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The conclusion to the worldwide bestselling FALLEN series, with exclusive content from the darkly romantic world of FALLEN and an excerpt of Lauren. Read Rapture read free novels online from your Mobile, Pc. Rapture is a Young Adult novel by Lauren Kate. Rapture [electronic resource (EPUB eBook)] / Lauren Kate. The sky is dark with wings Like sand through an hourglass, time is running out for Luce and.

She reached up to touch his cheek. He turned his head and kissed the inside of her palm. Luce squeezed her eyes to stop them from crying. Why, after all theyd been through, did Luce and Daniel have to beat the Devil before they were free to love?

Rolands voice called from the doorway of the cabin. His hands were tucked inside his peacoat pockets and a gray wool ski cap crowned his dreads. He gave Luce a weary smile.

Its time. Time for what? Luce propped herself up on her elbows. Were leaving? What about my parents? Theyre probably panicked. I thought Id take you by their house now, Daniel said, to say goodbye. But how am I going to explain disappearing after Thanksgiving dinner? She remembered Daniels words last night: Though it felt like theyd been inside the Announcers for an eternity, in real time only a few hours had passed. Still, to Harry and Doreen Price, a few hours of a missing daughter was eternity.

Daniel and Roland shared a glance. We took care of it, Roland said, handing Daniel a set of car keys. You took care of it how?

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Luce asked. My dad once called the police when I was half an hour late from school Dont worry, kid, Roland said. Weve got you covered. You just need to make a quick costume change. He pointed toward a backpack on the rocking chair by the door. Gabbe brought over your things. Um, thanks, she said, confused. Where was Gabbe? Where were the rest of them?

The cabin had been packed the night before, positively cozy with the glow of angel wings and the smell of hot chocolate and cinnamon. The memory of that coziness, coupled with the promise of saying goodbye to her parents without knowing where she was going, made this morning feel empty. The wood oor was rough against her bare feet. Looking down, she realized she was still wearing the. Bill had made her wear it. No, not Bill. Hed leered so approvingly as she tucked the starshot into her waistband, contemplating the advice hed given her on how to kill her soul.

Never, never, never. Luce had too much to live for. Inside the old green backpack she used to take to summer camp, Luce found her favorite pair of pajamas the red-and-white-striped annel setneatly folded, with the matching white slippers underneath.

But its morning, she said. What do I need pajamas for? Again Daniel and Roland shared a glance, and this time, Luce could swear they were trying not to laugh. Just trust us, Roland said.

After she was dressed, Luce followed Daniel out of the cabin, letting his broad shoulders buffer the wind as they walked down the pebbly shore to the water. The tiny island off Tybee was about a mile from the Savannah coastline. Across that stretch of sea, Roland had promised that a car was waiting. Daniels wings were concealed, but he must have sensed her eyeing the place where they unfurled from his shoulders. When everything is in order, well y wherever we have to go to stop Lucifer.

Until then its better to stay low to the ground. Okay, Luce said. Race you to the other side? Her breath frosted the air. You know Id beat you. He slipped an arm around her waist, warming her.

Maybe wed better take the boat, then. Protect my famous pride. She watched him unmoor a small metal rowboat from a single boat slip. His skin had glistened as they had pulled themselves up to the at rock in the center to catch their breaths, then had lain on the sun-warmed stone, letting the days heat dry their bodies.

Shed barely known Daniel thenshe hadnt known he was an angeland already shed been dangerously in love with him. We used to swim together in my lifetime in Tahiti, didnt we?

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Daniel stared at her and she knew how much it meant to him to nally be able to share some of his memories of their past. He looked so moved that Luce thought he might cry. Instead he kissed her forehead tenderly and said, You beat me all those times, too, Lulu. They didnt talk much as Daniel rowed. It was enough for Luce just to watch the way his muscles strained and exed each time he dragged the oars back,.

The sun was rising over her shoulders, warming the back of her neck, but as they approached the mainland, she saw something that sent a shiver down her spine. A car. She recognized the white Taurus immediately.

