Unforgiven (Fallen #5) - Lauren Kate
Serpents in my mind
Trying to forgive your crimes
Everyone changes in time
I hope he changes this time
—SHARON VAN ETTEN, “Serpents”
Cam’s boots touched down on the eaves of the old church beneath a cold and starry sky. He drew his wings close and gazed out at the landscape. Spanish moss, white in the moonlight, hung like icicles from antebellum trees. Cinder-block buildings framed a weedy field and a pair of splintery bleachers. Wind rustled in from the sea.
Winter break at Sword & Cross Reform School. Not a soul on campus. What was he doing here?
It was minutes after midnight, and he’d just flown in from Troy. He’d made the journey in a haze, an unknown force guiding his wings. He found himself humming a tune he hadn’t let himself remember for several thousand years. Maybe he’d come back here because this was where the fallen angels had met Luce in her last, cursed life. It had been her three hundred and twenty-fourth incarnation—and the three hundred and twenty-fourth time the fallen angels had flocked together to see how the curse would play out.
The curse was broken now. Luce and Daniel were free.
And dammit if Cam wasn’t jealous.
His gaze swept across the cemetery. He would never have guessed he’d feel nostalgic for this junkyard, but there had been something thrilling about those early days at Sword & Cross. Lucinda’s spark had been brighter, keeping the angels guessing when they’d once believed they knew what to expect.
For six millennia, each time she turned seventeen, they’d staged a variation of the same performance: the demons—Cam, Roland, and Molly—tried everything to sway Luce’s alliances to Lucifer, while the angels—Arriane and Gabbe and sometimes Annabelle—worked to usher Luce back into Heaven’s fold. Neither side had ever come close to winning her over.
For every time Luce met Daniel—and she always met Daniel—nothing mattered as much as their love. Time and again, they fell for each other, and time and again, Luce died in a blaze of fire.
Then, one night at Sword & Cross, everything changed. Daniel kissed Lucinda, and she lived. They all knew it then. Luce was finally going to be allowed to choose.
A few weeks later they all flew to the site of their original fall, to Troy, where Lucinda chose her destiny. She and Daniel again refused to side with Heaven or with Hell. Instead, they chose each other. They gave up their immortality to spend one mortal lifetime together.
Luce and Daniel were gone now, but they were still on Cam’s mind. Their triumphant love made him yearn for something he dared not put into words.
He was humming again. That song. Even after all this time, he remembered it….
He closed his eyes and saw its singer: the back of her red hair woven loosely in a braid, her long fingers caressing the strings of a lyre as she leaned against a tree.
He hadn’t let himself think of her in thousands of years. Why now?
“This can’s busted,” a familiar voice said. “Toss me another?”
Cam spun around. No one was there.
He noticed a flicker of movement through the shattered stained-glass window on the roof. He edged forward and peered down through it, into the chapel Sophia Bliss had used as her office when she was the Sword & Cross librarian.
Inside the chapel, Arriane’s iridescent wings flexed as she shook a can of spray paint and rose off the ground, aiming the nozzle at the wall.
Her mural featured a girl in a glowing blue forest. She wore a tiered black dress and looked up at a blond boy who held out a white peony. Luce and Daniel 4ever Arriane sprayed in gothic silver letters over the bell of the girl’s skirt.
Behind Arriane, a dark-skinned demon with dreadlocks was lighting a tall glass candle showing Santa Muerte, the goddess of death. Roland was making a shrine at the site where Sophia had murdered Luce’s friend Penn.
Fallen angels couldn’t enter sanctuaries of God. As soon as they crossed the threshold, the whole place would go up in flames, incinerating every mortal inside. But this chapel had been desanctified when Miss Sophia had moved in.
Cam spread his wings and dropped through the broken window, landing behind Arriane.
“Cam.” Roland embraced his friend.
“Take it easy,” Cam said, but he didn’t pull away.
Roland tilted his head. “Quite a coincidence, finding you here.”
“Is it?” Cam asked.
“Not if you like carnitas,” Arriane said, tossing Cam a small foil-wrapped package. “Remember the taco truck on Lovington? I’ve been craving these ever since we fled this swamp.” She