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Dark Angel (Chapter 14)

She got David's room number from a receptionist at the front desk. She didn't ask if she was allowed to

visit.

All Gillian could think as she walked down the hall was, Please. Please, if David was only all right, there

was a chance that everything could work out.

At the door she stopped and held her breath.

Her mind was showing her all sorts of pictures. David in a coma, hooked up to so many tubes and wires

that he was unrecognizable. Worse, David alive and awake and smiling… and looking at her with violet eyes.

She knew what Angel's plan had been. At least, she thought she knew. The only question was, had he

succeeded?

Still holding her breath, she looked around the door.

David was sitting up in bed. The only thing he was hooked up to was an IV of clear fluid. There was

another bed in the room, empty.

He looked toward the door and saw her.

Gillian walked toward him slowly. She kept her face absolutely expressionless, her eyes on him.

Dark hair. A lean face that still had traces of a summer tan. Cheekbones to die for and eyes to drown in.

But no half-quizzical, half-friendly smile. He was looking back at her as soberly as she was looking at

him, a book slipping unnoticed from his lap.

Gillian reached the foot of the hospital bed. They stared at each other.

What do I say? David, is it really you? I can't. It's too stupid, and what's he going to say back? No,

dragonfly, it's not him, it's me?

The silence stretched on. At last, very quietly, the guy on the bed said, "Are you okay?"

"Yeah." The word came out clipped and dispassionate. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, pretty much. I was lucky." He was watching her. "You look-kind of different."

"And you're kind of quiet."

Something like puzzlement flashed in his eyes. Then something like hurt. "I was… well, you walked in

here looking so deadpan, and you sound so … cold…" He shook his head slightly, his

eyes fixed on hers. "Gillian-did I do something to make you want to hit that pole?"

"I didn't do it on purpose!" She found herself lunging forward, reaching for his hands.

He looked startled. "Okay…"

"David, I didn't. I was doing everything I could not to. I would never want to hurt you. Don't you know that?"

His face cleared. His eyes were very dark but very calm. "Yes, I do/' he said simply. "I believe you."

Strangely, she knew he did. hi spite of all the evidence to the contrary, he believed her.

Gillian's hands tightened on his. Their eyes were locked together. It was as if they were getting closer,

although neither of them moved physically.

And then it was all happening, what had started to happen at least twice before. Feelings so sweet and

strong she could hardly bear it. Strange recognition, unexpected belonging… impossible knowing…

Gillian's eyes seemed to shut of their own accord. And then somehow they were kissing. She felt the

warmth of David's lips. And everything was warm and wonderful… but there was more.

It was as if the normal veil that separated two people had melted.

Gillian felt a shock of revelation. This was what it meant, what Angel had spoken to her about. She

knew it intuitively even though she'd never spoken the word before.

Soulmates.

She'd found hers. The one love for her on this earth. The person she was meant to be with, that no one

could keep her from. And it wasn't Angel. It was David.

That was the other thing she knew, and knew with a bedrock certainty that nothing could touch. This

was David, the true David. He was holding her in his arms, kissing her. Her, the ordinary Gillian, who

was wearing an old gray sweatshirt and no makeup.

It was absurd that she'd ever believed things like makeup mattered.

David was alive, that was what mattered. Gillian didn't have his death on her conscience. And if they

could somehow live through the rest of what had to be done, they just might be happier than she had ever

imagined.

How weird that she could still think. But they didn't seem to be kissing anymore; they were just holding

each other now. And that was almost as good, just feeling his body against hers.

Gillian pulled away.

"David-"

His eyes were full of wonder. "You know what? I love you."

"I know." Gillian realized she was being less than romantic. She couldn't help it. This was the time for

action. "David, I have to tell you some things, and I don't know if you can believe me. But you've got to

try." "Gillian, I said I love you. I mean that. We-"

Then he stopped and searched her face. He seemed to see something that changed his mind. "I love

you," he said in a different tone. "So I'll believe you."

"The first thing is that I'm not anything like what you think. I'm not brave, or noble, or witty in the face of

danger or-or anything like that. It's all been-a sort of set-up. And here's how it happened."

And then she told him.

Everything. From the beginning, from the afternoon when she'd heard the crying in the woods and

followed it and died and found an angel.

She told him the whole story, about how Angel had appeared in her room that night and how he'd

changed her whole life. About the whispering that had guided her ever since.

And about the very bad things. Her witch heritage. The spell she'd put on Tanya. The Night World. All

the way up to the accident last night.

When she was done, she sat back and looked at him.

"Well?"

"Well, I probably ought to think you're crazy. But I don't. Maybe I'm crazy, too. Or maybe it's because

I died once, myself. …"

"You started to tell me that, that first night- and then the car skidded. What happened?"

"When I was seven my appendix burst. I died on the operating table-and I went to a place like that

meadow. I'll tell you the funny thing, though. I felt that rushing thing come at me, too-that huge thing you

said came at you hi the end. Only

it actually reached me. And it wasn't dark or scary. It was white-beautiful light-and it had wonderful wings."