Whats wrong? Daniel saw Luces posture stiffen as the rowboat touched the shore. He sounded unconcerned as he hopped out of the boat and held out a hand to Luce. The ground was mulchy and rich-smelling. It reminded Luce of her childhood. Its not what you think, Daniel said. When Sophia ed Sword and Cross, afterLuce waited, wincing, hoping Daniel wouldnt say after she murdered Pennafter we found out who she really was, the angels conscated her car.

His face hardened. She owes us that much, and more. Luce thought of Penns white face, the blood draining from it. Where is Sophia now? Daniel shook his head. I dont know. Unfortunately, well probably soon nd out. I have a feeling shell worm her way into our plans. He drew the keys from his pocket, inserted one into the passenger door.

But thats not what you should be worried about right now. Luce squinted at him as she sank onto the gray cloth seat. So theres something else I should be worried about right now? Daniel turned the key, and the car shuddered slowly. The last time shed sat in this seat, shed been worried about being in the car alone with him. It was the rst night theyd ever kissedas far as shed known then, anyway.

She was stabbing at the seat belt when she felt his ngers over hers. Remember, he said softly, reaching over to buckle her belt, letting his hands linger over hers. Theres a trick. He kissed her softly on the cheek, then put the car in drive and peeled out of the wet woods onto the narrow two-lane blacktop. They were the only ones on the road. Luce asked again. What else should I be worried about? He glanced at her pajamas. How good are you at playing sick? The white Taurus idled in the alley behind her parents house as Luce crept past the three azalea trees beside her bedroom window.

In the summer, there would be tomato vines creeping out of the black soil, but in winter the side yard looked barren and dreary and not very much like home.

She couldnt remember the last time shed stood out here. Shed sneaked out of three different boarding schools before, but never out of her own parents house. Now she was sneaking in, and she didnt even know how her window worked. Luce looked around at what she could see of her sleepy neighborhood, at the morning paper sitting in its dewy plastic. Nothing had changed since shed been gone. Nothing had changed, except Luce. If Bill succeeded, would this neighborhood vanish, too?

She gave one last wave to Daniel, who was watching from the car, took a deep breath, and used her thumbs to pry the lower panel from the cracking blue paint of the sill. It slid right up. Someone inside had already popped out the screen. Luce paused, stunned as the white muslin curtains parted and the half-blond, half-black head of her onetime enemy Molly Zane lled the open space. Sup, Meat Loaf. This was what Daniel and Roland meant when they said theyd taken care of things at home?

What are you doing here, Molly? Come on. I wont bite. Molly extended a hand. Her nails were chipped, emerald green. Luce sank her hand into Mollys, ducked and sidled, one leg at a time, through the window. Her bedroom looked small and outdated, like a time capsule left by some long-ago Luce. There was the framed poster of the Eiffel Tower on the back of her door. There was her bulletin board full of swim team. And there, under the green-and-yellow Hawaiian-print duvet, was her best friend, Callie.

Callie scrambled from under the covers, dashed around the bed, and ung herself into Luces arms. They kept telling me you were going to be okay, but in that lying, were-all-so-completely-terried-werejust-not-going-to-explain-a-word-to-you kind of way.

Do you even realize how thoroughly creepy that was? It was like you physically dropped off the face of the earth Luce hugged her back tightly. As far as Callie knew, Luce had only been gone since the night before. I didnt lie in your bed in that cheap polyester wig all night pretending to be Luce with stomach u so you guys could blow our cover now.

She rolled her eyes. Hold on. You did what? After you. I mean, I could barely fathom it after seeing it with my own eyes. So I told them you felt sick and had gone to bed and Molly pretended to be you and Lucky I found this in your closet. Molly twirled a short, wavy black wig around one nger. Halloween remnant? Wonder Woman. Luce winced, regretting her middle school Halloween costume, and not for the rst time. Well, it worked.

It was strange to see Mollywhod once sided with Luciferhelping her. But even Molly, like Cam and Roland, didnt want to fall again.

So here they were, a team. You covered for me? I dont know what to say. Thank you. Molly jerked her head at Callie; anything to deect Luces gratitude. She was the real silver-tongued devil. Thank her. She stuck one leg out of the open window and turned to call back, Think you guys can handle it from here?

