop in for a while and see what’s happening.” “Fine, he conceded. I’ll pick you up at nine.” “Okay sunshine, see you then.” Rob said They pulled up to Club Gold just after nine. Gabriel parked in his usual spot, on the side street next to the club. “Okay,” he said “let’s get this over with” “Now is that any kind of attitude to have?” how ‘bout some positivity?” Rob asked excitedly “How ‘bout that I’m positive this is going to suck?” he challenged “It will not suck. Trust me.” Rob persisted “Famous last words” Gabriel muttered as he got out of the car. Once inside, they made their way to the back bar. It was less crowded than the one in the front of the club. Rob ordered two beers and handed one to Gabriel. “So, let’s just relax, and have a few drinks, and see what kind of action is happening in here.” Rob said “Two hours, then I’m gone.” Gabriel said “Fine by me. Let’s go shoot a game of pool. Loser buys next round.” Rob challenged Gabriel grinned, “Oh, you’re on.” Once they had played down to the eight ball, it was Gabriel’s shot. “Okay Rob, this puppies’ goin in the left corner pocket.” “That’s a shot I’d like to see. “ Rob said “And you’re about to.” Gabriel laughed. He leaned down, lined it up, and drew the cue back to make the shot. He raised his eyes slightly, and beyond the surface of the table he saw a glorious sight. It was Her. She was with the same guy that she was with when he last saw her here. As the door closed behind her, the outside air came in and was pushed full force, right towards him. He closed his eyes, as amber, sunshine, and spring rain invaded his senses. “That was her I smelled that night. Her boy pal too, I guess he’s just a friend.” “Who? What? It’s her? She’s here? Where?” Rob begged “Yeah, that’s her, just walked in with the guy in the red shirt.” Gabriel replied “Wow. She’s really beautiful.” he realized “Indeed, my man. You better seal that deal, or I will. Dayum.” Rob declared Gabriel slammed his pool stick down on the table and turned to Rob. “You will not touch a hair on her head, or you will answer to Me.” he growled “Dude, you don’t even know this chick.” Rob brushed it off “Did you not hear me the first time I spoke?” he said through gritted teeth. “Okay man, sorry. I won’t touch her.” Rob surrendered, hands up. “You’re damn right you won’t.” He confirmed He watched her and her friend pause by the bar for a moment, then she headed to a back table, alone. “There’s your chance dude, go on over.” Rob encouraged “Calm down Robert, I’m in no hurry to have her run screaming from the premises, besides, look at her. I wouldn’t mind just a few moments to enjoy watching her.” he said “Let’s just get a pitcher and head to a back table.” Amelia said, “Great minds.” J smiled “I’ll grab the beer, you grab the table, and I’ll be right there.” he said She made her way to the back of the once again, crowded club, and lucky for her, found an empty table. Most people were dancing, playing pool, or just walking around. She took the pony tail out of her hair and shook it out with her hands, she felt as though her long hair falling on both sides of her face was protective. Like it would shelter her if need be, J showed up with a pitcher and two frosted mugs. “Pullin out all the stops tonight I see.” she joked “My Lady indeed, deserves a frosted mug.” he smiled, as he poured them each a drink They each took a sip of the ice cold beer “Mmm, delicious” she said “The colder the better.” J offered “Okay, so we’re here, now what?” she asked “Now, we wait.” “That’s your big plan? We wait? Wait for what exactly?” she asked “We wait to see if your mystery man shows up.” he explained “And if he does?” “Then we move into operation, “Say Hello”.” He said “Why did I let you talk me into this?” “Because you’re dying to know who this guy is, that’s why.” J said “I suppose you’re right.” she agreed “You know I’m right,” J corrected “and I’m dying to see the man that’s got my girl here all flustered.” J teased “I am not flustered.” She argued “Uh huh, anyway,” J said as he looked around the club. “Did you say he’s about six- two, long dark hair? Biker type dude?” “Yeah, well not biker dude per se, but definitely potentially biker-ish.” she corrected “Well in that case girlfriend, it’s time for Operation Say Hello to commence.” J said excitedly “Uh, what?” she asked “You see him? How do you know it’s him? Where?” she asked nervously “Based on your description, and the fact that we have never seen him here before, I would say that the hotness located at the third pool table, is your guy.” Gabriel watched her sit down at the table, she sat her purse by her side, then reached up behind her, and released her hair. She shook her hands through the auburn and pink locks, letting it hang down freely. He felt his stomach tighten, and his skin temperature change. Her friend joined her and poured their drinks, they looked to be chatting happily. It made HIM feel happy himself, regardless of the strange happenings to his body and mind at the moment. “Ok dude, you just gonna stare at her all night or what? Get your ass over there and see what happens.” Rob encouraged “I’m not ready for her to run away just yet, gimme a few minutes, damnit.” He said “Okay, but remember, he who snoozes, loses.” Rob informed him “I already told you Robert, you will not touch her.” he warned “I know, dude, chill. That’s not what I meant. Some other dude, might.” “Like hell.’ Gabriel growled And with that, he walked away from Rob, and their game. He was headed straight for Her table. He would not allow some other man to, he didn’t even want to think it. He had a warrior’s courage, and now he would use it. If she runs, she runs, he would at the very least watch over her, protect her. But if she doesn’t run…oh my, what a different story that could be. Now or never. “Oh my god, he’s headed this way” J whispered to Amelia “Please tell me you’re kidding.” she said nervously “Not even a little, ETA ten seconds girl. “Ok Mel, just breathe, breathe, it’s just a guy.” she said “Please don’t get up, please don’t get up, please don’t run,” Gabriel begged her in his mind He made his way to her table, and very calmly, very coolly, said “Hello, I’m so sorry to intrude on your evening, but I simply must know the name of the girl with the beautiful hair.” His voice was deep, but had a smoothness to it, it was almost comforting. It was a great voice she decided. She turned to look at him “And a beautiful face as well.” he said “Amelia” she blushed “My name is Amelia.” “Well, hello Amelia, my name is Gabriel, Gabriel Alexander.” he offered “Oh my hell, she’s still sitting here, she hasn’t gotten up yet. I can’t believe this” he thought “Well it’s very nice to meet you,” she said, “This is my friend J” J held out his hand to Gabriel, they shook hands “Nice to meet you, man.” he said You too.” Gabriel said “So, as I said, your hair, is unbelievably beautiful, honestly, it’s not a line or anything” “Thank you,” she said “I actually get complimented on it a lot.” She felt her stomach flip, her hands shook just enough for her to notice. “But it could still be a line.” she joked “I assure you, it is not. Although I am curious about the pink.” he said The short answer is, I just love that splash of color, and it’s something most people around here don’t have, that’s all.” she offered “Well it really suits you.” he said She blushed again, “Thanks” “Amelia, I have to ask you, have we ever met before? I’m sure I would remember if we did, but you seem so familiar to me.” he asked “Now that’s a line,” she laughed “Truth be told, you look very familiar to me too. But I don’t know why.” “Sit down, sit down, sit down, she thought, please sit down” She felt butterflies swirling like mad in her stomach. “It does sound like a line, doesn’t it?” He smiled “But I truly feel as though we have spoken before.” he insisted “If we had met before, I would remember it too.” she said “Well, now we have.” he smiled at her. “We have.” she smiled back J gave her an asking look, she nodded slightly, almost imperceptibly “Well it was very nice to have met you both.” Gabriel said “but I should- “I’m actually about to get going” J interrupted “wanna sit? And keep my girl here company?” Gabriel knew that Rob was either watching this unfold, or he was chasing chicks, either way, he wouldn’t miss him. “I’d love to, as long as you don’t mind, Amelia.” he said “Oh no, not at all, have a seat” she said, as she scooted over to make room “shit, what do I do? is she scooting from me, or for me? Shit, I don’t know what to do.” he thought J hadn’t moved to leave yet, so he figured she scooted to make a spot for him to occupy. So he did. Holy hell, he was sitting next to a woman, he was sitting next to HER. His heart was nearly pounding from his chest, he felt that light headedness again. Her heart rate increased as he sat down, he could hear it. “Well kids, it’s been fun, but I have got to get goin, there’s a hottie at the front bar that I simply must speak to. Good to meet you Gabriel, “Same here” Gabriel said as they shook hands once more. “Mel, text me when you’re ready to go home.” “Will do sweets.” she promised They kissed and hugged goodbye, and J left them alone at the table. Gabriel felt the moonstone warm in his jeans pocket. “What the hell is causing that to happen?” he pondered. It had never happened before. He had to get to the bottom of this whole necklace issue, but he didn’t want it away from him, ever again. Besides, there were way more pressing issues at hand. “Well, she thought,” this is it. He is sitting right next to me. Now or never.” “So are you here on vacation?” she asked “No, actually I moved to the area about a year ago.” he answered “Oh, she said, “I’m surprised I haven’t seen you around before, small towns, ya know?” she laughed “Yes, I don’t get out much, except when my buddy Rob drags me along, we were just shooting some pool when I saw you, and you looked so familiar, I decided that I should come over and say hello and introduce myself.” “Well, I’m glad you did,” she smiled “Drink?” she offered “Please, he said as he held out his glass. “So. That wasn’t a line? You really thought I looked familiar?’ she asked “Truly.” he replied He felt his breathing getting shallow, he was about to break out in a sweat, but he forced himself to reign it in. He could not blow this. She wasn’t afraid of him. She was talking, to him, smiling, with him. He could hardly believe it. Her hand shook as she poured the beer into his glass, reminding herself to chill out, she quickly set the pitcher down. He felt the necklace in his pocket growing warm, he hoped it wouldn’t get any worse. He wanted to sit here with here her for as long as possible. “So Amelia, tell me, what do you enjoy?” “Hmm, what do I enjoy?” She mused. I enjoy the beach, of course, otherwise I wouldn’t last long in this town” she laughed. I love to read, I love books, I even work with books.” she explained “Oh really? What type of work do you do?” he asked “I work at The Fortress.” she answered “Fortress?” he asked, puzzled. “Oh, sorry, that’s what the folks around here call it. It’s an on campus library, very old, and very sturdy, it doubles as a shelter when big storms come in, hence the name.” “Oh, I see, makes sense. So, beach and books huh?” “Yup, and hanging out with my homeboy J of course, he’s my best friend, and you?” she asked “Well, I too, enjoy the beach. I also read quite a bit. I like to travel. And I really am somewhat of a movie buff.” “Me too.” she smiled “What kind of movies do you like?” she asked “Oh everything. My favorites are action movies though, horror, sci-fi, as long as it doesn’t suck, I’m in.” he smiled “Me too.” she smiled back “Okay, favorite action movie? He asked “It’s a toss-up between any of the Fast and Furious movies, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. How about you?” she replied “Interesting“…he mused “Favorite action movie? Easy. Terminator. “Yeah, Terminator is good stuff.” she agreed “Do you like horror as well?” he asked “Absolutely.” she answered “Favorite?’ he asked “Dracula. Although I don’t really consider it horror. You?” Good Hell, Dracula? Of all things? He thought to himself “I like the Scream movies. He answered, it’s never what you think, and I like that.” “Good choice.” she smiled “Refill?” She asked “No, thank you, I’m driving tonight.” he explained “Responsible too,” she smiled as she poured herself another. “So where’s your friend?’ she asked “Good question.” he said as he looked around for Rob, who he found cozied up to a redhead in a corner by the pool tables. “That’s him, over there with the girl in the corner.” he pointed “They look cozy, is that his girlfriend?” she asked “Definitely not.” he laughed “What’s funny? she asked “Rob is definitely not a girlfriend type of guy.” he explained “Oh, I see, and what type of guy are you?” she challenged “I don’t think I have ever been asked that question,’ he replied “but let me try to answer. I am not the type of guy who canoodles with every girl he can. Actually, I don’t canoodle with anyone. I have been alone for a very long time. But if I am with a woman, I will be with her, and only her. My word is my bond, I like to experience new things, I’m kind of old fashioned, and I think I may also be a bit shy.” “So, no wife, no girlfriends?” she asked “No. No wife, no girlfriends.” he answered almost sadly “Me either.” she said “So, Responsible, Honorable, old fashioned, and single.?” “That’s me.” “How is that possible? You do like women, right?” “Yes, I like women.” he chuckled He smiled at her. He couldn’t believe this was happening. “I’m surprised at that” he said, “a beautiful, intelligent woman like yourself, no boyfriend, not married, or at least close to it.” “Well I did have a boyfriend, but that ended over nine months ago.” she said “Was it serious?” he asked “I’m sorry, I’m prying, you don’t have to answer that.” “No, it’s okay, really, you’re not prying, just friendly conversation. No, it wasn’t very serious. I just kept trying. I guess that’s what I do.” “How do you mean?” he asked “I think I always try to see the best in people, give them more chances than they will ever deserve.” “But that’s sounds like a good thing, gracious even.” he replied “Yeah, but sometimes I try too hard, give too much.” “I think that’s part of what makes you human, you’re saying it like it’s a bad thing.” “Sometimes it is.” she replied He pondered this for a moment as he sipped his beer. Someone must have hurt her. Used her love against her, turned her optimistic heart into something they could use to their own benefit. The thought of it made his blood scream for vengeance. How could anyone ever hurt this wonderful, beautiful creature? He fought to regain some of his composure. He couldn’t blow this, he had to chill. He had to spend more time with her. As much as he could before her instincts kicked in and she ran screaming from him. “Amelia, please forgive me for being so forward, but I would very much like to spend some time with you in the near future. A movie, perhaps?” he ventured Her heart wanted to leap from her chest, she knew she was doing more than just perspiring at this point. “That would be great.” she beamed “let me see your phone, I’ll put my number in it for you.” “Great, here ya go,” he handed his phone to her. As she reached for it, it seemed as though time slowed. The closer her hand got to his, the more it slowed. As she took it from his hand, her skin grazed his. There was a millisecond of what looked like a flash of pink electricity. They both jumped, looking at each other, in shock. This was more than dry air static. This was definitely something much more. “What the hell was that?” she stammered “I have no idea.” he offered “I’ve never seen anything like it, it didn’t feel like normal static either.” he said “Wow. I have never seen anything like that in my life.” she said in amazement “What do you think caused it?” “I don’t know They both sat in astonishment for a moment. Both breathing heavily, obviously flushed. “Should we see if it happens a second time?’ she asked “It didn’t hurt you did it?” he asked hopefully “No, not at all.” she confirmed “What the hell, why not” he replied “slowly.” he instructed Very slowly, they each placed a hand on the table, and ever so slowly, moved them toward one another. Their pinkies were about an inch apart, and it happened again. Pink electricity. A small arc passing between them. It didn’t hurt, so they both looked at it, and each other in amazement. She pulled away first, completely flustered. “That is the single most amazing thing I have ever seen in my life.” she stated “Same here” he said, “and I’ve seen a lot.” She picked his phone up from the table and entered her information and clicked save, placed it back on the table and said,” There ya go, all my contact info is in your phone now.” He grabbed his phone and searched for her entry. “Top of the list.” he noted, as he smiled at her. He had a great smile. Wow. A great smile. The kind of smile that made you momentarily forget your own name, she decided. She spotted Rob on his way over to their table He sauntered up and said” Well, hello pretty lady who has stolen my pool partner,” “Hi, sorry,” she offered Gabriel threw him a glare and Rob’s smile softened “I’m so sorry to have kept you Gabriel, I’ll let you get back to your game.” she said “I promise you, you are keeping me from nothing.” he said as he looked her in the eye Again, he felt the necklace warm in his pocket. He noticed her pupils dilate. That’s when he knew. He knew this woman would not run from him. He was absolutely elated. “I should actually get going, it’s getting late and I have work in the morning.” she said “Please, allow me to walk you to your car.” he offered “Oh crap, I don’t have my car here. J drove me.” “I can drive you.” he said, “no problem, I have to drop Rob off anyway.” “Uh, dude, no need.” Rob interjected. Gabriel looked at him with an inquiring raised eyebrow. “Yeah, Red over there is taking me to a party. You guys wanna come with?” he asked “I’d love to, but I was just telling Gabriel, that I have work in the morning.” she offered “On a Saturday?” Rob asked “Oh my god, what an airhead I am, I completely forgot that tomorrow is Saturday.” she laughed They all laughed then. “But really, It’s getting a bit late for me, I think I’ll pass on the party. Thank you so much for the offer though, it was nice of you.” she said “My pleasure. Any friend of Gabriel’s.” he said “Okay dude, I’m outta here, I’ll catch up with you tomorrow, cool?” “Yeah, tomorrow. Behave yourself.” Gabriel said “Don’t I always?” Rob waggled his eyebrows “Later, nice to meet you Amelia.” “Same here, have a good night.” she called after him “He’s a character, isn’t he?’ she said, as she watched Rob walk off. “You have no idea.” Gabriel replied with an exhausted sigh. “So, are you sure you don’t mind driving me?” she questioned “It will be my pleasure.” he confirmed “Ready?” “Sure, let’s go.” she said They made their way out of the crowded club out into the humid night air. It was as quiet outside as it was noisy inside. Almost momentarily deafening. The rain had stopped altogether, all that was left was a heavy fog. “My ride’s this way.” he motioned As they turned the corner around the side of the building, she saw his car. “This is your car?” she asked “Yes, why, what’s wrong?” “Oh, nothing at all,” she assured him. I saw it parked here once before. It’s beautiful.” “And she appreciates American muscle.” he smiled “My dad was always working on something in our garage when I was growing up, so I guess I kinda have a soft spot.” she confided “That must have been the night I first saw you” he confessed “Huh?” she mumbled, not knowing what to say He walked to the passenger side and opened the door for her. She stood there and just looked at him for a quick second before she slid into the leather seat. He closed her door and took his time walking around the car. She could swear she saw him talking to himself smiling. She didn’t even care if he looked crazy doing it, she was kinda doing the same thing herself. He got in and closed his door. “You drive a black SUV right?” he asked “Yeah, how did you know that?’ she asked “I saw you and J walking to your truck the night that I was here, had to be the same night you noticed my car.” he explained “You were parked directly across from where we are right now.” “Oh yeah, I was. Small world, she mused Okay, he had absolute confirmation that she was the one who dropped the necklace. He still had to figure out how she came by it. But again, there were more pressing issues at hand. “Okay, where to beautiful girl?” She blushed. “Just take Main to Virginia Ave.” she instructed “Okay, to Main Street.” he smiled as he turned the key and the engine roared to life. “Great car.” she smiled They drove off into the night. Once on Main Street, they drove in silence for a few minutes, passing all the small touristy shops, which were of course closed. They lined the main street like something out of a novel. Park benches lined the sidewalks, with small grassy areas with planted flowers beside each one. It really was a quaint little town. He hadn’t been in such close proximity to a female in so long, that he had almost forgotten the appropriate way to behave. “So, you saw me once before, huh?” she said “I did.” “Maybe that’s why you think I look familiar.” she laughed “You were familiar to me as soon as I Iaid eyes on you.” he replied seriously. “I saw you too.” she informs him. “Didn’t wanna know my name that night?” she joked “I did actually, but I saw you dancing with J and assumed you were a couple, and that’s not something I would ever infringe upon.” he explained “Where did you come from?” She laughed “What’s funny about that question?” he asked “I just mean, that most guys wouldn’t care if a girl was dancing with someone, they would approach her anyway.” “Well that’s just disrespectful. Actually, my friend Rob, he’s like that sometimes. He can be a real tool.” “I’m glad the company you keep hasn’t affected your good manners.” she grinned “As am I” he agreed, as he looked at her “Please don’t bring me straight home” she silently hoped “I know you said it was getting late for you, but since you don’t have to work tomorrow after all, would you maybe want to swing by the beach? We don’t have to stay long.“ he promised, hoping against hope that she would say yes. “It’s not enough that I let a strange man drive me from a club, but he now wants to stop off at a secondary location? Hmm, sounds fishy to me.” she teased. She felt safe with him. She almost trusted him. Maybe it was the electricity thing that they had shared, the familiarity, or maybe just the awesome vibe between them, but she was confident about how she felt. “Sure, I’ll go off to the beach with you in the middle of the night, she laughed, why not?” Elated, he looked at her. “Thank you.” he said quietly. She looked at him questioningly. “For deciding to trust me.” he said. They just smiled at each other. He turned his attention back to the road. “A little faster okay with you?” he asked “Most definitely.” she gave him a huge smile He dumped the clutch and they picked up speed. “I don’t know what I’m going to do if she keeps smiling at me like that“, he thought “That smile is gonna be the death of me.” she decided to herself. He headed to the same spot he went to the first night he saw her. They pulled into the dirt lot and he killed the engine. “I love this spot” she told him “I do too.” he smiled at her again “Would you like to walk a bit?” he asked “Sounds good.” she said as she bent down to remove her shoes “Gotta be barefoot though.” “Do I have to?” he asked “Of course, no one wants sand in their shoes, silly” she teased “Okay then, shoes off it is.” he agreed He removed his boots and socks, and got out. She was still unlacing her sandals, when he came around to her door. He looked at her through the glass. She turned to him and smiled. He smiled back at her as he saw his own reflection. He saw both of their faces, together in the glass. It made his heart soar like he never thought it could. He grabbed the handle and opened the door. “Thank you,” she said, “do you always do that?” she questioned “Do what?” he asked “Open doors for people.” “For a lady, yes, always.” he replied, puzzled at the question “I don’t know anyone who does that, besides J.” “Well then, you’re obviously not keeping the right kind of company. J aside. he concluded “Maybe I haven’t been.” she said as she took his outstretched hand to help her from her seat. The pink spark happened again, and the necklace burned in his pocket. He ignored his pocket as she got out of the car, their hands still touching. She stood in front of him, as they both looked at their hands, held up in front of their eyes. “What’s happening?” she asked, as they both studied the pink arc of light dance across their hands. “I don’t know,” he admitted, “but I think it’s amazing.” he smiled She looked at him, her face showing nothing, then she smiled too. “It is pretty amazing.” she agreed “it feels like feathers across my hand.” “It feels that way to me too.” he agreed As they stood there watching the pink light, he intertwined his fingers with hers, it wrapped around each of their fingers and then dissipated into their wrists. They looked at each other smiling. “Ready for that barefoot walk?” he asked “I am.” she smiled at him “Would it be okay with you if we kept our hands like this?” he inquired “It would be more than okay.” she said They walked in silence for a few minutes, as they made their way across the empty sand to the water’s edge. “So we both know what we enjoy, and about my work, how about yours?” she asked “My work? Very boring stuff.” he said “I somehow doubt that.” she countered “I deal in antiques. Mostly selling, and appraisals.” he said “That’s actually really interesting.” she said “You really think so? Or are you just being polite?” he asked “Yes, really. You must find it fascinating. All that history, the stories behind things.” she said dreamily. “Like the antiques show on TV?” he laughed “Yeah, kind of. Those people really just wanna know how much they can sell their pieces for. It sounds like what you do is different.” she pointed out “It is different, and I’m good at it. It’s been a family business, I have learned a lot through the years. Appraisals are my favorite part of it though.” “Why is that? “I just think it’s interesting. What people think they have sometimes, and other times, they have no idea what they have. I really like delivering good news to people who really need it. Like telling them that Aunt Edna’s antique hair barrette is actually over a hundred years old and worth more than they ever dreamed. That’s the cool part for me.” he explained “That’s really sweet.” she remarked “It is, it’s also fun to shut someone down when they think they’re the expert. Whether they’re just under educated on a topic, or they’re trying to run a scam.” “People really do that?” “All the time. It all comes crashing down when I point out one small forgotten detail.” he answered “Like what? Tell me.” she asked curiously “Okay, a writing desk for example. By a particular manufacturer, I might notice that it has three drawers on the left side instead of four. Three drawers means that it was manufactured in America sometime between 1840 and 1910. That particular type of desk only began having four drawers on the left hand side after 1910. Of course the older model is worth more money. People will have a carpenter forger recreate a desk to sell as an antique. But since the carpenter or his boss aren’t experts, they get details wrong, like how many drawers go on the left.” he smiled “How is that boring to you?” she wondered “It’s not really, I just thought you’d think it was.” he admitted “I don’t think I could find anything about you boring Gabriel.” she informed him “How about family? She asked “My family is mostly gone.” he answered “Rob is the closest thing I’ve got. We’ve been like brothers for most of our lives.” “I’m sorry.” she offered “What, about my family being gone, or that Rob is all I have?” he laughed She laughed too “You know what I mean.” she said as she nudged him with her shoulder “How about you? Family? Friends?” he questioned “Well, my parents died my freshman year, “ “Oh. I’m so sorry Amelia.” he interrupted “Thanks, its ok,” she continued “I had just started ninth grade- He interrupted her again, “Ninth grade? When you said freshman, I just assumed you meant college. Oh my god, how awful.” he said mournfully “Oh it was. It was a tragic, hot, mess. But you really don’t wanna hear my sob story, it’s not exactly a tale to win people over with.” she said “You’ve already won me over.” he said quietly, as he lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it. She blushed as the pink arc crossed his lips to her hand. “Please, continue, really. I want to hear.” he encouraged “Okay, if you really wanna hear it.” “I do.” “So it was the beginning of freshman year, Homecoming, actually. As I’m sure you’ve learned, the weather here can be crazy, and cold. Well that day we had a freak sleet storm. The roads were treacherous within an hour. I had been dying to streak my hair. My mother finally relented, and said she would get the pink hair color I had been wanting. The agreement was, that she would help me do it. We were always doing our hair together. So Dad left work early because of the weather, and he stopped to pick my mother up from her friend’s house, he had the four wheel drive. As they were coming home, she asked him to stop at the beauty supply store to get the pink color for me. He didn’t want to stop, it would cost them another twenty five minutes, but mom was excited to get my pink done for the Homecoming dance that night. So they stopped.” He was watching her and listening intently, his hand holding hers just a bit tighter than before. “When they left that store, they were pulling out of the parking lot onto the main road, when a plow truck smashed right into them. The plow driver didn’t have his headlights on, and with the sleet and some snow starting to come down, Dad didn’t see him. It was over in an instant, and my mom died on impact.” “Oh my god Amelia.” “It’s ok” she said, as tears threatened to overflow from her eyes. “I was at home, freaking out because they weren’t home yet and I only had an hour left to get ready for the dance. I was so mad. I called my mother’s cell phone, and when she didn’t pick up. I left her a message complaining that she was taking too long, and that I had to get ready etc.. As it turned out, the crash had already happened. I’m so glad she never heard that voicemail. So anyway, about five minutes after I left that message, the police came and knocked on my door and brought me to the hospital, where my dad was barely hanging on. They let me go in to see him. He told me about my mom. I freaked. I couldn’t process the information. My head was spinning, I felt nauseous, it was horrible. We had a brief conversation before he faded away. He told me how excited my mom was to help me with my pinks. After everything was said and done, I was given their personal affects. Hair color included. I went home that night and had a glass of wine with J and put the pinks in my hair. I’ve had them ever since.” “That’s amazing.” he said “What is?’ she asked “Your strength, your love for your parents, especially your mother, your commitment to your pinks, as you call them.” he smiled at her “Told you it was tragic, and a hot mess.” she said “Maybe your emotions about it are, but you, beautiful girl, are far from it. Thank you so very much for sharing that with me, I feel honored.” he said “Thanks for listening. It’s not a story I’ve told many times, maybe twice.” “Now I really feel special.” he beamed “Maybe you are.” she teased They continued to walk, and made their way to the water’s edge “Yikes, the water is definitely still too cold for a dip.” she laughed “Maybe we’ll have to come back again once it warms up.