Blackfeather Chapter 24

Ash let the pencil fall from his fingers. It bounced a couple of times then rolled away from him. He sat back in the chair with a sigh, his hands on his knees, his head bowed in defeat.

Kate knelt in front of him and pushed her face under his, forcing him to look at her. She placed her hands over his and gave him an encouraging smile.

“Don’t blame yourself for Evelyn.”

His eyes were full of shame.

“I should have protected her from that. She should have been loved, not violated. She should have been with…..”

She should have been with him, he was going to say. Why hadn’t he finished the sentence? They had had a relationship, of sorts. He had wanted to marry her. And what about Isabel? If she hadn’t pushed him away, her mind on other matters, they would have ended up making love.

His eyes were telling her what he couldn’t say with words, but she needed to hear it. Her stomach fluttered at the question poised on her lips, but she didn’t have the courage to ask him while he looked at her. She got up, walked to the door, turned and leant against the frame, her cheek pressed against the cold wood, the toes of one bare foot pushing into the pile of the carpet.

“Ash?”

“Yes.”

“I know you didn’t – not with Evelyn, but – did we ever…?”

“No.”

He had seen the thought in her mind and pre-empted her again. Her heart sank with the finality of his answer. Did that mean they couldn’t? Perhaps she was better not knowing. She bowed her head.

“But I remember every kiss we ever shared.”

Her head came up again. He’d opened the door for her. She took a deep breath. It was now or never.

“Do you want to kiss me now?” she asked, holding tight to the door jamb.

Blood pounded in her ears, she could barely breathe, afraid his answer would be another no.

“Very much.”

He rose from the chair and came towards her. Her body hummed with anticipation, but instead of taking her in his arms he slipped past her crossed the living room and stood looking out towards the cherry tree. She felt crushed and slumped in the doorway.

“I don’t understand,” she said. “How can you run so hot and cold with me all the time?”

“What do you mean? You asked me a question, I answered it truthfully.”

 

“But one minute you act like you want something to happen between us the next you brush me off like you wish you’d never met me.”

“Is that how it seems to you?” He turned around; the accusation hurt. “Don’t you know that I love you?”

She shook her head.

“You loved Catherine, you loved Isabel, most of all you loved Evelyn, but I don’t know what you feel for me. Maybe after all this time you blame me for your fall?”

“Nothing could be further from the truth. I didn’t fall because I loved you. I fell because of the consequences that came about through that love. If I’d never revealed myself to Catherine, if I’d loved her from afar, her father would have had no cause to accuse her, he would never have been tempted by immortality and she would never have died. That’s the reason for my punishment, not loving you.”

He came to her then and took her face between both hands.

“I can tell you, to the very second, how long it’s been since our last kiss. 138 years, 2 months, 28 days, 2 hours, 36 minutes and 11 seconds exactly.”

Then he closed his eyes, bent his head to her astonished face and kissed her. She yielded to the gentle pressure of his lips, his fingers stroked along the line of her jaw and up into her hair and her arms slid up behind his neck.

She lost herself in his love for her, the memory of those kisses they had shared through time were now hers. Each one a treasure he had fixed in his memory and locked away in his heart, and now he gave them back to her. When it ended and she stumbled against him, he steadied her, then took a step back.

“I don’t know if this will make things better, worse or have no effect at all on my punishment, but in five hundred years I’ve never dared make love to you. I’ve never wanted to as much as I do now. I don’t care what happens to me, I just don’t want to hurt you anymore.”

There was no hesitation in Kate as she took his hand and led him upstairs to her bedroom. They’d waited long enough. She wondered if he could see how hard her heart was beating or how her fingers trembled as she unbuttoned his shirt and slipped it off his shoulders, but of course he did, they were connected, he saw everything she saw, felt everything she felt, knew her better than she knew  herself.

They undressed each other, slowly, shyly, kissing and caressing, until they were both naked. She let him look at her, his eyes skimming over her body, following the line his fingers traced along the length of her arm, from wrist to shoulder, across her collar bone, then down between her breasts and over her stomach, his hand finally coming to rest on her hip. Kate’s body tingled at his touch. He pulled her close to him, her face upturned to his as he kissed her again. Then a blast of cool air lifted individual tresses of her hair and raised the tiny hairs all over her body. She opened her eyes, mid-kiss, to see enormous black wings wrap around her, the tips of the feathers brushing against her calves as he laid her back onto the bed.

*  *  *

Afterwards, she rested her head on his chest and listened to the strong, steady beat of his heart.

“That’s the closest I’ve been to Heaven for five hundred years,” he sighed.

“It can’t have been that good.”

She pushed herself up on an elbow and looked down at him, laughing at the look of wonder on his face.

“Contentment, happiness, bliss, that’s Heaven, but this is better.”

He pulled her down into the crook of his arm. He wanted to feel her against him. She snuggled in, her head on his shoulder, and fell asleep as he stroked her back. Now that she couldn’t see his face a crease of worry formed on his forehead. He chewed at his bottom lip. There’d been no thunder and lightning, no end of the world cataclysm to suck him down to Hell, but this wasn’t over yet. This could change everything. If she couldn’t bring herself to do what she had to, couldn’t free them because of what they’d just done, it could spell disaster for all of them.

