Annie found out
that you can’t see something
you can only see that
how hard you try
you can’t see it
even if you
Annie found out
that you can’t see something
you can only see that
how hard you try
you can’t see it
even if you
Annie walked through the gate and strolled down the street. White wings were standing on both sides of the lane, watching in silence, as she passed.
When she finally came to the place where the angel had given her instructions, she turned to the crowd and said,”What?” to no one in particular.
“You’re alive?” asked an angel.
“You can see me, can’t you?”
The angel she sought stepped forward. “Is he…?”
“He’s dead, if that’s what you want to know,” said Annie. “Can you take me home, please. The angel held out her hand and Annie took it.
The cats were still on the mailbox when she got back. They were hissing at a man who was trying to mail a letter. She kissed the cats, apologized to the human, took his letter and dropped it into the box. Then she turned to the cats and said, “Let’s go home.”
Lucifer threw open the door and hugged her. Everyone was there, Clark, Sandra, Silver, Matthew, Adeline, the puppies, the cats and Tinsel.
“I kind of killed him,” she said, smiling at the cats and puppies. Adeline clucked and Annie waved at her. “He mostly killed himself, I just helped him see why he should.”
“How did you do it?” asked Silver
“I showed him who and what he really was. I made him feel all the misery and pain that he caused others but I think it was the fact that he was the only one who thought he was special that pushed him over the edge. He imagined that everyone saw him as this amazing, powerful being, when in truth, they saw him as a small, selfish, ugly, spoiled, deluded tyrant.”
Cake was passed around and after a little too much catnip, some of the cats started running up the walls. The puppies fell asleep on the floor and Adeline clucked and dozed on the kitchen table.
“He killed her because she wouldn’t leave you for him,” said Annie, looking a Lucifer.
Lucifer buried his face in his hands. Annie patted him on the back. “She made the right choice. There wasn’t anything you could have done to make it turn our differently and look,” she said, smiling. “You got me out of it.”
“I couldn’t feel you through the tattoo,” said Clark, frowning.
“That’s because she didn’t feel that she was in any danger,” said Tinsel.
“Thank you for saving my life,” said Matthew, a gray tabby, asleep in his arms.
“Things will calm down for awhile,” sighed Lucifer. “With Michael gone, everyone will need time to regroup.”
“Thank you for trusting me,” said Annie, looking at Lucifer.
“It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done,” he said.
“We knew you were okay because the cats were all acting normally,” said Sandra. “And I’ve been thinking about what you said. Maybe everyone should call me Feather.”
“Feather it is,” said Annie happily.
They ate cake and chatted through the night and into the next morning. No one knew how long it would be before the fighting began again but they weren’t gong to waste the time they had worrying about it.
Life evened out after Michael was gone. Lucifer merged their apartment with the one next to them, so there would be more room for the cats. Clark stated working at the same store as Jasmine and Annie got a job with an animal rescue organization, which just happened to be located across the street from the bookstore. Feather and Silver came over a lot and when Tinsel wasn’t working she dropped in as well. The cats, dogs and Adeline were happy and content and Lucifer never stopped telling Annie stories about her mother. Matthew and Feather started dating and Annie and Clark thought Silver was madly in love with Lucifer but he couldn’t see it. All in all, life was pretty good…for the moment. But as Annie would say, “A moment’s all we ever have.”
Annie and several cats walked to the corner. “I’ll just stand here,” she said, because it felt just like what she should do. The cats seemed to agree, so that’s what they all did. Actually, the cats sat on top of a large blue mailbox.
Ten minutes later an angel came up to her and said, “Ready?”
Annie kissed the cats goodbye, then turned and said, “Yes, I’m ready.” The angel held out her hand, Annie took it and they were walking down a street in a place that reminded her of home, just more so. “Is this where the rich angels live?” she asked.
“Only a child raised around humans would ask that question but essentially, yes, it is.”
“Are you going to take me to Michael?”
“Me?” laughed the angel. “No. I’m just going to point you in the right direction.”
“Okay, well thank you.”
“There aren’t any cats here,” said the angel warningly.
“That’s okay. My heart holds all the cats there are.”
“Go down that street,” she said, pointing, “all the way to the end.”
“And then what?”
“That all. Just go that way until you can’t go any farther.”
“You’ve been very kind and helpful. Thank you.”
