Michael (The Airel Saga, Book 2)

CHAPTER I

Sawtooth mountains of Idaho, present day

ALL I COULD FEEL was speed. Everything was racing along under me and my body was like an arrow shot at the speed of sound, only there was no sound. I could feel the turn of the earth as if I was about to step off—or be pushed off.

Thoughts—I guess you could call them thoughts—were whizzing through me even faster. I was an observer of my own life, and everything came back in random flickers.

I saw Kim making a silly face. We were—where were we? At the mall? She looked younger. But we were shopping all right. She must have dragged me along again.

I saw the valley. The big tree where I first read the Book of Kreios. My spot was still there.

I smelled apricots. I was in the kitchen, and I must have been young, because I was looking up at my mom, my head at about countertop height, and she was canning. The sun was low and warm in the room, and everything glowed like gold. Apricots. She smiled at me.

I felt the stress knotting my center as I relived that moment in the movie theater restroom… when I first saw Kreios. I thought I was going to die.

And then I did.

I saw Michael Alexander’s smile. We were at school. That was the Great Day of the Coffee Disaster, and I so wanted to be Mrs. Napkins.

My heart fluttered.

I could feel it. But it was broken. Pierced.

Echoes from outside, somewhere else.

“…sorry…”

“…sorry…”

“…sorry…”

The Alexander residence. I was carrying Kim, busting through the garage door like Kung Fu master through paper. I tripped and tumbled. Kung Fu beginner.

The face of evil was a sidewalk chalk sketch and it came up at me off the driveway, and Kim was gone. It was black and it grew arms and reached for me, enfolded me, then became smoke and disappeared.

I smelled death.

Then I smelled Abercrombie Fierce.

Weird.

Again, the walls of my hurtling bullet-arrow rattled with the refrain: “…sorry…”

I wanted to cry.

Why?

I was floating over the lake looking at the cliff. That’s when I realized there was someone with me. But I couldn’t tell who. Michael? Then the cliff-top scene appeared and played out in front of me as I floated there.

Michael was crawling there. There was a trail of blood behind him.

The lake below boiled, the massive disturbance of an angel of El exploding out of it. Kreios hunched over my body there on the top of the cliff, and it struck me as odd: I had been husked. My dead shell remained and he was trying desperately to save it. I looked to my side, trying to see whoever was with me. I still couldn’t tell.

Michael was there on the dirt, sobbing uncontrollably, lying beside my body. Then Kreios brought the Bloodstone near to him.

What in the world…?

Michael howled furiously.

And then everything changed.

Michael was carrying me and I was in his arms.

There was a streak in the sky and I knew Kreios was gone. Where?

Then I was on my bed again. Not my bed at home, no. It was the bed I had slept in as a captive of my grandfather. My grandfather! And everything was cold. So cold.

Echoes: stabbingpain, lifedeath, fury, angercold, watergrave, AIREL, a scratching noise like pen on paper and, “…sorry… sorry… sorry…”

Icefire. That’s what it was. My heart was consumed with burning cold, and I could feel it. I hovered over myself; something was hovering over me.

Then my ears popped.

And I could hear it:

“Airel, I’m so sorry… please forgive me. I love you!”

Choices.

Choices that we make lead us to make other choices, and those choices can