“ he said hopefully “Maybe.” she smiled “Do you spend a lot of time here?” he asked “Not nearly as much as I’d like, but I try to get down here at least once a week.” “That’s not a lot?” he asked “Not to me. “she said “There’s just something about the ocean. It’s restorative, healing power, the ebb and flow. The calmness of it, the hidden strength within, the constant dance it does with the moon. It all just resonates with me for some reason. Know what I mean?” she asked “Actually, I do.” he said “Although I don’t think I have ever heard it put so simply, and yet so eloquently.” he said “Well thank you kind sir.” she laughed “but it’s just the truth.” “Umm, I have a question for you.” he hesitated “Shoot.” “Well, I was wondering.. How about we come out here on the next full moon?” “That’s tomorrow night.” she informed him “How do you know that? It’s too overcast tonight to see the moon.” “I love the moon too.” she laughed “I don’t go out of my way to know, but I just always seem to know the moon’s cycles. I could be at home, studying, reading, whatever, then I get this urge to go outside and stand beneath the night sky, and every time, there she is. Full and as beautiful as ever. Bathing everything beneath her in a heavenly glow” she said He stopped walking, turned and looked her right in the eye. His stomach must have had bats in it. He had never felt so nervous. His heart was banging the inside of his chest. She stopped and looked back at him, he could sense that she was feeling just as overwhelmed as he was. “Oh my god, he’s gonna kiss me,” she thought He stepped into her ever so slightly, and reached to touch her cheek with his fingertips. The pink glow reached from her skin and jumped to each of his fingertips. They both jumped, startled. The light continued to glow between them. She closed her eyes and leaned into his hand. His heart felt as if it were going to burst from his chest as he stared at her in disbelief. She opened her eyes and looked up at him. “What’s wrong? Why are you looking at me like that?” she asked He brought his other hand to her face, the arc danced across her skin onto his fingers. “I just can’t believe that this is real.” “I know what you mean, it’s amazing. I wonder if we’ll ever figure out what’s causing it.” “I agree, but I wasn’t talking about the glow.” Her eyes widened as she looked at him, and he noticed her pupils dilate once again. Much to his surprise, he knew that if he kissed her right now, she would kiss him back. As much as he wanted that, he chose to save it. He didn’t want to scare her off. If this could really be something, he wanted to wait, wanted to be sure it was as real for her, as it was beginning to be for him. He had already waited hundreds of years. He could wait just a little longer .”So, tomorrow night then?” he asked “Without a doubt.” she breathed “Fantastic.” he smiled “and as much as I’d like to stand here on this beach with you until then, we should probably get you home so you can get some rest.” “Agreed.” she sighed “Race you to the car!” she squealed as she took off running. He laughed, this girl was amazing. He let her get a good head start, then he took off after her. He could have easily been to the car before she was even half way across the sand, but this was much more fun. They both reached the car at about the same time. “I so beat you!” she exclaimed laughing like crazy “By a second at best.” he told her They stood at the passenger side door laughing, catching their breath. He came to stand in front of her, pushing her hair from her face, as pink electricity spread across her skin, jumping to his. They both stopped laughing, and just stood there breathing heavily, looking into each other’s eyes. He wanted so badly to end his waiting. He could hear her heart racing, even though her breathing had slowed. He could feel his own heart racing. He leaned down and pressed his lips, ever so gently, to her cheek. He looked at her and said, “I am so glad I met you Amelia.” “I was thinking the same thing.” she said “The sooner we get to sleep. The sooner tomorrow will be here.” he said He opened her door, and helped her into the car. He took his time walking to his side. She buckled herself in. “What in the hell is happening?” she smiled to herself He got in and started the engine as he turned to smile at her. “Virginia Avenue?’ he asked “Virginia Avenue” she confirmed The ride was quiet, save the sound of the motor, which she loved listening to. They both seemed to be in their own heads a bit. “I am so glad that I went up to your table.” he said finally “So am I.” she agreed “I have very much enjoyed the time we’ve spent together this evening.” he told her “I look forward to tomorrow.” “Me too.” she smiled They pulled up in front of her dorm. “So why do you still live on campus? Just curious,” he asked “It’s cheaper and has better security than off-campus. Plus, I rent out my parents’ house for extra money” she explained “Security? You mean that guy sitting at the desk there?” he nodded toward the entry way “Yeah, it’s more than I could afford for security living elsewhere.” “Why the need?” I mean security systems are great and all, but why such a concern?” “Well,” she started “the short version is, that ex-boyfriend I mentioned, was an asshole who liked to smack me around, and a locked door never helped me.” He stared at her for a moment, swallowing the anger that was building up inside him. “Amelia, I have to tell you something.” he said seriously “What is it?” she asked “I will never. Ever. Allow anyone to hurt you. Do you understand?” She studied his face for a quick moment, surprised by his clear concern for her safety. She knew he was sincere. “I do. Thank you. But I don’t want my shitty past to ever be your problem.” she said “Never.” he repeated He reached out and took her hand in his. The pink glow moving across their knuckles, He leaned down and kissed the top of her hand. “May I call you tomorrow?” he asked “I’d be disappointed if you didn’t.” she replied smiling “Until then” he said “Goodnight, and thank you.” she said “No,” he corrected “thank you.” He waited for her to get safely inside the building before he drove away. CHAPTER 4 Once in her room, she closed the door and leaned up against it, just like in a cheesy movie. Sara was with Tommy on the weekends, so she had the place to herself. Good thing, she didn’t think she would be able to carry on much of a conversation after the evening she just had. Was this what being swept off your feet felt like? She wondered. She undressed, quickly showered and crawled into her bed. Hell knows why, she wasn’t gonna sleep tonight anyway, she thought as she noticed the bedside clock read 1:30am. Her phone vibrated. She leaned over to grab it, and saw a number she didn’t recognize. She answered it anyway. “Hello?” she said “Hi, um, it’s tomorrow now, am I calling too early?” Gabriel said “You’re right on time” she smiled into the phone “What are you doing?” he asked “Oh nothing, just showered and climbed into bed, but I have a feeling I’m not going to sleep” “Why is that?” he inquired “Oh, I’m just thinking about the fantastic time I had tonight.” “Same here.” he said “I was thinking,” she said “we really need to figure out the whole pink electricity thing.” “I agree. I’ve been a lot of places, seen a lot of things, and done more research than anyone I know, and I have never heard of anything like it.” he offered “We have the most comprehensive research department in the Northeast at The Fortress, maybe we could look for answers there.” she suggested “Sounds good, would it be okay if we got together a bit earlier, so we can stop by there?’ he asked “The Fortress is closed on Saturdays.” she informed him “Oh,” he said, sounding let down “So it’s a good thing I have a key.” she sang into the phone. “You are amazing.” he laughed “So what time are you gonna pick me up Sir?” she asked “I have a thought, how about brunch? Would you be up for that?” he asked “Totally, I know a great little place.” she said excitedly “So how about eleven? Is that too early, too late?” he asked “Eleven sounds great. Thanks again, for a wonderful night.” “The pleasure was all mine.” he said “Now get some sleep, eleven o’clock will come quickly.” Yeah, don’t I know it, you too.” she replied “Goodnight beautiful girl.” “Goodnight.” she sighed into the phone, before clicking it off A good night indeed she thought. Soon she drifted off to sleep, dreaming of the beach. He hung up the phone, and sat in silence for a moment. His heart was thrashing against his chest, he felt light headed, and the necklace threatened to burn a hole in his pocket. He took it out and held it for a brief moment before turning it over in his hand. The rainbows of color swirled on the stone’s surface like a hurricane. It was iridescent, almost glowing. He had never seen it do that, just like he had never felt it grow warm. This had to have something to do with Amelia. That was the only reasonable explanation. Just as Gabriel had predicted, eleven o’clock did come early, so did eight-thirty, which was what time she woke up. Nervous excitement she figured. She sat on her bed and lounged for a bit, catching up on emails, had a cup of coffee, and then got herself ready for the day. She wore pink capris with a white tee and a pair of silver sandals. She threw a hoodie in her bag, just as she heard a knock on her door. “Come on in” she called “Good morning beautiful girl.” he said as he walked into the room “Good morning to you.” she replied “How’d you know where my room was?” she questioned He’d simply followed her scent. “I asked a girl in the hall.” he stated “Oh, yeah, duh, couldn’t have been too hard.” she said, feeling silly for asking a question with such an obvious answer. “Nice room, lots of books.” he noted as he took a quick look around the space they stood in. “Always books.” she laughed “So, you all set to go?’ he asked “I am, let’s roll.” “After you” he motioned for her to walk through the doorway first. “Thank you kind sir.” she smiled as she walked past him. Downstairs, his car sat right in front of the doors to the lobby. “So, you just park her where ever you please huh?” she teased “you realize this is a no parking zone right?” “No, I hadn’t noticed.” he said mischievously They both laughed as he opened the car door for her. She slid into the leather seat, and it felt like home. She had only spent a brief amount of time in this spot, but somehow, it felt like it was hers. Her seat, her place beside him. It made her smile. They pulled up to MS. Muffit’s, and parked right in front. He got out and quickly made his way to the passenger side and opened her door for her. “Thank you” she said, as he took her hand and helped her out of the car. The pink spark happened once again, but they both just looked down at their hands and smiled. “I’ve had lunch here a few times.” he said, “really good food.” “I have lunch here at least three times a week” she admitted, “their Caesar salad is to die for.” “I’ll have to try that next time.” he said He opened the door to the café, but stood just close enough in the doorway, so she’d have to brush up against him to pass by. His heart would soon give out if it was going to behave this way every time he was near her. “Just have a seat anywhere you’d like” the waitress said “I’ll be right over to take your order.” They thanked her, and took a seat by the window, her favorite spot. The waitress came right over to take their orders. “I’m feeling like French Toast” she said “how bout you?” “Sounds delicious.“ he said “make it two please” “It’ll be right out.” the waitress smiled. “So, do you think we’ll find any answers at the Fortress?’ he asked “Maybe, it’s worth a shot. We have got so many books, and lots of them are ancient. We both seem to be pretty well read, and if there’s something neither of us know, that’s the best place to start.” she said “Okay, it’s a plan then.” he smiled They finished their brunch in record time, they were both anxious to get researching. Once in the car, he turned to her, “So I noticed that you called my car “Her” earlier.” “Yeah, what? It’s not a her?” she laughed “Of course she’s a her, I’ve just never heard a woman refer to one as such.” “Well like you said, I guess I appreciate American muscle. I always worked on my dad’s cars with him. I totally respect a quality vehicle, especially anything that has a serious motor in it.” she smiled “Well I guess you’re in the right place.” he grinned, as he shifted the car into gear and took off, putting them both in their seats. “So I suspect you’ve put a lot of work into her?” she asked “I did. I built her from the ground up. She was just a shell when I first bought her. I worked on her day and night for months. I’m happy with the way she turned out, and she’s never let me down.” he said with pride. They entered the uninhabited Fortress. It was eerily silent, even for a library. “I can see why it’s called The Fortress.” he said “Most folks in town have spent at least one night here during their lifetime. There’s a store room with tons of cots and blankets for such occasions.” “Or for people who get too wrapped up in their work?” he questioned “Yes, I admit, I have spent more than a few nights here myself.” she laughed They headed to research one. This was one of the largest collections of antique books anywhere on the East coast. They walked in and she swiped her security card, and flipped the lights on. “Oh my hell.” he said in astonishment. “Yeah, I know, right? It’s a lot.” she offered “Yeah it is, wow. Where do we even start?” he asked “Well, I was thinking, the whole thing seems kind of…magical maybe?” she asked “I agree.” he said “I have seen lots of different kinds of real, actual magic, and this electricity thing is right up there with enchantments and such.” “Okay, so I say we start with the oldest books first, we happen to have a rather extensive collection of books with no dates, copyright information, or authors listed anywhere in them.” That sounds like the perfect place to start.” he said He followed her to the back of the enormous room. It was probably almost the size of a Wal-Mart. “I guess we’ll just grab as many as we can carry and start going through them?” she asked “One foot in front of the other,” he replied There were research tables set up all along the aisles of books, about every ten rows, so at least they didn’t have to carry the heavy, ancient books too far. They had been looking through the tomes for about an hour, when she began to feel warmer than was normal, flustered almost. She looked up across the table, and he was just sitting there, book in hand, staring at her. “Gabriel, you ok? She asked “Oh, yeah, I’m fine “I guess I’ve suddenly become, easily distracted.” he grinned “I think I know the feeling.” she smiled back at him “Back to research mode, Sir.” she joked Hours passed, they were still pouring over piles of some of the oldest books known to man. Museum type books. They were lucky they were here instead of a museum. “I think I may have found something.” he said “Take a look at this.” “What is it?’ she asked “Well this book seems to be a journal of some kind, although there is no name listed as the writer or owner. It talks about Zeus and his lightning bolts, and something about the Oracles of Delphi prophesying the pink glow of the Fates intervening with Zeus’ wishes.” he explained “The Fates? As in, the spinner, measurer and cutter?” she asked “The very same.” he confirmed “Okay, does it say anything about what the glow is, or where it came from?” she asked “Well this second book about the Fates say that they are the creators, preservers and destroyers of all fates, of all humans, even the gods, except for Zeus.” he said “But what about them intervening with Zeus’ wishes? What could that be about? Do you think it’s even related? I mean, do you think this is the place we should start?’; she asked “Well, this is the first instance I have found any mention of a glow, especially a pink one. The fact that the pink glow was foreseen by the Oracles is interesting as well.” he answered. “Okay, I’ll find everything I can on Zeus, and the Fates, and we can go from there.” she said “Sounds good.” he agreed The researching went on into the evening, time sailing past them at an alarming rate. Until Amelia found something else. “Where should we look next?” Amelia asked “This may be a long shot.” he said, “but I’d like to look for anything mentioning jewelry, spelled maybe? Enchanted or something.” “Okay, but what does enchanted jewelry have to do with any of this?” she asked confused “Know what?, he said, it’s getting late. Should we pick this up again tomorrow maybe?” “That’s fine with me” she said “Wait, that will be three days in a row that we’re spending time together. Don’t you have other things to do?” “None of them as important, interesting, or as entertaining as being with you beautiful girl, I assure you.” He replied “Well then, that’s just fine with me.” She smiled They put away all the books that they had taken out, and left the Fortress just as they had found it. As they walked outside to get into his car, Amelia stopped and looked up at the sky, which had grown dark since they were inside researching. She noticed how the glow of the full moon radiated across the sky, creating the deepest, darkest of blues, until finally, the black of night took it back from her once again. “So,” Gabriel started, did you still want to go to the beach? Or are you wiped out from all that research?” “That was the most enjoyable research I have done in ages” she replied “and I am always ready for the beach. Especially with you.” She added quietly She felt that warmth radiate through her, that warmth that was beginning to become all too familiar. “And that was the best answer I have heard all day, let’s go.” He said The necklace in his pocket burned. His chest tightened and he felt warmth spread through his body. He smiled. They got into the car and sped off. All he wanted to do was get to that beach. They drove in silence for a time. Both windows were down and the radio was playing. It was a perfect spring night. Amelia hung her arm out the window with her hand open, as if it were riding the wind. She leaned her head back against the seat and looked over at Gabriel. He looked back at her and grinned his grin, the one that she felt she had seen so many times. The one that she knew was just for her. They pulled into the dirt lot at the same spot they had been to before. He cut the engine and got out. Instead of walking over to her side to let her out, he stopped at the trunk. Curious as to what he was doing, Amelia let herself out and walked around to the back of the car. She stood in amazement. In the trunk he had a cooler full of ice, a packed picnic basket and a blanket. “Wow, someone’s a boy scout.” She laughed “Boy scout?” he asked ‘Yeah, you know, always prepared.” She replied “Prepared? Maybe.” He said “planning an awesome evening with you? Without a doubt.” He smiled “Well everything looks great” she said as she peeked inside the basket “What can I carry?” she asked “You can take the blanket, I will carry the rest.” They walked across the sand until the got to a spot right in the middle of the beach “Looks like the perfect spot.” He said as he came to a stop “Okay, gimme a sec to get the blanket fixed.” She said Amelia straightened the blanket, and took her shoes off to use them to hold two of the corners down. She sat down as Gabriel placed the other items on the other corners. He sat beside her and took her hand in his. The pink electricity jumped between their hands. “Thank you for agreeing to come out here with me tonight Amelia.” He said “Thank you for inviting me.” She smiled “Hey guy, boots off, you know the rules.” “I know, I know.” He said as he removed them “As much as I don’t think I will ever get used to this craziness,” she said referring to the pink glow, “it feels so natural, so normal, in a way. Does it feel that way to you as well?” she asked him “It does.” He said thoughtfully “there’s so much that just seems so familiar. You, the glow, and the way I feel when I’m around you-“he stopped short “Why, how do you feel when you’re around me?” she asked “Maybe that’s a conversation for another time.” He suggested “Oh no you don’t.” she teased “you brought it up. Spill.” She commanded playfully “I know that we both feel as though we have known each other.. Before, or for longer than we actually have, but I’m not sure if you’re feeling the same way, and that makes it sort of difficult to convey my feelings.” He admitted He felt the necklace in his pocket, and himself both growing warmer. His breath felt shallow. “Well Gabriel, only one way to find out. You can trust me. I promise you.” She professed Her heart was slamming against her chest, she started to feel warm despite the breeze coming in off the water. “Amelia, when I’m with you, I feel like, wow. This is harder than I thought it would be.” He paused, wondering why the hell he was even having this conversation in the first place. “First of all, you make me feel as though I am the only person in the world that you want to be with. I think that is one of the things I like most about you. You give me your undivided attention. “And I can say the same about you Gabriel.” She replied “But I feel as though it’s something deeper than that Amelia. I’m not talking about a whirlwind romance or anything like that. It’s deeper. I think it has to do with why we feel so familiar to one another and I think the glow is some type of indication of that connection.” Amelia just stared at him, his words swirling in her head. She did feel the connection. She wanted it to be real, but she didn’t realize how he was feeling it too. She tucked her windblown hair behind her ear, and turned to look out at the moonlight shimmering on the water. “I have kinda been thinking the same thing, but I wasn’t sure what you thought about it, so I didn’t say anything.” She admitted “ “I really don’t see any other explanation at this point. Amelia, I haven’t felt connected to anyone in so long, that I forgot what it felt like, and I can assure you, I have never felt anything like this, like what I feel for you.” She turned her gaze from the water back to him, to his eyes. His irises were so dark they were almost black. She could see him struggling to find the words he thought most appropriate. “I have something to confess.” She said “Confess? You don’t owe me anything Amelia.” She replied “I wanna tell you just the same.” She responded “That night at Gold, the first time we saw each other, before we ever spoke, I felt something as soon as I looked at you.” “What did you feel? He asked, as he leaned toward her “I felt like I knew you. As soon as I saw you. I knew if we had ever met, I would have remembered, but there was still that feeling, that tugging coming from someplace deep inside. It felt wonderful, and scary, and foreign. I knew that I had to find you, to-“ “To what?” he asked softly “I’m not sure. To find out who you were and why I felt like I did.” She replied “Can I tell you something?” he asked “Of course.” “I think we feel exactly the same way Amelia.” He took her hand in his and watched the pink arc move across their skin. They turned their hands to watch it move with them. “So what do we do now?” she asked “How about a glass of wine?” he grinned “You brought wine too?” she said surprised “I hope that’s okay, I thought it might be nice to share a glass together, under the moon, on such a beautiful evening.” “Yes, that’s okay.” He lifted her hand to his lips, and pressed them to her warm skin. The glow grew as he inhaled her scent. She smelled like happiness. Like home. He kept his lips pressed to her hand for a moment longer than he normally would, but he didn’t care. He loved drinking her in. When he looked up at her, she was smiling at him. He slowly lowered her hand, wondering if he could do it, if he could kiss her. Right here, right now. He was still afraid of scaring her, even though they had both admitted to their feelings of connection. As he looked into her smiling eyes he decided he would wait. Still. She was worth it. He poured them each wine, in a cup, not a glass of course, since they were on the beach. She now sat cross legged in front of him. Her hair loose around her, swaying in the breeze as she looked at him. She watched him take his jacket off and use it as a pillow for his elbow. He leaned across the blanket, more relaxed than she had ever seen him. “I just noticed something,” Gabriel started “your pinks look amazing in this light.” “Are you trying to flatter me Mr. Alexander?” she asked “Nope. Just speaking my mind.” “Well thank you.” “Anytime.” “How about, all the time?” she asked “All the time what? Speak my mind?” she questioned “Yes. I hate not knowing what you’re thinking.” He laughed, a loud genuine belly laugh “You hate not knowing what I’m thinking? I hate not knowing what you’re thinking.” He exclaimed playfully “Okay, how about this? I propose that we both agree to always reveal what we are thinking, when asked by the other. Sound doable?” she asked “Yeah, sounds doable.” He agreed He reached over to her and rested his hand on her foot. “I noticed something else too.” He said “And what’s that?” “I think the pink is getting darker.” “What?” “Watch” he instructed, as he moved his hand across the top of her foot. The pink glow followed his fingertips and moved with him. “Does the color look darker to you?” he asked “Maybe a little, I’m not sure. I’m not even gonna wonder what that means.” she said “Well, it doesn’t seem to be affecting either of us negatively, so I don’t think it’s a bad thing.” “I brought some fruit and cheeses if you’re hungry.” He offered “Fruit, wine and cheese?” she marveled “you spoil me” “I’d love to.” He answered They paused and looked into each other’s eyes, they both felt that connection, they already knew all they really needed to know, but to say it aloud seemed ridiculous. Keeping their feelings in check would soon become too big of a chore. They would hold on until then. Two servings of fruit and a bottle of wine later, they decided to take a walk on the beach. It was high tide, and the water was washing away the footsteps they’d left behind them in the sand. The wet sand looked like glitter in the moonlight. They walked along, so close that not even the moonlight could come between them. “I wish I could understand why we feel this way” Amelia said “I mean, not enjoying each other’s company and feeling attracted to each other, but that force that I feel, it’s not only you pulling me toward you. It’s that something else, that is pushing me as well.” “I have a feeling that if we can find out more about the glow, we will learn more about this connection. But I have to be honest Amelia, I’m past the point of caring what is causing it.” “I feel like my most basic feelings for you are being magnified.” She stated “I know a thing or two about that. He replied They slowly wandered closer to the water and let it wash over their feet. Amelia shrieked when the chill first hit her. Gabriel laughed and took her hand. “Oh, come on beach girl, it’s only cold at first.” He teased as he pulled her further into the water. Now shin deep, they stood in silence looking out at the Atlantic. “Amelia, I have to say, I’m holding back some pretty strong feelings, and as much as I’d love to kiss you right now, I feel that I should wait. But I would love nothing more than to hold you for a moment.” She turned into him and he slowly put one arm around her, then the other, pulling her to him. She rested her head on his chest, and they both released a huge sigh. He could feel her heart beating a mile a minute. He closed his eyes and breathed her in. Sunshine and comfort. Like he had never ever felt before. CHAPTER 5 They pulled up to her dorm and Gabriel turned the car off. He was unsure how to let her go. “Gabriel, I had the most amazing time with you today. The research, the beach, everything. Thank you so much.” She said “Me too. It is I, who should be thanking you, beautiful girl.” He replied He took her hand in his, and kissed the top of it, the pink glow illuminating the car’s interior. “I have business in Boston tomorrow. Can I call you when I return?” he asked “You better.” She smiled “Good, until then.” He said He got out and walked around to her side of the car, and opened her door. She grabbed her bag from the backseat and climbed out. She side stepped to allow him to close the door, and they both stood, facing one another. She leaned back against the car, unsure how to end this evening. “Thanks again.” She said quietly, twirling a lock of her hair as she turned to face him, her eyes wide, searching his. He reached for it and tucked it behind her ear. She couldn’t just walk away from him. Not after the evening that they had just had together. She mustered every bit of courage she had, tiptoed and kissed him quickly on the cheek. She pulled away with a start and began to slowly back away from him. “Goodnight Gabriel.” “Goodnight beautiful.” He replied, stunned He watched her walk into the building, as he stood there, grinning like a school boy. His head was spinning. To think, only a few short days ago, he was worried that she would run away from him, that she didn’t want to even sit near him. That a few short days ago, he had nothing to look forward to, that he felt so alone, so hopeless. She changed it all. She was his miracle. Amelia entered her room and flopped down on her bed face first, she screamed her excitement into her pillow. “Amelia, are you ok sweetie?” Sara asked quietly from across the dimly lit room “Yeah, I’m okay.” She responded “So, what’s with the screaming into the pillow? Are we hating, or loving?” Sara prodded Amelia sat upright on her bed and looked at Sara. “Loving.” “Oh my god, loving?” Sara looked at her through sleepy eyes, “So, loving, maybe?” “Oh god, I can’t be. I’m entirely in like though, that I can tell you.” Amelia smiled “That’s awesome Mel, I’m happy for you! ” Sara grinned, “but I have bunch with my parents in the am so I’m gonna get back to sleep. We will catch up during the week, promise?” “Promise. Sorry to wake you, go back to sleep.” “Nite Mel.” “Nite Sara.” Amelia grabbed her phone and texted J, just got in. had an amazing nite! Txt me when u get up. Xoxo She laid back on her barrage of fluffy pillows and let out a huge breath. So this is what it feels like, she thought. To have someone feel for you, just as you feel for them. She hoped it wouldn’t get messy. She settled in and quickly drifted off to sleep. She woke to Sara closing their door. She opened her eyes to a beautiful morning. The sun shone through the window, directly lighting her framed print of the Mona Lisa. It illuminated the amber hues in a way she hadn’t noticed before. She stared at it for a moment before her phone vibrated on her nightstand. It was a text from J. I’m up I’m up! I need details girl!  