*  *  *

Hours later she awoke to an empty space in the bed. She couldn’t remember any dreams of Evelyn or of Veronique, but that didn’t mean she’d had none. He had stayed true to his promise and kept her safe as she slept. She swung her legs over the edge of the bed and sat up. She had left her slippers by the French doors in the living room so she slipped on a nightgown and padded barefoot through the darkened house in search of Ash.

He was not in the house, but the open door told her where he would be. She stood at the threshold and peered out at the garden, glittering under its moonlit frosting of snow. The ornamental cherry tree, still in bloom, incongruous in its Wintry setting. An icy breeze raised goose bumps on her bare arms and she chided herself for wandering round in the middle of the night in nothing but a thin, silky nightdress. A little way beyond it she could see the familiar figure of her guardian angel, barefoot and shirtless, his black jeans put on in haste before coming out to meet the man that stood beside him.

He was as tall as Ash, but had shoulder length black hair and wore a long black coat. Both of them had their backs to her, but as she watched they turned as one to look at her, their angelic senses alerting them to the fact that she was there. The tall stranger’s iridescent blue eyes seemed to look right into her and she squirmed beneath his intense gaze.

They exchanged a few words she could not hear, then Ash called out to her.

“It’s all right, Kate. Go back to bed. I’ll be back soon.”

She wanted to listen in to whatever secret conversation they were having, but the tall stranger unnerved her. There was something about him that seemed familiar, so she did as she was asked and went back to bed.

*  *  *

Kate’s warm, steady breath had been tickling his chest when he’d sensed the presence nearby. He gently moved out from beneath her and quickly pulled on his jeans. His brother waited in the garden, looking up at the branches of the cherry tree. His eyebrows raised in amusement when Ash joined him, making him blush.

“Don’t start,” said Ash.

“I’ve no intention of saying anything,” the angel laughed, then cocked his head on one side and peered closer at his brother. “There’s something different about you tonight.”

Ash sighed and waited. As his friend scrutinised his appearance they both sensed another presence and turned, as one, to look back at the house. Kate pulled at the hem of the short, figure hugging nightdress. She hadn’t been expecting anyone else but Ash to be there and was clearly feeling a little exposed with her long bare legs on show.

“Oh,” said Ash’s companion. “Well it’s about time. It’s only taken you what – five hundred years. Give or take…”

Ash ignored him and called to Kate, telling her to go back to bed. When she had gone, the two angels walked deeper into the shadows of the garden.

“There’s been a development.”

“I know. He knows where we are.”

“It’s worse than that. He knows who she is.”

“How?” Ash demanded, his voice carrying across the garden in the breeze.

His brother explained what had happened in the church earlier that day.

“Is the vicar OK?”

“I healed his wounds, but he spoke to the Archbishop and he insisted he go away for a few days to recover from the ordeal. The rest will do him good.”

“Did you recognise his attacker?”

“No.”

Ash wasn’t sure if his brother had seen Brian at the club the night he’d met Kate, so he raised his hand and touched his fingertips to the other man’s forehead.

“Did he look like this?”

An image of Brian flashed into the tall man’s mind and he shook his head.

“No, it wasn’t him.”

So, they could rule Brian out as a suspect. That would put Kate’s mind at rest on that point at least, but it didn’t answer the question as to where Brian was.

“I must go,” the angel said.

Ash nodded.

“And well done, I’m proud of you, little brother.”

He slapped Ash on the back before vanishing in a spectacular vertical take-off.  Ash watched the dark shape soar across the face of the moon then headed back inside to find Kate.

She was sitting up in bed, her knees drawn up to her chest, hugging her legs.

“That was another angel, wasn’t it?”

He nodded.

“This is going to sound silly, but he seems familiar.”

“He should do, you’ve met him once before.”

Ash grinned at Kate’s disbelieving face.

“Where?” she said.

She was sure she would remember someone so striking.

“At the club. He bowed to you, remember? It’s him you have to thank for translating my journal.”

Ash repeated the gesture he had made in the garden, touching his fingers to Kate’s forehead and retrieving her memory of his brother. She relived the moment that he had bowed to her and let her pass by, his black wings almost touching the floor. Her eyes widened in recognition.

“They were real wings!”

“Yes, he hangs around in there a lot, but the Festival of Angels is his favourite time of year. He loves showing off his feathers. You should hear the crowds complimenting him on how real they look.”

He laughed.

“If only they knew.”

He slipped off his jeans and climbed into bed beside Kate.

“He loves the attention, but I keep telling him he’s going to get into trouble one day. All he says is, ‘I haven’t yet, little brother,’ and laughs at me.”

“Little brother?”

“Hmm, it doesn’t matter that we were created all at the same time. He’s no older than me in years, but he thinks experience makes him my elder.”

“What’s his name?”

Ash shook his head.

“I can’t tell you that. Names have power.”

“Why did he fall?”

“He didn’t, he’s a Watcher.”

His arm snaked around her middle and pulled her down under the covers with him.

“And he’s all about the experience,” he winked.  The lights went out.

