Read Archangel Crusader Online

Authors: Vijaya Schartz

Tags: #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Fantasy, #General, #Angels, #Human-Alien Encounters

Archangel Crusader (9 page)

BOOK: Archangel Crusader
6.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Michael felt a pang of melancholy. He would miss the long conversations, the compassion in the Blue Angel’s eyes. "Can I visit once in a while?" he asked, almost shyly.

"We will see each other again, my son." Amrah's gaze burned with intensity. "In the meantime, I will lend you strength."

"Thank you, Father..." the word still felt odd in Michael's mouth. “How long have I been away?”

Time is an illusion. When you return, only a few hours will have passed. Jennifer’s plane hasn’t landed in Paris, yet." The ageless head tilted with compassion. The long-fingered hand came to rest on Michael's shoulder, and the gesture more than the actual contact sent shining rays of warmth throughout his body and mind. "So long, my son." Regret shaded the musical voice. "I will be with you wherever you go."



Chapter Eight



When Michael returned to his living room, he was thirsty. All these exercises in teleportation, telekinesis, mental healing and mind reading had left him parched. It seemed like a week since he had touched a drink. In truth, his extensive training had only taken a few hours. Michael immediately went to the refrigerator for a Coors and popped the tab. Checking himself in mid movement, he emptied the can in the sink. He hated the debasing habit, mainly since he had a new purpose in life.

After throwing a few clothes, an Uzi, and his favorite hatchet in the saddlebags of his motorcycle, Michael slipped a knife in his boot then called Shadow. The big cat came to him in the garage. Michael picked it up and tucked the feline inside his leather jacket, straddled the motorcycle and took off. His first stop was at Bill’s place. His good friend and long-time work partner had agreed to take care of things during Michael’s absence, including baby-sitting Jennifer’s cat. He apparently even enjoyed this addition to his household.

After goodbyes to Bill, Michael mounted the Harley and turned on the ignition. He felt lighthearted and almost happy after relinquishing his daily responsibilities. "Krastinios, here I come!"

The superb machine slowly wove its way in and out of traffic as Michael freed his mind to fully enjoy the moment. With Jennifer safe on her way to France, he could relax and concentrate on his mission. Although he felt guilty about it, for the first time in ten years Michael savored his freedom. The little girl had filled his life. Raising her had been fun most of the time, even when it meant changing diapers and feeding the baby on a construction site while his crew wondered about his sanity. Although Michael already missed her, Jennifer's absence would make his task easier.

If Amrah had guessed right, Krastinios would soon show himself. This time, however, Michael would be ready for the confrontation. His powers, exceptional from the start, were developing fast. To speed up the process, he must renounce his favorite red meat. His temper might still flare once in a while, but with time his willpower would increase. Daily meditation could also help improve his concentration.

On this beautiful spring day, cruising with a warm breeze bathing his face, relishing the smell of freshly cut grass in the park, Michael basked in freedom. He could not help thinking about how good he must look perched on that beautiful piece of black, shiny steel, long hair flying in the wind, the sun reflecting on his sunglasses.

Veronica would have teased him and Michael would have liked the compliment. Veronica... So much had happened in a few days. She seemed far away now, almost like a dream. Michael cherished her memory. Would he finally become the man she wanted him to be? If she could see him now... Then he realized she probably could and the thought made him smile.

Briefly going over the maps earlier, Michael had memorized the road to the capital city. He could sit back and enjoy the ride. He knew where to find the help he needed. On his way south to Dave's house in Little Rock, he would stop in Washington, D.C. to visit Debbie, Dave's sister-in-law. Michael had not seen Debbie since last Christmas when they had gathered at her house for the holidays. Dave and his wife had also attended the family gathering, still childless at the time, looking forward to adoption. Finally, two months ago, they’d succeeded in adopting an orphan girl a little younger than Jennifer. Now they had everything they wanted.

Jennifer and Veronica had enjoyed the holiday...