Wanna go for a coffee? Txt me when u get this xo. She quickly texted him back. I just woke up. Coffee sounds great. Be there in 10 he replied. She bounded out the front of the building as J pulled up. She jumped in his truck with a squeal. “J!! Good morning sweets.” “Good morning yourself.” J smiled “Now spill.” “Oh my god J, I had the most amazing night.” “Girl, I have seen that look before.” “What look? I have a look?” “Yeah, you’ve got it alright.” He teased “I’ve got what?” she asked “You’ve got it bad for this guy. Don’t even try to deny it.” She looked over at J, he was her best friend in the whole world, knew her better than anyone ever could, and had been through everything with her. He could see it, even if she couldn’t see it herself. “I think you may be right.” She smiled “I knew it!” he exclaimed “Now tell me everything, and don’t leave anything out.” He demanded As they drove, she recounted the previous evening’s events, of course leaving out the pink glow thing. She felt bad for keeping it from him, but she felt as though she should keep that between her and Gabriel. They hit a drive thru for their coffees, and then drove to the pier where the fishing boats dock. They got out and J dropped the tail gate for them to sit on. “So, how was your night?” she asked J “Oh you know, the usual, me and a couple of boys that I know went to Gold and danced our asses off. The DJ they brought in from Boston was a-maz-ing.” He gushed “That’s awesome.” “I also got a boy’s phone number.” He sang “Oh really?” “Yes, remember that guy Donnie? We went out to dinner right after New Year’s?” “I remember he Houdini’d on you.” She replied “Well, apparently, he had his nose done, and was laying low, lost my number, yadda, yadda, yadda- he looks fabulous.” He smiled “We’re going out next weekend.” “That’s great J, he seemed really nice.” “He is. He’s so sweet. Hey, maybe we can double!” he added excitedly “Sure, I’ll see if Gabriel has plans, sounds like fun. He’s away on business in Boston today, so I probably won’t get an answer for you till tomorrow, is that okay?” She asked “Talk him into it, we will have a blast!” Gabriel drove aimlessly for hours. His head spinning, going over every moment of the evening. He had hope again, and it seemed impossible to process. Part of him wanted to call Rob and tell him everything, but he felt as though Rob just wouldn’t understand. Rob didn’t know what it was like to be alone for so many years, no one did. As amped up as he was, he began to feel weak, tired almost. As someone who didn’t need to actually sleep, only rest periodically, any type of fatigue from hunger hit him hard. His gums began to ache, his throat felt like it was being sand blasted. He headed downtown. The longer he drove, the worse he felt. It was as if acid had been poured down his throat. He pulled into the parking lot of the Pink Chick. Audis, BMWs, and a couple of Escalades lined the first row. Reserved for Dancers the signs all read. He supposed dancers weren’t snorting all their earnings these days. There was plenty left to splurge on a nice ride. He continued to the back of the lot. The only decent lighting was in the first two rows. He backed into a parking spot, cut the engine, and reached across to the passenger side to roll the window down. It was muggy enough tonight, and his hunger was burning him up. He needed some air. He tried to slow his breathing, and let his mind drift to thoughts of the evening with Amelia. The way she turned and looked at him when he dropped her off. Her eyes full of hope, and wonder. Full of possibilities and promises not yet made. It was like a dagger in his heart to be away from her. He hated the thought of driving away from her. He wished would never have to do it again. The necklace began to warm in his pocket, it reminded him of how she made his heart race. He now had this powerful, and profound need to be near her. Just the thought of being too far from her made his very soul ache. What would she think if she knew the depth of his true feelings? What if she knew what he really was? Would she run away? Could he, would he, ever be able to articulate what he felt for her? Could he handle this? A couple of guys coming through the parking lot pulled him from his thoughts, and reminded him of why he was here. He didn’t need a reason tonight. His hunger was more than enough. He gripped the door handle and quietly pulled it. The door fell open without a sound and he quickly slipped out of the car. Guy number one was already in his vehicle with the radio blasting, rolling a joint. He would be of no concern. Guy number two was headed right for him before he stopped to light up a cigarette. Gabriel took a deep breath and approached guy number two. “He buddy, can I bum a smoke?” Gabriel asked the guy “Yeah man, no problem.” He replied, as he slowly began feeling and searching each of his pockets. That’s when Gabriel grabbed him by the throat. The guy barely let out a yelp, and was introduced to the ground. With a knee on the guy’s chest and a hand on his head, Gabriel paused for only a moment, as his thirst began to get out of control. His breathing, jagged, panting with each breath. His gums were on fire, as his fangs burst through the skin. He leaned down to the guy’s throat, and opened his mouth wide. Saliva dripped from his lower lip. His fangs pierced the guy’s skin with a soft little pop, then his lips sealed around the wound. The guy never made a sound, as Gabriel sucked the life from him. The guy’s own heart betraying him, as it pumped the warm life force into Gabriel’s mouth and down his throat, over and over again, quenching the fire inside of him. Gabriel disposed of guy number two’s body, and headed back to his car. He slid into the leather seat and looked at his face in the rearview mirror. Just a couple of drops. He reached down between the seat and the center console to find a napkin. He wiped his face and checked his shirt. All clean. He tossed the napkin in the dumpster as he drove out of the parking lot. He was already on the highway, just as the first rays of a new day touched the earth. Reflecting its light off the windows of the office buildings cluttering downtown, creating thousands of points of light. He took the on ramp and headed for Boston, he had a contact there who may have some insight about his mother’s necklace. It was still early when he got to Murphy’s place. He pulled up in front of the two story brownstone and looked up at the front door, and hoped that Murph still lived here. Murph was an Occult Studies professor, and head of the Linguistics Department at Boston University, retired. But once you’re that deep into a subject, you don’t stop studying it just because you’re not getting a salary anymore. Gabriel made his way up to the door and rang the bell. A woman answered the door. She looked to be in her mid-thirties, short blond hair, about five foot two, dressed in scrubs. “May I help you?” she asked “Yes, I’m looking for professor Murphy, does he still live here?” Gabriel asked “He does, who might I tell him is asking?” “Gabriel Alexander, I’m an old friend, I haven’t been to visit in quite a while.” “Come right in,” she invited “I’ll let him know you’re here. You can have a seat.” She motioned to a set of chairs in the entryway, “It might take a few minutes.” She explained “Thank you.” Gabriel could see into the library across the high ceilinged foyer. Stuffed with shelves and shelves of books, the coffee table was covered in books and files, there were papers strewn all over the desk. Some things never change he thought to himself. “As I live and breathe!” a voice came from the other side of the room. “Gabriel Alexander, you son of a bitch, how are you?” “I’m well Murphy, how are you? What’s with the nurse?” Gabriel asked as the two shook hands and embraced. “Well, The Cancer got my hip about a year ago, I’ve been in this chair ever since.” “Aw Murph, I’m so sorry.” “No need.” Murphy replied, I have help around here, I still have my mind, and sponge baths with that cute little blond number don’t hurt.” He was in his sixties, too long, graying hair curled around his shirt collar. His black rimmed glasses, magnifying his light green eyes. Cable knit sweater even though it was summer, He still looked like the hippie he always had been. Gabriel laughed, it was so good to see his old friend again, and he hadn’t changed at all. “So, to what do I owe the pleasure my friend? Business or?” Murphy asked “Not sure yet, but I do have something I’m trying to look into and thought you might be able to help. I haven’t been able to find any answers anywhere else.” “Oh goodie, a mystery.” Murphy clapped his hands. “Wheel me over into the library, would you please?” “Of course.” Gabriel said as he got behind his friend’s wheelchair. They went into the massive library and once over the threshold, Murphy wheeled himself to sit behind his desk. “Ok man, you’re here, you’ve got me, what are we looking for?” Murphy asked “I’m looking for anything on spelled jewelry, or cursed jewelry.” Gabriel explained “Cursed objects, huge topic. Spelled objects, now that’s a much less broad spectrum.” “How so?” Gabriel asked “Well, cursed objects are much more common. Seems more folks have had more axes to grind, than positivity to put into anything.” “Well, how would you know the difference? Between spelled and cursed?’ Gabriel asked “If an object is cursed,” Murphy explained, “you would probably already know that it’s cursed. Not much room for doubt when every single thing in your life is going down the shitter.” “Makes sense, so how about a spelled object?” “A spelled object is much different. That’s because spells can be, dormant if you will. Timed. Take Cinderella for example” “Cinderella? Are you serious?” Gabriel laughed “Just hear me out.” Murphy countered “The Fairy Godmother spells her up a dress, and a coach and all that jazz, right? But at midnight, it all goes away. The spell lasts only so long. But a spelled object, is usually something to keep with you, a protective amulet or something of the sort. The magic stays. So which do you believe you’re dealing with?” “Spelled. The object was given to me by my mother, she would never curse me, and so it must be some sort of spell.” Gabriel decided “Okay, do you still have it?’ Murphy asked “I do. Although it was missing for years and years, I only just came back into possession of it. Anything could have been done to it in that time.” “Not if it was spelled when it was first given to you by your mother. Was your mother a witch, root worker or medicine woman?” “No, but she had friends of that sort and in high places too, at the time who would have done anything for her, one of them could have spelled it for her, for me I suppose.” Gabriel reasoned “Okay, and you said you were well, is that true?” “Yes, I’m just fine, I’d say good, even.” “Very good then. The object is not cursed.” “How can you be so sure?” “Tell me Gabriel? What first made you think that your item may be cursed or spelled?” “Well, it’s a necklace, with a stone pendant on it. As soon as it came back into my possession, it began to grow warm, and it now does so periodically.” “Can you equate any outside events with the warming of the object?” Murphy asked thoughtfully Gabriel thought about it for a moment. It would always warm when he was close to Amelia, or when he would get lost in thoughts of her. “Yes, I know what triggers it.” Gabriel declared “And what it that?” “Amelia.” Gabriel answered plainly. “It’s got to be Amelia.” “Who is Amelia?” Murphy questioned Gabriel sauntered over to the wet bar and grabbed one of the crystal carafes and poured a half a glass of dark amber liquid. “Might want to have a drink Murph.” He told his friend “It’s not even noon.” Murphy argued “It’s a hell of a story.” Gabriel replied “Well hell, make it a double.” Murphy said as he pushed out from behind his desk and made his way over to the bar area. Gabriel handed him the drink and sat on the overstuffed suede couch. Gabriel told Murphy everything almost everything that had happened since he first laid eyes on Amelia. The pink light, his not feeling well, the connection, all of it. “Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow. Gabriel Alexander, I never thought I’d see the day.” “That makes two of us Murph. It’s been a long time coming to say the very least. So long, that I didn’t think it could ever happen.” “So where is this, Amelia?” Murph asked “She’s in Rhode Island, probably at the beach with friends.” “You should have brought her along, it would be a delight to meet her.” “This meeting had to be just between you and me Murph, at least until I figure out what we’re dealing with.” “Understandable,” Murphy said thoughtfully, “So let me see it.” “See what?” “The necklace. I know you’d never trust anyone or anything to protect it, so that means you have it on your person.” Gabriel laughed, “Yeah its right here.” He said, as he fished it out of his pocket. He held his hand out in front of him, the stone dangling from its chain, shining its iridescent glow. Murphy leaned in closer for a better look. His eyes grew wide and his mouth hung open. “What is it?” Gabriel asked “I have seen that stone before.” “That’s impossible.” “Oh no it isn’t. I have seen it before.” Murphy insisted “Where? How?” “Well, you said that it was out of your possession for quite some time, I’m sure many eyes have beheld that magnificent stone.” “Where have you seen it Murph?” Gabriel pressed “A book. I saw it on the cover of a book. A very old book.” Murphy said as he wheeled himself over to an enormous book case. After quickly searching the shelf he paused. “Shit. I remember where the book is.” “Well where is it?” Gabriel asked “Rhode Island, just like your girl.” “What’s it doing in Rhode Island?” “I have a colleague over at the university who was doing research on ancient texts. The book had no author or publication information listed. It’s older than antiquity Gabriel. Much like that necklace.” “What school has it?” Gabriel asked “It’s not at the school. It’s in the research library.” “The Fortress?” Gabriel asked hopefully “Ah, so you know the place?” Murphy replied “Amelia works there.” “Splendid! All your problems are solved.” Murphy said happily “Far from it Murph. I have more questions now, than I started out with.” Gabriel swallowed the last of his drink and placed the glass back on the bar. He stood for a minute and ran his hand through his hair. “What information is contained in that book?” he asked “I’ve never been able to decipher it.” Murphy said sadly. “The book was just so exquisite, the cover art was just breathtaking.” “What’s on the cover of the book?” Gabriel asked “A painting of a beautiful woman, she’s wearing the necklace. She looked very regal, long, flowing raven hair, wide set, soft brown eyes, and that gem, hanging around her neck.” Gabriel knew well and good that Murph just described his mother, but kept that bit to himself. “So how do I locate an ancient book, with no title?” he asked, “My colleague, Bernadette Jones, she works at the Fortress. If you tell her what you’re looking for, and that I sent you, you should have no problem obtaining the book.” “Okay, so what do I do with it when and if I get it? If you couldn’t even decipher it, what the hell am I going to do with it?” Gabriel asked “I know a guy.” Murphy said flatly “Oh really? You “know a guy”?” “Yes, he’s in Langley, he works in coding and decryption. If you bring him the book, he will tell you what it says.” “A decryption specialist is going to have a clue about an ancient book?” Gabriel questioned “He is probably one of maybe four people alive who can help you Gabriel.” “Why didn’t you ever bring it to him, to find out what it says?” Gabriel challenged “I have been busy with The Cancer, remember?” Murphy snapped “Oh my god, I’m so sorry Murph, I wasn’t thinking, I’m sorry.” “It’s okay my friend, I understand your urgency. I am confident that my Virginia friend will be able to help you. But you must go to him in person. Again, tell him I sent you of course.” “Okay, will do.” Murphy scribbled something on a scrap of paper, leaned across his desk and handed it to Gabriel. “Here, this is his name and address. He likes to keep a low profile, so don’t go in guns blazing, okay?” “Understood.” Gabriel confirmed “Murph, thank you so very much. I’m so sorry to have barged in on you like this, but I’m sure that you now understand my situation.” “Gabriel, it is always a pleasure, you are my friend, and are welcome here at any time.” Gabriel stood and leaned down to hug his friend “I’ll be back soon Murph. Thanks again.” “Bring your lady next time, I’m sure she’s easier on the eyes than you are.” Murphy laughed “I will, and you bet she is.” Gabriel smiled as he walked out of the library. He closed the front door behind him and walked down the steps to his car. CHAPTER 6 Amelia and J were still hanging out at the pier when he phone buzzed in her pocket. “It’s Him.” She said to J, who was anxiously motioning for her to answer it. “Hello?” “Hello beautiful girl, how are you today?” “Better now” she smiled into the phone “You busy today?” “No, actually, I’m off today, I’m just hangin down at the pier with my homeboy, havin a coffee. How about you?” she asked “On my way back from Boston right now.” “Really? Already?” “Yes, my business didn’t take as long as I had expected, now the rest of the day is mine.” “Well that’s cool, whatchya gonna do when you get back?” “I’m not sure yet, that’s why I’m calling you.” He grinned Amelia gave J her excited face, he quickly put on his own. “Well great, did you have something in mind?” she asked “The only thing I have in mind is spending time with you, the details are unimportant.” “Sounds good to me, and oh, J wants to know if we can double with him and Donnie this weekend?” “We can do that, maybe grab dinner and then out for drinks or something?” he replied Amelia gave J the thumbs up, he clapped his hands excitedly and grabbed his phone and started texting Donnie. “Okay, so I’ll see you when I get back, probably a little over an hour or so.” “Okay, I’ll see you soon, drive safe.” She said “I will, I’ll come find you when I get into town.” “Okay, see you then.” “Until then, beautiful girl.” And with that, he was gone. Amelia turned to J, who was still texting, “He calls me beautiful girl like it’s my name.” she beamed “Oh, to have your problems.” J joked “dump him immediately.” Gabriel hung up with Amelia and dialed Rob. “He lives!” Rob exclaimed as he answered Gabriel’s call. “Hey man, how’s things?” Gabriel asked “Oh, you know, champagne wishes, caviar dreams and all that.” He laughed. “You been spending your time with that girl huh?” “Indeed I have.” “That’s awesome Gabe, I’m happy for you, really. I knew it’d happen for you sooner or later.” “Well, you knew more than I did.” Gabriel chuckled “So what’s happening?” Rob asked “Actually, there’s a reason I called. I need a favor.” “Name it, brother.” “I’d like to look into prepackaged, if that’s still something you might be able to make happen.” “Without a doubt. It’s gonna cost you though.” “You know that’s not an issue, Rob.” Gabriel answered “Okay, let me make a call, and I can meet you in about an hour.” “I’m on my way to meet up with Amelia and her friend, can we make it two?” “No problem.” “I’ll meet you in two hours, where?” “Just swing by my place.” “Okay man, thanks. I’ll see you then.” Gabriel tapped the screen and ended the call. About an hour and a half later, Gabriel found Amelia and J at Ms. Muffit’s splitting a scone. The bell on the top of the door jingled as he walked through the door. He looked around the small shop and found them at a table by the window. As he walked toward them, time seemed to slow down. He looked at Amelia, and she looked up at him with those eyes, Oh, those eyes. They seared his very soul. They gazed at each other with an intense knowing, an acknowledgement of each other’s emotions. Almost like a welcoming. Time caught up again, and he was seated at the table with them. “Gabriel, good to see you again.” J spoke, as he reached to shake hands with him. “Good to see you too J.” “Hello beautiful girl, he said to Amelia, as he gave her arm a little squeeze, and sat next to her. “Hi, how was Boston?” she asked “Good, informative, and quicker than I had anticipated. All good things.” He concluded “Well that’s good. J and I were just discussing possibilities for our double date this weekend.” “And what have you come up with?” Gabriel asked “I was thinking appetizers at Blue Fin, then over to Gold to dance our asses off.” J offered “Blue Fin? I’m not familiar,” Gabriel questioned “It’s a very nice restaurant over by First Beach,” Amelia explained, “They have fantastic food.” “Okay then, Blue Fin it is. Then to Gold. Sounds like a plan.” Gabriel smiled “This is gonna be so much fun!” J exclaimed “So what are the two of you doing for the rest of the day?” Gabriel asked J and Amelia looked at each other questioningly “Well, we really haven’t decided on anything.” Amelia said “Well, actually, I need to go get my eyebrows done.” J announced “and Miss “Brows I’d Kill or die for” over here, never needs hers done.” They all laughed “So I’m outta here.” He smiled “you kids will just have to make do without me.” He popped up out of his seat, shook Gabriel’s hand and air kissed Amelia, and was out the door before they could blink. “He’s a character isn’t he? Gabriel chuckled “Wait, didn’t you say the same thing about my best friend?” “Yes, she laughed “Yeah, he is. He’s really great though. He has been my best friend for as long as I can remember.” “I didn’t realize you’d known each other for all that time.” Gabriel said “Oh yeah, we grew up next door to each other. First friends and all that.” “It’s wonderful that you’ve stayed friends all this time.” Gabriel commented “There’s no way we couldn’t be” Amelia said. “He’s my best friend. Always will be. He’s been with me through it all, losing my parents, an abusive, asshole of a boyfriend, everything. We even decided when we were kids, that we would be each other’s Maid of Honor if either of us ever got married. He’s the brother I never had.” She gushed “It makes me happy to know that you have someone like that in your life Amelia.” Gabriel affirmed “Me too.” She replied “Okay” Gabriel said, “on to more serious business” “Umm, okay, what’s up?” Amelia asked “When I was in Boston, I spoke to an old friend, who had some insight into our research.” He explained “Something on the glow? Really?” she asked excitedly “Well, not the glow specifically, but something that we believe may be related.” “We who?” she asked “My friend Murphy, and myself. But right now, I have to stop by Rob’s place. Wanna take a ride with me?” he asked “You know I do.” she smiled They pulled up in front of Rob’s place less than a half hour later. It was a one family house right on the beach. There were two pillars in front, one on each side of the entry way. Two stories, with lots of windows. In the old days, it would have been considered a mansion. Amelia wasn’t surprised. Based on what Gabriel had told her about Rob, he spared no expense, and was a fan of excess. It was a beautiful home. Gabriel was walking around the car to let Amelia out when Rob came bounding out of the house. “Hey kids, what’s happenin?” He greeted them “Rob, this is Amelia, Amelia, this is Rob.” Gabriel introduced. “Amelia, it is such a pleasure to meet you, officially” Rob said as he shook her hand “You too, nice to see you again. This place is beautiful.” She said as she looked all around the property. “Thanks, I enjoy being on the beach, and entertaining, so this place is perfect for me. We’ll have to do dinner and a campfire on the beach sometime.” “That would be nice” Amelia answered, “I love the beach too.” “You guys wanna come in” Rob asked “Not this time Rob, I just wanted to swing by and give you that money I owe you, and get my cooler back if you’re done using it.” Gabriel offered “Oh sure, no problem, thanks for lending it to me. I don’t usually have need for one, but this little hottie I took out last week, insisted on bringing beers to the beach” Rob laughed. “It’s right in the garage, I’ll go grab it for you.” Rob walked away from them and headed into the full three car garage. There was an exotic looking sports car, a big beefed up truck and a convertible. “Three cars?” Amelia asked “Yeah, Rob likes the whole rock star vibe.” Gabriel explained “Obviously.” Amelia laughed too As Rob was walking back from the garage carrying a red and white cooler, Gabriel went around to open the trunk. Rob set the cooler in. “Thanks brother, I really appreciate it.” Gabriel spoke “No problem man” Rob replied “Oh, and here’s that money I owe you.” Gabriel reached into his pocket and pulled out a thick envelope and handed it to Rob. When he saw the surprise on Amelia’s face, he explained, “Rob was kind enough to lend me a few dollars at an auction last month.” “Well that certainly was nice of him.” Amelia speculated “What’d you buy, a town?” they all laughed. “It was actually an antique water jug that was excavated from a dig in Rome.” Gabriel explained “Oh, I didn’t realize you were involved with archaeology as well.” Amelia offered “I’ll buy pretty much anything if it’s antiquated.” Gabriel answered “Yeah, have you seen his closet?” Rob joked “There is nothing wrong with a classic look.” Gabriel defended “I think he looks hot.” Amelia added “You think I’m hot?” Gabriel questioned with a grin. “And, we’re off.” Rob chuckled Amelia blushed at the same time the necklace heated Gabriel’s pocket. “Of course I do.” “Okay Rob, thanks again, time to go.” He laughed, as he held the car door open for Amelia. “Have fun kids, great to meet you Amelia.” “Same here Rob.” Gabriel jumped in and the engine roared to life. Amelia waved out the window as they drove off. “So, you think I’m hot?” he questioned her again, grinning “I do” she replied “While that’s very flattering Amelia, I have to say quite honestly, that I am humbled by your beauty.” She burst out laughing and looked over at him. “Are you being serious right now?” she asked “Of course I am, what are you laughing about?” he puzzled “I’m laughing at you.” She told him. “Why?” he asked again, confused “You really just said that you’re humbled by my beauty.” She laughed “Why is that funny to you?” “I pass as cute, but you call me beautiful girl all the time, and now this?” He looked at her and his face grew serious, he kept looking between her and the road, his expression telling nothing. She wondered if she had just made him angry. He stole one last glance at her before he downshifted and began pulling off to the side of the road. She looked at him nervously as the car came to a stop. He put it in park and killed the engine. He stared straight ahead. “What’s wrong, why did we stop?” She asked. He sat back in his seat and looked over at her, still stone faced. He turned his body in the seat so that he was facing her. “Amelia, please listen to what I’m about to say to you.” He took her face in his hands and the pink electricity reached out to him. She closed her eyes briefly then looked right into his. “When I look at you, I see all of you. I see the cute little girl helping Daddy in the garage, I see the impatient teenager, and I see the strength of the bond you share with your best friend. I see the beauty of the love you have for your parents. I see the intelligent woman who does the same research that is done by professors with tenure. Most of all, I see the happiness in you. I see the optimism you have, even after enduring tragedy and having your kindness used against you. I see the coolest pinks ever, and I see the woman who showed me that for some reason, known only to the universe, that I’m worthy of her attention.” His heart was slamming the inside of his chest, he fought for every breath, and fidgeted for the necklace burning a hole in his jeans. “Gabriel.” She began “Please, let me finish, because you clearly, need to hear this, and clearly, I need to say it. Because I am very observant, and I do see you, all of you. Your face shows kindness and wisdom far beyond your years, your eyes so alight, your lips, tender and full and begging to be kissed.” He pushed her hair way from her face. He could see the tears in her eyes. “You are beautiful Amelia, and if you can’t see that, then you need to take a good hard look at yourself.” “Gabriel, I am, I’m not sure, oh boy, whew. That was a lot.” She “Yes, it was.” He replied “because you are. A lot. More than I could have ever dreamed possible. I just wish you could see what I see. What I said is the truth, and if by some cruel joke of the cosmos, I never saw you again after today, that’s the one thing I would hope that you would remember.” The tears that had been balanced on her lashes, spilled over to her cheeks as she leaned across the console, closing the small space between them. “Oh Gabriel” she breathed softly He leaned towards her, meeting her half way. She reached her hands into his hair as she pulled him closer to her. Their noses were almost touching. Both of them breathing heavily, he lifted his hand to wipe a tear away and the pink glow illuminated her cheek. “Thank you Gabriel, for seeing me. Really seeing me, and believing the things that you do. No one has ever said anything like that to me before. I cannot tell you what this means to me, what you mean to me. I’m so grateful that you came into my life.” “Amelia, I have a lot of feelings for you. Big feelings. I don’t know how much longer I can keep them inside.” “You don’t have to. She said He leaned his forehead to hers and felt the tingle of the pink glow, still holding her face close. “For now, I do. Believe me, when the time is right, I will tell you everything. But for now, just know that you make me feel like I’m a part of the world again.” She placed her hands over his and took a deep breath. “You’d better” she smiled “Trust me.” Gabriel waggled his eyebrows in