I have a summit meeting at Wafe House. Luce gave Molly a thumbs-up and opped down on her bed. Oh, Luce, Callie whispered. When you left, your whole backyard was covered in this gray dust. And that blond girl, Gabbe, swept her hand once and made it disappear. Then we said you were sick, that everyone else had gone home, and we just started doing the dishes with your parents. And at rst I thought that Molly girl was a little bit terrible, but shes actually kind of cool.

Her eyes narrowed. But where did you go? What happened to you? You scared me. I dont even know where to start, Luce said. Im sorry. There was a knock, followed by the familiar creak of her bedroom door opening. Luces mother stood in the hallway, her sleep-wild hair pulled back by a yellow banana clip, her face bare of makeup and pretty.

She was holding a wicker tray with two glasses of orange juice, two plates of buttered toast, and a box of Alka-Seltzer. Looks like someones feeling better. Luce waited for her mom to put the tray down on the nightstand; then she wrapped her arms around her mothers waist and buried her face in her pink terrycloth bathrobe. Tears stung her eyes. She sniffed. My little girl, her mom said, feeling Luces forehead and cheeks to check for fever.

She hadnt used that soft, sweet voice with Luce in ages, and it felt so good to hear. I love you, Mom. Dont tell me shes too sick for Black Friday. Luces father appeared in the doorway, holding a green plastic watering can. He was smiling, but behind his rimless glasses, his eyes looked concerned. I am feeling better, Luce said, but Oh, Harry, Luces mom said.

You know we only had her for the day. She has to be back at school. She turned to Luce. Daniel called a little while ago, honey. He said he can pick you up and take you back to school. I said that of course your father and I would be happy to, but. No, Luce said quickly, remembering the plan Daniel had detailed in the car.

You guys should go do your Black Friday shopping. Its a Price family tradition. They agreed that Luce would ride with Daniel, and her parents would take Callie to the airport. While the girls ate their breakfast, Luces parents sat on the edge of the bed and talked about Thanksgiving Gabbe polished all the chinawhat an angel. By the time they moved on to the Black Friday deals they were on the hunt for All your father ever wants is tools , Luce realized that she hadnt said anything except for inane conversational llers like Uh-huh and Oh, really?

When her parents nally stood up to take the plates into the kitchen, and Callie started to pack, Luce went into the bathroom and shut the door. She was alone for the rst time in what seemed like a million ages. She sat down on the vanity stool and looked in the mirror.

She was herself, but different. Sure, Lucinda Price looked back at her. But also. There was Layla in the fullness of her lips, Lulu in the thick waves of her hair, Lu Xins intensity in the hazel of her eyes, Lucias dimple in her cheek, ready for mischief. She was not alone.

Maybe she never would be alone again. There, in the mirror, was every incarnation of Lucinda staring back at her and wondering, What is to become of us? What about our history, and our love? She took a shower and put on clean jeans, her black riding boots, and a long white sweater. She sat down on Callies suitcase while her friend struggled to zip it up.

The silence between them was brutal. Youre my best friend, Callie, Luce nally said. Im going through something I dont understand. But that thing isnt you. Im sorry I dont know how to be more specic, but Ive missed you.

So much. Callies shoulders tensed. You used to tell me everything. But the look that passed between them suggested both girls knew that wasnt possible anymore. A car door slammed out front. Through the open blinds Luce watched Daniel make his way up her parents path. And even though it had been less than an hour since he had dropped her off, Luce felt her cheeks ush at the sight of him.

He walked slowly, as if he were oating, his red scarf trailing behind him in the wind. Even Callie stared. Luces parents stood together in the foyer. She hugged each one of them for a long timeDad rst, then Mom, then Callie, who squeezed her hard and whispered quickly, What I saw you do last night was beautiful. I just want you to know that. Luce felt her eyes burn again. She squeezed Callie back and mouthed thank you.

Then she walked down the path and into Daniels arms and whatever came along with them. There you are, you lovebirds you, doin that thing that lovebirds do, Arriane sang, bobbing her head out from behind a long bookcase. She was sitting crosslegged on a wooden library chair, juggling a few Hacky Sacks. She wore overalls and combat boots, and her dark hair was plaited into tiny pigtails.