“Child. I may be doing you the greatest disservice of all.”
“I’ll be fine.”
The angel bowed and walked away away. White wings were looking at her but she had white wings too, so she felt that she fit in rather well. She was wrong, of course, but she didn’t know that and what a person thinks is truly the only thing that matters.
Annie walked until she came to a great iron gate. The sign said, MICHAEL, and underneath that it said, ARCHANGEL. Annie started laughing.
“What so funny?” asked an angel about her age.
“You’re kidding,” she gasped. ” Michael Archangel? How pretentious can one get? I mean if he was a doctor or a baker a sign would be nice, so everyone could find him, but archangel? Really? You don’t see a problem with that?”
“That’s what he is,” said the angel.
“Do you have your name and the word boy after it attached to the door at house? I mean you have a name and you are a boy, so that’s what you are, right?
“It’s so egotistical and conceited and…”
“You might not want to say those things where he can hear you,” said the angel, nervously.
“He won’t like it.”
“Thats because he’s…”
“BECAUSE I’M WHAT?”
The boy made a small waving motion and ran away.”
“People like you, bullies, I mean, like it when people are afraid of you. How pathetic is that?”
“AND YOU AREN’T AFRAID OF ME?”
“Why would I be?”
“I’M AN ALL POWERFUL ARCHANGEL.”
“Whatever. Your just a guy surrounded by people who tell you what you want to hear because they fear you.”
“WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT?”
“WHY ARE YOU HERE?”
“I’m here to kill you.”
“KILL ME?” snickered the archangel, his wings starting to open.
“Am I supposed to be impressed?” asked Annie. “I have wings too, you know, but I don’t flaunt them and I’ve lived among humans for a very long time and believe me, you aren’t even close to the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.”
“I THINK I LIKE YOU,” said Michael.
“Don’t bother. You won’t be here long enough to get to know me.”
“COME INSIDE,” he said, opening the gate.
“Okay,” she said, following him.
“WHY DO YOU WANT TO KILL ME?”
“The right way to ask that question is, why are you going to kill me.”
Michael laughed again. “YOU REMIND ME OF SOMEONE.”
“I’m going to kill you because you’re evil and hurt others for your own gain. I’m going to kill you for revenge. I’m going to kill you because you need to die and I’m going to kill you because I can.”
“GO ON,” said Michael, settling into a chair.
“You murdered my mother.”
“I’VE MURDERED A LOT OF ANGELS. BUT, YES, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND I DID MURDER YOUR MOTHER. SHE LOVED LUCIFER.”
“I love him too.”
“YOUR MOTHER WAS…SPECIAL. I OFFERED HER EVERYTHING. BUT STILL, SHE WANTED HIM.”
“I can certainly see why she wouldn’t want you,” said Annie, making a gagging motion.
“MAYBE I DON’T LIKE YOU,” he said.
“Maybe I don’t care.”
“SO KILL ME, IF YOU CAN.”
Annie nodded and pulled her chair forward, so that she was sitting directly in front of him touching his knees with hers. “Can you see into my heart?”
“OF COURSE. I’M MICHAEL. I’M AN ARCHANGEL I CAN SEE EVERYTHING.”
“Do you ever get tired of saying that?”
“I DO NOT.”
Annie sighed and stared at him. “Look into my heart, Michael. Really look.”
The angel leaned forward, smiling. “I LIKE GAMES.”
“I was counting on that,” said Annie. “Now look into my heart.”
Michael closed his eyes. Soon the smile slid from his lips and he began to frown. Annie held him tightly in her mind. The archangel began to pant and shake his head back and forth.
“LET GO OF ME,” he said.
But Annie held him.
“STOP I TELL YOU,” shouted Michael. “I COMMAND YOU TO STOP!”
Annie showed him pictures of Clark rolling on the floor with the puppies, of Adeline, showing off her new tattoo. She showed him pictures of Lucifer laughing, loving them, and eating cake. She showed him Matthew, dying, willing to sacrifice himself to save them. She showed him Sandra, Silver and Tinsel. She showed him the cats, loving her, fighting by her side.
Michael threw himself back in his chair, his hands pressed against his chest. “STOP,” he shouted. ‘THAT’S ENOUGH.”
