Bittersweet seraphim, p.20
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Bittersweet Seraphim, p.20

           Debra Anastasia
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
“You’re a catastrophe,” the thing’s impossibly loud voice responded. “Everything is ruined because of you.”

  The bubble shook again, and Emma wasn’t sure it would hold. The minions and half-breeds below had taken a knee and bowed their heads in Lucifer’s presence. She felt Everett quiet behind her after the verbal blow. “Look at that. You even suck at being evil,” she said with a smile. She rolled her hips a bit to see how balanced he was.

  Smoosh turned and flew straight at the bubble. She wasn’t sure if the dragon was helping her, coming to Lucifer’s aid, or just doing a fly-by. Everett bit her ear. She pictured spike heels on her feet and sunk one into his shin.

  He screamed and let go. Emma dropped to the bubble and braced herself. Smoosh hit Lucifer at full dragon speed, just like a devoted guard dog should. The bubble rumbled with the collision, and Everett fell to his knees. Emma still had a handful of feathers, so she pictured “bondage” and tossed them. The feathers restrained Everett’s feet and hands, turning into leather cuffs.

  Emma looked below her at the countless minion and half-breed eyes now fixed on the bubble. The dragon had chased Lucifer beyond the horizon. She pictured a dagger, and it appeared, glistening in the moonlight. The bubble of dreams hummed, a million shades of crystal. The dagger had a cross embedded on its hilt.

  “Do it! Oh please. Kill me. I think I’ll come when you murder me. Be just like me, whore. Do it.”

  Deep bruises bloomed on Everett’s body, and blood seeped from several lacerations, but Emma knew that unbound, he’d be raring to fight.

  The beings below her frothed at the possibility. Seeing an angel be terrible was riveting. She held the blade above his heart—or where that organ should be anyway. She’d always doubted he had one.

  He began thrusting his pelvis like the sick freak he was. It was time to end him. She’d thought the mask and the black outfit would help, but they hadn’t made her forget who she was, what she stood for.

  The minions and half-breeds needed to see goodness, not more death and domination. Their stupefied wonderment at the love raining from her wounds had sparked her angel’s compassion, and now purpose dawned on her like a thousand suns: She could teach everything in the underworld how things should be done, how they should treat each other, what love looked like. They were hungry for this message. She closed her eyes and changed her clothes back to official angel garb: a long, satin dress and silver sandals.

  She watched as Jack stormed below her. Jack! It took her a second to put it together, but his presence outside Hell meant God had restored his soul. Always God surprised her with His goodness, and a wave of love burst from deep within her. In the middle of this insanity, He’d made sure a man who’d been the Devil would know redemption. A soul returned to a body was a tremendous gift.

  Emma smiled. She couldn’t see Jack’s eyes, but she knew he was watching. She could picture him losing his mind, cursing at what she was about to do next. Whatever the outcome was for Jack in this world, she hoped he’d never forget the precious gift of his soul. And then something else made sense: it was her soul she was giving up for trade. She used her dagger to slice through the leather bindings at Everett’s wrists. When she turned to Everett’s bound feet, she could hear Jack swearing.

  Everett came free swinging. He made contact with her stomach, and she folded. He pounded her on the back, yet she refused to fight. He pulled her to her feet, obviously perplexed at the change in her demeanor.

  “What the fuck is wrong with you? Fight me, bitch.” Everett shook her by her shoulders.

  “You are a child of God, and He loves you.” Emma knew she needed to say this, but she spit it out like a curse.

  “Are you going straight on me? Following the rulebook? Has that ever gotten you anywhere?” Everett was spitting in her face. His horrible mouth was so close. “Fight me!” He was begging her now. Almost pleading. He needed the anger she’d been feeding him. He slapped her face as hard as he could.

  Emma saw white, and her mouth filled with angel’s blood. She could hear Jack screaming his head off—calling the dragon, begging the angels to come from Heaven, screaming at God. She loved him so much. Despite the miles between them, she smiled at him.