It had been renovated since the re that destroyed it, but it still smelled like something big and ugly had burned there. The faculty had explained away the re as a freak accident, but someone had been killedTodd, a quiet student Luce had barely known until the night he diedand Luce knew there was something darker lurking beneath the surface of the story. She blamed herself.

Now, as she and Daniel rounded the corner of a bookshelf and headed for the librarys study area, Luce saw that Arriane was not alone. All of them were there: Gabbe, Roland, Cam, Molly, Annabellethe leggy angel with the hot-pink haireven Miles and Shelby, who waved excitedly and looked decidedly different from the other angels, but also different from mortal teens. Miles and Shelby werewere they holding hands? But when she looked again, their hands had disappeared under the table they were all sitting at.

Miles tugged his. Shelby cleared her throat and hunched lower over a book. Your book, Luce said to Daniel as soon as she spotted the thick spine with the brown crumbling glue near the bottom. The faded cover read The Watchers: Myth in Medieval Europe by Daniel Grigori.

Her hand reached automatically for the pale gray cover. She closed her eyes because it reminded her of Penn, who shouldnt have died; and because the photograph pasted inside the front cover of the book was the rst thing that had convinced her that what Daniel told her about their history might be possible.

It was a photograph taken from another life, one in Helston, England. And even though it shouldnt have been possible, there was no doubt about it: The young woman in the photograph was Lucinda Price. Where did you nd it? Her voice must have given something away, because Shelby said, What is so major about this dusty old thing anyway? Its precious. Our only key now, Gabbe said. Sophia tried to burn it once. Luces hand shot to her heart. Miss Sophia triedthe re in the library?

That was her? The others nodded. She killed Todd, Luce said numbly. So it hadnt been Luces fault. Another life to lay at Sophias feet. And she almost died of shock the night you showed it to her, Roland said. We were all shocked, especially when you lived to talk about it. We talked about Daniel kissing me, Luce remembered, blushing. And the fact that I survived it. Was that what surprised Miss Sophia?

Part of it, Roland said. But theres plenty more in that book that Sophia wouldnt have wanted you to know about. Not much of an educator, was she? Cam said. What wouldnt she have wanted me to know?

All the angels turned to look at Daniel. Last night we told you that none of the angels remember where we landed when we fell, Daniel said. Yeah, about that. Hows it possible? Shelby said. Youd think that kind of thing would leave an impression on the old memorizer. Cams face reddened. You try falling for nine days through multiple dimensions and trillions of miles, landing on your face, breaking your wings, rolling around concussed for who knows how long, wandering the desert for decades looking for any clue as to who or what or where you areand then talk to me about the old memorizer.

Okay, youve got issues, Shelby said, putting on her shrink voice. If I were going to diagnose you Well, at least you remember there was a desert involved, Miles said diplomatically, making Shelby laugh.

Daniel turned to Luce. I wrote this book after I lost you in Tibet. I know you visited that life in Tibet because I followed you there, so maybe you can see how losing you like I did made me turn to years of research and study to nd a way out of this curse. Luce looked down. That death had made Daniel run straight off a cliff. She feared its happening again. Cam is right, Daniel said. None of us recall where we landed. We wandered the desert until it was no longer desert, we wandered the plains and the valleys and the seas until they turned to desert.

It wasnt until we slowly found one another and began to piece together the story that we remembered wed ever been angels at all. But there were relics of our Fall, records that mankind found and kept as treasures, giftsthey think from a god they dont understand. For a long time the relics were buried in a temple in Jerusalem, but during the Crusades, they were stolen, spirited away to various places.

None of us knew where. When I did my research, I focused on the medieval era, turning to as many resources as I could in a kind of theological scavenger hunt for the relics. The gist of it is that if these three artifacts can be collected and gathered together at Mount Sinai Why Mount Sinai? Shelby asked. The channels between the Throne and the Earth are. Thats where Moses received the Ten Commandments, thats where the angels enter when theyre delivering messages from the Throne.