“That’s what love feels like, Michael. That’s what you kill.” She showed him her mother. Her beautiful face, full of love and light, dancing in the sun, filled with joy and wonder.
Then she showed him the bodies of slain angels who died so that he could have more and more power. She showed him the fear and hatred that the angels felt for him. She showed him the agony of the humans he tortured and played with. She made him feel everything, the the love, the joy, the fear, the pain, the helplessness, the betrayal, the dying. She showed him his hands covered in the blood of humans, animals and angels.
Then she showed him his own heart. Putrid and rotting in his chest. Loveless and filled with never-ending want, greed, and need for more power over others. She showed him his wings, torn and filthy. She showed him his true face.
“NOOOO!” he screamed.
“Yes,” said Annie standing up. “I have the heart of a cat and I’m filled with love and love trumps hate and evil. You lose, Michael, Archangel.”
Michael fell from his chair and lay still, at her feet. He looked relaxed but older, thought Annie, as she stared at him. Two angels rushed into the room and hurried to his side.
“He’s dead,” said Annie, matter of factly.
“He committed suicide,” said Annie. And then she left.
“Annie,” said Lucifer, carefully. “You do know what an archangel is, don’t you?”
“Sure, but I don’t care. And you can’t do it, Lucifer. My mom said that it has to be me.”
“But he’s powerful, Annie. Almost as powerful as I am.”
“I’m powerful too.”
“You’re just a girl.”
“I’m afraid for you. You don’t have any experience…”
“Look,” she said, grabbing him by the shirt. She pulled him forward and stared into his eyes, their noses almost touching. “I have a to do this and you have to stay out of it. Those are my instructions. If you interfere you will get us both killed.”
Lucifer pulled her hands off of his shirt. “Don’t ever do that again.”
“Don’t make me,” she said.
“Do you have a plan?”
“My mom said that I’ll know what to do when I see him, so I guess that’s my plan. To see him.”
“How are you going to do that?”
“I’m going to where he lives.”
“How will you get there?”
Annie shrugged. “I just will. Things are already falling into place.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that we don’t have to worry about anything.”
“Can I at least come with you?”
“No. I have to go alone or it won’t work.”
“What won’t work?”
“I won’t be able to kill him,” sighed Annie. “Look, I know you don’t like this but parents have to let their children go. I’m big now and mom said that you would understand, after the kind of childhood you had.”
Lucifer looked away. “She always did know the right thing to say.”
“I didn’t know her. Maybe, when I get back, you can tell me about her.”
Lucifer nodded. “I’d like that.”
“Me too,” said Annie, putting her arms around his neck. “I love you but you have to let me do this.”
“Okay,” he said. “When you return, I will tell you about your mother and we can celebrate.”
“I’d like that.”
“I love you.”
“I know. Please don’t worry,” said Annie. “I have to go.”
“ANNIE,” shouted Lucifer.
Cats ran into the room and piled on top of her. They were howling and meowing at the top of their lungs. Lucifer tried to push them off, but Clark grabbed his shoulders and said, “Let them help her.”
“What have I done?” he gasped.
Lucifer reached through the pile of cats and placed his hand on Annie’s forehead. He closed his eyes and started channeling healing energy into her, ignoring the scratching and biting the cats were inflicting upon him, in order to get him out of the way. He was careful not to give her too much. He was all-powerful and had to forced himself to hold back.
Matthew began to stir. “What’s going on?” he asked. “Im thirsty.”
Clark told him what Annie did and Matthew groaned, rolled off the bed, onto the floor, dug through the writhing cats, put his hand on Annie’s arm and started giving his energy to her. Adeline pecked her way through the sea of cats until she made it to Annie’s side, where she leaned into her and sent her love. The hounds came in, and threw themselves down next to the cats.
“I think she’s gone,” muttered Clark. “I can’t fell her any longer.”
“If that’s your attitude, leave the room!” said Lucifer sharply.
“Dad, you didn’t know this would happen.”
“Get out,” he said, in a controlled, flat, terrifying voice.
“You’re right,” said Clark. “I’m sorry,” and he added his hands to the pile.
“Lucifer,” said Silver. “It’s time to stop.”
“I’ll stop when I’m ready,” he hissed.
Some of the cats had fallen asleep on top of Annie, others were bathing and stretching.
“Dad, look at the cats.”
He did. “What about them?”
