Read Anathema Online

Authors: Maria Rachel Hooley

Tags: #Angels, #love, #maria rachel hooley, #paranormal romance, #Romance, #sojourner, #teen, #teenager, #Women, #womens fiction, #Young Adult

Anathema

Anathema

By

Maria Rachel

Hooley

Anathema

Copyright ©2010 Maria Rachel Hooley

Smashwords Edition

Cover by Justine Hedman

All rights reserved. No part of this
publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording, or otherwise—except for brief quotations
in printed reviews, without prior written permission of the
copyright owner.

Chapter One

I dreamed of them again, those angels with
unnatural wings and eyes that haunt me even now, in this waking
world, where visions of the night should be forgotten. They chased
me into a dark wood, their white robes and pale skin glowing
ethereally in the night, yet all I could see were their bony
fingers reaching for me, exploding with light. Then the pain
struck, and I sprawled atop the soft, damp ground, blanketed by
moss and leaves.

I screamed as they advanced, unable to move
except to writhe in pain from the light that enveloped my body,
their voices booming inside my head: “You must stand judgment for
your crimes against us.”

That’s when Griffin wakes me by shoving at my
shoulder, his gaunt face pale in the moonlight. When he realizes my
eyes are open, he stops prodding and sits on the bed next to
me.

“You scared the hell out of me with all that
shouting,” he rants, raking his fingers through his hair. “I
thought someone was killing you.”

I’m about to tell him that so far as my dream
is concerned he isn’t far off, but there’s no point in vocalizing
that fear. Whoever those angels are, at least for the moment
they’re gone from my head. Griffin has enough trouble dealing with
his own Jayzee-sized demons. Even though we think she’s dead, it’s
like she’s still keeping some kind of hold on him so he really
doesn’t need to add my problems to the mix.

“Sorry I woke you,” I murmur, brushing the
hair from my face. “Please tell me that at least Jimmie is still
asleep.”

He nods. “Since he fell asleep on the couch,
he’s farther from your noise than I am, and I haven’t been sleeping
too soundly, remember?”

“Yeah.” I keep blinking as though that will
drive away the nightmares, but those angels refuse to leave.

“What did you dream about?”

I shrug. “Don’t remember.”

“Lizzie.” Griffin warns.

“Seriously, I don’t,” I argue, brushing my
hands up and down my arms, trying to drive away the goose bumps
rising on my skin.

“You were ready to fly out of that bed,” he
counters, shaking his head. “You remember, and you really don’t
spook easily. Hell, when Maguire was pointing that gun at you, you
were completely calm, or seemed to be.”

“I was petrified!” I say, hoping to distract
him from the subject. “Maybe you couldn’t tell, but I was freaking
out, Griffin.”

“Just like today, when I woke you up.”

“It’s nothing,” I snap, standing and walking
to the open window, where a slight breeze stirs the night around
us. The parted curtains billow inward, and a gust toys with the
hair hanging over my shoulders, lifting it and tossing it back.

“Why won’t you tell me?” he asks, rising.

“It’s nothing.” That’s all I know to say
without complicating everything beyond measure.

For a moment, Griffin just stands there,
waiting. When silence answers him, he shakes his head.

“Fine. Have it your way.” He walks away.

By morning, I’ve convinced myself the dream
is just that; it’s easier that way. The last thing I want to
believe is that those kinds of angels do exist. I have enough
problems with angels who look like humans. The others are just
plain scary.

After I get out of bed, I peek into Griffin’s
room. He’s still in bed, but at least this time he’s not thrashing
around and calling Jayzee’s name, which, in its own way is just as
scary as the angels haunting me. Part of me wants to ask Lev about
them but I know better. Things have been going too well between us
to open that can of worms. And if I ask, he won’t let it go until
the truth comes out, and I’m not sure where it will go from there.
I don’t really want to find out. Right now, figuring out what’s
happening with Jayzee is more of a priority. Until that is
resolved, I don’t think there’s any way Griffin is going to
heal.

