Unearthly Page 33

“Pretty much.”

“No way.” I shake my head in disbelief.

“The thought never crossed your mind?”

“No!”

“Huh,” she says. “I won’t stand in the way or anything. It’s okay.”

My heart’s beating fast. I swallow. “Wendy, I don’t like your brother. Not that way. Not in any way, really. No offense.”

“None taken,” she says with a casual shrug. “I just wanted you to know I’m okay with it, the you-and-Tucker thing, if there’s ever a you-and-Tucker thing.”

“There’s no me-and-Tucker thing, okay? So can we talk about something else?”

“Sure,” she says, but I can tell by the pensive look on her face that she has more she wants to say.

Chapter 9

Long Live the Queen

“Can I get into this thing by myself?” I ask.

“Put on as much as you can,” Angela calls back, “and I’ll help you with the rest.”

I contemplate the gown and all of its many parts, which are hanging from a hook in the backstage dressing room at the Pink Garter. It looks complicated. Maybe we should have gone with the Angels of Mons idea.

“How long am I going to have to wear this tomorrow?” I call, pulling on the silk stockings and tying them with ribbon under the knee.

“Not long,” answers Angela. “I’ll help you put it on right before class and then you’ll wear it during the entire presentation.”

“Just so you know, this may kill me. I may have to sacrifice my life for us to get a good grade on this project.”

“So noble of you,” she says.

I struggle into the corset and the long crazy hoops of the petticoat. Then I grab the hanger with the dress on it and march out onto the stage.

“I think I need you to tie up the corset before I put the rest on,” I say.

She jumps up to help me. That’s one thing about Angela: She never does anything halfway. She yanks the laces.

“Not so tight! I still have to breathe, remember?”

“Quit whining. You’re lucky we couldn’t find any real whalebone for this thing.”

By the time she slides the dress over my head I feel like I have on every item of clothing at the Garter. Angela walks around me pulling on the pieces underneath to make sure they look right. She steps back.

“Wow, that is good. With the makeup and the hair right, you’ll look exactly like Queen Elizabeth.”

“Great,” I say without enthusiasm. “I’ll look like a pasty-faced tart.”

“Oh, I forgot the ruffs!”

She hops down from the stage and runs over to a cardboard box on the floor. She pulls out a stiff round collar that looks like the things you put on dogs to keep them from licking themselves. There are two more for the wrists.

“No one said anything about ruffs,” I say, backing away.

She jumps toward me. Her wings come out with a flash and beat a couple of times, carrying her easily to the stage, then disappear.

“Show-off.”

“Hold still.” She puts the final ruff on the end of my sleeve. “My mom’s a genius.”

As if on cue, Anna Zerbino comes in from the lobby with a stack of table linens. She stops in the aisle when she sees me.

“So it fits,” she says, her humorless dark eyes looking me up and down.

“It’s great,” I say. “Thank you for all your hard work.”

She nods.

“Dinner’s ready upstairs. Lasagna.”

“Okay, so we’re done with the fitting,” I say to Angela. “Get me out of this thing.”

“Not so fast,” whispers Angela, glancing at her mom over her shoulder. “We haven’t done much of our other research.”

She’s so predictable. Always with the angel research.

“Come on,” I whisper back. “Lasagna.”

“We’ll be right up, Mom,” says Angela. She pretends to fiddle with my collar until her mother leaves the theater. As soon as we’re alone again, she says, “I figured out something good, though.”

“What is it?”

“Angels—full-blooded angels, I mean—are all male.”

“All male?”

“There are no female Intangere.”

“Interesting. Now help me get out of this dress.”

“But I think that angels could appear female if they wanted to. I believe they can change form, like shape-shifters,” she says, her golden eyes dancing with excitement.

“So they can become cats and birds and stuff.”

“Right, but more than that,” she says. “I have another theory.”

“Oh, here we go,” I groan.

“I think that all the stories about supernatural creatures, like vampires, werewolves, ghosts, mermaids, aliens, you name it, could all be angel related. Humans don’t know what they’re seeing, but it could all be angels taking on other forms.”

Angela has some wild theories, but they’re always cool to consider.

“Awesome,” I say. “Now let’s eat.”

“Wait,” she says. “I also found something about your hair.”

“My hair?”

“The blaze thing you told me about.” She walks over to the table and grabs her notebook, flips through it. “It’s called comae caelestis. The Romans used the phrase to describe ‘dazzling rays of light emanating from the hairs of the head, a sign of a heavenly being.’”

“What, you find that on the internet?” I ask with a stunned laugh. She nods. As usual, Angela has taken the nugget of information I’ve given her and turned it into a gold mine.

“I wish it would happen to me,” she says, twisting a strand of her shiny black hair around her finger wistfully. “I bet it’s awesome.”

“It’s overwhelming, okay? And you’d have to dye your hair.”

She shrugs like that doesn’t sound so bad to her.

“So what do you have for me this week?” she asks.

“What about the concept of purpose?” This is a big one, something I probably should have gotten into a lot earlier, only I didn’t especially want to talk about purpose, because then I’d have to talk about mine. But now I’ve literally told her everything else I know. I even broke out the angel diary and showed her my old notes. Secretly I hope that she, in her infinite wisdom, already knows all about purpose.

“Define purpose,” she says.

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