Chapter Twenty-Five

Start from the beginning

She missed her old life—before angels and the devil had become real things, when she had just been a girl who happened to have dreams about death on occasion.

By two-fifteen she couldn't take it anymore.

She kicked off her sheets and climbed out of bed, tip-toeing across the room and slipping out into the hall before her father had a chance to stir. She padded her way down the now familiar hallway and crossed the living room with purpose, not even hesitating before she opened the front door and stepped out onto the darkened porch.

She was unsurprised to find Gabriel smoking a cigarette.

Zoe had been certain that at least one of the archangels would be out here. Lucifer had just made himself known once again—there was no way that they were all just going to head off to bed and leave the house, and their families, unguarded. Not after what had happened that afternoon.

Gabriel seemed unsurprised to see her, too. He was putting out his cigarette even before she had said anything about it.

"Nightmare?" he asked.

Zoe shook her head in response. "No. I just couldn't sleep."

"Because your entire life has turned into a nightmare."

She didn't need to respond; he already knew that it had. She dropped onto the front steps and drew her knees into herself. The world was peaceful all around them. A peaceful lie.

"What happens now?" she asked, turning to look at Gabriel. "You guys were talking about maybe leaving town."

"Maybe," Gabriel confirmed. "We haven't decided yet. It might be better to stay put."

"Even though he knows where you all are?"

"Especially because he knows where we all are." Gabriel came to sit beside her. His eyes were dark even in the light of the full moon. "He knows that we're together, and that scares him. And your father all but told him that God has been helping us along. That has to scare him even more."

"Did you ever get that revelation you were looking for?" she asked.

"No. But as I've said before—"

"Sometimes God works in mysterious ways," Zoe finished for him. "Yeah, I know. But I still think he's a dick."

Gabriel grinned. "God probably thinks you're a dick, too."

Zoe elbowed him in the ribs. Gabriel elbowed her right back.

And then he was serious again, his voice gentle as he said, "You don't have to worry, Zoe. We're not going to let anything happen to you, or Nate or Paris. Even if we're not, we're going to make sure that the three of you are fine."

"I hope you'll understand when I say that doesn't reassure me," Zoe replied. "My dad is all I have. Literally, now that my best friend is probably dead, too."

Gabriel raised an eyebrow. "What am I? Furniture?"

"No. You're a dick."

"Ah. So I'm God, then."

Zoe rolled her eyes.

"We're your family," Gabriel reminded her, "whether you want to admit it or not. Your father is our brother. So I expect you to start calling me Uncle God."

He almost missed blocking the punch that she threw his way. Not that it would have done much damage, anyway—the pair of them were laughing too much. Zoe feared that they might wake the rest of the house.

And then a set of headlights turned toward the house, and all the laughter on the porch died in an instant.

Gabriel was on his feet in an instant, as alert as Zoe had ever seen him. He was entirely still, with one hand out in a gesture for her to stay put—and stay back.

The headlights drew closer to the house.

"Do you want me to get the others?" Zoe asked, glancing back toward the door. How long would it take for her to wake her father, Michael, and Raphael? Should Nate and Paris be out here, too? They were the ones with the useful powers—maybe it would be better to wake them.

Gabriel was frowning. "I don't think it's necessary. If this was Lucifer, he wouldn't be driving toward the front door. He wouldn't need to."

Zoe wished that she could see the car behind the headlights. Having a mechanic for a father meant that she knew almost every car in Granton Ridge, and the person who would most often be found behind the wheel. But she was blinded by those high beams. She had to lift a hand to shield her eyes from the majority of the glare.

The car stopped just a few metres from the house, and the lights switched off.

Zoe had just enough time for her eyes to adjust before the driver's side door was being pushed open and a figure was stepping out. She registered the black BMW not a moment before her eyes flickered to the blond that had climbed out of the vehicle.

The warning rose in her throat quickly. "Gabriel, that's—"

"Matteo," Gabriel breathed.

Zoe looked to Gabriel in surprise before her eyes flickered back to her best friend, who had come around the car to stand before them now. Matt looked at Zoe for a long moment, his face expressionless, before he turned back to the archangel.

"Hello, Dad," he said. "I hear you've been looking for me."

to be continued... 

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A/N: and so we meet our temporary end! Please see the next part for a note on the sequel. 

And if you enjoyed this chapter, please consider leaving a vote and/or comment! <3 

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