Above the flames the fla.., p.21
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       Above The Flames (The Flames Trilogy #1), p.21

           Cassandra Fear
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  “Jasmine, are you all right?” Caim asked.

  She sat up, watching Caim stroll across the yard. “Yeah. Of course I’m all right. Why?”

  “It looks like you might die any second.” He winked. “Of course, I think you’re being a little dramatic about the whole running thing.”

  “Ha-ha. Very funny.”

  Caim sat opposite her, crossing his legs and resting his hands on his knees. “So, I have a feeling we will be getting a couple of new additions in our ranks.”

  Jasmine nodded. “Yeah, Evangeline said she was looking for two other Angel Blessed. Not sure if she will find them, though.” She raised her brows. “Where is the angel, anyway?”

  Caim shrugged. “She doesn’t usually stick around. I’ve spoken with her and it seems there’s a lot to sort out in Heaven right now.”

  “I’m sure there is. It’s strange that she keeps disappearing.” Jasmine stretched her legs out to the side of Caim. “I mean, she tells me about this crazy power I have, and instead of showing me how to use it correctly, she keeps leaving.”

  Caim grinned. “Yes. She has always been good at not being around when she’s needed. But she means well. She’s a good angel, always has been.”

  Jasmine hopped to her feet. “Well, if you don’t need anything, I think I’m gonna go take a shower.”

  Caim thinned his lips. “Yes, I think you should do that. I can smell you from here.”

  She smacked his shoulder. “Hey! That’s not something you ever say to a woman.” Jasmine laughed. “But thanks for your honesty.”

  Even though she hadn’t interacted with Caim a lot, Jasmine liked him. As she walked past him, he got up too. “I think I’ll join you.”

  Jasmine snorted. “No way, buddy. I like you, but not enough to let you in the shower with me.”

  Caim’s cheeks reddened. “Oh, not what I meant at all. Join you walking into the house. I need to find Amon. He seems out of sorts lately.”

  “What do you mean?”

  Caim shuffled along beside her. “I’m not sure. Since you returned, and he was wounded, he’s just been…off.”

  “You guys have been friends a long time, huh?”

  Caim grinned. “Yes. We go back a long way, Amon and I. He’s someone I’ve always looked up to.”

  Jasmine’s heart lightened. “I’m glad he has a friend like you. This war is going to be hard on us all. I think we are all going to need friends.” Jasmine raised her eyebrows. “How are things going with Cole?”

  “Cole is smart. His power is strong. He just has to learn how to focus it.”

  “That seems to be a problem for most of us. Except Gemma. She’s kind of a natural.”

  The door opened and Gemma came running out. “Oh, good. Jasmine! Just who I wanted to find. How are you?”

  Jasmine scrunched her forehead. “Uh, fine. Why?”

  “We just heard you broke up with Beau. I’m so sorry.” Gemma’s arm wrapped around her shoulder and she touched Jasmine’s head with her own. “I know how close you guys were. I mean, I know I haven’t been around a lot, but I could see it, ya know?”

  “Thank you, Gemma. It’s okay. It had to happen. It doesn’t mean we won’t be together in the end, but right now isn’t the time to have a relationship. Not with what we are in the middle of.”

  “Yeah, I get that. I mean, things are crazy. The news is talking about sending the Army out here. Can you believe that?” Gemma asked.

  “The Army won’t help.” Caim spoke flatly. “Anyone they send will die. And the blood will weaken the bonds that trap Lucifer. He will escape. I have seen it. When he does, it will be that much harder to defeat them.”

  The door slammed again. Cole walked out slowly. “Hey, am I interrupting?”

  “No, we were just discussing some things,” Caim said.

  “Ah. I was just looking for Jaz. I heard her and Beau broke up. You all right?” Cole asked.

  Jasmine narrowed her eyes. “All right. Is Beau in there running his mouth or something?”

  Cole shook his head. “Nah. Bub is.”

  “Bub? Really?” Jasmine turned away, balled her hands and took a few steps. “Oh my God. That guy just doesn’t stop. Why is he in there blabbing about my life? I think he needs to go. I’m going to kick him out. People don’t need to know my business. If I break up with someone, it’s my decision. Isn’t it?”

