Excerpt from (Faithless) Guardian
Under that blanket of peace came that same eerie feeling that someone nearby was watching her.
This time, Dover relied on her open Perception to bring her information, now certain she had not been jumping at shadows.
A beat before she might have homed in on whatever – or whomever – appeared to be watching her, Dover heard a distinct creak come from the living room. She knew that noise intimately since she heard it every time she crossed the threshold of her apartment.
The loose floorboard by her front door.
Dover jumped up from her knees, grabbing the Sig she kept under her mattress. She held it before her, the rosary beads still clutched in her hand, dangling below the butt of her pistol. Stepping through her bedroom door, Dover leaned around the corner until she could see the small foyer of her apartment.
The door stood wide open.
Dover moved immediately, racing for the door as the rustle of someone moving in the hotel-style hallway reached her ears. She threw herself through the front door, eyes adjusting to the brighter light as she searched for creature that had infiltrated her apartment.
The air filled with a familiar aroma, a hint of fresh-cut grass mingled with what might have been a man’s cologne. The creature moved several yards ahead of her, wrapped in a long black coat, a beanie cap pulled low over its head. It moved with a predator’s grace, bounding down the hall toward the elevator bank. With the staircase at the other end of the too-long corridor, the elevators were the only way for the creature to escape.
Dover had it essentially trapped.
Her Perception reached out again as it careened toward the elevator, bringing her the psyche of the creature. It was startled, it had not expected to be detected, and it was desperate to flee even as it seemed impressed. Though it wasn’t uncommon for demons to hold grudges, to follow Guardians and Charges home, Dover immediately recognized that this creature was not, in fact, demonic.
Her Perception had brought back the pure light and warmth of an angelic being.
The elevator dinged arrival and Dover increased her speed. The Perception she sent out to detect what creature now attempted escape brought her the consciousness of Mrs. Rushman, the kindly neighbor she often had coffee with on Sundays. Mrs. Rushman came bobbling out of the elevator, shopping bags on her arms, looking oblivious as the tall, menacing creature rushed by her.
“Get back!” The Guardian shouted, realizing her prey had not gone for the elevator.
It raced toward the large, uncovered window that boasted a beautiful view of the Atlanta skyline.
She might not have been the brightest of humans, but the frail old woman stepped back into the elevator. Dover, knowing she had mere moments before the angel escaped, raised her pistol.
“Stop!” The command in her voice was choral, drawing on the power of the Host. “In the name of the Creator, I command you to halt!”
The creature’s frantic run came to a sudden stop. Dover pulled up short, covering the elevator door with her body to protect poor Mrs. Rushman. Though she could not see the angel’s reflection in the glass of the window, she could hear the humor in its voice as it growled a response.
“You cannot command me, Guardian.”
Dover stood with her weapon drawn, staring at the creature’s back. Blood roared in her ears, her heartbeat so frenetic she felt light-headed. No angelic creature she had ever encountered could resist a Holy Command. Even the Powers that ruled over the Arbor were compelled to be still and silent, even if a Cherubim used such command.
What creature was this, able to swat away such power without a glance?
Dover’s mind now flipped the creature fully into “danger” mode. She squeezed the trigger of her trusty Sig, aiming for the body. The bullet might not have been fatal, but it ought to slow an angel down long enough for Dover to trap it.
That hope died as the angel turned toward her. One dark hand shot out from under the coat, swiping through the air as her grandmother might have to swat a fly away from the table. A gust of warm air shot Dover back down the corridor, flinging her into the wall with enough force that she left a sizable dent. Her head spun so wildly, Dover scarcely heard the glass of the window break. She looked up, focusing her eyes in time to see the creature take flight against the lights of Atlanta, ink-colored feathers nearly lost against a blue-black sky.
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