 

Back to chapter list                          Chapter 25

Ash let the pencil fall from his fingers. It bounced a couple of times then rolled away from him. He sat back in the chair with a sigh, his hands on his knees, his head bowed in defeat.

Kate knelt in front of him and pushed her face under his, forcing him to look at her. She placed her hands over his and gave him an encouraging smile.

“Don’t blame yourself for Evelyn.”

His eyes were full of shame.

“I should have protected her from that. She should have been loved, not violated. She should have been with…..”

She should have been with him, he was going to say. Why hadn’t he finished the sentence? They had had a relationship, of sorts. He had wanted to marry her. And what about Isabel? If she hadn’t pushed him away, her mind on other matters, they would have ended up making love.

His eyes were telling her what he couldn’t say with words, but she needed to hear it. Her stomach fluttered at the question poised on her lips, but she didn’t have the courage to ask him while he looked at her. She got up, walked to the door, turned and leant against the frame, her cheek pressed against the cold wood, the toes of one bare foot pushing into the pile of the carpet.

“Ash?”

“Yes.”

“I know you didn’t – not with Evelyn, but – did we ever…?”

“No.”

He had seen the thought in her mind and pre-empted her again. Her heart sank with the finality of his answer. Did that mean they couldn’t? Perhaps she was better not knowing. She bowed her head.

“But I remember every kiss we ever shared.”

Her head came up again. He’d opened the door for her. She took a deep breath. It was now or never.

“Do you want to kiss me now?” she asked, holding tight to the door jamb.

Blood pounded in her ears, she could barely breathe, afraid his answer would be another no.

“Very much.”

He rose from the chair and came towards her. Her body hummed with anticipation, but instead of taking her in his arms he slipped past her crossed the living room and stood looking out towards the cherry tree. She felt crushed and slumped in the doorway.

“I don’t understand,” she said. “How can you run so hot and cold with me all the time?”

“What do you mean? You asked me a question, I answered it truthfully.”

 

“But one minute you act like you want something to happen between us the next you brush me off like you wish you’d never met me.”

“Is that how it seems to you?” He turned around; the accusation hurt. “Don’t you know that I love you?”

She shook her head.

“You loved Catherine, you loved Isabel, most of all you loved Evelyn, but I don’t know what you feel for me. Maybe after all this time you blame me for your fall?”

“Nothing could be further from the truth. I didn’t fall because I loved you. I fell because of the consequences that came about through that love. If I’d never revealed myself to Catherine, if I’d loved her from afar, her father would have had no cause to accuse her, he would never have been tempted by immortality and she would never have died. That’s the reason for my punishment, not loving you.”

He came to her then and took her face between both hands.

“I can tell you, to the very second, how long it’s been since our last kiss. 138 years, 2 months, 28 days, 2 hours, 36 minutes and 11 seconds exactly.”

Then he closed his eyes, bent his head to her astonished face and kissed her. She yielded to the gentle pressure of his lips, his fingers stroked along the line of her jaw and up into her hair and her arms slid up behind his neck.

She lost herself in his love for her, the memory of those kisses they had shared through time were now hers. Each one a treasure he had fixed in his memory and locked away in his heart, and now he gave them back to her. When it ended and she stumbled against him, he steadied her, then took a step back.

“I don’t know if this will make things better, worse or have no effect at all on my punishment, but in five hundred years I’ve never dared make love to you. I’ve never wanted to as much as I do now. I don’t care what happens to me, I just don’t want to hurt you anymore.”

There was no hesitation in Kate as she took his hand and led him upstairs to her bedroom. They’d waited long enough. She wondered if he could see how hard her heart was beating or how her fingers trembled as she unbuttoned his shirt and slipped it off his shoulders, but of course he did, they were connected, he saw everything she saw, felt everything she felt, knew her better than she knew  herself.

They undressed each other, slowly, shyly, kissing and caressing, until they were both naked. She let him look at her, his eyes skimming over her body, following the line his fingers traced along the length of her arm, from wrist to shoulder, across her collar bone, then down between her breasts and over her stomach, his hand finally coming to rest on her hip. Kate’s body tingled at his touch. He pulled her close to him, her face upturned to his as he kissed her again. Then a blast of cool air lifted individual tresses of her hair and raised the tiny hairs all over her body. She opened her eyes, mid-kiss, to see enormous black wings wrap around her, the tips of the feathers brushing against her calves as he laid her back onto the bed.

*  *  *

Afterwards, she rested her head on his chest and listened to the strong, steady beat of his heart.

“That’s the closest I’ve been to Heaven for five hundred years,” he sighed.

“It can’t have been that good.”

She pushed herself up on an elbow and looked down at him, laughing at the look of wonder on his face.

“Contentment, happiness, bliss, that’s Heaven, but this is better.”

He pulled her down into the crook of his arm. He wanted to feel her against him. She snuggled in, her head on his shoulder, and fell asleep as he stroked her back. Now that she couldn’t see his face a crease of worry formed on his forehead. He chewed at his bottom lip. There’d been no thunder and lightning, no end of the world cataclysm to suck him down to Hell, but this wasn’t over yet. This could change everything. If she couldn’t bring herself to do what she had to, couldn’t free them because of what they’d just done, it could spell disaster for all of them.