Think of it as Gods local dive, Arriane added, sending a Hacky Sack too high in the air and into an overhead lamp. But before you ask, Cam said, making a point to single out Shelby with his eyes, Mount Sinai is not the original site of the Fall.

Had Lucinda? Daniel seethed with rage. He would nd Lucifer, the angel who lived at the dead end of all ideas. Daniel did not fear the traitor who had been the Morning Star. Wherever, whenever they reached the end of this oblivion, Daniel would take his revenge.

But rst he would nd Lucinda, for without her, nothing mattered. Without her love, nothing was possible. Theirs was a love that made it inconceivable to choose Lucifer or the Throne. The only side he could ever choose was hers.

So now Daniel would pay for that choice, but he did not yet understand the shape his punishment would take. Only that she was gone from the place she belonged: at his side. The pain of separation from his soul mate coursed through Daniel suddenly, sharp and brutal.

He moaned wordlessly, his mind clouded over, and suddenly, frighteningly, he couldnt remember why. He tumbled onward, down through denser blackness.

He could no longer see or feel or recall how he had ended up here, nowhere, hurtling through nothingness toward where? For how long? His memory sputtered and faded. It was harder and harder to remember those words spoken by the angel in the white meadow who looked so much like. Who had the angel resembled? And what had he said that was so important? Daniel did not know, did not know anything anymore.

Only that he was tumbling through the void. He was lled with an urge to nd something. An urge to feel whole again. But there was only darkness inside darkness Silence drowning out his thoughts A nothing that was everything. Daniel fell.

A warm hand brushed Luces cheek and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. Rolling onto her side, she yawned and opened her eyes. She had been sleeping deeply, dreaming about Daniel. Oh, she gasped, feeling her cheek. There he was. Daniel was sitting next to her. He looked better than any dream. His weight made the edge of the cot sag a little, and Luce drew up her legs to snuggle closer to him.

Youre not a dream, she said. Daniels eyes were blearier than she was used to seeing them, but they still glowed the brightest violet as they gazed at her face, studying her features as if he were seeing her anew. He leaned down and pressed his lips to hers. Luce folded into him, wrapping her arms around the back of his neck, happy to kiss him back.

She didnt care that her teeth needed brushing or that she probably had bed head. She didnt care about anything other than his kiss. They were together now and neither of them could help grinning. Then it all came rushing back: Razor claws and dull red eyes.

Choking stench of death and rot. Darkness everywhere, so complete in its doom it made light and love and everything good in the world feel tired and broken and dead. That Lucifer had once been something else to her Bill, the ornery stone gargoyle shed mistaken for a friendwas impossible. Shed let him get too close, and now, because she had not done precisely as he wished choosing not to kill her soul in ancient Egypthe had decided to wipe the slate clean.

To bend time around to erase everything since the Fall. Every life, every love, every moment that every mor- tal and angelic soul had ever experienced would be crumbled and discarded at Lucifers reckless whim.

Like the universe was a board game and he was a whining child giving up as soon as he began to lose. But what it was he wanted to win, Luce had no idea.

Her skin felt hot remembering his wrath. Hed wanted her to see it, to tremble in his hand when he took her back to the time of the Fall. Then hed thrown her aside, casting an Announcer like a net to capture all of the angels whod fallen from Heaven. Just as Daniel caught her in that starry noplace, Lucifer blinked out of existence, and the whole cycle started again.

It was a drastic move. Daniel explained that in order to guide the angels into the future, Lucifer would have to twin with his past self and relinquish his power.

For as long as the angels took to fall, hed be unable to do anything. Just like the rest of them, hed fall in powerless isolation, with his brethren but apart, together alone. And once they fell to Earth, there would be a hiccup in time, and everything would start anew.

As though the seven thousand years between then and now had never happened. As though Luce hadnt at last begun to understand the curse. The whole world was in jeopardyunless Luce, seven angels, and two Nephilim could stop him. They had just nine days and no idea where to start. Luce had been so tired the night before that she didnt remember lying down on this cot, drawing this thin blue blanket around her shoulders.

