Unearthly Page 28

“You did all your research in Rome?” I ask.

“Most of it,” Angela says. “Rome’s a good place to find out about angels. Lots of history there. Although I met an Intangere in Milan last year, and I learned more from him than any other source.”

“Hold up. What’s an Intangere?”

“Silly,” she says like I should have guessed. “That’s the Latin for the full-blooded. It literally means whole, untouched, complete in itself. So there’s the Intangere, Dimidius, Quartarius, you know.”

“Oh right,” I say like it had just slipped my mind. “So you met a real angel?”

“Yep. I saw him and I don’t think I was supposed to. We were in this little out-of-the-way church, and I saw him standing there kind of glowing, so I said hello in Angelic. He looked at me and then grabbed me by the arm and suddenly we were someplace else, but like we were still in the church, too, at the same time.”

“Sounds like heaven.”

She frowns and leans closer like she hadn’t heard me correctly.

“What?”

“Sounds like he took you to heaven.”

Her eyes widen with sudden comprehension. “What do you know about heaven?” she asks.

I flush.

“Well, not a whole lot. I know that it’s dimensional, that it exists right on top of Earth. Like a curtain, my mom says, a veil. She went there once—I mean, an angel brought her there.”

“You’re so lucky to have your mom,” Angela says with envy in her eyes. “I have to work so hard to get all my information, and all you have to do is ask.”

“Well, I can ask,” I say a bit uncomfortably, “but that doesn’t mean she has to answer my questions.”

Angela looks at me closely.

“Why wouldn’t she?”

“I don’t know. She says I have to find out these things on my own, by experience, or some baloney like that. Like earlier, you said your father was a Black Wing. I have no idea what that is. I assume it’s something like a bad angel, but my mom’s certainly never mentioned it.”

Angela thinks for a minute.

“A Black Wing is a fallen angel,” she says finally. “I guess they fell a long time ago, closer to the beginning.”

“Beginning of what?”

“Time.”

“Oh. Right. Are their wings really black?”

“I think so,” she answers. “That’s how you know them. White wings equal good angel, black wings equal bad.”

Crazy, all that I don’t know. It makes me feel foolish. And uncomfortably curious. And scared. “You just go up and ask them to please show their wings?”

“You command them, in Angelic, to show themselves.”

“And they have to?” I ask.

“Did it feel like you had a choice when I commanded you?”

“No, it just happened.”

“That’s how it is for them too, a kind of tool for immediate identification that’s programmed into them,” she says. “Useful, right?”

“How do you know all this?”

“Phen told me. He’s the angel I met in the church. He warned me about the Black Wings.”

She stops abruptly, dropping her eyes.

“What?” I prompt gently. “What did he say?”

She closes her eyes briefly and then opens them. “He said that they might try to find me, someday.”

“But why would they want to find you?”

She looks up.

“Because my father was one. And because they want us,” she says. Her gold eyes are suddenly fierce. “They’re building an army.”

“Mom!” I scream the minute the door of the house closes behind me. She comes running out of her office, alarm all over her face.

“What? What is it? Are you hurt?”

“Why didn’t you tell me there’s a war between the angels?”

She stops. “What?”

“Angela Zerbino’s an angel-blood,” I say, still spazzing out. “And she told me that there’s this war that’s going on between the good and bad angels.”

“Angela Zerbino’s an angel-blood?”

“Dimidius. Now answer my question.”

“Well, honey,” she says, still looking confused. “I assumed you knew.”

“How would I know if you didn’t tell me? You never tell me anything!”

“There’s both good and evil in this world,” she says after a long pause. “I told you that.”

I can see how carefully she’s choosing her words, even now. It’s infuriating.

“Yeah, but you never told me about Black Wings,” I exclaim. “You never told me that they go around recruiting or killing all the angel-bloods they come across.”

She flinches.

“So it’s true.”

“Yes,” she says. “Although I think they are more interested in the Dimidius.”

“Right, because Quartarius don’t have much power,” I say sarcastically. “I guess I should be relieved, then.”

Mom’s still processing. “So Angela Zerbino told you she was an angel-blood. She just told you?”

“Yep. She showed me her wings and everything.”

“What color were they?”

“Her wings? White.”

“How white?” she asks intently.

“They were a perfect, eye-piercing white, Mom. Why does it matter?”

“The shade of our wings reflects our standing in the light,” she says. “White Wings have white wings, of course, and Black Wings have black. For most of us in the middle, the offspring, our wings are varying shades of gray.”

“Your wings have always looked pretty white to me,” I say. I’m instantly struck with the urge to summon my wings, to see what shade they are, to discover what my spiritual state really is. I sure as heck don’t know.

“My wings are fairly light,” Mom admits, “but not as the new-fallen snow.”

“Well, Angela’s were white,” I say. “I guess that means she’s a pure soul.”

Mom goes to the cupboard and gets a glass. She fills it with water at the sink, then stands drinking it slowly. Calmly.

“A Black Wing raped her mom.” I look at her to see if there’s any reaction to that. None. “She’s worried that someday they’ll show up to collect her. You should have seen her face when she talked about it. Scared. Like, really, really scared.”

Prev Next