I head into the kitchen, where Jimmie sits,
smoking a cigarette. I’ve been trying to get him to quit;
considering how healthy he isn’t looking these days, I think it
would definitely help, but hiding his cigarettes hasn’t deterred
him any more than my less-than-subtle comments, so I’m not sure
what to try next.

He leans on one elbow and stares off into
space, not realizing I’ve come in. I grab a box of cereal and a
bowl before pulling the milk from the fridge.

“You want some cereal or something?” I ask.
“I can make some eggs.”

“Nope. Not hungry yet. Could you grab the
paper from the porch, though?”

“Sure.” I set everything down and trudge to
the front door. Two steps onto the porch, I grab the paper, yet as
I rise, I see a girl with long blonde hair that reminds me…of
Sarah. She’s standing on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the
street.

I stagger backwards, unwilling to be dragged
down that memory road again; It’ll be too hard to fight my way
back. Her name rests on the tip of my tongue, and I almost call it
out before clamping my mouth shut.

“I don’t want to know,” I whisper and dart
inside, closing the door and leaning against it, trying to stop
breathing so hard.
Is it possible?
I wonder, gritting my
teeth.

My hand is trembling, and I actually drop the
newspaper, which thuds atop the linoleum entryway. What if it were
Sarah? What would that mean? I lean over and pick up the paper,
pushing all thought from my head. I try to steady myself.

Returning to the kitchen, I plunk the paper
in front of Jimmie and go back to preparing my cereal, even though
I’ve pretty much lost my appetite. The only real giveaway I’m
nervous is that my hand shakes enough so I spill a little milk on
the counter that I quickly wipe up.

Every time I think I’ve moved beyond Kane and
the others, the past comes flying back so fast I can’t duck.

“So what are your plans today, Lizzie?”
Jimmie asks, stubbing out his cigarette and plucking the rubber
band from around the newspaper. He unrolls and spreads it across
the table.

“Lev and I are going to have a picnic at the
lake.” I snatch the rubber band from Jimmie and quickly braid my
hair, a good way to keep it from getting in my way while I eat.
Then I reach for a spoon. “Sure you don’t want something? I don’t
mind fixing it.”

“Lizzie, I fixed my own meals before you were
even born. If I’m hungry, I’ll eat. Stop worrying over me like a
mother hen.”

Biting my lip, I set my bowl on the table and
sit across from Jimmie, who is still staring at me. Then he shakes
his head and goes back to reading. I start eating and watch Jimmie
from my peripheral vision. At first he focuses on the paper,
adjusting his glasses to read, but, as he feels the weight of my
gaze, he looks up and pulls off the glasses altogether.

“Okay, Lizzie. Spit it out.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I know something is rattling around in that
head of yours, so you might as well just ask instead of staring at
me like I’m going to turn into the Cat in the Hat or
something.”

The absurdity of that image really makes me
want to laugh as I suddenly see Jimmie wearing one of those tall
red-and-white striped hats. Now there’re two things which should
never be combined.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I
protest innocently and take a spoonful of Frosted Flakes to keep my
mouth busy. If I can’t answer, maybe he won’t ask me any
questions.

“Lizzie, I’ve known you since you were a
baby. You never have been able to lie worth a damn, so just throw
it out there so I can read my paper in peace while you and Lev
enjoy your picnic. Out with it.”

I take a deep breath and swallow, figuring
he’s probably right. I’ve never been a good liar, and he does know
me better than a lot of people. I set my spoon in my bowl and sit
up straighter, as if that’s going to make this conversation any
easier.

“Do you ever dream about Theresa,
Jimmie?”

He frowns and squinches his nose in
confusion. “Theresa? Why would I? Where is this coming from?”
Jimmie is definitely not looking at the paper anymore. Whether I
want it or not, I have his full attention. Lucky me.

“I…just wondered, that’s all.”

