Above the flames the fla.., p.20
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       Above The Flames (The Flames Trilogy #1), p.20

           Cassandra Fear
 
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  Evangeline smiled. “Of course. I will take my leave, but before I do…” Evangeline rubbed her forehead, making her look human for a moment. “Remember that Bael will stop at nothing to get you. He will do whatever it takes. Especially you. I believe out of the five of you, you have the most potential to help them, if they can convert you.” Evangeline smiled widely. “But he doesn’t know one thing.”

  “What?”

  “He doesn’t know how strong your character is.”

  Jasmine nodded. She knew she was strong, and stubborn. But that didn’t make it easier to stay on the path of good.

  “It is extremely difficult to turn someone like you evil. You have so much goodness within you. Just hold on to that in the coming days.”

  “I will. It concerns me that Bael thinks he can turn me evil to benefit his army though. If that happens, what will happen to my power? Right now, it recognizes the demons instantly.”

  Evangeline met her eyes. “Because they are evil. If your power changes, if you change…your power would recognize humans the same way it does demons now.”

  Jasmine gasped. “I guess I never quite put two and two together. That’s just fan-fricking-tastic.”

  “You have a huge responsibility on your shoulders.”

  Those words hit her harder than any others. Jasmine threw her palms out in front of her and waved them back and forth while stepping backward slowly. “I don’t want it. You’re crazy for giving a human power like this. How could you? You angels can’t take care of your own crap, so you shove it on us?”

  “No, Jasmine. That isn’t—”

  Jasmine turned toward the door. “I don’t want to hear any more. Forget it. I’m going inside.”

  She stormed off, leaving Evangeline standing on the porch. Alone.

  Once inside, she continued her heavy walk straight to where Amon sat alone on the couch. Jasmine’s cheeks heated and she scowled.

  Amon’s brow furrowed. “What is the matter with you?”

  Jasmine huffed. “Where do I start?” She paced in front of the coffee table. “Firstly, if I turn evil, my power will hurt humans the way it hurts demons now. I guess I should have figured that out, but I haven’t had much time to think about it.” She stopped pacing and looked at Amon. “What am I going to do? Bael won’t stop until he has me and the other Angel Blessed. And who knows, maybe he already has two of us, since Evangeline still hasn’t found them.”

  Amon stood and came over to her, placing a hand on each of her shoulders. “Calm down. Take some deep breaths.” He inhaled slowly, exhaled loudly. “We will stop Bael every time.”

  “What if we can’t—?”

  “We will. Also, you will never turn evil. You are too good of a person. It would take too much work to turn you bad.” He winked. “If Bael has the other Angel Blessed, we will find them and save them.”

  Jasmine continued to focus on breathing. In. Out. When she finally answered, her voice came out hushed. “How do you know I won’t turn evil?”

  Amon pressed his lips together, opened his mouth, then closed it again. “I have come to understand your character in the days I have known you. You are strong, but often doubt yourself. Stop doubting and believe that you will succeed.”

  Jasmine crossed her arms over her chest. “You didn’t answer my question.”

  Amon laughed and wrapped an arm around her. “How observant of you.”

  “You can’t not answer my question.”

  “I can do anything I please.” Amon winked. “Besides, Bael would give up way too quickly if he had you. You would drive him crazy.”

  Jasmine laughed. “You know, you really are something.”

  Amon leaned into her ear. “So I’ve been told.”

  Jasmine shivered as his warm breath caressed her ear. “Have you now?” She wrapped an arm around him, letting her fingers graze his side. He gazed at her, his eyes glinting, and she moved her face closer to his. “Let me share something important with you, then.” The words were soft. Quiet. She bit the inside of her cheek. “You probably,” she rubbed his nose with her own, “shouldn’t let,” her lips hovered just over his, almost touching, “that go to your head.” She pulled back quickly, smiling.

  “You little minx.” He rushed forward, his arms snaking to her sides, his fingers tickling furiously. “You’d better watch yourself.”

  No words would come out as Jasmine laughed loudly. Someone cleared their throat. Jasmine straightened as Amon’s fingers left her sides. She spun around, facing the entryway into the room.