  A hand rubbed Jasmine’s back. “It’s all right. We were just worried about you. Take a deep breath and calm down,” Gemma said softly.

  Jasmine breathed deeply, and then exhaled loudly. That helped. She did it again. And again. Finally, she calmed. “Sorry, guys.” She faced them. “I just don’t want everyone worried about my love life.”

  Cole laughed. “Well, your old friend Bub gossips like a small child. But he’s harmless.”

  Jasmine chuckled. “Yeah, I think you’re right. Thanks for all your concern, guys. I think I’m gonna go take a walk. I’ll see you guys later, okay?”

  “I thought you were going to go take a shower,” Caim said.

  “I was, but now I’m going to go take a walk.”

  “You want some company?” Gemma asked.

  “We’ll be happy to join you.” Cole stepped forward. “We can be idiots, but we mean well.”

  Jasmine shook her head. “No. Thank you for the offer, but I just want to be alone for a bit.”

  She sauntered off, opening the gate to the fence and wandering off into the woods. Thick trees sat side by side in abundance. She stepped carefully, trying to avoid small branches and deep grooves in the ground. Looking up, she could barely see through the plentiful leaves to the bright sky above. It was darker through here, and the shade provided a coolness over her damp skin.

  Once she could no longer see Beau’s house, she pressed her back into the base of a tree and slid down, plopping onto the ground. “Ouch!” A branch poked her bottom. She shifted and got comfortable.

  I just don’t know what I’m doing. I mean, why would I break up with Beau? He’s perfect for me. He understands me, listens to me. But I have this impossible job ahead of me. I just don’t want him in the middle of all the chaos. It would kill me if anything happened to him.

  But I think there’s more to it. I love Beau, and he does get me, but I think we’ve been growing apart for a while. I’ve seen glimpses of him being jealous and crazy, and even though they are just glimpses, they scare me a bit. What will he be like later on, if we ever did get married? It’s crazy to think, but maybe he isn’t the one for me.

  Jasmine rubbed her forehead, then looked up to the piece of blue sky she could see through the treetops. The sun created a spotlight, aimed right at her, and she squinted. “I’m kind of lost right now. I haven’t prayed in a long time, but I think right now, a prayer might be good.”

  She sighed. “I don’t even know how much of the religion thing I believe in, but it has to be partially real. I mean, I do have angelic power. Angels and demons are real. So why not you too? So, I’m praying to ask you to give me some clarity. Some guidance. Help me choose the right path. Because right now, they all look the same. Doomed.”

  “Now, why would you say something like that?”

  Jasmine bolted to her feet, turned in a circle, and glanced around. “Who’s there?”

  “It’s just me,” Amon said. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to listen to you, but it was hard not to. So, tell me, why do you think every path you have is doomed?”

  Jasmine crossed her arms over her chest and pressed her lips together. I can’t believe him. He just eavesdropped on me. I wasn’t talking to him. He had no right.

  “I’m guessing you don’t want to talk about it, huh? Well, I think you should.” Leaves crunched under his feet as he moved closer.

  “What are you doing out here anyway?”

  “I believe I asked you a question first, but since I’m a gentleman, I will answer you before you answer me. I was patrolling. Looking for demons, or Bael. He must be close. I’m
guessing he’s sent some of his minions to watch us. So I’m trying to find them.” He smiled. “Now, your turn.”

  “Listen, I’ve got a lot going on in my head right now. I don’t really think you are the person I want to talk to about it. No offense.”

  Amon smirked. “None taken, but perhaps I’m just the person you need to talk to about this. I mean, I’m unbiased in the matters of your life. Also, I am a good listener.”

  Jasmine smiled. “All right. Well, I just don’t know where to start.” She bit her lip. “I guess it’s all about Beau. I broke up with him because I need to focus on my whole destiny thing. It’s important that I don’t lose focus right now. I need to help fight the demons and if my boyfriend is around all the time, I’ll be distracted watching him all the time. At least, that’s my reasoning.”

  Amon nodded. “So you broke up with him so you could stay true to your cause.”