Funny, everyone expected Debbie to die soon, not Veronica. Michael wondered whether Debbie was still on chemotherapy. Divorced with two sons in college living with their father, she knew how to fight. Debbie loved life with a passion. She battled poverty, injustice, the disease that plagued her, although she knew her life would end soon. Each day constituted a victory over the disease that steadily ate her insides. The cancer slowly spread despite all known therapies. Ahead of her lay only pain followed by death.

Michael remembered a picture on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer earlier this year. Debbie had led a demonstration in front of the White House. The black and white photograph accentuated the black rings under Debbie's eyes, the tired look, but also the fire still burning inside... A remarkable soul... Knowing she could not escape fate, Debbie was trying to help those who could still be saved, the needy children of her world.

When Michael had called her before leaving the house, Debbie had sounded happier than usual, delighted at the prospect of seeing him soon. Somehow he hoped she would listen to his story. As a lobbyist, Debbie had many connections in Washington and could help Michael implement his plan.

There was so much to do. Where to start? Veronica always said, "Just start, then it will come to you, you'll know what to do next." Michael would do just that: start with Debbie and go from there.

As he reached the outskirts of the city, Michael felt good about himself and in no hurry. Wouldn't it be the perfect time to show off someplace? As he recognized Tiffany's from a distance, Michael remembered the girls he used to talk to and decided to pay them a visit.

He would just get into the cool dark cabaret for a short while, say hi, maybe have a drink, just one for old times' sake. It couldn't possibly hurt him now. Besides, he deserved it. Trusting his new powers to keep him out of trouble, he parked the motorcycle and walked straight into the bar.




From the sky, Jennifer watched the city lights glow like a great beacon in the night. The red sign above her seat blinked.

"Veuillez attacher vos ceintures pour l'atterissage," confided a disembodied female voice through the loudspeakers.

"She said to buckle your seat belt," said Krastinios. "That was French. We are landing soon. Do you speak any French?"

"Only a little bit. I had some in school last year, but not much... I can say 'Bonjour, comment allez-vous, je m'appelle Jennifer!' But that's about it. I listened to the people behind us. I can't understand a word they said. I'm afraid this is going to be hard. Good thing my mother speaks English."

"Good thing indeed... If you’d like someone to talk to in English sometime, give me a call. I am staying at the Astoria Hotel, suite 666. Here is my card. You may call me anytime."

"Really?" Jennifer felt flattered. This handsome grown man genuinely enjoyed her conversation. She basked in the recognition, carefully placing the red and gold card in her purse.

Had it not been for the slight bump of the wheels on the ground, Jennifer would have missed the landing altogether. Since she would disembark last, Mr. K, what a cool name, gallantly offered to keep her company until she would meet her mother. The flight attendant welcomed the delightful company as much as Jennifer did.

"You may want to brush your hair," Mr. K suggested to Jennifer. "You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

"Oh, I forgot. Thank you." She fished for the hairbrush in her purse.

"Please allow me." Krastinios took the brush from her hand and very slowly, with the gentlest touch, proceeded to untangle Jennifer's long chestnut hair.

The girl enjoyed the sensual feeling. No one had ever brushed her hair so gently. Not even Veronica.

After most of the passengers had left, several employees started checking the overhead compartments for any carry-on left behind. At last, the trio stepped off the plane.

The modern airport of Roissy en France was a huge concrete structure, brightly lit, cold and impersonal, despite the fancy windows and bright posters. It smelled of Swiss chocolate, Italian espresso, and French perfume from the duty-free shop. The monstrosity had been named Charles de Gaulle, after a famous dead general, or president, or both. Jennifer was not quite sure, but Mr. K would know. The moving sidewalks went on forever. Jennifer's excitement now turned to apprehension. On the phone, her mother had sounded nice, but still...

Through a side door, they skipped immigration with a smile and a salute from a young uniformed man. They retrieved their luggage from the carousel. Mr. K didn't have any. Jennifer found that rather cool. They glided through luggage customs without being asked a single question, almost as if they had been invisible.