Jimmie shakes his head. “No, Lizzie, I don’t
think you just wondered. There’s a reason you’re asking, and I want
to know.” He levels his gaze at me and taps his fingers
impatiently.

“Okay, here’s the deal. Griffin’s been having
nightmares about Jayzee. He’s convinced she’s still alive. I just
wondered if you might have had a similar problem with Theresa,
that’s all.”

He shakes his head. “No. If you’re asking if
I sense Theresa like before, I don’t. I think she’s gone, and
considering all the crap that happened while she was here, I don’t
miss her one damned bit.” He shakes his head. “Anything else you
want to share?”

“No. That’s it.” I focus on my cereal,
feeling more than just a little stupid for bringing any of this up.
I guess considering how hard this has been for all of us, I just
want to make sure nothing else happens.

Jimmie stares at me for a moment longer
before finally picking up his glasses and slipping them into place
so he can read the headlines. I see the pictures of soldiers in the
paper, and half of me worries about that. The other half worries
about all the unseen things in this world.

The floorboards creak, and I look to find
Griffin standing in the doorway, blinking as he tries to focus. He
leans against the jamb and absently raises his hand to run it
through his hair, trying to tame the wild strands. Our gazes meet
but he quickly looks away, probably because he, too, is tired of
dealing with all this stuff, and the last thing he wants is to
start the morning off with that.

“Want some cereal?” I ask.

He shakes his head. “No, not really hungry.”
His gaze flashes toward the refrigerator. “I think I’ll get some
juice, though.”

“Suit yourself.” I finish the last of my
cereal as he rummages through the cabinet for a glass.

“How’d you sleep?” Jimmie asks, trying to
meet his gaze.

“Good.” Griffin sits and takes a long sip of
his juice. No matter how hard he works at seeming fine, Jimmie and
I know better. The dark shadows under his eyes and the fact that
he’s losing weight tell the real story.

Griffin levels a meaningful glance in my
direction. “And how about you, Lizzie. How did you sleep?”

My shoulders stiffen, and I feign further
interest in my cereal than it’s worth. “I slept well, thank you.”
My tone is cooler than I mean for it to be, but I wish to hell
Griffin would just let things go. He can’t exactly help me with
this. No one can.

Sensing he isn’t going to let it go, I stand
and take my bowl to the sink. Both Jimmie and Griffin watch me
until I want to turn and hightail it out of there. Yeah—like
that
wouldn’t be a dead giveaway. Instead, I carefully wash
the bowl out, set it in the sink and force myself to start humming
an upbeat tune as I head for the door.

“What time is Lev coming to get you?” Jimmie
asks, peering at the clock on the wall.

“In about an hour.”

I don’t wait for a response because there’s
no telling what will come out of Griffin’s mouth. I’d like to blame
this on Jayzee, but I know better. If it were Jayzee’s control
wreaking havoc, Griffin would probably forget I existed, not take a
keen interest in my nightmares. No, this is typical Griffin.

“Have fun,” Jimmie calls as I head into the
bedroom to get ready.

“I will,” I yell.

Lev kisses my cheek as I greet him on the
porch. In my left hand, I already carry the picnic basket, and he
cocks an eyebrow inquisitively at me.

“So are you excited to see me, or is Jimmie
driving you nuts?” he asks, folding his arms across his chest.

“Not Jimmie. Griffin.” I grab his hand and
try to tug him down the porch steps but he chooses that moment to
become an immoveable object.

“Griffin? Really? Maybe I should give him
some pointers.”

“Not funny,” I snap, tugging harder.

“Depends on whom you ask.” His mouth is
twisted into a smirk, reminding me of the teenage Lev I’d known
from Hauser’s Landing, the form I’ve really missed. Not that it
matters what body he possesses. It was Lev’s spirit that’s
connected with mine, not his form. I just happened to be fondest of
the body I’d met him in.

“Okay, you proved your point. I can’t make
you move. But unless you want to pack your own lunch, you might
want to pick up the pace. I’m leaving.”

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