*  *  *

Hours later she awoke to an empty space in the bed. She couldn’t remember any dreams of Evelyn or of Veronique, but that didn’t mean she’d had none. He had stayed true to his promise and kept her safe as she slept. She swung her legs over the edge of the bed and sat up. She had left her slippers by the French doors in the living room so she slipped on a nightgown and padded barefoot through the darkened house in search of Ash.

He was not in the house, but the open door told her where he would be. She stood at the threshold and peered out at the garden, glittering under its moonlit frosting of snow. The ornamental cherry tree, still in bloom, incongruous in its Wintry setting. An icy breeze raised goose bumps on her bare arms and she chided herself for wandering round in the middle of the night in nothing but a thin, silky nightdress. A little way beyond it she could see the familiar figure of her guardian angel, barefoot and shirtless, his black jeans put on in haste before coming out to meet the man that stood beside him.

He was as tall as Ash, but had shoulder length black hair and wore a long black coat. Both of them had their backs to her, but as she watched they turned as one to look at her, their angelic senses alerting them to the fact that she was there. The tall stranger’s iridescent blue eyes seemed to look right into her and she squirmed beneath his intense gaze.

They exchanged a few words she could not hear, then Ash called out to her.

“It’s all right, Kate. Go back to bed. I’ll be back soon.”

She wanted to listen in to whatever secret conversation they were having, but the tall stranger unnerved her. There was something about him that seemed familiar, so she did as she was asked and went back to bed.

*  *  *

Kate’s warm, steady breath had been tickling his chest when he’d sensed the presence nearby. He gently moved out from beneath her and quickly pulled on his jeans. His brother waited in the garden, looking up at the branches of the cherry tree. His eyebrows raised in amusement when Ash joined him, making him blush.

“Don’t start,” said Ash.

“I’ve no intention of saying anything,” the angel laughed, then cocked his head on one side and peered closer at his brother. “There’s something different about you tonight.”

Ash sighed and waited. As his friend scrutinised his appearance they both sensed another presence and turned, as one, to look back at the house. Kate pulled at the hem of the short, figure hugging nightdress. She hadn’t been expecting anyone else but Ash to be there and was clearly feeling a little exposed with her long bare legs on show.

“Oh,” said Ash’s companion. “Well it’s about time. It’s only taken you what – five hundred years. Give or take…”

Ash ignored him and called to Kate, telling her to go back to bed. When she had gone, the two angels walked deeper into the shadows of the garden.

“There’s been a development.”

“I know. He knows where we are.”

“It’s worse than that. He knows who she is.”

“How?” Ash demanded, his voice carrying across the garden in the breeze.

His brother explained what had happened in the church earlier that day.

“Is the vicar OK?”

“I healed his wounds, but he spoke to the Archbishop and he insisted he go away for a few days to recover from the ordeal. The rest will do him good.”

“Did you recognise his attacker?”

“No.”

Ash wasn’t sure if his brother had seen Brian at the club the night he’d met Kate, so he raised his hand and touched his fingertips to the other man’s forehead.

“Did he look like this?”

An image of Brian flashed into the tall man’s mind and he shook his head.

“No, it wasn’t him.”

So, they could rule Brian out as a suspect. That would put Kate’s mind at rest on that point at least, but it didn’t answer the question as to where Brian was.

“I must go,” the angel said.

Ash nodded.

“And well done, I’m proud of you, little brother.”

He slapped Ash on the back before vanishing in a spectacular vertical take-off.  Ash watched the dark shape soar across the face of the moon then headed back inside to find Kate.

She was sitting up in bed, her knees drawn up to her chest, hugging her legs.

“That was another angel, wasn’t it?”

He nodded.

“This is going to sound silly, but he seems familiar.”

“He should do, you’ve met him once before.”

Ash grinned at Kate’s disbelieving face.

“Where?” she said.

She was sure she would remember someone so striking.

“At the club. He bowed to you, remember? It’s him you have to thank for translating my journal.”

Ash repeated the gesture he had made in the garden, touching his fingers to Kate’s forehead and retrieving her memory of his brother. She relived the moment that he had bowed to her and let her pass by, his black wings almost touching the floor. Her eyes widened in recognition.

“They were real wings!”

“Yes, he hangs around in there a lot, but the Festival of Angels is his favourite time of year. He loves showing off his feathers. You should hear the crowds complimenting him on how real they look.”

He laughed.

“If only they knew.”

He slipped off his jeans and climbed into bed beside Kate.

“He loves the attention, but I keep telling him he’s going to get into trouble one day. All he says is, ‘I haven’t yet, little brother,’ and laughs at me.”

“Little brother?”

“Hmm, it doesn’t matter that we were created all at the same time. He’s no older than me in years, but he thinks experience makes him my elder.”

“What’s his name?”

Ash shook his head.

“I can’t tell you that. Names have power.”

“Why did he fall?”

“He didn’t, he’s a Watcher.”

His arm snaked around her middle and pulled her down under the covers with him.

“And he’s all about the experience,” he winked.  The lights went out.

 

Back to chapter list                          Chapter 25 

Ash let the pencil fall from his fingers. It bounced a couple of times then rolled away from him. He sat back in the chair with a sigh, his hands on his knees, his head bowed in defeat.