Rob fashion. She giggled. They broke their semi embrace and got back on the road. “So, beautiful girl, what do you feel like doing today?” he asked “Anything, it doesn’t matter to me, I’m just glad you came back from Boston early.” She replied “Me too. I’d much rather be hanging out with you, than, well, more than anything else pretty much.” Amelia leaned back in the seat and turned to look at him. Both windows were down and his hair was blowing all around his face. His eyes on the road, but somewhere else at the same time. The sleeves of his t-shirt were rolled up over his biceps, which were straining against the fabric. His left hand held the wheel, relaxed but confident. His right hand rested on the gear shift. She started to get that feeling, the familiarity, and the connection. She almost didn’t even need or want an explanation for it anymore. It was right. She knew it to her very soul. The reason she feels this way, it’s because it’s she’s supposed to. She feels so at home because she is. Suddenly it wasn’t the road before him. It was just her. In his mind’s eye he saw a lifetime of happiness and adventures together. But only for her lifetime. She would grow old and die, and he would remain as he is, at this very moment. He will never age, never become ill, never grow old, and never die. The very thought made him want to hold her tight, and keep her, and never let her go. How would he ever go on without her, now that he has finally found her? Someday he would have to tell her. There would be no avoiding it. But that day is not today. Today, he will enjoy every second with her, love her smile, her everything. Love, her? “Whatchya thinkin about over there?” she asked He turned his head and grinned his grin “I’m thinking about you, beautiful girl.” “Thinking what exactly?” she asked playfully “Thinking that I can’t believe I found you.” “I think we kinda found each other.” She replied “No, I think I found you. I have traveled all over this world Amelia, and I have never met a single person I have connected with like I have with you. There’s a reason for it.” “And what exactly do you suppose that reason is?” ‘Well, I think it’s because you’re amazing, and because I believe the universe conspired to bring us together.” He explained “Know what?” she asked “I think you may be right.” They smiled at each other as he reached for her hand. It was natural, it was comfortable and familiar. And they both felt it. ‘So tell me, what did you and your friend find out, about the something that may be related to the glow?” she asked “Well it wasn’t about the glow specifically, but it may be a step in the right direction.” He answered “Okay, so spill, what is it?” she pressed “There may be a spell involved.” “Right, you said that may be a possibility.” “I believe so now more than ever.” “Gabriel. Tell me. Why are you beating around the bush?” He kept his eyes on the road, afraid of the can of worms this whole endeavor may open. He had to risk it. He would only tell her what he could, what she needed to know, all else he would have to keep to himself. For now. “How about we go sit on the sand?” he asked “Fine with me, then you spill Mr. Alexander.” “Yes beautiful girl, then I’ll spill.” He cut through a neighborhood of summer cottages, onto the main road to get to the small beach that they had been to before. They rode in silence. Both of them lost in their own thoughts for the moment. Amelia leaned her head back and let out a sigh. Gabriel reached out and took her hand in his. “It’s going to be okay you know.” He promised he squeezed her hand gently and gave her that smile that he had learned would melt her. She squeezed his hand back and smiled back at him. They pulled into the lot at the beach and got out. Gabriel went to the trunk to get the blanket, and as he lifted it out, saw the cooler. Just the sight of it made his throat start to burn. He could wait. “Shoes off Amelia.” He called from the rear of the car. “Tell yourself.” She called back They both removed their shoes and headed onto the sand. They set the blanket down and sat. “Okay, we’re here, now spill.” Amelia commanded Gabriel looked at her, took a deep breath and began. “Okay, I spoke to a friend of mine who is very knowledgeable about these kinds of things, and he seems to think that the pink glow is caused by you.” “What? By me? How the hell is that even possible? I don’t know anything about spells.” She contested. “No, beautiful, not that you did anything, but that you are the catalyst. You are what is making the glow happen.” He assured her “Do we know why it’s me?” she begged “Not exactly. That’s why we need to locate a book that has more information in it.” He replied “Okay, so where’s this book?” she asked “Funny story,” he answered, “It’s at the Fortress.” “The Fortress?” how’s that?” she questioned “Well my friend Murphy, is a linguistics professor, well, he was, he’s retired. He said that a colleague of his had the book now, and that colleague is none other than your Mrs. Jones.” “Shut up. Really?” “Yes, so we need to ask her about the book, then we have to bring it to a man in Virginia who can interpret it. Also a friend of Murph.” “Okay, awesome, so what book is it? I bet I can find it quicker than Mrs. J.” “Well, it has no title.” He countered “There’s a ton of antique books there, part of my job is to catalog them. So tell me what we’re looking for and I will find it.” She declared “It had a painting on the front. A woman with long black hair-“ “I know the book!” she interrupted He stopped and just stared at her for a moment. How could she possibly know what he was talking about? “Are you sure? That could be any one of a thousand books in there.” He replied “No way, I promise you, I know the book you want. I have it.” She confided “As in, it’s in your possession?” he asked “Yes it is.” She smiled “Oh my god Gabriel,” she said. “I think I know what the connection is.” “What do you mean?” he asked “The cover of that book? The woman on the front is wearing my necklace.” Gabriel’s pocket began to warm at just the mention of it. But this? Amelia saying that the necklace is hers? His mind raced. He started to get warm, almost jittery. He realized how the pieces fit. “Amelia, did you lose that necklace? At Gold, right before we met?” he questioned “How did you know that?” she asked, stunned. “I’m going to show you something.” It was now or never. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the necklace. “My mother gave this to me a very long time ago.” He said as he held the necklace up in front of her. “Oh my god! My necklace!” she yelled excitedly “Amelia, did you hear what I just said?” he asked “What?” she asked, he focus on the necklace that she thought she’d never see again “I said, my mother gave me this necklace.” She stopped and looked at him, puzzled. “What? How is that possible? That’s my necklace.” She insisted. “My mother gave me that necklace.” “Now are you beginning to see the connection?” he asked. She spoke slowly, and quietly, gazing at the necklace and back to Gabriel “How is it, that that necklace has belonged to both of us?” “Okay,” Gabriel started, “Your mother gave this to you?” when?” “It was left to me by my birth mother. My mother gave it to me when I turned twelve.” “You’re adopted?” he asked, surprised “Yes, is that a problem?” she asked defensively “No, no, beautiful. Never. I’m just a little surprised, that’s all. You’ve never mentioned it.” “I never knew her. I was adopted as a newborn. The only connection I ever had to her, was that necklace. I never took it off.” “That’s kind of funny. When it was mine, I never took it off either.” “Okay, so your mother gave it to you? How old were you?” she asked “Wait. That would mean that we were both in possession of it at the same time.” She questioned. “That makes no sense.” “I think I must have lost it, then your mother found it and left it for you.” He offered, hoping it would calm her questions. “Wow, that’s just so crazy.” She said in disbelief. “It is, but now we have to get to the why. Murph seemed pretty convinced that this necklace is spelled.” “What makes him think that?” she asked “You ready for some more crazy?” he asked “Watch this.” He took the necklace and placed it in her hand. She held it tight, then opened her palm and examined it. It was definitely hers. The rainbows of the stone began swirling on the surface, it made her smile. Gabriel took her other hand in his, and gently pressed his lips to her knuckles, causing arcs to spread across her hand. “What’s happening?” she asked “You tell me.” “The necklace is getting warm.” She responded in surprise “Exactly.” He offered, “Now watch this.” He leaned toward her slowly. She took an expectant breath. He leaned closer still, his lips just inches from hers. Her stomach flip flopped, she felt light headed and prayed that he was going to kiss her, really kiss her. “All in good time.” He whispered to her She closed her eyes and then they shot open “Ow!” she exclaimed. “What the hell?” and dropped the necklace and looked at Gabriel. “I have had this necklace in my pocket since the night you lost it. I found it on the ground right where you and J had parked.” “It’s been on you all this time?” she asked “Yes, it has. And every time we have been close like this, that’s what happens, it gets hot. If I think about you for more than a minute, it gets hot. If we touch, it gets hot.” Amelia sat for a moment, taking it all in. She shook her head and looked out at the horizon, the sun glistening on the water. The beach was deserted and the sand looked so clean, so perfectly flat where the water met it, almost like glass. “Okay, now you watch.” She commanded. She picked up the necklace from the blanket and took his hand in hers. She wrapped the chain around their hands. It reminded Gabriel of a hand fasting. How he wished she could be his wife someday. He smiled as she did this, even though he had no idea why she was doing it. They were palm to palm, with the moonstone in between them. She mustered all the courage she had and leaned towards him, as he had done to her. His chest tightened, his stomach flipped, as he felt the stone growing warm. He focused on her eyes, those caramel eyes, so soft, so dazzling, her pupils wide. They eyes, he was sure now, of his future wife. She knelt in front of him leaning closer still. She could feel the heat of the stone, but she would not let go. She leaned right up to his face and whispered to him “All time with you is a good time.” She leaned forward and slowly pressed her lips to his. Those lips that she had been longing to feel on hers. He met hers, gently. She reached up with her free hand and raked her fingers through his hair, wrapping her arm around his neck, pulling him closer. He completely surrendered to her, melting in her arms, he licked her lower lip as he gripped her waist and pressed her to him. Fire began to rage inside him. He hadn’t felt anything like this in his entire existence. He knew this was meant to be, that he was meant to find Amelia, meant to be with her always. The pink arcs jumped between them like a storm, crackling and moving between them, she inhaled his scent as he placed soft kisses along her neck. He pulled her closer still, his hand knotted in her hair. She was straddling him now, their chests pressed together, their heavy breathing in synch. He listened to her heart pounding, the blood flowing so quickly through her body. His mouth began to water. He pulled his face from hers slowly. The stone, causing an agony that burned as hot as they did, all but forgotten in the moment. “Oh my hell” he whispered into her neck “I know right?” she grinned “and the glow, wow, did you see that?” she asked amazed. “I did.” He replied, breathless. “Okay, so we have both owned this necklace, the warmth that comes from it clearly indicates that it has a huge role to play in all this. The glow, the necklace, us, it all fits, but doesn’t make sense.” She said “I think the next logical step is to find the book, see what we can learn from it. Then go see Murph’s guy in Virginia. What do you think about a road trip, beautiful girl?’ he asked, as he brushed her hair from her neck. “Sounds like a plan?” she answered nervously “Why so apprehensive?” he asked “I’m not.” “It’s all over your face, in your voice, what is it?” he asked “I don’t know, It’s just a lot, ya know? This glow, that I have never seen in my life till I met you, the necklace, a possible spell, that I am somehow a catalyst for. It’s a little intimidating, not knowing what the hell we’re getting ourselves into.” “Amelia, please don’t be afraid. I promise you, with all that I have, that I will not let any harm come to you. I really feel that we need to get to the bottom of all of this, and I know that you do too. I will protect you with my very life, always. Please know and believe that.” “I do, I know. It’s just a little crazy, ya know?” He took her in his arms again, as the pink electricity crackled between them. He gently caressed her face, as he spoke. “I know it’s crazy, and a little scary. But Amelia, we are in this together. You and me. Always.” She looked at him for a moment, seeming to almost be weighing the validity of his words. She took a deep breath and said “Always.” She gently pressed her lips to his, as the glow worked its way up the side of her face and landed on his cheek. “Let’s go.” They carried their belongings back to the car and tossed them in the back seat. CHAPTER 7 They pulled up at The Fortress and parked in front. The lot was nearly empty They hurried in to find Mrs. J clearing out her desk. Piles of books and papers were everywhere in her office. “Hi Mrs. J., what’s going on?” Amelia asked “Oh Amelia, I’m so glad you came in, I was fretting terribly about not seeing you before I left.” Mrs. J. said as she walked over and gave Amelia a quick hug. “Where are you going?” Amelia asked, confused “Is everything alright?” Gabriel asked “No, my dear, everything is not alright.” Mrs. J. replied “I’ll be going to see my sister in Nova Scotia.” She announced “For how long? Is she okay?” Amelia questioned “Oh yes, she’s just fine. I’m taking a sabbatical. I’m unsure how long I will be gone, but Mr. Simmons from the History department will be overseeing the library in my absence.” “This is so sudden, what’s wrong Mrs. J.?” Amelia pressed. Mrs. Jones walked around them and closed the office door. “I have been informed by some very powerful people that my services are no longer needed in the capacity of Historian for The Fortress.” “What people? What is going on?” Amelia demanded “Oh, my dear, it’s best if I don’t divulge too much to you.” Gabriel leaned on one of the nearby bookcases and listened intently “Have you noticed any strange goings on lately Amelia?” she asked “You have no idea.” Amelia said as she shook her head. “That’s just it, I do have an idea, and that’s why I have to leave for now.” Mrs. J. explained. “Mrs. Jones,” Gabriel began “is there anything we can do to assist you?” “Actually, there is, bring this with you to Virginia.” She said, as she handed him an old wooden box. It looked old and weathered, about the size of a grown man’s fist. “I don’t know what’s in it or how to open it.” She explained “But you need to give it to the man you are going to see, he is expecting you.” “Mrs. J., how did you know about that?” Amelia asked “We will bring it to him, Gabriel answered. “Will he know what to do with it?” “I’m not sure, but I can’t bring it with me.” “Can someone please, just tell me, what the hell is going on here?’ Amelia exclaimed “My dear girl, it has been an honor and a privilege working with you, and watching you become the strong, powerful woman that you are. I will see you again once all this is over, and we will sit down and have a nice long chat. For now, please, just trust me.” “Yeah, I seem to be getting that a lot lately.” Amelia replied “Amelia, let’s just send Mrs. Jones off, with our best wishes and do what we came here to do.” Gabriel offered. “Well, Mrs. J. I’m sure gonna miss you, and I can’t wait till we can sit down and have that chat.” Amelia said Mrs. J. walked over to Amelia and looked at her sternly. “Amelia, stay safe, and don’t trust anyone but Gabriel. I mean it. Good luck to you both. She pulled Amelia in for a hug, and Amelia wrapped her arms around Mrs. J. tightly and fought the tears, and the burn that had surprised her in the back of her throat. “Thank you for everything Mrs. J. You’ve been so good to me. I’ll miss you.” “And I you sweet girl, but we shall see each other again, remember, we have a date for a chat and a cup of tea.” “It’s a date.” Amelia said “Okay, off to find the book I suppose. I can’t believe she’s leaving.” Amelia groaned “and why did she tell me not to trust anyone but you?” “Well it’s obvious that she is more involved in things than any of us thought. I think we should let that go, just for now, and do what we came here to do, agreed?” Gabriel asked “Agreed.” She replied They headed down the hall to Amelia’s office, passing row after row of antique literature that had been read by probably, only a handful of people. Taking their age into consideration. Gabriel was amazed by them all. He walked right into Amelia’s back. “What it is? What’s wrong?” He asked, immediately on guard, looking all around the library. She stood, hands on her head, looking into her office through its no longer locked, wide open door. Drawers pulled out and dumped on the floor, papers and files and books strewn everywhere. Keepsakes knocked to the floor in pieces. Tears welled up in her eyes. Gabriel took her gently by the shoulders and put her behind him, as he entered the room, looking around to see if the intruder will still there. “Clear.” He declared after taking a walk around the spacious office. He walked to the door where Amelia still stood. He wrapped her in his arms. “I am so sorry this happened.” He spoke softly to her. “I just don’t understand” she choked out “why would someone trash my office like this? What did I ever do to anyone?” her voice trembled “I think they may have been looking for something specific Amelia.” Her eyes scanned the room, she turned back to the open door she had come through. On a hook, on the back of the door, hung her bag. In that bag was the book, she just knew it was still there. She walked over to the door and closed it softly. Gabriel’s eyes followed and he knew. He knew that the book was still there, and he knew that’s what whoever trashed the place was looking for. Amelia looked inside the bag and smiled an exhausted smile at Gabriel. He smiled back, “best you just leave it in there for now, and let’s get the hell out of here.” Amelia slung the bag over her shoulder and they headed out to the front of the building. Night had begun to move in on the day. The sky way a dark gray, filled with heavy clouds. It made the campus seem even darker than usual. They both moved quickly and quietly as they walked towards the car. They both climbed in, softly clicked the doors closed and then took off like a bat out of hell. “Okay Gabriel, what the hell do we do now?” she asked franticly as the wind blew her hair all around her face. “We stick to the plan.” He said calmly, “We take the book, and now this little box, to Virginia, and see what we can learn.” “But Mrs. J. said not to trust anyone.” “She also said to go to Virginia and see this guy Amelia. This is how we put the pieces together, isn’t that what you want? Cause I know I do.” “I know. You’re right, but I’m suddenly scared as hell and trust me, that doesn’t happen very often.” She explained. He reached for her hand, and as he gripped it snugly, the pink glow twisted itself around the two of their hands and forearms. “Amelia, I know that all of this is freaking you out. I also know how strong, courageous and intelligent you are. Keep your wits, and I’ll take care of the rest. I have already told you on more than one occasion. I will not let harm come to you. I meant it.” He said. His eyes, hard as steel. “Please just trust me.” He asked She Leaned over the console and kissed his lips softly. Looked him in the eye and said, “I do.” For a quick second he just kind of stared at her. The words already echoing in his mind, “I do.” The arc between them cracked, and pulled him from his momentary day dream. “Good”. He kissed her quickly. “Now let’s get to Virginia” “Okay, double date postponed.” She announced as she began texting J. “Wanna swing by my place so I can pack a bag?” “That’s where I was headed.” He confirmed “Okay, so how long do you think we’ll be gone?” she asked “I’m not sure, pack enough for a few days at least.” They pulled in at the dorm, he walked around and let her out. As soon as they entered the huge double doors, the security guard walked over to them. “Hi Amelia” he said “Hey Joe, how are ya?” she asked “Not too good.” He replied sadly “Why, what’s going on?” she asked “It’s Sara. She’s in the hospital.” “The hospital? Is she okay? What happened?” she asked nervously “Well, her boyfriend Tommy flew in to surprise her, and he came to ask me how to get to your room. As you know, for security reasons, I couldn’t just send him up there unescorted, so I brought him.” “Tommy’s here?” she interrupted “Where is he?” she asked as she looked around her “He’s with Sara, at the hospital.” Joe explained “So what happened?” Amelia pressed “We got to your room and there was no answer when we knocked. I knew she was home, because I have been here since 5 am, and she never left, and her car is still here. So I used my emergency key.” “Joe, please get to WHY Sara is in the hospital.” She said impatiently “When we went in, the room was totally trashed. Like, not even from a party trashed. Someone either had an epic, movie type battle in there, or you were robbed. It was such a mess, I couldn’t even tell if there was anything missing, but Sara was there, she was laying on her bed, fully dressed, shoes and all. Her eyes were wide open, but she was completely unresponsive. So we ended up having to call the paramedics.” “Oh my god!” Amelia clamped her hand over her mouth and burst into tears. Gabriel stood beside her, holding her tight. Me and Tommy checked it out, and there wasn’t anyone there, and I locked the door after the paramedics took her out, so you’re all set to go up if you want.” “Come on beautiful, I’ll go up with you.” Gabriel said Joe straightened his posture and looked at Amelia questioningly. “It’s Okay Joe, I’ll be alright.” she reassured him. “I’m awfully sorry something like this happened” he said sadly “I called Gary and he said it was as quiet as church around here last night, and the first activity I saw all morning was Tommy showing up. So I have no idea who could have done this, or when for that matter.” He explained “Or why.” Amelia said softly through her tears. “Thanks Joe” she said as she gave him a quick hug “I sure am sorry Amelia. Please let me know how Sara is when you hear anything?” he asked “Of course Joe, thanks again” she said Amelia led the way and slowly walked over to the elevator. She didn’t have the strength to walk the stairs right now. It dinged and the doors opened. They stepped inside and Gabriel pressed number 3. He held her close whispering into her hair, “I’m so, so sorry that this happened.” He held her close like that until they arrived at her floor. They left the elevator and headed down the short hallway to Amelia and Sara’s room. As promised, the door was locked. Amelia reached into her bag for her keys and opened it. It was like a scene from Animal House. Joe wasn’t kidding when he said it was trashed. Amelia looked around the room and began to cry again. She looked all around the room, paced a bit and then walked over to Sara’s bed and plopped down on it. As she sat there, her face went from sad and upset, to angry. She picked up the snow globe she had given Sara for Christmas and threw it against the wall with everything she had. It exploded into a watery mess of glitter and fake snow all over the wall and carpet. She began to cry again. Gabriel came and sat beside her. “I’m sure Sara is going to be just fine.” He tried to reassure her. Based on the little information they had, he knew it wasn’t very likely. “What is happening?” she yelled, he arms open wide as though an explanation was going to fall from the skies into her lap. “Well, it seems as if this book is more sought after than we first thought.” Gabriel stated the obvious “Let’s get your things together, the sooner we get to Virginia, the sooner we can get to the bottom of all of this.” “Okay, but I need to call the hospital first.” “Of course beautiful, whatever you need to do.” Gabriel tried to comfort her Amelia fished through her bag for her phone, tapped, swiped then dialed. “Hi, I’m looking to get information on the condition of a patient.” She said “Sara Andrews. Yes, I’ll hold.” Even though he could hear the woman on the other end of the line form across the room, he sat next to Amelia on the bed and held her hand. The arc that appeared around their hands was brighter and stronger than usual. Amelia didn’t notice, as she was looking around the room, while she waited for the woman to come back on the line, but Gabriel noticed, and it made him wonder. Another voice came on the line, “Shift nurse, third floor.” She stated “Um, yes, hi, I’m looking for info on a patient that was brought in by rescue this morning, Sara Andrews.” “No, I’m her roommate.” Amelia said Gabriel heard the woman say that she could only divulge patient info to family members “Well is her boyfriend still there with her?” Amelia asked “could I speak with him?” She was placed on hold again. Yet another voice come on the line. It was Tommy. “It’s Amelia, what’s going on? Is she okay? What happened to her?” “Hey Mel” he replied in a gravelly voice. “I don’t know what the hell happened to her Mel. It doesn’t make any sense. The doctors said that there is nothing wrong with her.” “She’s okay then?” she asked hopefully “No, she is definitely NOT okay, she is still unresponsive. They have to keep giving her artificial tears because she won’t even blink.” He sobbed “Oh my god.” Amelia had her hand over her mouth again, as if it would hold her anguish inside. “She’s on all kinds of monitors, hooked up to all types of machines, they want to keep an eye on her involuntary systems. They’ve slowed, but not to a point where she is in need of intubation or anything, but the doctors seem to think she’s going to decline from here on out. It’s a guessing, waiting, friggin horrible game.” “Tommy, I am so, so sorry. Have her parents been notified?” she asked “Yes, but they are on vacation in Australia, so it will be a couple of days before they can even get here.” At this point, Amelia had gotten up from the bed and begun pacing. When she heard that, she just stopped and hung her head back in exasperation and looked at the ceiling. She blinked hard. She wasn’t sure that she was seeing what she was seeing. There was what looked like a burn mark right above Sara’s bed. “Okay, you’re gonna stay with her right?” she confirmed not taking her eyes off the ceiling. “Of course, they’ll have to throw me out before I’d leave her, you know that Mel.” “Okay, just making sure. I actually have to go out of town for a few days, yes, shitty timing, I know, but it really can’t be avoided. I was just coming home to pack when I found out about Sara.” “Mel, what the hell happened in there? The place is a mess.” “I know, I’m here now. I don’t know what happened, but I’m hoping my little trip will bring us some answers.” “Huh?” “I know, doesn’t make sense, but for now, just trust me. You are welcome to come crash or shower here, or whatever you wanna do. I’m leaving in like ten minutes. I’ll call you from the road to check in, and if anything changes with Sara, please, please call me. I will have my cell on 24/7.” “Okay, Mel, will do. Be careful and I’ll talk to you soon.” “Thanks Tommy, talk to you soon.” Amelia tossed her phone down on the bed and continued to look at the burn mark on the ceiling. Gabriel followed her gaze. He immediately stood up and rushed to Amelia’s side. Still looking at the scorch marks he said, “Amelia, grab a bag, put some clothes in it, and let’s go. Now.” “What IS that?” she asked, still looking up “Nothing good. Hurry up, what can I do to help?” “Okay, um, can you go into the bathroom and grab the shampoo and conditioner out of the shower? The yellow bottles, and the toothbrush and paste from the sink closest the door?” she asked He was on the move, gathering her items. She quickly opened her drawers and collected her clothes, cramming them into an overnight bag. She stopped by her night stand and grabbed her framed photo of her, j and Sara. “Gabriel, all set.” she called “That was fast, great, let’s go.” He said They hurried out the door and out to the elevator, she pressed the down button. “Amelia, are you okay, love?” he asked as he rubbed the small of her back “I’m worried sick about Sara, this is just a lot. This is unparalleled craziness,, and I have never felt so many things all at once in my life. But,” she looked up at him. Taking in everything that he was, all that they were, all that they could be. “If you’re with me, I feel like I can handle anything.” “There will never be a time that I’m not with you, unless you send me away, and even then, I would still be with you Amelia.” She gave him a small smile and leaned against him. “Mr. Alexander, has anyone ever told you that you’ve got a way with words?” “Not in a very long time.” He smiled CHAPTER 8 The highway was like a parking lot, even though was past rush hour, this area was usually busy all summer. “We should be out of this traffic soon, GPS says it’ll open up in a couple of miles.” Amelia’s cell began playing a rock song. “That will be J wondering what the hell.” “Hey J” she answered Traffic opened up and they were once again at cruising speed. “I know, and I’m sorry, shit is just cray-zee today, oh my word you’ll never- what? Oh my god J, are you okay?” she gave Gabriel a worried look, and he began to slow the car down, wondering if they’d have to turn back. “Okay Hun, I’m with Gabriel now and I’m putting you on speaker.” She tapped the phone’s screen twice and held the phone up between them. “Okay J go ahead.” “Hey Gabe.” “Hey J. What’s happening, my man?” Gabriel asked “Well, J began, “I just got home from a night out with the boy toy, and my place is in shambles. The door was wide open. It looks like a frat party exploded all up in here.” “Listen to what I’m going to say to you J.” Gabriel said “Pack a bag, get out of town for a few days, maybe a week. Can you do that?” “Of course, but what the hell is going on? ‘ “Lets’ just say that we have something that someone wants apparently. Amelia and I are going to Virginia to see if we can get it sorted out. I’m sorry that you got dragged into it man.” “J,” Amelia began, “Sara is in the hospital, and apparently someone broke into our room while she was there.” “Oh Em Gee..is she