  “Am I interrupting something?” Beau’s eyes narrowed. “Should I come back?”

  Jasmine shook her head and wiped the grin from her face. “No, not at all. Just playing around.”

  “I think I’ll take my leave.” Amon ambled toward the open doorway.

  “Wait. You never told me what you wanted to see me for.”

  Amon turned and smiled. “It can wait.”

  After he left, Beau came closer. “Jazzy. I think I’ve been a fool.” He clutched his heart. “Without you in my life, I’m lost.” He laughed.

  Jasmine slapped his arm. “Cut the crap.” She stood on her tiptoes and gazed behind Beau. “Where’s the real Beau? What did you do with him?”

  His lips parted. “Yeah, I’m just joking around. But I do miss you. I think maybe I was wrong telling you I needed some time.”

  Jasmine hadn’t been expecting that. She also felt bad because she hadn’t even had time to think about Beau the past couple of days. It had been so hectic. He had wanted space before, but now she needed it.

  Jasmine turned away and stared at the TV across the room. “Beau. You know I love you, and I always will. But I just can’t have a boyfriend right now. My life is too crazy. I think our break needs to be permanent.”

  Beau came behind her and put his hands on her arms. “I know it’s crazy. I’m kind of a part of it too, but not in the same way as you are. If we let something like this tear us apart…I mean, we’re meant to be together.”

  Jasmine bit her lip and peered over her shoulder. “Maybe. I’m just not so sure right now. I have a destiny. I was made to fight these demons. I will probably die in the process. This will be my life and the legacy I leave behind.” She sighed heavily. “It’s not what I want. I didn’t choose any of this. But I can’t fight it any longer. I have to accept who I am and do the best I can to stop the demons.” She turned and faced him. “I don’t have time for romance. I will never forget what we had. Maybe in the end everything will be fine and we can pick up where we left off. But right now, I just can’t have any distractions.”

  Beau pressed a fist to his lips. “And I don’t get a say in any of this?”

  Jasmine shook her head. “No. It’s not about you. Or me for that matter. It’s about our world and what will happen if we fail. I’m sorry it has to be this way.” Her hands trembled as she reached to stroke his cheek. “It hurts me too. You are a wonderful person. I still love you. You mean so much to me. But I just can’t do this right now.”

  She walked past him. Beau’s loud footsteps followed and he grabbed her arm, turning her around. “Jasmine, you can’t break up with me.” He bent his neck forward and grimaced. “You can’t break up with me.”

  Jasmine’s gaze dropped to the floor. “I already have. I’m sorry.”

  Beau took a step back. He snickered, his face turning red. “You will be sorry. I’m the best thing that ever happened to you, Jasmine. One day you’ll find out, but I’ll be long gone by then.”

  “Don’t say hurtful things to me, Beau. It’s okay to hurt, but don’t lash out at people. I’m not trying to hurt you. If you can’t understand that…well, I guess you’re not the person I thought you were.”

  With that, she left the room by way of the hallway. She’d go do some training. Run for a while. Something. Her heart was shredded right now. She didn’t want to break up with Beau. She had to. She didn’t want him to get hurt. If she stayed with him, she knew he would. M
aybe even die. She would risk her life every day. But not his. Never his.

  “What if I just kick you all out of my house?” He was right behind her again.

  She spun around and placed a hand on his chest. “You won’t. I know you. I know that right now you want to hit something, and that’s okay. But I know that when you cool off and think about what I said, it will make sense.”

  Beau glared. “It’s Amon, isn’t it? You’re leaving me for him.”

  Jasmine laughed. “No. I’m leaving you for more than another guy. I’m leaving you to save the world. That’s what you aren’t seeing. It’s not personal. I love you and I’ll never stop. But there’s too much at stake.”

  Beau’s face was so red it looked like he might explode. His cheeks puffed out, and he exhaled deeply. Then, without a word, he turned and stormed off, taking the stairs two at a time.

  She replayed what just happened. She thought she’d handled everything well. Jasmine couldn’t understand why Beau’s temper went off the charts. He should understand what she said to him. Instead he acted like a child and threw a tantrum.