“If Annie was dead, the cats wouldn’t BE fine.”
The cats allowed Lucifer to push them off of Annie’s body. He gathered her in his arms and spoke to her in soft whispers, rocking her back and forth.
Annie rubbed her nose, sat up and said, “Wow! Who’s Michael?”
“You’re okay?” asked Lucifer, is eyes wide.”
“He’s a white-winged angel, why?”
“I’m going to kill him,” she said. “I just had the weirdest dream and you look a lot better Matthew. I saw my mother and she told me to tell you that she’ll always love you, Lucifer and she’s so happy that we found each other. I’m really hungry for cake. Anyone else?” she asked pushing herself to her feet?
The cats, the puppies and the hen followed Annie into the kitchen. The angels stayed where they were.
“I have no idea what just happened,” said Lucifer.
“She healed me,” said Matthew.
“I think she was dead,” said Clark.
“Let’s have some cake,” said Silver, waving everyone into the other room.
“I LOVE this cake,” said Annie, eating her third piece. It’s seriously delicious.”
“Annie, tell us about your dream,” said Lucifer.
“Okay,” she said, taking another mouthful of cake. “I saw my mom and we were in this place where angels go after they aren’t really alive any longer, but they kind of seem as if they are because they aren’t really dead either. Anyway, she smiled and told me that she loved you, Lucifer. She said that I was doing a great job with the cats and that I should always follow my heart, which is easy, because it’s a cat’s heart and cats always know the right thing to do. She said she loved me and was happy to see me but that I was only there for a visit. She said that another war is coming and it’s going to be worse than the last one. She said that she was murdered.”
“Murdered?” shouted Lucifer.
“Yes, she said that they were fighting in the angel war and they were pushing the angels back but someone she trusted, killed her. His name was Michael”
“Michael killed her?”
Annie nodded. He did. She said you would know who he was and that once you found out what he did you would want to kill him but she told me to tell you that it was my job, so to stay out of my way.”
The color drained from Lucifer’s face. Silver put her hand on his arm. “You need to take a step back, just for a minute or two.”
“Annie,” said Clark. “Michael is an archangel.”
“You can’t kill an archangel,” said Clark.
“Sure I can. My mom told me how to do it,” said Annie smiling. “More cake, anyone?”
A hight pitched whistling sound told them the angels were coming. All three called their swords. The cats stood ready and so did the hounds The first angel broke through the window and Lucifer dispatched him with a single swipe of his sword. Then the angels started screaming, as they poured through the windows.
Everything happened quickly. The cats were biting, clawing and tearing at wings. Annie and Clark were fighting hard and Annie was disappearing angels right and left but no matter how many they killed, more just kept coming. Lucifer was fighting like a machine, killing one angel after another when suddenly the white wings were frozen in place.
“Why didn’t you let me know you were having a party?” said Silver. “Keeping all the fun stuff to yourselves?”
“Silver,” said Lucifer politely. “I’m teaching my children how to fight.”
“I see,” she said. “How’s that working out?”
“Brilliantly,” he said, happily. “The cat’s and puppies are having a wonderful time as well.”
“Do you want me to make them go away?” asked Annie.
“If you don’t mind,” said Lucifer.
Annie held up her hands and said, “Go away white wings and never come back to us again. Ever!”
The angels disappeared. Silver stared at Annie.
“Our dad just wanted us to practice,” said Annie. “I think we did okay.”
Two of the cats were hurt and Annie went to care for them. Clark went to check on Matthew.
“What just happened?” asked Silver.
“She has a gift,” he said.
“You were letting them practice?”
“How else can the test themselves, if not in battle?” said Lucifer.
“True,” said Silver. “They do need experience.”
“Buttercup and Aurora might be limping for a few days but I don’t think anything’s broken. I gave them healing energy and put their beds in the bathroom, so they can rest. Bunny has a bloody ear but that will heal. Everyone else seems to be fine,” said Annie. I think they fought bravely, don’t you?”
“Indeed,” said Lucifer. “I shall thank your cats myself. They seemed to enjoy ripping feathers out of wings.”
“Oh, yes, they did like that very much. You know how it is…cats…birds.”
“Dad,” said Clark. Matthew isn’t any better.”
“Matthew is here?” asked Silver.
“He came to warn me.”