"Here is the arrival gate," said the pretty attendant with a pearly smile. "Your mother should be waiting for you there."

In the crowd beyond the gate, Jennifer tried hard to spot a likely mother, but she was led straight to the hospitality desk where a gentleman made an announcement in French. A tall, elegant woman, beautifully lean in her red dress came forward, chestnut hair cut short in a daring fashion. The woman's enormous green eyes met Jennifer's. She was breathtaking, made up as if out of a fashion magazine. Jennifer froze in surprise.

"Jennifer? You are so big for a ten-year-old. Let me look at you." Although she gave Jennifer a timid smile, the lady looked ready to break into tears as she embraced her, kissing both her cheeks (French style, as Mr. K had explained earlier).

Jennifer couldn't believe it. This was the mother she had wanted to know all her life. Her heart pounded in her chest. She felt giddy and smiled, unable to say a word.

"There's no mistake here, said the friendly hostess, you two look so much alike it's amazing. Madame Fontaine, I believe Jennifer had a good flight, thanks in part to this gracious passenger who insisted on seeing her safely with you."

"Why, I don't know how to thank you, Sir," Tori said, her eyes still on her daughter. Tori's full height included a few inches of high heels, as Jennifer noticed when she straightened. "My name is Tori Fontaine, delighted to meet you." Tori offered a handshake, and Mr. K brought her hand to his lips.

"You may call me Mr. K. All the pleasure was mine, Madame. Jennifer is delightful company indeed. I will add that she is very good at chess, and if you want my advice, never expect to win a game against her."

"He's good, too," Jennifer pointed out. "He did beat me once." She insisted on being fair.

"What does the K stand for? I'm just curious."

"A name too difficult to pronounce it right, so I only go by Mr. K."

Tori frowned slightly then her face relaxed. "Oh, anyway, my driver is waiting as we speak. Would you like a ride into the city? It's thirty miles away. I'm sure Jennifer would love to have your company a little longer. Am I right, Jennifer?" Tori's moist stare looked straight into the girl's heart.

"Yes, I would like that," Jennifer confirmed with a grin.

"I would not want to impose on your family reunion." The handsome man remained ever so polite.

Finally, it was decided that they would drop him off at his hotel, which happened to be on the way to Tori's home. Mr. K hailed a porter to carry Jennifer's luggage.

As they came out in the open, a black Mercedes pulled up, followed by a long, white limousine. Krastinios discreetly made a sign to the driver who barely acknowledged with a nod, then left. Mr. K then followed Tori and Jennifer inside the white limo. Busy studying each other, mother and daughter missed the whole exchange.

Tori's chauffeur closed the trunk then took the long, white car silently toward the French capital. The three passengers made small talk on the way to Paris. Even on the freeway, the long vehicle seemed out of place among all the tiny European automobiles. It was late by the time they reached the city, so the goodbyes with Mr. K were brief. Mr. K mentioned something about seeing them again sometime. Jennifer sincerely hoped that it would be the case.

Now, alone with her mother for the first time, in that huge limo cruising the streets of a foreign city, Jennifer felt lost, intimidated by this gorgeous woman who was so obviously her mother. Tori played nervously with the back of her cropped chestnut hair, smiling in a friendly way. Jennifer could see some fear, some vulnerability under the lovely façade.

Tori took her daughter's hand. "Jennifer, I have waited a long time to meet you. The last time I saw you, you were a tiny, ugly little bundle, under some plexiglas, with needles and tubes stuck everywhere. I never held you in my arms. You were too fragile. No one knew for sure if you would survive, and it was all my fault."

A little overwhelmed by this outpouring, Jennifer listened intently, not daring to break the flow. Good thing the driver could not hear behind his dark glass panel. This would be very embarrassing.

"I was very young," Tori continued in a soft voice, "almost a child myself, unprepared for such responsibilities. It's probably hard for you to understand now, but I hope that one day you will, and I hope you will forgive me." A sob escaped Tori’s throat.

BOOK: Archangel Crusader
6.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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