CHAPTER EIGHT

Elizabeth

I had to be absolutely certain that Lucy was asleep before I dared to leave the apartment. The first time I sneaked passed her bedroom, I heard quiet murmuring within, and tip-toed away before she could detect me.

She could never know my secret.

I sat on our comfy red couch, pretending to flip through a magazine while I waited for the telltale creak of Lucy's mattress while she adjusted herself. What's taking her so long, anyway? I wondered, twirling one of my curly golden locks around my finger.

Annoyed, I swept my gaze over our cozy living room. Our couch was set in the middle of the room, about ten feet away from the seventy-two inch LED flatscreen TV Lucy insisted on having mounted on the wall. Beneath was a beautiful white-stone electric fireplace that I insisted on having.

The rest of the room was decorated with two floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, paintings, potted plants, and a couple of tasteful rugs covering the dark hardwood flooring.

I stole a glance at my watch: 10:03. I was going to be late if she didn't go to sleep soon. If mine was the room next to the hallway instead of hers, I'd be gone already. Looking longingly at the hallway that led to the door, I sighed. It couldn't be helped.

Finally, finally, I heard her rustling around, then her bed creaked. I waited for about twenty more minutes before I stood, just to be safe. This was really something she could never know.

In my socks, I crept passed her bedroom door, down the hall, and to the door. I gingerly picked up my tennis shoes, threw a quick glance over my shoulder, and slipped out into the corridor. I sighed in relief when the door closed with a nearly soundless click. I was out!

I dug my key from the pocket of my puffy down jacket, locked the door, and backed away, afraid that the slightest sound would awake the Changed. She was eerily alert for such a young girl. I was centuries old, and yet I still failed to wake to loud noises, much less quiet ones.

I juggled in my mind what would be safer to take: the stairs or the elevator. The stairs made echoes with each normal footfall, and I really couldn't waste my time taking baby steps. On the other hand, the elevator had a really loud ding and annoying music.

I chewed on my lip for a moment, torn. The stairs might be a better choice. But the elevator...oh! Frustrated, I moved to the stairway door. I winced when the latch clicked, but I heard no sounds. I continued my tedious journey.

Maybe I should just tell her, I considered briefly while I slid my feet into my shoes. No, no...she'd never understand.

I took the first few steps down, sliding my hand down the sleek steel banister. I stopped suddenly, a thought occurring to me. I looked at the banister. Maybe...

I hopped on it, letting my body race down the railing, giddiness overtaking me for a moment. Why hadn't I ever thought of this before?

In seconds, I reached the bottom. I raced out the door, my heartbeat speeding up as I breathed in the cold night air. It had been so many years since...

I ran. I didn't want to waste any time dwelling on it when I could have it in minutes. So I ran as fast as my improved body could go. Soon I can...so soon...

I sprinted across the bridge, passed Lucy's school with the peculiar fig trees, into the woods behind it. Into the heart of the forest I went, the anticipation killing me but forming butterflies in my stomach, a flush on my cheeks, bringing me back to my youth.

Finally, I came to the agreed-upon spot: a tiny clearing next to the giant river snaking through the trees. The grass here was more alive than anywhere else, since almost nobody came to this area. It was supposed to be haunted. I'd never seen a ghost here, though.

I looked around, my heart falling when I didn't see—

"You are late."

I gasped, whipping around, my curls flying. I pushed them out of my face, so eager to see him that I didn't care how silly I looked.

And there he was, in all of his hard-bodied, golden-eyed glory. His thumbs were hooked in his jeans, and he was leaning up against a pine tree. His frown faded into an absolutely gorgeous smile, and my heart melted. "Gabriel," I breathed. "Oh, Gabriel...!"

I stood still, frozen in place, wanting this moment to end and last forever at the same time.

He took one step toward me, and I shot forward like a bullet, straight into his arms. He crushed me to him, turning his face into my hair, and I felt like I could breathe again after ages of suffocating.

"Elizabeth," he murmured into my ear. "My love, my heart..."

I leaned back in his embrace to look at him again. He smiled down at me, tucked a curl behind my ear. I smiled back, my eyes filling with tears.

"Gabriel, it's been so long, I—"

He silenced me with a kiss. As his wonderful lips slid over mine, my heart leaped with joy. Finally, finally, I was in his arms again.

We kissed for a while, leaning against that tree, bathed in the moonlight. These moments between us, these forbidden meetings...these were the core of my living. I needed these brief embraces to go on. He, an Angel of Heaven, was my heart. I loved him.

Eventually, he gently pulled away, pressing a kiss to my forehead before nudging me back. "I must leave," he informed me, looking like he wanted to do anything but.

"Please, a minute more," I begged, though I knew it was useless. He would go, and I would stay. I knew I should be satisfied with the precious time we had, but I couldn't help but want more. The simple fact was that he was an Angel, and even though we hadn't gone beyond a few stolen kisses, he always paid for his disobedience to the Throne.

He cradled my cheek in his palm for a moment, his eyes full of longing and regret. "I love you."

A tear slid down my cheek as I whispered, "And I, you."

I closed my eyes, not wanting to see him go. He sighed once. And then he was gone.

(So what do you think of Elizabeth? Is she being immature and childish, and is her and Gabriel's love wrong? Or is her life unfair, and does she deserve this piece of happiness? Let me know! I'm so excited to find out what you think!)