Gillian was staring. "Then what?"

"It sent me back. I didn't have any choice. It loved me, but I had to go back anyway. So- zoom-back

down the tunnel, and pop, back into the body. I've never forgotten it. And, it's hard to explain, but I

know it was real. I guess that's why I believe you."

"Then maybe you understand what I've got to do. I don't know what Angel really is. … I think he may be

some kind of demon. But I've got to stop him. Exorcize him or whatever."

David took her by the arms. "You can't. You don't know how."

"But maybe Melusine does. It's either her or that guy Ash at the club. He seemed all right. The only

down side is that I think he was a vampire."

David had stiffened. "I vote for the witch-"

"Me, too."

"-but I want you to wait for me. They'll let me out later this afternoon."

"I can't. David, it's for Tanya and Kim, too. Melusine might know how to cure them. Anyway, I'm

certainly going to ask her. And I can't let any more time go by."

David pulled at his hair with the hand that wasn't hooked to the IV. "Okay. All right, give me five

minutes, and we'll go together now."

"No."

He was looking at the IV as if figuring out how to undo it. "Yes. Just wait for me-"

Gillian blew him a kiss from the door and ran before he looked up.

He couldn't help her. You couldn't fight Angel in ordinary ways. All David would be was leverage in

Angel's hands-a hostage-something to threaten to harm.

Gillian jogged out of the hospital and through the parking lot. She found the Geo.

Okay, now if Melusine would just be at the store…

{You don't really want to do this, you know.)

Gillian slammed the car door closed. She sat up very straight, looking at nothing, as she fastened her

seatbelt and started the car.

(Listen, kid. You ain't never had a friend like me.)

Gillian pulled out of the parking lot.

(Come on, give me a break. We can at least talk about this, can't we? There are some things you don't

understand.)

She couldn't listen to him. She didn't dare answer him. The last time, he'd hypnotized her somehow,

made her relax and give up control to him. That couldn't happen again.

But she couldn't shut his voice out. She couldn't get away from it.

(And you can't love him. There are rules against it. I'm serious. You belong to the Night World

now-you're not allowed to love a human. If they find out, they'll kill you both.)

(And what were you trying to do to us?) Damn, she'd answered him back. She wouldn't do that again.

(Not hurt you. It was only him I wanted. I could have slipped in as he slipped out…)

Don't listen, Gillian told herself. There must be some way of blocking him, of keeping him out of her mind…

She began to sing.

"DECK the halls with boughs of HOL-ly Fa la la lala…"

He hadn't been able to hear her thoughts when she hummed before. It seemed to work, now, as long as

she kept her mind on the lyrics. She sang Christmas carols. Loudly. The fast ones, like "God Rest Ye

Merry, Gentlemen" and "Joy to the World," were best.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" got her the last few miles to Woodbridge.

Please be there…

"FIVE golden rings," she caroled, hurrying into the Woodbridge Five and Ten with the shoe box under

her arm. She didn't care who thought she was crazy. "FOUR calling birds, THREE French hens …"

She was at the door to the back room.

"TWO turtle doves …"

A very startled Melusine looked up from behind the counter.

"And a… please, you've got to help me! I've got this Angel who's trying to kill people!" She broke off

the song and rushed to Melusine.

"You've… what?"

"I've got this-angel thing. And I can't stop him from talking to me…." Gillian suddenly realized that Angel

had stopped talking. "Maybe he got scared when I came in here. But I still need your help. Please."

Suddenly her eyes were stinging with tears again.

Melusine leaned both elbows on the counter and rested her chin on her hands. She looked surprised, but

willing. "Why don't you tell me about it?"

For the second time that day, Gillian told her story. All of it. She hoped that by telling everything, she

could make Melusine understand her urgency. And her lack of experience.

"So I'm not even a real witch," she said at the end.

"Oh, you're a witch, all right," Melusine said. There was color in her cheeks and a look of fascination in

her dark eyes. "He told you the truth about that. Everybody knows about the lost Harman babies. Little

Elspeth-the records say that she died in England. But obviously she didn't. And you're her descendant."

"Which means it's okay for me to do spells?"

Melusine laughed. "It's okay for anyone to do spells who can do spells. In my opinion. Some people

don't feel the same way-"

"But can you help me take the spells off?" Gillian opened the shoe box. She felt ashamed to show the

dolls to Melusine-even though she'd bought them here. "I wouldn't have done it if I'd known," she

murmured feebly, as Melusine looked at the dolls.

"I know." Melusine gestured at her to be quiet. Gillian watched tensely and waited for the verdict.

"Okay, it looks as if you've started the process already. But I think… maybe some healing salve…

and blessed thistle…"

She bustled around, almost flying in her chair. She applied things to the dolls. She asked Gillian to

concentrate with her, and she said words Gillian didn't recognize.

