Shadows In The Silence Page 111

’’Actually,’’ Marcus said, untangling himself from her and peeling her hands off him. He eased toward me while she pouted. He dipped his head close to mine and said in a low voice, ’’Do you mind stepping out for like, two hours?’’

Behind him, Kate guffawed. ’’Two hours? You wish!’’

I slapped a hand on his shoulder. ’’Sure, man. You got it. I could use some fresh air.’’

I headed out of the dorm room, shutting the door behind me, and I wandered toward the elevator. The hall was packed with students and parents who hadn\ quite finished their moving in yet. I stuffed my hands in my pockets as I stepped into the elevator. It rumbled slowly to the main floor and then the doors whined open, allowing everyone to pour out ahead of me. I strolled through the lobby and out into the night. The air was crisp and the sky was clear and bright with stars, though they were a little difficult to see among the haze of city lights.

I meandered past the tall dorm buildings, through the parking lots, weaving around vehicles, and aimed for the field beyond the small woods. It was interesting how this bustling, sprawling city just ended so abruptly and became farmland. on one side of the road, it was a busy university campus and on the other, there were fields and trees and lots of deer.

A blinding flash of light above my head made me squint and shield my eyes. It was unlike anything I\d ever seen before: a falling star, hurtling toward the earth. I watched in awe, slack-jawed, and the hairs on my arms rose, tickling me. My mind raced with possibilities, but I had no answer for what I\d just witnessed. So I ran, unsure of exactly what I was following, but certain it was no natural phenomena. The energy erupting from this thing was enormous, and whatever it was, good or evil, it was dangerous.

The falling star disappeared over the tops of the trees and the ground gave a tremendous roar and shook like a quake so strong that I was knocked to the ground. I picked myself off the grass and kept going. I had to know what it was. I had to know. I was lost in a daze, blinded on every side of me but up ahead. Nothing mattered in the world but finding this fallen star.

I darted through the trees, my shirt catching on twigs, but I didn\ stop. The woods began to thin and then I found myself in a clearing, gazing at a smoking, shallow crater in the earth.

I didn\ know when I\d stopped breathing, but suddenly I gasped for air. Heat and energy rolled across the grass toward my feet. I crept forward, sliding down the gentle slope into the crater, staring at the thing in the center of it that emanated a brilliant light and slowly unfolded itself before me.

Wings the color of moonlight and gold unfurled themselves from around a small, crouched feminine figure. The light coming from her was blazingly bright, but I never squinted, only stared wide-eyed with an overwhelming hope and careful joy. The girl pushed herself off the ground, her strange white clothing luminous beneath her wings. She lifted her head to look at me from beneath a waterfall of hair the color of cherries and dark chocolate and flame, and I fell to my knees.

She smiled, a gesture so beautiful and sweet that I felt tears sting my eyes. ’’Hello, Will.’’

’’Impossible,’’ I breathed, unable to compose myself. I was shaking all over as if I were freezing, but her light was warm and gentle.

She stepped close to me, folding her wings back. She lifted a hand and my body rose unbidden to my feet. I reached up with trembling hands to touch her face.

’’You\ e real,’’ I said, staring at her in wonder. ’’This isn\ a dream. Gabriel, you\ve returned.’’

Her smile became something that was very human and held a thousand secrets.

’’Just call me Ellie.’’

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