# Gaea 1 - Blood of the Pure

* Know more about the books and read earlier releases on the official site: http://carpersanti.net/gaea/ *

What would you do if in this world there was a Magic Spell able to make the one you love love you in return? And what would you do if,suddenly, what began as a joke, a mere expression of a hidden desire,awoke a dangerous and cruel creature determined to make you bend to his will?

Mariane is a simple and introverted Human girl.

Gabriel is a powerful Deiwos used to always get what he wants.

And how can these two different existences, originated from such different worlds, ever hope to learn to live together, communicate and, who knows, even understand each other ...?

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29. Chapter 7 - Part 3

 

Michael returned a few minutes later and I couldn't help smile as I noticed his frustrated expression. I watched as he walked down the corridor, towards the kitchen where Father Jorge had disappeared to after our talk, and waited patiently. A few minutes latter he appeared at the door again, scratching his head with an embarrassed look.

"I'm back," he announced and took the chair where Father Jorge had sat on. "How are you feeling?"

"I'm fine, Michael,".

He nodded. "I'm sorry for before. He's not usually like that."

"Oh, I think he's very nice," I stated and he looked surprised, ending up laughing.

"That's just like you," he said and his expression became serious. "Listen, I know that what I've said before wasn't all that nice, so if you really don't want to stay, if you want, I'll take you back. I don't want you feeling like I'm forcing you or anything."

I lowered my gaze. I knew the right thing to do was to return home. That nothing would change by staying away for one night. That sooner or later I would have to go back and that when I did he'd be there waiting. Yet I felt so tired, so close to the limit that I could no longer see ... I needed time to put my thoughts in order, and near Michael there was always that mysterious and calming silence. I didn't want to have to leave that sanctuary, at least not now, not as long as I could avoid it, no matter how selfish that might be.

"I ... want to stay," I whispered, ashamed of myself, and he smiled.

"That's it, then. Let's not talk about this any longer. Come. I'm sure you'd like to take a shower," he said, holding my hand and pulling me up.

"But I don't have anything."

"Well, true we don't have girls' clothes lying around the house. So you'll have to put up with some of mine. They should look huge on you," he observed, laughing, and I was sure he was having fun at my expense. But even that made me happy.

Michael showed me to the bathroom and gave me a set of clean towels, a t-shirt and shorts that I could wear.

"If you need anything else, call me." I nodded and closed the door when he disappeared down the corridor. The bathroom was as old as the rest of the house, but had been carefully cleaned. I took my shower, trying to make it as short as possible, and draped my wet hair with a towel. I put on the dark-blue t-shirt he gave me and sighed as it reached knee length. His shorts, completely hidden under the t-shirt, were beige and kept sliding down my legs. I tied a knot at the waistband and folded my own clothes. Then I dried my hair as much as possible using the towel, before stepping out into the corridor and walking up to the living room, shyly peering inside.

Noticing me, Michael jumped to his feet, and I ran a hand across my scruffy hair.

"Hmm, do you have anything I might use to straighten this up a bit?" I asked, too aware of how my straw-like hair looked like some small rodent's nest, and he smiled amused, walking up to me.

"It's all standing up," he made fun, softly pulling a strand to make it stand even more, and I slapped his hand, stepping backwards.

"Stop it!" I reprimanded and his initial smile gave way to a stream of laughter. "And stop making fun! I know it looks terrible! Just get me something I can comb it with!" I demanded, angry at how embarrassing all that was. Of all the people in the world, I had to look like that in front of him!

"Ow, it's not that bad," he told me, trying to appease me, and I looked away, annoyed at his condescending tone.

"That's because it's not your hair!"

"Fine. Put your things over there." He pointed towards a wooden ark over which some blankets had already been placed, and I crossed the room to do as he said. He then signaled me to follow him back to the bathroom and I stood by the door, watching as he opened a cabinet; his gentle face, his warm and strong hands.

He gave me a small comb and his place in front of the mirror, and I immediately started untangling pale strands of hair, desperately fighting all the standing points. I was so focused in my task that it took me a while to notice him, leaning against the doorjamb, watching me over the mirror with a smile. My hands stopped for a moment and I clearly saw my face turn red. I thought about asking him to leave, reminding him of just how indelicate it was of him to just stand there, blatantly staring, but then ... his expression was so adorable. And I recalled what Father Jorge had told me. Maybe he was just curious, I thought, and went back to my task, avoiding meeting his gaze, trying to hide just how fast my heart was beating from him simply being there.

After combing was done I set out to help Father Jorge set the table while Michael took his shower, and we finally sat down to have dinner.

Michael wore cotton pants and a white t-shirt, and I couldn't help stare, musing about how everything looked perfect on him, although I'd never seen him in such casual clothes.

Father Jorge held his hands together in a moment of prayer and I did like him and Michael, accompanying them in that moment of silence. Then the ambiance was once again light and cheerful. Father Jorge asked me a lot of questions about my parents, school and what I'd like to do in the future. I answered them all, aware that Michael was listening closely, since he himself had never asked me any of those things. Next I talked about my interest in languages and literature, and Michael confirmed my passion, sharing some of the titles I had lent him. We discussed interesting books for quite some time, since Father Jorge was also a frequent reader, and I took a mental note of some of the titles that, just form hearing them talk, I wished I could read.