  Maybe I’m just a terrible person. I don’t know anymore. I hate all of this. I hate that I have to be an Angel Blessed and save the world. I don’t want to save the world. I want to live my life. But I will do what I was made to do. I will accept my destiny. I have to. If I turn my back on the world, I could never forgive myself.

  Jasmine pushed her shoulders back and took a step.

  “I couldn’t help but hear what happened.” Bub came into view, his wiry voice grating. “Do you want to talk about it?”

  She narrowed her eyes. “I’m sorry if this sounds harsh, Bub, but you are probably the last person on Earth that I would talk to about my feelings. If I remember right, we were never very good at that.”

  His lips parted. His grin slowly built into a smile. “No. But we sure were good at other things, huh?”

  Jasmine cringed. “Yeah, things I want to forget.” There’d been a reason she wasn’t happy to see him. They’d had a horrible relationship. Went on a few dates, but mostly just stayed in the bedroom. It wasn’t a good time for her. It had been right after she’d arrived here. She needed to feel wanted, loved. Instead, it made her feel used.

  Bub sidled closer, grabbed her hand, and planted her palm on his chest. “How can you say something like that?”

  Jasmine yanked her hand back. “Because it’s the truth.” She shoved past him. “I don’t care if you stay here. I know we have a history, but it’s never going to go there again. We are friends. That’s it.” She looked at him square in the eye. “You would do well to remember that.”

  Bub laughed. “Yeah. I guess you’re right. No hard feelings?”

  Jasmine softened her features. “Nah. We’re good. As long as you remember what I said.”

  She walked out the back door with no shoes. The tiles under her feet were warm from the sun shining on them. Jasmine looked around, finding the yard empty. She was alone. Finally. Without a second thought, she took off, the grass tickling the soles of her feet as she ran as fast as her feet would take her. She squinted from the blinding rays from the sun, but she bent her head back, letting it hit her face. She stretched her arms to the side, the wind warming her skin. And she didn’t think about demons. Or her love life. She just ran.

  Chapter 25

  Wheels In Motion

  Bael

  Bael sunk into a fluffy pink couch. “Did we have to pick the house that decorates using only pastel hues? It really is making us look weak.”

  Moloch watched out the window. “I don’t think you need to worry about looking weak.”

  Bael shifted and sunk further in the large cushions. He slid forward, an elbow resting beside him, and pushed himself to his feet. “Remind me never to sit in that thing again.” He ambled to the window, peering into the darkness. “Have you seen anything?”

  Moloch nodded. “Yes. An angel showed up earlier and sat on the porch with Jasmine.”

  “And…”

  “And they swung on the porch swing.” Moloch shrugged. “I couldn’t hear their conversation.”

  “What did this angel look like?” Bael raised his eyebrows.

  Moloch smiled, revealing sharp gray teeth. “She was beautiful. Long blonde hair. Beautiful pearly-white wings.”

  Bael cleared his throat. “How about something that is actually helpful.”

  “There’s nothing. I only know she looked familiar. Like I’ve seen the angel somewhere before. Maybe during the war?”

  Bael looked at the vaulted ceiling. “Perhaps.”

  A knock pounded on the back door. Bael marched past the obstinate couch, through a kitchen, and down a long, winding hallway into a small back room. He yanked the door open. “It’s about time you showed up.”

  Bub strolled through, dripping wet. “Sorry, man. It’s raining hard out here and nobody sleeps over at that house.” He shook his hair and water dripped to the floor and smacked the walls.

  Bael wiped the corner of his eye with one finger. “Perhaps you shouldn’t shake yourself as if you’re a dog.”

  Bub clapped his back. “Ha. Good one, man.”

  Bael picked Bub’s hand off his back and dropped it at the boy’s side. “Please refrain from touching me.”

  The walk back to the living room was fast, and Bub dropped into a baby blue chair. “So what did you guys want me for? I haven’t really found anything out yet.”

  Bael’s footsteps clacked against the wooden floor. He crouched before Bub and lifted the boy’s chin. “No? Then what have you been doing?”

