Read Shattered Grace (Fallen from Grace) Online

Authors: K Anne Raines

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Shattered Grace (Fallen from Grace) (4 page)

BOOK: Shattered Grace (Fallen from Grace)
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Evidently Mother Nature didn’t know one of the greatest men who ever lived had died. The weather was perfectly beautiful. The sky was a cloudless cerulean blue, punctuated by bright sunlight. Spring was officially here in Woods Cross, Utah.

Her car was parked under the flowering Chinese fringe tree at the curb in front of her house. Grace’s heart swelled at the sight of it. She was even more thankful now for her silver ’67 Shelby GT than the day her grandfather gave it to her. She felt closer to him somehow just looking at it. They shared a love for American metal, but when he insisted on giving it to her for her seventeenth birthday, she had been confused. To this day, she’d never understood his giving it up, but was immensely grateful that he had entrusted her with it.

Emily lived in a cul-de-sac at the end of a quiet street, lined on both sides with cookie-cutter houses. As she pulled in the driveway, Grace eyed Emily’s home and the neighboring houses. As usual, the sight provoked a surge of envy to pulse through her veins. It was hard seeing all the families, the sheer normalcy of it all. The fact that she couldn’t remember much of when her father lived with her and her mother made the envy harder to swallow. Some days it bothered her more than others. Today was one of those more bothersome days.

The likely catalyst was burying the only person who had treated her like family. Or maybe it was her grandfather’s letter. Being reminded of her dad’s leaving dredged up old hurts. She forgave him for abandoning her years ago, but that didn’t mean she wanted him to come back so she could say it to his face. Now or ever.

Grace honked the horn once, hoping Emily would hurry up. Being surrounded by all this suburban family sweetness made her a little nauseous, and all she wanted was to get out of there.

From somewhere in the backseat, she heard the buzz of a text. She turned back around just as Emily bounded out her front door, bouncing all the way to the car, her dark high pony swinging back and forth with her exuberance. Absentmindedly, she placed the cell phone in the ashtray, concentrating on putting a mental block up before Emily got in the car. Somehow, she managed to do this with her. Grace couldn’t imagine what their friendship would be like today otherwise.

As soon as Emily jumped into the passenger seat, Grace was greeted with a single-arm hug and a quick kiss on her cheek that smelled like strawberries and cream. “Ready?” Emily asked as she pulled away, her brown almond-shaped eyes searched Grace’s. Her eyes moved to Emily’s glistening gloss-coated lips before answering. “Abso-fricken-lutely,” she said, knowing something was up.

 

 

Uncertainty continued to haunt Quentin after the funeral reception and clear into the next morning. Since the moment Christophe had died, he had been chock-full with it. The common denominator? Grace. Get it together, Q, he chided himself.

Self-recriminating thoughts haunted him. This was the one time when he needed to be on his “A” game the most, and here he was turning into a total wuss and misplacing his “man” card.

Guardians were made to protect the Chosen, so what the hell was wrong with him? She might be a female
Chosen, but still.

Even though being a blood descendant of Christophe made her special, the combination of being a female as well as a blood descendant of Christophe made her extraordinarily special.

His relentless pacing wore another path in some poor, defenseless flooring. He stopped and took a deep, cleansing breath. Maybe this self-doubt crap was what had caused others to fail? Quentin shook himself of the thought as he resumed his pacing.

Regardless of the reasons for past failures, he had to focus. And fast. He had to forget the doubt, forget the past, and remember who he was.
What
he was, more importantly … a Guardian. And not just any Guardian. Grace’s Guardian. She would need him more than any other he had protected before her.

His shoulders squared with resolve as he paused. There was nothing left to mull over except being damn ready for whatever might be coming. Quentin rubbed the seneschal band that continued changing as Grace’s birthday drew closer. He felt the blood drain from his face as he was stricken with a sudden attack of anxiety at all the possible scenarios he could imagine threatening them in the coming days.

 

Like the warm Utah sunshine, the coffee at Latté Da’s did a good job of bringing the younger crowd out in droves on early Sunday mornings. Grace noticed some other girls about her age making their way down the sidewalk on the other side of the street. Silently she prayed the coffee shop wasn’t too busy yet.

Grace parallel parked between an old beater and a nicer late model sports coupe. She preferred parking along Orchard Street, which was only a few buildings down from Latté Da’s, because it wasn’t nearly as busy and she’d rather not chance a scratch on the Shelby. She chanced a quick glance at Emily as she turned off the ignition, waiting for the outburst she knew would come. Emily hated that she always parked so far away from everything and inevitably would pout to be sure that Grace knew it. When Emily reluctantly moseyed out of the car, her exaggerated expulsion of breath pulled her shoulders nearly to her ears.

Grace snickered. “The walk’s good for you.”


Good for you, maybe,” Emily said while holding out a foot sporting a sexy, strappy high heel. “But definitely not good for the feet.”