It was almost ten o'clock when Father Jorge ended our friendly talk. I helped them with the dishes and practically forced them to let me dry them after they were washed.

After everything was back in order, Father Jorge said good night, wishing we might sleep in the company of the angels, and disappeared down the corridor.

Michael smiled, looking a bit flustered, and led me back to the living room.

"Hmm, I know this is a bit embarrassing, but the truth is I don't really have a room," he confessed, scratching his head, and I smiled as I noted his nervous habit. "Because I kind of dropped out of nowhere in Father Jorge's life, so I usually sleep here. And, well, although it might not be very proper, you'll have to keep me company."

I laughed at his pained expression, as if he expected some kind of retaliation, but the truth was that I too was rather nervous, which made me quickly try to minimize the situation.

"It's fine!" I replied, trying to sound as casual as possible. "It will be like those end of the year sleepovers." I was painfully aware that was far from being true, since there were just the two of us in there.

"Um, I don't really recall ever being to one of those," he told me, pensive, and I felt guilty for having reminded him of unpleasant things.

"Ah, I'm sorry."

"Oh, no, nothing like that," he countered with a bright smile. "I was just thinking that it sounded fun. Maybe we could do something like that this year, too. After all, it is our last year. After this we will all go our separate ways."

"Yeah," I muttered, feeling suddenly sad. I'd never thought about that. "Steven and the others and you, you are all graduating." And they wouldn't be attending Christ the King the next year. And I wouldn't be able to spend my lunch breaks staring at him anymore.

"You still have a year to go," he added, walking up to the couch and taking out the pillows. "You'll sleep here," he informed me, placing a pillow and a soft quilt over it.

"What about you?" I asked, looking around, and Michael placed a blanket on the floor.

"I'll be okay."

"Oh, no way! This is your bed!" I contested, pointing to the couch.

"Of course it is. That is why I'm lending it to you."

"But I don't want it. It's just wrong! I come to your house, only make trouble and even steal your bed! I can very well sleep on the floor. It will be like camping," I argued but he just smiled, as if my words had just went in one ear and out the other. "Michael!"

"Yes?"

His melodic 'yes,' worthy of someone who hadn't listened to anything else but his own name, made me frown and fold my arms.

"Are you always this stubborn?" I complained and he seemed amused.

"You think I'm stubborn?" he asked with an almost childish curiosity. "No one has ever told me I'm stubborn." I gave up and sat on my borrowed bed, leaving him basking in his own victory. I lay down and watched him as he made his improvised bed. I followed his steps when he walked up to the lamp's switch and turned it off. For a moment darkness was all I could see, but, with time, my eyes became used to the dark, and the pale light coming from the street lamps outside was enough to capture the room around me and his face turned my way.

My heart jumped into a frenzy and I was grateful that, for once, he couldn't see me blush.

"Michael, thank you," I whispered in the darkness and thought I saw him smile.

"Can I ask you a question?"

I was surprised and apprehensive at the same time. He had never asked permission to question me about anything.

"Sure."

"He," he hesitated and his tense voice left me restless. "He, did he hurt you? Did he force you to do something against your will?"

His voice echoed in the darkness, making my head hurt. Sure, I'd taken advantage of him not asking about what had happened to avoid talking about it. In truth I was yet to come up with a convincing explanation. So that was what he'd suspected. And that's why he'd been so adamant in refusing to let me go home.

"No. Gabriel didn't hurt me," I answered, even though I couldn't help shiver when my mind added a 'not yet, at least.'

Michael took a deep breath and sounded relieved. "I'm sorry, it's just that, I don't think I've ever seen someone as scared as you, back then." I felt guilty again. Because I was weak, and was unable to control myself. I knew better than anyone that he would never do anything against me, that all he wished for was the fulfillment of that Contract. And yet I couldn't stop the fear from taking over, devouring me wholly.

"He scares me sometimes," I admitted, trying to be as honest as possible.

"Yeah, somehow he was especially weird today. There was a moment there when I thought he was about to jump Steven."

Kill him would be the right word. With a shudder I recalled the burning pain in my wrist. Yes, that was part of what had happened that I still couldn't understand. I couldn't say I knew him, since he wasn't even Human to begin with. But I couldn't shake the feeling that what had happened wasn't something he would normally do. Up till then he had always tried to go as unnoticed as possible, or should I say, to look as Human as possible. He was kind and delicate with everyone, patient about things that I would never have put up with. I'd never seen him get angry or being aggressive towards anyone, not even heard him raise his tone, except with me when we were alone. And yet I was one-hundred-percent sure that that afternoon he'd almost killed Steven.

"Maybe he got worried about you," Michael said, searching for an explanation, although I knew he was way off the mark. After all, all of it had been his doing right from the start. "He is very protective of you."

"Protective?" I asked in disbelief, raising my head, and he laughed lightly, leaning his head on his hand to look at me.

