A Dance With Darkness Page 20

’’Mama,’’ he said, and raised his hand, clutching the blossom, to present it to me.

I dropped to my knees and scooped him into my arms, planting a kiss on his plump cheek and brushing his dark, wavy hair off his forehead. ’’For me?’’ I asked, and took the blossom from his fingers. ’’Thank you, sweetheart. It\s beautiful.’’

I began to sing to my son as I gazed into his sweet face, into the innocent whimsy brightening his green eyes. He melted in my arms and his little white wings folded at his back, the downy feathers brushing my skin, his white wings that were just like Bastian\s. He had demonic blood running through his veins like his father, but he was angelic through and through. With each day, I could see a little more of Bastian in his features, but his heart, I prayed, would be like mine, as were his eyes. William would never know his father, and that was a tragedy. If their paths were ever to cross, years or centuries from now, they would be strangers or possibly even enemies.

Nathaniel was as close to a father as Will would ever have, but he was careful not to be fatherly. He tried to assume the role of a big brother more than anything, because that was safe where I was involved. It put no pressure on me. He was in love with me. I knew this now. But even after five years, I was not ready to open my heart to anyone, even to someone so close to it, even to someone who helped raise a child by another man. The only love in my life now was my son, and I loved him more than I could ever love anything. He was my world.

Still, I missed Nathaniel. He had finished copying Antares\s grimoire and now searched for a way to summon the archangel Michael so that the book could be passed to a proper relic guardian. Nathaniel didn\ want that responsibility. He was strong, but he wasn\ built to fight as I was. He didn\ live for it the way I did.

Soon I would teach Will what I knew so he could learn to protect himself. Already I could feel his power flare sometimes, when he was happy or throwing a baby tantrum. He would have immense power one day when he was grown. It was guaranteed. I had great power for a young reaper, and Bastian\s strength was terrifying. Will had Grigori lords close to him on both sides of his family tree: Antares and Aldebaran. Constance had told me Gabriel must have known a child between Bastian and me would have a great future, but everyone\s definition of great varied.

Will had the potential to be a celebrated fighter, perhaps one of the most powerful of our kind, but I wished he could live a life of peace. For the angelic, though, that was impossible. Not if there were powerful demonic reapers like Bastian gathering support against the angelic and making serious efforts to destroy the Preliator, our last chance at preserving the human race. The future looked grim and we needed those who were destined to be great. Perhaps Gabriel believed my little Will could one day determine our final victory or defeat in this war with the demonic. It was hard to believe now, as I watched him pull earthworms out of the ground at my feet, that he would be a warrior on the front lines someday.

I thought of Bastian and prayed he would never get his hands on the grimoire or Nathaniel\s copy. He had Belial\s dagger and I feared the dark purpose he had in store for it, which was likely related to what he\d intended to use the power of the grimoire for, an ingredient to a spell he needed that was contained within those ancient pages. Inevitably, dark days were coming.

I stopped singing as a warm, familiar power came rolling across the ground and combing through the grass. I looked up to see Nathaniel emerge from the Grim and land beside my little cabin on the hill, his wings shimmering copper in the sunlight. He waved and I waved back before hugging Will tight to me.

’’Look, sweetheart,’’ I said to him softly, and pointed toward the house. ’’Look who has returned.’’

William twisted in my arms and peered up the hill. His green eyes brightened and he smiled toothily. ’’Nathaniel!’’

He wrestled away from me and bounded toward Nathaniel, who stooped to his knees to embrace my child. I watched them together, listened to their voices as the wind carried toward me their exchange of tales of adventure and mysterious guardians in faraway lands, and I bit my lip, falling into thought. Perhaps the future wasn\ so grim after all and our stories were just beginning.

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