I came to sitting in the office chair. I tried to move, but I couldn’t. I could feel the bubbling creep of my power, pushing against invisible barriers, trying to make its way out. Nothing worked. I closed my eyes and focused. I located my bruises and injuries then set about healing myself from the inside out. Even then, I still couldn’t physically move.
Fuck, I screamed internally, no words escaping to make it past my lips.
It had to be a spell. That was the only explanation. Yet– angels couldn’t use spell magic.
“You don’t know what angels can do, brother,” Raph mocked as she entered the room. “Don’t worry. I didn’t read your mind. I just know your patheticness well.”
I tried smirking, blinking, anything to show Raph I thought she was being a spoiled douche. There was nothing, not even a tremor of an eyelid.
She waved two fingers, releasing pressure from my lips I hadn’t known was there. “Speak rag doll, speak,” she commanded snarkily.
Before I could get a word in edgewise wise, she continued as though my lips were still magically glued shut. “Listen, we angels can do more than you believe because we can harness more than just belief. Yahweh would limit us because They are always afraid there shall be another rebellion, another Lucifer. They would look away in the hopes of appeasing the sins of the Michaels amongst us. Because They are afraid one amongst us shall not rebel, but shall instead rise and overthrow. We are more than They meant us to be, but a god can not admit they made an error, a miscalculation.” She looked pointedly at me as she said, “a glitch.”
“What the hell are you rambling about?” I grumbled, my voice hoarse.
“Gabriel, Yahweh can not be a General if there is no army. Eventually, the army will realize this. So the answer is simple, continually convince the army it has limited weapons.”
“Are you planning to overthrow Yahweh, Raph? Is that what you are doing here dabbling in magic? ‘Cus I gotta tell ya, that’s fairly lame. Lui’s already done that, got the title, and the reputation. It’s his fucking origin story. He damn near has his own religion. I mean, be at least a bit original.”
Raph rolled her eyes. “You know, for all the kinky shit you and your non-wife get up to, sir, you sure are densely naive. I’m not trying to be magic, I AM magic.”
I licked at my dry lips and mentally furrowed the brows I couldn’t actually move. “Are you just like Sammael? Are you working through some Merlin, Arthur, fanfic shit, or what?”
She waved her hands. “No, not like Sam or Merlin. Though, that was a mighty trick, if a somewhat belabored execution.” She rolled her eyes. “Nevermind, above your pay grade, I’m afraid. Honestly, I am tired of explaining things to someone too dense to understand. So, let’s move on before I force your weapons from the ether and shove that Archblade down your throat.”
She waved her manicured hand a second time and the unseen force pressing against the rest of my body was gone.
“You’re so gracious,” I replied darkly, rubbing my wrists.
Her eyes narrowed as she looked me over. “You have no idea how much. One last time, ask what you seek, or your invitation is revoked. I have things to do… someplace to be.”
“Okay,” I responded, curious but not daring to explore. Raph and I would come to terms at some point. It was practically guaranteed. But, it wouldn’t be right then. Not with Medea and Phoenix waiting and Michael out there stirring up who knows what. “Where is Carmen?”
Raph laughed, her eyes glowing a radiant orange, unlike anything I’d never seen. The blade was once again in her hand and it took all my conscious effort not to stare at it. “Wow. That’s what you ask?” She shrugged slightly. “You really are a glitch. Carmen is where she has always been.”
“What the hell does that mean?” I growled.
“You have your answer.”
“Raph-“ before I could get another word out, she blinked. Suddenly, I was standing out on the brownstone steps, looking at a closed door. Beside me, on the arm of the marble banister, sat a wrapped package. I leaned close, not touching, and read the note peeking from under the large orange bow. The note had been written in a large, tight, script that read, “Congratulations… if you live long enough to make it down the aisle.”
Shoving the box backward, over the banister, and to the ground, I phased away. I could have sworn I heard stalking laughter as I vanished.
I phased into the lobby of the offices of Wings For Hire. it was quiet. There was a small meeting taking place in the conference room. I contemplated peeking in but figured I’d let the staff handle things the way they had been for the previous few months. I did a short phase back to my office, so no one would notice me walking past the room. Once there, I locked the door and plopped, rather ungracefully, down in my chair.
I was battling a lot of emotions. The most obvious being, I was pissed.
Most of that was due to the Raph shit, but it was also because I hadn’t stopped to pick up a coffee. Trying to figure out Raph’s puzzles without my blend of caffeine and sugar was not something I was looking forward to. I knew she’d given me the answer. She prided herself on being the angel of information. The answer was just wrapped inside her bullshit riddles.
Carmen is where she always was.
What the hell did that even mean?
Until right before I’d answered Lycaon’s call I hadn’t even known Carmen was still alive. There’d been no hint of it. There’d surely been no hint of her and Michael continuing their… whatever they’d been doing.
Michael and I had made a deal. I’d honored my end and had never looked back. Solomon had attacked me as I left and that had been even more reason to keep to our deal. Distance from me would keep her safe from him. It was a simple plan and I’d followed it.
Apparently, that day, when Michael had basically tried to have me killed by Kane, he also had gone back on his word and continued seeing Carmen.
I rolled my eyes, because, of course, he had. He was Michael. I was a glitch. I was the one who loved humans instead of wanting to kill or possess them. The one addicted to coffee like he was addicted to…
Was it really that simple?
Even Michael wasn’t that blatant an asshole… was he?
I picked up the phone on the glass top desk, dialing a number I hadn’t used in a very long time. “Pearl, it’s Gabriel.”
“Ever heard of caller ID, big guy?”
“Right. Look, it’s been a minute, but I need a favor.”
“Obviously. What can I do you for?”
“I’m headed your way. Can you rustle up everything you can on Angelic Bean Coffee Company?”
“Yeah. Pricing is the same.”
I sighed, gazing down at my left wrist, shaking my head with disgust. Fucking vampires and their angel-blood addictions. “Yeah, I figured. Just be thorough.”
The silence of the call ending reverberated through the line. I sat, holding the phone, contemplating what happened next if Pearl uncovered what I thought she would.
What would it be like to see Carmen after so many years? She was my coffee, the first, purest, and most delicious thing I’d ever tasted. Michael was like curdled cream. I knew nothing I could dream up would ever come close to the truth of how he’d spoiled her.
I slammed the phone down hard. The glass top shattered from the force, the same way the business of Michael and Carmen had shattered my heart – again.