“You know how he is,” he said, walking toward the bedroom.
Annie led the Silver into the kitchen and passed out cake plates.
“How did you make the angels disappear, Annie?” asked Silver.
Annie shrugged. “I don’t know. I can just do it.”
“You can just do it?”
“What was your mother?”
“What do you mean?”
“What magic did she have?”
“She died right after I was born. I don’t know anything about her.”
“I’m sorry,” said Sandra.
“Me too,” said Annie. “Thank you.”
“Yes, Adeline, you were very brave. I saw you peck at a lot of ankles and downed angels.”
“The hen stood up straighter and flapped her wings.”
“The bird was fighting with you?” asked Silver, in amazement.
“Of course. We’re a family.”
“Is that a tattoo on her leg?”
“It is but it’s just temporary,” whispered Annie. “She doesn’t know that.”
“Matt, why did you come here?” sighed Lucifer.
“Brothers,” he whispered, reaching for Lucifer’s hand.
“Why aren’t you better?” asked Lucifer, suddenly worried.
“Poison blades,” he muttered. “They knew I would come here.”
“ANNIE,” shouted Lucifer. “HERE. NOW.”
Annie ran into the room. “What’s wrong?”
“Matthew is dying. He was stabbed with a poison blade. Is there anything you can do to help him?”
Annie pushed Lucifer aside. Three black cats came into the room and jumped onto the bed. One curled up on Matthew’s chest, another on his gut, and the third cat wrapped herself around his head. Annie put her hands over the angel and closed her eyes. More cats came into the room and started laying around the angel’s body. Then they all closed their eyes and started dreaming with Annie. Annie ran her hands up and down the angel’s body, her inner eye watching colors and words fall from her own palms. Eventually, the angel’s ragged breathing began to even out. As soon as that happened, the cats leapt from the bed and Annie fell unconscious to the floor.
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.
“You’re learning fast,” said Clark. “You’re quick and you have perfect balance.”
“Thanks,” said Annie, gratefully. “You’re a good teacher.”
“You can call your sword now and that’s important but if things get bad, just make the angels disappear. You’re still new at this and you need to build up your practice hours so that you can think faster than the angel you’re fighting. The only way to do that is to practice…a lot. Fighting has to be second nature. You don’t think about what you’re doing, your body just knows what to do. Do you understand?”
“I do and I can see that I have a long way to go. Thank you for practicing with me.”
“As long as you remember that I’m not really trying to kill you. The angels you’ll be fighting won’t stop until you’re dead and they will use any moment that you’re off guard to take advantage of you.”
Annie called her sword, threw it across the room as hard as she could and watched it slice through the practice dummy and lodge deep into the wall.
“Nice,” said Clark, laughing. “When did you learn to do THAT?”
Annie shrugged. “I just thought I’d try it.”
“I have to go,” said Annie, racing up the stairs, through the kitchen, out the back door and down the fire escape. “STOP WHERE YOU ARE!” she shouted. “Those are my cats you’re trying to catch.”
“They’re feral and it’s our job to get them off the streets,” said a mean looking man in a brown uniform.
“They aren’t feral. I said they were MINE. Is there something wrong with your hearing?”
“No, I can hear you. I’m so sorry. It won’t happen again,” stuttered the man, dropping the noose.
“You have a nice day,” said the person who was climbing back into the driver’s seat. We won’t come here again, okay? Just forget you saw us,” he said, as the van took off down the alley.
“Annie,” said Lucifer, from the top of the fire escape. “Put your wings away, please.”
“What? My wings? They aren’t…” she said, looking over her shoulder. “Oh, sorry. I didn’t know.”
“No one will believe them, if they tell anyone what they saw, but you have to be more careful.”
“That’s never happened before,” she said, stubbornly. “I didn’t do it on purpose, they were scaring my cats.”
“You’ll be eighteen tomorrow. I think you’ll notice a lot of new things happening. Come up and have some cake. Tinsel will be here shortly.”
Annie tamped down her anger, took a deep breath, and turned toward the cats. “Minnow told me you were in trouble. If anyone tries to catch you, you have to run or hide and if I don’t sense that something’s wrong, send someone to get me.”
