For the next two weeks I stay within the confines of my home. Evan never leaves my side. He does all the house work by day and sleeps by my side at night. He prepares all my meals and patiently works with me to start building up my human strength. Being mortal takes its toll and I find myself getting tired faster than I thought possible.
Since the day I woke up, Jeremy hasn't been around. After barging into my room he hastily told Evan he had to leave and that he would be back as soon as possible. Evan gave him a nod of understanding but said nothing in return. Jeremy didn't give me a hug, whisk me off my feet, give a sigh of relief, or even give me a friendly 'hello.' After he said his piece with Evan, he was gone five minutes later. And all the while I was left in the dark, not knowing what on earth was happening.
Since then I've asked Evan multiple times where Jeremy is, what he's doing, when he'll be back…
But he gives up nothing. And I'm starting to realize that my constant pestering is annoying him so now I just keep my questions to myself.
And honestly? They're driving ME crazy now too.
All these thoughts mull through my mind as I continue to run on my newest piece of work-out equipment. The treadmill. My feet pound against the ever-rotating wheel and beads of sweat drip down my forehead and trickle down my neck.
Why do I feel like I'm a human hamster right now?
I glance at the time and see I've almost run my four miles. I increase the speed of the treadmill, inspired to sprint the remainder of the distance. My aching muscles strain against the speed but I push forward.
As I surpass the four mile marker I slow my speed and take in a few gulps of air. My heartbeat hammers in my ears but I feel a real sense of accomplishment.
Evan approaches me and hands me a cold glass of water. Condensation drips down its slippery sides and I can't help but compare it to my sweaty neck.
"Thank you," I say and guzzle down its contents.
Evan just smiles.
"What?" I ask and pull up my shirt to dab the sweat away from my eyes.
"I'm proud of you, Stells. And - I didn't think it was possible for you to get any prettier. But here you are, proving me wrong."
"I'm a sweaty mess," I argue with a light hearted giggle.
"Yea. But you're real. You're human. You have this glow, this spark in you that you never had before. It's beautiful."
I hop off the treadmill and my legs feel rubbery. I can still feel the forward momentum of the treadmill even though I'm on solid ground. I don't think I'll ever get used to that feeling.
I walk back to the kitchen and get another glass of water. Evan comes up behind me and winds his arms around my waist. I lean into his touch, allowing his lips to devour the length of my neck and all the way up to my earlobe. A shiver skips up my spine and I turn around to face him.
"I'm so gross right now. And yet you're still trying to seduce me?"
Evan gives me an impish grin and averts his eyes from mine.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," he says feigning innocence.
I shift my weight onto my tip-toes and lean into him while closing my eyes. I place a hesitant kiss on his lips and am delighted when Evan leans into my touch, pushing his tongue into my mouth and furthering our kiss to a passionate level. I bask in the softness of his lips, the sweetness of his tongue.
Evan winds his arms around my waist and pushes his hips against mine. I can feel his erection forming as it presses against my stomach.
I have to give Evan credit. In the entire two weeks he has slept with me, not once has he pushed it further - sexually speaking. Aside from some intense cuddling and a few kisses here and there, Evan has remained the picture perfect gentleman.
Maybe he's afraid if he has sex with me he'll hurt me again…
Pushing aside my primal desire, I pull my head back slightly, effectively severing our incredible kiss. Both of our breathing patterns are staggered and I look up to see his eyes fixed on me, his cheeks flushed with longing.
"Too much?" Evan asks.
I shake my head. "Not at all. I just wanted to tell you something before - before we got too carried away."
"Ok…. What's on your mind, Stells?"
"Thank you," I say with a soft smile.
"You're thanking me? For……?"
"For this," I say gesturing to myself and the room around me. "If it weren't for you I'd have none of this. I'd be rotting in Hell. Don't you see? You found a way to save me - to save my soul. And now I've been given another chance, Evan. Thanks to you!"
As my breathing begins to slow, I reach my arms up to engulf Evan in a tender embrace. But he stops me. Guilt flashes across his features and his smile falters.
"Stella, don't get me wrong. I fought like hell to keep you alive. And I stayed by your side until I saw the honest-to-God life snap back into you. But…"
"But I'm not the reason you're alive."
"What do you mean?"
Evan puffs out a sigh and moves a step back from me. He runs both of his hands along the sides of his face and rubs at his temples.
"You're giving me credit where it's not deserved," Evan admits. "I'm not the reason you got another chance at life. Jeremy is."
"But I thought you said that it was you…"
"I did. Because that's what Jeremy asked me to tell you. And hell, he's the reason you're here today so who was I to argue with the man? I wanted Jeremy to be the one to tell you this Stella. I really did. But he's the reason you got another chance at life. Not me."
My muscles clench and my eyes widen at Evan. "A-and how did he manage that?"
"He fell, Stella. Jeremy fell from Heaven for another chance at life. But when an angel falls, they're not allowed to go back into Heaven. That is, not unless they make a sacrifice."
I continue to stare at Evan as my hands become clammy with unwanted sweat. I wipe them down the length of my skimpy running shorts but the attempt is futile.
"And incidentally, there was no way you could have been 'released' from Hell without someone else providing a host for your demon."
The pieces of the puzzle slowly push into place. My body leans against the kitchen counter and my mind begins to swarm with hundreds of questions.
"So Stella, what I'm trying to say is-"
"-is that when I died, it was Jeremy who saved me. He made his sacrifice by taking my demon into himself - not only to save himself, but to in-turn save me as well. Right?"
