Chapter Twenty Nine - Civility Applies
"And where have you been?" James almost screamed at him.
Alex's eyes narrowed. Anger washed away some of the heart-wrenching pain as he entered the compound and saw his best friend and sidekick. Behind James, Josie stood with her arms crossed, her eyes narrowed but in full concern.
He tilted his head till he was looking at the fuming man in the eye.
"None of your business."
James glanced at Josie in exasperation for help, even, but the female angel just shrugged.
"Just leave him alone. He had the freedom to do whatever the hell he wants, James." She said firmly.
"And what would your brother say to that, Josie?" James demanded.
Josie's eyes widened in anger. She jerked her chin up and stared daggers at James.
"Are you actually stupid enough to think that MY BROTHER could ever threaten me? And what is wrong with you anyway? Since you came back you have been behaving like a freaking hurricane. Leave Alex alone, leave everyone alone, James."
James' wings burst out like flames, he flew at Josie, whose pink wings spread out behind her, lifting her off the floor. The two angels clashed in midair, about to start a fight.
Alex launched himself upward when his wings burst free automatically. He hovered between them.
"For God's sake, stop behaving like kids, both of you! It makes me so freaking tired. Can we just... talk like civilized people?"
Josie touched back down on the floor instantly, while James fluttered down. Alex watched him take several deep breaths, and then James came toward him in a few strides and wrapped him in a one-arm hug. His breath tickled Alex's ear as he whispered to him.
"I am sorry. Forgive me. I was crazy from worrying about you. You… are you okay?"
"No. Everything is as bad as it could be." Alex shrugged off his leather jacket and tossed it aside. "Where is Master Holland?"
"He is with Roger, discussing the Archangels' Order." Josie replied softly. "What's wrong, Alex?"
Alex drew a deep breath, and let it out slowly.
"I think we will all return Heaven very soon." He said curtly, without emotion. "Roger will get what he always wanted. And all of you, you will never have to suffer the punishment with me ever again."
"Alex, you are not making sense." Josie looked to James, who frowned back at her. She stepped forward and reached out to take Alex's arm.
He steppes backward, drawing back his arm so Josie wouldn't touch him.
"Don't. Freaking. Try. And. Make. Things. Worse." He gutted out the words through his teeth.
Josie recoiled, and James stepped forward. He grabbed Alex's arms, and then the two men were crashing onto the wall, their eyes black as night, Alex's ones full of anger and James' ones full of violent frustration.
"God help me, Alex Giovanni, if you don't start talking right now, I swear..." James' hands dragged up to Alex's throat and he wound his hands around it. "I swear I will twist your freaking throat and give you some time to calm yourself in a coma, AND THEN you will talk to us."
Alex glared at him. He reached up, and with his angelic strength he pried James' fingers back from his neck.
"Oh, so you are threatening me now, are you? Fine. Go on. Threaten me. Kill me. Whatever. Just do it quickly so I don't have to put up with your bullshit ever again."
Josie's hand laid on James' shoulders. Alex felt so annoyed, so impossibly angry, that he could kill anyone in his path right now. Especially the man in front of him or the woman who was looking at him so calmly, so speculatively.
"James. Let him go. Just let him go first."
"Josie, he's not… he's crazy."
"He is NOT crazy. Just let go of him and maybe we can try to calm ourselves down."
James looked at her, who nodded encouragingly as if to say "trust me", and let Alex go with a growl.
Alex pulled his leather jacket back up to his shoulders, and crossed his arms.
Josie was the first to speak.
"She left you."
It was a statement, a harmless statement, but it burned him and stabbed at him as if it was a knife digging into his wound.
He said nothing.
She went on.
"Alex, you have destroyed yourself for her. You have almost lost everything because of this one woman... This Archangel. It has been so long, Alex. The Archangels have their Order. She had chosen a Mate to bring back to Heaven, and you have helped her. They will reward you. And you will be loved again... By God, and maybe even another woman who is more worthy of you. You have been killing yourself because you are still chasing after a woman who could never completely love you. For God's sake, Alex, how many times must we go through this freaking conversation?"
He turned away from her before replying.
