Ok, this is a still being worked upon. There will be changes so if anything doesn’t work for any reason, or there are mistakes, bear that in mind. It will obviously be fixed for the final copy, but I thought you might all like a Sneak peek;
Of Blood and Feathers Chapter 1 (unfinished obv!)
“Ok, to sum up my life in thirty seconds…uh…this could be hard, but here we go; My boyfriend is an angel. Not in the sense that he’s a sweetheart, though he is, I mean in the celestial, messenger of God kinda way. I’m mortal. This causes plenty of problems in the whole mortal/immortal side of things, but we deal with it as best we can. Last year Raziel was kidnapped and tortured by a Nephil…”
“What’s a Nephil?” The therapist looked over her glasses at me with a raised eyebrow.
I had known this was a bad idea.
“A Nephil is a child of a human and an angel, though don’t ask an angel about them as they’re still convinced Nephilim don’t really exist. Anyway! Raziel was kidnapped. I was trapped in a mausoleum by the Nephil. I was rescued by Barachiel, another angel. Lucifer helped me find Raziel and Barachiel who was also kidnapped.” I caught my breath before continuing. I could reel it all off like it didn’t bother me anymore, but it did.
“They were in a house on an empty estate, tied and bound, wings hacked off etc etc. I went in, freed them, Phanuel appears, saves us all, the end. At least it wasn’t. No one found the stupid Nephil and it, or them, has now started a cult.”
The therapist pinched the bridge of her nose and looked at me in concern.
“Elora, are you on any illegal drugs? You know this is a safe environment and anything you say in here will go no further.”
Yeah right, I can see her mentally dialling the funny farm right now, but it’s ok. I know how to get out of straight jacket.
“Nope, never even smoked a cigarette.” I smiled winningly at her and fluttered my eyelids a little.
“Are you on any other medication; prescription or otherwise?”
I shook my head irritably. I had known this would happen. As much fun as it is messing with a therapist’s head, the questions are always the same. This woman was a cliché stereotype. She even had a black leather couch. No one actually had those except on TV. The art that was on the walls was the kind supposed to evoke calm and peace. It just irritated me. Did I want to find shapes that weren’t there in ink blot tests?
“So, let us start again. Your boyfriend…Arzeal?” Her voice was nasal, her tone clipped. She evidently had heard her fair share of ‘crazy’ stories, but was past the point where she pretended to care. That annoyed the hell out of me as I knew how much she charged by the hour.
“Raziel.” I said, trying to sound reasonable, though this whole thing was a joke.
“Raziel…he is an angel?” She asked in a condescending manner, looking at me over her designer glasses, analysing my every gesture and tone. I nodded, solely to annoy her. How much can you read into a nod?
“And his friend Barkel…” She flipped through her notes, looking up what she had written previously – probably with MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER scrawled across it in huge letters.
“Barachiel.” I said slowly.
People always struggled with his name, but I couldn’t understand why. Maybe it was just because I was used to the angels and their poly syllabic names.
“Yes. He is an angel too?” I suspected she was attempting to trip me up in some way by repeating the facts back to me, to see if this was all a delusion that I had made up to get some attention and that I would mess up when she questioned them.
“Yup.” I rested my head back on the couch and took deep healing breaths.
It creaked disconcertingly, the leather squealing against my movements. This room had clearly been designed for looks rather than comfort. Barachiel would have a field day with the décor.
Just because a person might be crazy, doesn’t mean they’re stupid. I just hoped she didn’t talk to everyone else like this, all the people who really needed her help. She was a condescending, self righteous…
“And you are friends with Lucifer?” She struggled with the last word, probably being assaulted by images of red skin and pitchforks as I had been before I got to know him properly- criminally attractive and charisma incarnate…
“Can anyone really be friends with Lucifer?” I knew she didn’t like it when I answered questions with questions, but she had been doing it to me for the last half an hour.
I wanted to punch her, but I didn’t think Raziel or Barachiel would approve. Violence was against just about everything they believed in, but this woman was really testing my patience.
