When I opened Sam’s door, it was to find everything in her room just as it had been last time we’d been there. Her clothes were in the closet. Her computer was on her desk. Her bed wasn’t even made. It felt seriously creepy to be in a house where every other possession was gone, but her room still had everything in it.
I stood in the center of the room and turned in a slow circle, taking everything into account. This was just too crazy! Why would she leave her things? She wouldn’t. I knew she wouldn’t willingly turn away from the things she deemed the most important. Like her paintings. She loved them. I had heard it in her voice when she’d talked to us about creating them.
A strange twinge started deep in my stomach. I moved to stand in front of the first picture. It was the painting of a Unicorn; a suddenly very familiar Unicorn. Actually, it was more than just familiar to me. It was something I could feel was so very important I couldn’t ignore it. I stared at it, waiting, hoping for something; but what?
It was then, I heard him. His voice was deep and patient as he offered advice. ‘Relax, Rebecca. To remember what you’ve forgotten, you must first let go of your worry. Stressing over it will not bring the memory back. Instead, it will push it further away. I felt the breath on my neck, his voice in my ear, speaking in a soft tone that sent goose bumps down my spine.
When I looked toward the voice, there was no one there. Well, he was there. He just wasn’t showing himself to me yet. I felt a slight touch of unease because I had no clue who, or more to the point, what he was. He could be a ghost. Or maybe he was Demon. Even as I considered the possibility, I dismissed it. No, he wasn’t a demon. He didn’t have the smell.
Taking a deep breath I turned and moved slowly to the next picture. There was something to these pictures. I just knew it. As I stared at the next picture, a nagging pain started in the back of my head. Groaning I rubbed it but kept staring at the painting. It was another image of the silvery-white unicorn. But this time, there was a rider on his back.
I stared hard at the person. Long dark brown, almost black hair and a stern expression seemed to gaze back at me. Eyes the color of the greenest forest held me immobile. The pain in my head grew worse and I gasped as I brought my hands to my temples. I knew this person! I just had to know him. But who was he? And why would trying to remember him bring me such pain?
Suddenly, I felt gentle hands on my upper arms. And the voice became even more real as the mystery man supported me. Breathe, Rebecca. Just breathe through it and let the pain wash over you. It will fade if you don’t let yourself tense up.
I trusted this voice. His hands were warm on my shoulders and his presence was comforting, like Zeke’s had been when I first met him. Following his direction, I took a deep steadying breath and closed my eyes. I don’t know how long I stood there, eyes closed and breathing deeply but the pain passed and when I opened my eyes to focus on the face in the painting, tears filled them; Darethmar, the prince of the Elfin realm.
For several seconds I just stood there, staring. He was the one who had told me he cared for me. He wanted to court me. I know it sounds silly in this day and age, but those were the words he’d used. What was worse was I had believed him. But then, he disappeared; my memory was wiped of him. No! Not just the memory of him had been taken from me, but the memory of the entire realm.
Gasping, I clutched my hand, looking down at the finger where the ring my father had given me when mom had told me he was alive and I had been able to go see him. The ring was supposed to have been a way for me to let him know I was coming to visit so he could meet me. I brought my hand to my mouth in an attempt to stifle the sob that wanted to escape me.
A gentle tightening of the hands on my shoulders reminded me that I was being helped by a stranger. I took a deep breath and turned slowly, wondering if it was perhaps another ghost who stood behind me.
Eyes the color of turquoise met mine when I turned to look up at him. His face was beautiful with a smile that was sympathetic and filled with kindness. Wavy black hair as shiny as a polished onyx stone fell past his shoulders. His face was smooth and perfect, his smile gentle and sympathetic. Just his face made him beautiful.
The wings . . . Now that made him intimidating. Huge black wings sprung from his back and rose almost to the ceiling. Is intimidating even the right word? I’m not sure. Maybe a better description would be terrifying! He was an Angel. That much was obvious. But he was bigger than Zeke and I had to admit, where Zeke looked harmless in white, this guy seemed almost threatening with all the black with streaks of white and gold laced through lower feathers.
Were his wings different for a reason? Was it a status marker? He was taller and bigger with fancier wings, so he was – what? An Archangel? Maybe… A Herald? I doubted it. How many different kinds of Angels were there, anyway? I couldn’t suppress my smirk as I considered inwardly, he certainly wasn’t a cherub.
