Being chosen as one of the Fallen is an honor amongst the angels. Yet, it was an honor Zane had not wished for.
On Laney’s nineteenth birthday, Zane fell with the mission to keep her safe, but he was never given that opportunity...
In this Brookehaven Vampires novella, you will step into the mind of Laney’s guardian angel, get a glimpse of his life before the fall, and see what our world looks like from his point of view.
They call us Guardians. The Fallen. We are angels, sent from our realm to protect your kind from the ones you call vampires, or, believe it or not, greater evils.
For many of you, vampires are of your own kind. They are the ones from which you descend. Most of those we are sent to protect—our charges, as we call them—are unaware of this little fact, and they rarely have such lineage. If a charge is a descendant of the vampire race, they are so far removed that the line is hardly traceable.
Typically, we do not protect the vampires or their direct descendants. In fact, we loathe them. We are sent to rescue those who are the descendants from realms outside of your own. Your realm, your world, just happens to be a melting pot for the supernatural. A place where those like me can safely blend in amongst many, many other kinds.
My assignment was one of the few exceptions to the rules. My charge, a descendant of the vampire line, was also a descendant of one from a realm unlike mine, or even your own. Do not get me wrong, it was an honor to receive this particular mission. Only, I did not wish to have the honor. I wanted my Willa, my one true love. I wanted to stay in my realm, marry Willa, and with her, eventually start a family.
In order to achieve this dream, I would have to fulfill my mission to save the one who descends from two different realms. In order to save her, I must fall. In order to return, I must complete my mission, which meant I must take her virtue. This was something I did not wish to do.
In addition to my unsavory task, I must present to God three gifts in order to return home. Three gifts that were not so easily found.
I fear I might fail. I fear I might never see my Willa again. I fear for what I must do. *****
“Zane?” I heard Willa’s sweet voice call to me.
“Over here,” I called back. I quickly folded my assignment scroll and pushed it deep into my pants pocket. I could not let her know. Not just yet.
“There you are,” she said as she rounded the tree where I was perched. She smiled; her beautiful grayish-green eyes sparkled in the sunlight as she gazed up at where I balanced on a high branch. “I received word that you wanted to speak with me,” she said.
I sighed as I gazed down at my love. At my whole life. I forced a smile to reassure her, and then I leapt from the branch, gracefully landed beside her, and folded my wings as I straightened. I would complete this assignment so that I could return to my heart.
Taking her soft, dainty hand in mine, I kissed the back of it. “I have news I must share with you, my love.”
With her hand still in mine, I led her across the field to a nearby brook behind my family’s home. We sat side by side with our fingers laced together. We dangled our bare feet over the edge of the rickety bridge while the sun warmed our wings and the exposed portions of our skin. Be-neath us, the water slowly trickled by.
“What news do you have to share?” Willa questioned after a while. She tilted her head to the side as she gazed at me. Her beautiful, long hair slipped down her arm as she did so.
I had been silent too long. I could see that she was growing uneasy.
Being chosen as one of the Fallen was something Willa and I had feared might happen. Not all of my kind are chosen. Only unwed males fall, but not all males. My news was sure to break her heart, just as it was breaking mine.
Willa was not yet of age to be united in marriage. Not in our lord’s eyes. Yet, we were ready to dedicate the rest of our lives to one another. We had been for some time. We could have submitted an appeal and wed early. Perhaps it would have been approved, but we did not have much longer to wait. Foolishly, we thought we would be safe. Sadly, I had been chosen in that small window of time that was left before Willa would be of age to marry.
“Zane, my love,” Willa said, her dainty fingers touching my face, turning it toward hers so that she could look into my eyes. “You are frightening me. Please, do tell me of your news.”
Gazing into Willa’s eyes, I could see how nervous she was. Releasing her hand, I dug the assignment from my pocket. I was shaking as I handed the folded parchment to her. Her eyes widened. Without even looking at it, she knew what it was. However, she gingerly took the paper from my hand and slowly unfolded it.
As she read, tears began to fall. Little droplets of sorrow hit the parchment that she held in her hands.
“Please do not cry, Willa,” I softly said to her. I wanted to hold her in my arms and carry her sadness as my own.
She folded the parchment that held our future. Silently, she handed it back to me. She gripped the edge of the bridge and stared down at the stream below. She said nothing, but silent tears continued to fall.
I sighed and stuffed my assignment back into my pocket. “Please speak to me, Willa. I need to hear your words. I need to hear that you will still be mine when I return.”
I saw a very sad smile form as she continued to watch the water below. I gently ran a finger along the edge of her wing. Her sun-warmed feathers felt like perfection.
A moment of terror coursed through me as I came to the realization that my wings would soon be torn from my body.
I would get them back, and I would come home to Willa. I had to.