Kate knelt in front of him and pushed her face under his, forcing him to look at her. She placed her hands over his and gave him an encouraging smile.

“Don’t blame yourself for Evelyn.”

His eyes were full of shame.

“I should have protected her from that. She should have been loved, not violated. She should have been with…..”

She should have been with him, he was going to say. Why hadn’t he finished the sentence? They had had a relationship, of sorts. He had wanted to marry her. And what about Isabel? If she hadn’t pushed him away, her mind on other matters, they would have ended up making love.

His eyes were telling her what he couldn’t say with words, but she needed to hear it. Her stomach fluttered at the question poised on her lips, but she didn’t have the courage to ask him while he looked at her. She got up, walked to the door, turned and leant against the frame, her cheek pressed against the cold wood, the toes of one bare foot pushing into the pile of the carpet.

“Ash?”

“Yes.”

“I know you didn’t – not with Evelyn, but – did we ever…?”

“No.”

He had seen the thought in her mind and pre-empted her again. Her heart sank with the finality of his answer. Did that mean they couldn’t? Perhaps she was better not knowing. She bowed her head.

“But I remember every kiss we ever shared.”

Her head came up again. He’d opened the door for her. She took a deep breath. It was now or never.

“Do you want to kiss me now?” she asked, holding tight to the door jamb.

Blood pounded in her ears, she could barely breathe, afraid his answer would be another no.

“Very much.”

He rose from the chair and came towards her. Her body hummed with anticipation, but instead of taking her in his arms he slipped past her crossed the living room and stood looking out towards the cherry tree. She felt crushed and slumped in the doorway.

“I don’t understand,” she said. “How can you run so hot and cold with me all the time?”

“What do you mean? You asked me a question, I answered it truthfully.”

 

“But one minute you act like you want something to happen between us the next you brush me off like you wish you’d never met me.”

“Is that how it seems to you?” He turned around; the accusation hurt. “Don’t you know that I love you?”

She shook her head.

“You loved Catherine, you loved Isabel, most of all you loved Evelyn, but I don’t know what you feel for me. Maybe after all this time you blame me for your fall?”

“Nothing could be further from the truth. I didn’t fall because I loved you. I fell because of the consequences that came about through that love. If I’d never revealed myself to Catherine, if I’d loved her from afar, her father would have had no cause to accuse her, he would never have been tempted by immortality and she would never have died. That’s the reason for my punishment, not loving you.”

He came to her then and took her face between both hands.

“I can tell you, to the very second, how long it’s been since our last kiss. 138 years, 2 months, 28 days, 2 hours, 36 minutes and 11 seconds exactly.”

Then he closed his eyes, bent his head to her astonished face and kissed her. She yielded to the gentle pressure of his lips, his fingers stroked along the line of her jaw and up into her hair and her arms slid up behind his neck.

She lost herself in his love for her, the memory of those kisses they had shared through time were now hers. Each one a treasure he had fixed in his memory and locked away in his heart, and now he gave them back to her. When it ended and she stumbled against him, he steadied her, then took a step back.

“I don’t know if this will make things better, worse or have no effect at all on my punishment, but in five hundred years I’ve never dared make love to you. I’ve never wanted to as much as I do now. I don’t care what happens to me, I just don’t want to hurt you anymore.”

There was no hesitation in Kate as she took his hand and led him upstairs to her bedroom. They’d waited long enough. She wondered if he could see how hard her heart was beating or how her fingers trembled as she unbuttoned his shirt and slipped it off his shoulders, but of course he did, they were connected, he saw everything she saw, felt everything she felt, knew her better than she knew  herself.

They undressed each other, slowly, shyly, kissing and caressing, until they were both naked. She let him look at her, his eyes skimming over her body, following the line his fingers traced along the length of her arm, from wrist to shoulder, across her collar bone, then down between her breasts and over her stomach, his hand finally coming to rest on her hip. Kate’s body tingled at his touch. He pulled her close to him, her face upturned to his as he kissed her again. Then a blast of cool air lifted individual tresses of her hair and raised the tiny hairs all over her body. She opened her eyes, mid-kiss, to see enormous black wings wrap around her, the tips of the feathers brushing against her calves as he laid her back onto the bed.

*  *  *

Afterwards, she rested her head on his chest and listened to the strong, steady beat of his heart.

“That’s the closest I’ve been to Heaven for five hundred years,” he sighed.

“It can’t have been that good.”

She pushed herself up on an elbow and looked down at him, laughing at the look of wonder on his face.

“Contentment, happiness, bliss, that’s Heaven, but this is better.”

He pulled her down into the crook of his arm. He wanted to feel her against him. She snuggled in, her head on his shoulder, and fell asleep as he stroked her back. Now that she couldn’t see his face a crease of worry formed on his forehead. He chewed at his bottom lip. There’d been no thunder and lightning, no end of the world cataclysm to suck him down to Hell, but this wasn’t over yet. This could change everything. If she couldn’t bring herself to do what she had to, couldn’t free them because of what they’d just done, it could spell disaster for all of them.