  Her neck was hard to move, some of her muscles must have snapped from the blow. She clenched her fists and used all the angel power she had left to lift her face to Everett’s. She looked him dead in the eyes and then slowly turned her head, offering him her other cheek.

  Jack stopped screaming. A hush fell over the world.

  “Oh, you’re a dramatic whore,” Everett seethed. “I get it. Do you want to be like God? Do you think you can be like Him?”

  Emma felt tears roll down her cheeks. The next blow would certainly hurt, and might pop her head right from her neck. She hated that Jack would see that. She said another prayer for him, and Everett raised his hand.

  “If you expected mercy, you were wrong. Again. Goodbye, Emma.”

  Everett’s hand sounded like thunder as it headed for her face.

  Jack was stuck on the ground. He’d begged his minions to throw him, tried to get anyone able to sprout wings. It was impossible. Now he had to stand here and watch his love die. That couldn’t be how love ended. What would be the point of hoping for anything at all?

  Everett wound up for an epic slap, and Jack knew the red glow in his hand was Hellfire. It would be more than an angel could take, especially if she wasn’t fighting back.

  She’d smiled at him then—connected with him across all space and time. He couldn’t smile back, but only held his heart.

  But wait—Everett was distracted. It took Jack a beat to realize the deathblow was still in the air, and now huge, fast snowflakes fell from the sky. Soon they took shape: the fucking angels. Too little too late.

  One after another they dropped. And the second they hovered above his minions, the world cracked. The most legendary battle was about to begin. Good versus bad. Evil versus virtue.

  Jack could give a rat’s ass. He could still imagine her gray eyes, her smile. The fighting that broke out around him was just noise. Everett was winding up again, letting the hellfire turn his hand so red it was almost black.

  “Please, someone with wings, take me to her. Please.” He was hoarse and whispering. His desperation had nearly taken his voice.

  Jack felt her before she touched him. Then her voice came like bells and candy.

  “Hang on. Guess you still have your memory?” Claudette, his former flame, lifted him easily into the air.

  He didn’t even let the surprise at her assistance register. “Faster.”

  Emma remained in the bubble of dreams. Only she could break it. He knew this from his own time as an angel a million years ago. Below there was hissing—feathers and burning. Maybe this was the apocalypse, but the whole world could go fuck itself. Jack’s focus was singular.

  There should have been heralds, chariots, and bursts of lights when God arrived and stepped in front of Emma. But He was understated. Claudette finally made it to the bubble with Jack, and she flew him to hover even with Emma.

  Everett hadn’t noticed God’s entrance in time to stop his hand from flying (who knows if he would have), so God absorbed the worst blow the Devil could land. He didn’t even flinch. Instead He just put his arm around Emma. Everett stood stupidly. Everything else was meaningless when God was in front of you.

  Then the Lord turned His eyes to Jack.

  Overwhelmed by the gratefulness that threatened to burst out of him, Jack brought his fist to his lips. Finally he could speak, but only one thing: “Thank you.”

  God smiled, and Jack felt his restored soul sigh in his chest. Emma gasped and rolled her head on her neck, obviously healed.

  “Thank you so much,” Jack said again. If he hadn’t been held aloft by Claudette, he would’ve taken to his knees.

  Chapter 32

  Emma clutched God’s hand. Jack thanking God made her eyes fill up. Just living made her grateful. It was a few
seconds before she realized she was in a pause. The whole world had stopped. Claudette’s wings were still as a statue, and her Jack was motionless. She recognized the quiet now. Everett had frozen perplexed and unblinking. Stone Everett was a huge improvement on the moving variety.

  “Was I okay? Did I follow You?” She was being too casual as she spoke to her maker, but her energy was sapped.

  God turned to her and held both of her hands. “My daughter. You are the very best of me.” He touched her cheek and neck. Her sliced wing was restored. “Do you have questions? Can I hold you?” God opened His arms.

  Emma almost fell into them. Every muscle that had been bruised and tortured was healed. Her power as a seraph filled to overflowing.

  She looked down. Below them was an army of bittersweet seraphim. They seemed to dread the fight and revel in it at the same time. “It’s not just the good beings that matter to You,” Emma said, thinking out loud. “The minions are your children, the half-breeds.” She curled her fist on God’s chest. His eyes were dark this time. Their color never mattered. Being in His gaze was home.

