Providence, Chapter 10
The driver of the taxi, my escape to the airport, was Luc. And he was smiling at me in a way that wasn’t quite beautiful at all.
“You,” I breathed. “It was you. But you can’t –“
“Not me,” Luc said pleasantly. “But my people can.”
“You — you didn’t even give me a chance,” I snarled, but he only laughed.
“I gave you many. I told you I only had so much patience.”
I sat back, so angry I couldn’t speak. He had made me believe it was Gabriel he was targeting, it was easy not to care about Gabriel, but no, it was much worse.
“That was the warning, let’s say. They didn’t hit her very hard.”
I grit my teeth. “What do you want?”
Luc smiled. “To start with, I want the watch.”
“What is so special about the watch?” I asked.
“It’s from the family, and therefore it is from Skye. A little bit of Skye of my own. Not quite enough to get me in, but enough to start breaking down the wall.” Luc shrugged.
“If I give it to you, you’ll leave my parents alone?”
Luc considered. “I suppose I could arrange that.”
“That’s not good enough.”
Luc smiled. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you’d been learning from Gabriel for years. Fine. You give me the watch, and I leave your parents alone.”
I hated it, but I didn’t see much of a choice, and like before, I couldn’t think of any reasons why I shouldn’t. I was still trying to muddle it through when I realized my hands had already removed the watch. My fingers instinctively closed over it and I had to take a breath. It was only when I felt in control again that I handed it to him. He snatched it over his shoulder greedily, and I sat back, rubbing my wrist. It felt very naked without the watch. Four.
“And I get to go home.”
Luc laughed. “Ah ah ah, you can’t add clauses once the deal is complete. That wasn’t part of the agreement. Although you are free to make another deal.”
I sat back, fuming. “Where are we going?”
“Well, I suppose I could take you back to the hotel, but you’ve checked out. So I can be nice and offer you a room at my own hotel.”
“No. Drop me off here.” There was hardly anything around, just a few stores along the wide road, but I didn’t want to spend another second in his company.
“Fine.” Luc pulled onto the shoulder. “But you’ll pay your fare first.”
I was reaching for my wallet when I realized it. “No.”
Luc’s smile was truly frightening. “You should have perhaps checked the front seat before you got in and closed the door, then shouldn’t you have? But no, you entered the car, and I have given you the ride you ordered. And now you’ll pay me for the ride.”
I wanted to make a break for it, but I was caught. I needed my suitcase, and he could take off, take me back to his own hotel, where I was sure a room cost more than a few deals, and if the stories were true, I was running out of those.
My head was pounding as I riddled this out. My fingers were itching, reaching for my wallet, as if possessed by their own ideas. It was getting harder, I thought. Harder to think, harder to resist. I grit my teeth, and concentrated hard on making my hands do what I wanted.
I paid him, got out, and retrieved my suitcase. Five.
The taxi sped away, leaving me to look around and wonder what the hell I was going to do.
It was sometime around four thirty in the morning, and I was pretty sure that wherever I was, it wasn’t the sort of place people would be at that time of the morning with good intentions. Fear started to set in, and I started walking towards a few lights down the road, hoping it might be a motel. Seedy or not, it would be at least somewhere to gather myself. Try to figure out how to get a lift to the airport.
I considered hitch-hiking, but was too afraid the driver would be Luc, and I’d have lost my sixth deal.
My arms were sore and aching from the suitcase by the time I found the diner. It opened in an half hour, and I knew I looked like a runaway. I dearly hoped it was the kind of place they’d feed me and not ask questions.
I turned my suitcase sideways and sat on it, shivering in the cool predawn.
I needed to call my father, tell him what was going on, needed to get out of here. I closed my eyes and found myself thinking of Gabriel for some reason. Somehow, in that moment, I thought he would know how to get out of it, if he could get over being upset with me for getting to five deals. I wondered what it would be like to be lost, and if I would notice.
He had known, I realized suddenly. He had tried to warn me with those letters. He must have known Luc had sent his people.
“I should have listened to you,” I muttered into my hands.
“Yes, you should have.”
I shouted in surprise and snapped upright to find a mildly astonished looking Gabriel standing in front of me.
“What are you doing here?” I gasped.
Gabriel was looking at me in a kind of funny way, kind of like he wasn’t sure what to make of me. “You called me,” he said. “I didn’t think people could do that anymore.”
