I can feel it again - those invisible eyes on me. I move through the house keeping my feet light and my mind clear. Despite my attempt to stay calm, my heartbeat picks up speed and I can hear it pounding through my ears.
Breaking the invisible tension, I hear my phone vibrating across the counter. It skids across the countertop a few times before I swipe it up and squint to see its screen. Evan's calling. I smack my dry lips together, idly wondering if I should grab a drink of water before I answer the call.
Oh Stella, pick up your big girl panties.
I open the phone and press the talk button.
Evan's voice rings through brightly from the other end.
"Stella! Good to hear your voice. I got your text."
A piece of me is relieved. The other piece of me is nervous. I texted Evan over a day and a half ago to ask if he wanted to come out for drinks with me on Friday. And this is the first I've heard from him…
"Oh, good," I say, trying to contain my anxiety. How does this man make me so nervous from a simple phone call?
"Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I was really busy."
"That's ok; there was no rush for a reply. I was just extending the invite to you because, well, you had said you wanted to go out again and - "
"-Stella, I'd love to go out for drinks with you and your friends," Evan interrupts, and I can hear him smiling through his voice.
My sub-conscious squeals with delight. Apparently she is much happier with my choice in Evan than she is with Stephan. Butterflies erupt in my stomach, their activity level higher in the past few days than it's been in the past hundred years.
The rest of the week flies by in an uneventful haze. My mind is so consumed with Evan, with Stephan, and with Todd's outrageous ability to see into Hell that I don't have much time to think about anything else.
My last client for the day doesn't show, and I file my paperwork before grabbing my briefcase and heading to my car. It's beautiful out today, but much hotter than I'm used to. I decide rather than hiding away in my spacious house that today is the perfect day for a swim.
I pull into my driveway and rush into the house. I bought a new bathing suit when I first moved here, knowing that my suit from the 1960's just wasn't going to cut it. I rummage through my closet until I find what I'm looking for - a small, sparkling black string bikini.
I strip out of my work clothes and put the small amount of material over my body. If women in the 1800's saw what women wore now-a-days, their heads would be spinning. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and blanch as I realize my choice of swimsuit so closely resembles a part of me that I try to forget - my Evil side.
I move my body from side to side, looking at myself from all angles. I am lean but have seductive curves. I've come to realize I have a body most women would kill for.
My body has stayed the same since I made the transformation. On the one hand it's nice. I can eat and eat and never gain a pound. On the other hand, the possibility of me ever having a child is zilch. Zero. Nada. Not that I would actually want to bring a child into this world, but the possibility would still be nice.
Don't get me wrong. I love children. And when I see a baby smiling, a little piece of me sulks in the corner and cries fat crocodile tears in the knowledge I can never have that. But even if I could bring a child into this world, I'd have to see them die before me. From what I've heard, the pain of losing a child is one that is unmatchable.
Needless to say, I think I'll steer clear of the baby making business. By choice and by force, I suppose.
My train of thought is halted when I feel those invisible eyes on me again, this time seeming to burn holes into my soul. The eyes are studying me, scrutinizing my every thought and movement. My soul, like my scantily clothed body, feel naked.
I move through my living room in silence, grabbing my aviators and my towel before leaving the house and closing the door behind me. Thankfully, the eyes don't follow me out here. Who could it be? Or what could it be? Someone is watching me, closely. I can't tell yet if it is evil or good. My Evil side is giving me no indication one way or another.
My feet automatically take me down the sandy trail that leads to the water's edge. The warm wind caresses my skin, a tantalizing combination with the sun's devouring heat. Like a child, I sink just my big toe into the water to get a feel for its temperature. It's a bit cooler than the smoldering heat around me. I wade into water, moving into the ocean until I am neck deep.
The water feels heavy against my body. I feel it weighing me down the deeper I move. I'm almost ear level now and my whole body becomes chilled. I'm used to Hell's fervent heat. I believe that's why being in a colder climate has always appealed to me. It makes me feel as far away as possible from my…other side.
I remain still, hoping that whoever is yelling will go away. I want to swim on my own. I hear the intruder moving closer, coming up behind me, splashing noisily as they draw near.
The intruder moves around me, grasping my elbow and pulling my attention towards him. I look at his pseudo-familiar face and pull my arm out of his hold. He's one of my co-workers, but his name becomes lost to me as I stare up into his light brown eyes.
I've only ever talked to him once or twice at the vending machine. He must not work very hard, because I see him in the break room far more than at this cubicle. I look past him to see two other people wading in the water closer to the shore. Both are blonde and both are females. One is tall and thin, while the other is short and chubby.
My eyes narrow on him and he takes a step back.
"It's me, Stella. Your co-worker Kevin, remember?"
"I remember. What are you doing here?"
Kevin frowns and clears his throat with a nervous laugh.
"Yesterday at work you told me you lived right along the beach and that I could come by to swim whenever I wanted," Kevin states, his voice hesitant.
Oh that's right. I did. I had said it as a kind, passing gesture - a feeble attempt at making friends. I hadn't actually thought he'd take me up on the offer, let alone without contacting me first.
"That is what you said, right?" he asks.
"Yea that's fine. No, I remember saying that. I just figured you might call first or something," I say, slowly making my way back to shore.
"I would have if you'd given me your number," Kevin mumbles, walking a bit too close to me for my liking. "And we tried ringing the bell of your house first."
Kevin pauses and looks up at my home, whistling low under his breath.
"How the hell did you get this place anyway? It must be worth a couple million dollars, am I right?"
I ignore his questions. The answers are none of his business anyway. I feel the warm breeze dance across my skin as my body ascends from the ocean water. The droplets of water soak into my skin, moisturizing my body in the most natural way.
I can feel their eyes on me. The two blondes, Kevin….and those eyes. The mystery eyes. I'm very aware that I am almost naked and I hastily grab for my towel and pull it across my body. My eyes dart to and fro, scanning the area for a sign. My heart is beating wildly in my chest and I force myself to take deep breathe so that I can focus on the changes in the air.
The air remains steady, even, steady, even, steady…..
My mind refuses to move on, forcing my eyes to do a double take. There, about fifty feet away from me and high in the sky, is a shift. It's like an air pocket, a gap in the atmosphere. I can feel it, and I can see it. And through that air pocket is a smoldering pair of eyes staring back at me.
The eyes are light, sky blue, and ethereal. But they are deadly, so very deadly. I want to look away but I'm stuck, my eyes locked in this unending gaze. The mystery eyes never blink, staring back at me with such power and domination. I force a single thought through my mind, pleading the intruder to stop bothering me. Why has he been following me?
To my surprise, the eyes lighten, their hard expression softening. The eyes grow bigger, bigger, until a face starts to form around them.
I suck in a breath as I sit and study the glorious face that is now forming in the sky. I immediately recognize this male's face, a face so strong and so masculine. His hair is as golden as the sun, curly tendrils framing his perfect cherubic face. He is an angel.
And unfortunately, whenever an angel draws near, it does not bode well for me.
I have only seen this face once before. It was the last face I saw, the face of this angel, before I was cast down to Hell for the very first time…