Disclaimer: I own nothing and make no money from this.
A/N: I appreciate any reviews.
IN THE BEGINNING, Luce read
Helston, England. September 1854.
"1854? Geez why are we reading about this? It was such a long time ago." Callie said a frown on her face.
The Angels however gasped with surprise, knowing what was coming.
Around midnight, her eyes at last took shape. The look in them was feline, half determined and half tentative all trouble. Yes, they were just right, those eyes. Rising up to her fine, elegant, brow, inches from the dark cascade of her hair.
"I don't understand how this has anything to do with any of the people in the room." Harry Price said a frown on his face.
Arriane frowned but said "I'm sure you will eventually,"
Daniel froze and looked at Luce with fear, what if Luce disappeared? What if something happened to her now, in this time-line.
He held the paper at arm's length to assess his progress. It was hard, "working without her in front of him, but then, he could sketch in her presence. Since he had arrived from London-no, since he had first seen her-he'd had to be careful always to keep her at a distance.
Luce frowned at this wondering who the man and woman was, trying to think about when she might have heard about people in 1854.
Every day now she approached him, and every day was more difficult than the one before. It was why he was leaving in the morning-for India, for the Americas, he didn't know or care. Wherever he ended up, it would be easier than being here.
"That didn't make any sense," Luce thought. It seemed as though this guy really cared about the girl, why would he leave?
Daniel grimaced and closed his eyes, remembering clearly what happened on that night. But opened them anyway wanting to hear this as much as he didn't want to know what was going on next.
He leaned over the drawing again, sighing as he used his thumb to perfect the smudged charcoal pout of her full bottom lip. This lifeless paper, cruel imposter, was the only way to take her with him.
Roland and Arriane looked at Daniel in a pitying way
Then, straightening up in the "leather library chair, he felt it. That brush of warmth on the back of his neck.
Her mere proximity gave him the most peculiar sensation, like the kind of heat sent out when a log shatters to ash in a fire. He knew without turning around: She was there. He covered her likeness on the bound papers in his lap, but he could not escape her.
His eyes fell on the ivory-upholstered settee across the parlor, where only hours earlier she'd turn up unexpectedly, later than the rest of her party, in a rose silk gown, to applaud the eldest daughter of their host after a fine turn at the harpsichord. He glanced across the room, out the window to the veranda, where the day before she'd crept up on him, a fistful of wild white peonies in her hand. She still thought the pull she felt toward him was innocent,
Luce blinked in surprise as she read about the peonies, she loved peonies; they were her absolute favorite flower. She wondered what connection those people in the books had with her and the people in this room.
that their frequent rendezvous in the gazebo were merely... happy coincidences. To be so naïve! He would never tell her otherwise-the secret was his to bear.
"Secret?" Harry, Doreen, Callie, Penn, and Luce thought at the same time.
"What secret?" Luce thought to herself frowning slightly before she continued to read.
He stood and turned, the sketches left behind on the leather chair. And there she was, pressed against the ruby velvet curtain, in her plain white dressing gown. Her black hair had fallen from its braid. The look on her face was one he'd sketched so many times. There was fire, rising in her cheeks. Was she angry? embarrassed? He longed to know, but could not allow himself to ask.
"What are you doing here?" He could hear the snarl in his voice, and regretted its sharpness, knowing she would never understand.
Luce shook her head, she hated it when people thought that she couldn't understand something; and once again wondering who these people were.
Daniel smiled sadly.
"I-I couldn't sleep," she stammered, moving toward the fire and his chair. "I saw the light in your room and then"-she paused, looking down at her hands-"your trunk outside the door. Are you going somewhere?"
"I was going to tell you-" He broke off. He shouldn't lie.
"No you shouldn't, whoever you are." Luce thought.
Arriane shook her head sadly, Daniel should know by now that the pull between him and Luce was irreversible, that nothing could keep them apart except of course for the curse. No matter what, they would find each other.
He had never intended to let her know his plans. Telling her would only make things worse. Already, he had let things go too far, hoping this time would be different.
"This time?" Luce, Callie and Penn thought.
She drew nearer, and her eyes fell on his sketchbook. "You were drawing me?"
Her startled tone reminded him how great the gap was in their understanding. Even after all the time they'd spent together these past few weeks, she had not yet begun to glimpse the truth that lay behind their attraction.
Harry and Doreen shared a look with one another wondering what this had to do with anyone in this room.
This was good-or at least, it was for the better. For the past several days, since he'd made the choice to leave, he'd been struggling to pull away from her. The effort took so much out of him that, as soon as he was alone, he had to give in to his pent-up desire to draw her. He had filled up his book with pages of her arched neck, her marble collarbone, the black abyss of her hair.
Luce sighed softly, wondering why somebody who clearly loved this girl would leave her.
Now, he looked back at the sketch, not ashamed at being caught drawing her, but worse. A cold chill spread through him as he realized that her discovery-the exposure of his feelings-would destroy her. He should have been more careful. It always began like this.
"Always began like what?" Luce thought.
"Warm milk with a spoonful of treacle," he murmured, his back still to her. Then he added sadly, "It helps you sleep."