She knew Emily didn’t do it on purpose, but every time she drew attention to her flashy heels, Grace couldn’t help but look down to the boring flats always on her own feet. Flats became an everyday essential in junior high when she shot past most of the girls and guys in height. What’s worse was she was still way taller than average, but only seemed to attract the shorter-than-average guys. All the guys that wouldn’t make her feel like a giant were into girls barely five feet tall. Girls like Emily. Grace knew it wasn’t fair to hate Emily for her perfect petite size, but sometimes she couldn’t help indulging in a secret I-hate-my-best-friend pity party. And enjoying it.

From the corner of her eye, her gaze went from Emily’s sexy shoes to her shiny pink lips. With a deep breath, Grace pulled her shoulders back and focused on standing up straight like her mother nagged so often for her to do. Grace brushed off her irritation, and led Emily down the sidewalk by the elbow.

Latté Da’s wasn’t full by any means, but there were just enough teens to make it feel busy. Grace breathed in deeply, thankful for the lack of coffee drinkers this morning. She didn’t feel like being upbeat, nor did she feel like talking to anyone but Emily. “You sure you’re up for this?” Emily asked.


Yeah. I’ll be fine.” Grace pasted on a wan smile and followed her inside.

When the door shut, a charged, buzz-like chatter swirled around them. Grace recognized most everyone in the place, with only a few exceptions. The chalkboard welcome sign just inside the door listed both the house specials of the day and the scheduled night’s entertainment, and she stopped to check it out. Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night showcased different entertainment at the coffee shop, whether it was a poetry reading, a magic show, or singing. Something was always happening. Tonight? Emily’s boyfriend’s band, Distant Echo, was on tap. “Oh, look at that, Em. Tommy’s playing tonight.” Instantly, she eyed Emily’s lips. She knew it.

Emily’s eyes bugged a little and her jaw nearly unhinged. “Well, look at that. He is,” Emily squealed. Grace hid her smile at Emily’s theatrics. Her best friend’s overdramatic expressions were part of her charm, and she’d learned to not only expect them, but usually found them entertaining enough to sometimes provoke them, like now. She’d also come to learn what Emily’s choice of lip gloss flavor meant. Strawberries and cream signified a happy day, happy meaning it involved Tommy somehow. “You should come with me tonight,” Emily went on. “You need the break.”


Maybe,” Grace said.

Emily smiled. “Maybe you should.” She waggled her eyebrows wickedly and swiveled around with a flick of her dark ponytail, narrowly missing swiping Grace’s nose with it as she stepped up to the counter to place her order.

As Emily went into a long dissertation about her coffee to the barista, the voices all around Grace rang louder in her ears, and the floor seemed to tilt sideways. A panic fluttered inside her chest, and inexplicably her thoughts shifted to her birthday. Grace felt a heavy mantle of burden settle on her shoulders. The letter her grandfather wrote her had left her nervous. Beyond nervous. She realized she was about to have a panic attack in the middle of a coffee shop when a sudden feeling overcame her, a certainty that something serious was going to happen within the next couple of weeks. Her breath caught again, and her vision pixelated into a purple haze.


Grace!”

Emily’s raised voice brought her attention back to Latté Da’s. Her vision cleared and she pulled herself together as she turned her face toward Emily’s, wondering at the harshness of her tone. “What?”

The confused expression on Emily’s face made her look like one of those cartoonish, doe-eyed Bratz dolls. A pinch at Grace’s elbow drew her gaze downward. Emily’s fingers were wrapped tightly around her arm, practically cutting off the circulation as she gave her a sharp tug. “Are you okay?” Emily asked. “I’ve been trying to get your attention.”


Yeah, sorry. I’m fine.” Grace shook her head slightly, focusing on not scrambling her equilibrium any further. “Just a lot on my mind.”


We don’t have to come back tonight, really. I just thought it’d be fun.” Emily maintained her grip on Grace’s arm, the painful compression making her want to wince.


No, it’s fine. You’re right. I think I need a break.” Grace’s eyes went to Emily’s hand, hoping she would open it and let her go. She was fine.

Concern drew Emily’s brows together as she peered at Grace, then her expression cleared as she switched gears, obviously determined to lighten the mood. “What do you want? My treat.”


You don’t have to do that.”


I know. I want to. So, what’ll it be?” Emily pulled her lips into a wide smile, showing off perfect white teeth.

Grace tried her best to talk around the panic-filled lump lodged in her throat. “Okay.” The girl behind the counter grabbed the notepad on the side of the register, no doubt thinking Grace’s order would be just as complicated as Emily’s. “I’ll have a sixteen-ounce iced pumpkin spice latte. Two straws, please.” Grace held up two fingers. The girl released the breath she held and clacked her fingers quickly across the cash register.

The instant Emily got her drink, she quickly made her way toward the platform at the back of the coffee house with Grace in tow, Grace’s nearly passing out the moment before already forgotten. She smiled faintly at Emily’s back, relieved that her friend’s short attention span ensured that she wouldn’t have to endure unwanted attention.

It took Emily all of two seconds to find the table Tommy was sitting at, which didn’t surprise Grace that he was there too. He and a blond guy Grace didn’t know leaned across the table toward each other, deep in what appeared to be a heavy conversation.

BOOK: Shattered Grace (Fallen from Grace)
11.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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