Two Weeks later

Nathaniel dived from his cloud and shot down through the sky, descending lower and lower over the South Pacific Ocean until he was only a mile above the sea. As he glided across the sun-drenched beaches, he wondered why he’d been summoned to the birth of Madeline O’Connor’s baby. Though he prayed there wasn’t a problem with the delivery, he was looking forward to seeing Devlin again.

When he reached Creed Valley Hospital, he swooped down and coasted around the maternity wing, peering through the third-floor windows in search of Madeline’s room. Seeing her guardian in one of the private rooms, he flew through the open balcony door and furled his wings behind his back. “Ramiel, you wanted to see me?”

Looking over his shoulder, the angel smiled. “Oh, Nathaniel, yes, I did. Thank you for coming so promptly.”

Nathaniel glanced at the young woman in the bed, then peered out the door into the corridor. “So where’s Devlin?”

Ramiel heaved a weary sigh. “I’ve no idea, but I thought you might. Madeline’s been in labour for twenty-four hours now, yet Devlin’s still not here.”

“Really?” Nathaniel folded his arms. “It’s strange he’s not here yet, but when I last saw him, he mentioned that Madeline was due to have her baby this week, so I’m sure he’ll turn up.”

“I doubt it,” said Ramiel, flicking his long blond hair from his face. “When Madeline went into early labour, I sent for him. He didn’t turn up or contact me, so I asked Archangel Michael for help. He sent his messengers out to search for him, but when they couldn’t find him, he told me to send for you.”

“I see.” Nathaniel rubbed his chin. “This isn’t like Devlin. I’ve never known him to be late for a birth before, plus he seemed really excited about guarding this child. I hope nothing’s happened to him.”

“Well, there’s no time to worry about him just now. This baby needs a guardian and Michael’s chosen you.”

Nathaniel’s jaw dropped. “You mean temporarily, right?”

Ramiel shook his head. “No. You’ll be the child’s guardian for the rest of her life.”

Holding his forehead, Nathaniel frowned. “I can’t do that. Jeez, Devlin would never forgive me.” He stared at Ramiel. “Did you know he actually begged Michael for this child?”

“Well, he obviously isn’t that keen or he’d be here,” said Ramiel. “Anyway, this isn’t about Devlin. We can’t just let the infant come into the world without a guardian.”

“I realise that, but why can’t you take his place? You’re already guarding the baby’s mother, so it shouldn’t be too much of a burden.”

“Sorry, Nate, I can’t. I’ve just been assigned two more wards.”

Nathaniel raised his brows. “That doesn’t make sense. I’m still waiting for a ward, so why weren’t they assigned to me?”

Ramiel shrugged. “I don’t know, but two more angels have fallen, so there’s a shortage of guardians. Anyway, Michael insisted that you take over as this child’s guardian and he won’t change his mind.”

Raking his hands through his curls, Nathaniel looked at Madeline. Her face was contorted with obvious pain and from the guttural groans she was making it looked like she was already in the second stage of labour. Pacing the room, he glanced out the balcony door, but there was no sign of Devlin. Betraying his best friend was unthinkable, but it seemed Michael was giving him no choice.

“There’s no point looking out there,” said Ramiel. “Devlin’s obviously not coming.”

Nathaniel walked back to the bed. “Listen, I have an idea. If I take over your new charges, you could take Devlin’s place and have both your wards under the same roof. I’m sure Michael would agree to that. What do you think?”

Fallen Angel (Prequel) Ominous Series © by Patricia PuddleRead this story for FREE!