"It's not because I love her. Not really." He said softly. "Of course there are always women out there who could love me a hundred thousand times more than her. But I don't merely love her. I am HERS. She took control over me, she makes everything feel so… so right. Suppose I choose another woman. I will love her, and she will love me, forever. But even when I kiss her, I will think of Anastasia. When we make love, I will imagine Anastasia in her place. She took over me, long ago, before I even noticed. It all happened when I first saw her, I didn't know I was obsessed and in love with her, until she was cast down as well. If only I could show her all the history between me and her, and if she still refuses me, it would be because she really doesn't care for me. But now… She doesn't know much except that she is a higher angel and I am a mere angel, and that Archangel Luke was meant for her… Damn it, she left before I could tell her the truth. It's just…it's not mere love. It's… it's a dependence."
A tear slid down Josie's cheek, and she brushed it away with a finger. She took a deep breath, and nodded.
"And you couldn't love anyone else, even if that someone else is a woman who would give her life for you."
He turned towards her.
"Until Anastasia cease to exist, I will always chase after her. If she loved another man now, I will not care. I will keep loving her again and again, deeper and deeper, UNTIL she chooses me again."
Josie covered her mouth with a trembling hand, and James instantly flashed to her side. He drew her into his arms, and looked toward Alex.
"What can we do to help?"
Alex raised his eyes towards him.
"This is my fight. I am not including you in this. Any of you."
"Look, you have chosen to love her forever, and the only way you would get better is to bring her back to you." James said, patting Josie on the back.
"She is in love, James." He said coldly. "A woman deeply in love. She will never blink an eye at me, when she is in love with a man who loved her as much as I do."
"No one, I repeat, NO ONE, could love Archangel Anastasia as much as Alex Giovanni." James said firmly. "We will go look for her together, and tell her the whole story. Then she could officially choose who she wanted to be with."
Alex hesitated. He didn't need anyone's help. Really, he didn't. He could go track down Anastasia himself and explain everything to her. He will keep her within his sight at all times when he brings her back to the Memory Dream of 1600. He will keep the Masked bastard, whoever he is, away from Anastasia. But somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew he couldn't do everything by himself. He needed someone to keep Anastasia on track, to guard her from any intruder when he brings her back to 1600. And Josie and James had volunteered. The three of them could protect her, at least until she made her choice.
He let out a defeated sigh.
"Fine. Fine, you can come with me. You both can come because I trust you. But we mustn't let your brother know, Josie." He turned to a finally dry-faced Josie. "If he knows, he would keep Anastasia away from us. We must have someone to keep him from learning where we are. James, could you-"
"No. Roger Carter is too clever for me. He would see through any excuse I make up. How about Josie? I mean, she is in an awkward position, being the Leader of the Angels' sister. We can't have her running around. And she doesn't like Anastasia much and-"
"I happen to LOVE Anastasia. I just don't like her when she is being bossy in Heaven." Josie cut James off smoothly. She bounded forward. "I won't stay behind with my brother. He never trusted me. I should know, I am his freaking sister."
"May I be of service, perhaps?" A cool voice spoke from behind them.
The three angels whirled around, to find Master Holland standing with his hands folded behind them.
"Yes. I overheard what you are going to do, and I think I agree with you." He said smoothly, stepping forward. "I will keep Roger at bay. Perhaps you don't know, but I happen to be a pretty good liar. What's more, I would love to see Anastasia back in our world. So, I will cover for you, and you can go after the Archangel with ease."
The three angels were stunned. They looked at each other suspiciously. But Alex knew he could trust Holland. Besides, Holland is not an angel, he could easily kill him if Holland betrayed them. Yes, that would be best.
"Fine. Okay. Thank you, Master Holland. We must go at once."
"You won't find her that easily, Alex." Holland cut him off. "Louis Vincenti had decided to go into hiding with her, to keep her away from you."
Anger boiled instantly beneath his skin. He clenched his fists.
"Are they still within the city?"
"For the moment, yes. But I have a bad feeling that Vincenti will elope with her. And we can't let that happen."
Alex turned to his two companions.
Wings burst out from the three angels' back, pink, white, and gray. They faced the open window without another word, and bent their knees. Then they launched themselves into the evening sky, their wings a blur behind their backs.