Finally, she wrapped the wax dolls in what looked like white silk, and put them back in the box.

"Is that all? It's done?"

"Well, I think it's a good idea to keep the dolls, just in case we need to do more healing. Then, after that,

we can unname them and get rid of them."

"But now Tanya and Kim will be okay?" Gillian was anxious for reassurance, and she couldn't help the

quick glance of doubt she cast-at Melusine's missing leg.

Melusine was direct. "If they've had anything amputated, it won't cure them. We can't grow new limbs."

She touched her leg. "This happened

in a boating accident. But otherwise, yes, they should get better."

Gillian let out a breath she seemed to have been holding for hours. She shut her eyes. "Thanks. Thank

you, Melusine. You don't know how good it feels to not feel like you're maiming somebody."

Then she opened her eyes. "But the hard part's still to come."

" 'Angel.'"

"Yes."

"Well, I think you're right about it being hard." She looked Gillian straight in the eye. "And dangerous."

"I know that already." Gillian turned and took a quick pace around the room. "He can get into my mind

and make me do things-"

"Not just your mind. Anyone's."

"And I'm pretty sure he can move objects by himself. Make cars skid. And he sees everything." She

came back to the counter. "Melusine-what is he? And why's he doing all this? And why to me?"

"Well, the last question's the easiest. Because you died." Melusine wheeled quickly to a bookshelf at the

end of the counter. She pulled down a volume.

"He must have caught you in the between-place, the place between earth and the Other Side. The place

where he was," she said, wheeling back. "He pretended to be the welcomer, the one who guides you to

the Other Side. That thing rushing at you at the end-that was probably the real welcomer. But this 'Angel'

got you out of the between-place before it could reach you."

Gillian spoke flatly. "He's not a real angel, is he?"

"No."

Gillian braced herself. "Is he a devil?"

"I don't think so." Melusine's voice was gentle. She opened the book, flipping pages. "From the way you

brought him back with you, I think he must be a spirit. There are two ways of getting spirits from the

between-place: you can summon them or you can go fetch them yourself. You did it the hard way."

"Wait a minute. You're saying I brought him?"

"Well, not consciously. I'm sure you didn't mean to. It sounds like he just sort of grabbed on and

whooshed down the tunnel-what we call the narrow path-right along with you. Spirits in the

between-place can watch us, sometimes talk to us, but they can't really interact with us. When you

brought him to earth, you set him free to interact."

"Oh, wonderful," Gillian whispered. "So on top of everything, it's my fault from the beginning." She

looked around dazedly, then back at Melusine. "But what is a spirit, really? A dead person?"

"An unhappy dead person." Melusine turned pages. " 'An earthbound spirit is a damaged soul…' " She

shut the book. "Look, it's actually simple. When a spirit is really unhappy-when they've done something

awful, or they've died

with unfinished business-then they don't go on to the Other Side. They get stuck in-well, the book calls it

'the astral planes near earth.' We call it the between-place."

"Stuck."

"They won't go on. They're too angry and hopeless to even want to be healed. And they can do awful

things to living people if they get down here, just out of general miserableness."

"But how do you get rid of them?"

Melusine drew a breath. "Well, that's the hard part. You can send them back to the between-place-if

you have some blood and hair from their physical body. And if you have all sorts of special ingredients,

which I can't get. And if you have the right spell, which I don't know."

"I see."

"And in any case, that only traps him in the between-place again. It doesn't heal him. But, Gillian, there's

something I've got to tell you." Melusine's face was very serious, and she spoke almost formally. "You

may not need to rely on me."

"What do you mean?"

"Gillian … I don't think you really understand who you are. Did he-this spirit-explain to you just how

important the Harmans are?"

"He said Elspeth's sister was some big witch leader."

"The biggest. She's the Crone, the leader of all the witches. And the Harmans are-well, they're sort of

like the royal family to us."

Gillian smiled bleakly. "So I'm a witch princess?"

"You told me that Elspeth is your mother's mother's mother. You're descended entirely through the

female line from her. But that's-extraordinary. There are almost no Harman girls left. There were only two

in the world-and now there's you. Don't you see, if you let the Night World know about this, they'll flock

to help you. They'll take care of Angel."

Gillian was unimpressed. "And how long will that take?"

"For them to gather and everything… check out your family, make all the preparations … I don't know.

It could probably be done in a matter of weeks."

"Too long. Way too long. You don't know what Angel can do in a few weeks."

"Then you can try to do it yourself."

"But how?"

"Well, you'd have to find out who he was as a person and what business he left unfinished. Then you'd

have to finish it. And finally, you'd have to convince him to go on. To be willing to leave the

between-place for the Other Side." She glanced wryly at Gillian. "I told you it would be hard."

"And I don't think he'd be very cooperative. He wouldn't like it."

"No. He could hurt you, Gillian."

Gillian nodded. "It doesn't matter. It's what I've got to do."

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