  “My creations are my pride. Each has a place in the world, a destiny of their choice to fulfill,” He said.

  “Sir, in Hell there were some souls removed entirely. Is there hope…?” She trailed off, almost afraid of the answer. She thought of Tiffany, the poodles, the nameless minions who’d been killed…

  “They are safe, my seraph. Thank you for worrying.”

  God flashed her somewhere new. Out of the dream bubble.

  They were in a field. She recognized it as her horse, Feisty, cantered over. She took a few minutes to settle the horse down and pet her soft muzzle. Feisty used her lips to nip at Emma. She’d called it horse kisses when she was a girl.

  “Ask, child. I will tell you what I can. You have earned answers.” God petted her horse.

  The sun was amazing in this pause. It touched the edges of the field grasses, and they glowed like paintbrushes dipped in magic.

  “It’s not my place to ask, only try,” Emma said softly. “I try to listen to the part of me that feels right when I make a choice.”

  Feisty leaned her head down and began munching the grass. God waited. It occurred to Emma that this pause could be as long as God wanted it to be. It relaxed her to know all the people she cared about were safe indefinitely.

  “Did I fail? Did I end up where you wanted me, sir? It seemed convoluted.” She hoped her words didn’t sound disrespectful.

  “You did not fail, my pride. But you know that. You have no need to hear it from Me. When you offered your worst enemy your other cheek? Yes, my child. You were where you needed to be.” God put his hand on the cheek Everett had slapped.

  His kindness brought a lump to her throat. “It was terrible at times. I was so alone. I couldn’t pray. I was going to murder him. Be the Devil. I just…” She wiped a tear from her cheek. God had asked a lot from her.

  “I did. I asked so much. And you delivered. You were never going to murder anyone, no matter how angry you felt. Does that help?” God sat in the meadow grass and motioned for her to join him.

  Emma sat, tucking her white angel gown under her legs. She touched God’s hand. Peace. She had so much peace. “It does. I just wish I could be sure of the choices I made. I love Jack. I mean, how can that be right?” Emma pictured his handsome face.

  “How can it be wrong? Love picks the right path, not the one of least resistance.” God’s skin was deep and dark this time. The sun was warm.

  “Your world is beautiful. But it’s harsh as well. I can’t forget Hell. Yet I think Jack tried to be a good Devil—if that’s even possible.” She put her hand through her hair.

  “Jack. If I told you his soul was very important, would you believe Me?”

  Her eyes widened. “I know it is. Was this whole journey to free Jack?” Emma hugged her knees. Shaking up the entire world to free him worked for her.

  “Your journey was much more than Jack. Think about all the lives you’ve touched. I can’t give you all the intricate details because it wouldn’t be fair. The puzzle of it all is my burden.” God looked weary.

  She tried to ask a question a few times, but bit her lip instead.

  “Say it, Emma. Holding your tongue has never suited you.” God lifted her chin with His finger and smiled.

  Feisty whinnied softly as if agreeing.

  “I hate Everett. I can’t forgive him, and I know you expect more from me. Is that why I went to Hell?” She covered her mouth after she asked, sure she was right.

  “Everett. I can’t disclose the state of his soul, but I never expected you to forgive him.” God looked at the sky, squinting into the sun.

  “Really? You put kind of a huge emphasis on forgiveness.” Emma rubbed her hands together in her nervousness.

  “Have you tried praying for him? You can at least do that. Forgiveness takes time, and practice. When you can’t bring yourself to forgive, you must at least pray.” God waited.

  “I haven’t prayed for him. Never once.” Guilt engulfed her.

  God touched her hand. “Daughter, getting it right the first time isn’t your job. Learning is.”

  She snuggled up to Him. God slipped his arm over her shoulder. They sat in the silence for a while. She heard Him sigh.

  “That’s quite a scene we’re going back to.” She peeked at His face.

