“I need to go and check on some things tonight, but I don’t want to leave you.” Max finally confesses after our night at the club. I stop peeling off my jacket as we stand in the doorway of my house.
“I could go with you.” I offer trying to help him. He shakes his head vehemently. I nod understandingly. “You need to go back to Hell.” He nods looking completely torn. I smile sweetly at him before I bring my lips to his in a gentle caress. “Well be careful.” I tell him sternly and I’m met with a wicked smile. I let my jacket fall to the floor along with the rest of my clothes piece by piece as Max stands watching on with covetous blue flaming eyes.
“I’ll just wait right here. Like this until you return.” I tease him coyly turning my back on him to start ascending the stairs. I squeal with laughter as I’m scooped up by strong arms and run up the stairs at lightning speed before being gently laid out on top of my bed. “I thought you had somewhere you needed to be?” I tease confidently.
The look he gives me in return makes me feel like a purely sexual being, capable of granting his most secret desires. I blush from the attention and have to turn my head away from the intensity of his worshipping gaze. I feel the bed dip beside me as I continue to stare fixated by the bedspread. Max’s fingers tenderly grip my chin to turn my face back to look at him. I bite my lip desperate to keep my feelings in check.
His gaze so intent locks onto mine. Suddenly his focus becomes awe filled as his eyes scan mine frantically. “I can see my eyes reflected in yours.” He whispers in astonishment. I smile at him as a tear slips from my eye. His lips stop its descent down my cheek before his eyes lock on mine again in pure fascination.
“You can see it.” I confirm as I stare back into his glowing blue eyes now rimmed with tears. He nods subtly. I try not to start blubbering like a baby at the realization that he can see his grace in my eyes, because his heart believes it. His heart could only believe in grace if it believed in love as well. My heart practically leaps into my throat as he continues to study my eyes. All of a sudden his eyes cloud over darkly.
I almost flinch at the effect. His hands drop from my body and he leaps off the bed. His gaze is cold and distant now and it breaks my heart. He’s so convinced that his grace is gone he can’t even believe his own eyes. I look at him pleadingly but his entire demeanor is closed off. “I have to go.” He says shortly. He disappears into the black mist that makes me run from the room.
I heave over the toilet but it’s just a dry retching response to the Sulphur smell when he disappears like that. I splash my face with the cool water as I look up into the bathroom mirror. For a split second I think I see my own eyes glowing with a light of grace similar to Max’s. I shake it off as I clear my head, the only thing in my eyes are the warm tears pooling after Max’s cold retreat.
I fall into my bed feeling emotionally exhausted from my week. I’m glad for the few moments of solitude to give into my weakness as I cry into my pillow. My head is a storm of so many different things. Losing my father, letting go of my mother. Lucifer showing up twice in a week to torment me. Yet the thing that stands out the most is meeting Raziel and the hope he gave me that Max can be restored. Then all my thoughts drift to Max.
I know he saw his grace, now I just need to convince him that it’s real. I think I will first have to convince him of his feelings for me before I can make him believe in his own grace. I exhale in frustration at the thought of trying to get the stoic Max to realize that he feels something other than lust for me. I have a split second doubt that perhaps he doesn’t feel the same about me as I do for him.
No. I can’t even think like that after everything he’s done for me since he came into my life. My thoughts work me into exhaustion until the darkness claims my mind for sleep. When I wake in my empty bed with the sun on my face my heart falls a little. I didn’t realize just how much I’d gotten used to having Max with me. I let my hand reach out over the empty space on the bed and feel even more dejected when I feel the cool touch of the sheets.
I look over at the clock and I’m shocked by how late I managed to sleep today. I get out of bed and call Nina to meet me for a late lunch, we need to talk. I send up a silent prayer that Max is okay. I know he can handle himself and his confidence in that fact is second to none, but I’m still worried about him.
Nina can see the worry in my eyes as I pour out my heart and soul to her over lunch. Her response is pretty much as expected as she orders us a couple of drinks to take off the edge. I tell her about Lucifer being at the funeral and her face blanches. She’s stunned into silence—for Nina—that’s almost unheard of. Her hand reaches across to grab mine on the table.
“What does this mean?” She asks urgently. I shake my head at her uncertainly.