"Haven't you noticed? He's always looking at you. Even when we're talking, he never stops following you with his eyes," he said, sounding amused. "I've felt it since the first day I met him. Back then he was really angry that I'd forgotten your name. Sometimes, the way he's always around you reminds me of the way Steven is with me."

I remained silent. Yes, I'd noticed the way Steven always discretely followed Michael from afar, even when it was just the two of us, keeping watch in silence as if he feared Michael might suddenly collapse. But if I'd noticed Steven's behavior, why hadn't I noticed Gabriel's? And suddenly I knew. In all those short periods of time when I'd shared my lunchtime with Michael, I'd never noticed him even once. I noticed Steven only because Steven was looking at Michael. In truth, in that one-hour period, all I could see was Michael.

"I've never noticed it," I confessed and he smiled again.

"Maybe he feels responsible for you because your mother practically left you in his care," he proposed and I couldn't help feel outraged. Him? Responsible for my well being? I knew all too well what he really wanted! But still I swallowed my words. Going on with that subject would only end up forcing me to explain things that I couldn't explain. "Anyway, you should get some rest. It was a long day." I nodded.

"Good night."

"Good night, Mari"

I made sure his voice was the last sound echoing in my mind. Yet I remained awake for quite some time, looking at his face lost in the shadows, his eyes closed, until I was too tired to keep mine opened, and finally fell asleep.

A strong roar startled me, making my heart pound. The windstorm that forced me to cover my face was harsh, cutting my skin. I tried to breathe as fear took over my body. I knew that terrifying sound. It was the scream of his wings of destruction.

Shaking uncontrollably, I peered between my raised arms and my terrified eyes saw him, right in front of me. I squinted my eyes, trying to bring my sight into focus and noticed we were not alone. He held something in his hand. A spear? The handle was black, like the ribbon wrapped around it, floating in the wind. The blade looked dangerously evil, in the shape of a crescent moon broken by three sharp, shiny points. I saw him stagger and my heart jumped painfully. There was blood on his hands, red and Human.

I looked around. Where was I? What was happening? I was somewhere, sitting on a cold, hard stone floor. And my eyes found another presence. This one had wings, like those of the angels represented by the Church, but his were black. He held a long golden sword that seemed to glow, and was just standing there, shaking his head in disapproval, as he watched the scene unfolding before his eyes.

I heard a scream. The wind cut me again, but I was so afraid I couldn't even feel pain. I looked around, searching for him, and my mind knew another name to call him by, and it wasn't Gabriel.

The sound of metal against metal made me jump and I looked for him even more urgently. All I saw were two shadows, one black and one white, colliding in midair, and the shock was so great that the ground shook. And then I finally saw him, his long, black hair falling over his face like water, pouring forward and staining the white shadow with its darkness.

I forgot the arms that I'd raised to protect me and they fell limp over my legs. I stop breathing as I saw the one in white slowly sliding over the dark one until he hit the ground, his golden hair spread over the cold, hard stone. I knew his face immediately, now deadly pale, and my heart stopped, a sharp pain piercing my chest. His clothes were soaked in blood. And he wasn't breathing!

I covered my eyes with my hands, unable to think. No. That couldn't be happening!

I saw as the dark shadow raised his head, his violet eyes hard and cold as stones, and I screamed, although I hadn't enough air or voice to do it.

"Mariane!"

I heard my own voice screaming and sat up, gasping for air, urgently pushing away the hands that held me. I pulled my knees up, looking around half dazed, and saw him, kneeling right in front of me. For a moment I could hardly believe it. He looked worried, but kept still, probably fearing he'd frighten me even more.

"Michael?" I whispered, still doubting. I'd just seen him die right in front of my eyes. He smiled, looking relieved.

"It was just a nightmare," he assured me and I looked around once more, still half lost. No, that wasn't my room. And then I recalled the day before. I was in Michael's house. And that's why he was there and alive.

I took a trembling hand to my face and took a deep breath. Only a dream, just a dream, I told myself, but I couldn't stop shaking. Too real, I thought. So real that the pain still remained, the anguish still remained, the fear still remained ... and that roar still made my eardrums ring.

"Mari," his warm voice cut off the descending spiral of my thoughts and I raised my head to look at him.

Michael slightly pulled back his blanket and I hesitated for the one second that took my muddled mind to understand what he meant. Too nervous and scared to conveniently ponder, I fell to the floor and crawled under his blanket.

He covered me gently and put an arm over my shoulders, pulling me close. I leaned my forehead against his chest, feeling the slow and calm beating of his heart. He was alive! I could feel it in that constant beating, in each breath he took, in the warmth that surrounded me. It had all been a dream.

"Everything's fine, sleep," I heard his soft whisper and allowed my eyes to close.

I could feel his warm hand slowly caressing my hair, the smell of his skin so close to mine. And, although we lay side by side, I couldn't feel the slightest embarrassment. My heart didn't jump as it usually did when he was close to me. My face didn't blush. All I could feel was that soft warmth that enveloped me, making me feel safe and at peace.

 

* If you want to know more about this book or simply access earlier updates, please visit the official site at http://carpersanti.net/gaea/

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