There were cobwebs in the rafters of the small cabin, a folding table cluttered with half-drunk mugs of hot chocolate that Gabbe had made for everyone last night. But it all seemed like a dream to Luce.

Her ight down from the Announcer to this tiny island off Tybee, this safe zone for the angels, had been blurred by blinding exhaustion. Shed fallen asleep while the others were still talking, letting Daniels voice lull her into a dream.

Now the cabin was quiet, and in the window behind Daniels silhouette the sky was the gray of almost-sunrise. She reached up to touch his cheek. He turned his head and kissed the inside of her palm.

Luce squeezed her eyes to stop them from crying. Why, after all theyd been through, did Luce and Daniel have to beat the Devil before they were free to love? Rolands voice called from the doorway of the cabin.

His hands were tucked inside his peacoat pockets and a gray wool ski cap crowned his dreads. He gave Luce a weary smile. Its time. Time for what? Luce propped herself up on her elbows.

Were leaving? What about my parents? Theyre probably panicked. I thought Id take you by their house now, Daniel said, to say goodbye. But how am I going to explain disappearing after Thanksgiving dinner?

She remembered Daniels words last night: Though it felt like theyd been inside the Announcers for an eternity, in real time only a few hours had passed.

Still, to Harry and Doreen Price, a few hours of a missing daughter was eternity. Daniel and Roland shared a glance.

4 RAPTURE (Fallen Series) Lauren Kate.pdf

We took care of it, Roland said, handing Daniel a set of car keys. You took care of it how? Luce asked. My dad once called the police when I was half an hour late from school Dont worry, kid, Roland said.

Weve got you covered. You just need to make a quick costume change. He pointed toward a backpack on the rocking chair by the door. Gabbe brought over your things. Um, thanks, she said, confused.

Where was Gabbe? Where were the rest of them? The cabin had been packed the night before, positively cozy with the glow of angel wings and the smell of hot chocolate and cinnamon.

The memory of that coziness, coupled with the promise of saying goodbye to her parents without knowing where she was going, made this morning feel empty. The wood oor was rough against her bare feet. Looking down, she realized she was still wearing the narrow white shift dress shed had on in Egypt, the last life shed visited through the Announcers. Bill had made her wear it. No, not Bill. Hed leered so approvingly as she tucked the starshot into her waistband, contemplating the advice hed given her on how to kill her soul.

Never, never, never. Luce had too much to live for. Inside the old green backpack she used to take to summer camp, Luce found her favorite pair of pajamas the red-and-white-striped annel setneatly folded, with the matching white slippers underneath. But its morning, she said. What do I need pajamas for? Again Daniel and Roland shared a glance, and this time, Luce could swear they were trying not to laugh.

Just trust us, Roland said. After she was dressed, Luce followed Daniel out of the cabin, letting his broad shoulders buffer the wind as they walked down the pebbly shore to the water. The tiny island off Tybee was about a mile from the Savannah coastline. Across that stretch of sea, Roland had promised that a car was waiting.

Daniels wings were concealed, but he must have sensed her eyeing the place where they unfurled from his shoulders. When everything is in order, well y wherever we have to go to stop Lucifer. Until then its better to stay low to the ground. Okay, Luce said. Race you to the other side?

Her breath frosted the air. You know Id beat you. He slipped an arm around her waist, warming her. Maybe wed better take the boat, then. Protect my famous pride.

She watched him unmoor a small metal rowboat from a single boat slip. His skin had glistened as they had pulled themselves up to the at rock in the center to catch their breaths, then had lain on the sun-warmed stone, letting the days heat dry their bodies. Shed barely known Daniel thenshe hadnt known he was an angeland already shed been dangerously in love with him. We used to swim together in my lifetime in Tahiti, didnt we?

Daniel stared at her and she knew how much it meant to him to nally be able to share some of his memories of their past. He looked so moved that Luce thought he might cry.

Instead he kissed her forehead tenderly and said, You beat me all those times, too, Lulu. They didnt talk much as Daniel rowed. It was enough for Luce just to watch the way his muscles strained and exed each time he dragged the oars back, hearing them dip in and out of the cold water, breathing in the brine of the ocean. The sun was rising over her shoulders, warming the back of her neck, but as they approached the mainland, she saw something that sent a shiver down her spine.