“Yes,” she sighed. “I know that’s what you did. I’m sorry. It’s just that I love all of you so much. A minute later she was buried in cats. They slid over her, mewing and purring and just rubbing against her. Their heartbeats in sync, made Annie feel as if she were flying. “Maybe you are the ones taking care of me and not the other way around,” she laughed.
“Annie?” called Clark. “Tinsel’s here.”
“Come on,” said Annie, trying to stand up. “Come up with me.”
The cats raced up the fire escaped and poured into the house. Some walked on the banister and others jumped through the kitchen window.
“Ah,” said Lucifer. “I see you’ve invited guests.”
“I love them.”
“That’s good enough for me,” he said smiling. “Please, my furry friends, make yourselves at home.”
“I’m a cat person,” said Tinsel. “Nice to meet you. I mean dogs are great, it’s just that they aren’t cats.”
“You’re the cutest person I’ve ever seen,” said Annie, staring her.
“Oh, sorry,” said Tinsel. “It’s the glamour. There, now you can see me for who I am.”
“There’s no change,” said Annie.
“There should be,” mumbled Tinsel, looking at her arms. “I’m part fairy, so I can look a lot of different ways.”
“Are you always adorable?” asked Annie, “Because you are pretty much perfect.”
“Let’s talk tattoos, shall we?”
“Sure,” said Annie.
“Definitely,” said Clark.
“Cluck,” said Adeline.
“No, I told you that chickens can’t get tattooed,” whispered Annie.
The bird held up her leg.
“No, not even on your leg.”
An hour later the design was finished. It was a magical twisting that would incorporate the cat and the dragon in a way that would keep Annie and Clark connected. They both loved it and couldn’t wait to have it on their skin.
“I think you should put it on your forearm,” said Tinsel, ‘picking up each of their arms. “Yes, definitely. The forearm. And how about you Lucifer? Do you want to make it a triple play?”
“No, but I appreciate the offer,” he said, bowing a little.
“Why not?” asked Annie.
“Because it would be dangerous for both of you if you always knew where I was.”
“But what if we get into trouble?” asked Annie.
“You have each other.”
“Okay,” said Clark.
“Okay,” said Annie. “But don’t complain if you need help but we can’t FIND you.”
“You have my word,” said Lucifer, trying desperately not to laugh out loud.
“Tomorrow at my shop. Seven minutes past seven,” said Tinsel. “An auspicious time for both of you,” she added. “I can draw on the hen’s leg with a marker, if you like.”
“Cluck,” said Adeline moving closer to her.
“I’ll hold her,” said Annie, picking up the bird.
“Stay still,” said Tinsel, drawing a tiny heart with stars around it on Adeline’s skinny leg.
“There,” said Tinsel. “Finished.”
Once on the floor the hen strutted back and forth, stopping only to look down at her own leg, which was almost impossible since she was a rather large bird in every way imaginable.
“Cake?” asked Clark.
“I would love some,” said Tinsel.
After everyone had two pieces of cake, with ice cream and sprinkles, Tinsel left.
“What’s happening to me?” asked Annie. “I’m angry all of a sudden. I wanted to hurt those men. Really hurt them. No one goes after cats while I’m in town.”
“I’ve been feeling different as well,” said Clark, softly. “I want to fight. I want to fly and I’m worried about things too.”
“It’s just your eighteenth birthdays,” said Lucifer. “Those things will only last for a couple of days and then you’ll…even out, You’ll be different but you won’t notice huge emotional swings and when your angry, hopefully your wings will stay behind you.”
“Annie threw her sword through the fighting dummy and into the wall,” said Clark. “She’s very strong.”
“You did what?” asked Lucifer. “Show me.”
So Annie did. Three times. Each time, the sword went deeper into the wall.
“They’re still after your dad,” said Annie.
“Our dad,” said Clark.
“Our dad. They’re after him for something I did.”
“You just sent Gabe away, you didn’t kill him.”
“Feels as if I did.”
“Well, you didn’t.”
“What’s in the cake? Why do we eat so much of it and why does everyone love it?”
Clark smiled. “It’s real Devil’s Food cake with Chocolate Devil’s icing. It makes everyone stronger, healthier and happier. The white wings have white angel food cake and it makes them feel like they’re starving because of the way they see everything around them. That’s why Matthew ate two pieces of our cake and took the one you handed him, as well. It doesn’t make them feel as good as it makes us feel, but anything is better than white angel food cake. Where we come from, everyone eats it everyday, just like we do. The name is just a joke but we think it’s funny.”