Almost instantly, he laughed aloud and I stared at him in shocked silence. I didn’t know how to react. “I most definitely am not a cherub. Let us vanquish that notion from your mind right now.”
I had forgotten I had been standing so close to the wall until I moved to step back from him and came up flush against it. I swallowed nervously while I struggled to find something to say. Why did he make me so much more nervous than Zeke did? He wasn’t evil. If he had been, wouldn’t I have smelled the sulfur smell I always encountered when there were Demons around?
He nodded and stepped back a little to give me some space. “If I were evil, you would most certainly know. However, I am not. I am an Angel, and I came to help you.” His expression was patient and kind. And his smile was almost enough to make me forget the ordeal I was in the middle of.
His gaze went to the picture above my head and his jaw clenched. “Certain parties decided what was best for you was to forget some parts of your recent history.” He rolled his eyes before glancing back at me. “I don’t agree. Wiping your memory was neither sanctioned or approved by those in charge and I have been given leave to help you recover what you’ve lost.”
I knew I was staring at him in a way that must have made him wonder if he had grown two heads, but the truth was I had to think carefully through what he was saying because it was disconcerting to be so close to him. Plus I was still reeling from the realization that someone had played with my mind.
When I was certain I understood what he was saying, I asked, “Who would do this to me? Why?” I hated myself at that moment, because I heard the emotion in my voice even as I felt the tears slip past my eyes to slide down my cheeks. I felt like a weak fool. It wasn’t fair. Hadn’t I done everything I was supposed to?
I had accepted my fate to become a person cursed with this awareness mojo. I had agreed to try to help ghosts find their way to the light. I had even been brave and dealt with the whole, Demons will come after you now, thing. What more was I supposed to do? Was losing my memory of someone I had a fairly serious crush on who just happened to be Fae enough? Or was I going to be expected to give up everyone I cared about?
I opened my mouth to ask that question but then I saw the answer out of the corner of my eye. My vision blurred as the tears started falling faster. In the doorway, with almost blank expressions on their faces was my best friend, Rachel and my newer friend, Corey. I had known Rachel for as long as Mom and I had lived here. Corey, I had met a couple of weeks ago when I had helped her ignore a pesky little demon that could easily have passed for Dobby’s evil twin, complete with bat wings. She was a recovering drug addict and had told me she had been clean for over a year, but the voice in her head was just sometimes really hard to fight.
Little had she known, the little voice in her head had actually been about two foot six and just as evil as the invisible stars from Amityville. Honest to goodness, I have no clue if that movie was real or just something thrown together from the imaginations of people spooked by murders committed by a troubled young man who wanted to blame the devil.
But I did know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the voice inside Corey’s head was nowhere near her brain, but operating completely free of her body with a consciousness all his own. He had attacked my favorite teacher, Miss Elliot. I still have a bone to pick with that little jackal. But that was a different subject for a different time.
At the moment, I was struck dumb once again by the sight of my two friends, standing immobile in the doorway. I couldn’t stop myself from walking over to them and looking closer. It was as if they were frozen. They didn’t breathe, their eyes didn’t blink. It was as if time was standing still for them.
“It is.” The beautiful Angel answered as if I had asked him a question. “When we are done, they will be returned to their homes with no memory of ever setting foot inside this house.
Turning back to look at him, I asked the question that if I was honest with myself, I already knew the answer to. “They can’t know about you, can they?” My heart sank as I realized, once again, that there were things about my life that I could never share with the ones closest to me.”
His eyes filled with compassion. “Do you really want them to? Even if it might endanger them to know the truth of it all?” he sighed. “Knowing the reality of me also opens them up to the Demons you have begun to have to deal with. Those doors, once open are nearly impossible to close.”
Fear for my friends made my anger fade and my shoulders slumped. “Send them away now, then. I don’t want to have to keep seeing them like this.” I answered softly, turning away from them completely. “It hurts to see them like that.”
With a silent nod and a wave of his hand, my two friends who had come inside Sam’s house with me, disappeared. I stared at the empty doorway for a few moments before looking back to him. “Will they be okay? I mean, you didn’t do anything crazy with them like drop them on their heads outside their houses?”