She pushed her glasses back up her nose and crossed her legs, pulling down the tight pencil skirt she wore. Hardly functional.
“Ok. So, a Nephil kidnapped and restrained you. Raziel and Barachiel were also kidnapped. Taken to different places?”
I nodded. She was using the kind of voice a person uses when talking to a baby. I avoided eye contact for fear of wanting to hurt her all the more, instead I stared at the wood panelling in the ceiling and tried to find shapes in the grain.
“Lucifer told you where they were and you rescued them?”
I nodded again.
“And how long have you been seeing angels and demons?” Her nasal voice grew higher as she mentioned ‘demons’.
I’m always amased at how blasé I am about the whole thing, it takes hearing it from someone else, or seeing their surprise, to really remind me how abnormal it is, but then, my life had never been all that sane to begin with. My parents were never home and made no secret of the fact that they hadn’t wanted me. I was practically raised by my best friend Thomas -devout Christian and all around good guy- whilst my mother and father travelled the world and lived it up, checking back occasionally to ensure I hadn’t killed myself or opened up a crack den in the house. I had seen them a grand total of three times this year, and each visit had only been long enough to grab clean clothes and check I hadn’t sold my mother’s jewellery. Thomas’ sister Sarah was my other pillar or sanity, but she was currently AWOL with the ‘love of her life’.
I wasn’t going to tell the therapist any of that, she’d have a field day.
“Nearly a year now. Raziel and I have been together that long, but we were separated for a long time, when the Nephil had him.” It was still an open wound, and talking about it just adding salt to the mix.
“Ok, and how can I help?”
I shrugged. I didn’t think she’d be impressed if I told her the truth. She couldn’t help. Raziel just thought it would be a good idea to talk to another human about all this. Barachiel was on standby to wipe her memory afterwards, probably enjoying every second of this, listening intently and giggling to himself.
“Do you want to stop seeing them?” She asked, clearly struggling with what to say and how to proceed, what drugs would be best and would electroshock therapy work?
“No, I love Raziel. Maybe you could click your fingers and make the Nephil…-though there may be more than one, so I suppose it’s Nephilim- go away though.” I said sarcastically, stealing the tone of voice from Barachiel, the one he reserved for pointing out the obvious to my dumb bunny mortal self.
“So the Nephilim were never captured and have now started a cult?” She began to speak more slowly, enunciating each word as though giving herself time to think up something appropriate to question me with, and how to link it back to either neglecting parents or some Freudian theory. The books that lined her shelves where there solely for that purpose.
“Yeah, it’s been all over the news.”
And it had. It was beginning to be quite a problem, the media and camera crews camped outside the compound, ravenous for details but unable to ascertain any. It had practically appeared overnight and was being dubbed ‘The Cult of the Chosen’ or some other crap. I had no idea as the reason or point, but I knew the Nephilim were behind it. Part of me wanted to go burn the place down and stop it/them hurting anyone else, the other part wanted to pretend it wasn’t happening as it meant his attention wasn’t on me or my loved ones.
“I have seen the news story about the cult, but you believe you know who is behind it?” She smiled falsely. I noticed she had lipstick on her teeth and felt a little better.
“I just told you that didn’t I?” I was struggling to keep the annoyance from my voice.
She took a deep breath and pushed a stray hair back into her painfully tight bun. Maybe if she let her hair down, she might be a bit nicer. It was scraped back so harshly there was a vein pulsing in her temple – though that could have been because I was annoying her.
“And you want to stop the cult?” She was scribbling on her papers madly, her hand almost catching fire with the speed. Her eyes flickered from me to the pad and back, over and over. I pretended I wasn’t interested in how she was psychologically dissecting me.
“You think little old me can stop a cult?” I put on a Southern American accent and batted my eyelids a little.
“Then I fail to understand how I can help.” Her manicured nails had began tapping on her leg. She was an angry cat, tail twitching, wanting to pounce.
“Very well, let us put all this aside for a moment; all the angels and demons, we will deal with those later. Tell me about yourself. How was your childhood? Would you say it was happy?”
