Boundless Page 42

His brows draw together. “Wait. You’re going with her?”

“She asked me to go. Well, she told me I was going, and so I am.”

His mouth twists into a disapproving line. “You should stay out of it.”

“It’s her purpose. Besides, Phen’s already met me, so it’s not like I’d be giving anything away, here. I’m going to be there for moral support.”

“No way.” His green eyes are frosty. “It’s too risky. He’s an angel. He could figure out what you are.”

“He’s not evil, technically speaking….”

Christian scoffs. “You heard what your dad said about ambivalent angels. He’s worse than the Black Wings, he said. They don’t have any allegiance to anybody.” He grabs me by the shoulders like he wants to shake some sense into me, but all he says is “We can’t go parading ourselves around in front of ambiguous angels.”

“Ambivalent,” I correct him. “And I was thinking a marching-band uniform and a baton.”

“Don’t joke about this,” he says. “I’m serious.”

I try to step back, but he’s holding me tightly.

“Don’t go,” he says. “Be cautious, for once in your life.”

“Don’t boss me around,” I say, shaking him off.

“Don’t be an idiot.”

“Don’t call me names.” I head for the door.

“Clara, please,” he pleads, his anger dissolving.

I stop.

“All my life … well, all my life since my mom died, my uncle warned me about this exact sort of thing. Don’t reveal yourself, to anyone. Don’t trust anyone.”

“Yeah, yeah, don’t talk to strange angels.” This would not be the best time to tell him about my little chat with Samjeeza this afternoon. And so I don’t. “I’m there in her vision, Christian.”

“You, of all people, should know that things don’t always happen the way they do in the visions,” he says.

That’s a low blow.

“Clara,” he starts in, “I’ve seen you in my vision, too. What if this is what’s going to—?”

I hold up my hand. “I think we’ve talked enough.”

I’m going to be there with Angela tomorrow. Where I’m supposed to be. Two steps behind. No matter how it turns out.

And so it comes to pass that at fifteen minutes to noon, February 13, a day that Angela herself picked to be her destiny, she and I set off from Roble to meet an ambivalent angel. She’s dressed up for the occasion, wearing a purple maternity camisole with lace at the hem, fitted jeans with a band around the belly instead of a zipper, a cream knit sweater that brings out the glow in her skin and the blue tint to her black hair. She’d even put on makeup, not her usual heavy eyeliner and dark lips, but a simple coat of mascara and rose-tinted lip balm. It’s warm weather for February, and Angela’s pink-cheeked and sweating under her layers of clothing, but she moves with a spring in her step that’s surprising for a girl in her condition. She looks healthy and vibrant and beautiful.

“I never paid attention to this part,” she huffs as we walk. “In the visions, I never thought about how I was feeling—physically, I mean. I can’t believe I never noticed this.” She gestures to her ballooning belly. “Or how my center of gravity has shifted way down. Or how I have to pee.”

“Do you want to stop?” I ask. “Find a bathroom?”

She shakes her head. “I can’t be late.”

The closer we get to the steps from her vision the lighter she feels, almost bursting into glory she’s so excited, her skin definitely glowing, her eyes alight with purpose.

“There he is,” she whispers suddenly, clutching at my hand.

There he is. Standing in the courtyard with his back to us, wearing a gray suit just as she described. What guy wears a suit to a meeting with his former girlfriend, I wonder? He’s looking at the burghers, whose downcast, mournful faces seem even more in contrast to the bright, sunny day, the flowers blooming all around the courtyard, the sun shining, the birds singing.

Birds. I glance around nervously. I hadn’t thought about birds.

Angela hands me her purse. “Here I go,” she says.

“I’m right behind you,” I promise, and trail her to the bottom of the steps.

She takes her time approaching Phen. The cut of her sweater parts in the middle, exposing her swollen belly, which pushes at the edge of her camisole like she’s swallowed a basketball, even though she’s not that big. I see her take a quick breath at the last step, and I can’t tell if it’s her sudden nervousness or my own that I’m feeling now.

She touches his shoulder, and he turns.

It’s definitely Phen. She was right on that count.

“Hello,” she says breathlessly.

“Hello, Angela,” he says, all charming smiles. “It’s good to see you.” He leans over and gives her a kiss on the mouth. I try not to think about the gray-souled creature that’s hiding in that attractive body of his.

“How are you?” she asks, like this is all about him.

“I’m better, for seeing you,” he says.

Um, gag me.

“You’re a vision,” he says. “I could paint you, right now.”

Here it comes. Her hands close into fists briefly, then release. “I’m better for seeing you, too,” she says, and pulls away from him, gazes down, and pushes the folds of her sweater back, rubbing her hand over her belly. His smile fades as his eyes travel down the length of her body. I swear that even from here I can see the color leave his face. I strain to hear their voices.

“Angela,” he gasps. “What happened to you?”

“You happened to me,” she says with a smirk in her voice, but then gets serious. “It’s yours, Phen.”

“Mine,” he breathes. “Impossible.”

“Ours,” she says, and I can’t see her face from here, but I think she’s smiling that serene, hopeful smile that’s so not the normal Angela—so open, so vulnerable. She puts her hand on his shoulder again, rests it there this time, looks up into his shocked dark eyes, and says, clearly, “The seventh is ours.”

A chill passes through me. Out of the corner of my eye I think I see the flutter of black wings, but when I look I don’t see anything. I turn my attention back to Phen. He reaches out and places his hand on her belly, his eyes still incredulous, and for a few seconds I think it’s all going to be okay, like Angela said. He’s going to take care of her. He’s going to protect them both.

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