The beautiful winged man in front of me shook his head and offered me a smile. “Rachel dropped you off at your house first, because you live the furthest away. Corey went with her to her house and Rachel is at this moment helping her study for an exam she’s unsure of.” His wings stretched a little, drawing my attention, even as he continued to speak. “That is what they will remember.”
I pulled my gaze from the black, white and gold feathers to look back at his face. It was an honest expression he gave me and I felt myself relax. “Thank you.” I was grateful he sent them away safely. Then I realized I had no idea what his name was. “Who are you?”
Bowing a little he introduced himself. “I am Narvozivar. I am one of your Guardians and had I known what was about to be done to you, I would have made myself known sooner.” To those who are like me; bad with pronouncing crazy words, that name is spoken as Nar-Vo-ZEE-Var. Whoever translated Angels names has got to be foreign.
I watched him, feeling more relaxed than I had just seconds ago. I attributed it to the fact that my friends were gone and I didn’t have to see them frozen stiff and know they would remember nothing later. Actually, the feeling I was having now was pretty amazing. Suddenly I didn’t seem so upset about my new knowledge of what was happening to my memory. I pondered that even as I stood there listening to his words. Actually, when I thought about him, I found myself wondering why he had not introduced himself to me in the beginning when Zeke did. I considered asking him that very question but found I didn’t need to voice it.
“Zeke is a trainer, if you will.” His voice flowed over me like warm caramel, wrapping me in a sense of security and comfort. It felt odd to be surrounded in such emotions when I was almost certain anyone else in my place would be feeling panic and fear. “When a person feels the awakening, as you did, he is the first of us to greet them. The others must wait until they have had time to get used to their new abilities.”
Well that made sense. I guess. I could easily remember how overwhelming it had been to me. It was just weeks ago I had discovered my gift and I can well imagine that it would have been just a tad too much to have to come to terms with not one, but two Angels. I found myself smiling happily up at Narvozivar even though part of me was a little confused at how suddenly I had gone from being upset to thinking everything was peachy.
“What are you doing to me?” I asked in a happy voice. Ick! I did not just say that in a sing-song manner. Did I?
Narvozivar watched me closely as he answered. “I am one of your Guardians. It is my duty to help sooth you when I can. Many times, I cannot do such things because of the dangers you will face as one who has the Awareness.” He shrugged. “But for now, you are in no immediate danger and you seemed to need it.”
The sensible side of me felt shocked and repulsed while my physical self smiled at him like a moron and giggled. Seriously, I very nearly snorted before I answered,“Oh-kee-Doe-kee!” Oh my stars! I was horrified! Absolutely horrified at myself, but I just couldn’t seem to stop the behavior. “Your little Angel touch mumbo-jumbo has made me a little woozie kookie, cutie!” Would someone just shoot me now, please?
Taking a deep breath, I tried to rectify the situation before I made a complete ass of myself. “I think maybe I need to go bed and get in home.” My eyes widened as I registered the smile that was growing on my Guardian Angel’s face. I could feel my cheeks burning and I just wanted to be invisible. Clearing my throat I pointed at him. “You’re why is this happening? You’re my guardian?” he nodded. “Well, you’re not doing a very good job, now are you? I mean, look at me!” His eyebrows rose as if in question and I gestured clumsily to myself. “I’m intoxicatedbid, I mean intoxicabeded! I mean intobeaxeded!” I threw my hands up in the air and tried an easier word. “I’m drunk!”
That’s what it felt like, anyway. I was getting drunker by the minute and I swear that was how I sounded! I had to be drunk! Either that or I had become a complete imbecile! What made it even worse was the fact that this drop dead gorgeous Angel dude was almost laughing at my attempts to communicate with him. Angrily, I shook the finger that was still pointed in his direction. “Hey! I’m not like normally this! You’re doing purpose this on! Just admit now it!”
He held up his hands as if in surrender. “I do not make a habit of intoxicating my charges, no! But, you were severely distressed and in my need to ease your discomfort, I may have relaxed you a little too much.” He gave me another, almost apologetic smile. “I’m truly sorry.”
I tried my best to glare at him, but the fact that I couldn’t even stand up straight anymore was a big problem. “Well, you home me take! Seen I can’t be this like!” Oh great! Now I sounded like Yoda from Star Wars! If I hadn’t been as drunk as a skunk I would have stomped my foot to prove how mad I was. But instead, I did the next best thing. I promptly passed out.