A car.

She recognized the white Taurus immediately. Whats wrong? Daniel saw Luces posture stiffen as the rowboat touched the shore. He sounded unconcerned as he hopped out of the boat and held out a hand to Luce. The ground was mulchy and rich-smelling. It reminded Luce of her childhood.

Its not what you think, Daniel said. When Sophia ed Sword and Cross, afterLuce waited, wincing, hoping Daniel wouldnt say after she murdered Pennafter we found out who she really was, the angels conscated her car. His face hardened. She owes us that much, and more. Luce thought of Penns white face, the blood draining from it.

Where is Sophia now? Daniel shook his head. I dont know. Unfortunately, well probably soon nd out. I have a feeling shell worm her way into our plans. He drew the keys from his pocket, inserted one into the passenger door. But thats not what you should be worried about right now. Luce squinted at him as she sank onto the gray cloth seat.

So theres something else I should be worried about right now? Daniel turned the key, and the car shuddered slowly to life. The last time shed sat in this seat, shed been worried about being in the car alone with him.

It was the rst night theyd ever kissedas far as shed known then, anyway. She was stabbing at the seat belt when she felt his ngers over hers. Remember, he said softly, reaching over to buckle her belt, letting his hands linger over hers.

Theres a trick. He kissed her softly on the cheek, then put the car in drive and peeled out of the wet woods onto the narrow two-lane blacktop. They were the only ones on the road. Luce asked again. What else should I be worried about? He glanced at her pajamas. How good are you at playing sick?

The white Taurus idled in the alley behind her parents house as Luce crept past the three azalea trees beside her bedroom window. In the summer, there would be tomato vines creeping out of the black soil, but in winter the side yard looked barren and dreary and not very much like home.

She couldnt remember the last time shed stood out here. Shed sneaked out of three different boarding schools before, but never out of her own parents house.

Now she was sneaking in, and she didnt even know how her window worked. Luce looked around at what she could see of her sleepy neighborhood, at the morning paper sitting in its dewy plastic bag at the edge of her parents lawn, at the old, netless basketball hoop in the Johnsons driveway across the street.

Nothing had changed since shed been gone. Nothing had changed, except Luce. If Bill succeeded, would this neighborhood vanish, too? She gave one last wave to Daniel, who was watching from the car, took a deep breath, and used her thumbs to pry the lower panel from the cracking blue paint of the sill. It slid right up. Someone inside had already popped out the screen. Luce paused, stunned as the white muslin curtains parted and the half-blond, half-black head of her onetime enemy Molly Zane lled the open space.

Sup, Meat Loaf. This was what Daniel and Roland meant when they said theyd taken care of things at home? What are you doing here, Molly? Come on. I wont bite. Molly extended a hand. Her nails were chipped, emerald green. Luce sank her hand into Mollys, ducked and sidled, one leg at a time, through the window.

Her bedroom looked small and outdated, like a time capsule left by some long-ago Luce. There was the framed poster of the Eiffel Tower on the back of her door. There was her bulletin board full of swim team ribbons from Thunderbolt Elementary. And there, under the green-and-yellow Hawaiian-print duvet, was her best friend, Callie. Callie scrambled from under the covers, dashed around the bed, and ung herself into Luces arms.

They kept telling me you were going to be okay, but in that lying, were-all-so-completely-terried-werejust-not-going-to-explain-a-word-to-you kind of way. Do you even realize how thoroughly creepy that was? It was like you physically dropped off the face of the earth Luce hugged her back tightly. As far as Callie knew, Luce had only been gone since the night before. I didnt lie in your bed in that cheap polyester wig all night pretending to be Luce with stomach u so you guys could blow our cover now.

She rolled her eyes. Hold on. You did what? After you. I mean, I could barely fathom it after seeing it with my own eyes. So I told them you felt sick and had gone to bed and Molly pretended to be you and Lucky I found this in your closet.