“I love you, Willa,” I told her, my voice just above a whisper.
She turned her face toward mine. Tears glistened on her rosy cheeks. “And I love you, Zane. You are my one and only true love.”
With a heart full of sadness, I smiled at her. I took her hand in mine and kissed the back of it, just as I always had. “Will you still be mine when I return?” I asked. Nervousness was evident in my words.
“I will,” she confessed as she pulled her hand free of mine and wiped away her fallen tears.
She was so beautiful. Such a rare beauty, my Willa. Another tear fell and I gently wiped it away. I brushed a strand of her silky, red hair from her face. She adjusted her copper-colored wings and rested her head against my shoulder.
“I will miss you, my love,” I told her. “I will come back to you as quickly as God shall permit.”
“What if you fail?” she questioned ever so quietly.
“Do you doubt my ability to return to you?” I asked. My pride was somewhat challenged. Did my love not believe in me?
She lifted her head from my shoulder and her grayish-green eyes met mine. She smiled, playfully. “I do not,” she reassured me.
A breeze blew across the land, causing strands of Willa’s lovely hair to cover her face. I brushed them behind her ear. Her sorrowful eyes held me in place. I loved this creature before me with all of my being. I would do anything to return to her and complete our union.
I adjusted my wings to shield us from prying eyes. I hesitantly leaned closer. Such displays, especially for one under the proper age, were frowned upon. However, her eyes closed in anticipation. Chills covered my body as I pressed my lips to her soft, sweet, pink mouth. Her hand found mine and tightened on my fingers when I lingered too long. Instead of ending our connection, I continued kissing her, and I encouraged her to open her mouth. My tongue traced her full lower lip, and soon, her lips parted just enough to invite me in.
Her pale cheeks were flushed pink when my mouth parted from hers. I trailed my fingers down her bare arm, and I noticed her fight the shiver that my touch caused her.
“Willa, I could appeal. We could appeal,” I said, somewhat frantically. I suddenly feared being separated from her. I feared I might not return to her. I feared I would never truly get to make her mine. “We could inform the elders that we plan to wed once you are of age. It is so close, perhaps they will favor us.”
She tilted her head as her eyes stayed on mine. She slowly shook her head. “Zane, you know as well as I, it is too late for that.”
I began to protest, but she would not have it. “This is a great honor that has been bestowed upon you, and you were chosen to complete this mission for a reason. Your families are connected. We knew this day was coming, we just did not want to believe,” Willa said, tears surfacing in her mesmerizing eyes once more.
She was right. We had known, especially since I was the only eligible male of my line to be pulled from those who could be chosen. When my uncle had chosen to stay in the other realm, it had been only my father left from our line. Until me. My window to fall was still wide open. I had plenty of time left, but, had Willa been of age to be wed, I would have married her, and they could choose me no longer. That is, if the elders would allow the union...
I feared that the elders believed uniting with my charge might bring peace between our races. There had been rumors of them wanting to terminate our endless war with the vampires. There had been rumors of our kind uniting with theirs. I would not be their savior. I would not unite with my charge.
I was due to fall, and fall I must, or I would be exiled, for good. However, I would do no more than was assigned to me. The elders could not force me to form a union with my charge. For that, I was grateful.
Willa turned away from me, her hair hiding her face from my view. “Please share with me. Tell me your thoughts and your fears,” I said to her. I gave her fingers a gentle squeeze.
With tears falling, she turned back to me and confessed her sorrow. “It was I who was to be your first.” Her confession took me by surprise. “How am I to live with the knowledge that you have lain with another?
“Oh, Willa.” I pulled her to me, gathering her small frame to my side. I held her, my own sorrow consuming me. I wanted this no more than my love did. I wanted Willa to be my one and only. I did not want this task. “Fall with me, Willa,” I whispered. “We can live in the other realm. We can hide amongst the others. We can be married and live together, freely.”
She pulled free of my grip and adjusted herself so that she was facing me, one slender leg bent and resting between us. “It is not our way, Zane.”
Defeated, I accepted that she was correct. It was not our way. We did not flee our realm; it was a safe place for our kind. “Then this is what must be done. I will fall, I will complete my assignment, and I will return to you.”
“What if you fall in love with her?” she questioned, her voice quavering slightly.
I smirked in response to her question. “That can never happen,” I told her as I brushed my fingers along her beautifully freckled cheek. “There is only one love for me. I love you, Willa. I do this for us, for our future.”
I gently pressed my lips to hers once more. I memorized everything about kissing her. I memorized the way it made my body feel, the way my mind got lost when her gentle fingers touched my skin, the sweet smell of wildflowers in the air, her soft lips against mine, her silky wing feathers brushing against my arm. Every last moment, every factor, every detail, every item was stored in my mind. I would keep it there, safe, until I returned home.