Ah, it was all coming out now. Unfortunately this wouldn’t work.
“My parents are away on business a lot.”
She loved that. A reason for the insanity! Daddy didn’t love her enough and mummy wasn’t there. She began scribbling again with renewed vigour.
“I know you think this is all why I’m ‘crazy’ (I did the air commas just to annoy her.) but it isn’t. I don’t care about having no parents. Hell, if you like, we can dissect my sex life, or how as a kid I used to play by myself? The way I identify with all other species but my own? I still read comic books, I can’t cope with humans being affectionate with me, I hate myself, I’m mentally and emotionally at least 5 years behind everyone I go to school with, I’m neurotic, melodramatic and have a caffeine addiction. Take your pick. Would you like me to find pictures that don’t exist in ink blots?” I got to my feet and crossed my arms across my chest.
“Someday some poor fool is going to come in here actually needing your help and all you can do is judge and put people in little categories. I would recommend you have a long hard think about your career choice.”
I left the room, closing the door softly as I guessed she was expecting a slam.
Barachiel was sat on the receptionist’s desk, invisible, to her at least. He was reading a trashy magazine over the receptionist’s shoulder, his long legs dangling over the edge, his highly shone patent leather shoes catching the light. It was a good thing the poor girl couldn’t see him, she would be smitten in an instant. Maybe I should have told the shrink about my inappropriate feelings for my other half’s best friend? I shook my head to clear the thoughts. It’s not fair on mortals that the angelic are so beautiful, so utterly unearthly, that I am enchanted every time I see one. No one could ever compare to my Raziel, but when he wasn’t around, it was easy to be dazzled. Barachiel didn’t help matters by being so damned vain that he always looked immaculate; his pinstriped suits neatly pressed, his golden hair never out of place, his eyes shining with life and amusement. I cleared my throat as he became more engrossed in the magazine.
He got to his feet and began applauding before entering the room I had just vacated.
He returned a few moments later.
“Too crazy for a shrink, Elora you have excelled yourself.”
I continued walking. I wasn’t going to have a conversation with someone the rest of the world couldn’t currently see. His long legs found it far too easy to keep up with my short ones.
“Very well, if it will help. Everyone will be able to see me once we leave the building.”
We stepped out into the cold November morning. The air held a chill, though the sun shone bravely. It was a beautiful day, even if it was heralding winter’s return. The trees were bare and covered in white crystals of frost. We hadn’t had any snow yet, but it could only be a matter of time.
“I told Raziel it was a waste of time.” I huffed, pulling my scarf around my neck, in no mood for the cold after having to deal with that self righteous…
Barachiel took my hand in his own and began swinging them as we walked. There are a lot of weird aspects to my life, holding hands with an angel that is not my boyfriend is just one of them. We had been through so much together, I hoped he would always be around, even if things were a little weird. Raziel must know how I felt, but made no mention of it. He was far too good for me, not least because he was an angel and raised to be good and virtuous, but because he was so patient and calm. I was hot headed, prone to tantrums and flying off the handle, threatening violence and doing stupid things before I had thought them through.
There wasn’t anything I could do to hide how I felt about anything, the angels had a direct link to my brain. There was no blocking them out, no matter how hard I tried, or how much I tried to think about nothing when they were around.
“Was it not worth it for my amusement?” Barachiel’s eyebrow was raised.
As haughty and superior as he could be, it was hard to stay mad at him. He also made me look good -though deeply inferior- decked out in his immaculately pressed, tailored suits, shoes shining like diamonds, his skin flawless and smooth. He was beautiful, but nothing on my Raziel.
“Ouch.” He flinched, reading my mind. “There are a lot of women who would disagree.” His voice was a verbal pout.
“I thought pride was a sin.” I said with a wicked grin.
“I am just stating facts, not being proud Elora.” He smiled, his long strides difficult for me to match.
I think he got a perverse pleasure out of spending time with me, it reiterated how perfect angels were and how mortals just paled in comparison.
