Unearthly Page 68

I wilt under his glare.

“You need a minute?” Murphy asks.

“No,” says Tucker in a low voice that would break my heart if it wasn’t already in pieces around my feet. “Let’s get this done.”

I stand like I’m rooted to the spot as Tucker and Murphy drag the rafts from the trailer and into a garage on the side of the office. Then they inspect each one, work through some kind of checklist with the life vests, and lock the garage up.

“See ya,” says Murphy, then jumps into a Jeep and gets the heck out of here.

Tucker and I stand in the parking lot staring at each other. I still can’t form words. All the things I planned to say flew out of my head the minute I laid eyes on him. He’s so beautiful, standing there with his hands shoved in his pockets, his hair still damp from the river, his eyes so blue. I feel tears in my eyes and try to blink them away.

Tucker sighs.

“What do you want, Clara?”

The sound of my name is strange coming from him. I’m not Carrots anymore. My hair is back to blond. He can probably tell even now that I’m not quite what I appear to be.

“I’m sorry I lied to you,” I say finally. “You don’t know how much I wanted to tell you the truth.”

“So why didn’t you?”

“Because it’s against the rules.”

“What rules? What truth?”

“I’ll tell you everything now, if you’ll hear me out.”

“Why?” he asks sharply. “Why would you tell me now, if it’s against the rules?”

“Because I love you.”

There. I said it. I can’t believe I actually said it. People cast around those words so carelessly. I always cringe whenever I hear kids say it while making out in the hall at school. I love you, babe. I love you, too. Here they’re all of sixteen years old and convinced that they’ve found true love. I always thought I’d have more sense than that, a little more perspective.

But here I am, saying it and meaning it.

Tucker swallows. The anger fades from his eyes but I still see shadows of fear.

“Can we go somewhere?” I ask. “Let’s go somewhere off in the woods, and I’ll show you.”

He hesitates, of course. What if I’m an alien invader trying to lure him to a secluded place so I can suck his brains out? Or a vampire, ravenous for his blood?

“I won’t hurt you.” Be not afraid.

His eyes flash with anger like I’ve come right out and called him chicken.

“Okay.” His jaw tightens. “But I drive.”

“Of course.”

Tucker drives for an hour, all the way out to Idaho, into the mountains above Palisades Reservoir. The silence between us is so thick it makes me want to cough. We’re both trying to look at each other without getting caught looking at each other. At any other time I’d find us hilarious and lame.

He turns down a dirt road that’s marked as private property and heads past the log cabins tucked back in the trees, up the mountainside until we come to a big wire fence. Tucker jumps out and fumbles with his keys. Then he unlocks the rusty metal padlock that holds the gate together, gets back in the truck, and drives through. When we reach a broad, empty clearing, he puts the truck in park and finally looks at me.

“Where are we?” I ask.

“My land.”

“Yours?”

“My grandpa was going to build a cabin here but then he got cancer. He left the land to me. It’s about eight acres. It’s where I’d come if I ever had to bury a dead body or something.”

I stare at him.

“So tell me,” he says.

I take a deep breath and try not to focus on his eyes staring me down. I want to tell him. I’ve always wanted to tell him. I just don’t exactly know how.

“I don’t even know where to start.”

“How about you start with the part about you being some kind of supernatural being made of light.”

My breath catches.

“You think I’m made of light?”

“That’s what I saw.” I can see the fear in him again, in the way he averts his eyes and shifts slightly to put more space between us.

“I don’t think I’m made of light. What you saw is called glory. It’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s this way of communicating, being connected to each other.”

“Communicating. You were trying to communicate with me?”

“Not intentionally,” I say, blushing. “I didn’t mean for it to happen. I’d never done it before, actually. Mom said that sometimes strong emotions can trigger it.” I’m babbling. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to freak you out. Glory tends to have that effect on humans.”

“And you’re not human,” he says flatly.

“I’m mostly human.”

Tucker leans back against the door of the truck and sighs in frustration. “Is this a joke, Clara? Is this some kind of a trick?”

“I’m a Nephilim,” I say. “We don’t usually use that term, because it means ‘fallen’ in Hebrew, and we don’t like to think of ourselves as fallen, you know, but that’s what we’re called in the Bible. We prefer the term angel-blood.”

“Angel-blood,” he repeats.

“My mom is a half angel. Her father was an angel and her mother was human. And that makes me a quarter angel, since my dad’s an average Joe.”

The words tumble out of me fast, before I can change my mind. Tucker stares at me like I’ve grown an extra head.

“So you’re part angel.” He sounds exactly the way I did when Mom first broke the news to me, like he’s making a list of mental institutions in the area.

“Yes. Let’s get out of the truck.”

His eyes widen slightly. “Why?”

“Because you won’t believe me until I show you.”

“What does that mean? You’ll do that light thing again?”

“No. I won’t do that again.” I put my hand down lightly on his arm, trying to reassure him. My touch seems to have the opposite effect. He pulls away quickly, opens the door, and hops out of the truck to get away from me.

I get out, too. I walk to the middle of the clearing and face him.

“Now, don’t be afraid,” I tell him.

“Right. Because you’re going to show me that you’re an angel.”

“Part angel.”

I summon my wings and pivot slightly to show him. I don’t extend them or fly, the way Mom did to prove it to me. I think seeing them, folded against my back, will be enough.

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