Afterlife A Fall of Angels Novelette Page 0,2

him, that made him into the monster that he was. But it seemed to almost be a memory of what the past had been. Like he didn’t feel the un-bearableness of everything. It was almost like he only remembered what he had felt, and like he had clung to it for so long that he didn’t know how to let it go.

And every time he looked at Jane he saw Jessica.

Jane was a new kind of pain now. She was a constant reminder of the one thing in his life that he truly could never have.

Cole had money, he had houses and carriages. He had fine clothes and servants. Even though Jane would never marry him, he did have her.

But as much as Cole had wanted Jessica, as much as he did everything in his power to get her, Cole had, and never would have Jessica.

All because of a simple boy.

One boy was all it took to defeat the power that Cole had over women.

The trial ended with the man before them being escorted to the above, to a place Cole had never been allowed to see. The other residents of the afterlife set to whatever it was they did to serve out the rest of eternity.

But Jane stayed, staring emptily out into the vastness of the cylinder. Without thinking about it, Cole gave a powerful beat of his wings, carrying himself to the staircase just above her. She ignored his presence as he descended, her wings tucked comfortably behind her.

“I still don’t understand it,” Cole said, stopping a few stairs above her. “How did you manage to get into the above? After everything you did?”

“Of course you don’t understand, Cole,” she answered simply, shifting her weight back, propping herself up on her palms against the hot stone beneath her. “You have tunnel vision.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” he asked, his voice harsh sounding.

“You fixate, Cole,” Jane said, her blue eyes meeting his. “You see what you want to see and nothing else. You saw the sins I committed with you for those few years, and to you, I did nothing else with my entire life.”

Cole stood there, anger at being made to look foolish by a nothing angel flaring within him.

“And you don’t see what has changed within you,” she said, a sly smile pulling at the corner of her lips. “You are not the man I fell in love with. Nor are you the man who has led the condemned for the last century and a half.”

“I will always be Cole Emerson. I will always be a branded angel that those around him saw fit to lead them.”

“Yes, you will always be those things. But you didn’t used to be a man who would let a woman you care for go to another man. You didn’t used to be a man who ached because he saw that woman hurting. You didn’t used to be a man that was suffocating because of his own fear.”

“What am I afraid of?” Cole scoffed. Fear was not a word anyone had applied to him since he was a human child.

“You’re afraid of her being hurt,” Jane said as she stood, standing just inches away from Cole. “You’re afraid of Jeremiah bringing her back here and of what will happen to her once she joins our world.”

Cole just held Jane’s eyes, defeat sinking into his dead stomach.

“You know that once she joins our world she will truly be lost to you forever. You know where she will be placed. She’s lead a good life.”

He simply stood there, feeling a war raging in his body. Oh how he wanted to silence Jane, to make her stop speaking words he wouldn’t admit were true. But this was Jane. He could never lay a finger upon her.

“This is the point where you have to decide what man you want to become,” Jane said as she lifted her hand and traced a finger along Cole’s jaw. “Are you going to be the man who sits back and lets Jeremiah have his way with her? Or are you going to be the man who will do anything for her, even if he can’t have her?”

Everything felt very still inside of Cole as Jane dropped her hand from his face and stepped away. Holding his eyes for just a moment more, Jane stepped around Cole and started up the staircase.

He let his eyes slide closed, feeling as if he couldn’t breathe. But no one would save the leader