“So cruel to your own species! I love it.” He grinned.
Barachiel was possibly the campest person I had ever met, human or immortal (with the exception of Lucifer). He was all about elaborate gestures and enforcing the magical ideas behind angels; puffs of smoke and clicking of heels to make things happen. He stopped a moment and looked me full in the face, his green eyes penetrating, the weird tickling feeling inside my skull as he searched my thoughts for something. It was almost normal to me now, though it felt different when each angel did it. Barachiel felt like a tickle, Lucifer a weird, though not unpleasant itch and Raziel felt like kisses.
“Elora, please, that is enough to make me violently sick.” Barachiel said covering his mouth at my thoughts.
“Then stay our of my head.” I said with a grin.
I could see myself reflected in his eyes; my nose pink with the cold, my long blondish hair a mess from lying on that stupid couch, my clothes a little mismatched but warm. I knew he looked upon me with fascination and affection, it was hard to hate myself when reflected there.
“So where are you taking me for lunch Elora?” Barachiel began walking again, being careful not to go too quickly for my short legs.
“Where would you like to go?”
“Conversation is so redundant, if only you could just pick the answers out of my mind.” He sniffed.
“I apologise for being so inferior Oh mighty Immortal.” Had we not been walking I would have executed a sweeping bow or curtsy. As it was, he knew I intended to do it and it was the thought that counts after all.
“How about your favourite place?” He said with a wicked grin.
Barachiel and I walked to the cafe we practically lived in.
Barachiel ordered, I paid and we sat at our usual table. It was nice to have a ‘usual’ table. Barachiel spent far too much time with me to be healthy and I knew it pained him to walk the mortal plane when he could be in heaven, but I appreciated it all the more because of that. Who would seriously pick this place over Heaven? But then, I wasn’t allowed to be in the know of a lot of the juicy stuff as it would cause my fragile little brain to spontaneously combust.
“So, we’ve been dancing around the subject for weeks, but what are we going to do about the Neph.” I asked, stirring sugar into my tea and blowing on it carefully. I was being purposely straightforward about it as I had found that he was unwilling to talk about it as the best of times, and could instantly read my intentions out of my brain anyway.
“YOU aren’t going to be doing anything. YOU are going to be behaving and staying out of trouble. YOU are going to be living your life, pretending to be just like every other oblivious little mortal.” He said in a bored voice. He was tired of this conversation.
“Ok, what are YOU going to do about the Neph?” I said with a heavy emphasis on ‘you’. He liked it when I put him above us mere mortals.
“I couldn’t possibly tell you.” Barachiel picked up his espresso and cupped it between his hands.
His eyebrow was raised in a challenge, he loved winding me up, in fact, I am almost positive it was his favourite hobby.
“My favourite hobby it spreading the word of God.” He said between sips of espresso.
“How then do you explain spending so much time with someone who only half believes?” I threw a sugar packet at him and smiled.
I believed in God. I believed in angels and demons and all the rest, but I wasn’t going to attend church and I wasn’t going to pray. I took issue with a lot of the things the church did in God’s name that couldn’t have been on his agenda. I also didn’t appreciate their ‘Do as I say but not as I do’ attitude. It was an argument I had had with my best friend, and devout Christian, Thomas a thousand times. He just couldn’t comprehend how I could meet angels and not become religious. I couldn’t understand how the angels had turned the other cheek when two of their own were in danger. Something wasn’t right. God’s will wasn’t being carried out, there was a whole tonne of conspiracies going on up there that would probably blow my mind. I was staying well out of it. I believed in God. I believed he was good and loving, not the vengeful deity that was always being mentioned. I would keep my version and leave the rest. I could worship in my own ways.
“Damage control.” He said with a smirk. “I stay around to ensure that you don’t spread your blasphemy, Lucifer lover.” It had started as teasing, but his tone sharpened towards the end.
Lucifer was a sore topic between us, understandably so. Lucifer was the epitome of evil as far as the angels were concerned, though he had been incredibly good to me. He was the reason I found Raziel and Barachiel in the first place. Had Barachiel had his way, I would have been brain addled and oblivious for the rest of my life and he would now be a smudge on the Neph’s carpet.