  “Lucifer has drawn this whole thing out way too long. I think I indulged him a bit. I really hoped he would choose a path that made him more of a man.” God pushed her hair out of her face. “Let me worry about it, little one.”

  Feisty stepped closer to graze right by Emma. She reached up and petted her beautiful horse again. She loved her huge brown eyes.

  “But I feel like you’re alone,” Emma said.

  “With as many children as I have? I’m never alone. I brought you here to let you ask questions, but also to speak about what’s next for you.” God turned so He could see her face better.

  “I still worry about you,” she said. A look passed between them. She knew then that she and God were friends, no matter what happened in the world. He nodded and smiled.

  “I guess I have to go to angel court again? I claimed my wings back. But Jack was out of Hell? Was it really his soul on the scale?”

  “Oh, yes. I’d hoped that by refusing to doom him, I could show Jack I thought his soul worth fighting for. And, of course, there’s you. He’d never been able to see how true love makes you more understanding and less angry. Emma, my wild card.” God stood and held out His hand.

  She took it and hugged him once she got to her feet.

  “What is it you want? You have audience with God. Speak, child.” God kissed the top of her head.

  “Save them all. That’s what I want.” The warmth she felt in His arms was the softest emotion. “And I’d really love to take Feisty for a ride.”

  God released her, and her horse perked her ears up at the word ride.

  God gave her a boost and changed her gown into jeans and a sweater in the process. Emma inhaled the sweet smell of her horse. With just a nudge, Feisty took off with a buck of pep. She went smoothly from walk to trot to canter, finally settling into a gorgeous, glorious gallop. Emma felt her hair flying behind her.

  God would make everything okay.

  When God brought her back into the bubble with Everett, she’d lived hours: her horse, her God, and a beautiful, sunny day with no worries. It had been a vacation. And now, even though she was smack in the middle of the most momentous battle between good and evil—or, as God would put it, incorrect choices and right choices—she was grateful to see Jack’s face.

  She wished she had a way to convey to him that everything would be okay. She settled for a smile. Jack’s face was a picture. As handsome as he was, his reverence for her sweet friend God made him positively angelic.

  God slipped Emma behind him as time began to grind forward again. She peeked around him to watch. Lucifer hit the bu
bble just as Everett threw himself prostrate on the ground. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

  Emma raged as she heard his bendable words, made of tin. Everett never meant it. God held out his hand to her while dissolving her dream bubble, save for the floor, which allowed Lucifer access. He squeezed her hand once, and Emma understood.

  She prayed out loud. “Lord, please help Everett understand that being sorry comes from within, not from his mouth. Amen.”

  Everett looked up with a glare of pure hatred. Her prayers wounded him far more than her blows had.

  Emma motioned for Claudette to bring Jack closer. She covered him in a wing when he stepped down, wincing at the lack of a visible floor to support them.

  “No fear, Jack. I have wings. I won’t let you fall.”

  He ignored the world, the minions, and God to pull her into a deep kiss.

  Jason, Dean, and Seriana—who clutched Mine’s hand—found each other in the stillness, with Violent still in tow. Lucifer’s pull had diminished, and their love for each other was a beacon, drawing them together.

  It was Violent who figured out the cause of the stillness and pointed first. “It’s God!”

  The terrible fighting had stopped. The angels seemed smug. They knew their weapon was the best. The minions looked shifty and unsure what to do. What was next, no one could possibly guess. Though bursting with joy, the siblings’ reunion was quiet. Jason touched his brother’s shoulder and sister’s cheek.

  “Mom?” He whispered, but it seemed horribly loud.

  Seriana shook her head, and Dean mouthed, “With Vittorio.”

  Jason scanned the crowd as the others looked Heavenward. Rebecca was nowhere to be found. Kate and Nero, on the other hand, were just a few feet away. Kate found his eyes and pulled her father’s arm as she immediately moved toward him. He reached for her, and she hugged him hard.

  “What happens now?” she asked. She continued to hold her father’s arm.

  Jason tried to think of something comforting to say, but Nero answered her question. “Lucifer is on the horizon, God has come down. Right now is when the world could end.”

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Add comment

Add comment