  “Uh-huh. I guess so. But he doesn’t see it that way. He thinks we should stay together because we are meant to be together and breaking up is just going to make things worse. And I think maybe he’s right, but I don’t think that’s the only reason I broke up with him.”

  Amon rubbed his brow. “I agree with Beau, really. You shouldn’t break up with someone just because you have a destiny and don’t want him to make you lose your focus.”

  Jasmine widened her eyes.

  “Listen, if you love someone, then you should stay with them at all costs. Because you didn’t, it means you don’t really love him.”

  Jasmine glared. “Now hold on just a sec—”

  “That doesn’t mean you never loved him. Or perhaps you love him like family. But you don’t love him enough to be with him. He’s just not the one for you.”

  Jasmine exhaled through her nostrils. “Oh, and you’re just the know-it-all of the love variety? What makes you such an expert on the subject?”

  “I never claimed to be an expert. I just know that if you truly love someone, you will choose them over anything. And I do mean anything.”

  Jasmine balled her hands. Who the hell does he think he is? He says, “Oh, I’m a good listener.” But he doesn’t even listen. He just…talks.

  “I can see I’ve made you angry.”

  “I’m glad you are so observant. Bravo.” Jasmine clapped. “I think you deserve an award.”

  Amon grimaced. “You do know I was only trying to help you. Your sarcasm is making me quite angry.”

  Jasmine’s heart thumped in her chest. “Well, great. I’m so glad I could make you ‘quite angry.’ Since I’ve been past ‘quite angry’ for a while now.”

  Okay, so maybe she was over-exaggerating. She knew she was. But irrational thoughts were the only kind running through her head right now.

  Amon narrowed his eyes. “Fine. I guess I know now that I shouldn’t try to help you.”

  Jasmine huffed. “Yeah, because you’re so great at helping. You took Beau’s side.”

  “I took no side.” Amon took a step closer.

  “And you act like you know everything.” Jasmine pressed her back into the tree.

  “I do no such thing.” Another step.

  “You are so infuriating. Ugh!” She threw her hands in the air. “I can’t stand talking to you. You’re like an old-fashioned know-it-all. You’re never wrong. But you’re always wrong.”

  “That makes no sense.” He stood right in front of her now.

  Jasmine pushed her face into his. “You drive me crazy.”

  “You were already crazy. I didn’t have to drive you there.”

  “You…you jerk!”

  Amon shoved his fists against the tree, boxing her in. “Oh, now we are name-calling? Fine! You’re nothing but a…a…”

  “Ha. You can’t even think of anything.” She gave him a smug smile. “I guess you don’t know everything, huh?”

  “You know what, Jasmine. You infuriate me. I try to help you, to show you what I have observed by the story you share, and you treat me like I’m a plague upon you. I have learned a valuable lesson today.” Their eyes locked.

  She raised her chin. “And what’s that.”

  Amon’s voice softened. “I don’t even know why you are so mad.”

  She whispered, “Because I know you’re right.”

  Silence stretched. Jasmine kept her gaze locked on Amon’s brown eyes. Those big honey brown eyes. Her breath quickened and she parted her lips. Her fingers trembled, so she shoved them behind her and grabbed hold of her shirt. Amon leaned closer, his warm breath caressing her ear. “Then stop fighting me.”

  Goosebumps trailed down her neck and spread over her arms. She angled her head, rubbing her cheek against his and stared into his eyes again. They looked so kind, so caring. But he didn’t show that with words. Inside, she could see how much emotion filtered through him. And she saw it all through those expressive eyes.

  She licked her lips. Amon’s eyes moved to her lips, seeing the movement for what it was. He leaned into her, his chest pressing her back into the bark as he brought his head down, touching his lips against her own. Softly. Then he pulled back, his eyes questioning.

  Jasmine touched her lips. She took that hand and fisted his shirt, yanked him close, and smashed her lips against his. The kiss erupted in red hot heat. Fireworks exploded behind her eyes. His lips were gentle, caressing her own respectfully. She didn’t want that. She parted his lips with her tongue. Forced his mouth to take hers. The kiss deepened, and her knees almost buckled as her body shook with desire.