“I do not care if Lucifer did help you save us, you should not be vouching for him.” Barachiel’s nose twitched in annoyance.
I shrugged. This argument was old, a daily occurrence that I tried to avoid. If someone hasn’t hurt me or my loved ones personally, why would I dislike them? Lucifer had helped me save the most important person in the world to me. I would always be grateful.
“Just beware that there is ALWAYS a catch with him.” He sipped his espresso with a pout.
“Are you jealous because you think I like him more than you?” I said with a laugh.
Lucifer may well turn around and decide he wanted ‘payment’ for his services, maybe in the form of my soul, but I’d have to deal with that when it happened. I also suspected that Barachiel was far more powerful than he let on, and Lucifer wouldn’t mess with him.
Barachiel snorted in an un-angelic way.
“Elora, my world does not revolve around you and your opinions.” He said haughtily, his brows arched, his spine rigid.
“Good. Because you’re my second favourite angel.” I said as though placating a child.
“But of course.” Barachiel said into his espresso.
I sipped my tea and tried not to antagonise him further, biting my lip to hide the smile that he could probably read from my mind.
As a human, my relationship with the angels was a weird one. For so long I had wrestled with my faith or lack of, wondering what the truth was and if it even mattered. Was there a reason for it all? And if there was, did I really want to know it? Ignorance is bliss they say and I was quite content to amble through life without the secrets of the universe. That was something Barachiel could not understand. But then, he had been made to be God’s PR. Promoting God and spreading his love. The problem with this was that the earth was teeming with unbelievers. Church attendance was at an all time low with humanity asking awkward questions. Why does God allow us to suffer? Why is it all so hard?
I had always believed in God, but it was a selfish belief, one where I wanted someone to blame when things went wrong. It’s far easier than blaming yourself. Now I knew of angels, I knew God was real, but it didn’t really change much for me. Yes, it was a comfort to know there was a God, I just made sure I said thank you more often and knew not to blame him when life went a bit…
As a creature made for the sole purpose of being God’s messenger, Raziel was an abomination as far as most of the angels were concerned. An angel living with a mortal? Vile! Utterly repugnant etc etc. I didn’t pay much attention to it all. He made me happier than I ever thought it was possible to be. He gave me a reason to get up in the morning and was my purpose. If people (or angels) didn’t like that…well tough.
Barachiel was on the fence about the whole thing. He had been close to Raziel before we had met so was more…sympathetic, even if he couldn’t get his head around it. We had a weird friendship that had began whilst Raziel had been imprisoned by the Neph. Barachiel had kept an eye on me, wiping my memory of Raziel in what he thought was an act of kindness. Lucifer restored it (though I am fully aware a large chunk of the reasoning was that he wanted to annoy the angels.) and Barachiel kept me company as I pined for Raziel.
When he was kidnapped also, things were difficult. Lucifer and Thomas had kept me sane, the latter being the only mortal I had confided in about the whole hooha without having their memory wiped afterwards.
Thomas was also on the damage control team, he wanted nothing more than for me to believe. He was blissfully happy to meet a real angel. Phanuel ( the angel of hope) had stepped in after Raziel and Barachiel had been kidnapped, visiting Thomas in the process.
As much as I appreciated my celestial help, Thomas was all the more special due to the fact that his head hadn’t exploded when I had told him what was happening. He was amazing. Unfortunately Lucifer delighted in winding the poor boy up, causing him to faint more than once and making Thomas utterly paranoid for a short time.
It had been the weirdest of years, one of the best and one of the worst for a lot of reasons. One of the best was sat opposite me in silence, still having not forgiven me for my previous comments.
“Would another espresso put a smile on your face?” I asked with a raised eyebrow, an expression I had picked up from him.
“You think I am so easily bought?” He tried to hide the smile that was dancing at the corner of his lips.
Ó Copyright Lily Crussell 2012. All Rights Reserved