Molly twirled a short, wavy black wig around one nger. Halloween remnant? Wonder Woman. Luce winced, regretting her middle school Halloween costume, and not for the rst time. Well, it worked. It was strange to see Mollywhod once sided with Luciferhelping her. But even Molly, like Cam and Roland, didnt want to fall again. So here they were, a team. You covered for me? I dont know what to say. Thank you. Molly jerked her head at Callie; anything to deect Luces gratitude. She was the real silver-tongued devil.

Thank her. She stuck one leg out of the open window and turned to call back, Think you guys can handle it from here?

I have a summit meeting at Wafe House. Luce gave Molly a thumbs-up and opped down on her bed. Oh, Luce, Callie whispered. When you left, your whole backyard was covered in this gray dust. And that blond girl, Gabbe, swept her hand once and made it disappear.

Then we said you were sick, that everyone else had gone home, and we just started doing the dishes with your parents. And at rst I thought that Molly girl was a little bit terrible, but shes actually kind of cool. Her eyes narrowed. But where did you go? What happened to you? You scared me. I dont even know where to start, Luce said. Im sorry. There was a knock, followed by the familiar creak of her bedroom door opening.

Luces mother stood in the hallway, her sleep-wild hair pulled back by a yellow banana clip, her face bare of makeup and pretty. She was holding a wicker tray with two glasses of orange juice, two plates of buttered toast, and a box of Alka-Seltzer. Looks like someones feeling better. Luce waited for her mom to put the tray down on the nightstand; then she wrapped her arms around her mothers waist and buried her face in her pink terrycloth bathrobe. Tears stung her eyes. She sniffed. My little girl, her mom said, feeling Luces forehead and cheeks to check for fever.

She hadnt used that soft, sweet voice with Luce in ages, and it felt so good to hear. I love you, Mom. Dont tell me shes too sick for Black Friday. Luces father appeared in the doorway, holding a green plastic watering can.

He was smiling, but behind his rimless glasses, his eyes looked concerned. I am feeling better, Luce said, but Oh, Harry, Luces mom said. You know we only had her for the day. She has to be back at school.

She turned to Luce. Daniel called a little while ago, honey. He said he can pick you up and take you back to school.

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I said that of course your father and I would be happy to, but No, Luce said quickly, remembering the plan Daniel had detailed in the car.

You guys should go do your Black Friday shopping. Its a Price family tradition. They agreed that Luce would ride with Daniel, and her parents would take Callie to the airport. While the girls ate their breakfast, Luces parents sat on the edge of the bed and talked about Thanksgiving Gabbe polished all the chinawhat an angel.

By the time they moved on to the Black Friday deals they were on the hunt for All your father ever wants is tools , Luce realized that she hadnt said anything except for inane conversational llers like Uh-huh and Oh, really?

When her parents nally stood up to take the plates into the kitchen, and Callie started to pack, Luce went into the bathroom and shut the door. She was alone for the rst time in what seemed like a million ages. She sat down on the vanity stool and looked in the mirror. She was herself, but different. Sure, Lucinda Price looked back at her. But also. There was Layla in the fullness of her lips, Lulu in the thick waves of her hair, Lu Xins intensity in the hazel of her eyes, Lucias dimple in her cheek, ready for mischief.

She was not alone. Maybe she never would be alone again. There, in the mirror, was every incarnation of Lucinda staring back at her and wondering, What is to become of us? What about our history, and our love? She took a shower and put on clean jeans, her black riding boots, and a long white sweater. She sat down on Callies suitcase while her friend struggled to zip it up. The silence between them was brutal. Youre my best friend, Callie, Luce nally said.

Im going through something I dont understand. But that thing isnt you. Im sorry I dont know how to be more specic, but Ive missed you.You know, they all sound as if they are highschool kids, like seriously, it's celestial Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen or something. She reached the window and saw that the two angels were facing each other. Rolling onto her side, she yawned and opened her eyes. Daniel had witnessed it come peacefully to some of the new mortal breeds called humans, but death was not the concern of angels.

But was I?

LYDA from Idaho
I relish reading novels shyly . Feel free to read my other posts. One of my extra-curricular activities is rock balancing.