  “Watching TV, mostly. You know, you demons have hit the news hard. Everyone is freaking out. I think they might even send the Army out here.”

  Moloch, who still stared out the window, turned. “Really? And they think an army can hurt us?” He laughed. “We are demons. Unless they take our heads off, we won’t die.”

  Bael smiled. “Let them try.” He paused a moment, placing a hand on his chin. “It’s time for you to do your part. I need you to get Jasmine alone. When you do…” he reached over to the table, grabbing a small black bag, “…use the contents of this on her.”

  Bub unzipped the bag. “What is this? A needle? You want me to drug her?”

  Bael straightened and paced in front of him. “No. Not drug. That vial is filled with a chemical that will only make her sleep. Once she is passed out, you will carry her here, and we will take it from there. Do you understand your mission?”

  Bub nodded. “Yeah, man. I don’t really want to do this, though. Jasmine is a cool girl.”

  Bael showed teeth. “Perhaps. But she’s also our enemy. Do you want to become our enemy too?”

  Bub shook his head fast. “Nah, man. Not something I think I will live through, becoming your enemy.”

  “Ah. There is something still working in there.” Bael tapped his head with a finger. “Who would have guessed?”

  Bub frowned. “There’s no reason to insult me, man.”

  Bael furrowed his eyebrows and scowled. “I am not a man. My name is Bael. I expect you to use it. Now leave.” He spoke quietly, keeping his words level.

  Bub stood and rushed out of the room. Moments later, the door slammed.

  “Well, that kid probably just shit himself.” Moloch grinned. “Nice evil face, Master.”

  Bael cackled. “Yes. It was good, wasn’t it? Hopefully it will motivate the little twerp. He’s so hung up on winning Jasmine’s affections he can’t see the big picture.”

  “When will you get the other Angel Blessed?” Moloch asked.

  Bael rubbed a hand over one of his horns. “When they come to rescue Jasmine. We will capture the other Angel Blessed then. It’s too risky to grab them all now. But Lucifer wants them all.”

  “Yes, he does,” Lucifer sneered in his mind.

  “Ahh. I was wondering when you’d connect again.”

  “You have done a good job, Bael. Rocks have starting cracking, pebbles cra
shing into the ground of my prison. But it’s not enough. You need to spill more blood.”

  “I just took out a whole town. A big town, Lucifer. I thought that would have done the trick.”

  “Well, it hasn’t, Bael. The ground is shaking. We’re almost there. Just a bit more and I can join my brethren above the ground and wreak chaos beside you all.”

  Bael rolled his eyes. Lucifer was always so dramatic. “We will get you out. Very soon. Have faith we will succeed in this task before us.”

  “Oh, I do. If you don’t, well, you know what will happen.” Lucifer laughed. “Now, what of the Angel Blessed?”

  “She has escaped everything we’ve tried.”

  “What? How is this possible?”

  “Her power is strong, Lucifer. So we’ve decided to try a different tactic.”

  “I’m listening.”

  “We have found a human who is friends with her and employed him to capture her. She will never see it coming.”

  “Good. She better not. You need her, and the other Angel Blessed. If we can convert them…”

  “I know. We will be unstoppable.”

  “The plan is set. I will contact you soon. Keep up the good work.”

  Static filled his mind and he flipped it off.

  “Where did you go, Bael?” Moloch asked.

  “Lucifer contacted me. He wants more bloodshed. So go! Tell the others their master wants his freedom! Tell them to kill everyone they see! Hurry!”

  Moloch rushed out the front door. Bael leaned a shoulder against the wall, watching his second slink through the darkness. Soon, Lucifer would be here running the shots. Soon, they would convert the Angel Blessed and this land would be theirs. Things were moving along exactly as planned.

  Chapter 26

  Friends

  Jasmine

  Jasmine sprawled out on the grass, panting. Her jog had been wonderful but tiring. The warm sun beat down on her skin and she smiled. Sweat poured down her face, so she wiped it with her bare arm. That wasn’t very smart. She squeezed her eyes shut to stop the burn.

 
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