Volatile (Otherworldly Book 1)

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I buried my head into the soft fabric of his wool t-shirt. We plunged into the swirling mass of energy. Our surroundings glowed brighter than scorching stage lights on Broadway. Memories from my childhood streamed past us, bridging the gap between space and time. Terrified by all I was witnessing, I dug my nails into his arms. We appeared on the other side of the wormhole and glided downward to the peak of a mountain in the Golan Heights. The bright middle eastern sun beat down on us. I squinted ahead to see the vast green patches of land dotted with wild irises, sparse kermes oaks, and juniper trees.

Mount Hermon.

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He curled his lips into a wry smile. His large hands descended upon my narrow shoulders, delivering another wave of electricity throughout my body.

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Nearly four thousand years ago, I was a part of a group of two hundred angels known as the Watchers. We came to this very mountain. This is where our leader, Semjaza, requested we take an oath and we all agreed, he said.

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What made you guys decide to leave Heaven for Earth? I said. He frowned, as if thinking how to explain, before a grin stretched across his chiseled face. It was our mission to civilize mankind. Before we colonized the Earth, humanity lacked a lot of the basic knowledge taken for granted today. Yes, for example: Azazel taught women about makeup and jewelry and men about swords and breastplates, how to fashion them with the metals of Earth; Semjaza offered curses and witchcraft, Kokabel astronomy; Baraqijal astrology; Araqiel meteorology; Ezeqeel the knowledge of the clouds; Shamsiel signs of the sun and Sariel the moon.

Those are just a few examples—there were many more. We helped you discover medicine along with the concept of science. Haven't you ever wondered about the pyramids?

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His light eyes were full of zeal as he named each Watcher and what they taught, studying my reaction and level of comprehension. I said thinking of the numerous historical books I had read on ancient Egyptian civilization. Not quite. Yes, I think that the Ka, or soul, was believed to be connected to the mummified body. They also thought possessions could manifest in the afterlife through hieroglyphics, sculptures, and paintings, I said.

Then you are aware that everything buried within them is of significance, he said, seeming pleased with my answer. I nodded in agreement. In preparation for the deluge, the pharaoh at the time commissioned artisans in Egypt to construct pyramids, which not only served as tombs, but as storage vaults for vital papyrus scrolls that spoke of our presence on Earth. I guess it explains why every culture shares similarities in their myths, I said.

His face broke into a smile. Why would I fail you now? Although his request scared me, my curiosity was greater than my reservations. Here goes nothing, I said.

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Like a programmed cult member, I inched closer toward the edge, feeling the jagged rocks roll beneath the soles of my tennis shoes. From the corner of my eye, I saw his arms folded over his chest. Obviously, this was a test of loyalty. Closing my eyelids, I heard an inner voice, screaming at me to consider my family and friends, not to be selfish, but I silenced it.

Leaping forward, I fell. The forest around me swirled into a blur, threatening to asphyxiate me long before I could hit the Earth. He must have been an angel of death, because I swear no good angel would ever manipulate anyone into doing something so evil.

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A familiar hand wrapped around my torso, and just as swiftly as I had fallen I ascended. My eyes popped open and I saw that I was secure in his arms. He scooped me up and we flew away. My head rested upon his thorax, listening to his shallow heartbeat. Extreme warmth radiated from him. The wormhole reappeared and we reemerged in Los Angeles on the iron balcony outside my apartment. I turned to him and saw that his eyes glistened. You needed some encouragement to believe in yourself. Just know that I have faith in you, he said. We embraced, and he rested his chin on the crown of my head.

Maricel, he said in a gentle yet firm voice, and I pivoted on the balls of my feet. For now, keep what we have a secret.

The next day I dropped change into the fare box of the city bus, examining my prospects for a seat and chose one towards the back corner. An attractive young man with short, dark hair seated across from me drew back his lips as our eyes met. I'm Thane.

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What's your name? His brown eyes studied me. Heat rose in my face, and I tore my eyes away from him. What brought you here? Where are you from? He leaned forward with his hands clasped and I caught a whiff of a piney smell. Damn, good luck.

If you say so. I tugged at the cuff of my sweatshirt to cool myself from the sudden heat wave that overtook me. I sighed. I'll pick you up after work. Text me and let me know it's you, he said, handing me an old receipt. I chewed my bottom lip, uncertain of what else to say and nodded. The bus crawled to a stop, and he waved. I returned the gesture as he disappeared, then punched the number he had scribbled on the back of the receipt into my phone.

Instant dread gripped me about what I had just agreed to, and I wished that I could turn back time and decline his offer. But I hated breaking a promise once I made one, no matter how unpleasant. It was difficult for me to say no to anyone even when I knew it would cost me. Pushing it to the back of my mind, I focused on getting into character.