  Amon’s arms snaked around her, pulled her close, and she put her palms on his neck, rubbing against his skin. She pushed him, until his back slammed against the opposite tree and jolted her. What am I doing?

  She shoved against his chest. His lips were swollen and his eyes shining.

  “We can’t do this. I don’t know what I’m doing.” Jasmine walked past him. “But we can’t do this.”

  She picked up the pace, running back to the house and through the back door. She flew past the kitchen and up the stairs. Straight into her room, where she closed the door and clicked the lock. Once safely locked inside, she backed up, dropped slowly onto the bed, and rocked back and forth, hugging herself. She touched her lips again, which still tingled from Amon’s kiss. Her stomach flip-flopped as she thought about it. But it had been wrong. On so many levels. And it could most definitely not be repeated. Even if she wanted it to be repeated, she couldn’t let it happen.

  She sighed heavily. “What a damn day.”

  Chapter 27

  Power Combination

  “Jasmine, wake up!” The voice was deep. Manly.

  Jasmine lifted her eyelids, but quickly snapped them shut again. “Leave me alone!” She rolled over, burying her head under the blanket.

  A strong hand shook her shoulder. “You need to get up. Now.” Not gonna happen. The blanket was ripped away, and strands of hair touched her cheeks.

  She opened her eyes and sat up, glaring. “What. Do. You. Want?”

  “It is time to train,” Amon said.

  Jasmine rubbed her eyes and wiped the corners of her mouth. “Get out of my room. You don’t just come in to people’s rooms while they’re sleeping. Were you raised in a barn?” Jasmine paused. “Wait a minute. How did you get in here anyway? I locked the door.”

  Amon smirked, holding up a shiny gold key. “I used this. And, to answer your question, I did spend quite a bit of time in the barn, and often slept there.”

  Jasmine huffed. “Of course you did. Well, here’s a free lesson. Women in this world don’t like it when people come into their rooms. Especially when they’re sleeping. So…” She nodded toward him, and then angled her head toward the door. “Out! I’ll be down in a minute.”

  Amon laughed. “I really do not see what the big deal is. You were only sleeping.”

  Jasmine crossed her arms over her yellow shirt. “And what would you have done if I would have been sleeping naked?”

  Amon opened his mouth, the
n closed it, pursing his lips. He ruffled his hair and raised an eyebrow. “But you aren’t naked.”

  Jasmine laughed despite Amon’s intrusion. He really was clueless. “No, but I could have been. And you just yanked the blanket off of me. It could have been my only cover. You need to think about things like that.”

  His eyes widened, glimmering with amusement, but he didn’t say anything.

  “Okay. Out. Let me get dressed. I’ll meet you in the kitchen.”

  Amon nodded, then walked to the door. He paused before he strolled out, looking back once. He gave her a big grin, then left.

  Jasmine smacked her palm against her forehead. Men. I swear. Are their minds always in the gutter?

  She touched her lips, remembering their kiss yesterday. She hopped up and threw the memories to the back of her mind. She didn’t have time for this. She needed to get ready.

  She threw on a pair of stretchy blue capris and a neon orange shirt. She gazed around her room, but couldn’t find her shoes. “Oh, I left them by the back door.” So she stepped into the hallway and started down the stairs.

  “Jasmine, wait up,” Bub called.

  She turned as he came down the first couple steps. “What’s up?”

  Bub picked at his nail. “I was wondering if you’d go for a walk with me.”

  Jasmine raised her eyebrows. “Now?”

  “Yeah.” He smiled. “If you want to.”

  She frowned. “Uh—I can’t right now. Sorry. Maybe later.”

  Bub sighed. “Oh, good. I mean great. That sounds perfect.” He shuffled past her. “Absolutely perfect.”

  She shook her head. What was going on around here lately?

  Just before she reached the kitchen, raised voices reached her ears. She stopped, using the wall for cover.

  “Amon, you have no idea what you are talking about—”

  “Of course you would say that. I know what Gazardiel’s powers are, Evangeline. I know what could happen to these humans because of those powers. The angels were wrong for using them. You know they were.” Amon’s voice was deep and loud.

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