Boundless Page 40

“No one is looking,” he says, like what I’m really concerned about at this moment is whether anybody saw me talking to a bird and what that might do to my sterling reputation.

I’m torn between the desire to run—hightail it straight to Memorial Church, the nearest hallowed ground I can think of—or to suck it up and hear what he’s going to say this time.

I glance over at the church, which is all the way across the quad. It’s too far.

“How can I help you, Sam?” I ask instead.

“I took your mother dancing once,” he says, starting up again on his stories. “She wore a red dress, and the band played ‘Till We Meet Again,’ and she put her head down on my chest to hear my heart beating.”

“Do you even have a heart?” I ask, which is foolish of me to say, and maybe even a little mean, but I can’t help it. I don’t like the idea of him and my mother that way. Or any way, really.

He’s offended. “Of course I have a heart. I can be wounded, the same as any man. She sang to me that night, as we danced. ‘Smile the while you kiss me sad adieu. When the clouds roll by I’ll come to you,’” he sings, and his voice isn’t half bad.

I know the song immediately. Mom used to sing it when she was doing some mundane task, like folding laundry or washing dishes. It’s the first time I’ve ever recognized my mother in this mysterious Meg of his.

“She smelled like roses,” he says.

She did.

He takes the silver charm bracelet out of his pocket and holds it in his palm. “I gave this to her on her doorstep, right before we said good night. All that summer I would leave charms for her to find. This one”—he fingers a charm shaped like a fish—“for that first time I saw her at the pond.” He touches the horse. “This one for when we rode through the French countryside after the hospital where she worked was bombed.”

He caresses the tiny silver heart with a single ruby at its center, but doesn’t tell me about that one. But I know what it means.

That’s the point of all this, I guess. He loved her.

He still loves her.

His hand closes around the bracelet, and he returns it to his pocket.

“What year was that?” I ask him. “When you danced?”

“1918,” he says.

“You could go back there, right? Can’t angels travel through time?”

His eyes meet mine, resentful. “Some angels,” he says.

He means the good ones. The ones who can access glory. Who are still on God’s good side.

“Will you tell me a story now?” he asks me softly. “About your mother?”

I hesitate. Why do I feel sorry for him?

Maybe, supplies my pesky inner voice, because he loves someone he can’t have. And you can relate.

I tell my inner voice to shut it. “I don’t have any stories for you.” I get up, brush grass off my jeans, and gather my stuff. He stands up, too, and I’m horrified to realize that the grass underneath where he was sitting is brown and crisp. Dead.

He really is a monster.

“I have to go.”

“Next time, then,” he says as I turn to walk away.

I stop. “I don’t want there to be a next time, Sam. I don’t know why you’re doing this, what you want from me, but I don’t want to hear any more.”

“I want you to know,” he says.

“Why? So you can rub it in my face that you had a supposedly passionate love affair with my mother?”

He shakes his head, the two layers of him, body and soul, form and formless, blurring with the motion. And then I realize: He wants me to know because there’s no one else to share it with. No one else cares.

“Good-bye, Sam.”

“Until next time,” he calls after me.

I walk away without looking back, the image of my mom wearing a red dress, a silver charm bracelet tinkling against her wrist, singing and smelling of roses, bright in my head.

“So tomorrow’s it,” Angela informs me. We’re doing her laundry in the Roble laundry room, me helping since it’s getting harder and harder these days for Angela to bend down, the noise of the churning washer and dryers the perfect mask for a secret conversation about destiny. Which is apparently happening tomorrow.

“How do you know?” I ask her.

“Because that’s when I told him to meet me,” she says, “in the email.”

“How do you know he got the email?”

“He replied and said he’d come. And because that’s what happens. He comes because I see him there.”

This is circular logic, but I go with it. “So you’re going to just march up to him and say, ‘The seventh is ours.’” This idea worries me. A lot. I’ve been going over and over the scenario in my head, and I can never imagine it turning out well. It’s not just Phen’s wings that are gray, but his soul—his very being. And Angela always gets kind of crazy when it comes to him. He’s bad news, in my opinion.

Angela catches her bottom lip in her teeth for a few seconds, the first sign of real nervousness that I’ve seen since she put the whole seventh thing together. “Something like that,” she says.

I do believe her when she says it’s her vision. So it must be destined to happen, right?

I don’t know. I never did figure out why Jeffrey had a vision of starting a forest fire and then saving someone from the same fire. Or why I was supposed to meet Christian in the forest that day. Or what I was doing at my mom’s funeral.

Ours is not to reason why, I suppose. Ours is but to do or—well, crap.

“And then what?” I ask. “You tell him, and then—”

“He and I will deal with this thing”—she rests her hand lightly on her belly—“together.”

I mull this over. Does she think that she’ll tell him and then they all—nineteen-year-old college student, thousands-of-years-old gray-souled ambivalent angel, and bouncing bundle of Triplare joy—will be a happy family? I guess stranger things have happened, but still …

She reads the doubt on my face.

“Look, C, I’m not expecting a fairy-tale ending here. But this is my purpose, don’t you see? This is what I was put on this earth to do. I have to tell him. He’s …” She takes a quick breath, like this next thing she’s about to say takes all her courage. “He’s the father of my child. He deserves to know.”

I’m familiar with that gleam of certainty in her eyes. Her faith in the vision, and how she feels in the vision, her faith in the way things work. I felt that way myself once, not long ago.

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