alright?” J asked “She’s okay for now, but she’s unresponsive and they are observing her. Tommy is with her.” “Tommy’s here?” he asked confused “Yeah, he had flown in to surprise her and he and Joe Security found her when there was no answer at our door. I was with Gabriel.” “Oh my god, oh my god.” J panicked “J, listen to me,” Gabriel started, “Remember to lay low, don’t tell anyone anything, about the break ins, or about Sara. We are going to get to the bottom of all this, just stay safe till we get back.” “I understand Gabe. If yall need anything on the road, hit me up. I’ve got friends all the way to the Keys.” “Thanks man, and remember, lay low.” Gabriel said “Will do, Be safe, love yall.” J said as he disconnected the call. Amelia threw her cell in her bag. “What the hell? Why would anyone think that J has this book?” “He is your best friend.” Gabriel pointed out “Okay, well whoever is looking for it, probably thinks that neither of us has it then, right?” she asked hopefully. “Right.” He confirmed “But that still doesn’t tell us who is looking for it, or why. Maybe we will get those answers as well while we’re in Virginia.” “Do you think we should have waited till the morning to leave?” “Why? Time is relative, we need to get going, and what difference does it really make? Driving at night or during the day?” He questioned “Yeah, I suppose you’re right. I’m just so exhausted after this day.” She sighed “Well beautiful, why don’t you recline and get cozy, there’s a pillow and stuff in the back seat if you want to grab it.” He offered “Well I would if the seats in a 67 Camaro reclined.” She laughed “Aren’t you a little smarty pants” he chuckled “You’re right, they don’t, but these do.” He leaned across her and pulled the lever and she dropped back in the seat with a start. They both laughed. “That doesn’t make any sense!” She yelled, as she let the much needed laughter take her over. “When I rebuilt her the last time, I used seats from a 67 Chevelle.” He explained “I thought they seemed a bit off.” She replied “Not off, like, in a bad way, but there was just something different that I just couldn’t put my finger on.” “I used to do almost all my traveling by car. I love to drive, I love this car, seemed like a no brainer when I put these seats in, because I would usually just pull off at a rest area and catch a few Zs. It’s a lot easier to do when you’re reclined. So I put these in.” he told her “You’re a smart man Gabriel Alexander.” She surmised. Amelia woke to darkness and the sound of Gabriel’s door closing. She pulled the lever to bring her seat back to the upright position. Looking around, she realized they were at a rest stop. She turned herself around in the seat to see Gabriel headed towards the rear of the car, then open the trunk. Gabriel had waited as long as he could. He really needed to get to those blood bags in the trunk. His throat was like the Sahara, his gums were aching, to the point of distraction. He was beginning to lose focus. So he pulled off at the next rest stop he saw and killed the engine. He sat quietly for a moment, looking at Amelia as she slept. She was so exhausted. As strong as she was, this was a lot for her. He hoped that whatever lay ahead, she would be able to handle that too. This was some pretty crazy shit, and he knew it was only going to get crazier. For a split second, a tiny piece of him wondered what it would be like, to lean over and taste her right now. Just a little taste. She was reclined in the passenger seat, with one arm raised above her, resting atop her head. Her other arm was in her lap, her face turned away from him, the beautiful, sun kissed skin of her neck calling to him. So soft. So soft. It probably wouldn’t even pop when he pierced it. So soft, that he could just sink into it, it would be so warm, so unyielding. He stared at her throat a moment too long and he began to salivate, he could feel his fangs pushing through his aching gums. “Holy shit!” he jolted back to reality, “I need to get out of here.” He quietly opened his door and slid out of the seat, then turning to close the door, so that it only made a slight “click”. He placed his arms on the roof and hung his head down to look at her through the closed window. How could he ever even have thoughts like that? His beautiful girl, he could never think about her in that way ever again. How could he do such a thing? He was about to slam his fist on the roof, but stopped short, as he didn’t want to wake her. He turned and leaned against the door, took a few deep breaths and decided to head to the trunk once and for all. He should have never waited so long. He put the key in the lock and turned it. When the trunk unlatched it popped up and he grabbed it so it wouldn’t go flying open. He didn’t want to wake her. The red and white cooler lay there before him, his salvation. The ache in his gums grew to be almost unbearable, as he reached inside to grab a bag, the anticipation taking him over, he heard a noise. Amelia decided to get out and see what was up, and where they were. She figured she must had slept a few hours at least. As she opened her door, she got a whiff of the evening air. It smelled so clean, she could tell that they were near fresh water. A pond, probably a lake, the gentle breeze that carried the scent mussing her hair all around her face. She walked over to the trunk just as Gabriel was closing it. “Hey” she said “Oh, hey beautiful, I didn’t wake you did I?” he asked “No, I think I just sensed that we had stopped. How long was I out for?” “About four hours.” “Wow” she said, as she stretched her arms out at her sides, yawning. “I knew you could use the rest, so I just let you sleep.” “Thanks. I think it actually may have done me some good. I hate to say this but, you actually look a bit tired yourself. Want me to drive for a while?” she asked He could only imagine how he looked to her right this minute. His gums and throat hurt like hell. His nostrils were even starting to hurt with each breath. He must look crazed. “You scorn me, fair lady.” He joked “Have my dashing good looks abandoned me?” “Never.” She replied teasingly. “You just look a bit tired, that’s all.” “Yeah, I am kind of feeling it. How about you drive till the next place you see where we can stop for the night, and I’ll relax for a bit in your seat?” “Sounds like a plan.” With what he may have been doing in the trunk all but forgotten, she walked over to the driver’s side and got in. He handed her the keys and she slid them into the ignition. The engine came to life, like an angry animal being woken from its sleep. She carefully made her way out of the rest area and out into traffic, which there was very little of at this hour of night. She glided through the gears until she was keeping with the flow of the other cars. Gabriel turned towards her from the passenger seat and watched. He knew that she knew cars, muscle cars in particular, but she looked like she had been in the driver’s seat of this car all her life. Like the way a rider and horse know each other. She knew this car. Third gear sticking a little, didn’t even phase her. She instinctively knew how much longer to hold the clutch in so that it was barely noticeable. Without taking her eyes off the road, she asks him, “Why are you looking at me like that?” “Perspective.” He answers “Perspective? What does that mean?” “It means I have a new one.” “Okay…and what exactly does that mean?” she asked “Passenger seat perspective.” “And I repeat, Okay, what does that mean? She laughed “What it means my beautiful girl, is that I have never sat in this seat before right now.” She let that sink in for a minute and stole a quick glance at him. He was still looking at her. Grinning. “Are you saying that you have never let anyone drive this car?” she offered “That’s exactly what I’m saying” he smirked The drove in silence for a few minutes and then Amelia turned and looked at him. He was exhausted, that was plain enough. What she couldn’t figure out was why. Why was he SO exhausted? True, it had been a long ass day, but he was worse off than she was at this point. Her life was falling apart around her. Once again. He was so cool and together all the time. He always knew what to do, always had an answer. Almost like nothing even phased him. Now here he was, borderline hot mess, falling asleep in the passenger seat. “Well, thanks Gabriel.” she smiled “That really means something, ya know?” “Yes, he replied, and I know that you know it.” He reached out to touch her arm and the glow lit up the interior of the car. They smiled again and he dropped his arm to the center console. “My wallet and some cash in here, okay? just so you know.” “Okay.” “I think we should stop in a couple more hours, what do you think?” “That’s fine with me, it’s getting late, and I’m getting tired, I know you are too.” She answered “Okay, just pull off at the next exit you see with a hotel.” “Will do.” They drove for another couple of hours and she pulled off and exit and right into a motel parking lot. Gabriel was asleep in the passenger seat, but woke when the car stopped. “Where are we?” he asked “Um,” Amelia looked up at the neon sign, “Cedarwood Inn” Gabriel straightened himself and looked out the window. “Amelia, why would you pull into a shit hole like this?” “What? It’s just a place to crash for a few hours, looked okay to me.” “I will not have you sleeping in a place like this.” He replied “Why? Are you worried for my safety?” she asked “Somewhat.’ He answered as he looked around the half empty lot they were in. “Well, I’m not. Besides, you’re with me. There isn’t anything else around, and I’m pretty beat. I’m sure you’ll protect me.” She teased “Fine.” He said. She could tell he was mildly irritated, but knew that he wouldn’t argue any further. They got out and headed to the lobby. It was super small, just a counter and a water cooler that had seen better days. The kid behind the desk looked up from his school books when he heard them come in. “Can I help you?” the kid asked “Yes, we’d like a room for the night.” Gabriel said “Sure thing, just need an ID and 75.00” the kid told him Gabriel placed cash and an ID on the counter. The kid took them both and began punching numbers into his computer. As they stood there waiting, Gabriel was thankful that they had finally stopped. Now he could grab a bag from the trunk and calm his nerves. He couldn’t believe how hungry he had gotten today. He needed to quench the burn, especially if he was to be in a room all night with a sleeping Amelia. “Room 13.” The kid said as he handed Gabriel a key and his ID back. “Thanks.” Gabriel said as he took them. They walked back to the car to grab their bags. Gabriel reached into the back seat and grabbed both, then led the way to room 13. Once there, he unlocked to door and peered inside. “Stay right here for a sec.” he instructed He walked into the room and flipped the lights on, then the bathroom, lights on. He looked around, then motioned for her to come in. “All clear?” she joked “Yes.” He answered flatly “Are you okay?” she asked “Yes, I’m fine, just tired is all.” He answered Amelia walked over to the bureau where he had set their bags down and started unzipping hers. “Okay, I’ll take the floor.” Gabriel announced Amelia turned and looked at him questioningly “Why?” she asked “So you can have the bed.” He answered plainly “Gabriel, we’re both adults. There’s no reason for you to spend the night on the floor.” She argued His hunger was starting to get the best of him, and he didn’t want to tempt fate by laying there next to her, smelling her amber sunshine scent while he waited for her to fall asleep. He had to get out to the trunk. He could just NOT breathe, but he knew she’d notice. “Know what, you’re right.” He decided. “I’m just gonna jump in the shower real quick if you don’t mind.” He said “No, of course, go ahead.” She replied “I’ll flip channels in the meantime.” “Okay, I’ll only be a few minutes, if you need me, holler.” “I’m sure I’ll survive.” She smiled He headed into the bathroom with his toiletry bag and locked the door behind him. He leaned on the counter for a moment to steady his mind. His hunger was wearing him down, fast. “I’ve got to get to the car.” He said to his reflection. He knew that if she needed him, and called out, he would easily hear her from the parking lot. He checked the window. Not painted shut. Win. He turned on the shower and hoisted himself through the window. He dropped down in the back of the motel. Not a vagrant to be found. He quickly, quietly crept around to the parking lot. As he turned the corner to head towards his car, a horrible sight beheld his eyes. His trunk was wide open. “Son of a bitch!” he exclaimed He walked over to the car and his worst fear was realized. The cooler was gone. So was his picnic basket and blankets. “Who in the blue blazes would take everything?” he thought The trunk was completely bare. His spare tire and jack were gone too. “Damnit.” He slammed his fist down onto the trunk. It popped back up and he slammed it again. He stood there in astonishment. They had only been there for twenty minutes and already he’d been robbed. What the hell. He shouldn’t have waited so long, if he hadn’t, he would be in much better shape than he was right now. What the hell was he going to do? He fished his phone out of his pocket and dialed Rob. “Hey, hey, my man. How’s the honeymoon going?” he joked “Rob, I have a serious problem.” Gabriel answered “What’s wrong?” Rob asked “Well, Amelia and I have stopped at a motel to get a few hours – Rob interrupted with a chuckle, “and you forgot protection?” “Rob, this is not the time for your adolescence. I have a serious problem, like I said” “Okay, what’s wrong?” “I was already feeling the pull of the thirst when we left, now its hours and hours later, and here I am in Ass Crack Pennsylvania looking at my empty trunk.” “Wait, what do you mean, empty trunk?’ ‘I mean we have been here twenty minutes and my car has already been broken in to. I snuck out to get a bag and the whole god damn cooler is gone.” “Oh shit.” Rob said “Yes, oh shit.” Gabriel said “No other options?” Rob asked ‘If there were, I wouldn’t have called.” Gabriel growled into the phone “This place is a ghost town.” He added “Okay, well there’s another problem.” Rob stated “I’m not sure I can get another batch so soon, and even if I could, a messenger wouldn’t be able to get it to you until tomorrow afternoon.” “Oh my god, what the hell am I going to do?” Gabriel begged as he ran a hand through his hair. “Well dude, you are there with your very own tasty morsel.” Gabriel growled again “I said there were no other options!” “Okay, okay, lemme think for a sec.” “I’ve got to get back in there, she thinks I’m in the shower. Text me in a few.” “Ok man, will do.” Rob assured him, and Gabriel put his phone back in his pocket. He crept back around the back of the building and climbed back in the bathroom window. He shut the faucet off and stood there bracing himself against the counter. He could hear Amelia on the phone with Tommy, so he knew he had a few more minutes. Suddenly she was on the other side of the door. “So I just talked to Tommy, there’s no change with Sara.” She said through the closed door He mustered his composure, “I’m so sorry to hear that beautiful, hopefully things will start looking up for her tomorrow.” “Yeah”, she said sadly, “hopefully.” “I’ll be out in just a sec.” he said “Okay, no problem.” She answered He couldn’t hide in the bathroom all night. He decided that he would just try not breathing when she was near him. He had no choice. He had to make it till tomorrow. CHAPTER 9 He opened the bathroom door to find her laying across the bed on her stomach, her legs bent up behind her, crossed at the ankles, as she looked at her phone. She was facing the foot of the bed, her hair hanging around her face, holding the glow from the screen in front of her. She heard the door open and looked away from her screen to him. “Hey.” She smiled softly “Hey.” He replied “Are you okay? You don’t look so good.” She observed “Actually, I’m not feeling very well, must have been something I ate today.” More like didn’t eat he thought. “I was brushing my teeth and decided to save the hot water for you. You can shower first and I’ll make due with whatever is left.” “Always a gentleman. I’ll take it.” She said as she got up from the bed and grabbed her own bag to bring into the bath with her. “Take your time, relax a little,” he advised “we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.” “Ain’t that the truth? Okay, if you need me, just holler.” She teased “Will do” he mustered a smile for her as she closed the bathroom door. His cell buzzed in his pocket So sorry man, you’re gonna have to figure something out. I can’t get anything till the end of the week. If I come up with anything, I’ll let you know. Keep me posted. R “Shit, shit, shit.” He said to the now empty room. He laid back against the creaky headboard and tried to calm himself. His throat was starting to feel like it was being sliced with razor blades. His gums in a seemingly permanent state of inflammation. His heart was banging in his chest. Thinking about lying next to Amelia all night made everything so much worse, for a multitude of reasons. He would just have to wait till she fell asleep and sneak out to see if anything was around. Then he had a thought he didn’t think he’d ever have. He hoped she didn’t want to stay up talking. He loved talking with her, even if it was about all the craziness that was going on, and what would happen when they got the book to this linguistics guy. He hoped he could manage not breathing till she fell asleep. Praying to the universe that she wouldn’t notice. Please just let me get through this night, he thought. She had been in the bathroom for about twenty minutes when the door creaked open. He looked up to see her standing in the doorway, like an angel, the light glowing from behind her, igniting the pink in her hair, wearing white shorts and a pink t shirt. She kind of just stood there for a moment, looking at him. “Is everything okay?” he asked “Yeah, I’m fine, just exhausted.” She answered Thank you universe, he said to himself “Me too.” He lied. He wasn’t exhausted, just starving. “Well, come on then,” he stood and pulled the blankets down for her. “You get under these cozy blankets, and I’ll lay on top.” He instructed “Whatever you say.” She replied, as she crossed the room to the bed. “Finally!” he laughed Amelia climbed into the bed and laid down, with the biggest of sighs. “Gabriel?” “Yes beautiful?” “Do you think we will ever get to the bottom of this? Of everything that’s been going on?” “Yes, I do Amelia. If I didn’t, we wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t be going to Virginia.” “I hope you’re right. This is just too much.” She said as she stretched her arms out above her head and tried to get comfortable. It will all be over soon.” He promised “Why don’t you get some rest, we should get an early start.” He said “Sounds good.” She said sleepily, “just one more thing.” “What’s that, beautiful girl?” he asked She rolled onto her side and leaned on her elbow facing him. He was sitting with his back against the head board. “Come here.” she said Not breathing hadn’t really been a problem thus far, but he had a feeling things were about to get much more difficult for him. He leaned closer to her as she reached out to him. Her hand finding its way through his hair and around to the back of his neck. The amulet began to warm in his pocket. She pulled him closer, he fell willingly towards her as her lips pressed against his. He had to take a breath, he couldn’t take it anymore. Her warm scent descended upon him and he felt a low growl escape his throat. The taste of her lips, her amber essence, and her soapiness overtook him. The electricity moved between them, the pink glow creating a mystical hue to the room, as it fought the blue light of the TV. He moved closer to her, and wrapped his arms around her, breathing her in. His hands tangled in her hair as he deepened their kiss. She moaned softly as his hands moved down her back to her waist. He wanted to press himself against her, pinning her to the mattress, and do unspeakable things. It was time to stop. He gently pulled away, breaking the spell. Heavy lidded, she smiled at him. “I’m so glad we found each other Gabriel.” She said softly “As am I beautiful girl. Get some rest.” “Good night Gabriel.” She whispered “Good night Amelia.” He replied It wasn’t long before an exhausted Amelia fell asleep. It was still difficult for him to breathe. Her scent filled the room, the blankets, the bed, his soul. God he was really in love with this girl. He could never hurt her. In any way. And that included drinking from her. Now was his chance. He had to be sure she was in a deep enough sleep. Her heartbeat and breathing had slowed considerably, but he wasn’t ready to risk sneaking out of the room yet. “Amelia, sweetie, are you awake?” he asked softly She hardly stirred, but mumbled something unintelligible, like, “the muffins are on the engine.” He decided that was good enough for him. He slowly rose from the bed, trying not to disturb the mattress or blankets. He slowly made his way over to the door, it was a small room, and he was a big guy, so it was only a couple of steps. He stopped and turned to face the bed and a sleeping Amelia. He walked back over to the bed, bent down next to her and picked up her cell phone off the night stand and turned it off. The last thing he needed was a call coming in, it would wake her, and she would see that he wasn’t there. He’d turn it back on when he got back. He stood and made his way to the door once again. He slowly turned the doorknob, and pulled the door open. The humid night air met him with a sense of dread. He clicked the door closed and was gone before any human would have ever seen him. About a mile away he came upon another crappy motel, but this one had a lounge. And a lounge always meant drunk assholes. Lucky for him. He walked into the lounge and took a seat at the bar. It was your typical dive, filthy floors, a jukebox and several lonely hearts at the bar. There were a few tables around the perimeter of the room. He scoped them out. A couple hanging all over each other with empty bottles of wine littering their table. An old guy, alone, drinking something on the rocks. Two older woman, sitting in a booth, laughing, consumed by their own hilarity. Slim pickings. He ordered a scotch and soda and decided to hang out for a while and see what opportunities presented themselves. That’s when they walked in. Well, stumbled in. It was the remnants of a bachelor party. One guy was wearing a shirt that said GROOM, and the guy next to him had one that read BEST MAN. There were nine guys and two girls. They were making a ruckus from the moment they came in. Laughing and playing around. They walked over to the bar and ordered a round of shots. Once the shots came and were handed out, they loudly declared their intention of closing the place, as it was their last stop of the evening. The best man slapped one of the girls asses, “Come on Gina! Why don’t ya give us a little dance?” “Because I am not the hired help.” She laughed “Just because you guys were too cheap to hire strippers, don’t look at me.” “Why do you think we invited you?” he hissed back at her And here is the lucky asshole who is going to solve all my problems, Gabriel thought The group ordered a couple of pitchers and found a table in the back. Best man, grabbing at Gina’s ass the whole time. Stupid Gina. Why would she agree to go out with a bachelor party? Nothing good could come from that. The group piled into their booth and began sloppily pouring beers for each of them. Gabriel just sat and watched, and sipped his drink. Apparently Best Man and Gina used to be a thing, but he cheated on her. It was a long time ago, but she still has a thing for him. So that explains why she’d agree to go out with a bachelor party. The other girl, Sandra, he could tell was just a skank. The groom seemed to be a decent guy, but just got stuck hanging out with the losers from his neighborhood, even though he had made a decent life for himself and his soon to be wife. The others were just wasted. Best Man it would be. Drunks always tasted disgusting. Clearly this was a beggars can’t be choosers type situation. He would make do. He knew it would only be a matter of time before Best Man went out for a smoke, he could smell it on him. Twenty minutes later, it was time for a smoke break. Best Man got up and headed out to the parking lot. Gabriel followed. He watched the guy open the door to what looked like a rented party van, lean inside and grab his cigarettes. Best man lit one and leaned against the side of the van. Clearly wasted by this point. Gabriel looked around, it was late, and the parking lot was deserted. Perfect. He walked over towards Best Man, the guy said “Hey man, what’s up?” “What’s up?” Gabriel replied “I’ll tell you what’s up. You’re an asshole.” Best man looked stunned “What the hell is that supposed to mean? Do I know you?” he asked confused “No, but I know you.” Gabriel growled In an instant, Gabriel was on him. He grabbed Best Man by the neck and pinned him up against the van. The guy was so drunk he hardly even made a sound, Gabriel was also lightning fast. He held the guy by his neck with one hand, and opened the side door of the van with the other. He got in the van and pulled the guy in, then closed the door. The van reeked of beer and vomit. Gabriel almost wanted to say forget this shit, but his hunger had taken over at this point. He held the Best Man against him, with one hand on his shoulder and one on his head. His fangs protruded through his swollen gums, saliva dripped from the corner of his mouth as the burn in his throat screamed to be doused. His fangs dug into the Best Man’s neck with a quick pop, and instantly Gabriel began to be flooded with relief. It tasted like shit, but it was exactly what he needed. Best Man passed out. Gabriel couldn’t stop. He was so, so, thirsty. It felt like it had been fifty years since his last drink. He gulped the thick, beer tainted blood like it was kool aid. He finally felt better, His throat wasn’t burning anymore, and his mouth no longer ached. He could feel his energy returning. He left Best Man laying across the third row seat and got out of the van. He took a quick glance around, and was gone in a flash. He returned to the motel room as fast as he could, hoping that Amelia was still asleep. There shouldn’t be any reason that she would wake, but with the stress she’s feeling, he was worried that she might be restless. He slowly, quietly, opened the door to the room. Amelia was now sprawled out in the middle of the bed on her stomach. He closed the door behind him and crept towards the bathroom, he was sure he needed to clean up a bit. He paused for a moment while he decided what his next move would be. Amelia heard the click of the door and was immediately awakened. She didn’t move, but she opened one eye and saw a shadow move across the wall. She realized that she was in the middle of the bed, which meant that Gabriel wasn’t in it. She could see the chair, and he wasn’t in that either. Suddenly she realized that he was gone. She never thought for a moment that it was him creeping around in the dark. Now she was scared. She slowly reached under the pillow, over to the night stand for her phone. She felt around and finally got it. Pulling it back towards her, ever so slowly. She could sense that whoever was in the room was now crouched down. She held her phone up next to her, cupping it to block the light, she tapped the screen. Nothing happened. “Why the hell is my phone dead? It had a full charge.” She wondered. If she turned it on, it would beep. She decided to just wait a minute, and stay exactly as she was. Her heart was pounding a hundred miles an hour. Gabriel decided to take his boots off at the door, as he bent down to unlace them, he got a whiff of something different in the room. Something other than Amelia’s scent. Then he heard it. Thump, thump, thump, thump- thump- thump. It was her heart. She was awake. And she was scared. He quickly realized that she probably thought someone just broke into their room. He had to think fast. “It’s me.” He whispered “What are you doing?” she asked “Just went out for a walk that’s all, I’m sorry if I woke you.” “Woke me? Almost gave me a heart attack is more like it.” She answered “Hey, did you turn my phone off?” she asked “Yes, I did, I’m sorry, I just wanted you to get some uninterrupted rest.” He said “Please don’t ever do that again. Tommy needs to be able to reach me at any time, day or night. That’s a call, I will gladly be woken up for.” She said “Understood. I apologize.” “It’s okay.” She said “Go back to sleep beautiful.” She rolled over towards the night stand and clicked the light on. “Oh my god! What happened?” she exclaimed “What do you mean?” he asked “You’ve got blood on your face.” “Oh do I?” he asked as he felt around his jaw Amelia sat bolt upright “What happened?” “Oh, it’s nothing, a couple of punks out in the parking lot thought they were gonna gang up on me, that’s all.” “Oh my god, what happened? They try to jump you?” she asked “Yes, but they were both disappointed.” He grinned Amelia got up out of the bed and walked over to him, looking him over. “Are you sure you’re okay?” she asked “Yes, I’m fine.” “Come here.” She said as she moved towards the bathroom, “let me help you get cleaned up.” “Really, I’m fine.” He protested “Good, I’m glad you’re fine. Now come in here and let me take a look.” She commanded Her heart rate was still high, but the fear was gone. Gabriel felt terrible lying to her like this, but it was so not time to tell her the truth. He reluctantly walked into the bathroom, closed the toilet lid, and had a seat. “Well, I’d hate to see the other guys.” She smiled, “you don’t seem to have a scratch on you.” She ran warm water over a wash cloth, wrung it out and came to stand in front of him. He looked up at her. “It was just a couple of young guys, they both came at me swinging, so I just swung back.” He said She gently began to run the warm cloth down his cheek, around to his chin, and wiped the blood away. She rinsed the cloth and repeated the process. “What were you doing out there anyway?” she asked “I just couldn’t sleep, I thought maybe the night air would help.” “Yeah, it helped alright.” She replied “I’m sorry.” He said as he looked into her eyes while she stood before him. “You don’t have anything to apologize for.” She said “But I do.” he said “I shouldn’t have left you alone, and scared you when I returned.” “It’s okay,” she said, “no big deal.” “And now, you’re here, cleaning me up after a scuffle in the parking lot. Unacceptable.” He said She stopped what she was doing and looked back at him. “Gabriel, you have nothing to be sorry about, and I’m the one who wanted to help you get cleaned up, after said scuffle. So stop apologizing. Okay?” “Okay, beautiful girl. Thank you.” He said, as he placed his hand on hers, momentarily stopping what she was doing. He pulled her arm towards him, so she stepped in close to him, now standing between his legs as he sat. He wrapped his arms around her and leaned his head against her stomach. “No one has ever treated me this way Amelia.” He confessed “How do you mean?” she asked “Taken care of me. Because that’s exactly what you’re doing.” “Well, that’s what you do for people you care about.” She replied “Yes, but you do it in such a way, that it makes a man feel a certain way.” “And what way is that?” “Loved.” She pulled back from him just enough that they could look at each other. He immediately stood up, took her in his arms and pressed his lips to hers as he whispered “Thank you Amelia.” She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck, continuing their kiss. His lips were full and soft, just like hers. Moist, but not slobbery, warm and comfortable, like silk dancing between them. She pressed her body to his, and he gripped her even tighter, returning the pressure against her. The pink arcs lingered between them, and around them as they held each other tight. “I don’t mean any disrespect.” He said as he momentarily broke their kiss, he dragged his hand down her back and placed his massive hand on her ass cheek, and gently squeezed, pulling her closer still. They were both breathing heavily, as their kisses deepened, her one hand tangled in his hair and the other under his arm, gripping his back. After a few more minutes, they slowly clamed themselves and disentangled. “We really should get some rest.” He said, out of breath “We really should.” She agreed, as she kissed him again. “You’re looking much better.” She observed, “You were beginning to look as if you were coming down with something.” “I feel much better now.” he grinned “I bet you do.” She laughed, “Come on, let’s get to sleep.” “Go ahead, I’ll be right there.” He said “Okay.” She replied Amelia left him alone in the bathroom, closing the door behind her. She got back in bed and pulled the covers up to her chin, settling in. She could still feel his lips on hers, the firmness of his body pressed against her, she still felt breathless. She could definitely see herself feeing this way every day of her life. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she began to really believe that they were connected in more ways than just the glow and the necklace. But how to figure it out was the problem. She decided not to think those thoughts. For tonight, she would enjoy the bliss and fall asleep in his arms. Ridiculously happy, terrified, and worried all at once. Once the door closed behind her, Gabriel sat down again. His heart was pumping faster than it has in a long time. Good thing he was impervious to heart attacks and things of that sort. This woman would put the average man in an early grave. He could feel it right down to his bones. She loved him. And he loved her. There was no denying that now. She felt more right in his arms than anything in this world ever could. He knew how to kiss her, how to touch her, how to hold her in his arms, he knew HER. Better than he has ever known anyone, and he also knew, that she knew him too. He’d have to tell her the truth soon. He hated lying to her. Pretty soon, she was going to be able to pick up on it. They were getting closer and closer, deepening their connection. He did not want her to catch him in a lie, or figure out on her own what he really is. What the hell would he do? He decided that was a worry for another day. Tonight, he would rest, and hold the woman he loves in his arms and feel the kind of peace that he hasn’t felt for one day since he was cursed. No force in this world would ever separate them. Unless she wanted to leave. He would never be without her. And that was that. He finished cleaning up and opened the bathroom door. She was laying on one side of the bed, with the covers turned down on the empty side. A clear invitation. How he’d love to climb into that bed and make love to her all night. Make her feel everything that he feels for her. But he won’t. That will happen when, and only when, she wants it to. And it sure as hell won’t happen in some shitty motel room. He walked over and stood beside the bed. “Is that an invitation?” he asked motioning toward the turned down blankets. “It is.” she smiled “You can get underneath, sleeping on top is ridiculous.” She said “You mind if I change into some lounge pants?” He asked “Course not.” He grabbed his bag and set it on the bed, and fished around for a minute before pulling out a pair of blue cozy pants. He put the bag back on the floor and unzipped his pants, paused and took his shirt off first. Amelia’s eyes were glued to him. She finally got to see what was under all those tight shirts he wore. He was built alright. No crazy ripped, but definitely some serious muscles. His body was thick, strong, solid. She noticed a tattoo over his heart, a crest of some kind. Then he turned away from the bed. She could still see him from the dim light coming in through the curtains. He bent to pull his pants off, and she could see, even in the dim light, the muscles move in his back, and the size and obvious strength of his thighs. The man was a specimen alright. She couldn’t believe that his man, who was so far, in her opinion, perfect in every way, was about to climb into bed with her. She calmed herself with the knowledge that the best was yet to come. They were going to get this book deciphered, figure out what the glow was from, and who was after the book and why. It was all just too much for her head to hold right now, but that didn’t stop her from admiring the view. Once he had his lounge pants on, he climbed into the bed and pulled the blankets over him. He rested his head on the pillow and let out a huge sigh. What a long, stressful night this has turned in to. “You okay?” she asked “Yes, I’m fine. Just glad this day is finally over. It felt unusually long.” He answered “Agreed.” She said, as she rolled toward him. “Thank you Gabriel.” She whispered “For what?” “For everything. Finding me.” She paused. “For trying to figure all this crazy out with me.” “Amelia, your crazy is my crazy. We’re in this together.” He gave her a soft kiss on her lips, “Let’s get some rest.” She rolled onto her back and let out a huge sigh of her own. “Goodnight Gabriel.” “Goodnight Amelia.” CHAPTER 10 He relaxed every muscle in his body, and did some deep breathing. He intended to go into a meditative state as opposed to sleeping. He could still hear Amelia’s heartbeat, it had slowed considerably. He was certain, that after a few minutes she had fallen asleep. She laid there with a million thoughts racing through her mind. The bathroom scene for one. She had never, and would never feel the way about anyone, the way she felt about Gabriel. It was becoming more and more clear that her feelings weren’t superficial, or temporary. Besides that, there was the connection of the glow and the necklace. She knew it in her bones that they were meant to be together. She had no clue how, or why, but she knew it was true. She was officially out of denial. Time for rest. How was he already asleep? Even though it was the wee hours, he had just been in a fight. Probably wiped him out. She mustered all the courage she had, and whispered into the dark. “I love you Gabriel Alexander.” She closed her eyes and fell blissfully into a much needed sleep. Gabriel had already relaxed himself to the point of semi unawareness, but always keeping an ear at attention, since his top priority was Amelia and her safety. He was lulled away to a beach he had never seen, where he basked in the warmth of the summer sun, listening to the waves and their serene rhythm. He could smell the salt in the air, feel the sun’s rays penetrating his skin, the warm sand below him, when he suddenly heard a voice. He was immediately pulled back into his body, on that bed, in that motel room, with Amelia. His ears rang with the echo of her words, “I love you Gabriel Alexander.” His eyes shot open and he sat up in the bed. He listened, but heard nothing more. He sensed that she was lingering, in the first stage of sleep. Which meant that just a moment ago, she very well could have been awake. His heart swelled. Whether or not she said it aloud, he knew that she had said it, and that she meant it. Words he hadn’t heard spoken in hundreds of years. This changed everything. Gods, he was so in love with her. He had to tell her. It might already be too late. He had to figure out a way to be honest with her, without her freaking out completely. Another thing to add to the ever growing list of shit that had to be dealt with. But to have a life with her? It would be so worth it. He turned toward her, and smiled into the darkness. “Sweet dreams my love.” Then he laid down again, intent on resting till sun up. They were both awakened by the sound of the maid knocking on the door. “Housekeeping.” They heard from the other side of the door. “Come back later please.” Gabriel answered “Well that’s a fine how do you do, at seven am.” Amelia groaned as she sat up in the bed “Good morning beautiful, how did you sleep?” he asked “Surprisingly well.” she smiled “Great, ready to start this day?” he asked “If I have to, I suppose.” She replied “Okay, you can have the bathroom first.” He offered She gathered her things and headed into the bathroom. “Brush, wash and dress. I’ll only be a minute.” “Take your time.” Once alone in the bathroom, she splashed cool water on her face. “Time to face the day.” She said to herself. Her reflection caught her attention. She looked different somehow. She couldn’t put her finger on it. Even looking at her own face, she couldn’t see where the difference was, but it was definitely there. At least she didn’t look worse, she thought. Trying to look on the bright side. Gabriel was sitting in the chair, trying to figure out what to do about his trunk. He decided that he’d tell her the truth, fix it enough so that it would close. Amelia exited the bathroom and sat in the chair and began lacing up her sneakers. “No sandals today?” Gabriel mused “I have no idea what’s in store for us, I figured I’d better be prepared.” “Good thinking. My turn in the bathroom”? he asked “All yours.” He grabbed his bag, headed in and shut the door. “I’ll be quick!” he called from the other side of the door “Okay!” she called back She sat on the bed and grabbed her phone from the night stand. She tapped the screen to life and dialed Tommy’s number. He answered on the first ring. “Hey Mel.” He answered “Hey Tommy. How’s our girl doing?” she asked, hopeful. “No change. Like, none. At all.” He replied sadly “Oh, Tommy, I’m so sorry.” She said softly “I’ll be back as soon as I can.” “Thanks Mel. I’ll call the second anything changes, I promise.” “Okay, Thanks.” She tapped the screen and tossed the phone into her bag. Gabriel appeared from the bathroom, all dressed and ready to go. “Okay beautiful, ready to get this show on the road?” “Wicked.” “Come on, let’s go.” He said as he grabbed her bag. Once outside, he tossed the bags into the backseat. “Um, why is the trunk open?” Amelia asked “Ah, that. Well, it would seem that we were broken into last night. Probably the same punks that tried to jump me. Not to worry though, I’ll get it fixed, just take a minute.” “Well doesn’t that just suck.” She commented “It does, but I can get it to stay closed. At least nothing was damaged besides the trunk lock.” He said She walked to the trunk and watched while he fiddled with the lock. “Oh no, your cooler is gone.” “Yeah, I know. It can be replaced.” He replied “Well, that sucks too.” “Yeah, it does.” “All set. It’ll hold till I can fix it properly. Let’s get going.” He walked around to the passenger side and opened the door for her. She slid into the seat and gave him a smile. She watched him as he walked around the front of the car to the driver’s side. He looked so much better than he had last night. Strong, healthy, confident. Guess parking lot scuffles can be good for a man once in a while, she laughed to herself. “Okay, we’re outta here.” He smiled as the engine turned over They got back on the road and were actually making pretty good time. They would be in Virginia in a couple of hours. “So who is this guy we’re going to see anyway?” she asked “He’s a friend of Murphy’s, he’s a code breaker basically. He has extensive knowledge of languages and coding. Murphy said if anyone can figure out what’s in this book, it’s him.” “Sounds like a serious dude.” “Seems like. We shall see.” They pulled into Langley around lunch time, quickly found the building where the man works and pulled into the lot. “What’s this guy’s name anyway?” she asked curiously “Benjamin Tate.” “Benjamin Tate.” She repeated. “Sounds like a nice name.” “Yes, beautiful, I’m sure he’s nice.” He chuckled Amelia grabbed her bag, checked herself in the rearview mirror, and opened her door. Gabriel was around to her side in record time “So impatient.” He smiled as he held the door open for her. “So ready to get this over with.” She replied It looked like a typical office building as they walked toward it. However, as they got closer, they could see multiple entry doors, each with an armed guard and a metal detector. They walked in and Gabriel took his keys and wallet out of his pants pocket and placed them in the tray. The guard motioned for him to walk through the metal detector. He walked through and gathered his things at the other end of the conveyor belt. Then Amelia placed her bag on the belt, but first stopped to remove the book. The guard told her she had to send the book through. She showed her school I.D. which showed them that she works in the Fortress and that she works in the Antiquities area. She explained that she feared x-rays could harm the book’s inks, and that she would prefer them to visually inspect it, than bring it through the metal detector. They agreed. Gabriel stood and watched in amazement. She totally took charge, and told these guys, who looked like Military Police, the way it was going to be. Gods, he loved her. Once the check in process was completed, they made their way to the elevators, and looked for Benjamin Tate on the placard on the wall. Tenth floor. The elevator doors opened, and they stepped inside. It was just the two of them. “That was pretty impressive.” Gabriel said “What was?” she asked “Oh, just the way that you told those guards the way it was going to be. Kinda sexy.” He waggled his eyebrows at her. She laughed and slapped his arm. “It’s time for our serious faces.” She joked He was immediately straight faced. It made her laugh. “Come on, stop playing around.” He teased They both stopped laughing as he pulled her close. The arcs between them light up the entire elevator. It seemed brighter than usual. They stood silently. He held her in front of him, her back pressed against his chest. She placed her hands on his in front of her, and they both let out a sigh. “Have no worries, this will be resolved soon, I promise you.” “I know. It just seems that every step of the way is so nerve wracking.” She said The bell dinged. Tenth floor. Time to go. They exited the elevator and headed to Benjamin Tate’s office. When they reached the office, Gabriel knocked on the closed door. After a moment, it slowly opened. A girl who looked to be in her twenties greeted them. “Good afternoon, may I help you?” she asked “Yes, we’re here to see Mr. Tate.” Gabriel answered “Certainly, do you have an appointment?” “No, we were hoping that we might have just a moment of his time.” Gabriel replied “Oh, I’m sorry, but you’ll need to make an appointment to see Mr. Tate, he is a very busy man.” the girl explained. “We completely understand, but if you’ll just tell him that Professor Murphy sent us, I’m sure he will make an exception.” Gabriel smiled “Come in and have a seat, I will let him know that you’re here.” The girl relented. They sat in a small waiting area, in what looked like a laboratory of sorts. “Do you think he’ll even see us?” Amelia asked “I think once he hears that Murph sent us, he will be eager to meet.” “So Murphy must have some clout, huh?” she figured The girl was on her way back towards them with a smile on her face “It would seem so.” Gabriel replied under his breath. “Mr. Tate will see you now, right this way.” The girl motioned for them to follow her. They walked through a set of double doors, which the girl opened with a key card. Then down a short hallway to another office door. The girl opened it for them, then stepped aside. “I’ll be back to show you out.” The girl said before she headed back the way they had come. They stepped into the office, it was enormous, and cover ceiling to floor in books, file folders and bottles of spring water. A man peered out from behind a stack of books on a desk. Gabriel stepped forward, hand extended, “Benjamin Tate?” he asked “I am.” The man replied, as he shook Gabriel’s hand “Gabriel Alexander, Professor Murphy is a good friend, and he said that you may be able to help us. This is Amelia.” “A pleasure to meet you both.” He said as he shook hands with each of them. “Help you with what, exactly?” he asked “Well, we have a book, that is very old, and that we believe, has some vital information. Only thing is, no one can seem to read it.” Gabriel offered. Benjamin Tate was small man, thin, and exhausted looking. He seemed a bit disheveled, his suit was a bit wrinkled, and his glassed were atop his head. He had small, squinty eyes, the kind that made Amelia not trust him. “I get a lot of that.” He laughed “well what do we have?” Amelia looked to Gabriel for confirmation, and he nodded for her to take the book out of her bag. She reached into her bag, and against everything in her, handed the book to Tate. “Please, have a seat” he motioned to the two chairs in front of his hugely overflowing desk. He cleared a space on the desk and turned a lamp on, as he took a seat himself. “This is exquisite.” He said as he examined the cover of the book. “When would you like to come back and pick it up?” he asked “Oh, we can’t leave it” Gabriel insisted “we were kind of hoping that you could take a look at it and point us in the right direction.” “Hmm, I see” he replied, as he opened the book and began looking through its pages. “Do you have any idea how old this book is?’ Tate asked “A couple hundred years at least.” Gabriel answered “Well, that may very well be, but this language, it is much older than that.” He observed “Oh, and we have this for you as well.” Amelia said, as she handed over the small wooden box. “What’s this?” he asked “We aren’t completely sure, but Bernadette Jones said you would know what to do with it.” She explained “Bernadette Jones? Now there’s a name I haven’t heard in a very long time. How do you know her?” he asked. “She is my boss, friend and mentor, Amelia quickly answered. “She believes that this box will help you, help us, somehow.” He took the small box from her hand and examined it as well. He set it on the desk beside the book. “This book is written in ancient Enochian.” He announced. “I haven’t seen anything like it, ever.” “Enochian?” Amelia asked “Yes, it was introduced to humankind by angels in the 1500s, but this language is actually much older.” He explained “I’m sorry, did you say Angels? Are you serious?” Amelia asked “Oh yes, very serious, indeed.” Tate replied as he continued to look through the pages of the book. “This is a dialect that I haven’t seen before. It seems to be in code, as well as an ancient language. “The only thing I can make out is “Blind eyes and no sight” said Tate “something about eyes and, or sight. That’s it. It seems to repeat every so often on each page, and the strange thing is, those are the only words I can seem to decipher.” Someone did not want the information in this book to be discovered by just anyone.” He decided. “What makes you think that you should be the ones to learn its secrets?” he asked them. “Well, Professor Murphy felt that this was the book that would be able to help us with our, uh, problem.” Gabriel stated. “And what problem would that be, Mr. Alexander?” Tate pressed “Listen,” Amelia began. “There is a girl in some kind of coma right now, clinging to life, because someone was looking for this book. It’s my book, and we have a right to know what it says. It might help her.” Tate pulled his glasses down from his head and peered at the pages once again. “Okay. I will help you. But whatever information this book contains, you must promise me now, that you will never publish it, or make it public, in any way.” “We agree.” “Then we will begin. First thing’s first.” He said as he took the small wooden box and placed on the cover of the book, and pressed down. It seemed to click into place. The bottom of the box, interlocking with the raised image on the cover of the book. The lock on the box flipped open. The three of them looked at the box, then each other, in amazement. Tate slowly opened the box. There was a folded up piece of paper inside, sealed with wax. Gabriel and Amelia looked on intently. “This seal”, said Tate, is that of a coven of witches that were quite literally, obliterated in the early 1900s.” He held it up for the both of them to examine. Then he flipped it over. “I don’t think I quite believe what I’m seeing, and I have seen a lot in my day, trust me.” Tate said “What is it?” Gabriel questioned Tate handed the sealed, folded page to Amelia. “You tell me.” Amelia reached out for the page and gasped. “Oh my god, it has my name on it. Gabriel, this has my name on it.” She said, astonished. “Well, open it up beautiful.” He encouraged. Amelia took the paper in her hands and then returned to her sitting position. “Why am I terrified right now?” she asked “Don’t be afraid Amelia. I am with you. It’s clearly meant for you, open it.” “Okay, here goes.” She slowly broke the wax seal and unfolded the page. Once she had it open, she looked at the words. “It’s written just like the book, I can’t read it. Why would it have my name on it, first of all, and I can’t read it. Maybe it’s for a different Amelia.” She reasoned “I really don’t think there is another Amelia who this would be prevalent to. It’s got to be you.” Gabriel insisted. “Just take a look, see if you recognize any of the symbols or anything.” Amelia looked down at the page, and let out a long breath. “Okay ancient text, talk to me” she pleaded As she looked across the symbols, the writing seemed to change. Almost as if the ink on the page was beginning to burn. The words were turning into little burn marks, that she could understand. “Gabriel” she said his name aloud “What is it?” he came closer to her “The ink, do you see it?” “Yes, I see the ink. What is it?” “Do you see it changing? What’s happening?” she asked “Amelia, I don’t see any changes.” He said “Well, I do. The ink, it looks like it’s on fire, but it’s also changing. Words are starting to form. I mean words that I can read. Look.” She showed the paper to Gabriel. “I can’t see any change, how about you Tate?” he asked “No, I see no changes.” “Okay then, just me I guess.” Amelia sighed The longer she looked at the page, more words were changing to English. “I don’t understand what’s happening.” She said “I see my name!” I can read this!” she cried My Dearest Amelia, Firstly, I know that if you are reading this, that you have either, A, found him and survived the change. Or B, your adoptive parents are both deceased. I am very sorry if it’s the latter. If you have come this far on your journey, it is imperative that you keep yourself safe. Even though no one but you will ever read this, I cannot be blunt, and for this I apologize. I would however, like to tell you why. Because I know that even though you have been happy with your adoptive family for years and years, and have only ever loved them, as they you, the question has always burned in the back of your mind. The Why. The reason is simple my love. Because I love you more than anything in this world. I could never bear for them to hurt you, or worse yet, take you from me. They are the only ones who know how truly powerful you are, and shall become even more so. You are the daughter who was never meant to be, of a witch who was never meant to be. I have eluded them for the last five years, with your father’s help, but they have once again become strong. The addition of newly located members with long bloodlines has given them the added ability to see through our protections. We were barely able to stay hidden long enough to bring you screaming into this world, a beautiful pink glow all around you. While we were in hiding, I met the woman that you know as your mother. She became a fast friend and trusted confidant. She and her husband wanted desperately to have a child, but were unable to. They were devastated after the last round of in-vitro, which they could afford, didn’t result in a pregnancy. Your father and I discussed the matter at great length, and we decided to have them adopt you. I knew that they would love you more than anyone else would or could, aside from me. So when you were three weeks old, I kissed you goodbye for the last time. I would have given anything to keep you with me, watch you grow, teach you everything. I have thought about you, and missed you every single day. Please don’t ever doubt that. But I know you’ve had a good life with them, and for that, I am eternally grateful. I would now like to say how happy I am that you have found him! How truly blessed you are daughter! In more ways than you can even imagine. Lifetimes of learning, exploration and love ahead of you. It fills my broken heart to know of the wondrous possibilities that lay before you now. Now, for the most important things of all. Keep our amulet safe. I am sure that you still have it, it was the one single thing that I insisted upon. That your adoptive mother give it to you, and to let you know that it was a gift from me. I knew in my heart, that you would cherish it always. No matter what questions you may have had about why you were adopted. Do NOT under any circumstances, ask a witch for help. It will destroy everything your father and I have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to accomplish. More importantly, it will lead them right to you. Keep yourselves safe, at all costs. Trust in your love. It feels centuries old, and almost ingrained in your DNA because it is. A love like that, will always protect you, if you believe in it. There are three who will help you. Seek them out only if you must. Stick together, unfortunately, if others can’t keep up, you must leave them behind. This means your survival my beautiful girl. Yours and his. Stay together, and stay safe, and please know that my love is with you always. We will meet again my daughter. All the love in my heart, Margaret “Oh my god. Gabriel.” Amelia looked to him, tears in her eyes. “What is it Amelia? What’s wrong? He asked as he came to stand by her side. “It’s from my mother. My birth mother. And it’s full of, crazy.” She said as she handed him the page. “Amelia,” he said looking at the paper, “I can’t read it. What does it say?” She turned to look at him and his expression suddenly looked strange. He just stared at her. “What? Why are you staring at me like that?” she asked “Tate, have a look.” Amelia looked from Gabriel to Tate, then back. “What?” Tate sat back in his seat. “Well, this is a first for me, so I assume it is for you as well.” “What are you talking about? Gabriel, what is it?” “Hand me your phone, Amelia.” Gabriel instructed “Okay, why?” she asked “Just, please, hand me your phone.” He asked ‘Okay, here.” He took her phone and selected the Mirror app. “Okay, Amelia, Please stay calm. I am here, you are okay. Okay?” he cautioned “Why? Stay calm? What the hell is going on? She asked confused He handed her the phone. “Look at your eyes.” She took the phone from him and held it up in front of her. Her eyes grew wide as she studied her reflection. “What the hell! What the hell happened to my eyes!” she cried Gabriel and Tate both looked on in shock. Tate took the book in his hands and held it out towards them. “Here, open it.” He instructed “Amelia, I think Tate has a theory. Take a look at the book. Say aloud any words that you understand.” “I don’t get it, why?” “Please, just look at it.” She took it from Tate’s hands and opened to the first page. “Codex of the Coven of Akkadia.” She said She looked up at Gabriel, then Tate, then back to Gabriel. “How the hell did I just read that?” “Go on, read more.” Gabriel encouraged She began, “Hidden and protected by the power of all, for the good of all.” “Oh my god! I can read it!” “Amelia, I think that you have been given “The Sight”.” Gabriel explained “What the hell does that mean?” she asked “Well, if I’m correct, -“I think he’s correct.” Tate interrupted “I think that you are now able to read magical texts, able to see magic.” “Are you freaking kidding me?” she asked “You’re the one who just read from the book. No one else could seem to do it. We have all combed over its pages and not understood a word or a symbol.” Amelia sat down again, clearly shaken. “In the letter, it said that my birth mother was a witch. Can that be true?” “Well, we are talking spelled objects and such, I believe it’s totally possible.” Gabriel answered. Tate interjected, “I believe that reading the letter from your mother, somehow triggered a dormant ability in you Amelia. There must have been some kind of spell on it, so that when you looked at it, it unveiled what had been hidden.” “Yeah, in more ways than one.” Amelia replied “This is amazing Amelia,” Gabriel said. “This could be so very helpful, in so many ways.” “In theory, this was all different. Now that there are things actually happening, I don’t know if I can handle all this.” “Yes, you can handle it, otherwise it wouldn’t be happening. Don’t short change yourself, Amelia. You are so much stronger than you know.” “Let’s hope you’re right.” She said “Well, it seems you wasted a trip.” Said Tate “Oh, not at all Mr. Tate, “Gabriel said. “This has been a most educational journey, and your help, Sir, is greatly appreciated.” “All I really did was place the box atop the book.” Tate replied “Which is more than we thought to do.” Amelia offered. Gabriel reached into his inside coat pocket. “I’d like to compensate you for your time, Mr. Tate.” He placed a thick envelope on Tate’s desk. “Oh, I couldn’t possibly.” Tate said “Please, I insist. You have helped us a great deal, and I am quite sure that your time is very valuable.” Tate reached across the desk and picked up the hefty gift. “Well I thank you very much Mr. Alexander. It was my pleasure to assist.” They all stood and shook each other’s hands “Thank you, Mr. Tate, really, I appreciate your help.” Amelia said “You are most