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Love of the Damned - Chapter Twenty Two

She went with the Hooded Stranger... Yet where would he lead her? When she discovered the answer, she also needed to make a choice between what she wanted, and what she needed.
Chapter Twenty Two: A Broken Triangle

Dream Sequence, Year 1600, the Angels' Gathering

Anastasia gasped as she saw the hooded figure waiting for her. She shot a glance at the Archangel Luke, and found he hadn't noticed him. Luke was too busy looking at her and making small talk. He didn't notice the Stranger until they almost walked into the hooded man. (or angel, Ana didn't know)

The Stranger grabbed Ana's arm as she almost tumbled in her surprise, steadying her. Then Luke's eyes finally rested on him. Something seemed to make his eyes burn. He immediately shoved Ana backward, placing himself between the cloaked man and her.

"Who are you? What are you doing in the Angels' Gathering? Are you even invited?"
The hooded figure seemed to study him, sizing him up, then he shrugged and spoke softly. His voice was like syrupy honey to Ana's ears.

"Forgive me, Your Grandness. I am not here to cause trouble. Rather, I am here to protect."

Luke raised his eyebrows. "Oh? And, who, may I ask, are you supposed to be protecting?"

"The woman behind you, of course, Your Grandness. You see, she is not supposed to be here."

Anastasia started and Luke shot her a surprised glance. Then he shielded her more forcefully.

"You are not going to take her away, not while I am here. If you leave now, Sir, I will not tell Archangel Gabriel about you."

The Stranger seemed amused at Luke's threat, he spread his palms open.
"I am here for Anastasia, and I am not leaving without her. I am protecting her. I repeat, she is not supposed to be here. She is not who you think she is, Archangel Luke, and she knows it. She is only wondering how she could get away from here. And I am here for her. I am leading her to safety."

Luke let out a bark of laughter, and Anastasia suddenly realized that the Stranger was from the same world as she is, the 21st century. And just when she was getting scared that she would be stuck in this dream forever, here he is. But could she trust him? What if this was some kind of trick?

The Stranger turned his hood towards her.
"Ana. You know me. Come with me. You need to get out of here."
Luke stepped in front of Ana.
"You are crazy." He growled. "I will be damned if I let her go with you."
"Yet you have no choice, Archangel." The Stranger chuckled. "She is not your lovely Anastasia. She is ANA. My Ana. The Anastasia you love is not her."
"How dare you address an Archangel like this?" Luke raised his voice. His wings spread out behind him, and he pushed Anastasia backward. "You are not taking her away. Not even over my dead body."

"Then I am sorry, Ana," the Stranger extended his hand. "Let's go. Now."
Without thinking, Ana stepped out from Louis' reach and lunged herself towards the Stranger, noticing with a jolt that something was pricking familiarly on her back. Something feathery, as usual.

The hooded Stranger caught her hand and then his arms were around her. Strong and safe arms. She put her arms around his neck, and then black wings folded themselves over her. She could hear Louis let out a surprised roar, and moved to take her, but the Stranger's sleek, black wings were safely around her, locking themselves around both the Stranger's body, and hers.

She looked up at the Stranger's hood, and felt warmth surging through her, she couldn't help feeling so safe.

"Can I trust you?" She whispered without realizing what she was saying.
The Stranger tilted up her face.
"You can trust me with your life, Anastasia."

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Anastasia awoke with two voice shouting at each other. She reached with her eyes closed for Alexander, but she was alone on the bed.

Then someone put his arms around her and lifted her off the bed, placing her behind him, as if he was sure that the other who was shouting at him will hurt her.
She opened her eyes groggily, and then was wide awake when she saw- Louis and Alex bellowing at each other.

"How could you be sleeping with her? With HER?" Louis was shouting, his darkly gorgeous face pale with rage.

Alexander was glaring venomously at him. He was the one who had lifted her out of the bed, it seemed. Ana wanted to stop them to sort things out, for God's sake.
"Even if I did sleep with her, Louis Vincenti, that is none of your freaking business. She allowed me-"

Louis turned his gaze, bewildered, at Ana.
"You INVITED him to BED?"
Ana opened her mouth, but Alex squeezed her hand.
"No. Let this crazy bastard talk."
"No, I want to hear the truth from Ana." Louis almost screamed. "Ana is under my protection, and-"

Alex laughed a dark, cruel laugh that made a shiver run down Ana's back.
"Your PROTECTION, you jealous son of a bitch? Are you her roommate or her father? Either way," He squeezed Ana's hand again. "I will never hurt her. Vincenti, you are just a freaking jealous guy who is in her way. So what if I am in her freaking bed? You don't believe that she has enough honor to not let things go astray? Or are you assuming that she will have sex with anyone who-"

"Okay, that's enough." Ana had to stop both of them before things got too far. She stepped between them. "What the hell is going on with the two of you?"
Louis breathed heavily, but his eyes still burned angrily.