Evan gives me a clipped nod. He watches me as the information sinks into my mind. Jeremy chose to fall from Heaven.
I voice my question to Evan and the saddest look clouds over his features.
"That's something you need to ask Jeremy, Stella."
And after that, Evan says nothing more.
Another few weeks pass and I begin to grow restless. My muscles and body feel stronger than they did when I was immortal and the feeling of being alive practically hums through my every movement. And while spending all my time with Evan is nothing short of amazing, my desire to spend time outside my house is becoming unbearable.
Now that I've had time to fully digest all that has happened, another one of my insatiable cravings is to see Jeremy again. I owe my life to him - literally. And I still haven't had a chance to thank him.
And admittedly there's still a piece of me that wants to do a LOT more than just thank him….
I try to ignore my repetitive thoughts and hurry through my shower and into clean clothes. Taking two stairs at a time, I descend down to the first floor and happily skip into the kitchen. Evan has our lunch set out on the table and my stomach rumbles in anticipation. I give him a swift kiss on the cheek and plop my body into the nearest chair.
"Ohhhhh it looks so yummy!" I say with a clap of my hands and grab my fork for the first bite.
Evan chuckles at my childish behavior and takes a seat across from me, slowing stabbing the noodles onto his fork.
"Evan," I say through a mouthful of whole wheat Alfredo pasta. "Can we please do something? I'm going stir crazy shut up in this house."
"Sick of me already, huh?"
I roll my eyes at his playful question and reach for a stick of garlic bread. I notice that Evan isn't eating at his normal pace - which FYI, is extremely fast - and see that his face has paled since just an hour ago. I drop my fork and reach across the table to put the back of my hand against his forehead.
"You sick hun?"
Evan pulls away from my touch and starts to tap his foot against the tiled floor.
"I'm fine Stells. Just nervous."
"Nervous? What for?"
I gulp down my mouthful of food and wash it down with some mineral water. I don't know what it is, but since becoming human again, food has never tasted better.
Evan gives a strained laugh under his breath. The tapping continues, I notice.
"I know you've been sick of being cooped up in this house. And I know you want to get back to work and all that jazz. And I have to tell you - Grace and Connie have been calling to check up on you like crazy. And before you get mad, Jeremy told me to just cool it with seeing other people until you looked like yourself again. You've gotta remember Stells - Connie, Gavin and Grace still think you've been human this whole time."
"Well what do they think has been happening with me?"
Evan shrugs his shoulders. "We told 'em you had Mononucleosis. You can be out for well over a month with that. And it's highly contagious."
I purse my lips at the notion but after a thoughtful second, I realize it's not so crazy after all. Now that I'm human, I too am susceptible to such illnesses and diseases. The thought gives me a weird sense of panic.
"But anyway, Jeremy called me a few days ago and said he was back in town. He asked how you were doing with your - er, transition, and I said you were handling it surprisingly well. And then he said he would talk to Connie and that he would take things from here."
"So what happens now?"
"I got a phone call from Connie this morning. They're throwing together a 'surprise' birthday party for you. "
The unfamiliar phrase forms in my mouth and slips into the open air. "A birthday party?"
I see Evan fighting back a smile while he nods his head. "Yea. We figured you hadn't had a birthday party in a while. And I really do mean a while. And since I know you don't remember when your actual birth date is, we just decided to have it be today and make it a real celebration."
I bite my lip and can feel those butterflies tumbling around my stomach with glee. I move my food around my plate, suddenly feeling too excited and anxious to eat the rest of my meal.
"Who all is coming?" I ask.
Evan sighs and taps his foot with increasing speed.
"Well that's the reason I'm nervous. See in these past few weeks, Jeremy has been with Richard giving him the 'run down' of everything that's been going on. He knows that Jeremy has your demon now and that you're fully human. Richard is willing to back-off completely, but only if he saw you with his own eyes first."
"Uhm…and why does he need to see me?"
"Just to make sure you're human."
"Oh…and he's just fine and dandy with Jeremy having my demon? He's a crazy demon hunter, Evan. He'll come after Jeremy too."
Evan shakes his head and puts a reassuring hand on mine.
"Jeremy will be fine. Todd was the middle-man with all this and he trusts Jeremy implicitly. And thank God Richard trusts Todd. Without that on our side, we'd still have to convince Richard that Jeremy was a fallen angel, that he is now housing your demon, and that he fully agreed to put no harm onto human kind while he is host of your demon."
Evan sighs and laughs humorously. "I know. It's all very complicated."
I nod my head numbly and feel like my pasta is all of a sudden sticking to the sides of my stomach. Maybe I shouldn't have eaten so fast….
"So - what?" I blurt out. "Jeremy just has my demon forever and as long as he doesn't kill anyone, Richard will back off?"
"Well, obviously Richard will check up on Jeremy every once in a while. Richard isn't exactly the most trusting guy I've ever met."
That's the understatement of a century.
"And as far as Jeremy living forever….well that's something we'll be discussing tonight as well."
I want to push the conversation further but stop when I see how drained Evan looks from all of it. Taking advantage of the break in conversation, he gets up from his chair and takes our dishes to the sink. He comes up from behind me and starts to skillfully rub the stress and tension out of my shoulders.
"No matter what happens, Stells," Evan whispers sadly into my ear. "Just know I'm here for you and that I'll do whatever it takes to stay by your side…."