"How did you know? Why, that's exactly what my mother used to-"
"I know," he said, turning to face her. The astonishment in her voice did not surprise him, yet he could not explain to her how he knew, or tell her how many times he had administered this very drink to her in the past when the shadows came, how he had held her until she fell asleep.
"Shadows?" Luce thought fearfully, wondering if they were the same kind of shadows that she saw.
Harry frowned curiously, before it seemed as though this boy or man had made it clear that he hadn't been in a relationship with this girl, but now it said in the past he would give her the special drink to her.
He felt her touch as though it were burning through his shirt, her hand laid gently on his shoulder, causing him to gasp. They had not yet touched in this life, and first contact always left him breathless.
"First contact," Harry and Doreen thought to themselves curiously, what did that mean?
Luce frowned; they had not yet touched in this life," what did that mean? She shook her head, maybe it was a typo or something.
"Answer me," she whispered. "Are you leaving?"
"Then take me with you," she blurted out. Right on the cue, he watched her suck in her breath, wishing to take back her plea. He could see the progression of her emotions settle in the crease between her eyes: She would feel impetuous, then bewildered, then ashamed by her forwardness. She always did this, and too many times before, he had made the mistake of comforting her at this exact moment.
"Always did this, like did it more than once? That didn't make any sense." Penn thought a frown on her face.
Luce and Callie were having similar thoughts.
"No," he whispered, remembering... always remembering... "I sail tomorrow. If you care for me at all, you won't say another word."
Cam shook his head wondering just how stupid he could be to even say that.
"If I care for you," she repeated, almost as if she were speaking to herself. "I-I love-"
"I have to say it. I-I love you, I'm quite sure, and if you leave-"
"If I leave, I save your life." He spoke slowly, trying to reach a part of her that might remember. Was it there at all, buried somewhere? "Some things are more important than love. You won't understand, but you have to trust me."
Luce frowned curiously, "save her life?" what did he mean? That didn't make sense to her.
Her eyes drilled into him. She stepped back and crossed her arms over her chest. This was his fault, too-he always brought out her contemptuous side when he spoke down to her.
Luce shook her head, she was like that too, when somebody spoke down to her.
"You mean to say that there are things more important than this?" she challenged, taking his hands and drawing them to her heart.
Harry and Doreen smiled at one another and squeezed each others hands.
Almost everybody in the room was smiling or thinking about a point in their life when they had felt love.
Oh, to be her and not know what was coming! Or at least to be stronger than he was and be able to stop her. If he didn't stop her, she would never learn, and the past would only repeat itself, torturing them both again and again.
The familiar warmth of her skin under his hands made him tilt his head back and moan. He was trying to ignore how close she was, how well he knew the feel of her lips on his, how bitter he felt that all of this had to end. But her fingers traced his so lightly. He could feel her heart racing through her thin cotton gown.
She was right. There was nothing more than this. There never was. He was about to give in and take her in his arms when he caught the look in her eyes. As if she'd seen a ghost.
Daniel closed his eyes tightly as though that would block out what he knew for sure would happen next.
She was the one to pull away, a hand to her forehead.
"I'm having the strangest sensation, " she whispered.
No-was it already too late?
Daniel's hand clenched into a fist at his side, too late, it was always too late.
Her eyes narrowed into the shape in his sketch and she came back to him, her hands on his chest, her lips parted expectantly. "Tell me I'm mad, but I swear I've been right here before... "
So it was too late. He looked up, shivering, and could feel the dark descending. He took one last chance to seize her, to hold her as tightly as he'd been yearning to for weeks.
As soon as her lips melted into his, both of them were powerless.
Almost everybody smiled at this, though the Angel's smile was more sad than anything.
The honeysuckle taste of her mouth made him dizzy. The closer she pressed against him, the more his stomach churned with the thrill and the agony of it all. Her tongue traced his, and the fire between them burned brighter, hotter, more powerful with every new touch, every new exploration. Yet none of it was new.
The room quaked. An aura around them started to glow.
"An Earthquake?" Harry thought to himself. But no, the room didn't show a, aura was it? And an EarthQuake didn't glow.
She noticed nothing, was aware of nothing, understood nothing besides their kiss. He alone knew what was about to happen, what dark companions were prepared to fall on their reunion. Even though he was unable to alter the course of their lives yet again, he knew.
The shadows swirled directly overhead, so close, he might have touched them. So close, he wondered whether she could hear what they were whispering. He watched as the cloud passed over her face. For a moment he saw a spark of recognition growing in her eyes.
Then there was nothing, nothing at all.
Luce let out a surprise breath, curious about what had happened. What was with the Aura thing? And the Quaking of the room?
The room that everyone was in was silent for several minutes each person thinking about what they had read and for Harry, Doreen, Callie, Penn and Luce they were trying to think why this had anything to do with any of them.
Finally after a while, Roland cleared his throat and said tentatively "So...who's going to read next?"
"I'll read!" Callie said with a grin curious as to what was going to happen next.
Luce grinned at her friend and gave her the book; which she took and quickly went to the second chapter of the book.