The cats were restless. The hen was walking back and forth, pecking at everything. Tension was in the air and there was a feeling of impending…something…in the air.
“Are you ready?” demanded Annie. “Tinsel wants us there on time.”
“Yes. I’m ready,” said Clark, pulling a tee shirt over his head. “What is your problem? We have plenty of time.”
Annie thought for a minute, then said. “You’re right. It must be more of that 18th birthday thing and happy birthday, by the way.”
“You too,” he said, handing her a small box.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“I didn’t know we were exchanging gifts. I can’t accept this.”
“You better accept it,” he said, shoving the box at her. “You can get me the book I’ve been wanting. We can go to the bookstore tomorrow. Okay?”
“Okay,” said Annie, tearing at the paper. “Uh, it’s beautiful.”
“You like it?”
“I love it,” she whispered. I don’t know that I’ve ever gotten a real present before, not like this, I mean.”
“It has your initial on it and there’s a cat on the inside.”
Annie slipped the ring onto her finger and then threw herself into Clarks arms. He started laughing. “Now I know you like it,” he snickered.
“You can choose two books tomorrow.”
“Thank you. I know exactly which ones I want.”
“Ready?” asked Lucifer.
“Yes,” they said, at the same time.
Tinsel’s shop was in a rundown neighborhood. There was litter everywhere and people were sleeping in doorways and sprawled out on the sidewalks. Some of the street lights were out, broken, or they just had their bulbs stolen, but the lights in Tinsel’s windows lit up everything around it. A fairy bell rang as they opened the door.
“Perfect,” she said, looking at the clock. “It’s exactly seven minutes to seven. Annie you first, get in the chair.” A black and gray cat came out from behind a curtain and jumped into Annie’s lap. He purred, kneaded her legs, then curled up for a nap.
“That’s Henry. He runs the shop with me.”
“He’s wonderful,” said Annie, petting his ears.
“Sit still and be brave,” said Tinsel.
“What? Brave? Why?”
“I’m kidding. Just sit still.”
An hour later Tinsel was putting a plastic wrap around Annie’s arm. Keep slathering it with this stuff,” she said handing her a blue jar. You can take a shower with it unwrapped in twenty-four hours. The ink has been mixed with magical elements and DNA from you and Clark. That way, you’ll never be out of touch when there’s danger.”
“It’s beautiful,” said Annie, looking at her forearm. “I feel…I feel…different.”
“You are different. It’s the magic.”
“Clark! Why aren’t you in this chair?” snapped Tinsel.
Clark jumped up and threw himself into the chair. “Sorry.”
An hour later, he was looking at his arm in the mirror. “It’s fantastic. Thank you Tinsel.”
“Yes,” said Annie, hugging her, “thank you.”
“Okay, now listen up,” said Tinsel. “You won’t be able to eavesdrop on each other. Got it? When you are fearful, or stressed by a real threat, that will trigger the magic and you will immediately know where the other person is. Got it?”
“Got it,” said Annie.
“Me too,” said Clark.
“You can’t get an infection but put the stuff on it for a week just to keep your the tattoo moist until it’s completely healed. The cat and the dragon are powerful magic in and of themselves, so you should be doubly protected.”
Annie reached into her bag and pulled out a chocolate cake. “For you.”
Tinsel’s eyes lit up. “Wow, thank you.”
Lucifer took an envelope out of his pocket and placed it on a side table. “Thank you.”
Tinsel stared at him. They looked into each other’s eyes for two or three minutes then they both nodded and said goodbye.
Once home and back in the kitchen, the hen settled down and so did the cats. They were all eating cake and admiring Tinsel’s incredible artwork when Matthew fell against the back door and slid out of sight. Lucifer opened the door and dragged the angel inside. He was covered with blood and barely conscious. “They’re coming for you L. Take the kids and run.”
“Help me,” said Lucifer. “Annie, get the bed ready. Clark, grab his feet.”
They got the angel into bed and Annie started to clean him up.
“What are we going to do?” asked Clark, picking up a wet rag and starting to help Annie.
“We don’t run from white wings. They run from us.”
“I think this is going to need stitches,” said Annie, looking at a gash in the angels thigh.
“Just tape it closed. It will heal by itself. Are you two ready for battle?”
“Of course,” said Clark.
“I’m ready,” said Annie. “I’ll call the cats.” She closed her eyes and sent out the cat signal. The cats in the house ran to her side and suddenly cats were everywhere, in the apartment, in the street, on top of cars, on balconies, in the alley and on rooftops. “They’re ready,” said Annie, knowingly, her heart beat meshed with theirs.
“This isn’t a game. It’s to the death. You know that don’t you?”
“We do,” said Clark.
Annie just nodded. Then she covered Matthew with a blanket, put a damp rag on his forehead, took the bowl of bloody water out of the room and closed the door.
Clark, Annie, Lucifer and hundreds of cats stood in the living room, waiting for the attack. They didn’t have to wait long.