“So, it’s addictive?”
“I suppose it is, in a way, but it’s more like a delicious multiple vitamin. It has everything we need to be the best we can be.”
“Is it magick?” asked Annie.
“A little,” said Lucifer, walking into the room. “Magick is what we are. So, what are you going to do with all your new freedom?”
“Pretty much all the stuff we’ve always done behind your back,” said Clark.
Lucifer rubbed his hands over his face. “TMI.”
Annie burst into laughter. “You know what that means?”
“Of course, I know what it means.”
“I think Clark has a girlfriend,” smiled Annie.
“I do not,” he said, glaring at her, then grinning.
“She works at the organic fruit stand. Her name is Jasmine. She’s really pretty. Her eyes are the lightest brown I’ve ever seen and she can’t stop smiling whenever he’s around.”
“That’s not true,” laughed Clark.
“You know it is,” said Annie.
“And what about Tommy?” said Clark.
Annie turned scarlet. “What about him?”
“Every time we go to the bookstore he pushes everyone out of the way so that he can wait on you. He’s always asking what you like to read and…”
“It’s a BOOKSTORE, of course he’s asking me what I like to read.”
“You KNOW what I mean.”
She looked at Lucifer and sighed. “Your son is weird.”
“You mean your brother?” asked Lucifer.
Annie stood there with her mouth open. “My brother,” she said, looking at Clark.
“I’m your brother so that means I can tease you more often and be mean to you.”
“No it doesn’t,” she said.
“I think it does,” he snickered.
“I’m assuming Jasmine and Tommy are human.”
Clark and Annie nodded.
“Just remember that humans are fragile and they die quickly. So broken hearts and all that.”
“Dad!” said Clark. “That’s not fair.”
“It’s the truth. You can’t stop them from dying.”
“What are you going to do about Matthew?” asked Annie, pushing Clark into a chair.
“There’s nothing to do. He’s on one side and I’m on the other. There’s no talking about the issue because there’s no room for compromise.”
“Will he try to kill you?” asked Clark.
“Only if he has to. We go back a long way and that means something.”
“It seems like a lot of people want to kill you,” said Annie, thoughtfully.
“That always do,” he said, flatly.
The angel looked at Annie. “Who would be superior to angels?”
“You’re not superior to anyone,” said Annie. “No one is. You have a bad attitude. Your ego is getting in the way of your ability to see what you are.”
“Ego?” laughed the angel. “Egos are for humans, not angels.”
“Then I must assume that one of your parents was human because you act more like a human than most humans I’ve met.”
The angle snarled. Lucifer had a blade against his throat before the snarl was finished. “Did you just grow at my daughter?” he asked softly.
“I’m sorry,” said the angel. “Forgive me. It won’t happen again. I swear it on my wings.”
“You’re no better than the worst of the humans,” said Annie, her voice filled with disgust. “Filled with feelings of superiority, you discriminate, and look down on anyone you please. I don’t know how Lucifer could have ever been your fiend.”
The angel smiled. “Before the humans came, there was only us. At least that’s what we thought. We were wrong, of course, but we didn’t know that then.”
“You can take the knife away now, thank you. He won’t hurt me,” said Annie. “He can use a towel to stop the bleeding.”
Lucifer lowered the blade. “She’s very generous. Don’t you agree Matthew?”
“I do,” he said, pressing the cloth to his throat.
Annie walked up to the angel and bent close t him. “Don’t think I’m easy because I’m not. If you hurt anyone I love, you’ll wish Lucifer had killed you. Do you understand?”
The angel looked into her eyes. Then he nodded. “She’s more than just a kid from you and Lanee, L. A lot more.”
Lucifer sighed. “You always were a good judge of character. Except when it came to your own, I mean.”
“If you ever change your mind,” said the angel, putting Adeline on the floor. “You know how to reach me.”
“One more thing. They still want you for Gabe’s death, so watch your back.”
The angel smiled at Annie and Clark. “Thank you for the cake.”
“Here’s a slice for on the way home,” said Annie, handing him a wrapped package and a napkin.
The angel left by the back door and Lucifer let out his breath. “Well played children,” he said. “Well played, indeed.”
“He meant you too,” said Annie, petting the chicken.