Heaven and Hellsbane
    “What do you mean?” I asked.
    “The seraphim are gone,” Eli said.
    I glanced to the end of Nenita’s bed. “Even Fred?”
    Eli’s gaze slid to mine. “All of them.” And with that, he vanished.
    “I hate it when he does that,” Dan said. “Are we supposed to be impressed?”
    “You’re not?”
    Dan shook his head. “Never mind.”
    Tension thickened between us, the conversation tiptoeing too close to a sore spot neither of us wanted to pick at. He was jealous of Eli, jealous of the connection we had. I got that. But I couldn’t seem to make him understand that it didn’t matter how Eli felt about me or what feelings might be bubbling beneath my surface for the angel. Eli and I could never be. Period.
    In my head I knew there was no life with Eli, no hope of normalcy—only punishment and heartache. With Dan the future was full of possibilities and I wanted that…desperately.
    We turned our attention back to the easier problem of helping the traumatized girl. “Okay, Nenita. All the angels are gone. See? Think you can tell me what happened now?” I reached for her hand but she flinched away, pulling the sheet and blanket over her nose, hugging it tight against her chest.
    Dan dug into the back pocket of his slacks. He was still dressed nice from our date—maroon, buttoned shirt snug over his muscled chest, black tie, black suit jacket, and slacks. He looked good.
    “Nenita, my name’s Officer Wysocki.” He opened his wallet, showed her his badge. “I know a lot of weird stuff happened tonight. A lot of scary stuff. We’re going to get the people who hurt you, whoever—or whatever—they are. But I need your help. You think you could be brave just a little while longer and answer a few questions?”
    She stared for several agonizing seconds, then slowly reached out her hand, taking Dan’s badge. She studied it, rubbing her thumb over the raised symbols and letters. Finally, she nodded.
    “Good.” Dan exhaled, smiled, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “That’s good. Uh, let’s start at the beginning. How did you get, you know, marked?” He waggled a finger at her wrist and the illorum mark that was nearly healed.
    Ironically, it was the only injury that remained on her body. When I’d checked her chart for her name, I’d noticed she was being held for observation. There was no mention of wounds other than the tattoo on her wrist, which they thought might be infected judging by the redness. But in an hour or so even that would be healed. Being an illorum had its perks. Not many, but a few.
    “Friend of mine was gettin’ jumped and I ran over to help him out,” Nenita said, her inner city accent making her English sound almost foreign. She turned her wrist, glancing at her mark. “Found this sword leaning next to the building, but when I grabbed it, the fuckin’ thing burned me.”
    “Was your friend an illorum? Did he tell you that?” I asked, but the teenager wouldn’t look at me. She shrugged, staring at Dan’s badge. She wasn’t going to talk to me.
    Dan pivoted to sit on the edge of her bed, one knee casually resting on the mattress, the other leg braced on the floor. “How well did you know your friend?”
    Nenita’s dark eyes darted up to Dan. She shrugged again, but added, “Just met him a couple days ago at the center.”
    “The center?” I asked.
    Dan glanced at me. “Youth center.”
    “Axed if I wanted to play some table tennis,” Nenita said. “He’s all right. Cute enough. Crushin’ on me an’at.”
    “If he was an illorum,” I said, “he would’ve sensed she was a nephilim.”
    Nenita’s dark gaze jumped to me for an instant, as though she wasn’t sure what I meant.
    “You know that feeling you get, like when you’re on a roller coaster and your stomach drops?” I said. “You felt it every time he first came near you, right? Well, he felt it too. We can sense each other.”
    Nenita looked away without answering, her thumb stroking

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