*  *  *

Hours later she awoke to an empty space in the bed. She couldn’t remember any dreams of Evelyn or of Veronique, but that didn’t mean she’d had none. He had stayed true to his promise and kept her safe as she slept. She swung her legs over the edge of the bed and sat up. She had left her slippers by the French doors in the living room so she slipped on a nightgown and padded barefoot through the darkened house in search of Ash.

He was not in the house, but the open door told her where he would be. She stood at the threshold and peered out at the garden, glittering under its moonlit frosting of snow. The ornamental cherry tree, still in bloom, incongruous in its Wintry setting. An icy breeze raised goose bumps on her bare arms and she chided herself for wandering round in the middle of the night in nothing but a thin, silky nightdress. A little way beyond it she could see the familiar figure of her guardian angel, barefoot and shirtless, his black jeans put on in haste before coming out to meet the man that stood beside him.

He was as tall as Ash, but had shoulder length black hair and wore a long black coat. Both of them had their backs to her, but as she watched they turned as one to look at her, their angelic senses alerting them to the fact that she was there. The tall stranger’s iridescent blue eyes seemed to look right into her and she squirmed beneath his intense gaze.

They exchanged a few words she could not hear, then Ash called out to her.

“It’s all right, Kate. Go back to bed. I’ll be back soon.”

She wanted to listen in to whatever secret conversation they were having, but the tall stranger unnerved her. There was something about him that seemed familiar, so she did as she was asked and went back to bed.

*  *  *

Kate’s warm, steady breath had been tickling his chest when he’d sensed the presence nearby. He gently moved out from beneath her and quickly pulled on his jeans. His brother waited in the garden, looking up at the branches of the cherry tree. His eyebrows raised in amusement when Ash joined him, making him blush.

“Don’t start,” said Ash.

“I’ve no intention of saying anything,” the angel laughed, then cocked his head on one side and peered closer at his brother. “There’s something different about you tonight.”

Ash sighed and waited. As his friend scrutinised his appearance they both sensed another presence and turned, as one, to look back at the house. Kate pulled at the hem of the short, figure hugging nightdress. She hadn’t been expecting anyone else but Ash to be there and was clearly feeling a little exposed with her long bare legs on show.

“Oh,” said Ash’s companion. “Well it’s about time. It’s only taken you what – five hundred years. Give or take…”

Ash ignored him and called to Kate, telling her to go back to bed. When she had gone, the two angels walked deeper into the shadows of the garden.

“There’s been a development.”

“I know. He knows where we are.”

“It’s worse than that. He knows who she is.”

“How?” Ash demanded, his voice carrying across the garden in the breeze.

His brother explained what had happened in the church earlier that day.

“Is the vicar OK?”

“I healed his wounds, but he spoke to the Archbishop and he insisted he go away for a few days to recover from the ordeal. The rest will do him good.”

“Did you recognise his attacker?”

“No.”

Ash wasn’t sure if his brother had seen Brian at the club the night he’d met Kate, so he raised his hand and touched his fingertips to the other man’s forehead.

“Did he look like this?”

An image of Brian flashed into the tall man’s mind and he shook his head.

“No, it wasn’t him.”

So, they could rule Brian out as a suspect. That would put Kate’s mind at rest on that point at least, but it didn’t answer the question as to where Brian was.

“I must go,” the angel said.

Ash nodded.

“And well done, I’m proud of you, little brother.”

He slapped Ash on the back before vanishing in a spectacular vertical take-off.  Ash watched the dark shape soar across the face of the moon then headed back inside to find Kate.

She was sitting up in bed, her knees drawn up to her chest, hugging her legs.

“That was another angel, wasn’t it?”

He nodded.

“This is going to sound silly, but he seems familiar.”

“He should do, you’ve met him once before.”

Ash grinned at Kate’s disbelieving face.

“Where?” she said.

She was sure she would remember someone so striking.

“At the club. He bowed to you, remember? It’s him you have to thank for translating my journal.”

Ash repeated the gesture he had made in the garden, touching his fingers to Kate’s forehead and retrieving her memory of his brother. She relived the moment that he had bowed to her and let her pass by, his black wings almost touching the floor. Her eyes widened in recognition.

“They were real wings!”

“Yes, he hangs around in there a lot, but the Festival of Angels is his favourite time of year. He loves showing off his feathers. You should hear the crowds complimenting him on how real they look.”

He laughed.

“If only they knew.”

He slipped off his jeans and climbed into bed beside Kate.

“He loves the attention, but I keep telling him he’s going to get into trouble one day. All he says is, ‘I haven’t yet, little brother,’ and laughs at me.”

“Little brother?”

“Hmm, it doesn’t matter that we were created all at the same time. He’s no older than me in years, but he thinks experience makes him my elder.”

“What’s his name?”

Ash shook his head.

“I can’t tell you that. Names have power.”

“Why did he fall?”

“He didn’t, he’s a Watcher.”

His arm snaked around her middle and pulled her down under the covers with him.

“And he’s all about the experience,” he winked.  The lights went out.

 

Back to chapter list                          Chapter 25 

Ash let the pencil fall from his fingers. It bounced a couple of times then rolled away from him. He sat back in the chair with a sigh, his hands on his knees, his head bowed in defeat.