“I — called you.” I didn’t know what that meant, but he was there, and I was too glad to see him to question much.
On a second look, he looked bad. There were dark circles under his eyes and he looked thin and exhausted. His knuckles were badly bruised.
I raised an eyebrow at them. “Got it sorted?”
He laughed. “About as much as you, probably.”
I wanted to argue, but he wasn’t exactly wrong. There was a pause, and then he sat down on the curb next to me. “How many?”
I didn’t have to ask what he meant. “Five.”
I didn’t really understand how he was here or what it meant that I’d called him, but at that point, I was pretty much out of ideas and options. My mother was in the ICU in Skye, and my pride had only gotten people hurt.
“Can you help me get out of here?”
Gabriel let out a bark of laughter. “Now you ask. Goddamn humans.” He fumbled in his pockets for a cigarette, lighting it in his ruined hands. “Why does it always take destruction for you to understand?”
I wanted to reply sharply. It was kind of what we did, a pattern we’d made. But with the grey dawn deepening into pink, I just didn’t feel like it.
“It wasn’t personal before,” I said instead. “It didn’t matter so much.”
“It always mattered,” Gabriel said softly, his hoarse voice cracking around the low volume.
“Not to me, though,” I corrected him. “It’s your job to worry about humanity. It’s only given to us to worry about ourselves.”
Gabriel didn’t respond to that, and the silence that fell was only slightly awkward. I cleared my throat. “So, can you help me or not?”
Gabriel studied his cigarette carefully. “I can get you to the airport safely, and distract Luc for the morning.” He glanced up, his eyes very green in the early light. “But you must know, you will not be safe entirely in Skye. His people are there, and he will be trying every way to get to you.”
“So what, I should go somewhere else?” I asked, trying to pretend I wasn’t scared.
“No, you should go there. Just be careful.” He snuffed out the cigarette and got up, nonchalantly walked over to a nearby car, and climbed into it like it was his. “Get in.”
“We’re stealing this car,” I remarked as I shoved the suitcase inside. Somehow I couldn’t bring myself to care, if it meant getting away from Luc.
“I’ll give it back,” Gabriel said with a shrug. I hadn’t seen him do anything, but the engine was already running.
As we hit the highway, Gabriel driving with one hand and the other dangling yet another cigarette out the window, I shifted and glanced over. “Will you come with me?”
I didn’t really understand what was going on, but somehow things seemed much better with Gabriel around. Archangels, if I remembered the stories I learned in elementary school, were supposed to help people, and if he was Luc’s brother, then Luc wasn’t more powerful than him. I didn’t like the idea of facing an unfriendly Skye alone.
“No,” Gabriel replied after a moment, and I sat back, disappointed. “But when you arrive in Skye, you can call me.”
I frowned, confused. “Call — ? I don’t have your number.”
“Not like that. Like you did just now.”
I shook my head, embarrassed. “I don’t know how I did that.”
“Well, figure it out.” Gabriel shrugged. I sat back into my seat, biting my tongue. He might be helping, but he still wasn’t very nice. “If you call me, I will come.”
We passed the rest of the ride in silence. When we arrived at the airport, Gabriel yanked the stolen car up to the curb. After I had wrestled the suitcase from the back, he leaned in and handed me something — a boarding pass for a flight leaving in an hour. I knew which one, and what time it would land in Skye.
“Listen, kid,” Gabriel said, and I felt a chill of déjà vu, like none of this had happened and he was just a shadow in a hood. “It might not make a difference to you now, but. You don’t want any deities messing up your plans, right?”
“Yes,” I said emphatically, but he held up a hand.
“If Luc gets what he wants, that’s exactly what will happen. All the time. And he is so close. He has never been closer, and if that happens, it will matter. To you, and to everyone else.”
I had never seen him so serious, or so intense. His eyes were fully green, no hint of angry hazel. I thought about my mother in the hospital, the voice of my father I had never heard, the way it was getting harder and harder not to follow Luc’s deals.
“I understand,” I said.
Gabriel nodded once, and without any more word of goodbye, headed back to the stolen car and went peeling off.
This is the tenth part of a multi-chapter fiction story entitled “Providence.” To catch all of the chapters, make sure to follow the publication and check the “Providence” tab at the top!