welcome, Amelia. I wish you both the very best.” Tate replied “And remember Amelia, the secrets contained within that book still need to be protected. Who knows what kind of startling information it holds.” “I’ll know. It will remain protected, rest assured.” Amelia said They turned to walk to the door of his office, and the same young girl appeared out of nowhere. “I’ll show you out.” She smiled at them. Amelia stole a glance back at Tate as they turned the corner out of his office and she saw him pick up his desk phone and dial. He smiled and waved. She didn’t smile back. Once they were back in the car, Amelia began to cry. At first, silent tears fell, which gave way to more tears, then soft sobs. Gabriel leaned towards her and slid his arm around her, and wiped the tears from her face. They left a trail of pink glow on her cheeks. “Amelia, please don’t cry. Everything is going to be okay.” He instated ‘How can you be so sure?” she sobbed “Because I believe in you. I believe in us. I know that no matter what happens, we will get through it together.” She calmed herself and looked into his eyes, “How do you always know the exact right thing to say?” “I just speak the truth beautiful girl. You can handle this. I know you can.” He replied She reached up and turned the rearview mirror to look at herself. “Gabriel, look at my eyes for shit’s sake!” “They are more beautiful than ever.” “Oh my god, you’re just saying that.” He touched her chin so that she would turn to look at him again. She looked at him, her eyes brimming with silent tears. “There is nothing that could ever make you less beautiful, or less amazing to me Amelia. You have been given an amazing gift. That happened for a reason. You can read this damn book! Don’t you see how wonderful that is?” he asked “I guess I might just need a little time to put all of this into perspective.” She sighed “I think you may be right. I also know how alone you can feel when you’re going through, or experiencing something, that no other person could understand. That no other person could ever possibly know what you’re feeling. I only ask, that you please, please let me be here for you. I may not know what it feels like to have your eyes gain a color, but I do know how it feels to be different that other people, to have to hide it, to be afraid.” “What the hell could you possibly be afraid of? And how are you any different than anyone else? I mean, your awesomeness excluded?” she gave a slight laugh “I have to tell you something Amelia. I hope you can understand why I have never mentioned it before, but I’d like to share it with you now.” He said “What is it?” she asked cautiously “Have you ever noticed how fast I am? Like, when you try to open your own door, I’m always right there?” “Actually, I have noticed, I was starting think it was all in my head. So, what do you have, super speed?” “Yes.” She laughed out loud “Super speed? Are you freaking kidding me?” “Do you remember how I wasn’t at all surprised when I explained that Murphy said there was a spell on the necklace?” “Yes.” “That’s because I know a thing or two about spells.” “Are you saying that a spell gave you super speed?” “In a manner of speaking,” he paused briefly, “yes, that’s exactly what I’m telling you. It can’t be that hard to believe, especially now that you have been given your own magical ability. There’s magic all around us. It’s just that everyone doesn’t get the opportunity to experience it first-hand like we have.” “This is just too much” “Amelia, don’t give up, don’t let the seeming enormity get to you. You can handle any and everything that comes your way. I know it.” Her phone rang from her bag, she quickly reached to answer it. “It’s Tommy.” She told Gabriel “Hi Tommy, How’s she doing?” “Not good Mel. Her vitals are slowly declining. The doctors still don’t know anything definitive, and they don’t seem very optimistic. They’re telling us that she probably doesn’t have much time left.” He sobbed into the phone. “Oh my god, Amelia cried. “We’re on our way back, we will get there as soon as we can. I’m so sorry Tommy.” “Mel?” “Yes Tommy?” “Hurry.” She tapped the screen and ended the call. “What’s wrong Amelia?” asked Gabriel “They don’t think Sara is gonna make it. We have to get home ASAP.” “Oh man, he sighed. “I’m so sorry babe.” “Me too. I can’t believe this is happening.” Amelia said as silent tears left pink marks down her face. “I’ll get you to her before it’s too late.” he promised He reached for her hand and squeezed it tight. They stayed that way for a long time. CHAPTER 11 They had been driving for an hour or so when Gabriel finally asked, “Aren’t you going to look through the book?” “I don’t know if I really want to. I’m still kinda freaked out, ya know?” “I do. I completely understand, but Amelia, you are the only person who can read it. Surely you must see the enormous importance of that.” “Okay, but I wanna look at the letter again, it didn’t make much sense to me.” She answered Amelia reached for the letter and unfolded it. She studied it for a moment, “It says that if I’m reading it, I have found him, and survived the change. What the hell does that mean?” “Okay, Gabriel said, let’s take it line by line.” “That’s the first thing it says. That I have found him and survived the change, or that my adoptive parents are dead.” How the hell would she know when I would find this letter?” Gabriel thought on it, surely it couldn’t mean him, could it? Technically he could change her. Was he supposed to? The thought of it made his stomach turn. No way is that the way its supposed to be. “I’m beginning to think that your mother was a very powerful woman, she says right in the letter that she was a witch, Amelia. I’m willing to bet she knew lots of things.” “Right, my mother was a witch. Wow. Who am I supposed to find though? And survive what change? It doesn’t make any sense. Am I supposed to become a witch too?” “Becoming a witch isn’t typically something that you would have to ‘survive’ though.” He offered Amelia looked over the letter for a while longer, then suddenly she gasped. “What is it?” Gabriel asked “I think you’re the him.” “I’m sorry, what?” “The one she knew I would find. I think its you.” She declared “but the letter makes it sound as though finding Him and surviving the change, need to happen together, that’s the only part that confuses me. Cuz I definitely think you are the Him.” “Why do you think I’m the Him?” he asked “Well, for starters, I have never in my life, met someone that I feel connected to, the way I do you.” Gabriel smiled and reached over and squeezed her hand. “In addition to that, I have never, ever, in my life seen the glow before I met you, but according to this letter, I was glowing when I was born. And, she says in the letter, how happy she is to know that I have found Him. Has to be you.” “You may be on to something.” He agreed “Then she talks about this is just the beginning of my journey, and that I have to stay safe.” “Well, Gabriel began, “that kind of makes sense. Think about it, this is definitely a journey we are on, and there is obviously someone after this book, and with what happened with Sara, and the break ins, staying safe has become a bit more of a priority, wouldn’t you agree?” he asked Amelia nodded her head as she looked at him blankly. “She said she had me adopted to keep me safe.” “And’s it’s my job to continue that work.” He smiled “This is all so amazing, and wonderful and terrifying, all at the same time.” “And it will all be okay as well. I promise you.” “Do you think she’s alive?’ “Your mother?” “Yeah, she said in the letter that we will see each other again.” “It’s possible, but please, beautiful girl, don’t get your hopes up. I couldn’t bear for you to suffer that disappointment.” He said sadly “My hopes aren’t up, I was just wondering.” She lied. “Okay, so it says here, that she intended for me to have and keep the necklace, and that we must never ask a witch for help, or it will ruin everything. What with all the riddles!” she exclaimed “I look at it this way, she knew what she was doing. Just the fact that laying eyes on her letter gave you the sight. I would believe what she says, Amelia.” “And at the end, it IS you. She says right here, that I must trust in our love, and that it feels so deep, because it is. It says that our love is centuries old. Again, I say, how the hell is any of this possible?” “Destiny maybe?” he offered “What? We were destined to find each other?” she asked, expecting him to laugh it off. “Amelia, anything is possible. And as I said, I believe that your mother knew what she was talking about when she wrote that letter to you.” He paused for a moment, then continued. “What I feel for you Amelia, probably is centuries old. I feel such a connection with you, I know you feel it too. It wouldn’t surprise me if we were together in another life.” “I never really gave other lives much thought, but at this point, I will believe almost anything.” She sighed. “I was thinking that maybe the change she talks about in the letter could be your eyes, gaining the sight, but that wasn’t something to really “survive” either.” ‘I am beginning to think that we may never figure that part of it out.” The miles flew by beneath them, the steady hum of the motor creating a sense of calm that Amelia was subconsciously enjoying, which is why when it suddenly slowed, she was jolted out of her day dream. “Why are we stopping? She asked “This monster needs some go-go juice. I also thought we could stretch our legs, maybe grab a snack.” “I’m in.” she smiled as she began to uncurl her legs from beneath her. They pulled in at a truck stop type of place. There were big rigs filling the lot, families in campers at the picnic table area, and lots of cars parked at the gas pumps. “Well it looks like this could take more than just a minute.” Amelia appraised “Well, it looks like the line at pump three is shortest.” Gabriel observed, as he pulled behind a line of cars. As soon as I’m able to pull up, we’ll go in, grab snacks and drinks, pay for the gas, and we’ll be back on the road in no time.” “Yeah, I could go for a slice.” Amelia said as her stomach rumbled at the mention of food. She reached into the back seat and grabbed her bag, she carefully slid the book inside. Gabriel pulled forward; their turn at the gas pump. He turned the engine off and got out and walked around to open Amelia’s door. “Why does it still surprise me when I go to get out of the car and you’re already here?” she laughed “Short term memory problems?” he laughed “Probably.” Amelia stood, stretched, and slung her bag over her shoulder. As they walked toward the station entrance she looked around at all the vehicles, all the people, doing people things, living their lives. Gabriel noticed her looking around, “What’s wrong?” he asked “Oh nothing. Just remembering that the world keeps turning, ya know?” “Yes, I do. Some days, that’s my greatest anchor.” She looked at him questioningly. “Knowing things that other people don’t, comes with a price, beautiful girl. Sometimes being reminded of that, helps put things into perspective. He added. She nodded thoughtfully, almost in agreement. Inside the store, they cruised the chip aisle, and grabbed some pretzels and pumpkin seeds. “Giant slurp, or Super Giant Slurp?” he asked ‘I think Giant will suffice.” Gabriel filled a cup with ice from the dispenser, then pressed the button for Coke. “Know what, while you do that, nature calls. I’ll be right back.” Amelia announced. “Okay, he looked around, “I will be right by the change machine at the end of the hallway to the restrooms.” “Okay, back in a flash.” She made her way down the long hallway to the ladies room. It was empty. She swung her bag up and plopped it on the counter by the sink and looked in the mirror. Her once caramel colored eyes looked back at her, now, the irises taken over with flecks of an almost turquoise color. “If anyone asks, I’ll just say I got contacts.” She told herself. She took her bag and headed into a stall. Focused on balancing, she didn’t notice the sound of the door of the restroom open. She finished up and emerged, ready to wash her hands. On the way back to the sinks, she turned the corner and ran straight into someone. ‘Oh, I’m so sorry!” she said surprised, as she thought she was still alone in the room. The Woman turned to look at her, with eyes as black as night and hair to match. A scowl came across her face and she said, “Worry not, but you can repay your idiocy with what’s in that bag.” She nodded towards the bag on Amelia’s shoulder. “Excuse me?” Amelia questioned, stunned. “It is of no use to you anyway. Hand it over now, and we can forget about all this.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Amelia argued. “Oh yes, you do. Hand it over now, or suffer the consequences.” The woman snarled, he face taking on an older, haggard look. “I’ll just be on my way.” Amelia said, as she tried to move past the woman. “Did you not hear me child? Give me the book. Now!” “Like hell!” Amelia shouted, as she tried again to shove past the woman. Suddenly Amelia was pinned up against the wall, by what looked like a cloud of smoke. She couldn’t move. She called for Gabriel. “Oh there will be no time for that.” The woman hissed. Amelia tried again to call out, but her vocal cords felt tight in her throat, she couldn’t muster even a squeak. The woman bent down to retrieve the book from the bag, as Amelia stood, helpless, pinned against the wall. “A hundred years of searching, and to think, it all ends here, in a truck stop bathroom.” The woman gloated. Amelia saw the splinters flying before she even heard the loud crack that was the door being kicked in. Gabriel appeared in the doorway. The woman quickly backed away from Amelia and her bag. Her eyes filled with terror as she looked at Gabriel standing in the doorway. “Let her go. Now.” Gabriel commanded, his eyes filled with rage. The smoke that had been seemingly holding her in place, disappeared. Amelia fell to the floor in a heap, grasping her throat. The woman continued to cower from him. “If any of your people attempt to harm her again, you will all answer to me. Do you understand?” ‘It’s no use,” the woman spoke. “We will get that book, one way or another.” “Yes, and that way is through me.” He took a step closer to her and she squealed. “Amelia, are you alright?” he asked, filled with concern. “Yeah, I’m fine, let’s get the hell outta here though.” Gabriel wrapped his arm around Amelia and guided her out of the restroom. The woman did not follow. They quickly walked to the car, got in made their way through the busy lot, then sped off. “Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked, “did she hurt you”? “No, I’m fine. She didn’t hurt me, but she pinned me up against the wall, with some kind of magic smoke and when I called for you, suddenly I couldn’t speak. It was like someone was choking me from the inside.” She explained “I am so sorry, Amelia, I shouldn’t have left you alone.” “It’s not your fault, I was just going to the bathroom.” “Well, obviously, you get a chaperone from now on. Sorry.” He decided. “Who the hell was that?” she asked “That, was a witch.” He answered. “What? Are you serious? Why did she cower away from you like that? She’s clearly has some kind of powers.” Gabriel thought fast. “Maybe she knew that I had a magical gift, maybe witch powers don’t work on people with magical gifts.” “It worked on me. Didn’t we decide that the sight thing was a magical gift?” Amelia countered. “Good point. I don’t know then, but I’m glad I was scary enough for her.” “Yeah, you were a little scary.” Amelia agreed “I didn’t scare you, though, did I?” he asked with concern. “No, actually, you didn’t.” “That’s good. That’s the last thing I want to do Amelia. I will only ever protect you. Please know that.” “I know, Gabriel. Don’t worry. I don’t think there’s anything you could ever say or do that would cause me to be afraid of you.” She assured him. “If she only knew, he thought, that just may change.” He pushed those thoughts away for now and focused on driving. “Um, I hate to say it, but we still need gas. And a drink would be good too.” “You’re right, I will stop at the next exit.” Soon, they were pulling into another gas station. This one was much less crowded than the last. Gabriel got out and opened the gas cap, swiped a credit card, and began pumping gas. Amelia got out and walked around to the back of the car and stood by him. “I’ll run in and grab drinks.” “No. You will stay right here, with me.” Gabriel commanded Amelia was about to give him shit about it, he could see it in her stance. “I’m sorry beautiful, I didn’t mean to sound rude, But if the last stop taught us anything, it’s that we should stick together.” He apologized. “No you’re right.” She conceded. He finished filling the tank. “Okay, let’s try this one more time.” He smiled They walked across the parking lot and into the small gas station. There were only a few customers, making purchases, and leaving. Amelia relaxed a bit as she walked to the soda machine and filled a cup. Doing something “normal” felt good. Gabriel kept a watchful eye, on Amelia, and on every other person inside the small establishment. A man standing by the newspaper rack flipping through a magazine looked up at him and nodded. Gabriel reached out with his mind, and could feel the magic coming off the man in waves. He calmly walked over to Amelia at the soda station. “Time to go.” She looked up at him with concern on her face. “Now.” He told her. The quickly went to the counter to pay for their things, then hurried to the car. All the while, Gabriel keeping an eye on the magazine man. Once in the car and leaving the lot, Amelia asked, “What’s wrong?” “There was a witch in there watching us.” “How can you be sure? Everyone looked pretty normal to me.” She argued “That’s just it, Amelia. They look just like everyone else, until they actually use their magic.” “So what happened?” she asked “There was a man, by the newspaper stand, he was watching us. I just got a weird vibe from him, like with the woman in the restroom” “Do you think we were followed?” she asked. “No. I think that whoever is after the book has their feelers out though. Also, we don’t know how strong your magic is, it could be emitting a silent signal, which is why we have to get home.” “How is getting home going to squash my possible magical signal?” she asked “My house is warded against any kind of negativity, especially magical beings who intend to do harm.” He explained. “Are you serious?” “Absolutely.” He grinned at her. “I’ll show you when we get back.” “Deal.” They continued their journey home, and as they drove, talked about their favorites, many of which were the same, which surprised Amelia. She didn’t understand how they were so different in many ways, but yet the same. They connected on so many levels. It made her feel even closer to him, if that was even possible. He liked to listen to her talk. Her accent, her mannerisms, her attitude. She could read the phonebook, and he’d listen intently. She made him laugh. Which he hadn’t done in far longer than he’d care to remember. He was in this bubble. Where it was just the two of them. No magic, no book, no bad guys, no hurt friends. He still marveled at his good fortune, finding her. He knew now that he was supposed to find her. He knew that the belonged together, and he knew that she knew it too. It was getting late, and he could see that she was getting tired. He just wanted to get them both back home. “Amelia, how you feeling over there?” She smiled over at him, “I’m doing okay, how bout you?” “I’m fine. Feeling pretty good actually. I was thinking. I know it’s getting late, and we should probably stop for the night, but I really think we should just drive straight through. Would that be okay with you?” he asked. “That’s cool with me. You think you can keep driving though?” “Not a problem. As long as you don’t have a problem sleeping while I do.” “Sounds good.” She smiled. They drove through the night, and Amelia slept rather soundly. She didn’t even stir until they reached the state line. “Good morning beautiful girl.” He smiled over at her. “Good morning. I can’t believe I actually slept all night. You must be exhausted.” She said “No, I am actually doing okay. Must be the adrenaline.” He offered. She stretched her arms and legs as best she could and leaned toward him and rested her head on his shoulder. He leaned over and kissed her hair. “I had a dream.” She said “Do tell.” “Well, we were walking down a wooded path, towards a huge abandoned looking house, I’m not sure where we were exactly. As we got closer to the house, the door began to creak open, and then these huge wolf looking dogs came from the bushes in front of the house, they were nasty looking, growling and snarling. They charged at us, then I woke up.” “Sounds kind of scary.” He said “It was, but for some reason, I wasn’t afraid.” “Maybe it’s a metaphor.” He offered “For what?” she asked “Well, maybe it’s your subconscious trying to tell you that even though things seem difficult, there’s nothing to really be afraid of. That you’ve got this.” He said as he placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Maybe.” She said thoughtfully. “Where are we?” she asked “Connecticut.” “Awesome. I wanna get to the hospital pronto.” “I’m on it.” He smiled Amelia began to feel anxious the closer they got to home. All she wanted to do was get to the hospital and see Sara, Tommy too. She felt so guilty for not being there, “Alright, study time.” Gabriel said “What? Study time?” “Yes, get the book and start looking through it again.” He said “Why?” “What do you mean why? Because you’re the only person who can read it, and I think you should try to learn as much as you can from it.” “Makes sense. Okay.” She opened the book and started flipping through its pages. “Lots of stuff I just don’t understand, lots of stuff that look like spells maybe.” “Keep looking.” She spent the next hour immersed within the pages of the book, when she suddenly gasped. “What is it?” Gabriel asked “A healing spell. I think.” “Really? What does it say?” It says that the spell needs to be completed before the last heartbeat. “What’s the spell?” “This can’t be all there is to it. It seems way too easy, I must be missing something.” “Just read it to me.” He pressed “Okay, must be done whilst laying hands on the affected. North, East, South and West, hear me now, heal the blessed. Take these ails, bring them away, allow this soul, to fight another day. Then there’s some stuff in Latin. That’s it. Could it really be that simple?” she asked “Well, yes. For a witch.” He advised “Well, hell.” “Amelia, are you forgetting all that you have learned on this little trip of ours? You have witch blood running through your veins. You have to at least try.” “Do you really think I could heal Sara?” she asked hopefully “It’s worth a shot, don’t you think?” “Absolutely. I would do anything to help her.” “Well then, there’s the plan.” He smiled “Let’s just hope we get there in time.” “We will.” He gunned the engine and reached for Amelia’s hand. She continued to browse the pages of the book quietly until she came to a page that spoke of remote viewing. “Gabriel, it says here that you can remote view through another person.” “How do you mean?” “Says here that you can see what they have seen.” Gabriel felt his own secrets begin to close in on him. He only wants what is best for Amelia, and that includes helping her heal her friend, if she can, and also finding out who did this to her. At the same time, he needed to keep his own secrets safe. Until the time was right to reveal all to her. It made him uncharacteristically nervous. Damn it, one tragedy at a time, he thought. “How do you do that?” he asked “Well, it seems as though it’s a type of tandem meditation. It says here that all I need to do is knock on her door, and that if she opens it, I will be able to see her sight. I will be able to see what she saw.” “Oh my god Amelia, that’s amazing! We’re another step closer to figuring this whole mess out.” He said excitedly. “Do you think it will work? Do you think I will really be able to do any of this stuff?” I have no experience, and I don’t even how witchy I really am.” “Stop doubting yourself. Since when is there anything that you can’t do? You at least try, right?” “Of course I try.” “So then stop with all the doubt. You can do this. I know you can.” He encouraged. “You’re right, all I have to do is try. My heart will be in it, and that’s probably most important, right?” “Actually, it is. You’ll do great Amelia, I know you will.” “Thanks Gabriel. Yet again.” She laughed “You are most welcome.” He replied as he lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it. The warm glow covering his lips. “Do you think we should check in with J?” she asked “Yes. I’m surprised he hasn’t called actually.” Gabriel said “Well, you told him to lay low. He knows what lay low means” Amelia tapped the screen of her phone and held it up between the two of them. Gabriel rolled his window up so he could hear better when J came on the line. “Amelia, girl, where are you?” J asked worriedly “Just got back, well, we’re almost back. We’re in Connecticut. Trying to get to the hospital. Sara isn’t doing well J. Like really, not well. The doctors don’t think she’s gonna make it.” “Oh Em Gee! No, say it isn’t so.” He whined “Yeah, so we’re in a hell of a hurry. Where are you anyway?” “I actually got a room by the base. Lots of cuties around this place, girl.” “You’re supposed to be laying low J.” Amelia complained. “I am, I am, just sight-seeing while I’m at it.” He confirmed “J, can you stay put for just a little bit longer?” Gabriel asked “No problem. How’d you guys make out on your trip?” J replied “Well, we made some head way, but we’re not out of the woods yet.” “Okay, well, call me when you guys are ready to give the all clear. Till then, I’m in sailor heaven.” “We’ll call when we get an update at the hospital.” said Amelia “Okay sweetie, talk to you then. Later Gabe.” They both said goodbye to J in unison and Amelia ended the call. CHAPTER 12 They arrived at the hospital, book in hand and headed to Sara’s room. They found Tommy in the hallway kicking a vending machine. “Hey.” Amelia called “Oh my god, Mel. He walked over and threw his arms around her. They held each other tightly for a long moment. “It’s so good to see you Mel.” Tommy said “Same here kid. How’s our girl doing? Any changes?” she asked “No, nothing. Now they’re saying that her brain is swelling and they can’t stop it, or do anything to relieve it. It seems like she’s just fading away. I talk to her constantly, I read her favorite books to her, and nothing.” He began to tear up. “I just don’t know what else to do, I feel so helpless.” “Sometimes we are helpless. Sometimes the only thing we can do is pray, or project positive energy to someone.” Amelia said “I know you’re right, but it just sucks so bad, and it hurts so much. I was gonna ask her to marry me, Mel.” They hugged again and Tommy pulled away trying to wipe his eyes and gain his composure. “Oh, god, I’m sorry, Tommy, this is Gabriel, Gabriel, this is Tommy.” Tommy reached out to shake Gabriel’s hand, and Gabriel pulled him into an enormous Gabriel hug. He clapped his hand on Tommy’s back, “It’s so good to meet you Tommy, I am so sorry for what happened to Sara, for what you’re going through.” “Thanks, man, I really appreciate it. Good to meet you too. I bet Mel’s keeping you on your toes huh?” He tried to lighten to mood. “I’d say you have no idea, but clearly you do.” Gabriel responded, as they all tried to smile for a moment. “Tommy, I don’t mean to be rude,” said Amelia, “but have you showered? Have you even left here, at all?” “No, I haven’t left her side. Her parents got bumped and are sitting in an airport in Sydney. I didn’t want to leave her all alone.” “Well, we’re here now. Why don’t you go to my place, and get some rest? There should be some snacks in the fridge too. It will do you good.” Tommy hesitated, as he looked into the room where Sara lay. “She’s right, you know. And especially being in a hospital, you’re more susceptible to getting sick yourself if you don’t keep your energy up.” Gabriel added “Okay, okay, I’ll go. But only for a couple of hours.” “Good. We will be here until you return.” Gabriel said Tommy grabbed his backpack from the chair in Sara’s room and headed down to the elevators. Amelia turned and walked into Sara’s room. She had all kinds of machines next to her bed, a breathing tube down the throat, an IV, it made Amelia cry just seeing her friend in such a state. “Okay, Amelia, we don’t know how much time we will have, so why don’t we just get to it?” “Right. Close the door, please.” She replied Gabriel closed the door quietly. “Would you prefer to be alone?” he asked her “Actually, that would be great. I’m nervous, and I don’t wanna screw this up. Could you go grab me a coffee or something?” she asked “Of course beautiful, and remember,” he said, as he walked toward her, “you can do this, I know you can.” “Thanks.” He kissed her cheek and quietly left the room. Once in the hallway, he breathed a sigh of relief, and as he did, he caught a whiff of something delicious. Normally, he wouldn’t indulge, but an orderly just wheeled by four coolers of blood. It had been a while and he figured he should grab a drink while he had somewhat of an opportunity. He followed the orderly down the hall and into the elevator. He moved so fast, no one would have ever seen him. He stood behind the orderly in the elevator and grabbed two bags of blood out of the cooler closest to him, and slipped them into his pocket. When the elevator stopped, he got out and headed straight to the men’s room. He walked inside and went into a stall, locked the door behind him and sat on the toilet lid. He bit into the first bag. As soon as the liquid hit his tongue, he groaned in relief. He gulped it down and began on the second. After he drained it, he sat back for a moment, while the power surged through him. He could feel his senses heighten, his muscles grow, and his attention become super focused. It was almost as though he could feel the neurons in his brain firing faster. He took a moment to gather himself, tossed the empty bags in the trash and left the bathroom in search of a coffee. Amelia placed her bag on the chair next to Sara’s bed. She stood and looked at her friend, who in all honesty, looked like she was already gone. The tears began to flow. “This is all my fault Sara, I couldn’t be any sorrier. I hope I can fix this.” She sobbed She took the book from her bag and flipped through the pages until she came to the healing spell. After wiping the tears from her face, she took a deep breath, let it out, and placed the book on the bed near Sara’s legs. She placed one hand on Sara’s chest, and the other on her forehead. She began. “North, East, South and West, hear me now, heal the blessed. Take