Kate knelt in front of him and pushed her face under his, forcing him to look at her. She placed her hands over his and gave him an encouraging smile.

“Don’t blame yourself for Evelyn.”

His eyes were full of shame.

“I should have protected her from that. She should have been loved, not violated. She should have been with…..”

She should have been with him, he was going to say. Why hadn’t he finished the sentence? They had had a relationship, of sorts. He had wanted to marry her. And what about Isabel? If she hadn’t pushed him away, her mind on other matters, they would have ended up making love.

His eyes were telling her what he couldn’t say with words, but she needed to hear it. Her stomach fluttered at the question poised on her lips, but she didn’t have the courage to ask him while he looked at her. She got up, walked to the door, turned and leant against the frame, her cheek pressed against the cold wood, the toes of one bare foot pushing into the pile of the carpet.

“Ash?”

“Yes.”

“I know you didn’t – not with Evelyn, but – did we ever…?”

“No.”

He had seen the thought in her mind and pre-empted her again. Her heart sank with the finality of his answer. Did that mean they couldn’t? Perhaps she was better not knowing. She bowed her head.

“But I remember every kiss we ever shared.”

Her head came up again. He’d opened the door for her. She took a deep breath. It was now or never.

“Do you want to kiss me now?” she asked, holding tight to the door jamb.

Blood pounded in her ears, she could barely breathe, afraid his answer would be another no.

“Very much.”

He rose from the chair and came towards her. Her body hummed with anticipation, but instead of taking her in his arms he slipped past her crossed the living room and stood looking out towards the cherry tree. She felt crushed and slumped in the doorway.

“I don’t understand,” she said. “How can you run so hot and cold with me all the time?”

“What do you mean? You asked me a question, I answered it truthfully.”

 

“But one minute you act like you want something to happen between us the next you brush me off like you wish you’d never met me.”

“Is that how it seems to you?” He turned around; the accusation hurt. “Don’t you know that I love you?”

She shook her head.

“You loved Catherine, you loved Isabel, most of all you loved Evelyn, but I don’t know what you feel for me. Maybe after all this time you blame me for your fall?”

“Nothing could be further from the truth. I didn’t fall because I loved you. I fell because of the consequences that came about through that love. If I’d never revealed myself to Catherine, if I’d loved her from afar, her father would have had no cause to accuse her, he would never have been tempted by immortality and she would never have died. That’s the reason for my punishment, not loving you.”

He came to her then and took her face between both hands.

“I can tell you, to the very second, how long it’s been since our last kiss. 138 years, 2 months, 28 days, 2 hours, 36 minutes and 11 seconds exactly.”

Then he closed his eyes, bent his head to her astonished face and kissed her. She yielded to the gentle pressure of his lips, his fingers stroked along the line of her jaw and up into her hair and her arms slid up behind his neck.

She lost herself in his love for her, the memory of those kisses they had shared through time were now hers. Each one a treasure he had fixed in his memory and locked away in his heart, and now he gave them back to her. When it ended and she stumbled against him, he steadied her, then took a step back.

“I don’t know if this will make things better, worse or have no effect at all on my punishment, but in five hundred years I’ve never dared make love to you. I’ve never wanted to as much as I do now. I don’t care what happens to me, I just don’t want to hurt you anymore.”

There was no hesitation in Kate as she took his hand and led him upstairs to her bedroom. They’d waited long enough. She wondered if he could see how hard her heart was beating or how her fingers trembled as she unbuttoned his shirt and slipped it off his shoulders, but of course he did, they were connected, he saw everything she saw, felt everything she felt, knew her better than she knew  herself.

They undressed each other, slowly, shyly, kissing and caressing, until they were both naked. She let him look at her, his eyes skimming over her body, following the line his fingers traced along the length of her arm, from wrist to shoulder, across her collar bone, then down between her breasts and over her stomach, his hand finally coming to rest on her hip. Kate’s body tingled at his touch. He pulled her close to him, her face upturned to his as he kissed her again. Then a blast of cool air lifted individual tresses of her hair and raised the tiny hairs all over her body. She opened her eyes, mid-kiss, to see enormous black wings wrap around her, the tips of the feathers brushing against her calves as he laid her back onto the bed.

*  *  *

Afterwards, she rested her head on his chest and listened to the strong, steady beat of his heart.

“That’s the closest I’ve been to Heaven for five hundred years,” he sighed.

“It can’t have been that good.”

She pushed herself up on an elbow and looked down at him, laughing at the look of wonder on his face.

“Contentment, happiness, bliss, that’s Heaven, but this is better.”

He pulled her down into the crook of his arm. He wanted to feel her against him. She snuggled in, her head on his shoulder, and fell asleep as he stroked her back. Now that she couldn’t see his face a crease of worry formed on his forehead. He chewed at his bottom lip. There’d been no thunder and lightning, no end of the world cataclysm to suck him down to Hell, but this wasn’t over yet. This could change everything. If she couldn’t bring herself to do what she had to, couldn’t free them because of what they’d just done, it could spell disaster for all of them.

