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  • C.A. Lightfoot

Excerpt from (Faithless) Guardian

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“There are wards we do not teach in this tome.” Hanael said quietly. “They proved too dangerous for the common Guardian to use. We could not prevent them from using these in battle, being lost to us when they needed help, so we removed them from the training. The Druid should be able to help you with them, if he is as talented as you say.”

“He is.” Dover nodded, the book heavy in her hands. She flipped open the front cover, deciphering the elegant swirls of script that were the language of angels.

The Tome of Gabriel.” Swallowing hard, Dover’s eyes sought the first Ward on the second page, astonished by what she found. “This is to ward against angelic tracking.”

When she lifted her gaze, Hanael nodded once. “Yes.”

Silence stretched between them once more.

“When you have activated them,” Hanael continued. “Even I will be unable to hear or track you. I urge you to use these spells sparingly and wisely, Dover Ellis.”

Reality sank into her gut, squashing the unease and replacing it with understanding. She closed the book carefully, mindful of the ancient spine and binding. When she looked up into that emerald-gold gaze, Dover knew.

She’d always depended on the knowledge that other angels could find her if she were in danger, that backup would be en-route if she shouted into the Host. Guardians and Seraphim and Powers themselves were known to Slide to the aid of another without hesitation. If she used this book, these Wards, she might be on her own.

But on the tail of that realization came one that clenched at her heart and made her stomach swoop with nausea.

“You know.”

Two words hung on the air, suspended between them in the quiet.

Dover held Hanael’s gaze, so she could see the guilt and resolve leak into those familiar eyes before he covered it back again.

“You know an angel attacked me.” Dover pressed, tucking the book into the crook of her arm.

He did not look away, nor attempt a retreat. Pain flashed over his face, gone within a heartbeat. What caused him such distress? What drove him from the obedience and honesty of the Host into lying to one of his own? Did she even want to know?

Hanael’s face became a mask of indifference once more, his emotions buttoned away. Dover stiffened her spine, pulling her own emotions in and tucking them tightly away. She wouldn’t be the only one with her heart on her sleeve. If Hanael wanted to go back to being aloof, well, she could follow his lead.

“I cannot explain what is happening,” Hanael said flatly. “Too many lives are at risk. I only want to give you the means to protect yourself, and your Charges.”

Dover pressed her lips into a firm line, nodding once. “Oh. Ok. But you can grab me and kiss me without so much as a hello. Sure.”

“Dover.” She ignored the hint of warning in Hanael’s voice. “These circumstances are trying. We cannot mix business with pleasure.”

She tilted her head, looking up into the unfamiliar, blank stare of her superior.

“Can we separate them now, Han? Really?”

Hanael did not move, though his throat bobbed as he swallowed, the only outward sign of his discomfort.

“We must.”

Dover nodded once, taking a step back. Now that she’d left his personal space, whatever had passed in those stolen moments now lay lifeless between them. She hadn’t given up, not yet. Dover would not mince words or keep things too close to the vest. Given the day she’d had and what just happened between them, she wasn’t leaving without saying her piece.

“You started this,” the Guardian said quietly. “And bypassing the can of worms our make-out session just opened, I’m a fucking Guardian, Hanael. My Charges are in danger, I’m in danger. I’ve got legions sniffing after me, messages written in blood, and now you’re arming me against angels. And I’m supposed to, what? Just keep my head down?”

“I am ordering you to stay out of it, Dover Ellis.”

The edge to Hanael’s words was sharper than anything she’d ever heard. Instead of waving her off, it only fueled her need for answers.

“And I’m telling you that I’m a Guardian and I will do anything to protect my Charges.” Dover backed toward the door, her eyes still locked onto Hanael’s. “If that means I have to go through the Host, through you, trust me, I will.”

He called her name as she wrenched the door open, but Dover did not turn. She headed down the hall, stepping around Raziel wordlessly as she headed for the stairs.

Her mind a jumble, the book in her hands heavy, Dover grasped her phone.

Embry answered on the first ring.

“Hey, babes.” Her friend said without waiting for her to speak. “I’ve got Jameson and two arms. Meet me at the Tower.”

A smile tugged at Dover’s mouth as she half-jogged down the stairs.

“Em, you’re my true love.”

She stepped out of the Arbor and onto the gravel drive, aware that Hanael’s eyes followed her from the window.

Dover did not look back.


-

Dramatic one this week! Thanks for reading!


-C.A.


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