“I’ve been feeling that pull for a while now, then he shows up twice in a week after thirteen years of silence.” I trail off thoughtfully before I look at her defeated. “I think he’s getting impatient.” I say warningly.
“Oh Kenna.” She pleads desperately. I try to smile reassuringly at her. I know my time is coming to an end soon, I can almost feel it like a clock counting down on my soul. I refuse to let that knowledge distract me from my goal. I tell McKenna my plan and she shakes her head in disbelief.
“That’s crazy Kenna, just forget him and worry about yourself. You have to quit work, go into hiding or something.” She rants incoherently. I smile indulgently at her.
“Where do you imagine I should hide from the devil?” I ask her playfully.
“Don’t joke about this McKenna. What about that Angel? Can he help you?” She tries to bargain. I nod as I smile at her.
“He’s already helped me. He gave me hope that I can save Maximus.” I tell her happily.
“Fuck Maximus, save yourself.” She demands harshly. I look at her curiously and shake my head.
“You know I can’t do that. Nor would I if I could.” I confess sadly. Her tears start to stream down her face like silent rivers of pain. “Oh Manishka.” I coo jumping up from my seat to wrap my arms around her in a bone crushing hug, which she returns equally strong. We sit together in her booth seat arms wrapped tightly around each other as she cries openly.
“You’re my best friend. How am I supposed to just accept this?” She pleads defiantly. I lean back to plant a light kiss on her cheek.
“You’re my sister. Not only are you strong enough to get through this, you’re strong enough to help carry my through it as well. Because without your help, I don’t think I can do this.” I tell her worriedly. She scoffs and shakes her head.
“You’ve always been the strong one, holding me up. Daarnya McKenna Alvarette I will love you my sister through the rest of my life and Hell after that. I will do anything I can to help you. I’ve always got your back.” I hug her fiercely and echo her sentiments. We’ve been bound as sisters stronger than blood for so long, I can’t imagine my life without her.
I know her fear of losing me is matched only by my fear of losing her. We spend the afternoon together just talking and laughing, enjoying our lives the way some people take for granted. When we arrive at work together I realize I was hoping to see Max, but he’s not here. Nina looks at me and her eyebrow crooks up curiously before realization dawns on her features.
“I’m sure he’s fine.” She says assuredly. “Remember time works differently there. That’s why we usually get a nice reprieve between Kane’s visits.” I smile at her gratefully. I’m sure she’s right. I just hate not knowing, especially how cold he was before he departed. After we finish helping the set up I walk Nina over towards her cage. She hugs me tightly before jumping up on the stage to step into her cage.
I close the door for her as I signal for Justin to open the doors before shutting the cage door on Nina and walking back across the dancefloor towards the bar. The night is busy and only made busier by the lack of security in the place. Justin and our newest bouncer Eddie are trying to keep the crowd under control, but its Saturday night.
Vladik eventually comes down from his perch to help them out at the door as I call cut off for entrance. I look over at Nina who signals for a break. I can see the bouncers are all busy, so I grab the flammable fluid and take a swing before walking across the floor to get to her. I’m nearly knocked down a couple of times by club goers. There is a strange energy over the crowd tonight.
Nina’s face is pure relief when I reach her. I let out a large breath of flame to get people to jump back from the cage as I open the door to help her out. I grab her hand quickly leading her back across the floor lighting the path clear with breaths of fire. People jump and cheer as they step aside. I lead Nina out the side door to the break area and spit out the remaining fluid from my mouth.
“I thought you were going to burn the place down just getting me away from the stage.” Nina admonishes. “The crowd is crazy tonight. Nine guys have jumped up to swing on my cage already. I hope Justin is ready for your show.”
“The guys are pressed just trying to control the hooligans around the bar and entry. There is a strange energy about this place tonight though isn’t there.”
“Kenna.” Nina snaps. “You’re not going on stage without a bouncer in front of you, at worst make Vladik do it. Or even Luka, anyone.” I smile at her indulgently at the thought of the skinny feminine looking Luka being able to fight off a mouse let alone a few drunk men.
“I’ll get Vladik to do it. I just wish—.” I trail off not wanting to voice my concerns. Nina reaches out her free hand to take mine as her other slips a Marlboro between her lips.
“Got a light hot stuff?” She asks playfully trying to distract me. I roll my eyes at her as I flick open the zippo.
“Gee I’ve never heard that one before.” I scold her disappointedly.