the ails, and bring them away, allow this soul, to fight another day.” She waited a few minutes. Nothing. No change at all. She did it again. Still nothing. “What am I doing wrong?” she said aloud. She cried out of frustration now. “Sara, why isn’t it working? I don’t know what to do.” Amelia sat in the chair, held her friend’s hand, and rested her head on the edge of the bed. He sobs slowed and she began to breathe normally again. She stayed in that position for several minutes. When suddenly, she heard Sara’s voice. “Please, come in Amelia.” Sara said Amelia’s head shot up, her eyes wide. But she was no longer in the hospital room. She was in the hallway in front of the door to her room. Sara stood in the doorway looking at her expectantly. “Come in Amelia.” She said again. Sara stepped aside, so that Amelia could enter the room. As soon as she went inside, Sara was gone. She looked all around the room, but Sara was nowhere to be found. The room was neat and clean. There was no sign of anything being disturbed. She walked over to Sara’s bed and sat down. There was a knock at the door, and when she looked up, J came walking in. “J? What are you doing here?” she asked He didn’t answer her, in fact, it seemed as though he didn’t even hear her, but he walked right over to her. “So, where’s this special book that Amelia is so in love with?” he asked “What?” Amelia asked, confused “I know you’ve seen it. I really need to use it, do you know where it is?” he asked “What are you talking about?” she asked “Sara, you’re not a stupid girl, so don’t act like one. Where is the book?” he asked, obviously agitated now. “You can’t hear me, can you J?” Amelia asked When he question went unanswered, she realized what was happening. She was doing a tandem meditation with Sara. Was she seeing something that had already happened? Or was this just imagination? J started walking around the room, opening drawers, rifling through them. He came to Amelia’s desk, and opened and dumped the drawers out onto the floor. “Come on, Sara, tell me where that damn book is!” he yelled at her Amelia just sat and watched in disbelief. “I’m her best friend Sara, not you. Don’t you think she’d be willing to lend me a damn book?” he asked He continued his search of the room, growing angrier, when each place he looked, came up empty. It was becoming very clear that he was the one who trashed the room days earlier. He finally came to stand in front of Amelia. He didn’t even look like J. He was so angry, like she had never in all their lives seen him. He placed his hands on either side of her head. She didn’t dare move. “We’ll just see what you saw Sara, I’ll find it one way or another. You had to have seen her with it.” He said “Don’t fight me Sara, it will be so much easier if you don’t fight. Show me what I want to know. Now!” he commanded. Amelia felt his hands pressing the sides of her head, and she was beginning to feel very warm. She looked up slightly and saw gray smoke swirling above her. She looked back at J, and his eyes were glowing red. “What in the hell is happening!” she yelled, but as before, he couldn’t seem to hear her. She felt warmer and warmer, then hot. She moved her head again to look up, and there was a light blue flame, almost like a ray of light that seemed to be coming from her head going straight up to the ceiling, scorching it. “I always knew you were worthless.” He snarled as he released her. She fell back onto the bed, and opened her eyes. She was back in the hospital room holding Sara’s hand. Startled, she jolted her head up from the bed, just as Gabriel snuck into the room, coffee in hand. She burst into tears, and the machines began to beep. All of them beeping at once. Suddenly nurses stormed into the room, and told her that they had to leave, and shouting commands to each other. She grabbed the book and put back into her bag. “What’s happening?” she asked as Gabriel came to guide her from the room. “She’s coding!” one of the nurses yelled “Crash cart! Stat!” yelled another. Gabriel guided Amelia out of the room and into the hall. “Let them take care of her.” He said, as he held her in his arms. “It didn’t work. Stupid fucking spell didn’t work!” she cried into his chest. “What a fool I was to think that there was anything I could do.” “You tried Amelia. You tried. That’s all you could have done.” He tried to reassure her. There were bunches of people in Sara’s room now. Doctors and nurses scrambling. Trying to save the life of her friend. The one she couldn’t. “I just feel so helpless.” Gabriel turned to her and shared her own words with her; “Beautiful girl, sometimes we are helpless.” She knew he was right and buried her head in his chest. He stood there and held her for what seemed like a very long time. Sara’s room was empty now. The last nurse turned the light off as she walked out. Sara was gone. “I failed Gabriel. I let her die.” “Amelia, don’t’ say that. You did the best you could. From the looks of things and from what Tommy said, I really don’t think there was much of anything anyone could have done. Amelia’s head shot up and she freed herself from his embrace. “Oh my god, Gabriel, it was J!” “What was J?” he asked “It was J who did this to Sara!” “Okay, slow down, let’s have a seat.” He led her to a waiting area at the end of the hall. They sat down on a loveseat in the corner. “Gabriel, listen to me. It was J who did this. I saw him. Oh my god. J did this. How could he? I don’t understand any of this.” She said “Why don’t you tell me what you’re talking about?” “Okay, I tried the spell and nothing happened, so I waited, and I tried again. I waited, and while it wasn’t working, I laid my head down on the bed for a minute. I guess I accidentally did that tandem meditation thing, because next thing I know, I’m at my door and Sara is standing there telling me to come in. “Amelia, did you see what happened to her?” Gabriel asked intently. “God, yes. I saw everything.” She replied nervously “Okay, start at the beginning.” He encouraged. “Well, like I said, the spell wasn’t working, so I laid my head down on the bed for a minute. Next thing you know, I’m standing at my own door, and Sara was there, telling me to come in. So I did. Then J showed up, asking for the book, saying that he really needed to use it. It took me a few minutes to realize what was happening, that I was seeing what she saw. I guess she had no idea what he was talking about, cause he started to get mad, looking all over the room, going through my desk and dumping the drawers on the floor, yelling at Sara.” She paused, just recalling it made her begin to cry again. “It’s okay, go on, and tell me what happened then.” Gabriel said Amelia sniffled as she continued, “He walked over to her and put his hands on the sides of her head, and told her that he would find out everything that she knew, that he would find the book. It was like he was doing it to me. My head got warmer and warmer, then it was hot, I looked up and I could see the same smoke that choked me in the truck stop.” “Then what happened?” “Then it looked like a blue flame or a beam of light or something, coming out of my head and scorching the ceiling. I fell back on the bed and when I opened my eyes, I was here. Oh my god, Gabriel, what is happening? I can’t believe this, I can’t take any more. I don’t want any of this! What good is having witch blood or the sight, if neither of them are going to help me to help anyone else?” she cried He held her against him, and murmured into her hair. Her sobs began to slow, and she seemed to calm a bit. “We need to call Tommy. We also need to get out of here.” “I know.” She pulled her phone from her back pocket and dialed Tommy. “No answer. He probably took our advice and is getting some sleep.” “Okay, so we’ll head over to your place and tell him in person. It will be better that way, anyhow.” It was a short trip from the hospital to Amelia’s place, but they made it in record time just the same. They got to her room, and found Tommy passed out on Sara’s bed. “I almost don’t wanna wake him up.” She said “But we have to.” He replied “I know.” She walked over to the bed, and sat on the edge. “Tommy. Tommy. Time to wake up buddy.” He slowly woke from the very much needed slumber he had been in. He sat up and faced Amelia. “Mel! What are you doing here? Did Sara’s parents show up?” “No, they aren’t here yet.” “Then why did you leave her alone?” “Tommy,” she paused, and she began to cry again, Tommy looked at her with fear and confusion in his eyes. “Mel, no. No, no, no.” he cried “I’m so sorry Tommy, she’s gone.” “No! That can’t be!” Tommy yelled Amelia hugged him tightly. They cried together for several minutes. Gabriel sat across from the on Amelia’s bed, feeling, well, helpless. He hated to see her in pain like this. Knowing that there was nothing he could do to fix it. “There just wasn’t anything more they could do, Tommy. I am so, so sorry.” She said “I know. I think a part of me knew all along that she wasn’t going to wake up.” He said Gabriel spoke, “Tommy, I am so very sorry for your loss. Truly.” “I know, thanks.” Tommy got up from the bad, “Well, I’m going to head back to the hospital, try to get a hold of her parents, and whatever else I’m supposed to do.” “Do you want me to go with you?” Amelia asked “No, I’ll be okay. I just have to go. I have to get there, ya know?” “I do.” She answered “You can come back here. As long as you need, or want.” “I think I’m going to have Amelia come stay with me, at least for tonight.” Gabriel added Amelia turned, and looked at him questioningly. “Don’t you think that’s best, for the time being?” he asked her She realized that he meant in light of recent discoveries, so she agreed. “Right, so you’ll have the place to yourself Tommy, okay?” He nodded in agreement. They hugged one more time, and then he was out the door. Amelia sat on Sara’s bed again. “It seems like I was just sitting here five minutes ago.” She said “I really do want you staying with me. At least until we figure out our next move.” Gabriel said “No problem. I don’t think I could stay here, even if I wanted to.” She replied “Okay, so grab what you need, and we will head over to my place.” He said While Amelia gathered some clothes and whatever else she needed, Gabriel decided to try to get in touch with J. The last time they spoke, he was supposedly laying low at a hotel near the navy base. Waiting to hear from them. “Well, I just tried to get a hold of J, and it went straight to voicemail.” He told her “Ya know, I just can’t believe this. He has been my best friend since I was a kid. This doesn’t make any sense.” She complained “Well, he has witch powers, so either someone got to him, and flipped him, and gave him power somehow, or”, he paused, “this was the plan all along. Those are the only two things that make sense.” “So ever since we were kids, this was the plan? To kill anyone he had to just to get this damn book?” Amelia protested. “Seems that way Beautiful girl.” He paused, and suddenly looked very sullen. “I am so very sorry. For everything. I can’t help but think that if I hadn’t come into your life-“ she stopped him there. “None of this is because of you. Don’t even go there.” She argued “If I hadn’t come around, you would have never have learned of the book, you never would have gained the sight.” “And Sara would still be dead. And my best friend would still be a bunch of fake bullshit. So in all actuality Gabriel, I would still be in the dark. So stop trying to take the blame for my eyes finally being opened. In every sense of the word.” “Point taken.” He said softly “Okay, I’m all set, ready to go?” she asked “Yes, let’s get moving.” He answered CHAPTER 13 Once they arrived at Gabriel’s place, he carried her bags inside. “Follow me. I’ll bring you to your room.” He said “My room?” “Yes. I think it’s important that you have your own space, privacy when you want it, alone time when you need it.” He talked as they walked up the stairs to the second floor, and turned down the hallway to the room at the end. Amelia stopped short when she saw the inside of the room. It was huge, first of all, and looked as though she may have decorated it herself. There was a queen sized bed in the center of the room, a desk with book shelves off to one side, and lots of pink. The curtains, the comforter on the bed. The window dressings alone must have cost a small fortune. “Gabriel, this is beautiful. Whose room is this?” she asked “It’s yours.” He replied “It looks like someone else has been staying here.” Everything looked so welcoming and cozy. “No. no one else is here. This is your room, and yours alone. I called a decorator friend and told him that the most important person in my life would be staying with me, and that I wanted her to feel as comfortable, and as at home as possible. I told him a little bit about you, and this is what he came up with. I hope its okay.” “Okay? Yeah, it’s a lot more than okay.” She answered “This is amazing Gabriel.” She said, as she walked around the room, looking at every detail, running her hands along the cushy blankets that were draped across an arm chair in the corner. He put her bags on the foot of the bed. “There’s plenty of space in the closet, and the drawers, so you can put your things where ever you’d like.” He offered “This is amazing. Thank you so much.” She walked over to the side of the bed where he stood, and she tip toed and reached her arms up around his neck. He dipped his head and kissed her lips gently. “Anything for you, Amelia. I meant it. If there’s anything else you need, just let me know.” “No, this is great. I’m kind of amazed right now.” She laughed “So, I did good then?” he asked expectantly “You did great.” She said “Okay, so how about we get unpacked, cleaned up, and meet down in the kitchen when we’re done?” “Sounds wonderful, I could use a shower.” “Your bathroom is right through there” he motioned to a door across from the foot of the bed. “Remember, if there’s anything at all you need, just let me know.” “I will, thank you again, this is awesome.” “You are most welcome beautiful girl. I’ll see you in the kitchen.” He said, then disappeared down the hall. Amelia was strangely grateful for the alone time. Guess Gabriel knew her better than she thought. She unpacked her two small bags, and began hanging her things in the closet, and placing a few things in a drawer. She took a photo from her bag and placed it on the desk. Then she brought her toiletries bag into the bathroom. And what a bathroom it was! A Jacuzzi sized bathtub, a separate shower with eight shower heads, double sinks, awesome lighting and a heat light to keep her cozy when getting dried and dressed after bathing. On one side of the counter, were an assortment of bath and hair care products, most of which were her regular brands. A couple bottles of perfume, a manicure kit, and a small basket of brand new make-up, which she hardly wore, but was grateful to have. She opened the doors under the cabinet to look for towels, which there were plenty, she saw another basket, this one filled with a variety of feminine products, tampons, pads, panty liners, Midol, you name it. She stared for a moment, it seemed he’d thought of everything. She swore if she lived a hundred years, she would never meet another person like him. This just reinforced everything that she already thought and felt about him. He was just so, attentive, and thoughtful. He really seemed to put her ahead of himself, and she didn’t really know what that feeling was all about, not coming from a guy anyway. The only person to ever treat her that way was her mother. Her mother would have loved him. She felt that sadness come over her for an instant. That sadness that she had finally found him, and that her mother wasn’t here to see it. She decided it was time to hop in the shower. She peeled off her clothes and tossed then in the oh- so- convenient hamper, fixed the water to the temperature that she wanted and climbed in. The shower heads were more like jets. The warm water massaging her skin, blasting away that last few days of crazy. She stood directly underneath the main one, so she could get her hair good and wet. She proceeded to wash rinse and repeat. Once in his room, Gabriel flopped down on his bed. How could he go from such a mostly peaceful, although miserable existence, to this? In love. Being loved. Running from witches, searching for witches, mourning losses that weren’t even his? Ah, yes, back to love. This was infinitely better than life B.A. Before Amelia. Half an hour later, Amelia arrived in the kitchen, where Gabriel had just finished making brunch. There was a platter of scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes, orange juice and coffee. “How did you have time to do all this?” she asked “Motivation.” He answered “Motivation?” “Yes, I wanted you to have a nice hot, home cooked meal for a change. I hope this is okay?” he asked, motioning to the table full of food. “Yes, this is amazing. I’m starving, actually.” She smiled “Good. Let’s eat.” He replied As they piled their plates with breakfast yumminess, Amelia spoke, “Oh, and by the way, that bathroom is unbelievable. That was the best shower I have ever had in my life.” “Good, I am so glad you enjoyed it.” He replied “And,” she added, “Thank you so much for being so thoughtful. There isn’t another thing I could need in there. You really thought of everything.” She smiled “Good. I wanted to feel as comfortable as possible, and not to worry about the little things, which, if you need them, and don’t have them, can turn out to be big things.” He grinned. “Right you are, Mr. Alexander. Thank you so very much for the hospitality. You really went above and beyond.” “Nothing is above or beyond, for you beautiful girl.” He answered They chatted while they ate, about their trip, Sara, and of course the newest issue, J. “I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that my best friend, for my whole life, was essentially, a plant. How could anyone have known that I would ever come across that book?” she asked “Well, I was thinking about that. It could have been a Seer. You know, a psychic.” “Can they really see that far into the future though?” she asked “Visions are complicated. Some of them only see certain things, or only certain times, I guess some can see very far. There was no way for anyone to ever know that you would grow up and be working at the Fortress, where you’d have access to such things.” “I tried calling J again when I got out of the shower, still straight to voicemail.” She said “Maybe he knows that we’re on to him.” Gabriel thought out loud “How could he?” “Well, if he has witch powers, almost anything is possible. He could have formed a link with Sara, to make sure that he wasn’t found out, and when you did the tandem meditation, it may have alerted him, because, you were in her head.” He answered “So what do we do now?” she asked “I think the most important thing that you can do, is read that book. Learn as much as you can.” “I don’t need any more spells.” “Not for spells, just to learn. I’m sure there’s a lot more information in that thing than just spells. It’s the Codex of a coven. It will probably have information about coven members, history, exactly who was after them, maybe something about your birth mother. It’s a world of knowledge that we weren’t privy to before. We would be doing ourselves a huge disservice if we didn’t learn as much as possible. It could help us decide what our next move should be.” “Again, I ask, how do you always know. The perfect thing to say?” “Years of observing the human condition I suppose. Too many instances of not thinking before acting. Over the years I have learned that, information truly is power, and I have also learned to think before I speak. I guess I just do it a bit more than most.” “Good answer.” She smiled “Okay, so after brunch, maybe you can teach me a few things from the book?” “I’ll do my best.” After hours of review, the only thing Amelia was certain of, was that this book held way more information than she ever thought. Her head was spinning. Names, magical words, symbols, none of which meant anything to her. She was beginning to think that this was a lost cause. She got up from the overstuffed couch and walked back into the kitchen. Gabriel was sitting at the table, writing in a journal. “I had no idea you wrote.” “I don’t. Not really. I just journal.” “That’s writing.” “No, it’s more like, documenting.” He laughed “I have no talent as a writer.” “Wanna share?’ Amelia asked “Actually, my journals are the one thing I like to keep for myself. I hope you understand.” “No, no problem. I totally get that.” She replied He stopped writing and put the pen down, “So, tell me, what have you learned?” “Not much. I learned that there’s a hell of a lot that I don’t understand.” “I suppose it will take a little time. You only just gained the Sight, it makes sense that it’s not very familiar yet. It will come.” He promised “I hope you’re right. I just don’t know what we should do at this point.” She confessed “Mind if I take a look at it?’ he asked “Of course not, here ya go.” She handed him the book. He placed it on the table before him and began to flip through its pages. His eyes scanned the pages, looking for something, anything that might look familiar to him. The last ten or so pages were blank. “Do you see anything on these pages, here?” he asked as he turned the book towards Amelia. “No, they’re blank.” “Okay, just checking.” He continued turning pages, then he saw it. A pink bolt of lightning. It was unmistakable. There were also stars along the margins of the page. “Amelia, did you see this?” he asked “No, what is it?” He showed her the page. “Wow, that looks familiar alright.” She said hopefully. “What does it say?” he asked “It says The Moirai shall make the final decision. Who the hell is Moirai?” “It’s Greek. It means The Fates.” “The Greek mythology Fates?” she asked “Yes, but it’s no myth.” He answered “The Fates are real? Are you serious right now?” she asked “Keep reading.” She turned back to the book and began, “Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos. Cloth, milk and destruction?” she questioned. “Those are the names of the three fates. As you know, Clotho spins the fabric of life, Lachesis Determines the length of it, and Atropos cuts the threads to determine length of life, time of death.” “Yeah, that’s pretty much what it says here.” She agreed She read on, “Zeus is unaffected by the Fates and also unable to interfere with their work. You cannot escape your destiny. At the age of three days, all newborn are visited by the Fates and their life and fate is determined at that time. Soul mates are also determined at that time. The reason for this is because at one time, we were all together. Our lost halves were not lost, they were with us, a part of us. Zeus felt threatened by creatures who had two heads and eight limbs, so he made it so that all eight limbed creatures were to be destroyed, separated, and scattered all over the earth. He did not want them to join again, thus, his work pointless. With the help of other gods, he made it so.” “This is very interesting.” Gabriel commented ‘I agree.” “Keep reading.” “Okay. These eight limbed creatures were created from the same specks of star dust during the Great Creation. Which is why they were that way in the first place. After being separated by Zeus, throughout all of their lifetimes, the Fates have tried to bring them back together, but since the work was done by Gods, it has always been a problem. This is where the idea of soul mates came from. Our souls are created from star dust, so gravity it’s self has been trying to correct what Zeus did, since time began. Scientifically speaking, these pieces of star dust are supposed to be together to create the whole. “ This is crazy Gabriel.” “Well, crazy is kind of our thing.” He smiled “True. It goes on to talk about soul mates next.” “I’m listening.” He said with anticipation. “Okay, it says here that the soul mate bond is the strongest bond that can ever be achieved with another person, in this life, or the next. This soul is the other half of your original soul, and is someone just like yourself. They may seem familiar to you, even if you are certain that you do not know them. Your soul recognizes them. You may feel as though you know them in some way, but that is just your soul recognizing them. Part of you is remembering. You will feel an energy radiate between you. Soul mates share unconditional love, because they have the same exact vibration. There are no exceptions, just timing. When two halves touch, a pink glow of what looks like electricity is created-“ Gabriel interrupted her, “Oh my god Amelia!” She looked at him, her eyes wide and full of tears, “Oh my god, Gabriel. Could this be true? Could this be real?” Is that what’s happening with us?” “I think it could be. Think about it. When you first saw me, how did you feel?” he asked Amelia thought about it for a minute, and felt embarrassed, but she told him anyway. “I felt like I was supposed to walk up to you and say hello, I actually tried to, which is kinda outta character for me.” “You did? When?” “When you were sitting in the common across form Ms. Muffit’s. I got up and walked outside and in that two seconds, you were gone. How about you?” she asked “You were at Gold, dancing with J. When I saw you, I felt much the same way. I wanted to go to you. I thought he was your boyfriend, so I didn’t. I have never walked up to a woman and said hello. But when I saw you, I knew I had to, almost like I was supposed to.” “You have never gone up and talked to a woman before? Mr. Charisma? I find that hard to believe.” “It’s the truth. I have never been very good at conveying my feelings. I guess you changed all that.” He grinned “I guess so. So what do you think? Is this us? I will never forget that night. When we first spoke, when our fingers touched and that pink arc jumped between our fingers. Is that what was happening? Do you really think that we are two halves of a whole?” she asked “I do. I really do.” Gabriel replied He reached across the table and placed his hand on her cheek, and on cue, the glow radiated across her skin and around his hand. The tears spilled from her lashes ad he leaned across and kissed her cheek, then her lips. “Amelia, I believe that we have what every person on earth dreams of. And to hear what you read from that book, just confirms it all for me. What do you think?” he asked “I think you may be right.” “I am Amelia. Think about it. We might be the only two in the world who have found each other. I have never heard of any kind of pink electricity, a glow, nothing of the sort, and I have traveled all over the world, and learned of many cultures and beliefs. According to the letter from Margaret, you were born glowing. How much more proof do you need?” Amelia got up from her chair and went to him. She wrapped herself around him, putting herself on his lap facing him and her arms around his neck. “This is all the proof I need” he took her face in his hands and gently touched his lips to hers. They stayed like that for a moment, just letting their lips press against the others. “Amelia, I do believe that we are soul mates. I have never, ever found anyone that makes me feel like this. Like I’m a part of the world again. Like I am worthy of love. Your love. And it’s the only thing I want.” He kissed her again, he had to reach into his pocket and remove the necklace, it was getting uncomfortably warm. “I love you Amelia.” He said as he looked her in the eye. “I love you too Gabriel. Thank you for everything.” “No, beautiful girl, thank you.” The doorbell rang and interrupted the moment. She eased herself up from his lap and he stood up. “Who in the blazes could that be? Amelia, wait right here. If anything happens, run to my room, open the door in the back of my closet, get in, close it, and stay there, do you understand?” he commanded “Yes, I understand.” Now she was frightened. Who could show up and ring the bell that would elicit that type of reaction from him? As she waited, His phone began to buzz on the table in front of her. Glancing down at it, she saw that it was Rob. She thought about answering it, but thought better of it, and just let it buzz. She was straining to hear who was at the door. Gabriel returned in just a couple of minutes. “So? Who was it?” she asked “Delivery Express. With a package for you.” He said confused “Me? From who?” she asked “Only one way to find out. Do you mind?” he asked “No, not at all, go ahead.” Gabriel opened the padded envelope. It was a cell phone and a slip of paper that read, TURN ME ON. “Who is it from?” Amelia asked “No idea.” Gabriel pressed the power button and the phone came to life. As soon as it was done booting up, it rang. They looked at each other in wonder. “Shall I?” he asked “Definitely.” She answered He put the phone to his ear, “Yes?” “Gabriel? Is that you? This is Bernadette Jones.” “Yes, Mrs. Jones, it’s me. You are very clever.” He smiled into the phone Amelia’s eyes went wide. She mouthed the words, “Its Mrs. J.?” “Oh darling, you have no idea.” She laughed “Amelia is there with you, yes?” “She is.” “Would you be kind enough to put the call on speaker?” He did as she asked “Hello my dear Amelia!” her voice came from the phone. Amelia could tell that she was smiling as she said it. “Hi Mrs. J. um, what the hell?” Amelia asked “Ah, yes, what the hell indeed.” Mrs. J. replied Amelia and Gabriel both grinned. “Well, darlings, you are both most definitely on the radar now.” “What do you mean?” asked Amelia “A failed theft at a truck stop on I95, a sighting at a gas station in a small town in Pennsylvania, and a Barrier Blast the likes of which, I haven’t felt since 1923.” Amelia and Gabriel looked at each other in amazement. “How do you know about any of that? And what the hell is a Barrier Blast?” Amelia asked “Amelia, I assume that by now, you have been able to decipher some of that book of yours?” she asked “Uh, yes, I have actually. How do you know all this Mrs. J.?” “You both need to come to Nova Scotia immediately.” She said “Why? What’s going on?” Amelia asked “There is much too much to discuss now, or over the phone. I will text the address to this phone. Get on a plane ASAP.” Gabriel spoke, “Is everything okay there Mrs. Jones?” “Yes, everything is just fine here, that’s part of the reason you need to get here, to get you both off the radar.” “My home is rather well warded.” Gabriel protested “Gabriel my dear, if I was able to locate you both and get this phone to you, there’s no telling what others may be able to accomplish. Am I clear?” “Crystal. We will be on the next flight out.” He assured her. Amelia looked at him and mouthed “What the hell?” “Have no worries Amelia, I realize that you just returned from a journey, but trust me, this is the most important one you will ever make.”

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