"I went up here and found that he is sleeping beside you. I thought, I thought that-"
"He thought that I took you, apparently." Alex smiled coldly. "And why would it concern him, come to think of it? He is not your boyfriend, even if he had kissed you and maybe-"

"I happen to love her." Louis cut him off.
Ana gasped, and Alex went still. Yes, she knew that Louis loved her, and of course, she is in love with him too. But hearing him say it in front of Alexander, who she had KISSED behind Louis' back… it was like she was betraying both of them at the same time.

Alexander's eyes bored into hers.
"Did you tell him you love him?"
"Alex, I-"
"Did you, Anastasia?"
Ana drew a deep breath.
"Yes, I love him. Because he is direct with his freaking feelings and have nothing to hide. I told you I am in love with him, and that I won't choose an imaginary lover over you. Didn't you listen?" Ana shot back.

"But to face him now, and to KNOW that you have said you love him… it kills me, Ana. It kills me more than anything." Alexander whispered.
Ana's heart throbbed. She was so sorry. So sorry for the both of them. So sorry that she lost control and kissed Alexander and practically led him on. Led him on to believe that she… loved him.

She sank to the floor and caught Alex's cold hand.
"I am sorry," was all that she could say.
Louis was beside her and had put his arms around her.
"You have no reason to be, Ana. Now let's get out of here."
"No." Alex said quietly, dangerously. He thrust Ana's hand away and stepped beside Louis. "You and I are not finished yet, Vincenti."
"Oh, but we are. She is finished with you." Louis said back. He helped her up. "And we are going. So why don't you take off with those lovely wings of yours and leave her alone?"

Alex's eyes widened, and Ana's eyes snapped toward her best friend.
"How did you know…?" She said feebly.
Louis ignored her, but pointed out the door to Alex.
"This is OUR house. Now get out, Alexander Giovanni."
Alexander leaped towards Louis, and as the two boys clashed, Ana stumbled back as a vision shot across her head-

The figure in the white robe was back, and he was holding the silver sword, clashing it with the figure in the black robe. Both of them had wings spread out behind their backs. Snow white wings and sleek black wings, gleaming under the cold, pale moonlight.

"Ana!"
She snapped back into reality, and found herself standing between the two fighting boys, stretching out her arms to both of them. Both of them had fists raised in the air, and if Ana didn't move NOW, they would've hurt her.

"Ana. Get away from there." Alexander said slowly. "This doesn't concern you."
"Doesn't concern me, Alexander?" She repeated without knowing what she was saying. "You guys are fighting over ME. And it is so freaking pointless, the both of you. I haven't done anything to make you screaming at each other over who should love whom. I am so sick of-"

"Anastasia." Alex warned.
"Don't talk to her like that." Louis defended her. "You started this. Ana made her choice, and if you can't live with the fact that she will never be yours, that is your freaking problem, Giovanni."

Alexander stared venomously at Louis, then back at Ana, who was still standing in the middle, her eyes locking with his.
He was the first to lower his eyes. A look of utter pain twisted his features.
"I am sorry. I didn't know you felt that way, Ana. I thought I could change your mind, but if you are really in love with this… this guy-" He gestured to Louis. "Then I hope you both will be happy together. I will never bother you again, Ana." He walked over to her, took her hand and raised it to his trembling lips. "I am sorry I caused you so much trouble. Be happy. Promise me."

"Alex, I-" She began but he shook his head.
"My time loving you is up, Ana. I held on to it for as long as I could, but now… now it's time. My feelings for you will always be the same, but I promise you in return: You will never see me again." She moved to touch his face, but he spun around and was gone in the blink of an eye.

She turned back to Louis, who was watching her nervously. Then she sank down onto the floor.
"Ana. God, Ana." Louis was beside her, and he put his arms around her. "It's okay. It's okay, Ana, I am here."

She was not sobbing. She had no energy for that. She just curled herself into a ball and rocked to and fro. Louis tightened his hold on her, murmuring softly into her ears.

But she was not listening. She could only see how painful Alexander had looked when he left her. And she was the reason he was hurt. But what could she do? How could she love someone who didn't love her? Who COULDN'T possibly love her? Besides, she was not going to chase after Alex, not now, not when he was so freaking final, God forbid.

Also it was undeniably her own damn fault.

She couldn't stand it anymore. She was the worst lover in history. She couldn't think… she would only destroy everyone she loves if she thinks ever again.

Then Louis' gorgeous face swam back into her focus, and his blue eyes were dark with concern. And with unsuppressed love and devotion. He cupped her cheek, his palm felt so warm and assuring. She leaned in to his touch, and brushed her thumb over down his cheek to his lower lip. Seeing his fiery, wanting blue eyes, the pain she felt for hurting Alex, the GUILT, ebbed a little away. She had chosen Louis, and Louis had chosen her. Maybe this was the way it was supposed to be among the three of them. Maybe, just maybe, she could forget Alexander, and the dreams, and the visions, and love Louis with her whole heart.

The heated kiss she shared with Alexander in the bar… from that kiss she knew that he had wanted her, even loved her. But now… it's all over.

Louis took her hand and pulled her into his arms. His arms came around her, and his lips pressed upon hers. She closed her eyes, as desire, guilt and shame washed over her.

Alexander…
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