*  *  *

Hours later she awoke to an empty space in the bed. She couldn’t remember any dreams of Evelyn or of Veronique, but that didn’t mean she’d had none. He had stayed true to his promise and kept her safe as she slept. She swung her legs over the edge of the bed and sat up. She had left her slippers by the French doors in the living room so she slipped on a nightgown and padded barefoot through the darkened house in search of Ash.

He was not in the house, but the open door told her where he would be. She stood at the threshold and peered out at the garden, glittering under its moonlit frosting of snow. The ornamental cherry tree, still in bloom, incongruous in its Wintry setting. An icy breeze raised goose bumps on her bare arms and she chided herself for wandering round in the middle of the night in nothing but a thin, silky nightdress. A little way beyond it she could see the familiar figure of her guardian angel, barefoot and shirtless, his black jeans put on in haste before coming out to meet the man that stood beside him.

He was as tall as Ash, but had shoulder length black hair and wore a long black coat. Both of them had their backs to her, but as she watched they turned as one to look at her, their angelic senses alerting them to the fact that she was there. The tall stranger’s iridescent blue eyes seemed to look right into her and she squirmed beneath his intense gaze.

They exchanged a few words she could not hear, then Ash called out to her.

“It’s all right, Kate. Go back to bed. I’ll be back soon.”

She wanted to listen in to whatever secret conversation they were having, but the tall stranger unnerved her. There was something about him that seemed familiar, so she did as she was asked and went back to bed.

*  *  *

Kate’s warm, steady breath had been tickling his chest when he’d sensed the presence nearby. He gently moved out from beneath her and quickly pulled on his jeans. His brother waited in the garden, looking up at the branches of the cherry tree. His eyebrows raised in amusement when Ash joined him, making him blush.

“Don’t start,” said Ash.

“I’ve no intention of saying anything,” the angel laughed, then cocked his head on one side and peered closer at his brother. “There’s something different about you tonight.”

Ash sighed and waited. As his friend scrutinised his appearance they both sensed another presence and turned, as one, to look back at the house. Kate pulled at the hem of the short, figure hugging nightdress. She hadn’t been expecting anyone else but Ash to be there and was clearly feeling a little exposed with her long bare legs on show.

“Oh,” said Ash’s companion. “Well it’s about time. It’s only taken you what – five hundred years. Give or take…”

Ash ignored him and called to Kate, telling her to go back to bed. When she had gone, the two angels walked deeper into the shadows of the garden.

“There’s been a development.”

“I know. He knows where we are.”

“It’s worse than that. He knows who she is.”

“How?” Ash demanded, his voice carrying across the garden in the breeze.

His brother explained what had happened in the church earlier that day.

“Is the vicar OK?”

“I healed his wounds, but he spoke to the Archbishop and he insisted he go away for a few days to recover from the ordeal. The rest will do him good.”

“Did you recognise his attacker?”

“No.”

Ash wasn’t sure if his brother had seen Brian at the club the night he’d met Kate, so he raised his hand and touched his fingertips to the other man’s forehead.

“Did he look like this?”

An image of Brian flashed into the tall man’s mind and he shook his head.

“No, it wasn’t him.”

So, they could rule Brian out as a suspect. That would put Kate’s mind at rest on that point at least, but it didn’t answer the question as to where Brian was.

“I must go,” the angel said.

Ash nodded.

“And well done, I’m proud of you, little brother.”

He slapped Ash on the back before vanishing in a spectacular vertical take-off.  Ash watched the dark shape soar across the face of the moon then headed back inside to find Kate.

She was sitting up in bed, her knees drawn up to her chest, hugging her legs.

“That was another angel, wasn’t it?”

He nodded.

“This is going to sound silly, but he seems familiar.”

“He should do, you’ve met him once before.”

Ash grinned at Kate’s disbelieving face.

“Where?” she said.

She was sure she would remember someone so striking.

“At the club. He bowed to you, remember? It’s him you have to thank for translating my journal.”

Ash repeated the gesture he had made in the garden, touching his fingers to Kate’s forehead and retrieving her memory of his brother. She relived the moment that he had bowed to her and let her pass by, his black wings almost touching the floor. Her eyes widened in recognition.

“They were real wings!”

“Yes, he hangs around in there a lot, but the Festival of Angels is his favourite time of year. He loves showing off his feathers. You should hear the crowds complimenting him on how real they look.”

He laughed.

“If only they knew.”

He slipped off his jeans and climbed into bed beside Kate.

“He loves the attention, but I keep telling him he’s going to get into trouble one day. All he says is, ‘I haven’t yet, little brother,’ and laughs at me.”

“Little brother?”

“Hmm, it doesn’t matter that we were created all at the same time. He’s no older than me in years, but he thinks experience makes him my elder.”

“What’s his name?”

Ash shook his head.

“I can’t tell you that. Names have power.”

“Why did he fall?”

“He didn’t, he’s a Watcher.”

His arm snaked around her middle and pulled her down under the covers with him.

“And he’s all about the experience,” he winked.  The lights went out.

 

Back to chapter list                          Chapter 25                           Buy Blackfeather & Immortal

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One thought on “Blackfeather Chapter 24

  1. Pingback: Blackfeather Chapter 23 | Nel Ashley – Indie Author

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